Ann Howells – 3 Poems 

On Main Street


In the crunch of October

a single sultry day

fogs windshields,

and traffic slows as drivers

don insouciance.

Once I strolled here—


peeping beneath awnings,

browsing shop windows.

Now, papers take wing,

lift and spiral the walk,

alight in a nearby park.

An old man stumbles past.


Apple-scented autumn,

is doled out by spoonfuls:

boys wear jaunty caps,

lines of children—two by two—

clasp hands, hastened along

by a dour, meddlesome nun.


A bouncy waitress offers refills 

in a sidewalk café, biscotti

and spiced gingerbread.

A shuffling, old woman settles

at a table, bends to her book.

No one is shooting yet.






One second: driving home


The next: wounds blossom

red poppies from every puncture

            every new orifice

masses bloom through bandage

and some, on solitary stems,

grow purple-blue as bruises


Someone with a sense of humor

hangs a painting bedside—poppies—

their fluid drips, blue box beeps

when the poppy red button is pressed


Rainbows of nurses walk a white mist

doctors in well-cut suits and white coats:

            questions asked are forgotten

            questions answered are forgotten


Bone white poppyhead of femur

rib stems, bud of patella …

metatarsals are shattered petals


Fluid  lullabies through veins

languorous music of poppy dreams.




  Alpha State


Do you feel his presence

as he enters your room?


Does your skin prickle?

Flush? Burn?


Is his arrival serendipitous,

or did you summon him?


Telepathically? Through

calligraphy on rice paper,


posted the morning

rain transformed the lane?


Has he held his hands

fisted yet not threatening?


Does he say, Pick one,

and when you pick,


open the other,

reveal a monkey pod?


Does a six-sided coin

hide in the closed hand?


Do you pierce it,

thread it on black silk?


Does it hang, warm,

between your breasts?




Ann Howells has edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years, recently taking it Her publications are: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books),  Letters for My Daughter (Flutter), andCattlemen & Cadillacs, an anthology of D/FW poets she edited (Dallas Poets Community). Her poems appear widely both here and abroad; she has four Pushcart nominations.