Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In the First Years

artwork: ralph murre

In the First Years
by Donna Hilbert

I don’t know exactly what he does all day,
my fresh-pressed engineer
how his slide-rule calculates
movement buried in the passageways
of pipes and tanks.
He uses words like
volatile, effluent, pressure.

But, I know what I do
rumpled mommy of two,
in a neighborhood so strange
I think it dangerous to stroll them to the park
alone. Mostly, I stay home
and wash piles of laundry
I never sort or fold,
cook food that doesn’t taste quite right,
although I won’t admit
nothing’s ever really good.

Sometimes I drive him to work
when I want the car to visit
my mother in the valley.
The refinery air is sulfurous
and thick, it makes the babies
in the back-seat gag, get sick,
vomit with such force they splatter my back
with flecks of puke, so I never
come entirely clean.

We go back after dusk
to pick him up.
The air still stinks, but the tanks
light up like Christmas.
In a couple of years the plant explodes
leaving a co-worker dead.
And, I will throw a plate of spaghetti
a whisper from my husband’s head.
But in the first years, no notion
of what comes after—
the fragile welds that held us
a match strike from disaster.

~ first published in 5 A.M.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Discovery

photo: ralph murre

A Discovery
by Stephen Anderson
Last spring, the old bay window over the back deck was
Done in by ripsaw, crowbar and sledgehammer—
Smashed into a pile of scattered debris on the deck.
Among the leftovers, in the middle of a boxed-in section,
A hornets’ nest rose up, a Taj Mahal dome in miniature, some ten
Inches in diameter, a delicate looking carp scale pattern of maple
Seed and other unknown matter, home, the carpenter said,
To scores of yellow jackets, many of which terrorized us in
Seasons past while we entertained on the deck.

When the nest was torn open, its interior was empty like
Some lost, ancient civilization once sheltered so well by its
intricate design. Now gone forever from our property, a sacrifice
To our sliding deck door, a weatherproof invention—
Man-made technology of high order, lacking, though, the
Miracle that preceded it in that spot.

~ first published on Your Daily Poem

Monday, July 29, 2013


photoart: ralph murre

by Linda Back McKay

The old man was not really in a rowboat
under the Mississippi River bridge.
He was in the process of turning
inside himself, as we all will do one day.

Inside, he was finalizing the finished
and unfinished business of his life.
I just made up the part about him in a rowboat,
fishing being some of his best times.

In the rowboat, he tied a hook on a line,
fashioned a slab of plywood into an oar,
nailed, plugged, chopped and welded
all the materials of his backbreaking years.

This was great work for him and his face
was pinched with effort. Beads of sweat
glinted on his forehead as he gently laid
each of the items back into the water

from which they came, I imagine. The river
was grateful and in return rocked him
in its faithful current downstream
toward home,

which was a warm house filled with sisters
and all his old friends and Ma right there,
there, baking bread in the wood stove
from a recipe in her head.

~ previously appeared in the Saint Paul Almanac

Saturday, July 27, 2013


photoart: ralph murre

by Jude Genereaux

The red negligee
hangs abandoned, sagging
from a hook
behind the waterbed.

My eyes sweep the morning sky for a sign
are drawn to the red cascade;
liquid lush satin screams your absence
clinging by one strap
fabric that held life in our nights
testament to city lights
spring serenades and driving
I Love You’s rich
as the red glow of tomorrow’s promise.

Our hearts hang suspended, sag
longing for the sailor’s delight
Red sky at night.

~ first published in Trains and Rain –
Poems of Lust, Dust, Rust, and Obsession

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bird and Tree

artwork: ralph murre

Bird and Tree
by Morgan Harlow

Today a bird flew into the yard and landed on the tree we almost
cut down, the one that is thin with one dead branch arching over
the fence.

A scrawny kind of bird, a wren or sparrow, or a chickadee perhaps,
common and cheerful. Look, you can see it now.

~ first published in The Cortland Review

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Those Good Tomatoes

artwork: ralph murre

Those Good Tomatoes
by Donal Mahoney

          Chicago, South Side

Late July and I am waiting
for those good tomatoes
brought to the city from farms
on trucks with a swinging scale,
brought to the city
and into the alleys
by Greeks and sons
in late July
and early August,
tomatoes so red they reign
on the sills of my mind all winter
too perfect to eat.

~ first published in The Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hibiscus Blooming

artwork: giuseppe de nittis

Hibiscus Blooming
by Hope McLeod

Having not bloomed for three years
my hibiscus burst forth
with a single, kimono-orange plume
a sign perhaps that our dog's passing
would be a smooth one.

As we held her she sang three fetching notes
like a Tibetan monk chanting
or a conch shell blowing
to warn us of a fast approaching vessel.

As the day darkened
as the flower shriveled
we wrapped our old puppy in bed sheets
and wondered

will we be that lucky
to have the other nearby
to stroke our soft ears
as we birth into death

to give each other room to sing
whatever needs to be sung
whatever needs to be done
to close up our lives

like a summer cabin for winter
like a gentle flower
bending its petals inward
after a long day of blooming.

~ previously published in The Place We Begin
   (Herd a Word)

Monday, July 22, 2013


photoart: sharon auberle

by Jeannie E. Roberts

Your order flew
through my door,
a class act

of Insecta —
four wings

fully grown,
a feast
for furtive eyes.

But before
you fluttered,
time was spent

producing juice

for the journey.
There you waited,

tender to attack,
drying, until
your wide-eyed

wings let loose
on waves of air.  

you've lived
been altered,

reshaped, reborn
and now,
you've shown me,

through my door,
you're my life
in metaphor.

~ previously published in Nature of it All                          
   (Finishing Line Press ) 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

At the Dentist

At the Dentist
by Robert Nordstrom

Stretched out in this space-age La-Z-Boy
a high-speed Swedish-steel factory
whining inside my head
this guy cradles my head against his belly
like maybe he thinks it's me who's whining
and tells me he had a bad day
Dow Jones dropped 500 plus
but that's not his problem
and even if it were
these high-rise windows don't open
my palms are sweaty
but it's his bad day
and my bad luck
to be listening to this shit
my whole life it seems
just can't get a word in edgewise
what with this noise inside my head
and these people who make their point
despite the din
leaving me no recourse
but to wish I were a bald toothless monk
with the wisdom to understand
why these two skinny boys
and sullen little fat girl
are hanging in a frame
on a wall
next to a plant noose
in front of a window
that won't open

~ first published in Main Street Rag

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shells of Pink and Beige

photo: ralph murre

Shells of Pink and Beige
by Carol Louise Moon

A constellation, found in the hazel specks of
the eye’s iris, has rearranged and taken hold.

By September I could remember only that my father
lay dying, no other thoughts between us held.

I watch the old captain, his vessel sinking, water
of our tears collecting in our great ship’s hold.

Tiny shells of pink, beige and ecru in a small
lidded dish, as in a bank vault securely held.

Even his name, seen on this cracked mug,
grips my heart—has its own way of taking hold.

This hour’s dandelion fluff, blown by wind or
will across this barren plain, is a sight to behold.

In these last days I feel useless in this angled light—
a sweater, button-less yet button-holed.

And this name, my name whispered on his
dying lips, has a way of taking root… taking hold.

~ previously published in
   Late Peaches, Poems by Sacramento Poets

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Memo on a Parable

Memo on a Parable
by Ed Werstein

To:       The Shepherd
Re:       Your Lost Sheep

Let’s consider this from his perspective.

Maybe he had a mind of his own.

Maybe he was tired of conforming,
of every time his eyes wandered
feeling the crook of your staff
round his neck.

Maybe he just wanted to be
alone for awhile,
to not be a part of the fucking
flock any more.

Maybe he was sick and tired
of your mid-night advances.

Maybe he was an artist
searching for a tar pit
to dye in,
the original black sheep.

Maybe he didn’t want to be found.

Maybe you were just afraid
of what songs he’d sing to your flock
across the hills at night.

~ first appeared on The Camel Saloon

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Father Goose

photoart: ralph murre

 Father Goose
by Marilyn L. Taylor

Mel, Mel, the Dad from Hell
         Raised your kids in a padded cell.
Not one soul cried the night you died,
         But Mother giggled like a bride.

~ first published in Free Verse

Monday, July 15, 2013

Having It Out With Baseball

artwork: ralph murre

Having It Out With Baseball
by Mariann Ritzer

First of all, your balls are too small
(even as a kid I sensed this)
and your bats are either skinny as swamp
reeds or heavy and thick like a leg
that’s fallen asleep.
Through adolescence I tried to play
your game.  From left field I swatted
at flies and mosquitoes, daydreamed
about the perfect catch, holding on
while summers simply wilted away.
When that small ball finally did come,
it fell into the path of the blinding sun
and landed behind me instead of placing
itself into the oiled softness
of my waiting glove.
At the batter’s box I waited too,
my legs spread, straddling home plate,
my hands holding the bat just so.
But even then we couldn’t meet each other
halfway.  Either I was too early or it
was too late.  And like Miss Havisham’s
Estella, the years haven’t softened my heart
towards you.  There are no great expectations.
Sure, your plump hotdogs are as close
to heaven as I’ll ever get –
but they cost me
too much.
And, yes, when it’s finally time
for your seventh inning stretch, it feels
as good as a full body massage,
but it doesn’t make up for your one
fatal flaw – it simply takes you too long
to get the job done.

~ first published in Page 5

Saturday, July 13, 2013


digital art: ralph murre

by Thomas R. Smith

The unaided eye sees only six thousand stars.
With our best instruments we can, perhaps,
take six thousand galaxies in one gulp of light.
They say the visual frontier of our universe
is now forty-two billion light years.
Are there universes beyond our universe?

At what point do we close the astronomy book
and ask, What have these nebulae and globular clusters,
these star-making dusts of the inconceivable distances
to do with us?  The heart wanders lost
on the white beach of suns in search of
the grain of sand that it calls home.

Breathe deeply.  Step back from the night window
against which galaxies’ moth-wings flutter.
Let God splash day-glo about that vast canvas.
In your own room, with the things you love,
stand among the “pillars of creation.”
You are the place where infinity begins.

~ first published in Poetry Ireland Review

Thursday, July 11, 2013


photoart: ralph murre


by Jeanie Tomasko
For Jon           
Now is a worn street on the east
side of town, now is
its sidewalk, its cracks                              
its dogs and women walking. Now is
its talking yard to yard, its front
porches, yawn-faced cats.
Now is a day of luscious light,
             the Sunday night of it,
fifth day into summer,
the fried-chicken-potato-salad of it,
            the friends, the table’s easy
laughter. Now is how
a body returns from darkness, how
a heart, how a thought, 
now is how to say given.

And this, the simplest grace: a wood floor 
shining with given, the garden
gate, repaired.
Every blade of grass is green with it.
Now is a plate heaped high
with it, and now, 

now is the whole blue onrushing world.

~ first published in The Midwest Quarterly

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


from film: Two for the Seesaw

by Albert DeGenova

The clock above the kitchen sink
ticks the distance between us –
motionless black coffee
reflects nothing
the table is too wide
to reach the sugar
myself, it is
the black hour, the negative
end of
balanced, this dark weight
is too heavy, pass
the sugar over the fulcrum
of this moment, a hand
on a knee, lean in
and out, we are
the up and down
the tick the tock
and all the hours in between.

~ previously published in The Blueing Hours
   (Virtual Artists Collective)