There is the brink.
It is mostly off in the distance.
It is sometimes very close.
You will stroll up to it.
Some of your friends will hungrily jog.
There will be one or two who leap.
You will look down into a canyon.
There will be yellow.
The yellow will feel soft.
Some of your friends will look across the canyon.
A few will see teeth.
Your mother saw a clover green field.
Your father saw clarity.
You will approach the brink.
You will look up.
You will close your eyes.


I do not long for transcendence. I long for a kind God who spends Saturdays pretending
to be a tree. Pretending because God could never be a tree, could never be so humble,
God who made this blue green marble so mean and divine. God could never be a willow,
not weeping, the last time God cried was during Prince’s Superbowl performance, purple rain God exclaimed. If God was a tree, God would be some species that doesn’t exist yet,
perennial creation, gilding the lily, nasty old habit. God longs to exist, to feel wind
bruise through pine needles, rain on roots, God longs to fall at lightning’s clap.
Me and God could long together, long like the road up Suce Creek in the Absaroka.
We could drive the road to trip
into some renamed forest
where God would attempt existence,
sit in a tree building a treehouse.
I would attempt faith and beg
for mercy.


I am maybe seventy years old

There is nothing great to do

The world as it should be is allusive

Am I a good man

What is success anyway

I am alone without desperation

I am unalone with my thoughts

Rage against ambition

I am trying to say

You will never walk alone

Believe me when I say

I only did one great thing

Teach you to sing


The onion man at the farmers market rants to me about preventative medicine.
I am his captive audience. I need an onion for the burger I will make for dinner tonight.
My pockets are silent, out of loose change, I tell the onion man I will pay him next week.

I take the onion, small and wilted. The onion is now my captive audience. I rant to the onion about missing the boat, baggage, and obstructed views. The onion is wedged in the tote bag
I stole from my mother, next to a collection of poems published in 1994.
The book is preventative medicine. Maybe insurance will cover the library’s late fees.
Careful, my mother says, don’t incur a debt you can’t pay.

At home, I grill the burger, slice the onion, shout to my neighbor and ask about the day passed.
We rant to each other about emptiness. We are each other’s captive audience,
accidentally indebted to each other by simple city planning, this conversation,
preventative medicine against the pull of night, loneliness, and living.

After dinner, I wash the dishes, look out the window. I want to say to the world: Captivate me. The world spins, I mimic the motion. The world laughs and calls me dizzy. Careful,
my mother says, reminds me of my motion sickness.

I prevent nausea by losing track of time. I have no captive audience. I want to say to anyone
who will listen: forgive all my debts, I cannot pay. I spent every cent, ran out of time preventing my obliteration, I devoured each glimpse towards the end like it was mine to keep.
I devoured every onion I could, tasted sweet dirt and bitterness like an old friend and now what? Now what?

Yetta Rose Stein reads and writes in Livingston, Montana. She is a graduate of Hellgate High School. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly, Orotone, Rejected Lit, and elsewhere. She is presently pursing her MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.