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THE PALACE CAFE, SHINER, TEXAS i walk into old places f something clicks I’m in love with heavy china cups stacked upside down on a clean towel it’s hard to order COFFEE i blurt because the lady is frowning at me she pours i sip but that’s not it, that’s not what i want i want this room, the sense of this room, rooted in a million lunches, the fat pies cooling on the wire racks i’ll take the sweaty backs of the old men leaning over beer at 10 a.m. discussing parades they didn’t attend i’ve been following this world all over Texas, opening screens to find it waiting in places called Shiner, Buffalo Gap, Quitman every time we meet it’s real it has a smell and a taste okra, butter beans every time i eat here i can’t get enough Naomi Shihab \(reprinted from Southwest: A Contemporary Anthology, ZORA DRYER When. Matney slung a skinned squirrel’s guts at you and the kids, you put your brown hands to your mouth and ran into woods that stung and slashed into his fields where you walked for hours remembering the birch that was struck by lightning that split two lovers beneath it in ‘twenty-seven \(a parable passed with the squirrel, the rabbit across the kitchen table , remembering Matney’s big hands, how small necks break on a splintered stump, how brown fur clings to white, bloodied bark now that you’re married. Charles Behlen \(reprinted from UNTITLED like not drinking too much water after running or knowing when to put down the bottle on the first good saturday night in months I ike that I read your letter, once twice then hide it from myself in the drawer marked miscellaneous so as not to come away too bloated on your words in six months I will clean out the drawer throw most of it away and file the rest to be thrown away later then I will carefully unfold the letter pretending to myself I have forgotten its contents and am merely rereading it out of curiosity not greed or desperation Joanie Whitebird \(reprinted from Naked, WHY I FIND MYSELF IMMERSED IN FEW TRADITIONS So what if the world needed potatoes. Columbus could have lied when he went back. Too easily satisfied, those chocolate eyes of the native girls were slanted enough for him. It isn’t his fault really. How could he have foreseen these orange arroyos where the people come to dream of sleep? I’m here right now, and I can barely believe it myself: the hot nights, the brown trees making the insane clicking sounds of a hundred cicadas, these numerous dry and vaguely heart-shaped rocks. Now so what if an after-dinner smoke is nice. What’s that when you can’t tell the moon from the streetlights. And even when you can it looks covered with lint. Oh sure, we and everything keep going on and on. But let me tell you, when our caryatids start crumbling, and when we wait in our western airports longing for tickets to non-existent lands, our luggage heavy with a few big books, then, buddy, it makes it pretty damned hard to lean on the past, when you see all this as just the final end of a lot of peristalsis. Leon Stokesbury \(reprinted from The New Breed,