Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Children

artwork: carl larsson

The Children
by June Nirschl
A tribute to the children
 of Sandy Hook Elementary

I want to hear their names
the soft and hard sounds
enunciated by the mothers and fathers
who loved them
who planned for them
and now grieve their loss
let Noah    Olivia    Catherine     James
spill from their mouths again and again
let bereft voices groan with affection
for Avielle   Jack   Jessica    Emilie
champion the innocence and hope
each young life embodied
the dreams hovering at the ready
to ride a pony tease the neighbor save a life
let Benjamin    Dylan    Caroline    Josephine
be celebrated in prayer and rejoicing

I want to hear their names
spun like strands of silver across the winter sky
raised in celebration for the love they shared
and lifted    Madeleine    Allison   Daniel    Ana
let the names convey the beauty
these fragile children carried
human eyes of many hues hair of many shades
yet still the carols sound melodies embracing
Jesse    Chase    Charlotte    Grace
these children
our sorrow

~ first published in the Peninsula Pulse

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Georgia On My Mind

watercolor detail: sharon auberle

Georgia On My Mind
by Estella Lauter

            After a painting of Georgia O’Keeffe by Sharon Auberle

She could be ninety in this painting
grey hair artfully covered
dark clothing, wrinkled skin
but she still made art and lived well.

Somewhere, behind the failing eyes
is a young woman who painted
in the nude on hot afternoons.
Somewhere, under the navy
jacket are brilliant canna petals.
Somewhere, above the curved lips
are delicious memories of love.
Somewhere, behind the strong jaw
are the artworld barriers she broke.

Somewhere, beyond the black scarf
are women of a certain age
who knew her as a pathfinder
climbing her own ladder to the moon.

Somewhere in this space 
is what we call inspiration
not daring to be too familiar
waiting for us to remove
the scarf that covers our hair.

~ first published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


photoart from SAC photo


by Michael Kriesel

Standing in the doorway with a beer,
he always offered me a can
when I got home.
Ted was a retired navy chief
who lived next door
and drank alone,
but I’d been in the navy,
so we’d stand and shoot the shit
sometimes until the moths came out.

One time he told me how
he ran the war at night
when all the brass went home.
Ted was at the Pentagon during Vietnam.
Every night he’d get these giant photographs
from air reconnaissance to analyze.
Every night he’d tell
the pilots what to bomb.

I didn’t understand back then
the way he drank alone
with his own ghost,
though now I’m old enough
to just be glad I never
had the luck to kill someone—
much less whole photographs.

~ first published in Chiron Review

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fear Shrouds Me

artwork: ralph murre

Fear Shrouds Me
by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Grey veils of dismay drape my sight.
Also, fear shrouds me, so afraid you might
Reject my costume. Bright ways,
Otherwise illuminate stays, find clasps.

Until charm’s fabric will fully enfold me.
Cause my countenance to shine. See,
This robe glistens. Meanwhile, these plumes
Obstruct my vision, yield gloom’s misprision.

~ first published in ken*again

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TO FRIENDS - on the first anniversary of RE / VERSE

ellen & mike

by Michael Koehler

This is the time we have left.
These hours that we live, let us
walk a sun-dappled lane
or a summer city sidewalk.

My friends, let us walk a time together.
How is your life, and your happiness?
Please answer for me these most
important questions.

It sometimes seems our troubles
and the days and hours that contain them
overshadow those moments of stillness
where the quiet rings with the peace
of chapel bells that once announced
the approach of dusk, signaling time to
change pace    slow down.
Day is done   night comes.

Let us walk lightly
and we will find the footsteps shared
with friends are not counted against
the sums of our lives.
When we walk, the day stretches farther
than we can see, and when it is time
to leave—it is too soon.

This is the time we have left.
These hours that we live, let us love.

~ first published in Siftings

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Driving Toward Snow

digital art: ralph murre

Driving Toward Snow                                                                             by Sarah Busse

Rapt in thinsulate, ankle-
deep in popcans, napkins,
we tunnel under night’s
thin and starry scrim
that’s tacked to the horizon;
we tow jumbled shadows:

snowmobiles, skis and poles,
skates, snowshoes, the bulky
accoutrements of winter,
tools of survival for this
loose caravan of dozens,
hundreds, headed North.

For weeks, maps in hand,
scanning Dopplar online,
we’ve planned vacation (escape) –
tonight, as one, we go,
a hushed migration, sealed
against our goal: the cold.

And emerge only at Kwik Trips,
Kum & Gos, Amocos, saying,
“We’ve come in search of snow.
Have you seen it? Do you expect it?
Do you have any coffee?” But no,
the last folks in got the last of it.

Back out, then, into silence.
Eyes grow used, then unused
to the night. Dark and light
shapes unfold, flickering
at the headlit, unlit periphery.
The mind begins to drift

like snow would drift, wordless,
unaccompanied forms
shift and flow, follow
the night’s wind, or whim,
so that I turn to you and ask,
What is Hawaii at night?

After umbrellas in the drinks
are folded and ice cubes melted,
the ocean’s calm and palmtrees
only whisper, do flowers lum-
inesce under a waxy moon?
Do vowels float in the dark?

And do Hawaiians ever think
of Minnesota? Do they know
about storm windows,
or the difference between twenty
above and twenty below?
Would they wonder (and snowflakes

blossom on the windshield, now;
the wipers begin their soft erasures),
would they wonder at this?
Dozens, hundreds, all of us
turned to the night, to the North,
all of us driving toward snow.

~ first published in SLANT

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Those Poems, That Fire

artwork: ralph murre

Those Poems, That Fire
by Donal Mahoney

I stood in the alley, still
in pajamas, somebody’s shoes,
another man’s coat, my eyes
on the bronc of the hoses.
Squawed in the blankets of neighbors,
my wife and three children sipped
chocolate, stood orange and still.
Of the hundred or more I had stored
in a drawer, I could remember,
comma for comma, no more than four,
none of them final,
all of them fetal.

~ first published in Four Quarters Magazine

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Traveling alone, she fell . . .

detail: michelangelo

Traveling alone, she fell in the Sistine Chapel –
by M.J. Iuppa

collapsed in a whirl, as if a gust of wind
struck her weak ankle and set her spinning–
her skirt inflated, but she did not rise
to bump her head beneath God’s fingertip,
nor did she push Adam aside.

Instead, she leaned into descent
like a scarf tossed in a dance,
and onto the marble floor
she puddled, still looking up . . .

A crowd gathered; then men
carrying a canvas litter
arrived with a knock
on floor:

              Avanti, she whispered,
and they lifted her up to their shoulders–
a marvelous blur moved beneath her–
and before her: God’s plan.

~ first published in the Bryant Literary Review

Monday, January 21, 2013


digital art: ralph murre

by Stephen Anderson

It’s 3 AM outside the 7-Eleven.
In the distance, approaching car headlights
Dot the blackness at this hour while
Inside a scrawny twenty-something sits
Behind the counter tracing a 9 mm under the
Counter with his fingers, surrounded by four lonely
Walls that contain items insomniacs seek
During black hours like these. All the cars
Pass silently except for one that booms by, its radio blasting—
A rolling boom box that shatters the still,
Vapid night air while the car’s occupants
Head to nowhere good, to their rendezvous
With the nothingness of this night rhythm
In the key of absurd loneliness.
They all seem to head toward what home
Might be, the place where eyes will later
Strain under desk lamp far into the night
Amid silver ghosts that shimmer in the dark blue
Shadows before sleep envelops them in a dream
Of star-sent angels light years from Edward Hopper’s
Nighthawks, while outside the night’s mist will soon start
To evaporate, as it will again and again . . .
 ~ previously published in Brawler

Friday, January 18, 2013


artwork: ralph murre

by Fiona Lovatt Davis

In the folds beneath his eyes,
glistening in the torch light,
there were tears (like silver).

He had coloured a horse black
and galloping across Niger
where his mother and father live

and all his family and his camels.
He rode that steed at full pace
feeling, again, her gait beneath him

and he laughed at the idea of oranges
balanced on his head at such a speed.
This boy, they told me he was deaf,

found words for hooves and mane and tail
and the pound and beat of driving power
and gave us laughter in that darkened hour,

when his own eyes were moist in memory
of the distant ones he loves so much
and can recall but cannot touch.

~ first published in the Nigerian Sentinel

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Three from ~ row of pine ~

photo: ralph murre

Three from row of pine
By Jeffrey Winke

predawn snow
a tall pine
eases into the sky

row of pine
each in its own way
        an icy gray sky

winter moraine
silence of sumac . . .
the howl of wind

~ previously published in row of pine (Distant Thunder Press)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dreaming No. 13

photoart: ralph murre

Dreaming No. 13
by Linda Newman Woito

She was in a flummery no a nunnery no
a ramshackle house someone forgot to burn
last century yes that's where she was in each
and every dream she remembered that week
and the farm was there in snow and the prairies
were there and Holstein cows were there needing
milking, and she was there in her high-wader
boots plowing through cow-dung, and isn't that
the way it is, isn't that the way.

~ first published in The Pen Woman

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ben's Poems - 17

stonecarver: unknown

Ben’s Poems – 17
by Tom Montag

It is,


& ash.




~ previously published in The Big Book of Ben Zen
   (MWPH Books)

Monday, January 14, 2013

So June Is Gone

public art - st. paul, mn

So June Is Gone
by Margot Peters

So June is gone a month whose every
hour I'd pledged to cradle in my eyes
and July's brass bands and scorching brats
what happened to August's sweaty
lakes--oh god not September too
those precious days I meant to spend abroad
but yes I'm raking up October against tomorrow's
snow and now December and small hope
I'll heed March's roaring lion bleating lamb
and that's the tragedy isn't it:
how we do let the twelve apostles of the sun
slip through our heedless fingers
day by day by day by day

~ first published in Free Verse

Saturday, January 12, 2013


photo: ralph murre

by Marilyn L. Taylor

MORPHINE:  Dosage: 200 milligrams, typically 14 light blue tablets
Timing: unconscious in 5 -15 minutes, death in 20-50.
--  Thanotogast’s Suicide Methods

As soon as the sun departs the house
At five in the afternoon
He deposits and seals in an amber jar
Another pale-blue moon.

He places the jar on the cabinet shelf
And swivels the handle tight;
Pockets the key in his terrycloth robe
And sits and waits for night.

He can hear the grandchildren crowing below,
Awash in their video games;
He tries for a time to assemble their faces,
And say a few of their names.

But he can’t recall how many he has,
Or what their small fantasies are,
Or why their mothers and fathers have come
To put his clothes in the car.

He careens on the edge of a desperate thought,
A glimmer from where he's been—
But he doesn’t remember the amber jar
Nor the moons crumbling within.

~ initially published in First Things

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three from Zen Rampage

photoart - ralph murre

Three from Zen Rampage
by Lester Smith

chill wind insistent
against my leathers; I twist
the throttle further

my shadow led west
all morning, then changed its mind
and led me back home

bold opossum lying
in the road
mindless of the crows

~ previously published in Zen Rampage (Popcorn Press)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


artwork: judith connor

by Linda Back McKay

How the light is born in
morning, how it is trapped
in your bulb at night.

How you can’t win
if you don’t enter,
even if it means
standing in a line
that snakes around
the block, a conga,
but without the music.

How you are given
another chance,
even if it is just
a Monopoly card,
and you take it.

How you eat cottage
cheese on saltines
in honor of your father
and your mother’s
greasy gravy.

How the mirror
becomes philosophical
and you try to envision
a world of kindness while
you are completely, one
hundred percent alone.

How quiet things
are now, as a feather
makes landfall.

How you just never
know. You just
never know when
a light will go out.

~ first published in White Pelican Review

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


artwork: william marr

by William Marr

From every angle
I tried to capture your bright smiles
for a colorful dream

the images overlapped
and I had a sweet dark sleep
till dawn

~ previously published in Between Heaven and Earth

Monday, January 7, 2013

Three Aspects of Desire

photo: w.e. lox (?)

Three Aspects of Desire
by F.J. Bergmann

I.  The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile:

            I incorporate the desires of the flesh, in all its senses.
            No picnic or parade is complete without me.
            See! I am shaped and colored like a penis grown monstrously large,
            with a pulsating engine and a steering mechanism.
            I am the waste parts of animals made savory
            for everyone to want and want and want.
            Devour me! Eat me!

II.  The cloisonnĂ© Chinese horse:

            I embody desire as well, but I serve the haunting needs of the spirit.
            Arabesques of colored love overlie the metal of the soul,
            which gleams through the glossy enamel in recurved ripples of gold,
            like fissures in rock showing the magma underneath,
            like a shuddering awareness of divine intervention.

III.  The soapstone coyote:

            I am the trickster, the messenger, the slippery one.
            I carry the purloined desires you let remain unvoiced,
            the unsent letter you forgot to burn and ransacked the house for.
            I race under snow-heavy boughs and across the frozen, wasted fields
            and cross the boundary between this world and the next.
            I make sure you get what you thought you wanted.
            I can talk to gods you would not dare to name.

~ first published in Malleable Jangle

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In Each Other's Cross-hairs

In Each Other’s Cross-hairs
by Richard Swanson

I got this gun to save me
from my next door neighbor who
says I’m crazy and has all these guns,
which makes me crazy
and makes me buy guns.
I’m not crazy, it’s you,
I tell him you’re nuts for
having those guns,
but not if you’re neighbor, says he,
to someone like you with
all those guns, that’s . . .

~ previously published in Men in the Nude in Socks
   (Fireweed Press)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Niccolo Paganini

artwork: john whittle

Niccolò Paganini
 by Wilda Morris

Rumor has it the syphilitic little pagan
made his E-string from the gut
of an Italian mistress he killed
with the same hand
which holds his bow,
that he languished in jail
twenty years for her murder.

They say he sold his soul to the devil
for the ability to play
a whole piece on one string.

He always dresses in black,
head to foot, comes like a specter
floating onto the stage.
His lips disappear
into his toothless mouth.

Without the help of Satan himself
how could Paganini produce
such diabolically rapturous music?
How could he play the violin
a hundred times better than anyone else?

Or should we detect the hand of God?

~ first published in Rockford Review