Friday, August 31, 2012

Simply eating her salad

photo: morgan harlow

Simply eating her salad
by Michael Estabrook

Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed
by merely being in her presence,
like this afternoon
at McDonald’s with the grandchildren,
suddenly I’m choked with emotion,
barely able to speak,
while simply watching her
sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.

I had to work at not crying,
(What a silly spectacle I would have been.)
dabbing at my eyes
with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin.
“Guess my eyes are watering
because it’s so cold outside.”
(Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)

I can understand being so smitten
when you first fall in love – how can you help it!
The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality,
the inescapable mystery of it all,
crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps.
But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time,
with this woman almost half a century!
How could it be possible
that I still get all choked up watching her
sitting there simply eating her salad?

~ first published in Imitation Fruit Literary Journal

Thursday, August 30, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Mary Wehner

Black fly in the wedge of bark,
thin wings resting—
body, boneless still.
Difficult life, that of a fly,
picking through shit,
starved for the sweet in the stubble.
Believe you me,
I too see with a bulged eye,
I too want to step firmly
in the warm decay,
suck the heart from whatever I find.
O Speck!
Ready yourself for flight.
Pity me my grounding.

~ previously published in “…or the opposite” (Red Hydra Press)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

(for all the victims of the war)
by Dan Wilcox

Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!
Because the cure for cancer lies rotting in a rice paddy of Viet Nam--
Because the next, best President of the United States has no legs and is locked in a VA hospital in Buffalo--
Because the new Martin Luther King, the new Malcolm X got his head blown off in Hue--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because the hope for world peace is crawling thru these streets looking for a fix--
Because the answer to the World’s economy is busy selling her ass on the neon highways of L.A.--
Because the way to feed the children of Africa disappeared in a malnourished brain in Ethiopia--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because there is no hope for any of us, because it is all out of control--
Because Wall St. is there, buys our Presidents, our Mayors, our Congressmen--
Because the Declaration of Independence is enemy propaganda--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because campaign workers are paid to steal and rob instead of sticking labels and dialing telephones--
Because our contributions now go for wiretaps and surveillance instead of buttons and salaries--
Because especially the stay-at-home voters are holy, the salt of the Earth, and the politicians are not--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because the FBI is listening right now, the CIA is listening right now, the Tactical Police Force is on your line right now--
Because you really can’t read everything you want and they have already censored this line--
Because Lenny Bruce died for our sins--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because the townhouses of America are exploding around us--
Because of Watts, and Newark, and Miami, and Chicago--
Because every city is Chicago and Chicago is everycity--
Because our best minds are being taught the M-16 when they should be playing guitars--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because America’s best children are dead, or lost underground, or gone to Sweden, to Canada--
Because there are really no sacred places, the Indians’ burial mounds are breweries--
Because the state of poetry is not really a state but an occupied territory--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because Tricia Nixon has the largest collection of stolen panties in the Free World--
Because Pat Nixon is a raging nymphomaniac hiding in the body of an aging Methodist Barbie doll--
Because America is sick of its rulers’ televised weddings and black-tie inaugurations--
Because when we really need him Lee Harvey Oswald is nowhere to be found--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

Because we no longer just know someone who has been raped but have ourselves been raped--
Because even our bodies have been denied to us, to others, to the future, and we are told “No, stop it, it’s wrong”--
Because it is better to get power than to get laid--
Because when I kissed her she cried and cried because she wanted me and she wanted to come and she couldn’t let me--
Because when I wanted to love America I was told to go kill someone I didn’t even know--
Richard Nixon, the 37th President of these Divided States, must Die!

~ first published in The Greenhell Gazette

Monday, August 27, 2012

About Suffering

photo: ralph murre

About Suffering
by Marilyn Annucci
Though you sang to me
while I stood at the stove,
and spoke of cures,
even your optimism in those days
made me a little sad.

The only life I’ve ever wholly believed in
has been the body half-broken, 
or leaving. Even when we find the ones
who make us laugh, whispering
silliness into one another’s necks.

Your pile of pills each morning
has grown, the proteins trying
to  transmit signals to the brain’s front doors
with instructions: Lift hand. 
Regulate temperature. Speak.

Speak to me, dear one,
tell me again, though you scramble a word,
lose a thought, need another nap.
It takes more than a leap of neurons 
to love like this.

~ previously published in Waiting Room

Sunday, August 26, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by A.D. Winans

I wake from a troubled night's sleep
My eyes burning
My ears on fire
My mouth glued to my gums
I look in the mirror
At two tiny dwarfs
Sitting on my head chewing
On bananas spitting out cornflakes
While uttering profanities
In an alien dialect that befuddles
The President and his cabinet
Primping for the election year
Promising to cure the ills of the world

My brain was in turmoil as the rain outside
Beat down insistently on my eyelids which
Cowered down below the equator of my eyebrows
Like two ripe grapes
Posing for a simulated exercise in intercourse.

Outside on the balcony
 F, Scott Fitzgerald rubbed suggestively
Against Zelda
Who was busy having an affair
With a cigar store Indian
Who puffed smoke in the face of Ezra Pound
Who recited poetry to T.S. Eliot
Who stared in amusement
At the blurred image
Of 13 jazz musicians standing stoop-shouldered
Against a cardboard cutout
Of religious zealots masturbating
At the sight of the original Manager
Which shatters with mushroom force
From the barrels of toy guns
Handed out in the streets of Riot Town

I take it for as long as my mind allows
Shake it from my head
With an invisible broom
Made from leftover spider webs
Woven out of abandoned dreams
From the smoke filled pipe
Of an opium lover
Who died sprinting across
The lawn of W.C. Fields
Rolled over with laughter
At the sight of Charlie Chaplin
Clutching a burlap sack
Made from lavender underwear
Sold over the counter
By sexless fashion models
Clad in black leather
Boots and matching caps
Stolen from the wardrobe
Of Char and Madonna
Who take pleasure
In the back seat of a sports car
With a revved-up supercharger
Projecting obscene image
Heaven bound where
Societal cowboys ride bareback
On gelded black stallions
Profess their tiredness
Of Bob Dylan dreams
While smothering the futility
Between the crossed legs
Of a smiling Buddha

~ previously published in Carmel Clowns (Atom Mind Press)

Friday, August 24, 2012


artwork: katsushika hokusai (the metropolitan museum of art)

by Martha Kaplan

The gardens beautiful without a doubt
and so the crowds throng
passing through the not quite Japanese garden
along the path and over the bridge,
pausing there to gaze long at the water lilies,
imagining those icons made famous
by the painter’s hands, they contemplate the color
of sky and clouds shimmering in the pond,
they move then through the shadowed trees,
along the cindered path opening bright and wide
into the cottage gardens, full floral, with
lavender borders, hollyhocks in high
color, roses everywhere on green lattices,
momentarily, they sit, benched, by the borders,
holding guidebooks,
or huddled on the steps, journaling.

Rested, they pass into the pink house framed in green
shutters, ivy and white roses climbing its walls,
they shoulder from room to room
peering closely at imitations
of the great painter’s works:
crowds of French, crowds of Americans,
crowds of Germans, Italians, Greeks, Czechs, and Yugoslavs
British, Spanish, Scots, Belgians, and Dutch,
Latinos and Latinas, even Solomon Islanders, and Japanese
flowers of all sorts pass through the blue
and yellow kitchen, the bedrooms, and windowed study,
they celebrate the house, examining every detail,
and yet they fail to pause for the art that moved the painter’s eye,
an inspiration, the clearest lines and the bluest blues on every wall:
The Wave, A Thousand Views Along the Tokaido Road
still slightly creased, as if just lifted from the packing boxes
of precious porcelain.

~ first published in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine

Thursday, August 23, 2012


                        THE THREE GRACES
by John Flynn

Tonight the Marx Brothers. They're indignant and rage.
So complacent they go, eyes wide, with angels.      
They engage the declarative sentence like Norwegian          
knights turned home. Wardrobed dell'arte moderne 
they murder the Guelphs and the Ghibellines.
With black bulbed bicycle horns Harpo honks  
like a gaggle of east-bound geese. The brothers    
cover their mayhem with impromptu parades
and props only a royal torturer could love.
(A blow torch suttees cigars and singes
every moustache on the screen save one.) 
Steaming coffee cups appear like magic saucers     
from a mother ship. A menagerie…of which
less said is better. Nothing is left to chance. Yet
chance prevails. What are the chances of that?

~ previously published in Lost Highways and Living Rooms 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Being Slow

On Being Slow
by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

It has always taken me so long
to understand, to "see," to say "oh,
that's what that means."

It has also always taken me so long
to get to where ever I may be headed
if not determined by roads, tracks,
ferries, or air routes.

Neither defect was overwhelming
except to a loved one here and there
or an unloved one there and here;

It was also not overwhelming when
there was plenty of time ahead of me
and not so much in back as there is
this year or will be next.

I've always disliked the current generation
badmouthing the one about to overtake it,
especially when I am one of the current
and I am always one of some "current."

Perhaps because I've always been so slow
it takes me so much time to understand
that I'm not needed or not in the same way,
that those who sincerely depend on me
will be as able to transfer their loyalties
like I have, in my own disquieting insistence
on keeping myself whole.

It has also taken some time for me to see
that if found dead, my body would no longer
be reported as that of a young woman

and that if I’m lucky “mature sexuality” will last
until old age creeps in, so slowly - or suddenly -
I won’t notice until it’s long gone

~ previously published in DUFUS (Lummox Press)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Upon Reading Thoreau . . .

artwork: ralph murre

Upon Reading Thoreau’s Description of a Pickerel as “Animalized Water”

by Steve Tomasko

I remember the dock warped, weathered, worn
smooth from years of sun and water. Plunked
face down I peer between the gray slats

watch the perch slide by ignoring
my baited hook. My young eyes fix
on a shard of sunlight and color

that gradually resolves into a 2-foot pike.
Floating in place, its body ripples front
to back, front to back looking ready to lunge

for the perch. But with a quick muscular
flick it disappears, leaving eddies
of whirling sand. I shiver.      I was struck

when I read of a father who recently found his son
in their cabin boathouse surrounded by rods, reels,
fishing tackle—playing an electronic fishing game.

~ first published in Verse Wisconsin (online edition)

Sunday, August 19, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Sharmagne Leland-St.John

Sea I love the way you tremble
Like my lady lost inside my arms
Lying spent and sighing
Sometimes she thinks
She might be dying
Like a moth who's caught
Between the lampshade and the flame
"Hold me tight", she whispers
Like the wind that wraps itself around
The tall pine tree
I cling I cannot let her slip away
She is my love
She is who tells me what I am
I am the waiting shining sun
I am the moon whose light
Will help to fill the weary night
With rays of yellow gold
Just like the dawn of yesterday
Sea I love the way you tremble
Your waves will pound and crash upon the sand
Her tangled auburn hair strand for strand
Will mingle with the crystal tears
Your emerald ocean sheds
My lady's laughing sighing
Like a seagull flying
High above your breakers
Tumbling towards the land
She takes my hand and whispers
"Don't let go. I love you so"
Sea I love the way you tremble
Like my lady lost inside my arms
Lying spent and sighing
So like a dying Queen
The crumpled sheets

~ first published in Unsung Songs

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shifty Meininger

Shifty Meininger
by Robert Nordstrom

It all starts with a doodle,
always a doodle,
triangles with convex
or concave supports
burdened beneath the weight of
blackened-in circles
whose imperfect circumferences
grow larger and larger
as the hand tries to
steady the mind until
—voila—there’s an eye, a nose, or
even, just now, a marble and
—voila again—Shifty Meininger,
the best shot on the playground,
his skinny as a doodle ten-year-old self
leaning back, right foot cut
inward and inching up
to the scratch I scratched
with a stick in the dirt,
left eye shut,
right one squinting
on my prize cat’s eye boulder,
holding that shiny silver steely
I’ve coveted since it spilled out
of his bag delicately between
thumb and finger finger,
and I’m thinking
what kind of fool puts up
his prize cat’s eye boulder against
a guy named Shifty
as he slides his hand
forward and back
forward and back and
—voila—lets it fly
true, too true, splitting
my cat’s eye right in half
in an odd kind of Sunday School justice
that makes me think of
wise old King Solomon
and how I should have told Shifty
as he was eying up my cat’s eye:
Stop, just take it, go on take it,
it’s yours.

~ Originally published in Peninsula Pulse

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


by Karla Huston          

My mother whistles under her breath,
all day, all the time.  Not the sweet
song birds make but a toothy melody,
a skipped record, her lips pursed to a point.
She does this leaning over the sink
to peel potatoes, spooning coffee
into the basket, clearing the table.
She whistles in the car when she’s not
sighing or sorting through tissues and bottles
full of pills.  She does it while watching TV,
paging through magazines,
maybe even while she sleeps.
The tune is always the same, al dente
half song, a few notes rising and falling.
I wonder how my father can stand it.
Maybe he’s just tuned her out,
after all those years of chucking nickels
into the jukebox of her mouth.
My own daughter tells me I do
the same thing, and I admit it, catch
myself sometimes--lips puckered, teeth
set, the air adjusting its wings, hoping the birds
are waiting, their ears cocked just so.

~ first published in North Coast Review

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Angler Silently Waits

digital art: ralph murre

An Angler Silently Waits
by Gary C. Busha


Rain falls
and glass allows sunlight
first freely through then
later in yellow tinges
somewhat distorted in forms
though no great matter to me
since silence brings the same
lack of breath
in a kind of suffocation
as impatient drivers rev
their engines at intersections
engines similar to nightmares
when in the early morning I try
to recall a dream so vivid but
lost at the instant of awakening.


Nor would the forgetting disturb me
if the failure were not a reminder
of dogma cited in textbooks
by professors intent in their learning
but unaware of deception’s slippery eel
as is the rockbass hugging a weedy shore
or the minstrel singing for free
to the young whose wisdom is a tune I too
would sing if the song were poetry and
free from past moment’s regrets
caught in night’s flashy broil and pressed
against damp window panes.


But yet nothing is worse when light fails
not in meaning perhaps or inspiration
or the hollow knowledge the light
was never meant this gilded affectation
or to a lesser extent this phony
entertainment performed for laughs
by jesters nor should the touch
of cold rain upon naked shoulders
cause alarm if the word has no primal source
has not sprung from heaven or hell or
from the still point of nothing.


But since light grows larger in circles
despite the chew of time
each word falls from its portrait like flakes
of paint and peels in thin serpentine lines
repeated even upon blackened cave walls
lit by torches until the flickered
rhythm matches the ripped heart whose ruin
is no less ignored than before this moment’s
spin on the ferris-wheel for failure is subordinate
to water’s steady fall upon crystal window panes
in rivulets while I lament the rain's patient silence
as wet line builds on a spool.

~ first published in The Third Eye, No.8