Tuesday, January 27, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

E. Poland
January 27, 1945

   by Ethel Mortensen Davis

Deep January
never felt so warm--
when the strong arms
of the Red Army
picked up
the skeleton-like people
and set them
on blankets in the snow.

The evil snake
had reached down
deep into their bodies
and tried to snatch
their very souls,

but the soldiers
gathered them
like sick dogs
in their arms
and set them
into the sunshine.

Libertacja was like
the swinging
of a thousand swings
up into the air--
a day when poetry
began to be written.

~ first published in Gallup Journey Arts Edition (2011)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2 O'CLOCK . . .

artwork: ralph murre

by Shoshauna Shy

His cousin arranged this                                                                  
so he agreed to show up
to find that the 30+ woman
seated beside the ficus plant
has a head of amber curls
which gives her face a spritely
flourish, and he likes how
her sweater sleeves are pushed
to the elbows signifying
a take-charge demeanor.
The woman sees his thick crop
of sun-streaked hair and dark
lashes, but would trade either
for another eight inches in height. 
Even six.
Still, his jacket with the loosened
hip buckles and stylish cuffs
makes up for it.

He figures he could excuse
the lack of cleavage if she listens
to Duke Ellington or drives
a newer car.
And after she orders a second
almond steamer, he bets it
could become endearing
the way she pronounces the “t”
in “often.”
She gives him the benefit
of the doubt that he doesn’t
always tap table tops or rock
a knee (he is simply nervous
as is she), and thinks it charming
the way he tests his latte
with his tongue.

He surmises he could adapt
to the smell of strawberry
shower gel if she enjoys
spending hours in a kitchen.
She hopes his broad palms
indicate an affinity for shovels
and bandsaws, though an aptitude
for engines would be equally
She wishes he had left his ex-wife
instead of the other way around
for the name Krissy  has cropped up
more than is pleasing,
and she estimates that 40% of his tone
is regret and 60% relief,
but it’s rather tricky to determine.
She is not convinced she wants
a dinner date to follow

and he has no idea that the only way
a dinner date will follow
is if he harnesses his impulse
to suggest it, then doesn’t contact her
again till Thursday.

When their mugs are near-empty,
the badminton birdie exhausted
between them, and she has given
him a shy little wave outside
before hopping onto a bicycle,
he decides that if it turns out
she is partial to Star Trek reruns
and never votes Republican,
he could forgive
the thick ankles.

~ previously published by Milk Sugar Literary Journal

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bullfight With Hemingway

artwork: pablo picasso

Bullfight With Hemingway
by F.J. Bergmann

Tell Ernest that I am quite willing
to attend the corrida
as long as they promise, if the bull wins,
to give me the ears
of the matador.

~ first appeared in Right Hand Pointing

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Last Poem

Last Poem
                        (for Jim Hazard)
by Charles Rossiter

Could this be Jim's last poem
here in the Calendar?
Oh Boy Is It Snowing,
a poem full of energy
with a touch of humor,
so like him
complete with an exclamation point!
And there are parentheses,
in fact two parentheses,
or is that called two pairs of parentheses?
I'm not sure, and a couple of
Emily Dickinson-style dashes
in the final stanza.  He often
mentioned Emily.  I like to think
he'd be glad somebody noticed.

~ prev. published in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Monday, January 5, 2015

Carpe Diem

photoart - patricia williams

Carpe Diem - Seize the Day
by Patricia Williams

I want to run away and be a Las Vegas showgirl ― the  
glamor, the fun and excitement, that’s an enticement
what would my in-laws, the book club, the church-ladies say?
Carpe diem - seize the day 

I’d hire a maid flee the cleaning, treat my skin with
French-milled soap, no more harsh detergent then there’s
the kids that’s urgent  but I’ll let those matters lay.
Carpe diem - seize the day

There I’d be, wrapped in a white feather boa nothing else. 
My husband, stunned, the audience clamoring for more.
I’m a star, have fame galore with rich admirers at bay.
Carpe diem - seize the day 

My bubble burst, glimpsed me in the mirror.  All that’s left
of my sweet revere is a white feather floating in the breeze
escaped my pillow when I made the bed guess a feather’s
as close as I’ll ever be.  Hummm maybe I’ll dye my hair red!
Carpe diem - seize the day. 

~ first published in Lake City Lights

Saturday, January 3, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

by James Reiss

The painters began work on the house,
wielding their brushes like wings.
By noon they took off their caps
and blotted their brows with tan rags,
then lit cigarettes by striking wooden
matches on their boots in long slow arcs.

The roof took on the color of the sun
as it broke yolk-like on the weather vane.
They did not see it splatter.
Bronze in their five-o’clock shadows,
they slapped one last gold stroke
and lowered their scaffold and stretched.

    ~ first published in Esquire

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2-for-1 Special

photoart: ralph murre

by Peggy Trojan

New Year's Eve
nine days before I was twelve
Tommy, visiting next door
came to visit me, baby sitting.
At midnight
he sat on the arm of the chair
and leaned to kiss me.
That's all.
No embrace,
no meaningless words.
Nearly seventy years later
I remember our surprise,
the silence,
how warm his lips were
and how soft.

~ first published in Boston Literary Magazine

photoart: ralph murre

by Bobbie Krinsky

Heading out under a moon
as luminous as last year’s Solstice,

my old dog and I ramble
into the raw country wind:

Two old bitches taking  a stroll
beneath the stars,
minutes before New Years  Eve,   2003.

While I plunge through snow hushed  fields
flooded with silver, 
my girl prances like a pup

and paws through shadows
of winter’s trees splayed across  midnight’s
ice blue light.

 ~ first published in The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

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


digital photoart: ralph murre

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


digitally derived from artwork by W.H. Bartlett

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
                                    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