Sunday, March 30, 2014

Early Work

photoart: ralph murre

Early Work
by Max Garland

My father’s milk truck bounces
the county roads, as much a part
of the jangle of future as dawn.

His shirt is white as God to me,
I get to ride along sometimes.
the smell of the cooler

is the rubbery cold where
nothing spoils, where rows
of bottles ride like music

before the choir wakes up,
or the pigeons tear loose
from silos and steeples.

The cords of muscle in his arms,
the pulsing star of cigarette,
the jump on the walking world we get

as we navigate the deep blue
stutter of washboard roads,
help lift the day onto the calendar.

First light arrives, slow as a wage
I don’t yet know the meaning of, though
I feel the glow of usefulness

as I lug the empties back to the truck
where the sun has started
to brighten the fenders and latches,

the chrome of the hubcaps like coins
for the road where dark is spent
and wealth is milk at every door.

~ first published in Prairie Schooner

Thursday, March 27, 2014

House Homicide

from a photo by james landwehr

House Homicide
by Jim Landwehr

Born in 1907 to a family of others
A generation away
It was nothin’ special to anyone but they
            Who made the beds
            And slept in them

Wood, brick and mortar are all it was
Hulking like a middle class mansion
It was nothin’ special to anyone but those
            Who swept the floors
            And walked on them

Kitchen warmed by electric stove
One bath to serve all seven
It was nothin’ special to anyone but us
            Who painted the walls
            And lived within them

New tenants brought boxes of neglect and blight
Slumming the mansion to size
It was nothin’ special to anyone, especially them
            Who killed the house
            And moved along

~ first published in Heavy Bear

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Maureen Hand

The sun’s crisp rays crawl through that pane of dust
and dreams and point straight at the glaring glue
stuck on the green and gold wallpapered wall.
I remember when it first unfurled some
years ago, and I thought I could restick
it. With the grace of a gazelle, I climbed
to the top of the ladder. I spread the
glue, caressed the wound, and coaxed, but it would
not adhere, and you announced, “It’s too late,”
as glue oozed out like blood, and you just shook
your head. I should have known when it first pulled
away. I should have known it would be hard
to fix. I should have known some rips tear for
a reason. Now, that glitter of glue smirks
like a scar that is no longer bleeding.

~ first published in FLUTTER POETRY REVIEW

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three from Bay View

digital photoart: ralph murre

by Gary C. Busha

I now realize
what is not said has meaning
and sends an echo.

This early morning
the old man who was a boy
tries to remember.

It is best to go
to the water to write about
what catching fish is.

~ previously published in Bay View Spiders (Wolfsong Publications)

Sunday, March 23, 2014


digital photoart: ralph murre

by Cristina M.R. Norcross

Branches were cut,
before I could touch
the new, green leaves –
velvet flesh.

I no longer wish for
a brightly colored streamer
to appear,
while I dance into the night.
The air is thick
with choices.

This is time enough.
Rug fibers softened by living,
The carved, wooden legs
of Aunt Mary’s side table,
and the chipped place setting
from our wedding,
that didn’t quite make it to England.

When I place my finger
on the table by lamplight,
a message in dust appears.
This is the life
you always wanted.
You just don’t know it yet.

~ first published in Verse & Vision (Q Gallery) 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


artwork: william marr

by William Marr

There was something
I wanted to tell the flower
Blooming before my window
she brought me spring

This morning
full of warm gratitude
I finally gathered up courage
and began
You sure are ...

When a pair of scissors
snipped both my words
and her

~previously published in DuPage Arts Life 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Note Posted . . .

artwork: vincent van gogh (from old postcard reproduction)

Note Posted Under the Lost Pet Notices
by Joan Wiese Johannes

You probably don’t remember me, but I am wondering
why you no longer do your laundry on Friday nights.
You are the guy in your thirties who wore nice shirts,
usually plaid, suggesting that you came here from work,
which is good because I like men who work.

Your shirts were wrinkled, so I figured you were single.
And since you didn’t wash your sheets every week,
I surmised that you weren’t getting a lot, which is good
because a girl can’t be too careful these days.

Your underwear impressed me; briefs are unpretentious,
and you replace them before they go gray or the elastic dies.
I also liked the way you rolled your socks into little balls
before tossing them into your bag.  You never missed,
which is good because I like men who athletic.

I didn’t speak to you the first time I saw you because
I was wearing old, green sweatpants.
The next week, not expecting to see you again,
I wore my glasses and my hair was dirty.
Once I introduced you to Bounce when your towel stuck
to your tee shirt but was too shy to introduce myself.

Now I miss our meetings and hope you have just changed
your laundry schedule and haven’t lost your job, moved,
or found someone to iron your shirts.

~ first published in Free Verse

Monday, March 17, 2014

On St. Patrick's Day . . .

photo: sharon auberle

On St. Patrick’s Day, a True Confession
by Marilyn L. Taylor

Oh Lord, how I’d love to be Irish!
The Irish are nothing but hot,
and they’ve gotten incredibly stylish—
but Irish is what I am not.
My name doesn’t translate to Irish,
nor start with a “Mc” or an “O”,
so no matter how Molly Maguire-ish
I’m feeling, it’s hopeless, I know.

But I’m dying to fib just a little
for maybe a day or a week,
and pound the bodhran, play the fiddle,
and break into brogue when I speak;
I’d tipple with Nuala and Dylan,
I’d blather with Eamon and Shaun,
and then (if the spirit is willin’)
go guzzle more Guinness till dawn!

Of course it’s a little bit sneaky;
in fact, I would feel like a dork
neglecting to mention Milwaukee,
pretending that I was from Cork
But Lord, how I’d love to be Irish,
be one of those glamorous Celts—
now that everything Emerald Isle-ish
Is cooler than anything else!

~ first published in the Irish American Post

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Moroccan Leather Briefcase

artwork: ralph murre

The Moroccan Leather Briefcase
by Jackie Langetieg
What I really wanted that day,
handling the soft Moroccan leather,
was to be a person who went to Morocco
or Egypt, or Kashmir—someplace exotic,
where a man in a white flowing burnoose
with black and silver ropes would see I was lost
and offer to lead me back to my people and
on the way, we stop at a dark café, sip
strong coffee poured from a long-handled carafe
into small brass cups filigreed with whirls
of romantic Arabic, and tell each other our mysteries.
His robes flow over his body. His
lean brown fingers stroke my hand; I quiver
as desire pools in my belly. His neat black beard raises
tiny hairs on my neck; then his lips begin at the crevice
of my scapula skip down to my clavicle, around
my breasts, and slowly trace an untraceable path
to my navel. Clothes frantically tossed
onto a rattan chair, bodies
clasped together . . . what!
Do I want to buy the briefcase?
Yes, yes, yes.

~ first published in Confetti in a Silent City

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Not Knowing

photo: sharon auberle

On Not Knowing
by Jeffrey Johannes

When I was young, I watched
a Chinese monk brush characters
of red lacquer on a door
the color of spoiled plums;
no matter what his message,
I felt the impatience of not knowing
and something changed in my heart.

And here lies the struggle,
the uncertainty in wondering
if there is anything
more certain than losing my hat
when I leaned into sunset
sighting a humpback whale,
the weight of its bones
bearing hard to lee,
stunning in aptitude and joy,
its molecules speaking a language
I did not understand.

~ first published in Nimrod

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


photo:sharon auberle


by Cathryn Cofell

In my fantasy: 
Tuesday afternoon,
blinds drawn, covers kicked
to the floor, you and I
slick with sweat and oil,
bodies tight as earth and root.
I write secret words
on the sole of your left foot:
flame and temple and tether,
your hurricane face washed in genius,
your eyes wild on me,
your red, red lips on
the answers I long to hear.

In your fantasy:
morning birds peck
in an empty bath outside,
blinds wide open,
kitchen table, papers raked
to the floor, you and I
tumbling like rusty locks.
Words grind in your head:
flash and peacock and passport,
still fall into lines of pure genius
even as we steam the windows,
even as you bathe my long
pale body with lamplight and seed.

~ poem previously appeared in Sweet Curdle (Marsh River Editions)
   photo, in EVErywoman (Seven Islands Press)

Saturday, March 8, 2014


detail from new mexico cemetery statuary, artist unknown

(Shelter of Peace)
by Kathy Miner

Mother to mother,
let us take it as a vow:
I will not raise my child
to murder yours.  Not in the name
of a nation,
not in the name of a god,
not in the name of money,
not for anyone
or any thing at all
will we allow them to be trained
in the ways of killing
their own kind.  These sons
and these daughters, who catch their essence from us
but spin it daily
into a new existence
beyond our imaginings --
let us stand arm in arm
in a unity of womanhood
and shout in one voice We do not give them life
that they might take it away
from one another.  That these beings
who grew beneath our hearts
and forevermore live within them, these babes
whose soft secrets we know and
whose names we chose
from the music of the universe –
let us cry from all the rooftops
that we do not suckle them
for the warmongers,
do not feed and clothe them
that they might put on uniforms
and be taught to forget
one another’s humanity.
That I will not be the cause of your weeping
nor you of mine.  We can do this,
we are mothers, we can make it happen
for once and for all:  by the power of love
let us stop
the making of war.  Here is a length of rope,
there a bit of canvas:  let us pitch a tent of peace
where all of our families
may dwell.

~ first published in the Capital Times

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Big Eve

digital art: ralph murre, architectural detail: paolo soleri

The Big Eve
by Jan Oskar Hansen

Tracer bullets on the night sky Aleppo seen
from a hotel veranda, I hear screams, but
it is the raucous laughter of too much wine
Noon in Sydney and New Year festive
rocket in the sky or perhaps I´m seeing
a war that has not yet been declared or
perhaps I have seen the future the holocaust
of mankind, the last hurrah and the blow
of a whistle calling full time... Whatever it was
I saw spectacular colours like rubbing one's
eyes when tired and seeing mystical rainbows
belonging to an unknown existence.

 ~ previously published in A Poet´s Almanac  (cyberwit)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

At the Still Point

photoart: ralph murre

At the Still Point
by Susan T. Moss                 

Fixed gazes stare from the museum’s
glass cases filled with stuffed
and groomed New England wildlife,
a collection to refashion nature’s
nuances in rainbow hues and textures.

A barred owl gnaws a dead mouse,
a mounted cougar crouches in wait,
two beavers chisel birch logs –
all forever feathered and furred.

Outside, stars salute the cool night,
bronze and russet festoon
the season while tarnished plants
spill spice and musk.

Through the dark,
my warm breath spirals in rhythm
with pitched trills of one bird
that refuses sleep.

~ first published in After Hours

Saturday, March 1, 2014

impression from a vacation . . .

artwork: ralph murre

impression from a vacation March 2011
by  Norman J. Olson

from jagged ice mountains
to oceans
of people
who live among palm trees…
we followed the spinning Earth
five miles up,
rice and drinking tea…

corporations let us ride their amazing trains and ocean liners

I saw ten dolphins and
a few monkeys
and tried not to think
of the sad eyes
and dusty thighs
of the prostitutes
who smiled shyly and
said “hello” in response to our greeting,
as we walked by, heading for the
train station, a fried egg
and a plate
of noodles…

~ first published in Indian Ocean Voices