Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reclining Woman

photo: patricia wellingham-jones

Reclining Woman       
by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Like a river siren
washed off her boulder,
spun through white water,
flung up on shore, she rests
against the bridge abutment.

Her legs stretch out on gravel,
weeds bend over her torso,
arms seem to droop at her side,
her head lolls in sleep.

From my deck across the stream
she’s a reclining woman.
Up close, flotsam and jetsam
from last winter’s flood.

~ first published in Rattlesnake Review

Monday, April 29, 2013

To the Artist of the Unsigned Painting

unsigned painting: artist unknown

To the Artist of the Unsigned Painting
by Donna K. Pflueger

Why didn’t you counsel the drunken fence
before it stumbled along to escape this weary frame?
Or mend the livestock pen and fill it
with full-bellied goats?  Your farmhouse is dying

as planks of rough-hewn wood splinter, 
age to thirsty gray while blooms of crab apple trees
feed on the roof, smother windows and block
the pallid light from a sky that has given up

its clouds.  Not one coneflower shivers
in the breeze to spread its seed; no child’s
playful step imprints upon the bluestem grass.
You plant after-thoughts of a life in stern soil:

father, son, farmhand, their faces hiding
behind wide-brimmed hats as they slouch
their shoulders.  You leave their feet unseen
like shackled roots of a past that cannot be freed.

Ah, but the woman with broad brown cheekbones,
hair the hue of wisdom, her legs spread wide
beneath a long skirt. She sits upon a bench and watches
as you drape a blue shawl over her shoulders,
and with your final brushstroke,
you grace her with a smile.

~ first published in Mobius, The Poetry Magazine

Thursday, April 25, 2013


digital negative: extreme detail -  street art, buenos aires

by Cathryn Cofell

You talk too much, your voice consumes the night.
It’s not your metaphors I want to have extended,
it’s your long legs on, over, around me like atoms,
it’s your work-stained hands igniting my atoms,
writing and re-writing the lines of my extended
body, not this language of the haunted and the night.

Your mouth has more important things to stir:
tongue me a haiku, tend me like a spring tree,
kiss me here and here to quiver, to burst.
Feel it?  I am a magnolia bud about to burst,
I am the ripe musk of a magnolia tree:
dig at my roots and all my branches will stir.

Enough with the words. Enough with the half names.
Don’t you know how wrong it is to call out other
loves in the dark naked clasp of my arms? This, yes,
is what brought us here—the patter, the meter, yes,
the recoil, but set them free outside now, another
prey wants ambush, begs you to pray my name.

~ previously published in The Wisconsin Academy Review

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A farewell . . .

photoart: ralph murre, from a photo by bobbie krinsky

Norbert ~
If, once again, you must lead us where we will surely follow; Via con Dios, Amigo. Gracias por todo.  My English is not good enough to express what I feel.  I resort to a language I do not speak.  You understand.     ~ Ralph  
. . .

This morning, our friend, Norbert Blei, left us to wander in another realm.  Sunnier, maybe.  He was our teacher, our compadre, our conscience sometimes.  He was the thorn in our side.  He was the salve for our wounds.  He was our encyclopedia.  And he wrote.  Oh, Jesus, he wrote.  He published some of us, read us, read to us.  He told me I was a poet, and I believed him.

Norb caught the 8:18 train this morning.  Jude was there, on that cold platform, to see him off.

My deepest sympathy to his children and to all who loved him.

Fare thee well, Norbert.     ~ RM

(Note: for those unfamiliar with the man, I suggest beginning your acquaintance by looking him up on Wikipedia)

Monday, April 22, 2013


photo: sharon auberle

(for seven generations)

by Sharon Auberle

 Mother Earth, we pray today
to join with our brothers and sisters
in the company of whom we share this web of life.
We will not take from you lightly, nor do harm.

We will respect those creatures with whom we live.
Wolf, Hawk, Turtle and Bear, we honor you
and all our four-legged brothers and sisters.
Bless us, please, you Flying People,
Crawling People, the Swimmers, Plant and Tree People.

Father Sun, we beseech you
to shine down your light upon us.

Sister Rain and Brother Wind, walk softly here,
for we are small beneath your power.

Sister Moon, shine gently as you guide us
into dreamtime, and when you journey across the world,
send your stars to light our way home.

Mother Earth, accept our prayer,
bless us with your energy and healing.
Help us remember that we are connected
to all who share your sacred web of life—past,
present, and future—that in divinity
we may exist as one…

-  first published in WomanPrayers

Saturday, April 20, 2013


digital art: ralph murre

By Susan Cherry

It simply won’t do
in this day and age:

a tombstone that merely says
“loving mother”
or “he was magic”
along with the dates
the deceased touched down
on the world’s runway
and later, took off
for a destination
without an address. 

So, my children, take note:

when my time arrives,
forgo the numbers, the epithets,
and even my name;
just chisel my stone
with a matrix code
so passersby
who want to know
my who what when
where how and why

can whip out their phones
and scan the maze
of tiny squares
that will take them online,

where I’ll ever abide.

~ first published by the Illinois State Poetry Society

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


artwork: robin chapman

by Robin Chapman

At ten, his hair slicked back
With styling mousse, Josh
Let's us know he thinks he's going
With a girl in his class, who called
A friend, who called to ask.

In front of the mirror the rest
Of the evening he tries on ties—
Fat ones, thin ones—his face
Alight, practicing for the first time
The complicated, conventional knot.

~ first published in The Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Contestant's Anxiety . . .

 The Contestant's Anxiety at the Tossing of the Caber
 by Alan Catlin

From afar, as seen over the heads
of spectators seated in low bleachers,
this wavering pole makes no sense,
impelled forward by some unseen
force, then lifted, launched, hurled
furiously or dropped, suddenly, without
ceremony, a dreadful weight relinquished,
unaccompanied by applause or appreciation,
but, rather a collective, groaning,
a gasping gradually diminishing until
the post appears again and the ritual
is repeated.

Watching, closer, at one with the crowd,
the process contains a reason, a method;
you can see the contestant bent at the waist,
large leg muscles fully flexed, great arms
encircling the pole's girth, back rigid,
straining, facial muscles taut, expression
intent while the clasped hands slide down
the tapered wooden base of the pole,
anticipating the lift, the fearsome jerking
upward, the awkward balancing, shifting
weights composed for the act, equilibrium
maintained prefatory to the dread march
forward into the field of play.

A perfect toss approximates high noon
on an imagined clock facing, upon which,
no real shadows are cast.

~ first published in Opossum Holler Tarot

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Life

artwork: ralph murre

A Life
by Karl Elder

With both hands a small boy holds a ball of string so big it
doesn’t occur to him there are two ends, so far from him is the
center.  It is only after the string is tied to the kite, the ball growing
smaller—yet, with each glance, more vivid—that he can predict
a beginning, the nothing the sphere is wound around.

So it is that somewhere between boy and man he is made
to understand that the atom, too, is hollow, and therefore the
universe.  He comes to see that this is how his life will go, that
the string, unwinding so fast, which at the very last he was unable
to hold, had nothing to do with a beginning or an end, but—like
the makings of the sphere—everything to do with both.

~ previously published in Wisconsin Poetry Transactions

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Midnight Sailor

photoart: ralph murre

Midnight Sailor
by Doris Bezio
Stars have fallen to earth,
their light
quivers on indigo waves.
He raises white sails,
sets an even course
down the silver path
of the moon.

~ first published on Your Daily Poem

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Travel Writing

artwork: ralph murre

Travel Writing
by Ralph Murre

Let’s not think of the car with no brakes at all.
Or the Studebaker the color of the dawning
of a very bad day, followed across Utah
by the blue cloud of its oil habit.
Let’s not think of its demise
in the cold of Colorado winter.
Let’s not think of the crashes in the old red Saab.
And not about the silvery Saab’s breakdowns
in Missouri or any of those in Wisconsin.
Not about pick-up trucks in ditches.
The Fourth-of-July Dakota incident.
Let’s not think of the green-and-white Ford
in a California junkyard, parts of its engine
A motorcycle lying in the gravel of Ontario.
My Rozinante loaded on a truck
in the Michigan morning.  Without ceremony.
We could also not think of the Illinois Tri-State
transmission trouble.  The fast lane.
And, by all means, let’s try not to think of hitting
at seventy-five in the froggy-green Saturn
under the Hunter’s Moon of the big western sky.
Let’s not think of the mustard-colored Datsun.
Or vehicles built in England.
Let’s not think of Florida.
Or Boston.
Oh, Jesus, let’s not think of driving in Boston.

~ first published in Verse Wisconsin

Note:  As I posted this poem a few days ago, it felt appropriate to treat the City of Baked Beans and Banned Books with a bit of levity.  Today, in the wake of the tragic explosions there, I can only attempt to express my sympathy for the victims, for the city, and for an increasingly terrorized world.        ~ R.M.   4/15/13

Monday, April 8, 2013

Defining Moments

digital art: ralph murre

Defining Moments
by Jessica Goody

These are the things I am made of:
the cupboard of dishes
accrued by each successive generation:
the monogrammed wedding glasses;
soup plates at every Seder
fiesta-festive with color,
wreathed with exotically plumed birds.

The kitchen table scarred with age,
paint rubbed off by shoulders
long slouched against aged seat backs.
And my rainbow mug, the purple stripe fading
from each sore-throat tea and honey,
each winter cocoa, each cup of
homemade chicken soup.

These are the things I am made of:
afghans crocheted by three generations
in many different houses.
The carved wooden Moses
bearing staff and sandals,
carefully traveled from Israel.

The wedding menorah,
clumps of wax dug from candleabra stems
with dutiful scrutiny;
cocktail toothpicks and aluminum foil.
The ritual as familiar, if not as revered
as the candle-lighting itself.

The old cookbooks,
Grandmother’s, Great-Grandmother’s,
both maternal and paternal,
wedding gifts for setting up house.
Book jackets fraying and torn,
pages brown and cracked
as the old hands who turned them,
stained with succulence
from favorite recipes.

The grand piano, a Steinway,
gone now, admired and ignored,
ivories chipped, lacquer scratched
by four generations,
to whom a respect for music
came more readily
than a talent for playing it.

These are the things I am made of:
the photo albums from before my time,
the adhesive pages brittle and no longer sticky;
the label-tape peeling off.     

The rank saltiness
of the Atlantic at high tide;
and gnarled trees with tumorous roots,
their withered knotholes like dried fruit.

~ first published in Cyclamens and Swords

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Mirror

photo: ralph murre

The Mirror
by Tom Montag

It is not my vanity
which keeps the mirror.
Not my daughters
brushing their hair
before it, nor my son
laughing to see himself
reflected.  The mirror
holds up the only map
of the days which remain to me –
and I need to be reminded
how far I still must go.

~ previously published in the “Married to Prairie” series,
   Middle Ground (Midwestern Writers Publishing House)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Each Day Hides

artwork: ralph murre

What Each Day Hides 
by Wilda Morris

            Beginning with a line from Li-Young Lee

I think how day hides the star,

the mouse crawling back into its hole,

the burglar creeping through a window,

and the women in red who ply their trade
on Rush Street,

how light deletes

the silver streak on which you longed
to walk across a moonlit lake

and the stillness in which I hear
your long-gone voice

in the night

~ first published in Rockford Review

Monday, April 1, 2013

Recent Sighting . . .

digital montage - ralph murre

Recent Sighting of a 1962 Cadillac
by Pat Tompkins

Fins bristling and grille smiling,
top-down in December,
the blue car cruises: a living fossil.

The driver of this terrible lizard
keeps his own speed limit, fails to signal, glides
through stop signs confident as a general.

Is the man behind the wheel a connoisseur,
freezing a highlight in red taillights,
like a fly preserved in pitch?

Is the driver also the driven?
Founder of Detroit, Antoine Cadillac:
names, a place, a product tarnished.

~ originally appeared in Sugar House Review