Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mountain Barn

artwork: ralph murre

Mountain Barn
by John Flynn

The mountain barn
low, close and warm
held fast the wild horned Hereford cows
lined up to milk.
Within the mangers kittens woke
and used the shaggy, rolling heads
to hide behind and play their games.
So little of the morning’s breaking light leaked in
that chores were done by touch
and so familiar were the sounds
     (metallic when the streams of milk were
      squeezed against the pail’s wall and wooden
     when a startled cow would jerk her head
     against the smoothworn rope that held her)
that one could watch in darkness
and view dusty dreams of olden times
before and afterwards.

Milking done, a girl slid back the door
and farther out undid the wired gate
for the mudded walk to pasture.
Each wary cow would pause
and look about, wide eyed and dumb,
before she slipped her haunches
through the hole and tumbled
from the steaming shed.                        
The girl stood back and pitched a cow chip at
the last brown beast that ambled past,
shadow spotted by the trees.

~ first published by the Gilcrease Museum of Western Art

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Life After Death

photoart: ralph murre

Life After Death
by Peggy Trojan

My father never gets
the hang of being dead.
He lived so long, so willingly,
he never accepts his life
is finished, done, kaput.
He appears at family gatherings,
presence comforting as wood smoke,
laughter swirling through the stories.
On trips out of town,
he grumps in the back seat,
now that he can’t call shotgun.
This afternoon, there he was
at the table by the window,
easing his back into the sun,
looking for a cup of coffee
and a cinnamon roll

~ previously published in Eye on Life Magazine

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Center, Not Holding

photoart: ralph murre

The Center, Not Holding                     
                        after re-reading Yeats' The Second Coming
by Ed Werstein

Here is what has been revealed so far:
That tide of anarchy
stemmed in its infancy
might have been preferable
to this.

The shapes of tanks and missiles
dim the sands of two deserts
with the blood of both the innocent
and the invaders,
sending even more
indignant desert birds
into flights of terror.

Here at home,
blind falconers on Wall Street
cannot control the economy,
which is only one of many things
falling apart.

Those who have convictions,
are full of the passionate
intensity of polarity.

Meanwhile, the hungry falcon
spirals out of control
in search of more prey,
its hooked beak, sharp talons
and beady eyes,
now focused firmly
on the middle class,
the center that is not holding.

Darkness drops
as the rough beast
of deep recession,
having devoured Bethlehem
and other steel towns
decades ago,
slouches on and on.

~ first published in The Blue Collar Review

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Susan Spaeth Cherry

she’s meatless,
a drinker of only
filtered water
and chai tea sweetened
with stevia.

T’ai chi
and meditation
can’t stop her
from running
laps on the track
of her synapses
until she’s breathless.

Gone are the years
of feeling defeatless,
of being weightless.

She’s on the wait list
for old age,
not number one
or even twenty,
but able to see
the top of the paper.

~ previously appeared in How Can You Say We Are Not Related
  (Scurfpea Publishing)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Free Fall

digital art: ralph murre

Free Fall
by David Clowers

When the branch broke
under me—recalling Icarus—
I willed myself to fly
but dropped anyway
through tangle of tree limbs
strong winds knocked down
and found
I‘m only
the latest one
to fall.

~ first published in the Peninsula Pulse

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lake George, Autumn

artwork: georgia o'keeffe

Lake George, Autumn
(Inspired by the painting by Georgia O’Keeffe)
by Cristina M.R. Norcross

Sun-burnt trees bow
and kiss the earth
like rows of praying women.
They lift their heavy heads,
leveling their gaze at the lake,
as the deep, lustrous tones of Autumn
spread like brush fire
during a dry heat wave.

Shadows play along the surface,
turning crystal clear water
into the troubled depths of sapphire blue.
The mountains stand guard –
a watchful blanket of crimson vegetation.

I wrap myself in this
scene of dark decay,
that smells of sweet licorice and smoke,
expecting to find more length
to the season.

Touches of yellow evaporate
on the tips of tree tops,
and the mellow sun fades
earlier each day.

Winter washes the palette clean,
and we wait impatiently
for buds to bloom.

~ first published in The Toronto Quarterly

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sight Lines

photo: ralph murre

          Sight Lines
            by Richard Merelman

            Whenever we get together, my sister goes on
            about the beauty of rapids, puddles, ripples.   She speaks
            of a thunderstorm that announces a rainbow
            or of a sprightly trout run behind her barn.  If a cold autumn
            kills her young sycamore, it doesn’t matter
            because the stream remains a fisherman’s paradise.
            During droughts, the brook becomes a rivulet connected
            to Lake Oneida, where she and her husband spend
            the summer months.  My sister welcomes
            thaws as water scrawls, calls a drop of water
            courageous for opening an ice dam to light. 
            She refers to hot springs as vapor prayers, to runnels
            as infant waterfalls, and to a month of drizzle      
            as an April shower. Water-soaked Communion wafers
            she describes as doubly holy.  Lovely enough stuff,

            while a few yards from my cabin on this slough of the Hudson
            silt and slime and sludge congeal into a beige paste
            that settles behind abandoned backwater shacks.
            Last week I wrote my sister about the snapping turtle I found
            upside-down at the edge of a jetty, claws gnawed, stomach
            gutted by hovering buzzards.  The odor of the swamp
            across the road causes my eyes to water.  Marsh grass
            strangles lily pads that used to float on the surface.
            Three miles north, the river unfolds into a pastel fan.  But here
            the channel narrows, slackens, spawns a greasy sheen.
            Every Easter I vow to visit a pastor.  Always, a sheath
            of fog sets down, like a swarm of black flies.
            I could drive through the darkness to Mass,
            though, as I tell my sister, I never go.  When she asks me why,
            I remember the bloated carp in the shallows.  It’s the things I see, I say.

             ~  first published in Verse Wisconsin                       

Friday, September 21, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Julie C. Eger

My poem strolls in at midnight
like Humphrey Bogart,
tosses his coat and hat on my bed.
I pull back the curtain,
glance out at the lighted drive.
He’s backed in – front end
aimed at the highway.
His plan – a quick get-away.

But for now I lie
down beside him,
and because I am
a methodical woman
and alluring –
I undress him slowly,
one layer at a time
to reveal his hidden intent
and he stays,
this time better than the last –

His tie is on the floor now.
He’s gone – down the highway
I suppose
I am satisfied
he came at all

~ first appeared on Poetry Dispatch

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Epic

photo: ralph murre

My Epic
by Don Schaeffer

Like the beginning of a big
movie, the field of the eye
spans the earth, quickly
narrowing into a city
and street.

From the sweep of the planet,
it devolves into
a stage set.

We take
this entire house
and wear it down
to one crowded

~ first published in The Argotist Online

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


photo: ralph murre

by Linda Back McKay

As clotted clouds
crowd the sky

dry grass rasps
against fence posts.

The creek is scoured
with rocks.

How they hold
themselves fiercely

against landscaped
yards where

shards of daisies
stay innocent,

where summer
air sluices with

the sibilance of

katydids and peepers.
All the world

must die. Only
rocks remain

unscathed by human
folly until

an unseen hand
brings down

the window shade.

~ first published in The Next Best Thing (Nodin Press)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Offspring of Sedition

digital art: ralph murre

Offspring of Sedition
 by Jan Oskar Hansen

In narrow streets between factories that
had never been adorned by paint, as though
out of grey walls they came, silent children
of a different and darker world.

Don’t speak to them, my brother said, they are
foreigners and enemies of the country, a by-
product of a lost army and treasonous women
who are outcasts forever.     

Where the street widened to a square, near
The clear blue, unpolluted sea, there was
sunlight and the unspeakable children slunk
back into damp walls not to be seen again.

~ previously published in Cracks in the Mirror (cyberwit)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Trees at the Somme

photoart: sharon auberle
Trees at the Somme
by Alice D’Alessio
What you notice first
is a landscape without presence,
motion or sound: a flat field,
a column of trees.

The red-brown soil buries
the cries of dying soldiers,
the blood and piss, the threads
of shredded fabric, buttons
and matted hair.  The soil
that someone tills each spring –
carving parallel scars in a sterile field
too full of cordite for anything to grow.

Time's merciful silting thickens.
Only a small brown hut
memorializes this place
and the trees, stark witnesses,
scarred by stray bullets lodged in their flesh.
If they could speak
to those who come in awe
to those too young to know;
could answer, what was it like?

Just once, would someone listen?
Or must we go on tilling poison soil
planting fields of sorrow.

~ first published in A Blessing of Trees (Cross + Roads Press)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

At the Oriental Theater . . .

artwork: ralph murre

 At the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee
 by Stephen Anderson

Something tells me that the little man
in striped short sleeves and a Sears’ tie
could really cut loose with a wild, wailing
boogie-woogie on that awesome Kimball concert organ
on stage down at the Oriental Theater,
instead of the take-me-out-to-the-ballgame/true-blue
schmaltz he is probably told to play before the previews
come on.  Not that there’s anything patently wrong
with his standard repertoire, but that magnificent organ
has got to be capable of so much more, as I’m sure the man is.

Watching him play, I can imagine him suddenly exploding
into a Ray Charles or, hell, even a Jerry Lee Lewis rocking rendition
in which he shakes the sleepy, popcorn-eating, soda swilling place
up a bit, maybe even bringing those exotic moldings and fixtures to life
before the main feature sparkles from the screen.

And so, every time I’m sitting there waiting for the big screen fare,
I’ll imagine how nice it would be if he could, just once,
snap out of the corral he’s in, out of all that has been constrained inside,
and make hulk-like all that stuff barely breathing there.

~ previously published in Fox Cry Review

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


photo: ralph murre

by Constance Vogel Adamkiewicz

When I was a child, a greenhouse seemed exotic--
poinsettias peering out at snow.
Easter lilies white as wedding gowns.
glass mysterious with the breath of plants.
Now, we all live in one,
the sun a giant gro-light,
the air a maze of halogen.
No pounding on the glass will set us free.

Someday from the lemur-eyes of gas masks,
we will see faint outlines of our ghosts --
lisping breath of proboscis-hoses.
Stunted corn will be plowed under
for wheat fields that do not germinate.
Shriveled leaves will blanket the ground
white as drifts of snow
that once held the prints of angels.

Sleds will hang on museum walls,
children's ice skates rest behind glass.
If science concocts a giant mirror, pale antidote
to deflect sun, will it crack like a glacier?
Children, ask grandpa, when you gather at his knee,
to tell you about when there were birds
who rode on air you couldn't see.

~ previously published in Earth First!

Monday, September 10, 2012


photo: ralph murre

by Bruce Taylor

Trembling in sympathy
unstroked by the bow
not the string played but
the string next to it

not music but what
in music makes us
wish we were dancing

in the present arms
of not forgotten lovers
whose sweep and purl
as midnight disappears

whose glide like that
lightly out of control
breathlessly unaware of
ability and will

whose reach of flesh
under fabric whose wanton
body of a beautiful youth
ever eager in our arms.

~ first appeared in The Wisconsin Academy Review

Saturday, September 8, 2012


photo: sharon auberle

by Sharon Auberle

Tell me it’s coincidence
my watch stopped here
in this timeless place

a place where deer speak
a silent language
and you understand

where a trail of lady slippers
leads through the woods
to a stranger, who speaks

of emerald dragonflies
and your hands shimmer
with light and you dance

with yourself, in a dream
a place where great banks of lilacs
scent the air and a bowl of beans

tastes fine as caviar
where night rain comes
softly in, bearing sleep

in her arms, tell me
this is coincidence
and I will send you on your way.

You do not belong here.

~ first published in Lilipoh

Friday, September 7, 2012


collage: daniel abdal-hayy moore

by Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

I always feel it could all just evaporate away at
any moment that it’s on the
verge of evaporating right this minute that
some parts of it are already going and I’m left
with nothing or next to nothing
were it not for the divine adhesive

That I’m on the verge of losing it all and any
ability to capture it or typify it or even just
sing limp songs to it in my fashion with all their
stampeding horses and heart-pulses throughout them
golden or not a few forlorn lamentations or

And then look around at a scarce and
barren place with some bent figures in the
distance combing through the debris perhaps to
complete the post-holocaustal picture
but even in its minute particulars life is
but a dream merrily merrily we row our
boat down and the breath of
death angels on our cheeks gives them that
peach flush

There’s an abyss between us and what we see

Ghostly ships are coming into harbor
great sails are unfurling and it’s actually
more universe about to vanish in smoke

As their prows become visible they’re already

And yet the earnest sincerity of good-hearted people
suggests a kind of permanence

A thing which is already disembodied and
subtle in nature
has more solid endurance and reality and
fills up the abyss with something more than
fantastic zoo animals
ibexes dik-diks creatures with
curlicue horns and beady eyes

Soul-stuff actually is of the permanent universe
while everything else is already half-gone
sliding like a paper-thin 2-dimensional kind of
magical slide sideways into
non-being so that what we experience all the time is already
mostly gone and in the
next moment has
vanished away completely

~ previously published in Blood Songs (The Ecstatic Exchange)