Saturday, March 30, 2013


photo: richard purinton

by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Each spring they swoop
down the creek on snowmelt—
red and yellow, emerald green,
ultramarine with purple stripe.
Each kayak so fragile
the paddler lifts it
in one hand, this thin-skinned
shell of safety
flicks them down Mt. Lassen’s flanks,
around Black Rock, over rapids.
Swirls them through Mill Creek canyon
where boulders choke the angry stream
to flash by my house
in a final flurry of speed.
They whip a right angle turn,
slide each boat up the bank.
Leaving their fish-bird realm
behind, paddlers reel
light-headed, dense-bodied
onto the land.

~ previously published in The Horsethief’s Journal

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Eminently Well Met

artwork: charles altamount doyle

Eminently Well Met
by Gary C. Busha

(Honoring drawings of Charles Altamont Doyle, father of Arthur Conan Doyle)

O death,
one day we shall meet–
perhaps we’ll hook elbows in polka
or grovel knee-deep in mire, feet to feet–
perhaps we’ll shudder at our reflections
in a pond, or share some space
under a plum tree as the fruit falls
and rots and disappears.

O death,
shall I have time to straighten my tie
(before I die) or on a moment’s notice,
be yanked from life, too late to settle my estate?

Will it be cancer, a sudden spasm at night,
or the likely accident on the road
while trying to avoid the rotting skunk,
and by doing so swerve into a semi carrying 60 tons
of frozen beef to supermarket, the driver drunk?

Is there time to reflect the fast forward of one’s life?
Here I was a slobbering newborn,
there acne-faced in high school, then on the road,
driving somewhere, getting the cob without the corn.

Was I one who reached old age, sitting in a rocker,
staring at a blurry page? Did I ever have one single,
original thought? Or, was I computed and managed
by what I bought?

When we meet, O death,
how shall we greet? Shall I doff my hat? Must I bow
at your feet? Or, can we simply meet–
and meeting be eminently well met, hand to hand,
glove to glove, boney fingers laced, yin and yang?

~ previously published in Poems from Farmers Valley
   (Prell Publishing)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Existential Eclipse

photoart: ralph murre

Existential Eclipse
by Erik Richardson

Your mother lived
in the shadow of unraveling
they cut it out, the absurd,
except for the fear,  
and it spread to her children
darkening all their days
while they pretended
their small talk candles
could light the way.

Your father died
four years gone
blown out with the last hot breath
of late summer wind
now the hole in your family
can at least scab over at last
dying was the only thing
he ever saw through to its end.

one day you see the lie
has grown, swallowed sunlight.
In some possible worlds
the test comes out o.k.
even in those, in yours,
all meaning is being erased
and you don’t know how
to teach your wife or daughter
to hold back the eclipsing dark
with lighted, wax-dipped talk.

~ first published in Sein und Werden

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Museum Skeleton

photo: ralph murre

 Museum Skeleton
                                                 by Susan T. Moss

                                                She doesn’t say to shed
                                                one’s skin.  She doesn’t say
                                                to burn brighter, work harder,
                                                pray more.

                                                She says nothing, stands erect,
                                                raised from another era
                                                when daily life had to be
                                                gathered by the handful,

                                                protected from others
                                                who only wanted their share
                                                of what became obsolete
                                                and unfathomable.

                                                We can see further,
                                                collect more, button ourselves
                                                against fierce winds that stir
                                                what she too

                                                might have felt on joyless nights
                                                with only a spark to reveal
                                                the insights we keep at arm’s length –
                                                and still the fear of the dark.

                                                ~ first published in After Hours

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Huck Forever

photoart: ralph murre

Huck Forever
by Lisa Vihos

He comes round to my place
time and again; but won’t stay long
a night or two at most, then gone.

Traveling light, he always finds me
in the dead of night, he always
brings a trinket—found or swiped—

remember, it’s the thought that counts.
You can’t pray a lie, he says. I know,
I tried. I tried to be civilized. He is afraid

of rattle snake skin and the new moon
over his left shoulder. But, he can catch
a catfish and fry it up in a lick; lay back

with his pipe and me for the longest hours
on a summer day. The boyish eyes that gaze
from his weary face bust my heart in half.

In sleep, he mouths the names of old ghosts:
Mary Jane, Tom, and Jim, always Jim. Awake,
he tells tales of floating down river on a raft

with a runaway slave, a duke, and a king;
dying more than once to take a new name,
with con men and preachers, all the same,

in a voice that melts butter. How he survives
in between times, I’ll never know, but I suppose
he has one like me every place he goes.

~ first appeared in Big Muddy

Monday, March 18, 2013


photo: ralph murre

by Cathryn Cofell

So this is March. 
So this is why we forgive
the unforgiving state.
We turn our melting faces
to the sky and forget
about extra wool blankets
and surrendering to Arizona.

Yet, still the sun sputters
and still Christmas lights hang
and still the air is
as we are still
waiting for winter
to pass.

We are Caesar,
betrayed by the warmth
of friends and days
without heavy jackets. 
of the dull knife of weather
we remain

that same crazy blade of grass
that forces through
the bitter ice each year
and grins.

 ~ previously appeared in the Aurorean 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Emerging Light

artwork: remedios varo

Emerging Light
by Estella Lauter

              after a painting by Remedios Varo,
            “luz emergente”, 1962

There is another woman
            lovely in her bones
                        delicate, determined

Face feet and hand
            emerge from a
                        fissure in burlap

Her body waits
            for the vaginal tear
                        of natural birth

Her right hand holds the lamp
            so full of precious fluid
                        it overflows to christen
the unknowing one
            who peers in awe
                        from his dark place beneath the floor

The wall will mend when she comes
            when her being quickens
                        when her pallid face

is joined by the body
            the bones we only imagine
                        to carry the lamp calmly

gently into our jagged lives.

~ previously published, in slightly different form, in
Pressing a Life Together by Hand  (Finishing Line Press)

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'd rather walk . . .

photoart: ralph murre

by CX Dillhunt

I'd rather walk with
you in this rain than stay
home to write haiku

~ first published in Hummingbird

Friday, March 8, 2013

Daily Like Water -- RE/VERSE post # 300

artwork: ralph murre

Daily Like Water
by Bob Wake

Splashing is everything;
and everywhere, like your
laughter, water ascends.
The sponge is useless, bloated
with ballast: we salute its sinking,
and then we return to splashing,
which is everything.

Water adores you, chasing
the shifting shoreline of your
belly’s rise and fall, gaining
millrace momentum
at the elbow waterwheel, and
turning to rapids o’er the
Koshkonong kneecaps.

You take to water like a
Baptist, your spirit sopping wet
and gleeful. God is a soap-bubble
bursting and rebirthing himself
splash upon splash.  
We are made innocent here,
buoyed by newborn lungs.

Neptune is your godfather,
but you are my son. You are
here. We have splashdown.
And like Neil Armstrong
back from the moon, you
have arrived to remind us
of unlimited possibilities.

~ previously appeared in Caffeine and Other Stories
   (Cambridge Book Review Press)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our Way

cover art: emmett johns

Our Way
by Charles Rossiter

Outside the American dream
we haunt highways and streetcorners
through dirty blues and doo wop days
barrooms and coffeehouse nights
we search for friends, for truth, for love
on feather beds and oriental rugs
in dim cafes
barefoot on burning sand
we raise a glass
to electric skies gone crimson
we honor the days, the times
the ways of ancestors long gone
     who made us who we are
          who we are

~ previously published in Back Beat
   1st ed. (Cross + Roads Press)
   2nd ed. (Fractal Edge Press)

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Mourning Dove

artwork: ralph murre

The Mourning Dove
by Constance Vogel Adamkiewicz

Exists on half a ration -- the charity of sparrows'
seed dropped beneath the feeder

where she nestles in the grass,
stretching her wings.

Even a nudge from the old dog's nose
or a launching pad of my cupped hands

does not make her fly, only skim the ground
before returning to the hollow she created.

Why has she stayed, these long days,
repeating her same sad coo,

risking hunter hawk or cat
when she could fly away?

What keeps her from taking
that one grand liftoff

before winter's white hand grips her
and all she can do is look afar

to the place she might have reached a long time ago
and her eyes close under the weight of snow?

~ first published in Moon Journal

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Consuela and Sean

photo: ralph murre - sculptor: unknown

Consuela and Sean
by Donal Mahoney

Through the nursery glass
Carlos Montero peeks at Consuela,
his twelfth, in the arms of a nurse.

Pink as a peony
with brilliant black hair,
Consuela is raw, bawling.

The nurse takes Consuela
away to be washed as Carlos
digs deep in his denims,

locks elbows, gleams,
turns to me. I feel odd
in a suit and a tie as I

wait to see Sean, our first.
When the nurse brings Sean to the window,
Carlos Montero whips off his sombrero,

makes a bullfighter's pass and beams. 
"Senor!" he booms like a tuba. "Ole!"
Suddenly I'm as happy as he.

~ previously published in Encore Magazine

Friday, March 1, 2013

Godot Goes to Montana

photo: ralph murre

Godot Goes to Montana
by Ellaraine Lockie

My farmer father waited to see
if crops would hail out or dry up
If coyotes would tunnel the chicken coops
If the price of grain would keep
me out of used clothes
If the bank would waive foreclosure
for another year

After hay baling and breech delivering
from sunrise to body’s fall
He slept in front of the evening news
Too worn out to watch the world squirm
Too weary to hear warnings from ghost brothers
who were slain by beef, bacon and stress
Too spent to move into the next day

when he couldn’t afford to forget
how Brew Wilcox lost his left arm to an auger
How the mayor’s son suffocated in a silo
Too responsible to remember the bleak option
my grandfather chose for the rope
hanging over the barn rafters

Never too lonely because every farmer
had a neighbor to bullshit with
To share an early a.m. pot of Folger’s
To eat fresh sourdough doughnuts
To chew the fat of their existence

~ previously published in SLAB
   (University of Slippery Rock)