Wednesday, April 30, 2014

At the Blood Bank

obviously and deviously derived from Beatles album cover photo

At the Blood Bank
by Pat Tompkins

Clench, pierce, pump:
out flows a hot, dark pint.

Before I make a deposit,
the nurse checks pressure, heat, iron,
questions drugs, sex, travel.
How little a no or yes tells.

A plastic vein transfers saturated memory,
richer than my medical history:
remembrance of every song the Beatles sang
craving for ice cream and chocolate bittersweet
preference for Graham Greene and Edgar Allan Poe
delight in snapdragons and swimming
abhorrence of foie gras and caviar
fondness for spaniels and basset hounds
experience with Iowa winters and West Coast earthquakes

Every few months, I gain unknown relatives
eating dessert, petting dogs, singing of love, looking for clues.
Mingling talismans, blood sisters/brothers,
somewhere out there, my secret sharers.

~ first published in flashquake

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sneaking Up . . .

photart: ralph murre

Sneaking Up On You Bastard Poem You
by James Botsford

I came out to this old getaway
With only in mind to write
There were some maintenance repairs
Which took awhile
But a couple days later
I was nearly caught up
Til the storms hit
Requiring some clean up
And as it turned out
A few more repairs
And a couple days after that
And numerous old movies and
What bits of titillation I could find here for free
Which was interrupted by a conference call
I was under the weather
Cooking down a chicken carcass for soup
Haven’t made it past the mailbox
At the end of the lane
And after a fresh new heavy snow
Had to plow the lane again
So the recycling truck could get in
It’s been more than a week now but I’m
Sneaking up on you bastard poem you

~ previously published in Them Apples (Sandyhouse Press)

Sunday, April 27, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by James Reiss

A man wets his forefinger with his tongue and holds
up a perfect water glass, empty and glistening.
He is sitting at a table in a large
hall with other men in identical blue

blazers with eagle medallions over their breast pockets.
Now the first man fingers the glass
rim, tentatively, as if it were jagged-edged.
And now he strokes it clockwise, slowly, stopping

to wet his finger again and again, like an old
man paging through a book—until the glass
comes to life with a thin, high whine like nothing
he has ever heard, and the others look up in amazement, catching

on, holding up their glasses, too, wetting and stroking
them clockwise like ice skaters in unison.
All the glasses are coming to life now; their throats are
slowly catching fire, glistening with a thinner,

higher whine than any bird. It is like a pitch
pipe with wings. It is something like the music each
man heard when he stepped outside at night
for the first time alone as a boy. Then

there was nothing in the sky but stars and music.
And the sky was like glass.

~ first published in The New Yorker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Bruce Dethlefsen

these are yours
the sun   the moon   the stars
the bike   the ball glove
okay   the boots
but you can’t have
the wars   the pain
and dread you can’t have that
oh yeah the rain
the rain I keep

~ previously published ( this morning! )
   in small talk (Little Eagle Press)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Well Hidden

artwork: ralph murre

Well Hidden
by M.J.Iuppa

Snooping under ivy, curly
and thick, we disturb
a sparrow’s nest, no bigger
than a measuringcup
full of fidget.

Tiny gray heads tilt
upward with eyes shut
tight– tongues fluttering
like monks in ecstatic
prayer, offering their hearts                                                                                     
to this day that has begun
with us eavesdropping
on their cloistered life–
their sole contemplation.

~ first published in The Victorian Violet Press Journal

Thursday, April 17, 2014


photoart: ralph murre

by Marc J. Frazier

…for everything flowers from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness…
Galway Kinnell

In the endless mall of Florida—a French patisserie run by French people. 
Birds flit for crumbs. 
Sherbet umbrellas beckon Town Cars of the aged to dock nearby. 
Scents of hibiscus, sunset-hued blossoms of tropical vines blend with that of yeast, humid asphalt, and Estée Lauder. 
There is no one left to love. 
Sometimes the evidence is overwhelming. 
Sometimes I wish a gull will miss landing on its piling. 
The real truth is that nothing mitigates. 
Lonely birds call through a pink dusk. 
If I could name the flora and fauna, I could cope with uncertainty.
I could walk outside to a gator in the pool. 
Surprising things happen. 
A double murderer was just arrested in Chicago where he’d lived as a poet for twenty years.
I have to write so many words just to survive. 
How many will it take to endure?  To be happy? 
The many places I’ve been make me like every place less. 
I love the romantic excess of Spanish explorers: cities of gold, fountain of youth. 
Here the old grow younger or think they do. 
Who am I to shadow conquerors? 
Sometimes a clean, well-lighted place is fine. 
Sometimes nothing is enough. 
Always that restlessness in the stalls. 
The need to be touched. 
The need to be reminded of my loveliness. 
As if I am one of the few who are chosen. 
Carlos Fuentes described Frida Kahlo with her jangling jewelry and intensity as her own opera. 
At times I am so tame I wonder if even the trained can prepare me for a return to the wild. 
At times the Leo in me sees the world as collateral. 
A woman in a poem hopes in the growth of two dozen seeds. 
The man thinks she expects too much: “To grow her a whole new life.” 
What can I expect here beside the ocean?
I do not ponder the damage done—a cul de sac of regret. 
Not everything happens for a reason. 
I hear orchids grow in wet seclusion. 
Stones are silent by choice. 
Water builds only to lose itself. 
Blue calms my tendency to wander, to see other sides. 
Life, like anything, is a habit, can be found almost anywhere, can happen to anyone.

~ first published in Rhino

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Only after telling her . . .

photo: amy murre klemm

by Jeffrey Winke

Only after telling her…

…in a hasty cell call that he’s at a bar called NEPO does he realize that he read the neon window sign backwards.

long day
      a memory becomes
               today’s worry

~ first published in Modern Haiku   

Monday, April 14, 2014


photo: ralph murre

by Jude Genereaux

The house stood dark through winter’s snow
her name on the mail box
bannered life within
                 but the house stayed dark
through cold and ice and springtime rain 
‘til hyacinths
        daffodils announced renewal;
but the house stayed dark.

Come June, strange cars lined the drive
a great green steel bin appeared     quiet
people walked to it, discarding
broken bits of the past
tossing old chairs, spindly legs askew
sticking straight up (a signal for rescue?)
tables unworthy of saving, relics and 
furniture no longer wanted
into the bin
         while the house stayed dark.

Crackling with heat in the pre-summer sun
smoke plumed from a barrel as
people (her family?) relentlessly
fed the flames; fire devoured
the stuff of a quiet life

Discarded papers, shopping lists?
books and old journals?      (love letters?)
the air thick with the sweet incense of musty
words of love?    lust and longing?
O! the hidden lives languishing in boxes
old desks and cupboards filled with words
crackling in the fires of Absolution
honeyed smoke fragranced by life;
Just … trash.

Your secrets are safe old woman
                   they have saved you
no one will ever know your life
Your honor              and theirs
And the house stays dark.

~ previously published in There Is More Than One Door
   (The Looner Press)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Goddess Danced

photo: robert lee haycock

Goddess Danced
by Robert Lee Haycock

Goddess danced
Her everlasting dance
Bangles, beads
Went spinning from her skirts
Off they flew
Into the fecund dark
Growing there
Planted in fields of night
Stars, planets
And you, my Love, and me

~ first published in Medusa’s Kitchen

Friday, April 11, 2014

EVE # 9

detail: collaborative artwork by At the Well members

EVE #9
by Sharon Auberle

Aged as she is,
even now Eve
sees no reason
to stop

Her favorite spot
is under the apple tree,
where the old snake
has been watching
her for years,

shedding one skin
after another,
his eyes
like diamonds
in the grass.

~ previously published in EVErywoman
   (Seven Islands Press)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Pair of Shoes

17th century drawing, artist unknown

A Pair of Shoes
by Jan Oskar Hansen

She was nine years old wore a cotton dress, barefoot and had her
picture taken. Her mother had bought her a pair of new shoes,
and the shoes were so lovely she didn´t want to put them on yet.
Her mother relented the photograph was taken the girl holding
the shoes firmly in her little hands.

She looked into the camera with intense seriousness seeing into
a future she was not yet aware of, perhaps she was but couldn´t
articulate it, hence holding on to her shoes a symbol of the losses
she would suffer.

She married a farmer in Congo they had cattle and coconut trees.
Then came the revolution and since they had the wrong colour, not
black not white had to flee when crazed soldiers came, freedom
was for the masses, who took over the farm ate the milking cows, but
neglected to till the land. She ended up in a foreign land, but she
didn´t mind that so much her children had prospered and survived,
but she was always thrifty never threw away a thing.

~ Previously published in A Poet’s Almanac (cyberwit)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Tony Gloeggler

The kind of town we stopped
for gas and asked directions
to that hillside inn ten years ago
When it rained and rained
and we stayed in bed, lost count
of the times we came and came

Kind of town you now live in
with your second husband, split
level home, road side mail box

Town you called from late last night
to tell me about the sharp pains
the red shredded things
that dropped into the water
as you sat on the toilet stool
forty years old, wanting your first child

~ first published in Mudfish

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Unsterile Environment

artwork: carl larsson (from an old print)

Unsterile Environment       
 by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Around the globe the wind swirls
in soft gusts and monsoons carrying particles
of the quick and the dead
to our lungs, into our cells,
making us all, as long as we live—
and thereafter—part of each other.

We all breathe—no exceptions—recycled air:
nomad’s sweat swept on a desert wind, bull elks
panting in the clash of rut, the last squawk
of a chicken caught in owl talons, a sick
old man’s groan. And star jasmine wafting
on a summer night, pine branches broken under snow,
a packed-diapered baby’s howl of rage.

I smile at the new mother
who wraps her infant against the warm breeze,
double-boils his bottles of water,
wards off big family kisses,
as if the baby weren’t already
inhaling the second-hand breath of the world.

~ first published in Moondance

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Laying of Hands

digital art: ralph murre

The Laying of Hands
by Stephen Anderson         
After the cutting,
After the slide under the microscope,
The herringbone stitches to the open flesh come

In a dutiful, meticulous sewing
Of the cancer-vacated crater in my temple,
Hybrid birth-child now of Nature and surgeon’s handiwork

Setting as right as possible all that had gone
So terribly wrong in a matter of mere decades,
Now hand-stitched and shiny like a fine, leather shoe.

~ first published in The Foundling Review

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why I Can't Be Your Lover

artwork: ralph murre

Why I Can’t Be Your Lover
by Susan Tepper

It was about the long stretch 
of body—
and rumpled sheets

Bodies on sheets, mine shorter
on top of your long body—

the milk caressing the pitcher

and traffic and the outside
rushing past high draped windows 

over-stuffed chair, a dresser,
a floor lamp bent at the odd angle

~ first published in The Somerville News