Friday, March 30, 2012
by Jackie Langetieg
We never had the chance to know
the secrets of each other—how I learned to braid,
first with your great, great grandmother’s
silk stockings, crossing one over the other and then,
her unbound white hair—alive in my hands.
Would you have remembered
my touch on your cheek, breathing in your newness
kissing the soft fuzz on your head? When you became a teen,
I would have helped you add an outrageous color
to your blondness—would you have chosen magenta
like the young woman at work—to match her motorcycle? I chose
green food coloring on St. Patrick’s Day when I was fifteen, and
I would have told you
how I put a henna rinse in your grandmother’s hair,
the label promising to take away the gray. How it went orange
and we washed it again and again until she gave up
and covered the pale melon shade with a babushka, and
when you were older, you could have helped me comfort her
when chemo thinned her thick white hair.
I would welcome your strength now, in my sixties,
lost in remembering what keeps and what fades. Still,
I feel some part of you here when I am waking or drifting into sleep—
the woman who stands on my shoulders and the shoulders
of all the women in our clan—that soul
who tried to find me when I was twenty, your nest
left in the pink disappearing water.
~ first published by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters
Thursday, March 29, 2012
. . . . . . . . . .for Jenifer and Jessica
by Tom Montag
and two daughters are
enough to fill
the room with voices --
grow deep into a sun
through kitchen windows, as if
these last fine days
between summer's green curl
and the flat ice
are to be expected;
as if joy can be
as constant as water:
A knowledge which shines
in their loveliness --
That such a morning,
need never be given back.
~ Previously published in Between Zen & Midwestern (saltworks press)
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
by Robin Chapman
to be tuned to this fraction
of spectrum we see as rainbow, rainbow,
that our two small ear-drums
move to the hum of another’s voice,
those twin stretched membranes
vibrating resonant with breath,
that these gyroscopes of our inner ear
track our cartwheels when gravity tugs,
that our tongues taste honey and salt.
What luck that we can smell the rain,
that these hands can touch, cradle,
caress this skin that enfolds us
all our days—what luck to be born
root and blossom and branch of life
into this world we’re shaped to—
to tremble in its flux
with the hunting hawk, the mouse
the layered rocks, the eelgrass meadow.
~ originally appeared in Ascent and,
subsequently, in the eelgrass meadow (Tebot Bach)
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
by t. kilgore splake
“twilight limited” locomotive
blowing coal black smoke
passing midwestern train miles
piercing whistle screaming
watertowers grain elevators windmills
ancient tin cup
farmer’s well head
icy water slaking thirst
grand ole opry star
“cold cold heart” song hit
west virginia gas station
quiet peaceful farewell
~ previously published in The Poet Tree (Kamini Press)
Sunday, March 25, 2012
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .after Linda Pastan
by Karla Huston
Of course the Dodo bird, not
for its stupidity, the way it blundered
into Portuguese clubs
and into the jaws of dogs
but for its innocence, because
I understand blind trust.
And I choose Lot’s Wife,
for her lack of faith, the yearning
for what she could not lose,
even as she has survived,
and without a face.
I choose Gina Lollobrigida,
ooh la la, Italian vamp, the doll
my mother’s grandmother
made, her yarn curls
and rag legs longer
and thinner than hunger and fear.
From an inventory of lost things,
I choose November,
its chilly memos about leaving
written in the stitching
of last geese, the absence
of kindness, winter’s misery
in the face of all that coming
light. I choose you
and the circling trains, the ones
that never arrive, passengers turning
to face the place they came from
where they once belonged.
~ previously published in Babel Fruit and Wisconsin People and Ideas
Friday, March 23, 2012
by Jeffrey Winke
the way her voice
lingers in the air
when she says
the sound of dry leaves
rustling in the wind
~ first published in coquette (Distant Thunder Press)
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Crossword Sonnet: Codes
by Jeanie Tomasko
1. (Across) Knot in the middle of the spine. 2. (Down) The
spine of the matter. 3. Matter at the corner of the eye.
4. I, you, word for us. 5. Word for tonight. 6. I can’t
________ anyone. 7. (Down) The Truth. 8. (Down) Word
for wild joy—(see 9 Across.) 9. Across from me at your
shiny steel counter, you, taking orders for fries, burgers;
on our breaks they won’t let us talk so we write notes
to each other (10) across: fast food order forms. 11. Words
for can’t wait. 12. (Across) to meet you later. 13. Under
the second bridge. 14. Run your hand up the middle
of my sternum; turn the key behind the heart.
~ previously published in The New Guard
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
by Robert M. Zoschke
chug fresh pot of coffee while hot
depending on tightness of morning lungs
smoke four to six Lucky Strikes between chugs
if gas is under $3.00 per gallon make long drive
to the produce stand for half a dozen oranges
if gas is over $3.00 per gallon make short drive
to the convenience store for half a dozen donuts
and take two vitamin C pills upon return
brew second pot of coffee if necessary
to release bowels kick start heart
and wash down oranges or donuts
before plugging your lip with Skoal
imagine Jennifer Lopez’s succulent hips
with nothing but a hula hoop on them
as she puts every belly dancer to shame
while holding grapes over your parched mouth
imagine every lover who would have made
your life better their life better if only they
didn’t wisely catapult or foolishly fall to another
imagine all the wasted years along the way
imagine every asshole you worked for
when you slaved for their American Dream
imagine every creative kid full of budding magic
being pigeonholed into someone else’s dream
imagine whatever necessary to focus on
the only true value of whatever time left
belch orange pulp or hydrogenated oil
wipe your mouth on your sleeve then
sit down to chase the carpal tunnel dragon
like a tough ass son of a bitch club fighter
in the heat of his Rocky Balboa life moment
going the distance with your typewriter.
~ first published in The Cliffs “Soundings”
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
by Susan Elbe
Go out into the corn's green arms.
Let its silk slip
. . . . . . through your fingers.
You won't need it.
This is rougher work.
Stand there among the dark wings,
in the middle of their chaos,
. . . . . . . . . . . . yawp and thievery.
Find the blueprint in a blackbird's eye:
. . . . . . your own pupil-startled eyes
. . . . . . . . . . . .reflecting back at you,
. . . . . . your summer-frizzled hair,
. . . . . . your limbs limp from lifting
. . . . . . . . . . . the world's heavy bales.
Scavenge—cloth, mud, denim, chaff.
. . . . . . For this task,
. . . . . . . . . . . . soft silhouettes work best.
Give it wildness and bewilderment.
Lend it terror with a heart stuffed full
. . . . . . . . . . . . .of threshed hopes.
Kiss a mouth on with your own
. . . . . . jam-smeared, crooked mouth
Give in when bargaining begins, this existence
. . . . . . . . . . . . moving fire to fire,
straw to tinder, sleeve to kindle,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . memory to miracle.
You're the noon betrayer.
. . . . . . . . . .Understand
you will be monstrous to those
. . . . . . . . . . . . .whose quarrel you reject.
Come back when the wind turns red
and the moon is just a whisper.
Climb the shaky ladder. Lift the hand-hewn,
. . . . . .time-slacked soul above
. . . . . . . . . . . the cracked earth,
hung as if you pinned it to the star-pricked sky.
You will want no down-on-bended-knee,
no set jaw, no tears or finger-pointing.
Prepare to be lonely.
You're the made-in image.
In this field, you're the god.
~ first published in Goodreads
Monday, March 19, 2012
The Side That Won
by Bruce Dethlefsen
a good ten thousand years ago
the peaceful branches of my family tree
were pruned off
they were weak
they died they’re done
I come from purely killing stock
I eat meat
and when my species finds a tree
we crush it into paper
we write libraries of history
it’s so easy
I’m on the side that won
~ previously published in Breather (Fireweed Press)
Sunday, March 18, 2012
by Sharmagne Leland-St. John
You never saw the spring my love
Or the red tailed hawk circling high above
On feathered wings my love
You only knew the snow
You never saw the prairie grasses bend and blow
And undulate like the shimmering indigo sea
You never saw me
Your eyes were closed so tight
They say you put up quite a fight
Somehow your life was over before it had begun and
Gently did I touch and kiss your tiny-fingered hand
Born too soon
You never saw the silver moon
Or the light of a summer's day
Last night I dreamt a gathering of eagles
To spirit you away
Born too soon
Your tender heart
Could not beat
To the pulsing rhythm
Of life's taut drum
~ previously published in Quill & Parchment
Saturday, March 17, 2012
My ol’ man’s tacklebox was green and battered,
dented, rusted, and scratched.
My ol’ man’s tacklebox went into the boat, under his seat,
while I undid the lines and sat on the lifesaver boat cushion.
Out on the reef,
after I lowered the anchor carefully so as not to scare the fish,
my ol’ man opened the tacklebox
and he picked out his favorite red and white daredevil.
The tacklebox had three trays that came out in layers,
and in each tray were many compartments filled with spoons,
rubber worms, flies, spinners, corks, leaders, sinkers,
and the most holy red and white daredevils.
Sometimes the red and white came through right away, but if not,
out came the gold or silver ones, and like him, I tried them all.
Back at the dock my job was to carry the tacklebox
to its safe place on the garage shelf.
Now my ol’ man’s tacklebox, the shelf, the garage, the house,
the boat, and my ol’ man are all gone.
~ first published in Page5
Friday, March 16, 2012
On Learning, Late in Life, that Your Mother Was a Jew
by Marilyn L. Taylor
. . . . . . . . .Methuselah something. Somethingsomething Ezekiel.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . —Albert Goldbarth
So that explains it, you say to yourself.
And for one split second, you confront
the mirror like a Gestapo operative—
narrow-eyed, looking for the telltale hint,
the giveaway (jawline, profile, eyebrow)—
something visible that could account
for this, the veritable key
to your life story and its denouement.
It seems the script that you were handed
long ago, with all its blue-eyed implications,
can now be seen as something less than candid—
a laundry list of whoppers and omissions.
It’s time for something else to float
back in from theology’s deep end: the strains,
perhaps, of A-don o-lam, drowning out
the peals of Jesus the Conqueror Reigns,
inundating the lily and the rose,
stifling the saints (whose dogged piety
never did come close, God knows,
to causing many ripples of anxiety)
and you’re waiting for the revelation
on its way this minute, probably—
the grand prelude to your divine conversion,
backlit with ritual and pageantry.
But nothing happens. Not a thing. No song,
no shofar, no compelling Shabbat call
to prayer— no signal that your heart belongs
to David rather than your old familiar, Paul.
Where does a faithless virgin go from here,
after being compromised by two
competing testimonies to thin air—
when both of them are absolutely true?
~ first published in GSU Review
Thursday, March 15, 2012
3 FROM MT. TREMPER
by Ronald Baatz
Around the new bulb
the poet screwed in-
Like the soft feathers
lining a wren’s nest-
her intimate voice
On the side of the road
as though waiting for a ride
~ previously published in Mt. Tremper Haiku
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
. . . Daintree National Park, North Queensland, Australia
. . . by Marilyn Annucci
The feathery staffs of the sugar cane appear
like ladies in light lingerie. I have no
charms myself. In the forest of rain and
green umbrellas, I try my powers: cassowary,
cassowary, cassowary. I think the word
hard, but the black-skirted bird never
comes. Its prehistoric feet stop somewhere
beyond the strangling figs and bumpy
satin ash with their enormous honey flowers.
I imagine the female, which grows to six
feet and can disembowel me with one swipe
of her claw—but only if threatened. I pray
for the miracle of such a creature, but my fear
holds her back, like an amulet I wear past
the ferns and eucalyptus. I imagine spiders
as big as my boot, listen for snakes that
could bracelet my ankles. I am hardly St. Francis,
more the laughingstock of forest fauna. Not
unlike the mimosa, or cringing plant, the plant
of shame, whose leaves close at anyone’s touch.
~ first published in Southern Poetry Review
Monday, March 12, 2012
by Albert DeGenova
Kerouac, you have a way with “sad” –
sad cracked hands of all-night diners,
sad gravel under shapeless shoes,
sad waning moon of November roads.
Sentimental sadness, familiar
sadness, old friend
sad Jack, tell me if
sad tastes like black dust to you
if it smells like burning leaves,
tell me it is more than easy metaphor
‘cuz I can taste it on my breakfast toast.
Such a small word for a poet
so much smaller than love
the distillate of love –
grand love that inspires
yet lives and dies
in three breaths –
sad is old as coal
and deep in veins
reaching to our core, old friend,
the sad eternal core.
Drink that last shot down, buddy,
it’s a long cold walk to the diner.
~ previously published in Postcards to Jack (Naked Mannekin)
Saturday, March 10, 2012
by Sharon Auberle
follow wishes and whims
follow cactus buttons
Druids or monks
in red robes
follow a feather
floating across the sky
follow the Lord of the Dance
the Roman Pope, the stars
follow clouds and dreams
and the naked man in them
follow Mary, Pele
Green or Red Tara
follow a three-legged dog
follow a flag, an ideal
old money, your bliss
your dead papa’s voice
follow comets that come
every hundred years
follow the Green Man
the vanishing road
the Church of Coltrane
follow that lost river
the forest path
a hawk, a canyon
Jesus the Christ
follow them home
to that one who’s
loved you all these days
fall into his eyes
remember the night
when you said to him
I’m looking for someone to worship.
Who could ever live up to that?
~ previously published in Crow Ink (Little Eagle Press)
Friday, March 9, 2012
by Michael Koehler
Let me give you this:
Tall prairie grass humming like old women
gathered to quilt their long memories into
a tan and green and dark brown field
where, underneath, small things
can be warm as the sun on sumac.
Take this, too:
The sky a peerless blue,
high clouds rippled like the flesh of walleye.
And here, in my heart,
my love, one leaf that never falls,
waving like an anthem,
keeping the bare tree rooted to the earth.
~ first published in Red Boots (Little Eagle Press)
Thursday, March 8, 2012
by Christine Swanberg
Should you find yourself un-sprung
by grief, like cranking gears
of the old grandfather clock
you must rewind forward each half hour
no matter what the time,
know: You can’t cheat grief.
If so, you’d skip a chime,
which might end up as an extra heartbeat.
Yours. Plus-- you’d have to start again.
Once I tried to cheat grief
claiming to detach from it,
jetting off to the Big Sky
leaving grief at home on my pillow.
When I looked up at the Seurat sky,
I felt the dead I cherished,
wept mercilessly under the Milky Way,
each shooting star
someone I would never see again.
~ first published in The Alleluia Tree (Puddin’head Press)
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
by Karl Elder
I see where the mean (meaning average)
American adult sits ten years
in front of a TV set. I subtract
from the remainder a pack-a-day
habit, a quarter-century of sleep,
several months more for drunkenness,
and figure I’d better make this quick:
Like a cricket, the refrigerator
motor’s fan belt has sung off and on
way into dawn. My thought, which now—if it
chose—might focus upon the light, is
frozen instead on how wrong (or right all
along) has been the theory of my
own mortality. I sniffle and
pout. I wring a dry Kleenex out. I learn
a drop of sorrow cannot quench grief’s
thirst; it’s merely the mind’s means of bleeding
to cleanse the wound, reminding me of
the worst: the hurt’s solely self-inflicted.
But I’m still alive. This being that is
perception fusing memory to
the moment: “It’s my life,” the song says; I
own it, but I can’t quite con the heart
into it—a notion of dominion
as crazy as erecting a flag
in a river—splash—and for an instant
(a flash of insight sweeping me with
the current) I watch an imagined,
mute, and evaporating reflection
progressively reveal the real me,
a fine residue of brine remaining.
It hits me where I live: my life’s not
mine, but in earth’s bloodstream a soluble
clot. So I feed me another line—
“Art’s immortality’s only means”—
and stand at the vanity, my Pentax
in hand. I nearly trip the shutter,
but it dawns on me that such a portrait
is only an inverted version.
What about reality? Would the old
masters use pairs of mirrors? I give
up. I render myself in the one
mode I claim to know; I write of Washoe
the chimp, her use of Ameslan to
name herself in the glass. (And I once felt
since Man alone spoke to integrate
thought, we were in fact more angel than ape!)
There; I’ve got it. Perfect! Now—how to
preserve it? Ink will fade, the paper
dissolve; even stone disappears in the
end—there’s no vacuum secure enough
to endure The Great Duration. Yet—
though not the parts, their sum might still be
seen—unobstructed light, a spark touched to
the future’s taut and unending fuse.
I dream, having ignited that beam.
~ first published in Mississippi Valley Review
and subsequently in The Celibate (Prickly Pear Press)
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
by Alice D’Alessio
I retreat, drawing close
the green walls of my world.
A chorus of birdsongs mutes
for these brief moments, the sirens of unholy wars.
At the top of the meadow, nestled
among the birdsfoot violets
and early grasses too short for cover
a freckled newborn, legs neatly tucked,
pretends to be invisible.
Only the twitching of a moist nose
gives it away. I tiptoe on, unwilling
to contemplate its small, doomed life.
Isn’t there a place where the deer can be safe?
says my grandson, crying,
when he learns about hunters. I turn
his question over as I turn the parchment skull
of the scavenged hawk,
puzzling for answers. Oh, let me slip
into my burrow, blind and dumb. Safe
is not a word that we can teach
to four year olds any more. Only
this moment, this sunshine, this fawn.
~ first published in Albatross Magazine
Monday, March 5, 2012
by David Scheler
of a man in a boat
who watches the waves
lap the rocks and the reeds
as he strokes
his thinning hair,
contemplates the reflections
among the ripples,
the waning yet to come.
The light on the water,
the full moon,
all are silver
through the mist
where the sun
only a few hours
or decades earlier.
~ previously published in Casting for Meteors (Finishing Line Press)
Sunday, March 4, 2012
by Julie C. Eger
I remember a time when
Mama moved the furniture
to give us more room
as Dick Rodgers, Fritz Willfarht
and the rest of the players
would come in on WLUK
TV Station out of Green Bay
at 10:00 on Sunday mornings
while other kids were sitting in cars,
mothers slicking back hair with spit,
straightening collars, and scolding them
to stand up straight as they walked to their pews.
Mama cranked the volume on the TV
and with hands together, chins up,
shoulders locked, right foot back,
back together back, counting
we would polka all our cares away
and before Tuba Dan
put down his bouncing tuba,
without priests or robes,
without altars or smoke,
all my sins were forgiven.
~ previously published at Your Daily Poem
Saturday, March 3, 2012
by Dan Wilcox
On a morning such as this,
on Spring St. in the grey morning air.
On this morning as I look up
hoping to see you at your window
I see your blue towel on the railing
like yesterday's sky left out
to dry in last night's rain.
On a morning such as this,
in Paris in 1911, in Springtime
when the morning is still with mist
on the Rue D'Avila, M. Atget,
with his box with glass plates
his magic wooden cabinet
traps his tiny Paris, tiny buildings
in tiny mornings.
On this morning on Spring St.
I watch you close your windows
and come out on the fire escape.
On a morning such as this
M. Atget gazes up.
As she steps out on her balcony
the steam from her tea coils
to rise with the morning mist
through his lens she is upside down
her white dress seems to hang in the air.
You watch morning come to the city
I watch you touch your hair, your lips
your hem brushes your feet.
"Good morning," M. Atget calls, and asks her name.
"Je m'appelle Therese"
the mist begins to burn off
he wipes dust from the lens.
"Good morning, Therese; how beautiful..."
"Yes, but it will be hot soon."
On a morning such as this
when the lens closes she is gone.
When M. Atget looks for her again
in the flat plate of glass
the cloth on the railing is grey
like the morning hung out to dry
but she moved and is gone
a white mist left on the glass.
On this morning on Spring St.
I want to touch your hand
instead, my hand touches
the morning, you wave;
it is as if I will always
see you like that
on a morning such as this.
~ first appeared in Open Mic: the Albany Anthology
(Hudson Valley Writers’ Guild)
Friday, March 2, 2012
by Shoshauna Shy
One glance at your smile
and I pity every woman
who has swayed in the circle
of your arms; every tank-topped
schoolgirl who met your banter
in biology lab, then your lips
behind the boathouse; every
drama club lead, soccer star,
National Merit Finalist for whom
you built a bonfire or escorted
to the vineyard; all the college
co-eds in the sailing club
and on your dormitory floor
who held you on a motorcycle,
docked your boat, met Mom
& Dad, fed your Labrador.
I pity every pony-tailed
green-eyed filly whose breath
was sweet as lilacs; every San
Diego blonde in tennis whites
you swept to your chest;
any Nova Scotia import whose
jeans you unzipped at apple
harvests; your seasons a
symphony of ‘say when,’
‘I will’ and ‘always,’ of ‘yes’ and ‘now’
and ‘let me’s,’ no lull in tilting grins,
rippled laughter, cinnamon
whispers; the carpet always rolled
out red; the ship continually
arriving; the whole world wishing,
willing, ready to be yours.
~ first published in The Baltimore Review
Thursday, March 1, 2012
by Ed Werstein
How do you know when it's finished,
or at least finished with you?
How do you know,
when each time you see it
you cross out words,
sometimes changing them
back to what they were before,
and next time back again.
The same two words
. . . . . . . . . . . . . leap-frogging
. . . . . . .leaping over
. . . . . . . . . . . . . leap-frogging
there on the page.
And because you're probably not ever
going to be finished with it,
how do you know
when it's finished with you,
the way she was finished with you,
while you went on,
each time you saw her,
hoping for different words
to come leaping from her mouth.
~ first appeared in Echoes