The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Alan Basting



In case of emergency

Call ______________,


A ghost of a woman

Not picking up her cell,


Unreachable, walking away,

A Levi’s jacket thrown over


Her shoulder, the smell of fried

Chicken and bar smoke


Embedded in fabric

Wafting from her shirttails.


Oh friend, how

Could I have come


To depend on one

So free, so attached


To a lunchbox of mishaps,

A ponytail, and a family


Who loved their bourbon

With eclairs.




Jumbled by stroke

And its smoky plume


I see her struggle with confusion,

A stage full of purple light


And fog. Not knowing

Where her body stops,


Where memory begins,

She falls constantly, relearning


To read and write, to speak

Again with her friends.




Sitting in a courtyard

Landscaped with red umbrellas,


She taps the tree of sorrow,

Singing blues again with the dead.


A knife, handle erect

In a clay pot’s soil, broadcasts


The fragrance of microphones

From a fistful of yellow roses.




The doors might be locked,

The fountains barely gurgling,


But I maintain my faith in her

Fading symptoms, her cure


Impending for months,

Maybe years.




ALAN BASTING was born in Detroit. He earned an M.A. in English/Creative Writing at Colorado State University and a M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University. His chapbooks include Singing from the Abdomen, Stone-Marrow Press; What the Barns Breathe, Windows Press; Suddenly, Herons, The Writers’ Cooperative of Toledo; and Deep Time, Daily Habits and Events, from The Arts Commission of Toledo, Ohio. His most recent collection, Nothing Very Sudden Happens Here, was published by Lynx House Press, Spokane, WA, in 2013. He lives in the heart of the Manistee National Forest near the village of Bitely, MI, with his spouse and two dogs.



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