Tuesday, November 24, 2015

At Bus Stops on Thanksgiving Day

artwork: ralph murre

At Bus Stops on Thanksgiving Day
by Donal Mahoney

Before dawn, people
who work on Thanksgiving Day 
wait in the wind for a bus
to arrive or maybe not.
It's too cold to talk 
so the people stand
like minutemen and plan
a revolution that would shock 
nice families who drive by later,
children tucked in scarves
and mittens, laughing
all the way to Nana's house 
for turkey, gravy, stuffing
and later in the day
a ballerina of whipped cream
twirling on pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving is the day
America asks for seconds
and sorts its servers
from the served.

~ first published in Eye on Life Magazine

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Connoisseur of Canoes

artwork: ralph murre

The Connoisseur of Canoes 
by Jimmy Pappas

Nursing a drink in my right
hand, I enter the boathouse
and wonder how long I can
pretend to be sipping the few
drops I have left. The group
forms a circle shoulder to
shoulder in my peripheral
vision. Occasionally, someone
glances my way and turns
back quickly to avoid eye
contact, while I stop at a boat
and touch the varnish with
one finger from my left hand.
I pretend to be a connoisseur
of canoes, an aficionado of
aquatic vehicles, all the while
wishing the ice in my glass
would melt faster so I could
take another sip. Until it does,
I stare at my reflection and
wonder if people had it wrong
about Narcissus, that he
didn’t fall in love with
himself, just out of love
with the rest of the world.

~ previously published in Atticus Review

Monday, November 16, 2015

Seeing Mountains

photo: sharon auberle

by M.J. Iuppa

Seeing Mountains

in shades of amber, an ecology of ash
& aspens, their expansive reach to a cloud
chasing sky casts a spell  over me . . .
 I look up into heights I rarely perceive
from a farm whose land was once smoothed
by the press of a glacier’s hand.

                                                      And so, I slide
into the pool of my shadow & sit there quietly
waiting for the windless explosion of monarch

wings or a thousand  leaves  tumbling like loose
coins tossed into autumn’s sunlight to take
 my breath away.

~ first published in Blue Heron Review

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

by Michael L. Newell

A hat properly aged
releases the fisherman
cast inside a steel worker,

the dancer shimmering
in an accountant's figures,
the sailor deep

inside a coal miner,
the woodsman wandering
in a priest.


A hat aged properly,
stiffness mellowed into character,
smells of salt water

brine pickling skin, rain
streaming through Douglas Fir, firewood
kindling friendships, pipes

lit from embers
warming conversation, contains
sun, earth, tree, fire, rain, and moon.

~ first published in Bellowing Ark

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Water Sign

artwork: ralph murre

Water Sign
by Margaret Hasse

Two-year-old Charlie loves water,

loves the force of water 
in gutters, pipes, the second hose
bought to keep peace between brothers
who spray tomatoes with the intensity
of fire fighters at a five alarm fire,

loves the sources of water:
faucet, penis, rain, spit.

He longs like a pilgrim for wet places
where his worship is
complete submersion:
bathtub, swim pool, lake.

To praise water,
he secludes himself in the bathroom.
Ascending a stepping stool to the sink,
he opens valves to an endless rush
of new pressure in copper pipes.

So much water, why not share it?
Give it away until it seeps
through the floorboards,
showers into the kitchen,
fills the bowls on the table,
flows on the heads
of his amazed mother and brother
who do not immediately recognize
that grace might descend like this –
inconveniently –
from a complete enthusiast
who needs to be forgiven
for being generous
with whatever he loves.

~ previously published in Milk and Tides (Nodin Press)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

So, This is What Living Means

artwork:ralph murre

So, This is What Living Means
by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

What a relief, to finally know
what living means:
an extra skate key
stashed under a garbage can,
on the right side of the stoop.

Years ago, I tried to ponder all
the great questions.  I read Nietzsche
and Dostoyevsky and fell in love
with a bulge-eyed Frenchman.
I tried to do what was expected
of a working class kid in a state college:
think, read, talk the big questions;
prove your mother right.

But I was a fake.  Friends read N and D too,
and understood them.  They were impressed
by my love for the bulge-eyed Frenchman,
my facile quotes delivered with meaningful
pauses.  They didn't know I yawned through N
and read D because he told a good story.

Marriage and a real job distracted, just in time.
I had things to do and need not ponder
what living means.  I stopped reading N
and fell out of love.  But kept D by my bedside.

Later on, with divorce behind me and poetry on my mind,
I watched my cat play with a terrified lizard;
I looked at rain; I choked on hot winds scorching
my tomato plants and began to ponder again,
but nothing happened.

I read N again and the bulge-eyed Frenchman, but I
didn't fall in love.

I understood better this time, but I was still
shaky on details and settled down with D
to forget myself.

"Why" is a good word, a solid word that can
occupy a lifetime.  But an answer to why isn't meaning.

"Is" is a good word too.  Something of substance.
Like an extra skate key stashed under a garbage can,
on the right side of the stoop, just in case,
just in time.

~ originally published on AmherstWriters.org

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Case for Ghosts

digital photoart: ralph murre

A Case for Ghosts
by Sara Clancy

Though you think otherwise
I am aware of an intrusion into the day
that feels like any afternoon in reverse
where conversation is complete
recollection plays the radio
and we are all present.

To arrive here you need nothing
like faith. Though I believe in memory
don't you? These dubious apparitions
insist on clarity, if only the relief
of your forehead glimpsed against
the steady shade of my hand.

In the end I will trade the familiar
cold spot with all its calibrations of doubt
for evidence of your dazzling absence
in the instant you cool your coffee,
your inexplicable breath
warm and expired.

~ previously published in Houseboat

Monday, October 26, 2015


photo: ralph murre

by Bruce Dethlefsen

these people
these place
these time of day

these breeze oh ain’t they sweet
these air to breathe
these sun wet world
these whole big blue green deal

and then these night
these children moon
these stars on strings
these stars
these twang of things


~ previously published in Unexpected Shiny Things
   Cowfeather Press

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Recipe for Autumn

artwork: ralph murre

Recipe for Autumn
by Joan Wiese Johannes

You do not need a recipe.

All you need has gathered
in your freezer, on your doorstep,
and on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator
where the bunch of celery, minus
the thin stalk the cookbook called for,
begs you to let it flavor soup.

You do not need to leave home.

In the freezer there are ham hocks boiled
when the price was low
and corn on the cob bought from the farmer
who crumpled your money
into the pocket of his overalls,
making himself richer, making you richer too.

You do not need the market.

Use the potatoes that appeared at the office
next to the sign, Help Yourself,
tomatoes from the picnic table
where your neighbor puts produce
she wants to share,
the purple beans the poet brought you,
and the stray peppers left on your porch.

You do not need to wait.

Even the catsup to thicken and brighten
your broth has settled in the plastic bowl
where your husband poured it after he
knocked the bottle off the pantry shelf.

You do not need a recipe;
all you need is here.

  ~ first published in Wisconsin Trails

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cezanne Jelly and Paper Kites

artwork: paul cezanne

Cezanne Jelly and Paper Kites
by Albert DeGenova

in our Cezanne season when reason was treason
blue was the color for days and nights
jelly on crackers the Tao of our Zen

the then of amen again and again
undulating shadows red lava light
that Cezanne season when reason was treason

sunshine like thunder begun and undone
purple and yellow crepe paper kites
jelly on crackers the Tao of our Zen

you were the one the one the one
to bless the black cat with child sight
a Cezanne season when reason was treason

I painted poems with naked pen
to remember black coffee mornings and nights
jelly on crackers the Tao of our Zen

and now our cold toes touch almost like then
when we danced in crackling firelight
that was our season when reason was treason
jelly on crackers the Tao of our Zen

~ previously published in The Blueing Hours
   (Virtual Artists Collective)

Thursday, October 15, 2015


photo and scarecrow by ralph murre

By Shoshauna Shy ---

at a Citgo station.
I am still married
and neither of us suspects
I will become my husband’s ex,
then Bill’s live-in girlfriend.
Next I’m his almost-fiancee
till drunken hijinks
with his best friend
gets me pregnant.
As things go, I miscarry;
Bill forgives me; we get
back together; we break up.
This goes on for years
while he travels to Key West
and dates someone else’s wife.
Meanwhile, I give birth
to a couple of his kids;
we get a license;
we have a wedding,
but before I know it
all hell breaks loose

and I’m his ex, Bill’s very own ex.
I figured I was olly olly in free
but as Bill says, guy reaches 40,
he’s bound to have an ex;
maybe even two.
This makes for a handy excuse
when my successor, a pretty
wanna-be-Mrs named Alyssa
prepares to present her case.
Bill can shake his head
and damn if that’s not all it takes
for her to know she should get real
or get gone - It won’t get
any better than this.

~ first published in stoneboat

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pan's Lament

artwork: ralph murre

Pan’s Lament
by Rose Mary Boehm

Grandmothers wore sadness wrapped in black.
Pan’s duduk no longer moved their feet in dance.
The young wore rape and shame like the end
of a world where their lives had been broken.
Sons and lovers, husbands and brothers,
their blood running over the heavy stones of betrayal.

When I left my
Armenia and my mother
like a thief in the night, the outcast, the coward,
I saw my father’s face ripped away by a Turkish bullet
before I stole away, and all I felt was hot pee
running down my stockings, smelling of fear.
I had reached the bottom of my chasm,
the six-year old could not climb up.

What do I remember? Not my father’s face.
Nor can I recall my mother’s. Pourasdan, my sister,
was full of life, her skirts whirling to Pan’s
enchantment. That was before. The only
one left to receive me, I found an old woman
with dead eyes. Who am I?

I have climbed to the highest peak around
my village. Across the valley a mountain top has chosen
to be dressed in virgin white. Give us back our innocence,
so we can dance again. Pan’s lament
is floating up on the evening mist, haunting
my memories, weaving bereavement, singing my chasm
where I now find a wistful symmetry.
I will not be sad in this world.

~ first published in Poetry Quarterly (2011)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

When The Rooster Crows

photo: marilyn fleming

When The Rooster Crows
by Marilyn Fleming
I linger bedside—
the cry of a killdeer
on my tongue

birds rustle
at the water’s edge
his teeth in a jar

the milk house dark
—flash of a cat

his last words  
‘there’s nothing left of me
—sell the farm’

fallowed land
from the mouth of a cave
his rattled breath

big brown hands
of cold dry clay—
a smell of twigs

raw earth shivers
threads the seed—claims him
—winter wheat

when the rooster crows
no one will remember
his face—his name

who will feed the cat
the old farmhouse stands alone
–on the river flows

~ first published in the An Ariel Anthology 2014

Thursday, October 1, 2015


artwork: william marr

            --New Orleans, August 2005

by William Marr

With such a name
of course she had to be
a wild dancer

A slight swing of her wide skirt
instantly sent all watchers
into a daze
not able to escape
nor to tell
if what engulfed the city
was water from the ruptured levees
or tears from their eyes

On the turbid water's surface
there were bloated bodies
querying the sky
with outstretched arms

~ previously published in Beyond Katrina
   (Arts & Healthcare Press)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

. . . better loving

from 1937 ad by climax molybdenum co.

. . . better loving
                                                                                    . . . through improved tensile
                                                                                    strength, ductility, and
                                                                                    corrosion resistance.

                                                                                    Modern Metallurgy
                                                                                    November 1964

by Ellen Wade Beals

Beer scum slag of milled ore
on the floor of Urad Valley
where men crave sunshine
in dank, tight spaces.  Shift
over, these smudged grubs make
up for loss, gulping air, light,
beer, the behind-the-ear
musk of any girl just pretty enough.
Leadville, town with a heart of molybdenum,
made the introductions.  They met at the bakery;
she was powdered with flour. They ate
cookies among the moneyed aspen,
air thin as an old woman’s handkerchief.

* * *

Despite the upheaval of lung slugs
and the clank of bed rail and puke dish,
he recalls going down, under Red Mountain.
Sometimes he wouldn’t wash
and her smell would be with him,
on his beard. Now he’s bald and ashen
from 20 years of mines, Pall Malls, and reefer.
The crescent scar, where his chin met a drill bit,
smiles down and she wonders whether
she imagined him nod. Amid the shuffle
of soles on linoleum, his cough tries again
to find itself, weak as mountain air.

* * *

Something crinkles in the couch
cushion. She retrieves the pack of smokes,
hidden after his diagnosis, the gold
cellophane to mark her place in A Pocket Full
of Rye. Her gnarled feet on the cocktail table,
stocking seam pulled, they stare at her
like two old comedians.
Amid a wheeze of expiration, she wonders
had Agatha Christie ever loved,
rock for pillow, moss blanket,
the moon his miner’s light.

* * *

Pneumatic breathing from another room
provides the score as you
complete the family health history,
checking diseases that apply: cancer, emphysema,
naiveté. Now imagine mining:
First pick with all your weight behind you.
Wedge the crack. Place caps strategically.
Blow. Squeezed in your hand is pyrite, fool’s gold,
good luck charm since sixth grade,
a nugget big as a turkey heart,
you hope to feel the pulse of stone.

~ first published in Halogen (2000)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

the word of the day is "myopia"

artwork: ralph murre

the word of the day is “myopia”

But now it’s time to call the children home.
     -- Kurt Brown
by Marty McConnell

With death at the edges of everything
the fruit flies seem unkillable, endless,
while Melissa’s back to chemo
a fourth time, another of Missy’s
students shot in Englewood, and now

the news, Kurt slipped off
in his sleep. The flies
rise up from the sink in a loose
fist, are everywhere, then settle
on the dishes from last night’s

impromptu holidayless costume
party. In San Francisco the lack
of clear seasons can make it easier
to forget about death. Brutal
as the Chicago winters are, the cold

reduces the murder toll which makes
the clear June sky a trouble sign. I wore
a red tutu, symbolizing nothing, Denise
a white hoop skirt covered with plastic
guns, Tatyana was a bee, which are

an endangered breed in our country
and all it meant was Sunday and potluck
and I didn’t know Kurt was dying, maybe he
didn’t know it either and I don’t know
Missy’s kid’s name but Dave was Madonna

and Jerre the leader of the band
and Sonya rocked an impossible
feathered headpiece and Stevie Nicks
sleeves. We’d spent the afternoon
talking about the role of art in saving

our own lives and then it was time for dinner
and ridiculousness, which is to say
living, noise from the neighbor’s balcony
almost as loud as ours, Sunday
and nobody dying as far as we can see.

~ first published in Tandem