Saturday, December 29, 2012

Think Ice Fields

photo: ralph murre

Think Ice Fields                                                        by Bobbie Krinsky

  Howling wind   wild waters                                                                       slamming wild waters                                                                                        flash freeze                                                                                                         Saw tooth slabs                                                                                              bathed in sunset’s fading fire                                                                                jag through black nights
 endless days
  till Earth tilts back                                                                                                 towards the sun                                                                                                   and blue ice                                                                                                          moaning for midnight’s moon                                                                     shudders and shifts                                                                                     tumbling blocks                                                                                                    big as rooms
                      over and under                                                                                                         slabs splitting into chunks                                                                                                           and chips so thin                                                                                                                      they crackle                                                                                                                                like shattering glass                                                                                               as they bump and bob past                                                                              black-banked willows  
  branches plumped                                                                                                so yellow with sap                                                                                        everywhere I turn  I hear                                                                                    wind chimes                                                                                                             and the red wings’ spring songs                                                                         ringing across   open waters

~ first published in A Slender Thread (Little Eagle Press)

Friday, December 28, 2012


photoart: ralph murre

by Ed Werstein

The text of this poem has been appropriated as a payment of debts owed.

What if, like other states, the state of poetry were in default?
Poets everywhere would be in debt.
A word lifted here, a phrase there,
a borrowed reference
and pretty soon it would start to add up.

The lenders,
wildly rich with words
piled high in library vaults
(words like money, gold,  jewelry,
estates, off-shore bank accounts,
portfolios and Porsches),
would lend to us
at ever-increasing interest rates.

We would continue to write,
but eventually our words would
disappear as we wrote them,

We would be left with only titles,
signifying not our ownership
but our mounting debts,
and these few words:
austerity, crisis,
foreclosure, unemployment,
hunger, poverty, war.

Words that would never be taken from us.

~ first published in New Verse News

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December, Wisconsin 1988

photo: ralph murre

December, Wisconsin 1988
by Cathryn Cofell

The village turned the landfill last
week, but we barely notice the stench. 
The air feels bicycle and basketball,
the last chunks of leaves
still clinging like ex-lovers.
Bare feet against the porch window,
we sip Greek wine, listen
with wicked grins to our sweaters
pound against the locked
cedar chest in the hall.

In the chapel, a girls’ choir so clear
the ceiling tiles weep.  One possum girl
on the end, all pigtails and glasses,
faints a little. She is so out
of place she could be ours
if we had one.  Midnight,
the cats fight over the manger
and Mary is lost.  We pick up pieces,
check for cuts in dark places.

Donation boxes cringe half empty;
can you hear their bellies rumble? 
The mall overflows and the streets
overflow and the hospitals overflow,
but tomorrow the phone could ring,
a sister or cousin with news. 
Gifts wrapped in silver and cinnamon,
cookies bundled in cellophane, 
possibility like the touch of a small hand,
certain to take hold before snow.

~ first published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thin Ice

photo: linda aschbrenner

Thin Ice
by Linda Aschbrenner

The skating raccoon with the red scarf
hangs on our Christmas tree every year.
He glides on fumes of herring
when we’re all gathered.
I’ve watched him count us—
seeing who is new in the crowd,
who is gone. He spins and turns
when the cat bats at him,
pretending to be in the Olympics.
And in mid-January,
when I return him to a heap
of boxed ornaments,
he kicks me with a sharp blade
and asks what’s the guarantee
either of us will be back
next Christmas.

~ first published in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Man Who Lives in the Gym

The Man Who Lives in the Gym
by Donal Mahoney

                        St. Procopius College
                        Lisle, Illinois
                        after World War II

The man who lives in the gym
sleeps in a nook up the stairs
to the rear. Since Poland 
he's slept there, his tools
bright in a box locked 

under his bed. At noon bells
call him down to the stones
that weave under oaks to the abbey
where he at long table takes 
meals with the others 
the monks have let in 

for a week, or a month, or a year
or forever, whatever 
the need. The others all know
that in Poland his wife
had been skewered, his children
partitioned, that he had escaped

in a freight car of hams.
So when Brother brings in, on a gun
metal tray, orange sherbet for all
in little green dishes,
they blink at his smile,
they join in his laughter. 

~ first published in  The Davidson Miscellany

Friday, December 21, 2012

On Such a Night

artwork: ralph murre

On Such a Night     
 by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

On this night frost shivers beneath the stars,
the planet tilts a small breath closer to warmth.
The seam between worlds eases apart for a few hours
and souls from other places, other times, slip through.
People spanning the ages gather at their sacred sites.
Magic rides the heavens on such a night.

~ first published in East Valley Times

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Dark December

artwork: ralph murre

In Dark December
by Ralph Murre

Whatever you believe,
whatever you do not,
there are sacred rites
you must perform
in dark December.
Do this for me:
Pull together
the kitchen table,
the folding table,
and that odd half-oval
usually covered
with bills and broken pencils
and red ink.
Pull together family and friends,
cool cats and stray dogs alike.
Turn off everything
except colored lights,
the roaster,
the toaster, the stove.
Cook.  Bake.  Eat.
Yes, even the fruitcake.
Eat, crowded around
those assembled tables
with mismatched chairs.
Reach so far
in your sharing
that you hold the sun
in one hand,
the stars in the other,
and no one between is hungry.
Now walk together,
talk together,
be together
on these darkest nights.
Give and forgive.
Light candles and ring bells.
Sing the old songs.
Tell the old stories
one more time,
leaving nothing out,
leaving no one out
in the long night,
leaving nothing wrong
that you can make right.

                        ~ first published in Peninsula Pulse       

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Stella Pierides

She rarely smiles. A thick, white veil
frames her face, stops her innocence
from straying too far;
remembering the world outside.

Here she lives, here she is
and here she stays: four walls,
bench, Bible, rosary, Cross,
pair of clogs, glass, pebble,
compass, chair, table.

She would be lost, but
for her little pleasure:
a bowl of coconut ice
refectory Sister leaves
on her windowsill.

~ previously published in Off the Coast

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Basilica . . .

sketch: ralph murre

Basilica circa AD 2000
by Stephen Anderson

A tarnished copper dome, expertly fitted
Over steel and concrete shell sheltering
Inside the ornate masterpiece of
The finest carved marble,
Exquisitely crafted wooden pews,
Polished sandstone and chiseled granite,
Richly colored murals with
Golden trim from the gilded strokes
Of master painters,
Saintly stories in stained glass
Painstakingly cut and welded with
Lead frame into whole form
By yet other Old World artisans whose
Creation, nourished by decades of
Pious devotion and religion-inspired generosity,
Rises defiantly into the new millennium
Above urban decay, gangbangers
And people searching for their
Next food pantry.

~ first published in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Monday, December 17, 2012

Two for the Tragedy

Editor's note:  It seems an especially sad note that when great tragedies strike, we already have previously-published poems which fit the circumstances of the day all too well. Here are a couple submitted this weekend, one from 2003, the other from 2006:
collage: daniel abdal-hayy moore

 by Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

Angels are learning new tricks to entertain all the
dead children
just bringing them to a quiet place used to be enough
blue panels sonorous as cool winds rising to
infinite heights and
luminous rivers tasting of fresh milk and
passionflower honey

But now they are more restless and want something
lively such as fabulous displays and real
stellar extravaganzas to shut out the memories

All the wing├ęd horses have been brought in
and every banner from every battle ever waged
transformed into aurora borealis brightness is
planted on either side of the great arena which is
actually nowhere you can put your finger on and may be as
big as a sparkle or light years across

The angels begin conventionally enough and since they’re
anti-gravitational they are capable of some
pretty amazing feats their specialty being a
spinning array of a few billion shimmering their wings and
turning slowly at first in a
cone that goes up through so many dimensions the
children have to stop counting with
each dimension demarcated by another
color no one on earth’s spectrum has
ever seen before

Then the cone begins
turning faster and faster and shoots higher and higher
finally sweeping their astonished souls wide-eyed into a
vortex so swift they barely notice that they’re
arcing across fields of unearthly green and seas of
unoceanic turquoise

Each shroud has been made into a tent filled with
fabulous fruits and unidentifiable edibles of
uttermost succulence

Each soul has been given the Ultimate Glimpse
and the Accurate Portrayal
the Perfect Sustenance and the Infinite Intensity

Each time they clap their hands a new
universe appears
more fabulous than the last

And when they tire of such delights
William Blake reads to them from his new work
and Mozart comes in and plays them a tune
on a million pianos

~ Previously published in Psalms for the Brokenhearted
   (Ecstatic Exchange)

photo: charlotte ferrell

by Charlotte Sista C Ferrell  

Lord please hug the children tonight
Lead them from their struggle and strife
Lord please hug the children tonight
Guide them through any neglect or blight

Lord, help us hug our children tonight
Reflect on their struggle in a new light
Teach them to love instead of fight

Show us ways to lead the children away
From the horrors of the day
Block them from stray bullets and prevent 
Fresh, innocent lives from being spent

Strengthen all those who work with youth
Gird us with YOUR love and truth
To lead away from ac’qui’escence
That short- circuits adolescence

Lord lay hands on the City of Angels today
In fact, please lay hands on the world today

There's hardly any place to play!

Give us back a reverent nature
Help us to stop saying, " I hate ya.”

Let us catch the vision of a new reality
Where childhood is enjoyed in its totality

Energize us to use our voices
So youth everywhere have more choices

Bolden us to take a stand for justice and truth
That makes life a joy for children and youth

~ previously published in From Pillows to Pillars

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sister of Narcissus

from a photo by sienna brown

Sister of Narcissus
by Ellaraine Lockie
          After Echo and Narcissus in Greek Mythology

As she freed water from the bathtub
there clinked six times a knock of metal
She rose, wrapped a towel around her
and looked through the peephole
in the hotel room door

Seeing nothing she said Who's there
Who's there repeated a voice
heavy with the weight of an octave
Show yourself so I may decide she said
The deep echo in the hall said the same

She, having little interest in imitation
and being a modern woman wet with desire
opened the door and dropped the towel
He being an age-old fool of a man
stepped from the wall in a pool of drool 

She smacked him in the face with the door
Retired to her king-sized waterbed
Listened to a litany of rejected voices
And laughed

~ first published in Shakespeare’s Monkey Review