FAITHFULMy fingers greedily crawl
into spring soil;
a salve for hands deep pocketed
from past winter winds.
Up into me an aroma
spills my senses to warm.
I breathe in the green flavor
while studying the land.
Faithful is the change
that tilts the earth,
raising the sun with blessing
onto the place I live.
I will swim in the suns hold,
opening my shirt,
forgetting my shoes and
welcoming screen doors.
ALONEThe harsh bristles
of your words have changed
the summer of us into the hardened
ground of winter.
The knives of our thoughts cut
fair unprotected skin;
the words cannot be reshaped into good.
Suitcases are opened.
Dog eared words, bitten and chewed,
shape our faces into twisted winds.
The door has closed.
The latch turned.
The hand bruised
I am alone, again.
STARTING UPUnder a half moon I twist in my sheets.
The mattress lays burdened in
Like crows without branches,
I am an ocean absent of sand.
I am tossed by waves of yesterday;
my hair resembles loosened sea weed
drying on shore.
The song of morning brings coffee to mind;
a taste of awakening dresses within me.
A past evening dew yields to morning.
A light breeze rounds corners, stirring
sleepy curved leaves.
Whistles and horns breathe the city
up from a gray bed.
Shadows cross over. The basket is tipped.
Tomorrow forgets today.
AND MEYour letter.
The edge of you;
the reason cliffs and
bridges are formed.
It was an unwanted
the wrapping more valued
than the thought.
My bed groaned from
Ocean storms were jealous
of my turmoil.
Your letter lived in my pocket
until dust owned it,
from Roger: "I began writing poetry when I was in the military many years ago, for relaxation and
to express my thoughts in an abstract form. I enjoy the challenge poetry offers, unlike the
articles I have written for my profession, which are straight forward. Poetry allows the writer
to step to the side from general thoughts, thus creating a miniature story which in and of itself
can bifurcate into other levels of literary form."
MEMORY IS SILENT, SILENTMemory swoops on gentle wings,
its suddenly heavy weight surprising you
as it lands, claws cold, on your shoulders.
brought me to a doctor
and after cold hands
and hard stethoscope
and breathing in and out,
in and out, in
the ECG followed.
For this, part of my chest had to be shaved
and my necklace
had to be removed,
the second time in six years
I have taken it off,
the second time
since my mother
gave it to me
after it was taken gently
from my father’s forever still neck.
The second time.
As the nurse talked to me
about weather and recessions,
news and reality(less) TV shows
the cobwebs of memory
sent shards of cold through me.
When the ECG had done
what ECG’s do
I sat there,
waiting for the doctor
to read the spider lines of my heart,
the passing of my father
fresh, so fresh
in my mind.
Edward Lee is from Dublin, Ireland. His poetry, short stories and photography have been published
in magazines in Ireland, England and America. His debut collection of poetry Playing Poohsticks
On Ha’Penny Bridge was recently published by Spider Press. He is currently working towards his
second poetry collection, and a photography exhibition entitled Lying Down With The Dead.
Natalie RemembersAuntie Camille thinks I don’t remember
malevolent plumes of smoke
reflecting against the oily linoleum tiles
every Monday night after Wheel of Fortune
Her shaking, almost paralyzed fingers
scrape against the windowsill and
drag the chipping paint away
as she struggles to grip the lock and
release the meandering smoke
into the buzzing Minneapolis streets
Little bits of mended porcelain fraught with gold fillings
clatter together as she stutters amidst gulps and pants
“Go. Homework, Natalie”
Two years later and she stumbles into my room, 145B
(tenacious perfume clings to her curved hips)
She is useless like the receding lifeline engraved in my left
palm, ambling smoke embedded in her tarnished, silvery hair
Cheek bones remind me of the Montclair cliffs we visited
Glistening tears dangle off of her cheeks
rainwater coursing through the rocky gaps
Nodding her head at the doctors,
slipping the iv in and I barely feel a thing
My eyes surge, greeted by foreign kaleidoscopes
Maybe I’ll become a French painter
capturing newlyweds as they share laughter-sprinkled crepes
at the Café Lune Avon in front of the Eiffel Tower
Maybe I’ll become a trapeze artist
and contort my body like the wisps of smoke that
ramble out of Auntie Camille’s bathroom window
*Previously published in The Blue Pencil Online.
Gravefor the earthquake-impacted Japanese
slight run in her daughter’s stockings from
where the gravestone tugged at her legs, kneading
the engraved words into her thighs as if its
fingers worked soft sourdough
Beloved Mother and Writer
read smoothly as if raining into sour milk and rice
creating milky upsets and
upside down rain— “big wave”
a hand settles onto her daughter’s head and the voice
of Taki, the village grandmother, ushers her to forget
her mother and move along with the other sopping victims
her mother Lindsay Chi her mother,
the novelist with the glasses that used to
sparkle like ice cubes held to sunlight
can’t smooth the frizzy strands of hair from rain &
can’t scold her for runs in her stockings anymore
*Previously published in Polyphony H.S.
Peter LaBerge is a seventeen-year-old emerging writer/photographer. He was recently awarded
the 2011 Renee Duke Youth Award from Poets for Human Rights and commended as a runner-up
for the 2011 Elizabeth Bishop Prize in Verse. Recognized in the 2011 and 2012 Scholastic Art &
Writing Awards, his work is featured or forthcoming in The Blue Pencil Online, Prick of the Spindle,
Polyphony H.S., Anti-, The Claremont Review, and elsewhere. He is the founder and current
editor-in-chief of The Adroit Journal (www.adroit.co.nr), a literary magazine dedicated to charity.
CARRIERSMorning walk at Golden Pines:
Late February sky deep blue
Through trees for now still leafless
But about to change their minds.
A moving van packs up the contents of a cottage,
Fewer since her husband died,
And takes them to Assisted Living,
As if there were some other kind.
Across the pond, the hink and honk of geese,
Heading north, programmed to care for their own.
An ambulance pulls slowly away
From the Health Care Building ,
Siren, blue lights turned off.
“Carriers” appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal Winter 2009
Robert Demaree is the author of four collections of poems, including Fathers and Teachers and Mileposts,
both published by Beech River Books. The winner of the 2007 Conway, N.H., Library Poetry Award, he is
a retired school administrator. He has had over 500 poems published or accepted by 125 periodicals, including
Louisville Review, Louisiana Review, and the Aurorean. http://www.demareepoetry.blogspot.com/
(in June)Now, once begun,
summer is suddenly new.
Suddenly the sun-once a
complacent and distant observer-
in a second equinox crossing of
spring's threshold shunts the cold
and winter aside in a dawn's
terraced rise and sudden solstice.
Suddenly shadows recede,
and the sky suddenly spangled shines.
from the poet: "I have only begun to send out this stuff since my recent retirement. I have been
writing for several years, however, between jobs, re-locations and divorce."
The Algebra of the ImaginationI know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking I use the word ‘like’ too much.
You’ve taken everything I’ve written
and everything I’ve said
and you’ve put it through a computer
and you’ve got your categorical proof
that I use the word ‘like’ too much.
But. If I might make a point
in my defence.
‘Like’ is the algebra of the imagination.
It is the equation of thought,
the hypothesis and the proof and the QED.
It is the syllogism of nonsense,
a flightless bird soaring.
This morning, for example,
I was struck by a violin sonata
on Radio 3’s breakfast programme,
or maybe it was the end of ‘Through the Night’,
anyway, by how like an interview it was,
the piano an engaging chat-show host,
the violin his A-list celebrity guest.
And then how in some sonatas, other sonatas,
the interview becomes gradually
competitive or combative,
like two middle-aged men
when there’s a blonde with legs in the room.
By this time I was walking down the hill
through the mist and a January morning.
The bird singing against the traffic.
The siren of the ambulance
cutting through the city’s keyboard.
The Tannoy at Waterloo.
The voice of the woman you love, really love,
against all that crowd. Like that.
Museo del Baile FlamencoThe percussionist controls
the sounds of the night
and our twenty-first century
city’s wiped away
to a patio, olive groves
and these million stars.
The singer is the mouthpiece
of an oracle.
Right now, she’s navigating
by the midnight sky.
She kisses tired old coplas
with new life, squeezes
the melody, feels its pulse.
A tray of glasses
resonates deep inside us.
The lament begins.
Every stage is an altar,
is some kind of sacrifice.
The two red candles.
Outside, there are orange trees
on every side-street,
an orange constellation
in each tree.
Were the night to intensify,
even a little,
the stars would grow so heavy, they’d
tumble from the sky.
from the poet: "I am a poet from England in the UK and I have just got back from travelling in
the north-east corner of the USA, having escaped Irene by the skin of my teeth. I have been
published fairly widely in UK magazines and occasionally, too, in the States. My first full
collection - Big Purple Garden Paintings' from Yew Tree Press - was short-listed for the
prestigious Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, but didn't win.
— after John Fulton Folinsbee, oil on canvas, 1935
Bold strokes of winter
in its elemental form grip
the scene, the frozen near bank
with its one naked tree, the spare
geometry of Lambertville on
the far bank and the barren hills
Two spans of the steel bridge
stand locked within a thick crust
which binds the river, forcing it
under, while what remains free
roils with ice.
Here beneath a storm-dark sky,
no trace of spring, only deep cold
and the blue-black menace
of freezing water.
The Road to Lumberville
— after Fern I. Coppedge, oil on canvas, 1938…I saw deep purples and reds and violets in a field of snow.
Here snow delights in color, sunlit tints
and shades born of a bright palette.
Among the vibrant hues of village houses,
evergreens and oaks still sport their foliage.
A bare-limbed sycamore leans its
azure shadow across the empty lane.
Everywhere crimson, sienna, ochre, verdigris,
and violet tinge winter-white. Color-glazed
the road beckons beyond the edge of Lumberville
into the distant cobalt of snow-blushed hills.
Kathe L. Palka is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative and spent several years on the
editorial staff of U.S. 1 Worksheets. Palka is the author of two chapbooks, The Grace of Light,
and Faith to See and Other Poems (Finishing Line Press). She recently won a Snapshot
Press e-Chapbook award for her short tanka collection, As the Years Pass. Her work has appeared
in many print and online publications including Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental
Crisis, Ekphrasis and Modern Haiku. She recently guest edited an issue of the online micropoetry
journal tinywords, http://tinywords.com/
the stairs have been ordered,
or the wood at least
to build them.
the newly varnished second
story door is stuck anyway,
so by mistake no
one can fling it
open and blithely step
out where the blueprint
promises something should be,
only to wonder why the air
feels so cool on such
a hot summer day
or why it rushes like love
through open arms.
blazes like the white
tip of a fired poker
in the bed of her ribs.
She can’t see beside her
the lace of burnt orange
or the dumpling clouds
bobbing in the blue
sky as her chocolate eyes
quiver like soap bubbles.
Only the finish,
the measure of her worth,
stretches in the pleading
distance like a ribbon
of stars against an
from the poet: "I have been fortunate enough to find a receptive audience among the editors of
magazines across the country. My poetry has appeared in many publications including The
Louisville Review, The Pittsburg Quarterly, Skylark, and The Cimarron Review. Chiron Review Press
published Speaking of Seed and Night, my first book of poetry."
DesolationDesolation is a special
Kind of darkness --
Not the mere absence of light,
But a hungry blackness
That draws all nearby light
Into its voracious vortex,
And eats it alive.
Desolation will not be satisfied
Until it has consumed all meaning,
All hope, all joy, all life,
And broken it down in its vast stomach.
Desolation devours all will and soul,
And shrieks a belly laugh
When there is no further down
To sink. Desolation is
Being in the same room with you.
How Shall I Say Good-Bye?Quite an assignment
You have given me –
This matter of putting
You beyond reach, irreversibly.
You ask that I put you
Into memory without desire,
Into an implacable past
Beyond wish and hope;
That I let go of the necessity
You once were, that I
Renounce all might-have-beens
And face the world alone.
Have you been keeping up
With your Poe to haunt me?
Your absence is a presence,
An apparition who has
Taken up permanent residence
In the space behind my eyes.
You have assigned me
To do the unimaginable –
I can only imagine
Of such a feat.
Howard F. Stein, a medical and psychoanalytic anthropologist, teaches in
the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, where he has worked since 1978. He
is author of 26 books, six of which are poetry. His most recent book is In the
Shadow of Asclepius: Poems from American Medicine (www.asclepiusbook.com).
In 2006 he was nominated for Oklahoma poet laureate. He has long ago fallen in
love with the rural landscapes and culturescapes of Oklahoma.
Freedom at LastFreedom at Last
takes off its coat,
and reaches for a beer.
“Listen,” says Freedom at Last,
“it wasn’t all fighting
on street barricades in Paris
or sniping at redcoats
from behind stone walls in Massachusetts .
Better to be a concept
begun with Israelites
stomping mud into bricks
with just the right amount
of salt to bind the straw
to the clay and leave it at that.
Forget ‘By the rivers of Babylon ’
and all that Bob Marley shit.”
Freedom at last
is revealed for a sham
in a spam message you’re afraid
to click on because it might
download a virus
and melt the structure you’ve built up,
because freedom is a wild horse
running through the wheat,
and who knows how people will act
given their freedom?
The right to do what you want
includes the right to be stupid.
David Thornbrugh is a Ring of Fire poet based in Seattle, Washington. In his poetry, he strives to
make sense of existence, and to lessen some of the gloom he feels as the natural world fades
further and further into the past and the future looks less and less viable. He finds life without
humor not worth the effort, and the idea of being a poet in America pretty funny. His most recent
publishing credits are in The Chaffin Journal, Albatross, and Poetry Salzburg Review.
ON A THEME FROM DUNCANThere is a woman
Who resembles the sentence.
She rules this page
Like a fierce nun.
Her blond pointer cracks
Across your knuckles like a predicate.
All you can do
Is hang on by your subordinate claws.
SMOKE SIGNALSarah watches
From the outermost oak,
Her back straight as a tree.
The valley of Mamre
Falls away at her feet,
Her empty tent’s behind her.
Far away, from the other side
Of Mount Moriah, a thin ghost
Of gray smoke rises.
She bites her lip,
“Isaac, is that you?”
JOANIE AT THE BALLPARK
Homage to Aragon
“It was the worst inning of our year
The bullpen was bleeding runs That awful call
Opened the door That strike that was a ball
Wasn’t the difference The catch made it clear
It was the worst inning of our year
The bullpen bleeding runs That awful call
Changed the game They’re pros they should know better
There’s a rule book follow every letter
Still it’s our boys’ worst inning this year
Let’s hope we can laugh about it in the fall
The bleeding bullpen 5 runs off bad calls
The game changed These are pros who know better
Than to play the worst inning of their year
While the bullpen’s bleeding The awful call
Should be shaken off They shouldn’t let it
Change the game These guys are pros They know better
Than the bullpen It’s bleeding Awful calls
Can hand you the worst inning of your year
And you start throwing like you want a beer
Second-string batters start dreaming of Fall
Dreaming of rings smelling post-season ball
It was the worst inning all this year
That’s all We’re 12 games up But still I fear
The bullpen We bleed runs That awful call
Shook ‘em up and they keep passing the ball
From arm to arm The worst inning this year
Doesn’t mean a thing C’mon Don’t show fear
You’re the best you’ve been You’ll be better
You can smell the rings while those playoffs get near”
(My love repairs her lipstick in her mirror
She’s live at the ball yard if I let her)
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, Georeg Hitchcock and
Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last twenty five years. He
lives in San Francisco with his wife, the film maker Joan Juster. Currently he's seeking gainful
employment since poets are born and not paid.
Useless thingsWe carry things with us like an empty
violin case – useless to anything except
the violin. Grandmother’s bequeathed
jewellery which will never be worn, but it
might be worth something to someone
some day. Old faded, crack-folded too
often reread love letters to remember
and constantly hold out false hope.
We straddle longing’s stringless cello that
resonates only with a knock on wood,
and beat the heart’s broken-skinned drum
sending unwanted messages nowhere.
CalligraphySand writes the world.
It always has.
With skilled pen
it charts sanctioned river runs,
coaxes mountains into construction,
teases shy aloes out of cracks
and deep caverns it ruthlessly inserts.
Unaddressed letters drift between deserts
editing structures made by man;
parenthesis trees commenting on horizons
hug comma homespace for meerkats.
improve their splendour,
sketched clouds beckon the weather to verse,
depth lines are drawn on ocean beds and
halt punctuation irritates
oysters to pearl.
Hidden design awaits the scholar -
Accord highlighted, disapproval effaced.
Sand writes the world
and erases our mistakes.
Jane Olivier, born in Canada, traversed Africa on business, as a journalist, and writer. For the
lasts seven years has been travelling the world - 52 countries to date – trying to make sense of
it, and still hasn’t managed; at least the words don’t fail. Currently resides in a suitcase.
Quick and DeterminedQuick and determined,
back and head held forward, upright.
posture very straight
That is what I
imagine her walk to be. Maybe
she carries a book
on her head. Maybe
it is that ancient art history book
that she tears glossy pictures from like
the one in her front room window of
a smiling wedding party in white.
(I’ve heard it suggested that a photo
should be posted of a dream,
a goal, a desire.) Maybe
she is walking with the
1001Things to Be Happy About she
carries sometimes (I wonder if
the book is helping or
why she feels she needs it)
or maybe not that small paperback.
Maybe her head is
the family bible.
Oh no, not that one.
I know all this because
she is my neighbor downstairs.
I don’t notice her walk,
but I see
her drive away
quick and determined.
The Last BusThree dancers
from each side coming
with supplies - jackets, books, bags, umbrellas . . .
wait with neighbors on bench,
one walks up with her walker,
two wheelchairs behind them.
up searching all directions.
Bench neighbors directed them to the flight,
birds , plop! Plop!
Then we watched jet trail.
from their bag and snack on
an imaginary apple or peach.
All moving up to inspect the area's bus schedule,
and then tossing the schedule aside
as each leaves slowly and annoyed from
missing the last bus.
up and left the bus stop and
searched all directions.
Nicole has many hopeful projects, no MFA, and is an artist, a hiker, a volunteer, and a dancer,
formerly in DanceAbility. She blogs at www.apoetessanthology.blogspot.com/,
www.facebook.com/Pushk1n, and www.oregonpoeticvoices.org/ on Saturday, October 1.
Mountaintop, Naked(written on a brown paper sack
emptied of its contents
a square of lemon pound cake
a bottle of spring water)
Earth eroded, stone skeleton jutting
layers stripped, jacket, sweatshirt
divine within bared, naked
alone with shadows of hawks
and sun and wind-formed
Fall grasses hush, seduce me slowly
to lie amidst their pale sheaths
to watch sun rays angle through
dried seed tufts, tiny clouds
birthing thousands of sparkling protostars
a temporary reprieve before winter reaper
runs his scythe through reeds and humans
A lone hiker arrived later
and said, I prefer the company
of bears to most people
I let my divine remain naked
At 55Into blue eyes of sky I stumble
My heart fast flutters like falling
leaves in swift breeze
to touch just once to trace life's lines
palms scratched by age's stubble
and breathe in musk
and lime and maleness
I have no desire to be
Cindy Rickey has published a book of poetry entitled A Year in the Life of an Unemployed Poet in
2011. In addition, she was a 2011 winner of the NYC Office of Cultural Affairs and Mayor
Bloomberg's Poetweet contest in honor of National Poetry Month, published in MetroNY and picked up
the next day by The New York Times blog. Her poetry was also accepted for publication in the 2012
spring and summer editions of Avocet, A Journal of Nature Poetry.
Pregnant Uzbek Woman’s Writer’s Block
How many poems can I write about the State’s glory or the autumn wind? Only bureaucrats think the
fall’s impending doom is new. Outside the leaves have been dying since spring, breathing air
sedimented with mashina’s low grade and the quiet-celled talk of religion.
I like Alisher Navoi, but I don’t love him, as the Uzbek nationalists say I should, this Persian
poet hailed as the father of Uzbek literature. I don’t mind that he writes in abstractions, only
when he writes about “love”—easy to write about “love” when you’re Alisher Navoi, snacking on
grapes between the mosque and his desk, a pretty thing’s breath across his crowned brow.
Generations before irrigation of our ancient rivers destroyed the Aral Sea, the best of our men
hardening themselves around those worthless coins they carried to the market. When I married and
bore four girls, Alisher Navoi couldn’t describe “love”—living in the late night kneeling over a
washtub, cleaning vodka and piss off my husband’s only button-down.
I guess it was easy to be a poet back before anybody had written a thing about tulips.
Now I know how Bukowski felt those nights a woman discovered how small his penis was and the pint
glass magnified his bad skin, the green envy of pre-pubescent boys and Dostoevsky? I was ten when
the hrabrost in my blood unraveled his Russian tongue, twelve when Tolstoy begged me to touch that
female part we never talk about.
Our language has many words for “courage.” One literally translates to “the quality of a young
man.” Young men with their grizzly chests have infiltrated our vernacular, like “Kleenex” in a
rain of soft tissue, “Dumpster” among piles of trash.
When I studied at the English Academy, our professor, who came all the way from Idaho, said, “The
prefix ‘non’ negates the word that follows.” Non negates? Nonsense—non is life! Tourists should
flock to Uzbekistan to taste our non. Forget Samarkand, Amir Timur’s ancient capital (a.k.a.
Tamerlane, lame as a knobbed gourd, his blood lined with the swords of Ghengis Khan). “Amir Timur
killed more people than anybody else in history,” say the tour guides’ golden teeth, and he
erected those cold blue domes.
But our non is life! Fire-baked in the tander’s clay belly, the grains toasted in the center,
soft on the edge’s round. I decorate the meal table with non, even the scraps that spent the
afternoon in my middle girl’s fist, because nothing can be wasted these days, especially not non—
not “non”—non, our life.
“Chew non slowly,” we say. “The grain submits even to the decayed teeth.”
Noun, verb and name, something about “harpoon” drives a spear right through my brain. It makes me
think of the great blue whale and why we kill—Captain Ahab and his crew, the grip of narrative
pulling us to first person plural.
If I ever saw a great blue whale, what would I do? Cry, maybe, as we all do when confronted with
At least the tea still imbues our last drops with unpretentious green, and my daughters don’t kick
Consider “Band-Aid”: No one would ever say, “Put an adhesive bandage on it.” That’s odd. “Put a
band-aid on it,” we say.
We put a band-aid on it, hoping our wounds will heal at last.
from the poet: "I lived abroad in Egypt and Uzbekistan before receiving my MFA from Emerson
College in 2009. My poems have been published by Arsenic Lobster, Nimrod International Journal,
The Smart Set, The Ledge Magazine, The Healing Muse, and Alligator Juniper.
Moment in WoodsEarly spring, dawn,
and we needed more firewood.
Imagine how it must have felt for me,
twelve years old,
stepping through the cabin door
to see the tent worms
frozen to their dangling strands of silk.
of so many thousands of ornaments
glittering in the morning frost.
from the poet: "I'm 25 years old, and I live and work in Cleveland Ohio. I have been studying and
writing poetry for about 8 years. I especially admire the poetry of Thomas Lux, Mary Oliver,
James Wright, and George Bilgere."
The telescope’s infinite longingThe sky cools to crystal
from the fisted rage of day.
Planets appear, swell to ripening grapes.
Alone, the scope’s widening eye unfolds the zodiac,
gathers distant sheaves of light,
eternity’s pins, throbbing with desire.
Glittering snakes striate the sky,
diamond eyes and ruby tongues,
the night a budding tree of constellations.
And now, tilted back in wonder,
the world spins round the scope’s sure eye,
secure in its tower of turning light.
Will it discover the hidden dreams of orbits?
Whole nebulae strung on the wings of doves?
Its longing listens to the darkness breathing.
The sundial prays to the moon.
Time collapses, a magician’s cane,
and death rises, a last, languid flower,
floating to the shores of heaven.
Old woman on a swingShe moves gently, at first,
in rhythm with the windy autumn swings.
Some memory moves with her, back and forth.
The swing rocks with her thoughts,
or perhaps has thoughts of its own
that touch hers to motion,
since swings say yes and no at once.
The old chains moan and go back,
or cry and fall forward, slowly,
as she traces a message in the dust.
Winds weave winds,
leaves entangle the air,
are lost like breaths, then
question round and round each other.
She sees the swing shadows
sorrowing into dusk,
these sad lost toys of time,
so she swings again, higher, deeper,
with each swing up about to be
and each swing down the never was.
Her toes point the way to mystery.
Clenching her chains, she leans back, far back,
and rides a wave of dandelion seeds,
letting the sky embrace her,
hair undone, swirling the long grasses,
then turns like some sweet balloon
that knows its less than all
is all it needs.
As the sun sets, stars conspire.
Letting the leaves escape untold,
she whispers a half-forgotten song,
kicks some possible last regret
halfway down hill,
and fades into the shadow
of undreamed constellations.
Sean Lause teaches courses in Shakespeare, Literature and the Holocaust and Medical Ethics at
Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His work has appeared in The Minnesota Review, Another
Chicago Magazine, The Xavier Review, The Beloit Poetry Review, The Haight-Ashbury Literary
Journal, Poetry International and Upstart Crow.
Deer At Dusk and DawnWe hide in shallows
while ghosts of deer
appear to our awaking awe
In ditches dusk
rests quietly near
but on them it does not befall
While the shawl of darkness
weaves tapestries with light
stitched in guilt we cannot forestall
Until the deer dissipate
into the ghost night
remorseless in their withdraw
The Water that Understands Civilization’s Well
from Ralph Waldo EmersonThe water that understands civilization’s well
understands containment and contaminants
Understands the dark and the deep
Understands the vapor escaping through the top
of the volcanic pile of earthen wreckage
is the same as the drop that dries in the dahlias
The water knows well
the cool locked behind the darkened rock
The patience of the lake and the roar of the river
As well, it knows the long shadows of man
and his reflection drawing up
to slake the heat of his temporal thirsts
The wet the wild water knows well
The ways itself used to destroy and desecrate
to irrigate the dirty and consume the captured
The water knows the hands pulling
the bucket up through the aperture of his own necessity
fails to appreciate the giving of its flow
the lending of its waves of grace
and the importance of water returning
from the depths of the well
Jeff Dutko lives in Farmington , CT with his wife, two children and crazy dog. He often tries to
give voice to the special needs children he teaches through his writing, but has also produced
poetry for twenty-five years on a variety of themes and social issues. His first full-length
book, Beyond the Margins, was released in August of 2011 by Antrim House. Some of his most recent
work has been published in Right Hand Pointing, Rattlesnake Review, and Slow Trains.
— out of the high grass — stepping into an opening at dawn — a clearing
at the trickle of a brook — morning and evening spring through summer
and throughout autumn — deer come down to drink
— following them — their shadows lighten to the silence in the scent
of woods behind them — their ears laid back to the windbreak fringe
— their hollow coat over the insulating fur bristling to the feel of stillness
as their eyes fix on the wetting haze of an effacing sun
— later — they rest in grass at the edge of their range through afternoons
concealed by the glare of day in the nests of their beds on the blanching fields
— lengthening — their shadows follow them again on their return
— their dark eyes dilate on still movement in the stealth of trees
scattering the slanted light remaining — the lesser — keener — frost of light
migrating with the winds in the vees of sated geese — as they
bend down through their reflection to the ripening excited lure of clarity
to taste the onset of a thirst for long nights and a winter setting in
printed in the new renaissance #41, Fall 2009
from the poet: "Teaching literature and creative writing, I turned to technical writing/editing.
My plan when teaching was to write. The last few years I’ve returned to short lyrics, where I
began and continue to find myself. Poems have been printed in a few journals, including Blue
Unicorn, Cider Press Review, and Kenyon Review. It’s all about the poem, and the poem finds
itself again and again looking through atonement into nature."
The KeepDownloaded from our Danube river boat,
we’re led into Durnstein by a local guide,
fed highlights in thirty-seven minutes, ears
and eyes stuffed with Wachau Valley apricots.
Click, click, it’s all in my Canon – blue steeple,
pillory, tavern from 1457, flower boxes,
tourists and townies mobbing cobblestone streets –
mere variations on themes to be retaken later
in Passau, Regensburg, Melk and Karlsbad.
While still onboard, I heard about the town’s crown jewel,
perched atop the mountain overlooking main street.
Now our tour group heads for the wine tasting
at the inn. I know where I’m going. Smiling, I start
up the dirt path, increasing my pace, sweating
from heat and anticipation, colossal stone steps
the challenge I’ve awaited all week. I climb and climb
for half an hour, pirouetting to scout photos.
And then there it is: ruins of the castle where
Leopold V imprisoned Richard the Lionheart in 1192.
Imagine poor crusader rabid held here, far from
the Tower of London, unable to pillage and rape,
for all his power powerless, bound by boulders…
and me, unchained, free to wander here by myself,
celebrating the stones, drinking in countryside and river.
Bolts from HeavenZap! Stricken at 15, I whited out
God along with my father.
For fifty three years my head was filled
with ozone, Madalyn Murray O’Hair,
Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus.
There were decades of nontheism,
but certainty of godlessness was
born again with Christian Right’s rise.
Brave, lonely me: so many Americans
equate atheism with terrorism.
Last week another lightning bolt.
I clapped my hand to my temple
recognizing our holy pairing:
my wife who often passes wind
and me deprived of any sense of smell.
No nose is good news -- the solid proof
I sought that there is an almighty.
Lee Marc Stein is a retired marketing consultant living in East Setauket, Long Island. His poems
have appeared in miller's pond, Still Crazy, Slow Trains Literary Journal, Message in a Bottle,
The Write Room and Blue Lake Review. He is working on a chap book of ekphrastic poetry
Summer into Autumn, 1997“I can tell you that poverty is res extensa
and that it is vicarious.
Hobbles across the
backyard, strewing flurries
of parched grass
over the curdled arcana
and soggy, abysmal
all these millenia.
Kowtows, finally, on
the velvety contusions
of myriad green
its own crisp, fitted
shadows, to its autumn.
imperiously, into infinity,
behind the must and rasping
threnody of leprotic
And so Autumn:
labyrinth and carcass
of this Summer’s being,
back and forth,
up through one
hulking sigh and
limp, on pulleys
of stale little birdsong,
up and over the pallid, ruddy
conjurations of dogwood and
and dingy conflagrations
And for the last time in a long
time I think of Jimmie Rodgers, or
of a floorboard that sounds just like
Because poverty is also viscous and it
jaundices ceiling tiles and drywall
scurf with gossamer mildew. It creeps
across dunes of clammy linoleum
some bleary shade of early apricot.
Tomorrow, maybe, I will go
downtown on the last snicker
of gas, and see the warehouse,
snug in its squalor, on MLK
and Market near the river, train
tracks and nearer yet another
set of tracks.
I should park outside, stare for
a while, beyond its flagging,
past the pockmarked geometry
of dun, and into heaps of
sawdust and iron filings made
marshy and stagnant by the shabby gloaming.
Traffic’s distant coda crinkles
and settles like swansdown
across the ridge. And I should
remember him and pretend that he
clomped past there once, looking
maybe for a synagogue, or some dainty,
commiserative nod of “shalom”, not
believing in, and even sur
-mounting, in that instant, any remoteness
The notion withers before sleep can weed
it from my mind. Instead I think of tatty old
Mr. Jimmie Rodgers, scrounging apples some
-where in east Tennessee.”
Benjamin Andreu lives and works in Northern Colorado. His work has appeared previously in miller's
Bermuda, 1963The cardboard cover like a black box
of a plane opened to reveal flight path
and landing in Bermuda’s crested port
or perhaps like silver lined clouds
after a cyclone pressed palm trees flat,
shuffling all the deck chairs together
like cards on a veranda of a hotel,
for it could contain waterlogged mysteries
if they wanted to catalogue such things,
though they’ve chosen the more mundane
curiosities of a highway that stretches over
a taunt bubble of blue ocean current,
and of his & her twin beds that almost touch
chastely in the corner of a sunlit suite.
It seems, as you hold this island
in your hands, these younger faces stilled
before the camera lens, him in bowtie
with polka dots and her in cat-eyed sunglasses,
that part of family history is the wonder
of looking into the past and seeing
unknown travelers, companions, and friends.
Iowa, 1924All the dark dresses of the past are sepia
and the lace at shoulder, hips, and knees, cream
as if the queries were simpler then. The girls
bobbed their hair and lifted their hemlines
as they drove Model-Ts to college, graduated,
and taught something foreign, a rolling tongue
to the locals, pausing to hear each offer,
small round gold promises for their hand.
This one steeples her fingers, looks on, regal
in the darkest of silk, folding and stretching
the light as it shivers along her haunches,
and above her collar bones, her neck long and tall,
her gaze even and steady. In the middle distance
a dark-eyed chimera steps from the foliage.
Missing EvidenceI can’t prove everything, Matilda.
Most of your lectures, poems, and books
remain as titles, if at all. In papers
odd clues exist: your sister, Florence,
worked as your agent; in Colorado
someone named a silver mine after you;
Dr. Alida Avery, you, and another founded
the Denver Social Science Association;
you served as the vice president
of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association.
I follow these tracks, but locate little
that can tell me why?
Matilda, I can’t even find you
in the late 1880s and 1890s.
You disappear from the city
directories, but emerge in Texas
as a minister’s assistant.
Then, you’re in Minneapolis
staying with a Mr. Lovely.
Next, you show up in Omaha
in a mock congress for women’s
suffrage with Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Susan B. Anthony.
You vanish, then reappear
in Chicago with your brother
who’s charged with murder.
Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches
English. She is the author of five chapbooks, including BRANDING GIRLS (Finishing Line Press,
2011). Her work has appeared in 13th Moon, Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Blackbird,
THE AFTERWARDSThe blue air indoors, and
florets of yesterday on the walls, then
muddy corpses of
a surprise hole in the wall
letting everything else in.
one can always romanticize
what might have been.
RADIATIONWillow tree on fire, a molten lace. Tire-swing swings
lazy through a delirium of highways.
I am twelve in a billion miles of radiation, stars billowing
outward toward an uncertain end. Over the horizon
factory machines bark & grind under the sky’s
bright girders. A day-moon hangs on the far side of space.
Slide into sleep, the plush of grass.
Behind the blood of my eyelids, the sun sinks into the galaxy,
the heat’s incipit. Take to wind like a hawk.
Over the high planes, the sky cools. A jetliner cuts
the blue air in two. All is light: a shell of sky & air,
the paths of the sun, the wild breeze, the starblind heat.
Sun beats into me, rains upon my skin, melts the wax
of my wings and I am twelve again, listening to the airways.
But I cannot think back to what the Word is –
SISTER SUN, BROTHER MOON--For my sister, soon to give birth to her second daughter.
Remember when we were on opposite ends of the globe,
The empyrean ruptured between us over the scythe of the wild hemisphere?
The beams of our frequencies winked like searchlights, dim with the distance.
My God, how I missed you in that orbit, seeing the glimmer
Of your candle lantern flicker over the continents, that torch which
Haunted my dreams in the smoky likeness of your face, a smoldering nebula.
You fell from the primum mobile,
A sphere which crashed to Earth.
That September, I gave you your first driving lesson.
You had one foot on the gas, another on the brake,
And we shuddered past the old grade school,
Streaking the pavement with comets of rubber, scorched earth.
The summer boys were still out on their lawns, bare-chested & burnished.
Gaggles of freshman girls, competitors, preened & flocked in vibrations of blond.
We should have been loadstars twining our fiery magnetics.
Now, I see your light rise over the east,
And, within your aurora a new star:
Soft, blunt face, curled hands, and clowning feet.
The planet gleams smoothly under your swollen sides,
The liquid globe of the sea you grow.
The islands are tropic beneath us, the castaways singing songs,
The crickets calling, the frogs belching in swampy ecstasy,
Volcanoes pulsating, drums hypnotic somewhere in the jungle,
By night and by day, because we are the two lights:
You are the fire that gives birth to fire,
I am the stone in darkness that grins back your light.
Call the white tide to the shore.
Pull apart the curtains of the sky.
from the poet: "You can see my poetry online at Roadrunner and Earthshine, as well as in a number
of print journals. I have an MFA from Purdue University and, while the Midwest certainly has its share
of hyper-civil people, I miss the mountains and ocean of my native state of Oregon.