Tuesday, January 31, 2012


cover photo: herb nolan

After Reading Neruda’s Twenty Love Songs That Are Fewer Than Our Years Together
by Albert DeGenova

Tonight I write the saddest lines
in the small of your back where
it is wet from my tongue
my finger shaping letters
against the nap of your
soft down that resists the words
we have loved and not loved
we have joined and released
fire feeding earth, air
breathing water, we
are a thunderstorm of
flesh against flesh, tongue
to tongue to rain to
ice to lightning ignited
and smiles exploded
teeth heavy as sleet
shaping words that are not
love not love are love

tonight I write the saddest lines
that mark the hours
of sleepless darkness staring
you cannot read the silly
silhouettes of vowels traced along your spine
the long weary line of
sometimes you love me
with venom, sometimes
laughing, sometimes dancing
over broken stones, sometimes
begging for the light
to be shut off, sometimes
you love me with sleep

tonight I write in the small
of your back, tracing your hip
with exclamations and questions
and sad ellipses and lonely
empty spaces between
I and love and you
so many words
when all you ask is quiet

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

Monday, January 30, 2012


photo: steve tomasko

Like This
by Jeanie Tomasko

It might have been like this: a rampant swath
of fire—or like a heron's rise, that blue
and slow desire. The way a thought will sift
through time. A flower's life: a language you
have learned and left behind. Or this: a kiss.
Whatever was lives on somewhere. Sometimes
her name will slip into my sleep—like this:
the shiver of a bird before it flies,
the faintest musk of plum leaves on the skin—
and bring with it the only day I touched
her hair. Like this: an angel’s wing. But in
what world was that? Too soon the heart adjusts
like some dark bird who cannot trust the light
whose wing-tucked song forever haunts the night.

~ first published in The Midwest Quarterly

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Cry Me
by Bruce Dethlefsen

you stub your toe we go to war
there’s a tumor on the brain
the sun might rise too beautifully
a daughter dies in the rain
if you need someone
to cry with and you will
try me
I'll hold you till
you say you're done
when all the tears
have come
and when you go away
and yes you will
I'll gladly hold your tears
inside my eyes
until you need some
then I'll sadly cry them back

~ first published in Free Verse

Friday, January 27, 2012


photo:sharon auberle

by Sharon Auberle

May the calm be widespread. May the ocean glisten as greenstone.
May the shimmer of light ever dance across your pathway.
~ Maori Prayer

Just offshore this part of the coast,
the whaling guide says a canyon lies,
one thousand feet deep.
Mind and body tremble to think of this,
to think of tumbling down, down
into those ancient fathoms, loosed from tethers,
unyoked, free at last, to explore
what has always been dark, hidden.

Maybe there is a way to slip back in time,
back to when we small humans understood
there are places and creatures holy as us.
Maybe, somewhere, a leviathan goddess waits,
who will carry me on her back,
down to where her people sing to each other;
down to where the seabed shakes
in epic ecstasy of their courtship and love.
I would like to meet the whale children,
their gleaming bodies black beside mine,
my soul no more a pale flower,
but massive now, majestic as they,
as souls and whales were always meant to be.

Could it be that whales know us,
as they circle round our fragile boats?
With one slap of their mighty flukes
they could erase us in an instant.
Yet they only roll, lazily, in the waves,
breaching now and then—exuberant, yet careful.
Is it possible they have forgiven
our tremendous cruelty to them,
as a mother forgives her errant children,
knowing they have not yet learned?

A shining calf spouts nearby, showering us with droplets.
It’s good luck, says the guide, to be touched with whale breath,
and I wish for the luck to descend tonight--
to sing with whales, one thousand feet deep;
to dive and roll and breach in their colossal company
until morning comes—when I must awake,
ascend once more to that place
where even our sun god pales beside them;
where whale song lingers in the roaring of my ears.

~ first published in Earth’s Daughters

Thursday, January 26, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Michael Koehler

As I lather his face, his skin,
in the concentrated kitchen light, is dark and slick
as old onion skin. I am amazed at my gentleness.
An infrequent shaver, prone to stubble and beards,
my hands are now sure, the blade steady.
He sits with a towel wrapped around his scarred bony chest,
head on the back of the chair,
eyes closed.
As I scrape a three day growth off his face
and into the bowl of water on the table,
I remember the times he trusted me.
I was not always this focused, not always this true.
The house is quiet,
only his breathing and the rasp of the razor.
I notice how sparse his hair, how blue his skin.
His eyes are huge behind their lids, and I wonder
when the time comes, will I be able to put coins over them.
Done, I pat his face dry. He snores softly.
I bend down over him, like a father over his son's crib,
cup his face in my hands, memorize it with my fingers.
If he wakes I'll say "smooth as a baby's butt"
because that is what he will expect from me.

~ first printed in UA-Huntsville’s POEM and simultaneously, in
Notes From Skinner’s Elbow (Wolfsong Publications)