All the guard
saw was a wall

with two hands
on top. Then–

squinting and
rising some

from his chair–
just the wall.


In this short poem, I was interested in turning attention to the guard at the time of escape. Maybe it wasn’t an escape. Maybe it was a snake or a cat. Maybe the guard had too much to drink the night before, so on this morning shift his head’s still a bit cobwebby. I guess, then, that this poem is one about anxiety and confusion, two staples of mine these days. What’s the guard going to do now, hit the alarm and slide down his ladder or go back to his sandwich and soda?


Ryan Vine is the author of Distant Engines (Backwaters Press, 2006). His work has appeared in places like The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Writer's Almanac. His honors include a Weldon Kees Award, the Robert Watson Poetry Prize, a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts council, and finalist nods for the Black Warrior Review Poetry Prize and the May Swenson Poetry Award from Utah State University Press. He is Rose Warner Assistant Professor of English at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.

'Ninety-Three', Dan O'Brien

'Lullaby', John Poch

'Pastoral', Mark Yakich