S. J. Perry

Inland Empire, August

Remember that thunderstorm
just as the first day of school let out?

Little kids trying to step over
gutters running full,
trying to keep papers dry,
new Pokémon backpacks
Astros and Explorers
crowding crosswalks
trying to load their kids first.

That was years ago.

Now those kids have their own,
and yellow sun burns hot and dry
from March until

Bird Man

I used to be so bony
I could see my heart beating
under the skin
of my chest.

Honestly, I haven’t looked
lately. At almost
seventy, I have other

And nobody else cares
if I have the physique
of an unfledged

After This She Moved to the City

She wore her clothes
a little too tight,
cut a little too low,
in too-bright colors.

She sat on her desktop
in front of the class
a little too immodestly
for eleventh-grade boys.

But she taught us
what literature is:
comedy, tragedy,

She was a real-life
Winesburg character
with her dismal marriage,
her affair with a colleague.

Then she walked in
on her husband, still,
embracing his shotgun,
barrel in what was left of his mouth.

S. J. Perry’s work has appeared in The Journal of Radical Wonder, Cholla Needles, MUSE, Last Leaves, and elsewhere. He grew up in Kansas, where he studied at Emporia State University and the University of Kansas. A retired high school English teacher, he has lived in Southern California’s San Gorgonio Pass since 1985.