Monday, October 27, 2014


photoart: sharon auberle

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


artwork: ralph murre

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


artwork: ralph murre

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Trip to Seoul . . .

detail of photo courtesy norman j. olson

A Trip to Seoul September 23 to 25, 2011
by Norman J. Olson

I traveled
from the intricate
branches of an oak tree
against a rainy blue/gray sky,
to an auditorium filled
with Picasso and his
millions of

I walked on old cobblestones
and rode on shiny steel rails

everyone was polite
enough not to laugh
a fat old American
artistic pretensions… I had no use
for the condom on the dresser,
but it did
remind me that love
is everywhere
can take many

~ first published in Sketchbook

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