Paul B. Roth

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to

Whom to Answer

            At times, there’s no darkness you don’t know and at times you’re afraid and run away from the light. Torn between nowhere and where all things speed up just before coming to a rest, sunlight hides its signal behind the aromatic brightness of a linden tree in bloom.

            Some nights, a pulsing glow of ashes that stars empty from their pockets on your kitchen table is what you can’t stuff enough of into your own pockets now that you understand nothing stokes the afterbirth of creation more than preserving this glow.

            Peering down the very tip of your name, look how its feathers, flapping inside a crow’s wing, swoop across your ancestors’ freshly dug graves. Look without assigning any name to yourself, look without saying death’s more than just an end, look without praising anyone for living on forever.

Artwork by Gene McCormick

A Day Off

            Dust a speeding car kicks up from this crushed stone road rises high around a hornet’s nest hung in the beech tree above where you walk. Circling, some settles inside your gaping mouth opened in awe at this huge overlapping globe of papier-maché spun one spit at a time by fibrous saliva regurgitated, smoothed and molded into rough gray tissue wrapping itself up for protection from enemies or any inclement weather threatening the longevity and well-being of their Queen.

            Walking on, you’re quickly overwhelmed by the aroma wildflowers gush thousands of miles away surrounding the spontaneous grave of the partial soldier for whom stones are put in place of his missing limbs or head without so much as a similar prayer in thanks.

            Lifting wet prints off the bottom of these overturned stones is what you believe will keep you from leaving this life one shovelful at a time.



Paul B. Roth is the Editor and Publisher of The Bitter Oleander Press,