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Lana Hechtman Ayers

Lana Hechtman Ayers has shepherded over eighty poetry volumes into print in her role as managing editor for three small presses. She lives on the Oregon coast in a town known for its barking sea lions. Her latest poetry collection, When All Else Fails, is forthcoming from The Poetry Box in spring of 2023.

Abyss After Tea

after the photograph of Ann Lockley, 1938

We are all disappearing into history.

Some of us go swiftly, soundlessly,
a lobster roaming sea cavern depths.

Others zigzag, innocent as steam
in a storm, dissipating without a trace.

Perhaps you will soar away, raptor talons
dragging whoever else you can snatch.

I think back to my European ancestors
showered with asphyxiating gas,
last moments all gasp.

My leaving will be a catastrophe
of regret, a set of nesting baskets,
one emptiness filling another.


after the painting by Andrea Kowch

Outside the train window,
a tempest of birds the color of midnight,
moon glowing polar.

On my way to a place I hadn’t been back to
in a long time, for good reasons I believed.

The gift I carried could just as well
have been an empty box.

My dog, loyal to the idea of home
as a person, beside me for the journey.

I didn’t know what to hope for,
words a circumlocution of angst and desire.

Nothing could be heard of the other passengers,
so quiet, I wanted to propel my mind
to the last time I was happy in that place,

blazing sunset that bled the horizon to dark,
fireflies in the vacant field at the end of the lane
like landlocked stars,

me staring into the flickering,
you a warm breath on my cheek.