Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130

ISSN 2160-4207
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Issue 97, July – September  2016
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130

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Guest Poetry Editor
Issue 103, January – March 2017
Wendy Willis is a poet and essayist living in Portland, Oregon. Her first book of poems, Blood Sisters of the Republic, was released by Press 53 in 2012, and she has published in a wide variety of journals and magazines. Wendy is also the Executive Director of Kitchen Table Democracy, a national non-profit housed at Portland State University dedicated to collaborative and democratic governance. She has also served as an Assistant Public Defender for the District of Oregon and a law clerk to Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson, Jr., of the Oregon Supreme Court. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center and holds a B.A. from Willamette University and an M.F.A. from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
The Half-Life of Strawberries


Even old Mr. Cupp—should I say Farmer Cupp?—has plowed 
them under now. The conical ones—Hoods & Northwests, 
half-shriveled and pointed like nipples. Late-honey-sweet 
and too tender to travel. Couldn’t handle the truck trips.  

Now thanks to the seedy-eyed botanists at universities 
in California, the new farmers, the made-for-TV ones 
with their dark-rimmed glasses and spit-creased overalls grow 
Totems, Bentons, Shuksans, too. They’re hardier, oblate— 
at-the-ready for shiny Safeway tarts stacked with cardboard kiwi 
                                                                                        and rock-hard peaches.

There’s nobody on the old road now to pick anyway—well, 
except for the spat-at mamas and daddies and their babies with fake 
papers, fake dates of birth, sixteen by all typed accounts 
but breastless and hairless and spilling over with fear, 
with lies. But, before all that, back before the law and the plow, we’d hang 

around—tight as baling wire—half-dancing and half-needing to pee, 
waiting for the berry bus—mid-summer dusty & grinding gears—
soaked in desire, and I can’t say now desire for who-knows-what,
but bleeding with it as a nimbus, as a halo.

By three o’clock, we—we? you must ask. We-who? We, I mean, 
                                                                                                     we teenagers,
we hucksters. We who would become half-baked bakers and over-baked 
lawyers and too-young mothers and more than that loggers, but loggers 
who wouldn’t last. That we. Those we. That’s who I mean when 
                                                                                                  I say we—

overbrimmed, rancid with want, half-calved and bawling 
for home but still remembering the morning dew on those low-down 
plants, the ones St. Hildegard could not abide for their proximity 
to snakes and other loamy things. But, that proximity, proxility,

prolixity, was the reason we’d shake off our teenaged throbbing, 
our early morning thrum and return the next day 
to our knees, and those loamy things 
are the reason now, even now, I weep here—  
in Mr. Cupp’s old field 
rimmed in over-oranged pumpkins and haunted by dust.



from Blood Sisters of the Republic, a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection.
Available from Press 53 at www.Press53.com