Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sjogren's Syndrome

artwork: ralph murre


Sj√∂gren’s Syndrome
by Marc J. Frazier

Anything
begins with water:
the mouth of the Euphrates,
villages, city-states, empires,
all our ideas
gathered, passed
down, one place,
another, now
and later.
And stays alive
as well:  cell,
tributary, heart.

The body
a creek bed thirsty
for a few drops
to roll eyeballs around in,
to swallow so naturally
air is gourmet.
Surface leaves, twigs,
plants dried up like the privates,
their ache for this element.
The need not to always reach
deeper.


~ first appeared in The Spoon River Poetry Review

Monday, January 27, 2014

SWEET SUGAR SMOKE, 1953

digitally modified from photo found on-line


SWEET SUGAR SMOKE, 1953 
 by John  Flynn         
          
We scavenged sugar beets by
trunkfuls later to discover only
member growers could peddle
sugar beets to the sugar beet plant.

Later on, they called it North Side,
like the North Side of Chicago
or Minneapolis but not  Fargo.
But it was just North Moorhead,
then, out by the beet plant,
from which the pall of acrid
smoke quilted black
the fallow onion fields,
and made it tough for
the mare and the kids
and the calves
to breathe.


~ first published in dislocate 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

HARD TRUTHS, STIFF DRINKS . . .

artwork: ralph murre

Hard Truths, Stiff Drinks and One Faithless Woman

by Cathryn Cofell

Endorphin-loving hellions of the world:    
your ride is here.
Hop on board the It Girl.
It Provocateur.  It Chameleon. It Hyphenate.
Crypto-literatus.
I am your backstage pass,
your ticket to the show. 
Form a line to the left; you must be at least
this tall to buckle into this cyber-chippy. 
Have you got it? 
The saucy fit? 
The Krispy Kreme?
The nine essential vitamins?
Blue collar, white collar, how about no collar?
How about the hip-hop,
the red dwarf,
the shimmy-lickin love shack?
How about a digitally-altered Keanu Reeves
bobbing like a plastic dog in my rear
window?  That’s the button,
the trigger, the real matrix. 
No room for sopranos or tarzans, skanks overboard:
you’ve been living in the dark ages
and I’m your only flashlight.


                         ~ previously appeared in Tiny Little Crushes (LockOut Press)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick as Piranha

artwork: ralph murre


Quick as Piranha
 by Donal Mahoney

Tucked in a booth in back,
the last customer of the day
cracks a fortune cookie,

sips Oolong as Mr. Hong
locks up. It’s time for his supper. 
Two tall sons bear

from the kitchen dishes
his wife won’t allow
on the menu.

Platters of meat
red, green, brown
huddle and steam

in the middle of the table.
When the Hongs
drop in their seats

chopsticks fly
like beaks. So many bright teeth,
quick as piranha.


~ first published in Sand Castles Magazine

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DISAPPEARING INK

verse/image: ralph murre


DISAPPEARING INK
by Bill Yarrow

The inverse of disappearing ink
is invisible ink, writing (with
lemon juice, for example) which
can be seen only when warmed
(that is to say, burned). I guess,
their marriage was kind of like that,
him writing with ink that disappeared
over time, her writing with ink no one
could see. As the years passed, she could
no longer find him, though she looked hard.
As the years passed, he couldn’t read her
(could he ever?) even as she became heated.
They didn’t run out of each other’s ink.
They just grew tired of reading, I think.


~ first published in New World Writing

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Subtropic

from a poster in buenos aires, artist unknown


Subtropic
by Susan Tepper

If you come to lie
under his sheet,
sweat soaked
night a crumbling vein
blue-black swells
along the beach
in sunken dreams
you will find
ship notes jammed
into salt-scale bottles
waves that beat a pier
half-leaning—
you know this torture
rustling your ears 
that sound
transparent as glass
your arms are rods
and every fish
swam these waters
trembling as one
the way light goes yellow,
wavers, a storm
moving down the coast—
foggy you grip
with your thighs
as the water loosens
lunging forward
on someone’s command


~ first published in The Stony Thursday Book

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wealthy

artwork: ralph murre


Wealthy
by Bruce Dethlefsen

after my reading
a very serious sixth grade girl
asked me if I was wealthy
well I said I have twenty-two
dollars in my wallet right now
my purple truck has two hundred
and thirty-five thousand miles on it
I’m wearing clean and mended clothes
I’ll sleep in a warm bed tonight
I’ve got my health my hands my eyes
my family and friends who love me
and I can come here to sennett middle school
to read poetry to you guys for free
so yes I’m very wealthy
wealthy indeed


~ previously published in Unexpected Shiny Things
   (Cowfeather Press)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beyond the Potomac



                            Beyond The Potomac
                                     by Susan T. Moss
 
                                    Lincoln sits in stony silence
                                    with sleepless gaze while American
                                    soldiers shrouded in ponchos and helmets
                                    stride the Korean monument
 
                                    near a black wall sanctifying
                                    thousands who might have wondered
                                    had they lived past Vietnam
                                    what message this dark testament
 
                                    could offer those remembered
                                    in a registry at the
                                    laurel-crowned spectacle
                                    for the bloodied honor of World War II.
 
                                    And this spring a hawk swiped a sparrow
                                    and last night a coyote got the Wilsons’ dog.
                                    Destruction flies on fragile wings
                                    or stalks with hungry defiance
 
                                    through our neighborhoods and lives
                                    as we wonder what fear looks like and
                                    how to measure it in a form easy to grasp
                                    when carnage howls at our doorstep.
 

                                    ~ first published in Out of Line

Monday, January 13, 2014

Marrowbones

artwork: ralph murre


Marrowbones
by Florence Weinberger


The fat women in the Coney Island steam bath
pinched my cheek and laughed at nothing,
sweat gleaming off their skin and coarse, curly hair,
not a bone to be seen anywhere,

not in my aunt’s long breasts, none in the flesh
of my mother’s belly.  I grew up in the shelter
 of kitchen gossip, amplitude nourished by yeasty smells,
pillows of soft-rising dough, a feminine language

that taught me where the body begins, its armature
concealed, its health augmented like good soup. 
By sixth grade, I knew I was fat.  I married a man
with a flat stomach and an unrequited hunger.

The soup the Nazis fed him in their concentration camp
was thin as silk, what floated there thinner still.
From the aunts and mothers I learned wisdom is liquid,
rescue, a recipe they give to their daughters.

When the soup is done, I remove the bones,
scoop out the glutinous marrow, every last shred.
I spread it on fresh rye bread.
            I watch him eat, and my heart gets fat.



~ First appeared on The Pedestal

Friday, January 10, 2014

ABUNDANCE TO SHARE . . .

artwork: ralph murre


ABUNDANCE TO SHARE WITH THE BIRDS
by Andrea Potos

Another early morning
in front of the bathroom mirror--
my daughter making faces
at herself while I pull
back her long brown hair,
gathering the breadth and shine
in my hands, brushing
and smoothing before weaving
the braid she will wear
to school for the day. 
Afterwards, stray strands
nestle in the brush, and because
nothing of beauty is ever wasted,
I pull them out,
stand on the front porch and let them fly. 



~ first published in Poetry East

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

SEATTLE

photo: sharon auberle


SEATTLE
by Donna Hilbert

“ . . . but Wilson had no car.  He felt almost intolerably lonely.”
                                    Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter

So homesick, I engaged wrong numbers
in conversation
for the sound of another
human voice
that year in Seattle when it rained three hundred days.
Not hard as it would at home
and then be done for months,
but just a light piss,
air always damp
like the baby’s diaper.
I watched pink fingers of mold
double every day
in the corner of the window
looking out on evergreens and endless grass.
I longed for LA--
palm trees and Hybrid Bermuda,
trees that let in light and grass with grace
enough to die back
yellow in the winter.
I hated the rain the natives praised
“rain makes everything green,” they’d say,
deranged as they were on chlorophyll and caffeine.
I was green too at nineteen,
with a shiny new husband, one baby,
belly ripening with the next.
My husband studied engineering at the U.
And I studied too--his books from World Lit—
Dostoevsky, Kafka, Camus.
My favorite was Graham Greene
The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter—
burnt-out-cases
adrift in the existential sea.
And I thought then that I
was more displaced
than any whiskey priest or disaffected spy
which I declared to any wrong number
who would take the time
to listen.



~ first published in Fire

Monday, January 6, 2014

Waiting for Eagles



Waiting for Eagles
by Bob Wake

Kate’s thirty-eight,
and that’s reason enough
to swaddle the baby and
gun the car toward Sauk City
hometown to August Derleth,
our son’s namesake (named for two
Augusts: Derleth and St. Augustine,
both rascals and divine writers)—
and haunt of eagles!
Off we go: a Wisconsin day-trip
born of birthday ennui and
a baby who always sleeps best
in a moving car. (Is he destined
for a career as a chauffeured
rock star or merely a
dangerously dozy chauffeur?)

Surely we’re not wise
to travel thus in January,
landscapes as barren as
the blankest stare. Summer
knows a sweeter language.
“Winter is nothing but an empty
white-trash shack atop a frozen lake,”
I grouse with driver’s-seat pomp.
“Thanks for the pleasant
thought on my birthday,”
Kate says from the back, beside
the snoozing Augie, and then she
returns to reading Lorrie Moore
in The New Yorker. Oh, Lord, I pray—
eyes open and on the road!—
let there at least be eagles today.

It’s too damn cold for the eagles,
is the theory as to why they never
show, although the view—
high above the banks of the Wisconsin
River—is breathtaking. As is the cold.
We scan the far shore, cliffs of
skeletal trees, but nothing.
“It’s too cold!” shouts Kate
from the railing. I’m in the car
with The New Yorker. The motor’s
running and our son is crying.
Now Kate’s in the car, warm breast
to the restless August, and I’m outside
with frozen binoculars—lenses like
ice cubes over my eyes—and
I’m waiting for eagles.


~ previously published in Caffeine and Other Stories
   (Cambridge Book Review Press)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

CITY WINDOWS

artwork: k.m.chen


CITY WINDOWS
         by William Marr

the higher the window
the smaller
and paler
the face

every time I pass underneath
I always have a funny feeling
something is going to land on my head
a spit
a cigarette butt
a flower pot
or a man
spreading his arms
trying to fly
like a bird



~first published in Chien Kun Poetry Quarterly