June 6

by Don Schaeffer
Second Place, July 2019
Judged by Lois P. Jones

For the first time
we felt safe in our heat.
We didn’t feel the risk that it would fail us.
People had stopped killing dandelions
and they gathered in great yellow herds without fear.
The lilies stood together in families and tribes.

I did what I was supposed to today.
The mailbox was full, I emptied it for the group
and put the large key in the right slot.
I took out the trash.

The Sals made a decent Rubin.
Across the way, through the window
a man rolled a stroller into the bus terminal.
As I was driven by
a helicopter landed on the roof of the hospital
I’d never seen a heliport in operation before.

There was laughter in the restaurant
The laughter word was ha ha ha,like comic books.
I wondered where the extra emotional impetus
that made the laughter real came from. I thought the belly.
A man said ha ha to show his insincerity. It was
almost the same sound.

I saw a movie about a woman who won an election.
It made me cry. I don’t know why.

The diary conceit works wonderfully for this piece which is a comfortable and directed ramble through the narrator’s day. The opening line engages immediately and as we move into the whimsy of the second line we are already deep into dandelions “gathered in great yellow herds without fear.” It’s moments like this I miss the great Ray Bradbury and feel his echoes where story and fantasy meet. As the character pushes the narrative we receive further hints: why were they “driven” and not driving? Why does something as mundane as a helicopter and a heliport make us question identity? In the penultimate stanza, the narrator leads us into the day’s odd and distancing observations which could be seen as a kind of cultural disassociation commending the odd days in which we live close in to social media swirls and yet detached in our day-to-day dwellings. What really makes this poem is the surprising turn of the last line and all that resonates in the reader. --Lois P. Jones