Acid Rain Epithalamium | Becca Downs

Image: Thomas Charters

Acid Rain Epithalamium

this isn’t the rain we asked for
it runs like lava down leeward
rocks, seizes the cities, it
looks like smoke sizzles
on pavement like hot grease
but might it still wed weeds
to soil might corn still marry
earth & sky in late july could
it still caress valleys soak
hollers dress mountains
in a technicolor coat of wild-
flowers temper flames
that torch the mountainsides
could the children still grow
healthy & tall soft-skinned
& singing to open acrid sky
this isn’t the rain we asked for
but it is the rain we’ve made
love to dropped to one
knee bound ourselves for life
this could be a celebration
windborn praise songs
crawling toward mountaintops
bodies dancing by moonlight
bring your pots to the bonfire
let us boil what drips off eaves-
troughs into our gaping mouths

Becca Downs is a poet, freelance writer, and MFA candidate with the Mile-High MFA program at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Her work will be published in the upcoming anthology Take The Fruit, Flood The Desert, and has previously been published in Sorry for the Inconvenience: an Anthology of Queer and Trans Voices, Flying Island Magazine, Glass Mountain, Ecletica, Jupiter Review, Heartland Society of Women Writers, genesis, and more. She enjoys hiking, exploring new places, and finding the best donuts wherever she travels.

Toads in Bermuda | Charlie Brice

Image: Eduardo Soares

Toads in Bermuda

Only one cashier at the Giant Eagle today.
I’m stuck in aisle 7 that begins
with broth, stock, and soup
and ends with canned vegetables.

I stare at a can of Jolly Green Giant green beans
and wonder if, at 72, I’ll live long enough
to get to the beef broth, much less to Amber,
the patient and weary checkout lady.

Everyone fiddles with their phones. I pull
mine out and say to the young couple
behind me that I’m calling my attorney because
I want to make out my will. They egg

me on with laughter. Let’s gather kindling, I say,
make a fire, roast s’mores, sing Kumbaya.
We’re bonding, I say, and they laugh some more—
laugh at the old coot in aisle 7 near the veggies.

Earlier, at the deli, a sign reads, “Everyone’s having
trouble getting workers. Be kind to the ones
that showed up.” A man behind the counter says,
“Can I help you?” “Is that a Boston accent

I hear?” I ask. “Actually,” he says, “I’m English.
Been in Pittsburgh for forty years.” I learn
that if you’re from England and live in Pittsburgh for
forty years, you sound like you’re from Boston.

Later, in the grossly understaffed Post Office where
Janelle, the sweetest and most patient person
on the planet, is, as usual, the sole agent at the window,
a man in line behind me asks where the Express

Mail envelops are. “Is that an Australian accent I hear?”
I ask. “No,” he says, “I’m from Bermuda.”
“We used to vacation there when our son was little,”
I say. I tell him how Ari and I would go on

toad hunts at night, how the toads, of which there were
hundreds, would exude an hallucinogenic spray
when you picked them up. Once, when my wife asked
Ari how the toad hunt went he said, “That un-

conscionable toad peed on my daddy,” which was pretty
sophisticated for a five-year-old. In the morning
we’d find hundreds of toads flattened by mopeds the
locals drove. “There are hardly any toads left,”

the man from Bermuda says. “They’re going extinct
along with bees, bats, and frogs.” We stand
in silence for a few moments. Then he says, “We used
to have a joke about the toads.” “Tell me,”

I say. “Why does a toad in Bermuda cross the road?”
“Why?” I ask.
“To find his flat mate,” he says. We laugh about that.
Janelle laughs too.

Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Poetry Magazine Poetry Contest and placed third in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His sixth full-length poetry collection is Pinnacles of Hope (Impspired Books, 2022). His poetry has been nominated three times for both the Best of Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Atlanta Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Ibbetson Street, The Paterson Literary Review, Impspired Magazine, Salamander Ink Magazine, and elsewhere.