Friday, December 19, 2014

Slowed-down Christmas

photo: ralph murre


Slowed-down Christmas
by Patricia Wellingham - Jones   

This year
   due to ‘circumstances
beyond our control’
   Christmas is simpler than ever

Decorations four
   a tiny tree with lights and Santas
my sister’s ancient ribbon wreath
   nesting Santas lined up on the mantel
and the big red bow from the door
   decks your new walker

Presents few
   things we can eat or drink
use up in six weeks
   and never dust

Friends seldom
   but cherished
especially when
   they don’t stay too long

Old friends and the big dinner
   packaged or boxed or potluck
but the wine flows
   candles flicker
love swoops around the room
   like doves with wings of angel hair
and light


~ previously published in Lunarosity (2006)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Family Called Apple

detail: apple family II: georgia o'keeffe


This Family Called Apple
by M.J. Iuppa
                            after Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Apple Family–2

Plumped up and pinched,
rosy-cheeks of a kind,

ample curves, breasts
and buttocks nestled

side by side, silent
picture of health,

not knowing
what could be growing

wrong on the inside. When
lost in thought in the orchard

I plucked  their glossy bodies–
let them fall into my canvas

apron– ignoring your warnings–
invisible bruises show up after

the snap of leaf and stem. Now
which will go first?  Taut

skin resists, shines
against the bite

that changed paradise–
sudden waters, flesh, seeds,

unlocked stars– the secrets
of many in this chaste household.



~ first published in Language of Color: Writers Respond to the Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe (Big Pencil Press)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lunch in the Hudson Bay Cafeteria

artwork: ralph murre


Lunch in the Hudson Bay Cafeteria
by Don Schaeffer

Built at a time when air was cheap
it has more space than it needs.
Solemn echoes surround the flags and
matrons dressed in white
employed to cook and mother.
A large symbolic paddle wheel
clatters comically on its ancient motor
beside a pale antique diorama of the river.
We bring trays
of veal and trifle.
The ceiling is a formalized caprice
like a stage set in animated fantasy,
with ceremonious lamps somehow made friendly
laughing to themselves as they sprout
from roots in the broken clouds.


~ first published in Lily Literary Review (2006)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

ALL THE DAYS ARE

digital photoart: ralph murre


ALL THE DAYS ARE
by Ronald Baatz

All the days are cold and short
like rows and rows of possum teeth.
The house is empty, even the
mountain air refuses to come in,
afraid of the stillness.
I can sit at the kitchen table for hours.
Its white paint may be chipping
but the large vein running through
the middle of my forehead is firm.
I feel it at my fingertips as I
work on a crossword puzzle
having no squares.
It’s good to know
a pack of hunting dogs
was once baffled by
the stream out back.

                        ~ first published in Wormwood Review 1973

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tzama*

digitally derived from artwork by W.H. Bartlett


Tzama
by Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

Beneath the Holy Land,
where even water wars are fought,
the troubled springs run deep.
And water, which has properties
to wear on stone, has split the rock.
                                    Lord . . .
                                                my shepherd.  
           
About suffering, Stefan Grass said,
“Suffering is like salt, bitter in a glass.
Become a lake instead—then sip the water. 
You’ll see how sweet it tastes,
with hardly any hint of bitterness.”

(The Jaffa oranges are sweet
and bigger than grenades. 
We’ve moved our fences farther in.
Our neighbors claim the land we left,
then ours.)

                                     Beside the still waters. . .
Sbarro Pizza,
where a young man opens up his coat,
says to the girl behind the counter,
Know what this is?
so like the exhibitionist
who bares his misused, misplaced
instrument of love
explosively.
                                    He maketh me to lie down . . .
                                    In green pastures
tents of Palestinians
are buffeted by angry winds,
their throats are parched.
The houses of the Palestinians collapse. 

                                     In the house of the Lord,
another scene:  From one side
comes a swarthy man and from the other,
one more swarthy man—
sons of the same father.
They face off, raise their instruments,
and aim.  Which will give ground?
Which strike the other first?
Raging thirst propels them.
Nearby the only lake
that’s fresh and clear
is Lake Tiberius,
called the Sea of Galilee.
It, too, is troubled water.
Further south, the sea is dead 
and full of salt.  How many 
Abrahamic sons must fall?

(Bombs bloom. 
The wolves that used to roam
the Russian Steppes
are here.)

                       Through the valley of the shadow,
a great tree arches over the River Jordan.
It is the tree of the Jewish people.
It is the tree of the Palestinian people.
Its leaves shudder in the wind,
on every leaf a name.



~ first published in MidEastWeb

* Tzama is Hebrew for "thirst"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Another Time, Maybe

artwork: ralph murre


Another Time, Maybe
by Ralph Murre

Wasn’t there a time when it all seemed o.k.?
Mantel clocks faithfully wound, maternity wards
thriving, Montgomery Wards thriving,
a Ford in the garage? An occasional world war
or mob lynching, the atomic removal
of a couple of cities far away,
a case of Schlitz in the cellar?

Wasn’t there this background music,
a bearded man conducting a thousand strings
and Dinah Shore and a summer of cicadas
in a Hollywood Bowl of Cherries?
Wasn’t it just swell? And didn’t you get
that orange box of Wheaties with Eddie Matthews
when your dad got the job at the gas station
after striking for a couple of years at Kohler?

Didn’t you shine your little shoes and put on
your little suit and snap your bow-tie
on the white collar and look up
the skirt of the angel costume on the stepladder?
And how hard was it to swipe a pack of Luckies?
Wasn’t there a time when feeling-up the Schmidt
girl in her pointy little bra was pretty good?

And wasn’t it great to go to art school
and draw nude models and swipe packs
of Gauloises at the Knickerbocker? And
wasn’t it great when your brother
let you come along to a park and build
a fort with his buddies and then
that old guy drove up and was real nice
and wanted to see your . . .
touch your . . . Oh, that’s right,
you can’t remember that, can you?

And wasn’t it fun the time you and Billy
put sand in the fuel tank of that bulldozer
and busted the windows out of that cabin?
And wasn’t it cool when you didn’t get drafted
and got to mess around with chicks
who burnt their pointy little bras?

And wasn’t it nice when Ike, in his gray suit,
and Mamie, in her navy blue dress
with the little white dots looked up from golf
and told us everything would be o.k.?
Wasn’t that nice?
And weren’t her gloves just so white?


~ first published in the Peninsula Pulse

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lune Morte

photoart: ralph murre


Lune Morte
by Virginie Colline

The dead moon stares at us
In the garden of nettles
Behind the wall
A derelict church
Hides its secret dust


~ first appeared in Oberon's Law

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mona Lisa

artwork: william marr


Mona Lisa
by William Marr


There must be some d-e--e---p
secret

Staring at her smile
a man tilts his head left and right
Beside him a painted woman
wears a wide grin


~ previously published in Between Heaven and Earth
   (PublishAmerica)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bait

artwork: ralph murre


Bait
by Karen Stromberg


We catch poems

the way fishermen catch fish:

by sitting alone for hours

in the little boat of ourselves,

nothing much going on,

just a finger

on the filament

that leads

to the anguished worm



~ first published in The Ever Dancing Muse (1999)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Berlin Sky

artwork: ralph murre


Berlin Sky
by Thomas J. Erickson

When daybreak surprised us that morning
in your hotel room, the Berlin sky was
the color of a healing bruise.

In my pocket were the chips of mortar I had
scratched out of the remnants of the Gestapo
headquarters.  The mortar was turning
to sand by the hour--free at last
to disintegrate for all time.

I asked you to think of all the people
who had looked into that sky awaiting
the knock of the Gestapo or the Stasi,
the concussions of the Allied bombs,
or the signal to escape from East to West.

We were too drunk and happy, though,
to confront the city and its past--safely
distanced, as we were, from divorce 
or the second thoughts of the newly married.

It was easy to look at the sky and write
our histories on the window pane
before passing into our Lethean sleep.


~ first published Mad Poets Review

Monday, November 3, 2014

GHOSTS OF HAWORTH

photo - patricia williams


GHOSTS OF HAWORTH
by Patricia Williams
 
Vivid autumn courses, bringing unwelcome news
of unknown but compelling forces
shrouded in time and season,
a world where myth and reason collide,
the magnetic pull of frost and fog,
bleak landscapes where gothic heroes speak.

A timeworn house and desolate downs, set amid
the rushing and moaning of the wind, 
hear tortured souls howling from parchment pages.
November bites, draws in the chill of winter,
overnight frost and snow settle and fall,
thoughts and feelings call and clash along the way.

Those most encumbered ones of Haworth,
all slumbered before their thirty-eighth summer,
unconventional, unwell, grave and quiet,
living in a limbo close to hell, clinging to one other,
happiness not brought about by change
on the bleak moors of Yorkshire.

Walk in the wilderness, the featureless and solitary
that haunts with hints of the extraordinary.
Pictures frozen in time, every twist having a turn,
each hillock of heather with scent sublime,
like elusive thoughts during sleep.
Those coldest pine for Haworth’s beloved heath.


~ first published in Middlebrow Magazine

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mnemonic

artwork: ralph murre


Mnemonic
by Wilda W. Morris

            Beginning with a line and a half from Li-Young Lee*

I was cold once. So my father took off his blue sweater.
He wrapped me in it.

I slid my short arms into the long sleeves.
Father leaned down and buttoned each button.

I was five years old
and the sweater had five buttons.

“Carry me,” I begged. “I’m tired.” Father picked me up.
As my arms flew around his neck, the sleeves flapped like blue wings.

Now I was warm
but Father was cold.

He carried me seven blocks and was worn out
when he climbed the steps to our door.

This is how I remember it.

But when I was five I was never wrapped
in a warm sweater with buttons down the front.

And I had no father.


~ first published in After Hours

Monday, October 27, 2014

WITH THE WINDOW OPEN

photoart: sharon auberle


WITH THE WINDOW OPEN
by Ronald Baatz

With the window open
you can hear piano music
softly coming from the house
like bread thrown to birds.
The night is calm, except for
some bright thunder that
accompanies the falling leaves.
Part of the mountain ash tree
is dead, though the music she plays
may turn it into firewood.
I could hide in the dark
of the barn, to rip the
skin from my thumbs.
The place is no longer used,
but then neither is the north star.
The situation surprises me,
as does a dream.
My blood has turned to ashes,
caught in a woman’s long hair
like confetti or dried
and broken leaves.


~ first published in Shenandoah (1974)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Return Trip

artwork: ralph murre


Return Trip
by Peggy Trojan
                                                                                                          
Coming back always went fast.
We fell asleep on the rear seat
in happy tangle, and were home
before we wished it.
My father carried us 
to our beds, my younger
brothers limp and soft,
easily moved.
I was too old
for such attention,
and feigning sleep
I’m sure he knew.
He picked me up,
all dangling legs and arms,
my face in his shoulder
of tobacco and wool,
trudged up the stairs.
By hall light,
he put me down gently,
took off my shoes,
covered me up, clothes and all.
Then, tip toed out,
leaving the door ajar.


~ first published in Wisconsin People and Ideas  

Friday, October 17, 2014

DAD'S LUNCH BOX

artwork: ralph murre


DAD’S LUNCH BOX
by Donna Hilbert

Dad climbs down
the telephone pole,
stretches out under a pepper tree,
opens his lunch box:
black metal,
substantial like a vault,
or a government building
in a Balkan country.
Under its dome
wire arms hold
a Thermos of coffee.
On the bottom floor,
Vienna sausages on a bed
of mayonnaise, white bread.
For dessert, butterscotch
cream-center cookies.
Dad unwraps a sandwich, eats.
He pours coffee into the cup
his Thermos lid makes,
dips a cookie, watches it bloat,
then holds his lips to the rim,
slips the sweet bits
into his mouth.
I like to think
he savors pleasure
before he stands the box on one end,
touches a forefinger to his tongue,
his damp fingertip
gleaning crumbs
to feed the sparrows who wait
in slender leaves.
Then, one foot
over the other,
he climbs the pole again.


~ first published in PEARL

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dredging

artwork: ralph murre


Dredging
by Richard Purinton

A laden scow slides in sloppy chop,
Pushed by a red tug.
Its black, smoking stack
Mirrors the propeller’s spin.
Muck and rock, hard pan bottom,
Crane swing, one scoop at a time.
Scow to truck, scow to truck, truck to dump site,
Muck trucked to landfill.

Rolling, snorting through intersections,
Horns blatting, diesels braking,
Dopplers released from the far sides of hills.
Then, engines rumble idly as the
Slippery spoils slide and stones scrape
From steel box to the waiting pit below.
A dirty earth jello.

Now night. Scow light.
The same red tug pushes
An empty scow away,
Engine loafing, not huffing.
Second shift will dig, dredge, tow,
Truck and dump.
Dig, dredge, tow, truck and dump.


 ~ previously published in Poem, Prose & Image (Island Bayou Press)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quick Step

photoart: ralph murre


Quick Step
by Barbara Cranford

Come with me, my old familiar love,
to that long, resounding bridge
over the singing stream
and remember when we tripped
lightly, skipping sprightly
with Amaryllis in the spring.

As once in another life
in another place and time––
we two the same yet not the same,
as no leaf on any tree is the same
yet not the same, as last year’s growth
or next year’s yield––we will step slowly
around this autumnal glade.

We will be forgiven
our forgotten dreams
and all our broken promises
as our stately minuet
slips into two-step,
double-time and rag.


~ first appeared in Pegasus

Monday, October 6, 2014

The chickens were cackling . . .

photo: robert lee haycock


by Robert Lee Haycock

The chickens were cackling
Over some off-color joke
About a man running around
With his head chopped off
I didn't get the punchline


~ first published in Medusa’s Kitchen

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lake Songs

photo: patricia wellingham-jones


Lake Songs   
 by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

On our usual bench
by Lake Almanor, we listen
to ravens croak among pines
and grebes call in the middle of the lake.
With our own words winding down
small water sounds emerge:
tiny slap of wavelets against a stony shore,
the rise of wind pushing its blue path
and the faint splash as ducks dive
beneath the sparkling surface.
Loon-song haunts a distant cove,
carries us somewhere
we never knew.


~ first published in Brevities