Beneath this collar my skin itches, and burns from the chafing. I want to run free, but my master won’t allow it. The worst thing is: The collar isn’t on. My master isn’t here. Still I feel him tugging.


They lived in a crowded house, six kids, two parents, one grandmother. The three boys slept in one bedroom, the three girls in another. The parents had their room, the grandmother hers. There was never a quiet moment, the bathroom the only refuge before someone pounded the door, stopping a boy’s mirrored boxing match, a girl’s imagined ballet. Thirty years later, each one lives alone, relishing the quiet, the privacy, missing the varied human voices, the many hearts beating as one.

-Bob Slaymaker

Bob Slaymaker lives in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, he has taught at the University of California, the State University of New York, the University of Hawaii, Long Island University, the City University of New York, and NYU. His poems have appeared in many literary reviews, newspapers, and magazines.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

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Published at 12:00 am CST