Sienna's World photo by paul schulenburg


EXHIBIT 1: The man next door plays his saxophone from nine to eleven every night. He has played this way, steadfast and alone, for the past five years. He has never improved. His playing lacks both rhythm and melody. His rendition of "Night and Day" fills me with such pathos I want to weep. Instead I laugh and secretly refer to him as Mr. Toodles. My cruelty does not, however, discount the anguish I feel for him toodling on his sax, solitary in the lonely evening hours, year after year.

EXHIBIT 2: Today it snows. Fat flakes at a gentle slant. Forecasters expect 9-10 inches before nightfall. Adults trudge and complain. Children run up hills with sleds in tow.

EXHIBIT 3: Psychology researchers attempted to potty train a female chimp using Pavlovian reinforcement. Each time she peed in the potty, trainers rewarded her with a treat. Soon the trainers noticed she was peeing very small amounts, but frequently throughout the day. They eventually figured out she did this in order to attain more treats. Finally, after she ran empty of pee, she spit into the potty – likely a gesture with double meaning for her slow-witted trainers.

EXHIBIT 4: My mother buys a lottery ticket twice a week. She believes that she’ll win more than she believes in God. Figures the odds are slightly better.

EXHIBIT 5: Each year, a former journalist in his seventies and of modest repute attends a certain Midwestern writers conference expecting he’ll get laid. He anticipates sex with such conviction that he invariably grabs the thigh of the first woman who sits next to him. Lays the palm flat, then slowly curls his arthritic fingers into her flesh. The woman is always too shocked to immediately protest. Those few hopeful seconds before she slaps his hand away or moves to another chair are worth the rejection, he thinks, worth the burgeoning infamy.

EXHIBIT 6: The deaf child writes poetry in her sleep, hands dancing under the sheets.

If you have nothing to say, listen. If you have nothing to see, look.


A gut-wrenching appreciation to Jim Zola for inviting me to edit this issue's poetry section, and to the poets who so generously responded to my call. 

— Jirí Cęch