Yvonne Higgins Leach

Sunshine Mine Disaster, 1972
                     Kellogg, Idaho

A mine blows up in Idaho near my hometown. 
Thirteen men surveyed the unplotted
rock edges in blackness, prayed for days
for a spillage of light down their shaft
and when it didn’t come, they murmured
to save every last bit of air, pushed
their prayers from their mouths
to their minds. One miner,
weak and lament-bound,
his hands stretching into
more darkness found a headlamp.
Guys! he shouted, Look!
The artificial square of light
flickered and then dimmed.
Just enough light for them to watch
as another miner reached into
his back pocket and unfolded
an insurance form.
Doesn’t look like I’ll be needing
this any time soon, he laughed.
What they’d give to have to pay a bill.
Amid the dust and hunger, and the sunken
doubt of rescue, they wrote
their goodbyes on the back.
In one miner’s strained handwriting:
What I’d do to see
the sky full of white clouds again.


Wile E. Coyote

Mark Twain wrecked my reputation.
When he said me and my kin had a long,
sorry-looking skeleton, that was it.
Said, too, we were always hungry.
Has he ever missed a meal?

Looney Tunes made me with big ears,
yellow eyes, and a slim, sick-looking body.
The new cat-and-mouse, they set me up
against a strange, fast-running bird
that sounded like a car horn: Beep. Beep.

My first memory is of the stupid parasol
they gave me to stop the crashing boulder.
If I was so cunning and devious,
why the running gag?

I found myself falling from a high cliff,
suspended in air,
nothing below me—feeling like an idiot—
and then all I am is a puff of dust.

The minute they’d give me
a contraption to catch (and happily eat)
that skinny-ass bird,
it would always backfire. There I was,
blown up, crushed, or obliterated
in some desert somewhere.

A nightmare to be created 49 times
in a revolving door of failed attempts.
Guess all I can hope for is someone
somewhere sees me as more than
a smashed outline in the wall.

In my own cartoon
I run up to the Road Runner’s corpse,
and even though he’s clearly dead,
I shoot him.


The Morning Grandma Pat Died

She lived in the vintage Roosevelt Apartments
I only knew were grand because my mother said so.
I could see through the slider elevator door as it rose
to the top floor. The wool-carpeted hall stretched until I reached
the sturdy vase of fake flowers tucked in the corner by her entry.
Getting there was half the adventure.
Inside, always spritz cookies, a coke, a cloth napkin, and her asking
How are you doing, dear?


Back from college, the same elevator, the same long hallway
but the vase of flowers had vanished.
My aunts welcome me in whispers.
Come in honey. So good to see you.
A soft hand on my shoulder.
At the window, the view long-held.
I take another breath
as I ask her angels to stay with me longer.

© Yvonne Higgins Leach

Over the years, Yvonne Higgins Leach has been published in literary magazines and anthologies in the United States. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, decomP Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, The MacGuffin, Midwest Quarterly, Pink Panther Magazine, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Virginia Normal, Wisconsin Review, and Whitefish Review, among others. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Poetry from Eastern Washington University.

Her first collection of poems, Another Autumn, was published in 2014 by WordTech Editions.

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