Thursday, July 30, 2015

Woman . . . Man . . . Fish . . . Bicycle

photoart: sharon auberle

by Sylvia Cavanaugh

Perfectly round ova
nested within
were formed along with the rest of the body
in the shelter of a mother’s space
from her own singular orb
round eggs round the chain of
life it clicks along
propels a forward tide

while men burrow down in furrows of
clone technologies make their
swimming cells redundant
whiplash tails
accidents of evolution
all come down to our bodies
our brains
and our inventions

like this red and gleaming two-wheeled frame
perfect fit between two legs
propulsion honed to hip and knee
press of foot and ankle flex

thumb and bell cry
we are coming
we are coming
self-satisfied we
cruise a moist planet
her many trails

~ first published in The Camel Saloon

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Handyman (RE / VERSE post #600)

artwork: ralph murre

by William Schmidtkunz

Warren calls . . .
something about the door,
something about a leak,

something about something else.

Next morning,
Marcie greets me at the door
with a German Shepherd and a can of beer.

Warren points to a chair, winks.
I love this man.

His week laid out
one med at a time.
Today’s rainbow is Wednesday.

For a while it’s the weather,
and then it’s the kids.
But it’s never the work.

It’s always the something about the something else.

~ previously published in Home (Red Horse Press)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Raising Windmills

artwork: ralph murre

Raising Windmills
by Mary Wehner

Against a calculated wing swing
in the parsed-out fields
the rolling hills cease their rolling.

Cattle hunch, geese scatter,
the polished white shadows
like spinning armies march and pulse.

It was in the winter months
the strangers came, sat at the farmer’s
kitchen table, laying out their cards,

a few extra bucks in a hard clay world,
a little help for the worried. No one loses
they said and shook hands. A done deal.

There’s clean power for the folks in Chicago,
some left over for the Wisconsin neighbors now
awake most nights counting the timed red flickers.

~ first published in Verse Wisconsin

Monday, July 20, 2015


artwork: william marr

    by William Marr

too far from home
eventually all become


~ first published in New World Poetry Bimonthly

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tres por Uno, Pablo

artwork: ralph murre

Talking to Neruda's Ghost
by Sharon Auberle

So Pablo, how is it,
over there where you are?
I want you to know
we miss you here,
miss your glorious gusto,
your fragrance of ink,
sea and flowers.
We miss your odes
to plain things:
salt, artichokes,

Do you remember your ode
to watermelon?
I dream of licking the rivers
of juice from your lips, Pablo.
And your socks, Pablo,
I would have learned, gladly,
to darn them, though
I am a woman who hates to sew.

I think I could have loved you.
Yes, there was Matilde,
your sun and moon,
your beloved, without whom,
you said, you would die.

I can live with that.

But Pablo, please,
say we go on, say
that you and Matilde
are out there tonight,
hands filled with clay and words,

    you are shaping
          poems into stars
              to fling across the sky.

by Sharmagne Leland-St. John

Did she slake your thirst
and fill your poet's heart
with flowery words
to spill across the empty page,
a river of green ink,

Did you see the rainbows
in her eyes and pray
she'd never leave you,
as you had left the others?

Did you watch with wonder
when she twined the blossoms
of the bougainvillea
into tangled locks
and feel your soul
was laughing at the moon?

Did you listen for her footsteps
on the spiral stair,
waiting for her return
so you could breathe again?

Did you ever think
someone could love you
so completely?

How I Met Pablo Neruda
by Estella Lauter

It was by accident.
Walking in Mexico City
I saw a poster about a reading
at the National Stadium.   
A tribute to Pablo Neruda. 
Like something that might
happen in a Greek ruin
not in North America.
I had to bear witness.  

My Cuban friend guessed
from their dress and speech
that people came from all over
Mexico and South America,
and they knew their man.
When the readers spoke his lines
a steady whisper surrounded us
as if the poems were a rosary.   

Suddenly from the center came a chant,
Neruda esta aquiNeruda esta aqui.

In New York, Security would have dragged
the visionaries out of there in minutes. 
But no.  The readers waited.  People wept quietly.  
When the voices hushed, the program resumed.   

No one was frightened by this spirit. 
Neruda was there.  He was expected. 
We were glad for him.
Esta bien.

~ "Talking to Neruda's Ghost" and "Matilde" have previously appeared in Quill & Parchment; "How I Met Pablo Neruda" was first published in Wisconsin People & Ideas

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Utopian Studies

photo: ralph murre

Utopian Studies
 by Sandra Lindow

Utopia means no place, reflecting
the impossibility of perfection.
Resources are limited; life, short,
and the correlation between
desire and fulfillment, sloppy at best.
What with wars, epidemics and mass starvations
dystopia is upon us, but today
eating breakfast on my front porch
hearing chickadees in the cottonwood,
and seeing an irrepressible joy of July sunshine
spun like cotton candy between Tiger lily
and Monarch, I reconsider.
A hummingbird hovers in the Bee Balm,
its tiny tongue of life outwitting the dark.
The hydrangea and the spirea
are out of control, charging 
like unleashed dogs across the lawn.
I have planted mugwort
and am learning spells for the perfect crumpet.
The garlic is ready for harvest.
Utopia is what I make it: here, now.

~ first published in Red Cedar Journal

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Henry's Last Dream Song

artwork: ralph murre

Henry's Last Dream Song
   (In Honor of John Berryman)
by Jimmy Pappas

Suicides always try to cheat death
by dying: Sylvia chose the warm oven
despite the different buzz
in her ear, the tingling sensation of life's breath
trying to reach the dulled mind. Everyone
followed in rapid succession,

leaving poor Henry at the end of the race,
wondering if his turn would ever come
& shouting 'Wait for me!'
So Henry, hot shit, him no fool,
him leave his Inner Resources all ova da place
for da cops to pick up.

And what I want to know is what went on
in Henry's mind as he fell like a man
in an unstoppable dream
clutches blankets struggling hard to yell.
Tell me, Mr. Bones, was he surprised
by the loudness of his scream?

~ previously published in Goodreads and
    subsequently in Dead Snakes

Friday, July 3, 2015

When Stars Collide

digital art: ralph murre

When Stars Collide                                  
by Marilyn Fleming

I knew it was you
at the lakefront on the 4th
boats lined up at shore
you looked  at me the way
blindness walks through a crowd
one piece of a cloth

we were younger then
fireworks everyday
before the graying
only black and white
idealistic fast track

I sit on the curb
count the dull repetitions
echoing starbursts
circuitous sulfur vapors
crimson shattered glass

elbows on knees    chin in hand
I watch the platform empty

old pain knocks gently
enters     hangs about
intends to stay    says nothing           
won’t  go away

~ first appeared in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Saturday, June 27, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

          by Ava Collopy

Sitting by the creek splashing water
   Playing with a litter of black silky puppies
How many I can’t remember
   As they grew I was
Not much bigger than them at two
   They were an incarnation of joy
We were too poor to keep them

My dad gated in the driveway
   With a makeshift fence
Our mother directed the happenings
   As they and my sister, brother, and I
Handed our babies to strangers
   Hoped for the best
And never knew

~ first published in The Sandy Review

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Going Back

photoart: ralph murre

Going Back
by Marc J. Frazier

Can a chair hand made from poplar make me whole?

We scour for the one-of-a-kind, crafted with the visionarys eye.  
Spirits reach out in Lick Creek, Nauvoo, New Harmony.

At dusk, we join deer drawn by trust into open fields—
no moment more vulnerable than when one stares, waiting.  

I scent out a psychic, who will know me as placeless, know me by smell.  
None materializes as we dodge bats outside our cabin, 
many versions at home in us.  

We drive deeper into summer.  Signs along dirt lanes: 
Half Day Hollow, Quarry Heart, Clover Dell.  
Time has gutted roads, our memory—that farmhouse on Inverness Road?  
I join your search for a long-ago lovers home.  
Each looks at me like the Tarantula Arms where Blanche lured her prey.  

Between fields of corn and beans, it is easy to forget—
mind blank as the anonymous face of an Amish doll.  
In this country, now and then are the same, 
women so calm I want to lie down, sleep like a baby 
before them, sit and work something with my hands, 
eyes grazing prairie, until it and myself are perfect.

~ first published in Spoon River Poetry Review

Monday, June 22, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

 by Jefferson Carter                         
Sometimes, in conversation,
he’ll look away & say
I don’t want to talk about it.               
I respect that.  I really do
but like some nosy Homeric hero
I can feel the words piling up
behind my teeth’s barrier:
tell me, godammit!  Tell me
everything so we can be friends!                 

I like to imagine the real        
oral tradition, the lost passages
of The Iliad, those Myrmidons                                                          
all sitting around their cook fires,
gossiping, trading recipes, even
consoling one another as they
mend the horsehair plumes,
the helmets heavy in their laps.

~ previously published in Get Serious (Chax Press)

Sunday, June 21, 2015


digital re-imagining of photo by marilyn fleming

by Marilyn Fleming

by the summer solstice
only a transparent skeleton
stands amidst the fallen needles
the unexpected dying
seemed almost sudden

when there was certainty
the arborist in harness climbs up
with slow deliberate spurred steps
he pierces and tests the bark
a chain saw hangs from his waist
branches drop as the belt notches higher
stabs continue the walk up the trunk
now walking down a lop off the stub  
another cut until boots touch ground
left behind a heap of bones
a giant spruce toppled   

the unexpected legacy      
an expanded view of the lake
a fire pit in place of the stump
cords of stacked wood
numerous tracks and droppings   
a nocturnal gathering place

born to eternal life date unknown
cremation services held graveside
eulogies invited     bring your own beer
Aldo Leopold benches provided

~ first published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


cropped and digitally modified from photo found at

by Michael L. Newell

When you say, "I'm leaving,"
and begin to sob,

I feel a strange elation,
not for your departure,
but for your crumpled face.

I say, "Stay, stay,"
and press you tight;
I am a child squeezing
hot laundry to his face.


Amputees still feel
severed limbs--

how long will my left arm
remember your weight?

~ originally published in Poetry/LA (1984)

Monday, June 15, 2015


photo: ralph murre

by Michael Gessner

After the carnivorous business
was completed out on the savannah
or in elegant suburban bedrooms,
after this, all this
memory forgot, forgave itself once more
as though wantonness & other acts
were sudden rends, small distortions
to say this never really occurred,
to conceal a family disagreement
so the other conversation could continue
like a pair of lovers among ruins
on a wine-colored evening
when all is agreeable & everything
said is certain.

~ first published in Wisconsin Review
  and subsequently in Beast Book (BlazeVOX)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Bookmobile

digital art from uncredited news photo

The Bookmobile
by Mary Jo Balistreri

Every two weeks, we’d search the horizon
for a distant cloud of dust. It never failed us.

Into the dry dirt lot the bookmobile rolled toward
a long line of small bodies baking in South Dakota heat.

Finally, finally when the door to the trailer opened,
the bookmobile lady in wire-rimmed glasses appeared,

her face a text of perception. Black hair swept high on her head,
she stood in her crisp white blouse.

One by one she handed us a towel to wipe sweaty hands
before allowing us to cross her threshold.

Inside, a fan blew cool air, and we felt it a holy place
so different from our homes.

I thumbed through pages of Scarlet O’Hara, but Nancy Drew proved
more exciting in her blue roadster as did the flying flanks
of The Black Stallion and Flame, manes streaming free.

But it was Francie who changed my life.

Like the tree of heaven that sprouted between cracked cement
outside her Brooklyn tenement,

she encouraged me to push ever upward, to rise from my own dirt lot,
and to grow, grow green and alive.

~ previously published on Your Daily Poem

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Just Before Sunset

artwork: ralph murre

by Eric Burke ~

Just Before Sunset

A nuthatch
walks down
our tree.

As we watch,

our supper.

~  first published in miller’s pond poetry magazine

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Come Closer

digital art: ralph murre

Come Closer
by Joan Wiese Johannes

Heavy air wanders
around the corner of the barn
bends into evening
and staggers through the peonies

to meet me under the porch light
where dizzy moths flit
and midges swarm
around the naked bulb.

Tonight I wonder why
I once thought love darkens
too soon in June
when days are too long

and nights too eagerly late,
when  stems grow spindly
weak from
too much  too fast too soon.

A night-blooming blossom
luminous as the moon
reminds me of something
I should have done

~ previously appeared in Poetry Dispatch

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

De Colores

public sculpture in buenos aires / photoart: ralph murre

De Colores
by Angie Trudell Vasquez

Language and borders,
skin color and barriers,
love knows no lines.
Boundaries are drawn
on the shifting sands of time,
war spoils to the victors,
heartache for the people
living there.

The land remains
but the people come and go
different groups fight on foreign lands,
plow the fields, plant the crops,
clear trees for new homes.

This is one blue planet
circling around the sun.
One sun shines down on us all
makes everything grow,
crops flow with the pulse
of a million hands
who put fingertips to soil,
plant seeds, water them
with sweat from their brow,
and feed the world
with their exhale.

There are millions of bent heads
at schools, in office cubicles,
grocery stores and factories
across this vast continent.
People marching for change
seen just over the horizon,
de colores of the sky,
that signify a shift
is about to come for you and I,
and for all living in the shadows.

The time is ripe for us to take our place
at the table and say we’re here,
we have always been here,
and we are not going anywhere.
This is our home.

Change is the only constant,
the ebb and flow of tongues,
cultures, bloodlines, loves.

I believe some day
we will sing about
how it used to be
how we feared
those we loved most
would be taken away from us
walking down the street, driving.

Today we are closer,
but we’re not there yet.
We can see justice
flickering in the distance,
and what has been given
can’t be taken away so easy.
The door is open and it is time
to walk through the day of light,
to stand in the sunshine,
say, I am here, and
I want to contribute.

I believe.
I believe.
I believe.

~ first published by Woodland Pattern