Wednesday, May 27, 2015


photoart: ralph murre

by Elizabeth Rosner

sometimes I am Jacob and
sometimes I am the angel and
always I am wrestling
with God or with the idea
of God or with the idea
of myself wrestling with God

(there is always a risk
in the naming of
things in the naming
of oneself)

the stones in my pockets
weighing me down
are also holding me
angels have no pockets and therefore can float

while I, who resist floating,
watch them rise with
something like envy and
something like rage

who can float in a time
like this, when the past
is still close enough
to touch and the sounds
of weeping linger so

isn’t it our grief that makes us real
makes us dimensional,
heavy on the earth?

I think of my grandmother’s
sweet hand, the weight
of it as she stroked my hair
to say good-bye, giving me
comfort because she was
the one leaving,

and her hand rinsed
me like water,
like falling water

~ first published in Many Mountains Moving

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Found in an Attic . . .

artwork: ralph murre

Found in an Attic:
World War II Letter to a Wife
by Donal Mahoney

When I get home
things will be the same.
I haven't changed.

The sling 
comes off the day
I get on the plane.

I'll be able
to cut the grass,
rake the leaves,

shovel the snow,
all the stuff I did before.
And every morning

in summer, fall,
winter and spring,
when we wake up,

I'll draw rosettes
with the tip
of my tongue

on your nipples,
await your orders to
bivouac elsewhere.

Nothing has changed.
I'm feeling fine.
We'll cleave again

~ first published in Eye on Life

Friday, May 22, 2015

Scout's Honor

artwork: ralph murre

Scout’s Honor
by Ralph Murre

Merit badges for tying knots -
the bowline, the sheepshank, the clove hitch.
Merit badges for whittling the likenesses
of dead presidents and woodland animals, and
of course, for assistance given to the feeble
in their never-ending quest to cross the road.

Maybe they should keep handing them out.

The badge for showing up every day
right down to the day they tell you
not to show up tomorrow.
A merit badge for the day
your infant son needs major surgery.
Another for that day he’s grown
and buys his first motorcycle.
Badges for each of your daughter’s tattoos
and piercings. Diamond insets
if you can’t really mention what’s been pierced.
A merit badge, or, at least, a colorful neckerchief
as your party loses another one.
( But it could be taken back if you move to Canada.)
Bronze medals for burying parents.
Silver for friends.
You’d rather die than win the gold.
A merit badge and letter of commendation
the day you actually give up your abuse
of anything, or anyone.
And a little badge of semi-precious material
for every day that you get out of bed
and wear a brave costume.
One for that confident smile on your face
as your knees tremble beneath the table.

            ~ previously published in Crude Red Boat
               (Cross + Roads Press)

Sunday, May 17, 2015


photoart: sharon auberle

by Sharon Auberle

Last seen lying on a log
among trilliums, lady's slippers
and columbine…

It has rained since then,
a downpour of sweetness
drenching the book
I left among trees
where birds and squirrels
may one day line their nests
with a poet's words.
I didn't mean to leave her there,
but knelt to gather mushrooms
then, forgetting, walked away.

As she lay dying in Poland,
Anna wrote the book's last poem,
hospital sheets white and sterile
beneath her, no bed
of dark loam and leaves
no choirs of wildflowers
no one to whisper
she did not die,
she's only gone missing
for awhile in the forest.

~ first published in Crow Ink (Little Eagle Press)

Editor’s note:  Some days after losing the book and gaining this poem, Ms. Auberle retraced her steps through the woodlands and recovered the volume, dampish and lovely and treasured more than ever.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Near Death

digital photoart: ralph murre

Near Death
by Firestone Feinberg

Heart attack.


I was walking on a narrow bridge.
It was only wide enough for me.
And no one else was on it.

I looked up.
There was no sky.

I looked down.
There was no earth.


I was standing in the middle of the bridge.
Then I turned around and slowly




~ first published in Verse-Virtual

Friday, May 8, 2015

What Right Have I?

photo: jude genereaux

“What Right Have I”
  by Jude Genereaux

What right do I have
to luxuriate in such exquisite beauty?
     people are starving in Africa
           children die in the killing fields
                   the mid-east festers, ticking

What right …
to sit gazing at sun dazzled water
lined in cliffs of white, bumblebees pop & whizz
through candy cane striped flutes
gulls glide, weightless over the
navy-blue-white-frothing bay
             I sit idle in a field
             studying the lace of white pine;

Would I dare to hope this is karma, reincarnation?
I am aware of nothing I did to earn this moment
               even as I recognize the truest sin
                        would be to not rejoice in such grace

When I return home I promise to write
my congressmen, send money to good causes
            but for this moment
my sole Duty,  my responsibility
            is to take Notice of this perfection
                                      and be glad.                               

~ first published in Base Camp

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


photoart: sharon auberle

by Harvey O’Leary

To wake, as if given a fright,
To know today has no tonight,
To watch a cord dangle the light;

To watch the watch, to clock the clock,
To hear, as the key fits the lock,
The tinnitus of tick and tock

Grow louder; to hear the heart boom,
To see the door enter the room,
To know that now the time has come.

~  first appeared in Verse Virtual

Sunday, May 3, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

~ by Shoshauna Shy

If I happen to remember Roy
- scruffy vet whom I met
on the New Mexican desert -
what I remember is the night my father
dropped by my first apartment
without warning.
Recent arrivals to that dusty two-horse town,
my father left the sweat of a big-city career,
and I left childhood.
He saw Roy’s motorcycle propped
against the aspen, so why he rang
the doorbell anyway meant he stood
in the dark long enough to regret it

while I buttoned, zipped, straightened,
smoothened, wrestled open the door
and found him, hands clasped behind
his back with some excuse about money.
I could tell, by the light from the stairway,
that even though his shoulders said
Please forgive me, there was no apology
for wanting to stay in my life.

That’s all I remember about Roy.
If Roy happens to think of me,
he remembers something else,
I’m sure.

~ previously published in
The Orange Room Review

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


artwork: william marr

by William Marr

I know you love to dream

Standing in front of my window
I watch the snow
swirling in your dream
a sweet smile rippling
on your mouth

How I’d love to place an overseas call
raise the receiver towards the sky
and let you listen in your dream
to the sound of the snow
wafting and drifting

~ previously published in Poems of the World

Monday, April 27, 2015


digital photoart: ralph murre

by Margaret Hasse

Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names––
my boyfriend and me––
called to his office for skipping school.

The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down empty rural roads
through the Missouri River bottoms beyond town,
wind teasing the hair on our bare heads
emptied of review tests and future plans.

We stopped on a dirt road to hear
a meadowlark’s skittish song and smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.

Now fifty years after that geography lesson
of spring, I remember the words
of the principal, how right he was in saying:
This will become part
of your permanent record.

~ from Earth’s Appetite (Nodin Press)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fare thee well, Ellen Kort

RE / VERSE contributors Sharon Auberle, Michael Koehler, & Ellen Kort
at the launch party for Mike's book, Red Boots

The poetic community of Wisconsin and well beyond, I suspect, is reeling at the loss this morning of a dear friend, a phenomenal teacher and inspiration, and our state's first Poet Laureate, a position she richly deserved.  Ellen Kort set the bar incredibly high for those who would follow.


Tell me of your river, Ellen asked
when I saw her last,

and I said mine brought things
and took things away.

I'm so glad you know a river,
she smiled.

~ Ralph Murre

I'm so very proud of Ellen's friendship and glad to
have a couple of her fine poems on RE / VERSE.
When you've read those, do what you must to
find one or all of her dozen beautiful books. 

Monday, April 20, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

by John Flynn
Within the shaggy cottonwood yard                              
A lengthened sun-drenched patch of sod was found
And planted with white wooden posts
Whose grounded ends were dipped and stuck
With creosote borrowed from the railroad.
Crossbars were notched and set upon the tops.
Stretched between, the wires—
     new and blued,
     without the curls and
     kinks that age
     and almost daily
     use would bring—
Bobbed and hummed
And gave the sun
New tracks for it          
To run upon.

Each weeksworth of childhood’s dirt
Was worried out in a swollen tub
Whose agitator pounded time
Like a galley master gone berserk.
Detergent surged across the rim
And dabbled down enamelled sides.                          
A willing child’s imaginings could rampage
Through this hydrophobic scene,
Witness as the squinch-browed troll
Staggered stiffly through its death throes
And spurted soiled water through its nose.

Bed sheets hung with wooden pins
And slung from separate lines
Bloomed as the summer wind
Swooped between the pinioned sides.
From the porch the washline                                     
Rigged out in bedclothes
Looked for all the world a ship
From some exotic myth
Floating flatly on a grass green sea.                          

 To the boy, strolling lightly
On her spongy decks,
The dampened slabs of sail
Soothed and caressed him
And coddled dreams.

During one such topside stroll,
Sailing off a southern shore
He’d one day recognize,
He shouted greetings to a new bird
Borne from a sea-side cliff.
He watched aghast                                  
The callow, sentient heart
On stiffened wings
Drill smaller circles in the calid sky
And failing, merge into the pageantry.

Lifesworth of family’s laundered clothes
Dripped dry and bleached                       
Beneath the prairie sun;
And greened coarse grass and softened it
So in the dark barefoot you still could tell                                                                              
Just where you were and raising arm        
Catch up and follow to the end.
Then use the washline’s weathered bars
To hang upon and tease the stars.   

~ previously published in Cottonwood Yard       

Friday, April 17, 2015

B-boys of Green Bay

buenos aires graffiti, digitally re-imagined

B-boys of Green Bay
by Sylvia Cavanaugh

Asian b-boys in Green Bay
breakdance in Boys and Girls clubs
in Madison gyms they session, too
Menasha, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee

story re-writes itself in those who move
cultures fuse to dream anew
right foot lifts and steps aside
followed by the left
yet the center always holds
mid-western cyphers ground this dance
gravity partners with defiance
they fly in the placid face of it

South Bronx lynched in ‘70’s style
freeway fuels spontaneous combustion
Kafka jives to a Latin beat where
all that fly are colors
two turntables spin to just one song
layers of loose linoleum whirl helicopter legs
dizzy headspins on cardboard sheets
remnants of desire
windmills shrug off concrete floors

far to the west a mountain people
also lived on slash and burn ‘til opium
smoked their crops to cash
alchemy of imperialism bespoke a
golden triangle secret
war and hidden trail
hunger’s flight through clicking steps
of landmines and helicopters hurling souls
scattering winds
extended clans gone nuclear

b-boy flies up off the floor
released from footwork, spins, and one-armed stands
statues himself to a landing freeze
integrity gestures to the ground
because all your pieces and all your steps
and the way in which you rock the beat
dance the very math of funk so that
two against three adds up to One

~ first published in Verse Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

by Sharmagne Leland – St. John

for Sylvia Plath
1932 – 1963
in Winthrop
beach behind house
storm behind cloud
beside azalea path
near the grave
of Otto Plath
before cloud
hid sun
before depression
had begun
before deceit
before letters home
had changed their tone
before despair

on Primrose Hill
no band of angels
could ever heal
nor soothe
nor salve
with balm
or metaphor
for Ariel
she is no more

~ first published in Contingencies (WynterBlue Publishing)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Since we are not heroes

artwork: ralph murre

Since we are not heroes
by Gary C. Busha

for fish guts
headline the events
of another crisis
while we sit
in the driveway
of our moment
and we know
the present age
is not magnificent.

An evening of stitches
sew our unheroic era as we
sink in our armchairs
like knights in quagmire
not heroic in battles
fought against epic odds
and we languish
not from mortal wounds
but from fatigue.

~ previously published in The Skeptic (Wolfsong Publications)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Seferis' Houses

artwork by ralph murre after a photo by (of?) george seferis

George Seferis, a Greek poet and diplomat
born in Smyrni (now Izmir), Turkey, won
the 1963 Nobel Prize for Literature

Seferis’ Houses
by Stella Pierides

The houses he had owned
they took away from him.

Seferis carried his home
on his back like a tortoise.
Iron beds in empty hotel rooms
rang through his lines,
and the sounds of loneliness–
the silent screams of souls
left to themselves
in the dark.

The houses he had owned they
took away from him.

He used his poetry,
he strung words from the stars
stared at them from afar.
Flowers of Agapanthus
he nailed on his lines,
and crickets, beating time
for the machine.

Only briefly did he go back to Smyrni.

For he knew. Seferis knew. He knew
you have to talk to the dead.
Hades is full of whispers–
the house is always watching.
And waiting.

~ appeared in Gathering Diamonds from the Well: London
   (New Gallery Books)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Here - There Spring

photo: ralph murre

Here -There Spring (or Why a Truce)
for the citizens of Sderot
by Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

Here, where the sky
has stitched two clouds together,
two brown doves have been sitting
on the wall outside my kitchen window,
their heads at forty-five degrees
of separation, tails crossed in an X
which cancels something out.

Do you remember how hopeful
you once were each spring—the world
newly formed and all of it in flower?
Now a fractured sky.  Red dawn.
The shriek of rockets.

Peach trees have donned white robes. 
Acacias have put on their crowns.  
On your sill, Cousin, a white butterfly
puts down, a piece of pale lace fluttering,
impervious to distance.  Even in the desert
there are these butterflies.  The whole
world hatches out, sky cerulean,
just as the world,
sprung into blossom,

            ~ previously published in Before There Is Nowhere to Stand.