Sunday, September 21, 2014

90-proof angels

photo: ralph murre

90-proof angels
by t. kilgore splake

     child’s tiny fingers letting go,

     bottles smashing against concrete sidewalk squares,
shiny glass shards flying,

     hard vacant stare, taut sun-bronzed skin,
rigid “don’t hurt” posture,

     angels falling to earth early this sunday
morning, wings shattering,

     absent for saving other, pious church-going

     smug narrow personas, already so damn sure.

~ previously published in winter river flowing (Presa Press)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Swan Lake

photoart - murre

Swan Lake
by Angie Trudell Vasquez

Girls in gossamer gowns
flit across the stage
little ballerinas in the making
before age and race add weight,
pink tights
light leather shoes strapped
on small feet,
before toe before
they are conscious
of limitations,
they all think they are
beautiful against the heat
of the mirror and balance bar
the instructor plays Swan Lake
and says imagine you are
nestled in white feathers
and draped tight in white silk
now see yourself soar
across the stage and jump
and leap and spin, see how
pretty and thin your shoulder blades,
now open your eyes and begin,
and all twenty girls run and leap
from one end to another
thinking, yes, yes
this must be how it is
to press against the sky and fly.

~ first published in Verse Wisconsin

Monday, September 15, 2014

Indian Summer, Denial

photo: jude genereaux

Indian Summer, Denial
by Jude Genereaux

What does it take
to bring Summer to an end?

In the month of shortened days
a moment of new light
casts shadows in wrong places;

I put the lawn chairs away
lower the deck umbrella
notice the first red leaf … turncoat maples!
A flyer advertising "School Supplies"
blows across the drive.

What does it take?
to redirect one’s heart to autumn …
I reach for my woolrich plaid
walk darkening roads,
shift the campfire to the woodstove.

~ first published in “Seeding the Snow”
(Chicago Journal )

Friday, September 12, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by John Flynn

Nomad flocks flood pale skies like
stippled notes scored, scoured, and
spilt from some sequestered staff.

Roadside orchards dapple
with ten thousand shimmering
wings. Their eagle hearts,

un-bated breath, endure
like a seabird soars
from shore.

~ first published at

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Varda, Train Station

photo: x bonnie woods

Varda, Train Station
by Donna Pucciani

No use crying for what used to be,
a station full of people
with someplace to go—
a grandmother in Croatia, a business lunch
in Budapest, the city of all longing.

Cracked windowpanes stare sightless
at the tracks’ blind sweep.
They tell a story in a lost language,
with tongues of dust and weeds,
abandoned farms, the cemetery
overgrown, the church splintered
by lightning, its belfry fallen through
the tinderbox roof.

We said our goodbyes long ago
amid the shorn hayfields,
the pens of spotted pigs,
the gnarled elms and tin-roofed sheds.
Goodbye, little village of unhappy accidents.

I saved a stone from the road out.
It shines like glass when held to the sun,
like crystal when cupped by the moon.
No station left, but a long-winded whistle,
the screech of brakes on steel. Together they call,
“We are the way out. Come.”

~ photo and poem previously appeared in Shutterverse2

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Crossing Guard

photo: ralph murre

Crossing Guard
by Marilyn Annucci

I drive toward her—
crossing guard who scowls into traffic.
So butch she might have been

an inventor of steam shovels.
Stop me! I pray. She steps out
Stronger than Steel.

Kids in knit hats,
nylon jackets, straggle before my car.

I want to rev my engine.

I want to stall out.

She eyes me, turns away.  Oh
to be crossed! She lowers
the brim of her cap, waves us on—

us, not just me.  You’re no one
special, her strut says

                       ~ previously published in Love & Lust: An Anthology
                          (Parallel Press)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


photo: ralph murre

by Marc J. Frazier

Husks of insects scattered in the grass,
a memory fights to be freed like this:
the long road to your sister’s farm—it was August then too—
that morning you consoled her,

weaving her loss into your own thick skein of trepidation.
It is difficult to swallow.
Dust devils swirl on the dry lawns.
The locusts drone.

This is no place for words to take root.
What you want to say lies inside—as infertile as her womb.
What is our biggest enemy you wonder.
Even in dreams her face turns towards you—a flower to light.

How many times do we choose the right word, the right gesture?
This will do for now, you decide.
But this is what you want for her:

a swarm of children heated from play
who find her always there, transformed into light itself.
They grow around her.

~ first published in Permafrost

Saturday, July 26, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Jackie Langetieg

I don’t want to go to Chet Baker’s house

Let him come to me, lean his back against
the scene of ancient Chinese mountains in my living room
Let me serve him Metaxa brandy in a water glass

Don’t let the smoke leave the room––nothing should fly out
on the wings of notes coming from his horn, his voice his hands
words left hanging on black clefs of minor chords

I’m loose on the sofa, Robe slightly open hoping he’ll notice
baby grand ready for his touch
like the counting of my ribs, each finger placed surely
on the steps of my spine.

I feel his concentration on the music
I’m just a body temporarily in his way for tonight
The old serrated trees on the panel behind me sway
and fantasy fills my head. The music trails off and he joins me

We speak little, lie to each other, talk of insignificances
Soon dawn is opening the curtains of night and he drives off
leaving me lost in the smoky night music still at play in the room.

~ first published in Norbert Blei’s Poetry Dispatch

Monday, July 21, 2014

In This Recession

detail, public sculpture, buenos aires - photo: ralph murre

In This Recession
by Megan Webster

I’m sorry I feel such delight
when your dad’s just passed away—

I’ve been there, aving Haknow the pain
& scold myself for letting

joy flare up my world
while yours shrouds with gray.

Yet . . . I cannot deny
that your morning call—

requesting my new address
to overnight the five grand

you owe me—has lifted
my heart to delirious heights.                                                                                  

 ~  first published in The San Diego Poetry Annual

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Compendium of Daydreams

artwork: ralph murre

A Compendium of Daydreams
by Don Schaeffer

I forget where I
left the car, and forget
where I live.
I run crazy through the streets
while time slides away on greased rails.
Those who miss me

A party forces my choices.
I grin for some of them
and leave the rest in the cold.
They wait for me, not present to see,
not knowing I am gone.

We emerge from the battle,
my friends
seeping away into the ground.
I am joyous
even while they
say farewell to the grass.

~ first published in Loch Raven Review

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


artwork: ralph murre, after sculpture by june la combe

       [On the destruction of the Baghdad Museum]
by Arlene Zide 

War is peace and
peace is tyranny
A robot
mouthing words he's been rehearsed to.
Whatever questions
he is asked
he answers in the currency
of plastic
flag, freedom, democracy
Security -- war is peace
peace is war
war is security
security is war
we will destroy
this village/city/nation/child
to save it.

We will bribe the barbarians
burn the Library, let them pillage
7,000 years of history,
enrich the greed
y to save freedom, peace . The nation
will sacrifice the young
for our glorious future,
silence the speakers
to save liberty,
tax the poor,
kiss the oily feet of the wealthy
to free the dogs of war
napalm, biting
at their open sores.

~ first appeared in The Pedestal

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lists, Early July

photo: sharon auberle

Lists, Early July
by Jeanie Tomasko 

1. Four-something in the morning and the cardinal is at it again.
2. I want to walk, don’t want to wake you.
3. I want to hear the wood thrush sing.
4. From some sound sleep, you’re up, don’t want me to walk alone
because of my new medicine.
5. Six crows are, well, singing.
6. Peewee, chickadee, song sparrow.
7. Yarrow, wild roses, the early white of baptisia on the prairie.
8. Twenty-eight catbirds imitating the thrush.
9. Hardware aisle, yesterday, kitchen knobs by the thousands:
smooth, silver, tarnished, porcelain, rubbed, studded ...
10. In my pocket, the one I needed to match.
11. The wood thrush flies from Guatemala, every spring, exactly
to this dead oak to sing summer.
12. The sun is up now, mist rising from the creek.
13. What I mean is,
14. Can you sometimes know, exactly

~ first published in The Midwest Quarterly   

Friday, July 11, 2014

She's a Lady

photoart: ralph murre

She’s a Lady
by Phil Hansotia
Just a bit  past twilight
standing on the shores of Europe Bay,
I saw her slip behind a thin veil.
Her face glistening and the silver of her eyes
dancing on Michigan’s rippling waters.
The moon is a lady.

Driving home on hump of Door’s peninsula
I saw a large, yellow melon,
rise in slow harvest off horizon’s edge,
a train of golden glow, trailing like
 a hesitant bride dragging her feet.
The moon is a lady.

Stretched on Newport’s unlit beach
I saw her full plump face
shrouded in a downy halo
gliding slowly across a clear ocean
of dark, like a lofty liner,
smug, aloof, brightly lit, self-absorbed,
Lady Lunar was on her way.

She may be a trifling satellite
on astronomer’s charts
strapped to a small dance floor,
whirling to her own Dervish chant.
In her world she is timeless beauty,
riveting our caressing gaze.
Yes, the moon is a lady.

~ first published in the Peninsula Pulse

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

They are tap dancing . . .

artwork: ralph murre

They are tap dancing to Vivaldi

in Albany, New York tonight
according to the Community                      
Message Board heard three times
daily on your commercial classical
music station.  All four seasons are
going to be represented.  How?
It is difficult to imagine exactly
how.  You will have to travel to
Albany in order to find out if these
tap dancers will be a new kind
of Rockettes Revue, low-steppers
instead of high kickers, eschewing
Country and Western line dancing
routines for fancy dancing, no, not
step dancing, mind you, or show
tune dancing but something more
refined, something applicable to each
of our four seasons. This is Vivaldi
after all, not Lloyd-Webber or have
The Seasons been changed, abridged,
up tempoed, truncated or tarted up
for a mass audience appeal?  You
will have to travel to Albany to find
out.  Some of us will remain at home,
listening to the original, awaiting your
critical reports of just what these tap
dancing people thought they were doing
to Vivaldi on a Friday Night in Albany.

~ Alan Catlin

* previously published in The Art of Survival
(Kings Estate Press)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Old Love

photo: ralph murre

Old Love
by Joan Wiese Johannes

In lust, we called it love on summer nights
when young, wild heartbeats mimicked feelings true.
We lit like sparklers, danced like flecks of light,
then flashed and burned as firecrackers do.
In daylight we were blackened ash, cold wire,
and paper bits like shreds of Valentine.
The air was toxic, fueled by hot desire;
canaries died when lowered in our mine.
But now, beside the river under trees
just saplings during that summer long ago,
we’re sunset, crickets, loons, a gentle breeze;
and over the smooth stones fresh water flows.
So, come into the home of my wise heart
so grateful for long decades spent apart.

~ first published in the Peninsula Pulse

Saturday, July 5, 2014


by Stephen Anderson

No easy task this
Cleanup of basement workbench
Full of multifarious clutter,
Dusty mementos of hand-me-downs.

The real chore is in tossing the
Handmade tools my father
Crafted as a machinist under
The final shadows of WW II
And the scraped-up pale-blue tackle box
Full of Lazy Ikes, Bombers, Jitterbugs,
River Runt Spooks, and
Hula Poppers.

A simple matter on the surface
But what’s not seen is
The slippery thought of
Letting go of steel craft and memories,
Lovingly bequeathed as if

They were brothers whose being
I’m now releasing like unwanted
Fish, letting them drop from my hands
To the trash bin below, letting them go

While I suppress a traitor’s smile,
Great Judas at the workbench, a son
Not much more than an ingrate
Who will probably keep only the tackle box
In the end.

~ originally appeared in Fox Cry Review                                        

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bean Fields

artwork: ralph murre

Bean Fields
by Margaret Hasse

They labor along the straight lines
of parallel rows, the farm boy, the town girl
earning an hourly wage for her college fund,
weeding, staying even with each other,
loving like crazy each other’s smell.

He has the slight acrid burn of green leaves.
She, catmint––residue of shampoo––
her hair streaked shades of brown
like foxtail grasses in the sun.
His Tom body yowls in the backyard

of his brain that he wants that minty weed.                                   
She longs for the end of the row                                          
when they will sit in the bed of a dirty truck
against warm rubber tires and drink
lemonade with tongues so keen

you could map the exact spot where
the sugar of desire does its dream business,
where the lemon pulp—call it
her education plan, his religious training—
persists in its tart denial.

A bean in its ripe casing hangs on a stem,      
three fuzzy lumps in its throat. One for the boy,
one for the girl, and one for how the hinge
of what might happen to them swings slightly,
opening here, closing there.

~ first published in The Talking of Hands (New Rivers Press)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Childhood Visit

A Childhood Visit
 by Marilyn Zelke-Windau

The Scotty dog, our only toy,
knew how to behave.
He, who stood stiff-legged,
black, in the corner,
under the window seat,
with perked ears,
He knew.
He had a red plaid collar.
He was stuffed, not allowed at table.

We were,
but not to speak.
Great Aunt Anna, with tight, grey
braid-pinned, circle hair,
who Mom, through family rights,
called Annie,
served us ham, and dill pickles
from a barrel
in the back yard
in Milwaukee.
We saw it.
It was wooden and had scum
on the brine surface
where the pickles bobbed.

I didn’t say a word.
I just threw up.
German was spoken.
The bathroom was tiled in black
and white. The towel was stiff
on my lip.
Courteous apologies were offered.
Come agains were proffered.

Dad drove home—
Mom’s usual journey.
A White Sox game voiced
balls, not strikes.
I slept in the back window shelf
of the Studebaker,
all the way to Chicago,

~ first published at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mostly Basie with a Little Bach

digital artmerge: ralph murre

Mostly Basie with a Little Bach
by Donal Mahoney

Whenever I see a new woman, I know 
I should look at her hair and her eyes and her smile  
before I decide if she's worth the small talk
and the dinner later 
and whatever else she may require 
before she becomes taffy, 
pliant and smiling. 
But that never works for me.
Whenever I see a new woman, 
what matters to me is never 
her hair or her eyes or her smile;

what matters to me is her saunter 
as I stroll behind her.
If her moon comes over the mountain
and loops in languor, left to right, 
and then loops back again,
primed for another revolution, then
I introduce myself immediately
no matter where we are, 
in the stairwell or on the street
and that's when I see for the first time
her hair and her eyes and her smile  
but they are never a distraction since
I'm lost in the music of her saunter.

Years ago, tall and loping Carol Ann
took a train to Chicago
found a job and then one summer day 
walked ahead of me on Michigan Avenue 
while I surveyed her universe amid 
the cabs screeching, horns beeping, 
a driver's middle finger rising. 
Suddenly she turned and said hello 
and we shook hands and I saw her smile 
dart like a minnow and then disappear 
as she frowned and asked   
why was I walking behind her. 

I told her I was on my way to the noon Mass
at Holy Name Cathedral and she was welcome 
to come along. The sermon wouldn't be much, 
I said, but the coffee and bagels afterward 
would be plentiful, enough to cover lunch.
And Jesus Christ Himself would be there.
She didn't believe me, not at all, 
and she hasn't believed me since. 

That was thirty years ago and now
her smile is still a minnow
darting here and there but now 
it's more important than her saunter 
which is still a symphony, 
mostly Basie with a little Bach.

And I no longer traipse Michigan Avenue 
as I did years ago looking for new moons 
swirling in my universe. Instead, 
I take my lunch in a little bag 
on a long train from the suburbs
and I marvel at one fact:
It's been thirty years since I first heard 
the music in her saunter
and Carol Ann and I are 
still together, praise the Lord. 
Who can believe it? Not I. 
Carol Ann says she knew 
the ending from the start. 
Lord, Almighty. Fancy that.

~ first published in Eye on Life Magazine