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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler


Fred Johnson

comes a time when everything feels profound. 
the cardinal on the branch outside, meaning the long
one reddening into earth—when


everything aches and the brain 

deadens. winter, may well always have been,
cardinals singing in the thaw except  


it’s gone, the cardinals I mean, not the snow,  

which might just be eternal. I left the house not 

to tell anyone anything but simply and somehow to live, was 


the plan anyway, was number one on my to-do list this morning 

which now is burning like a hundred votives—the list, that is, 
not this morning, which itself arrived on horseback, passed  


a note, rode back towards the house in the dark 
and pine-hidden hills. turned it in my blackened hands:  

clarity, or something.