Thursday, February 27, 2014

Away the Winter

photoart: ralph murre

Away the Winter
by Susan Tepper

As with the maple your leaves
come off in silent streams

Litter the bed and on the floor
crunching where you
meant to keep

away the winter

hiding behind curtains
crouched in the rafters

Have you heard the windows
gasp— cold and so dark 
surely they have died too.

~ previously published in ROPES

Saturday, February 22, 2014

To Jimmy Santiago Baca . . .

To Jimmy Santiago Baca, In The House Tonight
by Albert De Genova

The open-mic graffiti poets posture
for the Buddha, master in the audience.
He listens, applauds, drinks
But tonight
words swirl around the writer’s head
like ice cubes in his glass, like
updrafts of circling snow outside.
He asks me to play,
play my saxophone
a song for his brother
the brother who died
just winter days ago.

"Play a song for me, play
a song for my brother
who was murdered.
Play a song because
there are things in a life
that you can’t get over.
My mother was murdered
my father was murdered
and now
my brother --
there are things in a life
that you cannot get over."

He closes his eyes to say this,
he kisses his hands held as in prayer.
"Faith in the Virgin of Guadeloupe,
better than the trigger I pulled
the cold blood I shed
angry lives ago."

My fingers find the keys, stumble
into Amazing Grace
and spiral into a freefall of blue notes
that is a dead brother.
There are things in a life
you cannot get over,
that make
this poet’s poems.
No burning need
for an open microphone
or polite applause
only the request
for a song
this January night--
there are things in a life
you cannot get over.

~ first published in Back Beat (Cross+Roads Press)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One of My Favorite Words

One of My Favorite Words
by Steve Tomasko

Would you be angry
if I called you crepuscular?
Such an earthy word—my deer,
my little mosquito—
so furtive and muscular.

Most active in the middling
between times, the dreamy
light of dawn and dusk
is what it means, my darling
nighthawk, my sweet platypus.

To parse it further,
my one and only bunny,
I can name creatures active
in the evening—vespertine.  
A hush of a word, don’t you agree,
my firefly? My little brown bat?

Then there are those who
prefer the morning hours.
Let’s call them matinal,
my fuzzy wuzzy bumblebee,
from Mātūta, Roman goddess
of the dawn. Early risers, they—
but even earlier to bed.

It doesn’t come up easy
in conversation, so
I hope you’ll excuse me,
my short-eared owl,
if I say you are the most,
the cream,
you are the twilight icing
on my crepuscular cake.

~ previously published in Corvus

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Walking Near a Frozen Lake

photo: sharon auberle

Walking Near a Frozen Lake
by Jeanie Tomasko

There is no stillness anywhere
but in death and even then
how would I know

I didn’t even know until now
my heart was a muscle of water
under ice

~ photo and poem previously published
   in Sharp as Want (Little Eagle Press)

Friday, February 14, 2014

en Febrero

en Febrero
by Ralph Murre

What can St. Valentine have known about it,
having never met you ?
His notion of love incomplete,
his idea of dinner just a salad,
a small glass of Chablis.
What has a saint to say of love,
that he can remain saintly ?
I’ve known the meat,
the rich sauce,
the Burgundy dark of you,
the fruit, the sweet, the dessert of you.
I’ve snifted your brandy,
been warmed by your fire,
seen you in the light of green candles.
You diminish my chances of sainthood
and I shall dwell in the house of our love
forever and ever.
Goodness and mercy.

~ previously published in Wind Where Music Was
   (Little Eagle Press)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Space Between

digital photoart: ralph murre

The Space Between
by Robert Nordstrom

The hawk understands
in its ascending arc
the weight of the earth
and the attachments she defends

but the sky presents other problems
shifting currents…directionless expanses

like the space between your breasts
or the dreamy glaze of your eyes
as we ride these currents upward
tethered to the occasional posture of desire

to rise but not arrive
to fall but never land
the restless soul reaches for
release that will not come

and so we turn

a slight turn…barely perceptible
and are embraced by
the sacred monotony of breath itself

~ originally published in Peninsula Pulse

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Great Expectations

artwork: ralph murre

Great Expectations
by Liz Dolan

It was always up to us, Sister said
lauding eleven-year-old
Beata Maria Goretti as a model,
slashed dead rather than surrender her purity.
As if we who wanted to be good
could guard the locks stemming floods
which would engulf us all.

On the Lexington Avenue Local
memorizing amo, amas, amat, 
while hugging steel poles,
we were crushed by fine-suited gents
who sought out trim navy blue virgins,
our elbows a pointless defense as trains
undulated to rhythms of the morning rush.

And how could we be expected to keep saying no
as our blue-tied reflection careened
through shadowy tunnels into Manhattan
when even Joltin’ Joe, La Bella Figura,
hooked up with Marilyn who never said no,
her vanilla skirt billowing like a parachute
pulling her towards heaven.

~ previously published in Token Entry:
   An Anthology of Subway Poems

Monday, February 10, 2014

Four for Mario

photo: ralph murre

Four for Mario
by Karl Elder

Suddenly a poem seems dumb.
Maybe like you I’d rather perform:
I rehearsed a week to tell my son
of your death.  I learned by heart
how not to speak, to trust my tongue.
He waited till I was done.
He stared at me across the room
as I cradled my younger one.
He loves you, he said.
Even dead.

The pictures didn’t turn out,
Though I can picture each frame:
Seth, your understudy, your “main
man” in your lap.
What a team of dreamers!
If only we had a script, you said,
there’d be money enough to keep him in Underoos
and us in booze
till hell froze over.

It’s been a bitter winter.
We play the planet Hoth.
Seth is Luke, I’m Vader.
Once through my mask
I heard hint of your voice,
and once, stung by a gust,
I spun, sensing your form, your shadow
near snow packed high by the plows,
iced all over, glistening
like a huge granite boulder.

A man enters the shadow of rock
and the shadows are one.
Black is our shadow on the moon,
the shadow of earth,
which is the shadow of rock.
Black, which is the color
of every man’s shadow.
Black am I there who here am white.
Black like my brother,
you, who called me Brother.

~ previously published in A Man in Pieces (Prickly Pear Press)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Husband Confesses

artwork: ralph murre

The Husband Confesses

by CX Dillhunt

            State Street, Early February

I confess, I have spent the afternoon
wandering from bookstore to bookstore.

I confess, I have fallen in love again
with dead poets, some of them women.  

I confess, I am reading a poem while
walking down the street.   It is cold.

I have lost my hat.   I have no gloves on
because I cannot turn the pages if I do.

I jump from page to page, from book to
book.  I have gotten some of them on sale. 

I confess I do not know to whom I confess.
I confess I am now writing while walking.

I am not paying attention to time or manner
as I understand for a moment that the books

have forgotten they are books, that the street
has forgotten I am there as the words begin

to confess.  They have lost their way, they
are guilty they say of these purchases.

They confess they saw me coming, are glad
To have an afternoon walk and wouldn’t

I walk more slowly, tell them why I love,
speak softly, remind them of anything,

tell them who wrote them, and confess one
more time to every passerby how I know

books love and how I have fallen again,
taken time for this walk as I make my last

confession:  I can no longer feel these pages,
I do not know who is holding this open.

~ from Things I’ve Never Told Anyone  (Parallel Press)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Three Haiku

artwork: ralph murre

Three Haiku  by Jeffrey Winke

her glance…
I see it in her
the devil

thin light
a shiver of wind
defines her shape

by chance
she rubs an erect nipple
against my arm

~ Previously published in Ppigpenn

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blood Oranges

digitally re-imagined from photo found on-line

Blood Oranges
by Margaret Hasse

A woman came on board the bus today
carrying blood oranges in a string bag,
her lips like red cuffs on the sleeve of her throat.

People in heavy coats sit like spools of black and blue,
the shock of a Monday workday freezing our morning faces.
I envy her, wrapped in a woven shawl like a choir of crayons.
For months, I’ve tried to pull my heart up,
a stone from the well of disappointment.

Standing, she flirts with the driver in a language
that clicks like knitting needles.
Her voice filling the aisle could melt the blue slush on the floor mats.
Laughter opens her mouth to a diva’s O plucking a high C.

Down the aisle she floats by our plastic pews.
As if happiness has a hand on her breast, as if happiness
is taking her body apart in pieces of dazzled joy.

She is rickrack on a funeral dress,
a peacock’s tail fanned against a gray wall,
a handful of bright corn to feed the birds.
She smiles with a candle’s flame that doesn’t fade when it lights another.

The sun shoots golden arrows through the dirt-pocked windows.
Stopping the bus with a tug on the white cord,
I exit the accordion doors to a walkway through the snow.

~ previously published in Earth’s Appetite (Nodin Press)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Something for the Journey

photoart: sharon auberle

Something for the Journey
by Alice D’Alessio

Suppose, for instance,
this is the last morning.  You never know.
You wake to find a wet snow
has sneaked in after midnight
wrapping the branches
with an airy gauze, spangled with diamonds
so that every snarly twig and tendril
is an epiphany of white
etched against the purple-blue
of an undecided sky.

And you want to be sure to seize it,
store it in scented linens,
in carved and gilded coffers
along with last May’s poppies,
August sunlight spilling its motes and spores
among the pines and sandstone cliffs,
and a copy of your only perfect poem.

Because we must take something with us,
like the pharaohs.

~  previously published in Praise the Undaunted