Saturday, December 28, 2013


by Tony Gloeggler

She braces her body
between closing subway doors,
asks if this F train
goes to Coney Island.
She rushes in, pulling
the hand of a little girl
who in fifteen years
will be even prettier
than her mother. I go
back to my book, glance
at them each time
I turn the page. If
I catch the woman’s eye,
I’ll lift my head
at the end of every
paragraph. If she smiles,
it’s after every sentence.
If she starts a conversation,
I’ll smack the book shut,
throw it out the window.
But only the girl
knows I’m alive.

She looks at me
then quickly turns away.
She whips her head
around, looks back
with her mouth wide
open. Then she does it
again. This time, she
sticks her tongue out,
wags it side to side.
Finally, I get it.
Peek-A-Boo. I close,
open my eyes, act
surprised, press my nose
into a pig’s snout, pull
back my hair and flap
my ears like a fat bird
taking flight. She slides
down her seat, kicking
her feet and giggling.

The woman grabs her daughter’s
arm, leans over, threatens her
with a finger held
close to her face. The girl
bites her lip, sits up
and folds her hands
like an honor student
in Catholic School.
I want to apologize,
explain it was all my fault;
but I am afraid of her too.
So I read my book
as if it is getting good.
Minutes later, the train
rises out of the ground.
Sunday morning sun
lightens up the car, brightens
the neighborhoods we rattle past.
The girl climbs on her knees,
looks out the window,
points and tells her mother
about backyard swimming pools,
a nun clanging a church bell,
a man and woman slow dancing
on a fire escape. But her mind
is somewhere else--maybe
she’s telling her husband
she doesn’t love him anymore,
maybe she’s in the shower, touching
the tiny lump on her breast--
and she stares straight ahead.

The girl keeps pointing,
slapping the window and bobbing
her head up and down, nudging
her mother’s shoulder, yelling
Mommy    Mommy    Mommy
when she just gives up
kicks her mother
with both feet. Mommy
grabs her by the legs,
swings her across her lap             
and whacks her ass
   --You little bitch--
five, ten, fifteen times
until the girl’s bare thighs
are stained with red
burning hands and I want
to dart across the car,
somehow make her stop.

I could rub her back
as she cuddles her daughter
and they cry together.
I could sit, listen
to the woman’s apologies,
say I understand. I could
tell her about the group home,
the night I hit
the retarded kid
when he bit my wrist.
How I wrote in the log
that Jimmy Hock fell
stepping out of the tub,
banged his forehead.
How the left side of his face
puffed up and turned colors
like he lost a schoolyard fight.
How I couldn’t sleep
even after everyone seemed
to believe me and I kept
my job. How Jimmy
still runs to hug me
when I punch my card
nine o’clock sharp
Monday through Friday.

But all I do is hide
my eyes in the book,
hope that it’s over soon,
that the next stop
is mine. The woman smoothes
her skirt flat. The girl
cries quietly, covers
her face with her hands,
her skin still pink.
When the conductor announces
Kings Highway, I get up,
wait by the door. I can feel
the girl’s eyes, two snipers,
peeking between her fingers,
shooting holes in the back
of my head.

~ first published in The Ledge

Friday, December 27, 2013


photo: ralph murre


by Jude Genereaux

Run the nightroads with me darlin’
banish distance in a breath
like Peter Pan we fly to the hidden shore woods walk
golden rod promise.

You will be there.
I wake drenched in your presence.

~ first published by Mt. Scenario College

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Lionel Train Under the Tree

artwork: ralph murre

Lionel Train Under the Tree
 by Robert Walton

My dog's tail,
Like an old brown rope,
Lay across the rails.

I caught my brother's eye.
He shrugged and grinned;
It was worth a try.

Sparks flashed blue.
Full speed ahead!

Old Blondie sprang free,
Eyes like railway tunnels,
Through our Christmas tree.

Ornaments fell like colored snow.
Our Mother screamed, "What happened?"
We don't know.

~ previously appeared on Your Daily Poem

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Concert

digital art: ralph murre

Holiday Concert
by David Scheler

bell choir
silvers satin,
ripples scarlet.
Chocolate drones
deep brass.  Light
gingers zest-flash lemon
sharp, crystal tingles cinnamon
on a fresh white

~ first published in the
Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Sunday, December 22, 2013


ceramic artist unknown

 by Sharon Auberle

The first year
you set out the elephants
I smiled at their scarred
and broken bodies, but
the tenderness with which
you touched them
took my breath away.

I wanted to hold you
till being grown-up disappeared,
and we were little kids again,
watching your parade of elephants
marching under the Christmas tree,
bodies unscarred, trunks raised in glee,
trumpeting their way to Bethlehem.

And every year, in every house after,
out they came from their battered boxes,
the old gray line joined by new ones:
blue and amber and black ones,
fierce old warriors and tiny-tusked babes. 

Every year the elephant parade grows
and every year comes
the same look on your face
as you set them under the tree,

as you return to that soft place
where no one is allowed to enter,
except a small boy and girl,
noses pressed against the window,
watching the passing parade.

~  first appeared at Mimi’s Golightly Cafe

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pen Pal

Pen Pal                                                                                                  
by Peggy Trojan   

The Evening Telegram printed
names of soldiers wanting mail.
Mother chose Robert Smith.
Wrote, in teacher’s Palmer script,
of ordinary happenings
in our little Wisconsin town.
What birds were at the feeder,
the fox or deer she saw,
how much snow fell,
hoping he was doing well.
Nothing sad or troublesome.                        
She wrote often, all during the war.

Sometimes, a letter thanking her
would come from a distant battle place,
Italy, or France maybe,
with the military post mark.
A.P.O. 45, New York,
censored by army examiner.

War ended in August, ’45.
The following Christmas,
a card arrived
showing a black man
sitting by the decorated tree.
He was afraid, if she knew,
letters “from home” would stop.

It made no difference, she confided.
He was fighting for us all,
and she was his pal.
For more than fifty years,
his greeting was saved in her shoebox
with anniversary cards from Pa,
and fancy old valentines.

They didn’t write much longer.
He was back home then,
and that war was over.

~ first published in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Teaching Women How to Fly

Teaching Women How to Fly
by Ed Werstein

-          On December 14, 2010, more than 30 workers died and
100 were injured when they jumped from upper floor windows
to escape a garment factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Your great-grandparents marched
for safety, "Bread and roses!"
after the fire forced the women to jump
from windows at the Triangle shirt factory
in New York City  in 1911.

Your grandparents fought and died
for safety, "Bread and roses!"
at Flint in 1937.
Held the GM factory for weeks
to win their union.

Your parents picketed
time and again
for safety, "Bread and roses!"
to protect their unions
in what has become the Rust Belt.

And now women are flying again
falling from factory windows in Bangladesh
while you wait in lines at Walmart
to buy the shirts they were sewing
on the day before they died,
died to make the owners richer.

Owners whose ancestors owned
shirt factories in New York.
Owners who now are looking
for other women,
in even poorer countries,
to teach them how to fly.

~ first published in the Blue Collar Review

Monday, December 9, 2013


architectural drawing: ralph murre

 by John Flynn
He feels guilty enough about writing poems
much less talking about them for a precarious living.
He sticks closer to carpentry; straightening boards,
hammer blows, cutting out triangles of stair so it stands
right, is safe and level for the climber, the old and
babies just walking. Being sure the rafters carry
a roof that sheds rain and whatever snow load might
settle in. Joining oak boards to make the floor,
no gaps, no creaks; nails angled and set in the
tongue each with one massive blow of the mallet;       
doors that swing quietly, and catch with
a soft, hollow chirp. At end of day he puts his
tools away, picks up and sweeps. He inhales
the smell and the silence of new work and this day's
chirp of the solid core door latched behind him.
The joy of writing poems at night is that
same door opening on tomorrow

                        ~ first published in WHISTLING SHADE

Saturday, December 7, 2013


digital art: ralph murre

by Karla Huston

She stands at the sink; water foams
and steams as she pushes everything
under the way her mother taught her:
glasses and silver first, then plates
washed and set to drain, pots and pans
last, yellow grease popping
what is left of soap as it bubbles
across her knuckles.  She imagines
the window that isn’t in front of her,
the scent of clover filling her nose,
the dove perched on the fence,
bobbing, then, poised to fly—
unaware of the hawk
on the rooftop next door.

~ first published in Poet Lore

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mandela Free

photo: ralph murre

Mandela Free
by Richard Swanson
       (Nelson Mandela, freed after having served
        twenty-five years for political agitation)

Someone unhuddled,
something like conscience uncellared,
stands at the prison house door,
moves to, blinks from, then uses
the sun’s blaze to sort time present from memory.

It’s open, the gate,
no joke in a dream but real,
this minute, the last of fourteen million
they shut me in for,
for being the black man’s howl
in their septic white streets

He would like now merely to go to his home,
to touch again, feel anew
the things of his family,
taste smell savor all over
the bread of his kitchen table, but

Not right now, this is a time
for meeting, greeting the faithful,
these hardened, delirious thousands,
who wait this day for the eager press mob
to beam our triumph abroad.

He will say things, thoughts so blandly profound
they merit re-hearing:
Wrongs dressed stylish are still just wrong.
Hopes held down turn anguish to tactics.
Freedom will rise somehow after night-stick beatings.

From his cell he brought down a government.
This morning he will start to make one,
born in his jailed reflections.

Later, some things for myself.

His lungs fill up with new-found air.


~ previously published in Men in the Nude in Socks
  (Fireweed Press)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


                       THE SURVIVOR
by Shoshauna Shy

It was a living nightmare
from which Olivia could not awake:
tangled howls in a mash of bed
sheets, condolences that arrived
on tea trays in the mornings, the pat
of hands her forehead
could not tolerate.

However long this carried on
she was helpless to determine –
when suddenly she packed her bags
and from the house she bolted,
cashed the insurance checks then drove
to the Midway Airport and booked
eleven successive flights criss-crossing
the Atlantic.  She caught a non-stop

to New York and figured if the engine
didn’t fail over the Baltic Sea, then maybe
a wheel would come loose on the red-eye
to Nicaragua or a fuel tank explode upon
Moroccan tarmac.
She didn’t care how it happened;
she just knew the odds increased
the longer she stayed airborne.
Two months had already managed to pass

since the crash that took her Willis, her Macy
and her Nathan.  She couldn’t let days keep
flooding by or she would never catch them.
Sometimes it took both pilots
to get Olivia off the plane.

~ first published in Milk Sugar Literary Journal

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Tribute to the Penguin-Men Among Us

A Tribute to the Penguin-Men Among Us
by Stephen Anderson

who huddle around watching their young ones
take to the ice like the wobbly creatures they are
at outdoor school rinks now lent to these
bundled-up fathers who shift from side to side
and huddle together to stay warm like
looming Emperor Penguins,
while dutifully standing vigil for their
offspring who careen wildly but then
glide like pros for up-to-seconds-at-a-time before
spiraling into impromptu, shaky pirouettes
that cause the men to gasp from the sidelines,
then fake-skate with their shoes
over to the crash site where they whisper
their concern and, upon further triage,
encourage their fallen angels to right their little
skates on the ice, to again take on the
wintry reality of the late afternoon,
with their chins held high to the glory of
the Penguin-Men in attendance.

~ first published in the New Purlieu Review