Friday, November 30, 2012

gas station attendant

artwork: ralph murre

gas station attendant
by Irene Koronas

“it takes discipline,” he confesses

his side stare
hesitant to give too much information
about ways to win at the horse track

movie star handsome
he pumps gas when not betting at the kentucky derby
or whatever track remains open
horses or dogs who run for sport

father was more handsome than most men
mother close to the ground, boxy skirts uniform her

every weekend coins clicked on dining room table

charley fiddled, freddie his brother sang
angie worked in the shoe factory with mother
harry policed our town
stuie loved older women
joe married my aunt when tony died
poker players coin our days, the pot often won with 2 pairs

father slapped cards hard, for him lose
always came. he lost more than most men

week days, father played cards in his cobbler shop

mother works 8 to 5, factory noise punctures her ear drum

a long corridor led to the toilet in the back of his shop

on wednesday father went to wonder land horse track

I sat across from a long mirror, watching myself grow
listening to rhythm and blues on his radio
the twang of desert boots, not tall enough for american boys
my hand reaches quarters in cash register when left alone

the handsome gas station attendant hands me my change

~ first published in Wilderness House Literary Review

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In The Barn This Night

photoart: ralph murre

In The Barn This Night
by Ellen Kort

Earth man
God of the soil
in the barn this night
hunched over
on wooden stool
wiping your mouth
of barn whiskey
and sweat    stroking
cow in labor
Animal sounds
smell of birth
lifting the calf
the dead weight
cold hide
all bones
animal skin calf
The lantern
parts darkness
as you breathe
the house
all the world
and the whiskey’s
not strong enough
and your bed
will not
warm this night

~ first published in There is Something Ancient Here
   (Woelfinger Press)

Friday, November 23, 2012


ice sculpture: ralph murre

by John Flynn

Pilgrimed flocks glut the sky;
stippled quarter notes spilt out
from some sequestered staff.

An orchard jungled, dappled by
ten thousand shimmering
wings. Their eagle hearts,

unbated breath, endure
as a sea bird soars a
thousand miles off shore.

~ previously published in Lost Highways and Living Rooms

Monday, November 19, 2012


photoart: sharon auberle

by Sharon Auberle

Bless this child, whose blue eyes
widen as the notes swell and
bless the wonder of their new-soul depths.

Bless this sun-glazed evening and
the green chair where I rock her,
adrift in music and light.

Bless the touch of her tiny hand
as my eyes grow heavy and hers close,
sailing off into that orange sky of sleep.

Bless the genius of her miniature thumb,
surpassing the wonders of Rachmaninoff
and sunset, and bless the grace that shows me

            somewhere lives a smiling God…

~ first published in WomanPrayers (HarperSanFrancisco)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Her solitude.

photo: sharon auberle

by Tom Montag

Her solitude.
What she saw

in sadness.
If I could half-

believe there's
nothing I need,

wouldn't she
agree with me?

~ previously published in That Woman
(support from Friends of Lorine Niedecker)

Friday, November 16, 2012

One Story

photo: ralph murre

One Story
by Cristina M. R. Norcross

There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. (sic)
 None of those people is an extra.
They’re all the leads of their own stories.
~Charlie Kaufman, from his film, Synecdoche, New York

Playing the lead in a haystack,
existing side-by-side in our solitary lives,
solace comes when we join these needles together –
the thread of life.

Jumping into character,
taking leave of the present world –
who wears your clothes when you sleep?

I am just a forgotten pebble –
a spark of granite daring to glint.
You see me walking down the street –
out of focus arms and legs –
a disappearing narrative.

The screens keep getting wider –
a stage full of leading ladies and leading men.
They all spin in circles –
red curtains flying.

The cleaner, unheard,
leaves all untouched except the dust.
The man attached to his phone,
alone on the airport walkway,
has a family waiting.
The actress learns her lines on a threadbare couch,
sitting on hope.
We are all One Story.

~ first published on Your Daily Poem

Thursday, November 15, 2012

. . . Nursing Home Epiphany . . .

digital art: ralph murre

Norman Rockwell’s Nursing Home Epiphany
(the painting not painted)
by Robert Nordstrom

There’s Charlie
pulled up pushed in
to the TV gates
yellow pillow-head hair
electric in the flickering light
watching Weather Channel tornadoes
race across the Midwest
and there’s the nurses and aides
in their blue scrubs and pink smocks
sorting pills and chores
the grandchildren nephews nieces
staring in open mouthed nonplussed
amazement at
heads bobbing and weaving
like broken down stallions
whose races have been run

and Norman
who painted the happiness
he did not know how to live
there’s Norman
alone in the corner
lower right
partially hidden
by the fern’s green fingers
his own elongated finger raised
and pointing—
he may be pointing
we wish him to be pointing
to the narrow window
where a single amber leaf
falls through splendent light

~ first published in Miller’s Pond

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

by Francha Barnard

It is never November OK
To take away my afternoon
And tack it onto morning:
To take away halcyon
And add, instead, efficient.

I know, I know....
The light fits better to the day.
But, still,
You’ve shrouded me in mourning;
You’ve caused a little death.

~ first published in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Honey Room

photo: ralph murre

The Honey Room
 by Donal Mahoney

Brother Al, in his hood,
is out in his field
making love to his bees.
From my room I can see him
move through his hives
the way people should move
among people.
The bees give him gold and the gold
turns orange in the jars
that he sells in a room
near the door of the abbey.
The Honey Room, everyone calls it.
Besides Brother Al, only I
go into that room full of honey.
I go in there and bend
and look through the jars
on the shelves and the sills
till there in the orange I see Sue
standing straight
in a field of her own
with a smile
for our garland of children.

~ first published in Commonweal Magazine

Monday, November 12, 2012

Seven Ways Autumn Goose

photoart: ralph murre

Seven Ways Autumn Goose
by Martha Kaplan

the wings of the winter goose
are like the heartbeat
of a frightened squirrel

the goose calls alone
the arrow is pierced

the goose carves the sky
its breasts fold open
the airplane flies careless arcs

the goose hears the laughing man
her eye watches

the dog howls across
the goose in flight

the goose falls straight
the marsh grass is trampled

a stone meets water
like the iris of the goose
the circles extend

~ first published (in slightly different form)
   in Branch Redd Review

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Moon Poem

artwork: ralph murre

Moon Poem
by CX Dillhunt

It’s not binoculars, telescope, any eyes you need
to see the moon in motion —
it’s ears — hear the moon slowly


to a halt
at each boundary — surely,
a heavenly body wants to please

— to sing, to hear

movement —

to stop
to go endlessly, boundlessly precisely — wants us to
hear the clicking clacking clocking along


to horizon after
horizon — with  you
the time to


~ previously published in Double Six (Endeavor Publishing)

Friday, November 9, 2012

World like a Button

World like a Button
by Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

The world
as seen from space
in the God’s-eye view,
shines silver, fastens the seas,
akin to the bright button
on your sailor suit,
clasping two sides

You cried
when the button broke.
But that was easily mended.
Dark frocked, in a group, birds
stand on the shore.  We saw them
facing the sea like supplicants.
World that hangs by a thread,
buttons are cheap.  But
the dear world,
can it hold?

Will the world,
unmended, give,
spilling its silver—seas
casting a blue spell over land?

What of the little sailors then?
What of you?—still
wearing your sailor suit,
proud of its new

~ first published in Nimrod International Journal

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Dad's Name Was Bob

artwork: ralph murre

My Dad’s Name Was Bob
by Michael Estabrook

I’m grown-up visiting Mom in the old
house on Northfield Avenue.  I’m
down in the basement.  Dad’s workbench
is strewn with tools, they’re all over
the bench and the floor, but these are
wrenches and pipe cutting tools,
and pipes, and huge nuts and bolts, not
the tools of a car mechanic, not my father’s
tools.  Across from the washer and dryer
in the corner where the furnace used to be
is a closet door, I open it and it’s filled
with paper bags, and plastic knives and
spoons, and canned goods, and there’re
spiders in there too.  The whole place is
a terrible mess like a tornado came
through and I’m dying to clean it up,
it was my job to clean it up as a kid,
something I could do well, I had a system.
I notice on top of the old dented metal
cabinet way in the back are crumpled-up
blue coveralls like the kind car mechanics
wear, and my heart jumps.  Maybe those
are Dad’s coveralls stuffed back in there
like that for these past 30 years.  I reach in
and pull them out, they’re stiff and badly
wrinkled, and have dried grease on them.
I smell them but they don’t smell like Dad,
they smell dusty.  I look for the white
patch above the shirt pocket where
the name should be, and I find it, hold it
under the light bulb and see the name Jim.

~ first published in Zen Tattoo

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Walk in Stilettos

photoart: ralph murre

How to Walk in Stilettos
by Melissa McGraw

Begin with stiletto heels in versatile black. Back straight, abs tight, shoulders back, breasts up, eyes on your admirers. Depending on lighting or the cycle of the moon, lift your chin or glance sidelong through dark fringe. Place one stilted step directly ahead of another. The parentheses of your hips will embrace forest fires blazing at dusk, tsunamis crashing on granite shores, applause for the Sunday matinee. Stop and cock periodically, as at the end of sentences. Avoid ellipses. Strut. Your slim daggers will pierce soft earth like earlobes. Better than the hearts of lovers.

~ first published in Anthills 

Monday, November 5, 2012


artwork: ralph murre

 by Bruce Taylor

Any orgasm except a real one.
True love but not a sneeze
Not at least convincingly so.
Death, as children make believe
Though never nearly long enough.
And the shape of a kiss on the lips
But not the reach nor rest of touch
That lingers just below the finger tips.
Any present fashion of desire
Lust’s vogue and classic craze
But not the first loss loss requires,
Nor compassion’s passion ablaze.
Not luck or the Blues, a fugue, cold sweat,
Foul fate, true tragedy or real regret.

~ previously published in The Longest You’ve Lived Anywhere:
New and Selected Poems

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Pair of Shoes

photoart: ralph murre

A Pair of Shoes
by Constance Vogel Adamkiewicz

In an alley lined with dumpsters
where only rats want to forage
stands a pair of shoes--
men's, crow-black and shiny,
slightly creased as if worn only once.
Not discarded on their sides
but upright, as far apart
as the man who wore them
might have stood.

Yet, who, no matter how foolhardy
after a night on the town,
who would run shoeless down this gangway
of stones and broken glass?

Not that I abhor the waste,
but the sight of them, like broken birds,
makes me fear
something bad has happened.

Maybe no one is missing,
but someone watching
behind the curtain of a high window,
camera on the sill waiting to shoot
a film noir of the passer-by
who stops, examines the soles,
tries them on and wobbles off like Chaplin.
Someone who looks around first
as if a bomb might go off.

~ first published in After Hours

Thursday, November 1, 2012

At the Poetry Party

photo: ralph murre

At the Poetry Party
                                    (Day of the Dead, 2001)
by Charles Rossiter

allen ginsberg was pumping his harmonium
and trying to sing the blues
kenneth patchen was issuing proclamations
and flying paper planes around the room
with wings made from cartoons

emily was there in a new white dress
raymond carver chain smoked
in the corner with tess
who had a dispensation same as me
to party with the living dead

sylvia wrapped her long dark hair
around her little finger
muttering about her dad and ted
anne sexton talked to maxine on her horse farm
with the phone held tight against her head

bob kaufman didn’t say a thing
rexroth and the frisco crew
bantered about the beat invasion
james laughlin sipped his wine
and chatted with a group of women
jack k. took notes in pencil
with his bottle in a bag

and the cats from the new york school sat back
and played it cool, they only drank a little
more than william carlos williams
and walt whitman who knew
they had a certain something to maintain
as father figures for us all which brings us to
gertrude stein who sat and sipped her wine
complacent as a rose without a name
without a name
without a name
without a name
   without a name

~ previously published in Whetstone