R.S.V.P., by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

The road out front is all torn up and has remained that way for a long time. One day they
tractor-pulled the trunk of a fallen tree, its roots undone by the doings. Saw crews came in
and buzzed for days like a disturbed hive. I could not save the flowers. Pyramids of pipe plastic
appeared overnight. Rats, unsettled, bounced across the lawns, appalling the cats.
All's ditches, trenches, ruts and pits. A week before the phones went dead, the sand trucks
jilted their loads, shovels clanged, someone shouted Ho! ho! ho! like an unjollied Santa. Yellow
cones mark off the area like quarantine. Red lights flash night and day. Goodness! The whole
country detours around us. Each morning a colony of hardhats I observe from my upstairs window,
handkerchief held to my nose, my ears stoppered with cotton and wax. Today, they were
burning debris and circled the fire prodding like scouts.  I regret I cannot make the ceremony,
but clearly this is a major public project with extensive resources at its disposal and certain
to benefit enormous numbers. It must be.  I pray the food will last and look forward to vast
and permanent improvement.

Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy, by Thomas Lux

For some semitropical reason
when the rains fall
relentlessly they fall

into swimming pools, these otherwise
bright and scary
arachnids. They can swim
a little, but not for long

and they can’t climb the ladder out.
They usually drown—but
if you want their favor,
if you believe there is justice,
a reward for not loving

the death of ugly
and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,
rats) creatures, if

you believe these things, then
you would leave a lifebuoy
or two in your swimming pool at night.

And in the morning
you would haul ashore
the huddled, hairy survivors

and escort them
back to the bush, and know,
be assured that at least these saved,
as individuals, would not turn up

again someday
in your hat, drawer,
or the tangled underworld

of your socks, and that even—
when your belief in justice
merges with your belief in dreams—
they may tell the others

in a sign language
four times as subtle
and complicated as man’s

that you are good,
that you love them,
that you would save them again.