Friday, August 28, 2015


artwork: ralph murre

by Susan Tepper

I say we are one
And the same


Huddled under
The same blanket

Sooner or later
The same crimes—

So why try and
The inevitable yolk
From the white

When all around us
Brethren die gasping

What seems to be
The forgotten path.  

~ previously published in The Stony Thursday Book

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


the pharaoh "narmer" from a photo by keith shengili-roberts

by Jefferson Carter

I like being called “brother”
by black men.  I like walking past
Land of the Pharaohs
& being invited in by the brothers
to bless them with a poem.

“Brothers,” I say, “brothers,
please, no keyboards, no congas,
let me lay something white & uptight
on you brothers.”  I recite my poem
about Martians & Geiger counters,
its conclusion an ironic invitation
to Jesus to drop by some morning
for coffee.  They hate it.

The brothers hate it
but they’re polite, not like Kerouac
at the Living Theater,
heckling Frank O’Hara
or the Academy Awards audience
mocking poor Sally Fields
when she said “You
like me!  You really do
like me!”  The brothers forgive me
as they’d forgive a flying nun
who alighted among them
& roosted, preening, while a brother
recited his hip-hop poem called
“Kill the Honky Muthafuckers.”

~ previously published in Get Serious

Sunday, August 23, 2015


artwork: edward hopper

by Mary Jo Balistreri
            after Edward Hopper

Let me linger a while longer
in the sun, this warm summer breeze.
On the threshold, before you brand me
with your label, I rest my arm on stone.

You call me easy. To say I could have chosen
differently is too easy.

Let me linger a while longer.

I like the way my straw hat protects,
its ribbon trailing down
my back. I’m beautiful in my white summer dress,
good patent leather shoes.

You too are capable of what you disown.
But let me linger while you stare.

You see a naked woman in a sheer white dress.
Big tits and fleshy thighs, the dress a cover up,
a come on.

But let me linger while you stare.

I am stony determination, black isolation.
The confines of my prison and my loneliness,
my bare subsistence—I offer what I can. 
Let me linger a while longer, my full red lips,
almost ready, my foot about to step down.

~ first published in Mobius: The Poetry Magazine

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sound Catcher

photo: ralph murre

Sound Catcher
by Karen Stromberg

               After 39 years this is all I’ve done.
                        Dylan Thomas’ final words.

Dylan, Welsh god of the sea, what have you done
but drown yourself in sound and longing,
stroking the arched backs of words, seeking the ones
that curl together like cats on the tongue,
the ones that electrify the dark, that spark
the spongy dryness of the mind. But all your meanings
within meaning cannot disguise the fact
you did not rage against the pain. You slid
down the narrow neck of anything you found,
glass and flesh alike, and you drowned, you
who knew why water throws itself against the shore,
spurred your own demise, taking your sweet syrup
of sound, half-hidden on that agile tongue
upon which all your honey’d words were hung.

~ first published in qarrtsiluni

Monday, August 17, 2015

VW Microbus, Burning

artwork: ralph murre

VW Microbus, Burning
by John Sierpinski

We are (my wife and little girl)
at the auto repair garage, again. 
It’s Monday afternoon, and they
want another four hundred bucks
that we can ill afford.  “If we need
to…” I finally say.  “We just have

to do it,” she says.  Our daughter
has found a purple thistle sticking
up through the asphalt lot where
other broken-down cars sit.  She
touches it with her index finger.
She makes a face like the sad

mask, sniffs, but doesn’t cry.  Then
she finds a pebble.  Last night,
our battery had shorted out in West
Hollywood.  Believe it or not,
the entire rear engine compartment
became engulfed in flames.  After

I got my wife and daughter out of
the bus, I ran over to a liquor store
for water.  The owner looked
at me, skeptically, then said he
had none.  Aw, come on, I thought,
then once more outside, I snatched

his rain bucket and doused bright
orange flames.  Do you believe
he had followed me outside, grabbed
his white bucket and said, “All you
damn hippies are alike.”  The flames
had gone out, but of course the bus

wouldn’t run.  I hatched a plan.  “Push,
Honey, and I’ll walk and steer.”  My
wife had on very tight shorts.  After
a few feet, a man in a white jacket
showed up and gave us a push with
his car.  That was last night.  Now,

we’re back again.  The garage
abuts the chain link fence
to the Santa Monica Freeway,
I-10.  I can smell the acrid odor                                                           
of car exhaust.  It burns my eyes.
The noise is near deafening. 

My daughter’s soft, round face
looks through the fence.  We’re
forced to spend the money, and
get back into the insanity of the
non-stop freeway.

~ first published in Into the Teeth of the Wind

Friday, August 14, 2015

August, 1945

artwork: ralph murre

August, 1945
by Peggy Trojan

When I was twelve
we stood around the radio
to verify the news.
Japan had surrendered.
The war was really over.

My mother wiped tears.
My father was quiet.
He wasn’t even
in the war,
having lost sight
in one eye at ten.

I rode to baby sit
in Mr. Anderson’s boozy Ford.
When he jammed to a stop,
all the beer bottles
on the back seat
crashed to the floor
in celebration.

~ previously published in Dust and Fire

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Capture the Drops

photo: cristina norcross

Capture the Drops
 by Cristina M.R. Norcross

Sometimes love feels rationed –
doleful, little cups
from an inattentive lover.

The forgotten word –
the rush out the door –
the, goodbye
without, I love you, too.

There is a well
that gathers affection’s rain.
Years of held hands,
of walking side-by-side –
a trail of crumbs
to remember the road,
when it wasn’t this lonely.

Cup your hands
to capture the drops.
Retrain the heart
to give a little –
a soft reed in the wind.

It all flows back.
The touch on the shoulder,
the glance back before opening the door,
the notion that
years collect –
they gather in a semi-circle
of love remembered –
love that insists on staying.

~ first published in An Ariel Anthology (Ariel Woods Books)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Donald Trump, Sr.

Donald Trump, Sr.
by Mark Zimmermann

A small man’s monotonous lot
amounts to a rut on a dull map.

A Trump man’s dollar amount
maps a natural surplus.

A small man prompts no plan
to add onto unsold land.

A Trump man puts
a dollar amount on all land,

touts an all-out proposal:
Ad plan     Dollar plan


~ previously published in Impersonations (Pebblebrook Press)

   (a book of lipogram poetry in which only those letters in the
     subject's name appear in the poem)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Snapping Turtle

artwork: jeannie e. roberts

Snapping Turtle
     by Jeannie E. Roberts

Here, where countless creatures
weave through these waters,

where wild jewelweed
and Oswego tea

explode like fireworks,
where cattail spike  

and wood ducks float
quietly, here, you hide

near lily pads, soaking
your vicious temper,  

your mighty jaws
mid these muddy waters

you call home.  Here,
something ancient rises,

unchanged, stalking,
tearing turbulently

with aquatic skill,
reptilian toughness

and cold-blooded instinct.
Here, where your life

means death
to countless creatures,

where final breaths
weave peacefully 
through waters,  
shining home.    

~ first appeared in Nature of it All
    (Finishing Line Press, 2013)

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