Three Poems

David Ackley

Another Ending

you tell
a stranger’s story
because your own…well

They’re all fungible anyway,

A man…no make it a woman,
is on an ascending escalator:
halfway, she imagines a goat

about to be devoured by a panther
that used to be her ex.

Sure enough, here he comes,
on the down-run:
(Is that her gun?)

As if a kind of logic says
that up must have its down
That what is joined together
must be wrenched asunder

I’d have them pass with secret
smiles meant only for each other

Blue Baby

A healthy blue, granted,
but the associations were there.

I mean the face of the child she painted
at the head of the stairs

like nothing else in a town
full of likeness.
Barring that, normal–
for a painter of blue babies.

They taught art to children,
none their own


we swim in failure
and a weak grasp of the infinite

the last good job poisoned
by envy and strewn tacks

a kind of fractured ease
in this sinking

you think of where
you’d rather be


those were
the years of atomic submarines
otherwise pleasant


David Ackley lives and writes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. His work has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including The Miscreant. His story, “Natural History,” can be found in the winter 2015 issue of Per Contra. His flash fiction, ” Zaire,” won an Editor’s Favorite Award for 2015 from Camroc Press Review.

Lessons of an Old Runner

David Ackley
On my morning commute,
about midway, in the valley below a long
steep hill, I’d cross him in his sateen shorts
and Nikes, vestigial runner’s torso, long
gnarled hands flopping at his chest
useless appendages of a flightless bird,
dogged with intent to ascend.
How high I never knew.
Always before the base, face
vised in the chill wind
then shuffled rearward out of sight
toward the hillside where
double-wides and cellar holes
floored for a roof
were certain lives lived aslant. To him
just measures, increments—here he went on
here turned back–
whatever passed or failed abducted
from what it is to what we are
–epic of our diminishment.
And I drove once more through yellowing pines,
grey-stone peaks, white lines,
cutlets of crusted gore
pressed into the tar, dogged
by him and the hill, shivered
jolt of asphalt,
wheezing lungs
all the lessening.
For days
I don’t see him then he’s there
again, shuffling toward
worse to come, the
Pounding bones to powder
for what’s never got back,
that first time unbound
snowsteeped wind at the top
the lid of blue worn for a cap.
David Ackley lives and writes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He holds a BA in English Lit. from the University of New Hampshire, where he studied writing with the late National Book Award winning novelist, Thomas Williams. He has an MFA in Fiction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His short fiction, drama, poetry and essays have been published in a number of online and print journals including A-Minor, Litsnack, and The Greensboro Review, with a short story forthcoming in Per Contra.