Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tiny Moments of Light

artwork: ralph murre

Tiny Moments of Light
by William Taylor Jr.

A pretty girl
in a sad old bar
in a sad old neighborhood
on a Wednesday afternoon,

seeming out of place
with the old men
quietly drinking beer
the color of the graying wallpaper
and the drizzling rain.

She smiles and smokes 
thin cigarettes
as the old men buy her drinks
and tell their stories.

Her laughter is music;
her eyes are kind and more alive
than the sun
as she puts her coins in the jukebox.

When her songs play she leaps
from her stool
to dance in the tiny space
between the tables

with a joy that is real,

with a joy that proves 
some kind of beauty 
still exists in spite of everything,

She dances
and the old men watch
with grateful smiles,

thankful for unexpected magic

and tiny
moments of light

to remember and keep with them
through all the dark and ugly hours.

~ previously published in Bar Code (Little Eagle Press)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Mouse

photoart: ralph murre

The Mouse
by Wilda Morris

            Beginning with a line from Billy Collins

Dressed in its light brown suit,
it entered my basement
without invitation.

I did not look on it
with love, despite its wistful eyes,
its sophisticated whiskers

and its toes, smaller than my grandson’s
when he was born. I didn’t offer
to shake hands or bring a bowl

of crackers and a cheese ball
infused with port wine.
Instead, I plotted to rid my house

of this mouse with its cleverly cupped ears,
frightened look and evident hunger.
I never asked if its name

is on the endangered species list,
if it carried a card of recommendation
or why it dressed in such elegant velvet.

~ first published in Creature Features

Saturday, September 21, 2013


artwork: ralph murre

by Shoshauna Shy

Plastic tube far stronger
than bone, and so won’t shatter.
Not even after 300+ acts
of intercourse, two intra-uterine
inseminations, a hysteroscopy,
a year of yoga with visualizations,
four spa get-aways, five baby showers,
one younger sister expecting twins,
marital severance last night
threatened, now this good swing
of a hammer.

~ first published in Milk Sugar Literary Journal

Friday, September 20, 2013

Alpha-Male on the Beach

photoart: ralph murre

Alpha-Male on the Beach
by Michael Estabrook

Yesterday the water was cold
and the waves choppy, but I went in anyway,
I went all the way in anyway,
the only one in.

I swam along the shoreline,
half a mile or so, my wife and granddaughter
following along on the beach.

“Wow,” her eyes sparkled, “You were like
a triathlete out there.” She took
my hand, so proud of me.

So today, the same situation, only with
the water even colder, the waves choppier.
When things calmed down, everyone finished
with their snacks and flying their kites,
I stood from my beach chair,
stretched like a waking bear,
swung my arms around and around
over my head so everyone could see me,
flapped them like Michael Phelps flaps
before he dives in.

Then I popped in my ear plugs,
strode solemnly out, so bravely, so manly
(the alpha-male on the beach)
through the rocks and seaweed,
cracked shells and snails,
finally diving into the churning frigid sea,
swam out and fought my way
along the craggy shoreline just like yesterday,
only this time nobody even noticed.

                       ~ first appeared in Minotaur

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Punctuation of Ferns

photo: ralph murre

The Punctuation
of Ferns

by Jeannie E. Roberts

Like snail shells
nestled in crooks
of question marks,

fiddleheads coil,
cap fronds, within
ponds of noonday sun. 

Spirals unfurl, respond
without question, roll
out the answer, clarify

meaning in the fleeting
nature of time; only
to rest, repose, after

accentuating glens,
underlining gullies,
hyphenating ditches

with dashes of green,
upon making their mark,
completing this seasonal

sentence, before fading
to full stop and finishing
with periodic ending points.

~ previously published in NATURE OF IT ALL
  (Finishing Line Press)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Married Life

photoart: ralph murre

Married Life

by Candace Hennekens

My husband doesn’t want to move
from the front row at the tractor
pulling contest in the community park.
I feel like a picked dandelion
drooping in a juice glass.
I worry that my feet in sandals

will burn without sun block.
My scalp sweats under my cotton hat.
My lips feel dry, my throat parched.
I’m hotter than a desert rock in Death Valley.
He says I don’t need to sit there.
So, I beat a retreat to the beer tent

sit and relax at a table, comparing
notes with two old farmers about
how hot we are.  Suddenly I am hit
by a rush of feelings about being married.
I am inclined to like it.  After a while,
I buy chicken dinners, cold pops,

give my husband his and return
to my spot in the tent.  Eating
and drinking, I listen to the announcer
but I watch my husband, enjoying
our bond. Suddenly he stands up, comes
my way, saying we can leave anytime I want.

We meander past the tractor pull, stop
to watch a John Deere slowly without
drama pull the weight wagon all the way
to the end of the track.  That’s a winner,
my husband says.  Then we leave
to go back home where I can be cool.

~ first published in Rosebud

Sunday, September 8, 2013


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.

~ first published in The Wisconsin Academy Review

Friday, September 6, 2013

Three from Frog on the Bay

by Gary C. Busha

Making book covers
from folded grocery bags
another school year starts.

The old man and I
grin or frown at each other:

Along the shoreline
seaweed surges in the rocks
 water ebbs and flows.

~ previously published in Frog on the Bay (Wolfsong Publications)

Thursday, September 5, 2013


photo: ed haskell

by Robert Walton


Flickering, flaring
Between black pines'
Sawtooth shadows
Drew me.
Always brightest
After midnight,
Filled an empty circle,
For no faces
Leaned in,
No smiles shimmered
Like glass ornaments.
Not eyes,
Gleamed upon a last
Sapphire breath
Of embers.
Only silence,
Deep as mountains,
Huddled close. 

~ previously in Song of the San Joaquin Journal

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Living with Hephaestus

Living with Hephaestus
by Peg Bresnahan

Some say we attract
our nightmares,
like now, when I know
my husband is about to lift
part of a sculpture
weighing one hundred pounds.

Absurd to cheer him on
when I see what it takes
to create the shapes
blazing his mind.
Day after day, sparks
cascade around him
until the image behind his eyes
bends to a form I can touch.

I don’t know if it’s watching
the hoist lift and swing
great sheets of steel over his head,
or if it’s the fire I fear most. 
The time he walked through our door
face black, holes burned
through the three layers of clothing
his leather apron didn’t shield
when they caught the live end
of the welding torch.

He lowers his helmet
and strikes an arc.
Don’t look, he warns,
it can blind you.
A piece of sun tears loose
and the flame hisses
hunting for contact.

~ first published in Southern Poetry Review

Sunday, September 1, 2013

In Labor

photoart: ralph murre

In Labor
by Ralph Murre

So, you’re still working, but they let you off for Labor Day, like the 4th, like Memorial Day, and you have a coupla beers and you char something on the Weber, maybe listen to a ballgame, your team still in the cellar. Your cousin Jimmy comes over with his face-lifted tit-lifted wife and the Gameboy twins.

He drives a new Infiniti. It's gray. Nobody talks about labor except that of delivering the twins and there's some talk of her working on her tan. Your dad was in the strike of '52. Also the big one in '56. All summer.

You pick some tomatoes and corn from the garden. Get salt and pepper. They talk about the food at Aquavit and Blu. Your grandpa rode the rails in '35 and '36, stole chickens. They have to go. Country Day School starts tomorrow. Your grandma was in labor in the back of a Ford in '38. There's a union man talking in the park just a block away. Nobody listening. A skateboard goes by. The plant will close in 3 weeks. You fall asleep in a plastic chair from China, juice of summer harvest on your chin, a few clouds gathering.

~ first appeared on the Arem Arvinson Log