Friday, November 29, 2013

A Farmer Searches . . .

digital photoart: ralph murre

A Farmer Searches for His Livestock
During a Snow Storm
by Linda Blaskey

He imagines them huddled
together by now, long

eyelashes rimed with ice.
Their hoof prints blown over

making it hard to track
them. Guernseys and Jerseys.

Like his grandfather,
only Guernseys and Jerseys.

Sure, there are others
that produce more,

the brash-colored Holstein,
the Norwegian Red, but it’s the muted tones

of his girls, their dark points,
that stir something in him. 

He loves to slide his hand
along their warm flanks,

feel the contour, like he loves
to run his hand over his wife’s hip

as she lies on her side in their bed.
He thinks of this as he trudges

through drifts, whistling, calling,
listening for the lead cow’s bell. 

A crow sits on a fence post, its caw
like a knell.  Its dark eye
watches him pass as snow sifts down.

~ first published in The Delmarva Review

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


artwork: ralph murre

by Jean Feraca

I take you in (O happy dagger!)
Gorge on you, motherhoard
My plunder

There is no bottom to this well
No quelling
This huge hunger

I thought you were the sea swelling
I thought I was Aphrodite rising from your foam
Who is this monster rides you flat out, flailing

Knees, thighs
Dug in
Goading your thunder?

This must be the underworld we forge
Your colossal legs floundering
Through ungulate water, the air

Roaring, we sink
Into a stew
Thick as sulphur we are galloping through

Brays, bellows, a hullabaloo
From the inside -- It's bedlam

I'm queen of, rampant
I snort, shudder

Boil up like a brew, a screamer
Pluming over.  Arched

Ready to leap
Out of time
To be

Released, the flint that flies
Into dawn.

~ first published in Crossing the Great Divide
  (Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Night Music

venus & jupiter align - digital art: ralph murre

Night Music
by Pat Tompkins

The quarter moon rests in telephone wires,
a twilight clef sign. Jupiter aligns
with Venus, sounding solo notes.
With the sun offstage, other stars emerge
playing the music of the spheres.

Windows open, a car passes
an airborne song. Radio waving,
I slow dance in the high school gym
fifteen again for an instant,
but that tune’s now light-years distant.

~ first published in Astropoetica

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blissing on the Season's First Snowfall

photo: sharon auberle

Blissing on the Season’s First Snowfall
by Charles Rossiter

I light a morning candle
and lift my cup of espresso

the hiss of the old radiator
purrs to me like a friendly cat

I lift my cup of espresso
and wish a silent wish

blissing on the season’s first snowfall
listening to the hiss of the old radiator

the kiss of morning espresso steam
rising to disappear in pearly air

outside, snow falls silent as a stalking cat
the candle flickers in columns of warm

air rising, I lift my cup of espresso
to the single silent wish, to always

and forever to this much love my life.

~ first published in the Paterson Literary Review

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Naturalist

street art (detail) colonia del sacramento, uraguay

The Naturalist
by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

                                    breaks a twig off a tree living in a brick-
                                    lined plot on a city street.  She slaps
                                    the twig across a brownstone's iron gate,
                                    absorbs the rumble back to bone.

                                    She hears birdsongs among taxi horns, adds
                                    a grunt, a hum, silence; she spots a cat
                                    on a stoop, pets it in passing; she swerves
                                    around dog feces, jumps a grating; she
                                    eyes the sky, like a Sybil ...

                                                            To burst, rot, rust, all in its turn,
                                                            by overripening or contrivance, back to
                                                            animal, mineral, vegetable.  Ancient game.
                                                            All the same.  Innocence doesn't
                                                            matter.  Ignorance doesn't matter.  Greed
                                                            doesn't matter.  Survive
                                                            matters, measured by unattended clocks.
                                                            Not meant, not mean
                                                            just are, here

                                    ... interpreting signs
                                    tickling arm hairs, scraping the edge of a nail.
                                    And with cat, gate, feces, twig,
                                    she dies a little
                                    in the natural order of things,
                                    ikon of the unsponsored,
                                    as natural as things get.

                                    ~ first published in Lynx Eye

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

a day trip to Miami

self-portrait: rembrandt van rijn (detail)

a day trip to Miami
by Norman J. Olson

first floating
like some weightless
mirage, five miles
up… then riding the bus
to South Beach… it occurred
me that Rembrandt
would have
enjoyed the faces
of businessmen
etched against the bright daylight
of the airplane window…
would have understood the woman with tangled hair…
and the damp pastel
decay of Miami
would have wanted
to draw
the wrinkled face, the gray
hair and old blue eyes,
in the dirty glass
of the Miami Dade

~ first published in Poetry Repairs

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Power in My Mother's Arms

The Power in My Mother’s Arms
by Florence Weinberger

My mother stretched dough thin,
thinner, to its splitting edge.
All that certainty gripped her
wrist, while she sieved
bread crumbs through her fingers,
nuts, sugar, apples, lemon rind,
laying down family legends
like seams in a rock; then
she rolled it all up
the sweet length of the dining room table.
Beaten egg glazed the top, and still
aroma to come, cooling and slicing.
I didn't mind her watching me
eat; I'd give back the heat of my
need gladly, fuel to keep the cycle
elemental, if you've watched birds feed
their young.

To every celebration, she matched a flavor,
giving us memory,
giving exile the bite of bitter herbs.
God's word drifted in fragrant soups,
vigor in the wine she made
herself, clear and original.

                   My mother's death
changed the alchemy of food.
                              Holidays run together now
like ungrooved rivers.  I forget
what they are for.  I buy bakery goods.
They look dead
under the blue lights.

I don't do anything the way she taught me.
I don't look like her and I don't sound
like her, but I stand like her.

There must be rituals
that sever what harms
our connection to the past and lets us
keep the rest.
If not, let me invent one
from old scents and ceremonies.
Let me fashion prayer from a
piece of dough, roll it out,
cut in the shape of my mother,
plump, soft, flour-dusted,
the way I once played cook with clay.
Let me keep the cold healing properties

of female images,
their power
to hold fire.
Let me bake her likeness in vessels
made of earth and water.
Let me bless the flames
that turn her skin gold,
her eyes dark as raisins.
Let me bless the long wait at the oven door.
Let me bless the first warm dangerous taste of love.
Let me eat.

~ first published in Women and Aging (Calyx)

Friday, November 15, 2013


digital art: ralph murre

stripped bare
she closes the blinds
to the leafless tree

  . . . Jeffrey Winke                         

~ previously published in coquette (Distant Thunder Press)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In the Moon When Lakes Start to Freeze,

photo: ralph murre

In the Moon When Lakes Start to Freeze,
We Drive to Door County
by Mary Jo Balistreri

The golden bronze death of red oaks
            arches over the road
as we drive into tunnel
upon tunnel
of illumination        Country hymns
                                         Carry Me Down By The River
                                                                  Whispering Hope in my ear
open onto field upon field of cornstalks
            marsh grass       weathered red barns       stone silos
A flock of starlings block out the sun
Gulls assume the sky’s

Vista after vista changes before us
            trees                russet and burgundy
sumac             color of dried blood
evergreens      so blue they are black

Snow’s slate gray sky wavers over morning
A few flakes drift
Green Bay waters     leap
                           fall back
Limestone bluffs stand still

As day darkens toward night
            those we have lost
appear along the roadside of our minds

            two small boys wave    
      parents                  grandparents
            friends from long ago

We carry them forward even as they vanish
            into the blur of distance
Carry them with us
            to another harvest

~ first published in Quill & Parchment

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ode to the Pond at Giverny

cover art: lena anderson

Ode to the Pond at Giverny
by Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll

Beside her willowed bank, the painter never moves his easel.
For hours he regards her: frame of boughs, Japanese

bridge, tousled grass on her shoulder, long sun and sultry drift
of clouds wavering her mien. Mesmerized, he seeks the light—it shifts,

sidles, skips across her brow, his brush pursues as time
transforms her countenance.  Closer, closer he bends his eye,

until bridge, bank, branch, clouded blue
all blur, and he woos

the very photons of light that kiss her face.
Attend: within their waves,
         he finds grace.

~ first published in Caesura

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Lovers at Eighty

artwork: ralph murre

The Lovers at Eighty
by Marilyn Taylor

Fluted light from the window finds her
sleepless in the double bed, her eyes

measuring the chevron angle his knees make
under the coverlet.  She is trying to recall

the last time they made love.  It must have been
in shadows like these, the morning his hands

took their final tour along her shoulders and down
over the pearls of her vertebrae

to the cool dunes of her hips, his fingers
executing solemn little figures

of farewell.  Strange—it’s not so much
the long engagement as the disengagement

of their bodies that fills the hollow
curve of memory behind her eyes—

how the moist, lovestrung delicacy
with which they let each other go

had made a sound like taffeta
while decades flowed across them like a veil.

~ first published in the Indiana Review

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


artwork: ralph murre

by Robert Walton

The rattlesnake's severed head rested
Like a spent bullet
My grandfather's boot.

Desert dust
Coated that boot
With years of layers,
None from a trail. 

He nudged the head,
Tipped it with his toe
Until the fangs pointed up.
I shivered,

But I liked those fangs.
Children respect
Clear intentions
And nothing's as pure as


~ first published at Fictionique 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


photoart: ralph murre

                                by Margot Peters

                                Switch off lights,
                                out invades in

                                fence grids our floor
                                fir branches tickle my knee
                                our birdbath sits down to dinner

                                lamps on, Aunt Marie’s
                                portrait hangs in sky
                                wicker rocks in a goldfish pond
                                our candles wink in neighbor windows

                                reminding, reminding
                                how effortlessly mirror becomes
                                window, window mirror
                                and what flimsy armor
                                wall    glass    skin.

                                ~  first published in Verse Wisconsin

Sunday, November 3, 2013

RE / VERSE Post # 400

   Today, in honor of this being Little Eagle's 400th post on RE / VERSE, we're looking all the way back to post #1, and repeating it here.  Our first re-run and still one of this editor's all-time favorite poems, we very proudly present . . .

artwork: ralph murre

by Michael Koehler

As I lather his face, his skin,
in the concentrated kitchen light, is dark and slick
as old onion skin. I am amazed at my gentleness.
An infrequent shaver, prone to stubble and beards,
my hands are now sure, the blade steady.
He sits with a towel wrapped around his scarred bony chest,
head on the back of the chair,
eyes closed.
As I scrape a three day growth off his face
and into the bowl of water on the table,
I remember the times he trusted me.
I was not always this focused, not always this true.
The house is quiet,
only his breathing and the rasp of the razor.
I notice how sparse his hair, how blue his skin.
His eyes are huge behind their lids, and I wonder
when the time comes, will I be able to put coins over them.
Done, I pat his face dry. He snores softly.
I bend down over him, like a father over his son's crib,
cup his face in my hands, memorize it with my fingers.
If he wakes I'll say "smooth as a baby's butt"
because that is what he will expect from me.

~ first printed in UA-Huntsville’s POEM and simultaneously, in
Notes From Skinner’s Elbow (Wolfsong Publications)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Opening Poem . . .

artwork: ralph murre

Opening Poem in a Still Unwritten Collection of Workplace Poetry
by Ed Werstein

Let me just start by saying
not to plagiarize
but more to pay homage
to the great Factory poet
that like the Continental Can presses
waited for Antler
the Briggs and Stratton machines
waited for me.

They waited while I altar-boyed and baseballed
farm-chored, catholic schooled and seminaried.
They waited while I anti-drafted and anti-warred
and when they saw their opening
they called me
to labor.

They hid their misery and enticed me
with a ticket to the union ball.

I don’t know whether to blame myself
or my muse for the fact that
the machines worked me over for 22 years
but, unlike his muse who led him
from the can presses dancing
and bleeding ink
after a few short months,
mine was hitting the snooze alarm
every god damned morning
while I got up and went to work.

And only now, long after I found my own way out of hell,
she (lazy bitch that she is) taps me
on the shoulder, points to the past and says
Oh, look at that!
Why didn’t we ever write about that stuff?

Well, go back to sleep, you Melpomene come lately
I can take this one solo
and if it turns out to be a rant untempered
by your flowery musings, so be it,
because factories ain’t pretty
and no one who’s never been there
knows the tedium and the pain
and you, for your part,
slept through it.

~ first published in WHO ARE WE THEN? (Partisan Press)