Observation

Nicholas Friedman

In the wilds of our suburban lawn,
the natural world inclines to fable:
Gray squirrels, unperturbed by rain,
jockey for position at what our landlord
speaks of, nominally, as the bird feeder.
Below, dark-eyed juncos peck at fallen millet,
masked like hangmen from another time.
The great, unwritten order of it all
scrambles when Max, our landlord’s aging chow,
starts loping toward the scene. This is his work,
so in a sense, he’s adding order, too.One squirrel has shifted to a fencepost
where it twitches its tail and rearranges
in quarter turns like a guard. In total, there’s
more movement than the eye can account for,
all of it framed in the window’s tic-tac-toe.
The glass weeps condensation. It’s early, but
already the dog has slumped down for a nap.
There’s plenty of time to lumber after thoughts
that rise and disperse, dark-feathered things
returning when I manage to be still.

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Nicholas Friedman is the author of Petty Theft, which won the 2018 New Criterion Poetry Prize and will be published this fall. He works as a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University.

The Missouri Review

Winter 2017

Columbia, Missouri

University of Missouri

Editor
 Speer Morgan

Managing Editor
Marc McKee

Associate Editor
Evelyn Somers

Poetry Editor
Jennifer McCauley

The Missouri Review, founded in 1978, is one of the most highly-regarded literary magazines in the United States and for the past thirty-four years we’ve upheld a reputation for finding and publishing the very best writers first. We are based at the University of Missouri and publish four issues each year. Each issue contains approximately five new stories, three new poetry features, and two essays, all of which is selected from unsolicited submissions sent from writers throughout the world.

New, emerging, and mid-career writers whose work has been published in The Missouri Review have been anthologized over 100 times in Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Poetry, The O. Henry Prize Anthology, and The Pushcart Prize. We are also pleased to be the first to have published the fiction of many emerging writers, including Katie Chase, Nathan Hogan, Jennie Lin, Susan Ford, and Elisabeth Fairchild.

The Missouri Review is, quite simply, one of the best literary journals in the world.”
—Robert Olen Butler

“I’ve admired The Missouri Review for years. . . . It’s one of a half-dozen literary magazines I always read.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

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