Assisted Living


Dad’s recent haircut gives him
the look of a startled baby bird
complete with downy head and
scrawny neck. He can’t see buttons
on the remote or keep his eyes open
very long. Through his stingy
window I see a birdfeeder
busy with visitors.

His world has shrunk—
no more loons on the lake,
eagles nesting in treetops,
birds at the feeder his only
connection to what he has lost.




At the Dog Park


On top of a former landfill
dogs run through whip-sharp grass.

The greyhound
draws curious stares
as she outraces all challengers.

Hidden inside her ears are numbers
tattooed to keep track
of the property she once was.

I shudder at this history
and she’s only a dog
not nameless humans dumped
in pits and buried like garbage,
stripped of their chance to run.




August Flood


After weeks of rain and mud, the sun comes out
burning away rust, mold, sadness.
Sheet rock crumbles like wet chalk.
Salvaged tomatoes glow like rubies.
The cat we thought was dead jumps down
stairs from the second floor.
We shovel out brown soup
use up bottles of bleach
salvage what we can of summer.





Jan Chronister lives and writes in the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her chapbook Target Practice was published by Parallel Press at the University of Wisconsin. She currently serves as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.