Friday, October 31, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Wilda W. Morris

            Beginning with a line and a half from Li-Young Lee*

I was cold once. So my father took off his blue sweater.
He wrapped me in it.

I slid my short arms into the long sleeves.
Father leaned down and buttoned each button.

I was five years old
and the sweater had five buttons.

“Carry me,” I begged. “I’m tired.” Father picked me up.
As my arms flew around his neck, the sleeves flapped like blue wings.

Now I was warm
but Father was cold.

He carried me seven blocks and was worn out
when he climbed the steps to our door.

This is how I remember it.

But when I was five I was never wrapped
in a warm sweater with buttons down the front.

And I had no father.

~ first published in After Hours

Monday, October 27, 2014


photoart: sharon auberle

by Ronald Baatz

With the window open
you can hear piano music
softly coming from the house
like bread thrown to birds.
The night is calm, except for
some bright thunder that
accompanies the falling leaves.
Part of the mountain ash tree
is dead, though the music she plays
may turn it into firewood.
I could hide in the dark
of the barn, to rip the
skin from my thumbs.
The place is no longer used,
but then neither is the north star.
The situation surprises me,
as does a dream.
My blood has turned to ashes,
caught in a woman’s long hair
like confetti or dried
and broken leaves.

~ first published in Shenandoah (1974)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Return Trip

artwork: ralph murre

Return Trip
by Peggy Trojan
Coming back always went fast.
We fell asleep on the rear seat
in happy tangle, and were home
before we wished it.
My father carried us 
to our beds, my younger
brothers limp and soft,
easily moved.
I was too old
for such attention,
and feigning sleep
I’m sure he knew.
He picked me up,
all dangling legs and arms,
my face in his shoulder
of tobacco and wool,
trudged up the stairs.
By hall light,
he put me down gently,
took off my shoes,
covered me up, clothes and all.
Then, tip toed out,
leaving the door ajar.

~ first published in Wisconsin People and Ideas  

Friday, October 17, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Donna Hilbert

Dad climbs down
the telephone pole,
stretches out under a pepper tree,
opens his lunch box:
black metal,
substantial like a vault,
or a government building
in a Balkan country.
Under its dome
wire arms hold
a Thermos of coffee.
On the bottom floor,
Vienna sausages on a bed
of mayonnaise, white bread.
For dessert, butterscotch
cream-center cookies.
Dad unwraps a sandwich, eats.
He pours coffee into the cup
his Thermos lid makes,
dips a cookie, watches it bloat,
then holds his lips to the rim,
slips the sweet bits
into his mouth.
I like to think
he savors pleasure
before he stands the box on one end,
touches a forefinger to his tongue,
his damp fingertip
gleaning crumbs
to feed the sparrows who wait
in slender leaves.
Then, one foot
over the other,
he climbs the pole again.

~ first published in PEARL

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


artwork: ralph murre

by Richard Purinton

A laden scow slides in sloppy chop,
Pushed by a red tug.
Its black, smoking stack
Mirrors the propeller’s spin.
Muck and rock, hard pan bottom,
Crane swing, one scoop at a time.
Scow to truck, scow to truck, truck to dump site,
Muck trucked to landfill.

Rolling, snorting through intersections,
Horns blatting, diesels braking,
Dopplers released from the far sides of hills.
Then, engines rumble idly as the
Slippery spoils slide and stones scrape
From steel box to the waiting pit below.
A dirty earth jello.

Now night. Scow light.
The same red tug pushes
An empty scow away,
Engine loafing, not huffing.
Second shift will dig, dredge, tow,
Truck and dump.
Dig, dredge, tow, truck and dump.

 ~ previously published in Poem, Prose & Image (Island Bayou Press)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quick Step

photoart: ralph murre

Quick Step
by Barbara Cranford

Come with me, my old familiar love,
to that long, resounding bridge
over the singing stream
and remember when we tripped
lightly, skipping sprightly
with Amaryllis in the spring.

As once in another life
in another place and time––
we two the same yet not the same,
as no leaf on any tree is the same
yet not the same, as last year’s growth
or next year’s yield––we will step slowly
around this autumnal glade.

We will be forgiven
our forgotten dreams
and all our broken promises
as our stately minuet
slips into two-step,
double-time and rag.

~ first appeared in Pegasus

Monday, October 6, 2014

The chickens were cackling . . .

photo: robert lee haycock

by Robert Lee Haycock

The chickens were cackling
Over some off-color joke
About a man running around
With his head chopped off
I didn't get the punchline

~ first published in Medusa’s Kitchen