There Are Stories

There are sto­ries you know with­out know­ing quite
how it is you know them, sto­ries with­out
any point to speak of, except the point

of their own pecu­liar strange­ness, sto­ries
as empty of pur­pose as any aban­doned
barn in these bar­ren fields, enduring

against all like­li­hood or good rea­son.
One such story took place around here
a life­time ago. An old cou­ple died—

whether, as may be, by Prov­i­dence
or sim­ply by luck—they died, either way,
on the very same day. He died before lunch.

The daugh­ters decided to tell her noth­ing.
She appeared to take no notice of shar­ing
her bed with a corpse, except to complain

of his icy feet. She was dead before dark.
And that’s all there is to that story.
No one recalls any­more who they were.




B.J. Omanson’s poems in this issue are from a col­lec­tion of poems about the Spoon River val­ley in Illi­nois where he was raised. Other poems from this col­lec­tion have appeared in The Hud­son Review, The Sewa­nee Review, Shenan­doah & else­where. Most recently he wrote the anno­ta­tions for the poems of a “lost” WWI poet whom he redis­cov­ered, John Allan Wyeth, whose book of poems, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-odd Son­nets was repub­lished by the Uni­ver­sity of South Car­olina Press in 2008, with an intro­duc­tion by Dana Gioia. Omanson’s cur­rent project, Where the River Dark­ens: An Exper­i­ment in Auto­bi­og­ra­phy & Poetry, can be seen at