Nov 2011

Already Gone - Sisterhood Triptych, Carolyn Owen Sommer
Already Gone

She hasn’t forgotten – entirely
his insouciant manner, the indifference
he displayed for the finality of
their condition. The transformation
did not occur overnight, but slowly,
at times with the patience needed to thread
a needle in the dark. She remembers
claustrophobia, grasping at straws –
that out-of-reach hand-hold that would keep her
from free-falling off of an alpine peak.
His voice, silky smooth, whispered of wanting
her happiness; foretold of her fortune –
all with words she did not notice as his
good-bye until he was already gone.

Morning Song

                        for Robert’s mother

The loft of leaf joined to limb, the green heat

of noon tucked in the hems of tree, air slow,

its swelter and flow an unwavering clock

of light sifted twig to twig to dull cast

of dusk. And voices say to eat. The moon

is halved. Voices say to rest. Waxing

must wait for the wane. For the barren box, slight

only in earth’s dirt heart. Pinpricks of night wither

at the heron’s rasp. Shapes havoc sullen screens.

Don’t wake me from this wide sea tiding out

to ocean. I follow the whale’s great tail.

I follow in wake the small boy who grips

firm the fin. I will follow him to water’s

deepest night, when from sight lost, form lingers,

then crests the current home, and I too rise.

Lisa Higgs

Fall and school has started up again with our actions of
throwing, laughing, jumping and sounds…
wait! Wait! “Give him back his ball,” I am yelling;
backing a junior across the grounds.

He is a freshman and he is still just beautiful,
And he is mine. My little brother.
The three years class difference is paramount as
I see him the target- Not now, not ever.

When we hear the stories and relive the stories from parents,
Do we even know their truths?
Standing by, at 2 ½ as he is born.
Suppose? Just suppose I admit, I don’t recall?

I towered him forever, to that day
I watched over him for always, has never gone away
So many tales and a little one followed too – so I had double duty
And was the task of love, true.

Mamma was nearing 19 when Bill was born
She was an old one, 21 with the baby surprise
Stories of begging Daddy for me, as she was full 16
Nearly. Dearly.

Brother Bill, 70 last month, my mind smiles to him
He grew 6 ft and gave me five kin, left the Air Force after the defend
On to Langley he helped America strong
Now, his decisions in moving along.

He leaves comfort of satellites and secrets
He enjoys his baby as he does year 12 of school
My brother, my friend, music and words we share
Nothing like joy of having him here.

The boy backed across the yard, probably only a couple strides
Was always loved and we both take pride of being friends-we never set aside.
The days still moving and memories glow
As Brother announces, “I am going to go”.

If everyone has a brother with these times shared
You are blessed beyond
I have not one, but two and this is the old one I share with you.
Happy retirement, October 31, Brother Bill.

Barbara McDonald
The Value of Memories

Breeze sifts through open windows, stirs the curtains.
Scents hidden in the folds of memory
fill the space, push against it, invade.

An image of what once was finds it way
out of that place holding all her secrets,
exposes lost dreams and forgotten hopes.

Of all she values, it is those she holds
within her darkest desire that she relives.

She recalls the lingering sensations …
a trail of fingertips across belly and breasts;
the scratch of nails along her spine.

She no longer lies to herself – or others –
memories are to be cherished
for what they gave us – what they give us.

Afternoon Poem

I tend to the mundane tasks
of talking books and phone calls
listening to the monotonous conversations
children and ailments
activities planned
not mine

I wish to be outside
under the clear blue sky calling
from the window while I toil
how I can last til the end of the day?
Wait, I’ve got mail
A poem arrives
words filled with magic
take me far beyond the clouds
far beyond the mundane
the day’s end is not so far

K.A.T. Corrigan

Brave New World, Lynn Hotes
Brave New World

I-80 leads nowhere
she wants to be elsewhere
this warm spring night
she should be sprawled across some flowered sheet,
sweet scents
wafting through windows newly screened.
Instead, pinned behind the wheel
she clutches her last nerve
steers between behemoth trucks and constructions
rebar wrought by satanic one-lane satirists.

Tires slap black
pavement’s white lines
define this second
then the next
beat becomes hypnotic
Shit! She almost falls asleep,
is saved by her daughter’s voice,
“I’ll read to you, if you want me to.”

They’d lost the trucks a few miles back;
the small car glides
with an ease not felt before.
A huge full moon is on the rise
but the girl opens the glove box door
for light, and begins to read in a steady voice
a book she’s surprised she likes,
not being what her mother calls “a reader” —
always followed by the silently implied “like me.”

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley.
“That’s Al-du-ous” her mother hums.
“Whatever. Chapter One.”

Despite her mother’s claim to know the way
the author says his name,
this is a book she hasn’t read.
“I never liked science fiction,” she says.
Her daughter excels in science and  math
a consolation for mother-mapped paths
that will not be tread.

Their exit looms near the end of Chapter Three.
The tedious journeys’ longed for escape
seems less important now
than the fate of fictional eggs.
The daughter puts the book away
and the mother marks the place
where something brave and new has hatched.

Corrine Frisch

A Poem for Jane, Ellie Unterbrink
A Poem for Jane

Dead calm August 6 a.m.
Cape Cod colored canvas
boats bob
through mists of coffee steam.
Gulls circle and cry,
but this is a Midwestern sky
ample enough cover
to harbor inland seas of green
tassels flag across the masts
in my picture window scene.
But you say
"write a poem for me."
So I inventory the fleet,
harvest one
and christen her "The Jane,"
a seaworthy name.
Like you, not the flashiest craft.
She wears the patina of a storm or two.
Yet when the wind comes up,
she's the one
who'll see you home.
She has good bones.
New England bred
prairie transplant
sails across my page,
"The Jane."
Corrine Frisch

Painting the Muse, Sheri Ramsey
Painting the Muse
Is it the shadows behind that make your eyes
glow this way, an inner chiaroscuro
weave of golden beam and ebon shadow
shining through, rife with love, cerulean—
or is that lazuline?—rich blue, open
invitation, inclusive magnetic
center of my gravity—just as is
that silver-grey silence behind your voice,

between your words . . . rare, violet and silken

nebulous of geometry—curves sans
cubes, corners, hard angles. This against skies
somehow familiar in their alien
vistas. As though emitted by your gaze;
All which hint untold stories, poems unpenned.

David Pitchford


her soul feels
weak like
early-morning fog
bullied away
by the afternoon.
bruised by fits
of obsession,
her mind incessantly
hums of insanity
nestled softly
between once-
coherent thoughts
a lingering passion,
still hoping
that one day
she will get

Nikkie Lynn Prosperini


It was six months before her twenty-second birthday.
I was nearly forty. So long ago.

She was here for a job interview and I was a visitor. Encounters escalated into conversation, coke and popcorn. We were in free flow, So long ago.

Ah, the reflection of disco dying in eighty-one, while getting to know you, getting to care.
A cactus transplant, celebrating joint-ownership of a 5 quart pitcher and balancing the mind.

Meeting the families-meeting the families and street tours of Lewisburg. Papaw’s wide smile and arms opened to visits, arms opened to aging.  My heart still presses on his image. Thank you West Virginia as you house the root of my being, the connection to my heart.

Learning, Growing, Knowing…

Moving. Your undergrad assembled as I moved the corporate stick around the State. We broke into University – Illinois on schedule and took a pass at acceptance to Vet school. Had a bigger school to attend- as again, the corporation took us to the banks of the Ohio, where Pete Rose was still famed and chili had given Cincinnati prominence. 

Another new house and water enough to wind surf and sail. Two small beaches as there was sand and gravel. Friends forever branded on our being and we settled in for the Vet school scene, back to Illini.

She, so skilled found time to sew, stencil and bake. She so kind, finding time to love and read and such differences she would make.

I give up the Corporation and take up the University, along with my new business birth.
Gardens planted, flowers bloom and life moves to visits of Paris and Piccadilly and our parent’s places.

We graduate Wisconsin and have flourished in this scene. 
Throwing a family and friend party without spare and soon after pack for out there…

A month-long externship gave call to the place and spending that first job here was not to be replaced. Grand Junction, CO lacks glamour and elite but it has open spaces and outdoor life with weather not beat.

Back to Illinois and open our own – aw, you never know a business partner until you have one and selling back our piece of that pie; No regrets, no regrets - given a decade, BIG city goodbye.

We looked at Santa Fe, Austin, Asheville and Prescott and Seattle too. Oh, we looked it all over and knew what to do- for the need of simplicity; City life has pluses but farm life has our pulses.

That first year, she was their Kennel gal and now – she is their Boarded internist. Home, included working again at that first Vet clinic. That first place, so long ago.

I believe I will continue to look out at the pasture, cut some fresh flowers and say that having now caressed my mind, I believe it has only been a few days. Not so long ago. Each hour is mine, ours and I will remain blessed with my life for I have you.

Happy Anniversary

Barbara McDonald

If They Only Knew

If only they knew how the wind blows in the trees
and a soft whisper of ecstasy blows In the air.
If only they knew how to be surreal.
To open their minds and dream dreams of yearning and love.
If only they would listen to the soft drumming of hope which beats in their insides, longing for one thing, more powerful than the strength of any muscle well built.
If only they could feel the power which intimidates the body and soul and scares the laughs of liberty from the lungs leaving no breath left to spare.
If only they could feel what it’s like to have an aura of emptiness thrashing your insides.
To free itself of an eternity of isolation.
If only they could live a meaningful life,
taking pre-cautious steps, but allowing enough leverage to break and be free.
Free of madness and undeserving persons, shifting themselves into the world
without common sense, but with pride, and prejudice against others.
If only they knew that helping others is not something to be punished
but rather, rewarded and reprieved.
If only they knew that happiness is not something that comes and stays.
If only they knew that happiness is likely to take it’s bags,
quickly escape the depths of despair which removes it,
and go away; far away.
So far, that only a miracle could bring it back.
If only they knew that miracles do not go to the non-believers.
If only they knew that miracles travel to the persons less fortunate and less desirable. The ones who truly need that gracious blessing.
And, if only people could understand the importance of letting such miracles escape their bare burdened hands to go to the needy.
Then the world could know a little better how I feel
and how those like me feel.
How that imperativeness could be unchained and unraveled.
But for now,
All that’s left to say are words of wisdom, which will be withered by the time they are understood.
Withered like the hands of a woman with the life closing behind her.
If only they knew how the wind blows in the trees
and a soft whisper of ecstasy blows in the air under a tree as I write away my soul until the very end of time. 

Elizabeth Choat
Perhaps, Dennis Morris

I, intrinsic daughter, cry into the nightless night and 
Discreetly a tear falls from my cheek.
A reflection catches itself
In a spinet of webs and
Alone in anguish,
A spider sits.
I ache at the thought of resounding pain and
Forced into happiness among the trees,
Grins of masked eyes stare at me and
Wait to smile.
Perhaps the Earth moves slowly without a
Thought of despair and
Perhaps we make of it, unintentionally, a horrific
Time warp of shattering volts.
I can make of my life
A happy swamp filled with flora for a thousand.
But my bones,
A barren wasteland of hope,
Are left to quake the earth for billions of centuries to come.

Elizabeth Choat

Memories of Street Corners, Kathy Pippin Pauley
It Was a Younger Town

Memories of street corners depress him.
Where the Walgreens department pharmacy stands --
southeast corner, 5th at South Grand --
a used car lot thrived for decades in earlier days.
Then a Top’s Big Boy Restaurant sprouted and grew.
It became a favorite rendezvous for almost 30 years.
His dear hearts and pals came for the salad bar, Slim Jim platters and milk shakes
after movies. The joint hummed!
And from downtown it was a breeze, a straight shot south on 5th to connect again
with friends for the breakfast buffet
after Sunday school and second services.
He had the makings of a responsible adult at the time.

Before the dance studio – South Grand at Glenwood --
thrived a second-hand store before
the office supply store before
the Avenue Food Shop before
the Sugar Bowl,
hangout of his older sister.
Sometimes he tagged along once with her
and her boyfriend, Mom and Dad insisted.
What a jukebox they had!

Today’s lifeless, dusty, pot-holed asphalt and dirt --
southeast corner, 4th at South Grand --
was home to a Ponderosa Steak House in the 70s
turned computer store
turned another charity second-hand store
that suffered before moving waaaaaay out to
the west side and thriving.

The airport past the southwest fringe of the city --
nudged to oblivion by encroaching residential developers --
was sold by airport owners for handsome profit
They banked their riches and moved out of town and why the hell not?
They hadn’t prospered, really prospered,
since the new airport opened north of the city back in 1947.

Grocery stores were once close-in to the south side --
Piggly Wiggly and later Eisner at MacArthur at Ash,
Jansens’ I.G.A. near 1st at Outer Park
National on Jefferson near Walnut,
Kroger – 2nd at South Grand,
A&P –  7th at South Grand across from Stuart School --
all gone broke or relocated west, leaving less and less
of a central city that glistened and sang in mercantile plenty.
Today it's abandoned by gutless wonders who grew queasy at the sight of brown,
who left behind residents trapped
by modest means and citizens proud of the city and unwilling to migrate away
from loyal neighbors who sneak peeks from cracks in curtains drawn closed and
watch sullen
malcontents in baggy pants and scowling faces
shuffling down the center of the streets; never on the sidewalks past empty lots
gutted of homes and squealing children
and left to rot in festering puddles.

The northwest corner, Pasfield at South Grand
was a Watt Bros. pharmacy with a soda fountain
that served cherry phosphates and chocolate Cokes and
sundaes any day of the week.
He rode there on his bike from home.
Later it was a King Harvest Food Coop, then
a gift boutique, then a fitness training club,
and today empty of life, but not of memories.

The northeast corner, Whittier and Ash, five lots north of
his childhood home on Whittier, two and a half blocks
from the duplex he owns today, the home he is afraid to see
NOT because he is afraid the experience will kill him but
because he is afraid the experience will not kill him;
He yearns to walk south to gaze like a thief,
on walls and grass that were his, his,
to see what was once a meticulously gardened yard
with the maple tree he purchased as a sapling
at a Lawrence grade school Arbor Day sale,
the house, the only safe harbor he would know down deep!

He didn’t love it for the 21 years he lived there,
didn’t praise his parents for their sacrifice.
One day he will summon the courage
to walk two and a half blocks almost straight south
and tour the alley he roamed regularly until
he was 10 years old or so and grew up a little past that phase.
Today as he lives, the grown man he hears the echoes of his childhood neighbors,
so close, so far away, friendly.
He holds in his nostrils traces of the fragrances
of his friends’ homes, Jay Bruninga, Phil Daykin,
the Wilsons, Wendy Booth, Marcia Blizek, Paul Tack,
Tom Keeslar, Charlie Allen, Nancy Gibson, Karen Gernenz,
Don Arenz, Greg Pease, every trace loved as gold
and everyone moved away.
In his dreams he looks into the yard from the alley,
reaches out from his heart and steals more happy memories,
sees the back door and one last time, savors
remains of molecules he shared with brother Bill,
sister Dorothy, Mom and Dad until
everybody moved out of town but him,
and the world changed;
and the world grew up around him . . .
and the world grew on without him . . .
and he remained
the same.

Job Conger


Red pretauge on canvas white,
Streaks of saffron center right,
From left corner sprouts a plem
Floral postiquodiem.
Kladar races neck and neck
With the banye bisolek.
Orange disks in motion glurge;
Toward the fading dree converge.

Lend your ears and voices true
To the mellow illusdrew
We shall cloy mo talikong
Celebrate an abstract song

Hut in shadow on a rise --
Fuscia nordank misty fies --
Over deep cerulean blue
Stolden pax kalam pocue
Creatures dance hodaigren lape
While the natives flir kanape
Vopan is the chanter king
Harvest green and bresaling
Lend your ears and voices true
To the mellow illusdrew
We shall cloy mo talikong
Celebrate an abstract song

Framed in sweet melodic hues
Catholicspro  te  stant  sjews
Recognize with warm delight
Wonders of the shenegite
We’ll connect to what we can
From the palette’s laudigan
Symbol scanbee what yewill
Cata  pondewin   dasill

Lend your ears and voices true
To the mellow illusdrew
We shall cloy mo talikong
Celebrate an abstract song

Job Conger

Desert Isle
Millions tend to this populace isle
And factories fill its water-bound ’scape.
Countless capital clerks its deeds they do file,
Countless criminals its maids they do rape.
A thousand machines belch pois’nous black smoke.
A thousand breadless souls swallow only hope.
Yet for me ’tis a desert isle alone
In an empty sea, a solitary home.

Like Crusoe, mine is infinite labour
And not for escape to equal barrens,
But merely to be alive and no more.
My wilds are Eden-not—but fetid fens.
Blooms are not parti-colour’d roses gay;
All ashen soot of black and dungeon grey.
I both long for and fear finding one morn
An alien footprint on the beach alone.

Would Friday the slayer of blackness be,
A white-white knight of Arthurian lore,
Or dread cannibal sent to consume me?
His chain-mail’d mount trampling me the more.
Best then to avoid that long stretch of beach
And stay in my cave void of sun and leech.
For hope is the labour most infinite—
Golden love the treasure most beyond my sight.
Ted Morrissey (in the persona of fictional 19th-century
                       British author Margaret T. Haeley)

Senectitude’s Memento, Chris Martin
senectitude’s memento

cobwebs cluster in arid daybright corners
gauzy sunskein threads
driftsome and tender as nape-sung flesh-whispers
fluxsome as shadow’s slip
          senility’s silken grit sifted and diffuse
          recalling affairs unsettled
          errands unfinished
          matters accumulated
                    confected corollaries yet to pass
                    sunset wrinkles
eventide’s glow
velveting the advance of twilight
eclipsing the incomplete
     dusking evanescent the trappings undusted
spiderwebs stretch across humid moonhazed dreams
gossamer nighttide constellations
lissome and elusive as fossa vein-wisps
fleeting as hoarfrost’s lace
          youth’s shimmering mesh latticed and lambent
          recalling dew undisturbed
          earth-breath unharmed
          dampness refulgent
               dawnsoft droplets yet to last
               sunsquint tears
horizon’s flush
mourning the passage of moonshade
illuminating the intangible
     trapping fugitive the dustings undusked

Joanna Beth Tweedy

First Glance

The onion seems to be an underrated vegetable
its appearance is deceiving
remove the nondescript first layer
revealing a soft and tender fragrant body
that can only be seen if one searches

it can be sliced, chopped or diced
be used as a condiment, ingredient or side dish
rarely is it an entrée
even in its translucency its flavor is not mistaken

though it often is overlooked
taken for granted
it is always in the vegetable bin
ready to serve
ready to add that extra something
quietly murmuring
peel me

K.A.T. Corrigan

Caught out of Time
(A Portrait in Words)

A diverse collection of poets and writers, some
with talent, and those whose talent is to listen.
They both reach for idealistic heights of artistry.
1960’s too-cool daddies and way-too-cool momma’s
with floppy leather hats, like Dylan wore, returns
for another encore.  Except now, its dread-locks being
sported by hot young men, only sure of one thing,
the girl hanging out next to them.
Our hopes and dreams of flower-power, peace and love,
though faded out, echoes and glints on young faces,
still trapped in cocoons of naiveté.
The smell of fear, its strong and wet, and it
lurks at the back of their minds.  The fear of
self-loss suffocates, they keep their eyes tightly
shut against the daylight of reality.  They long for
more of those experiences not yet lived.  Hunger.
Defiant symbols sewn on leather jackets,
the yin and the yang, worn like a charm against evil.
As if it will straighten out the crazy upside down
times that we live in today.  Recollections of peace
signs that we thought would save the world.
Like the next generation of Woody Guthries,
they sing about the down-and-out, the lost and
forgotten.  Maybe they'll find their way, if
they can just sing them home.
A chess game being played at the next table.
The man’s long, thin braid courses down the side
of his face.  He calculates his next move.
He checks out his mate.
Philosophical heart beats of writers who dare
to express thoughts that only their pen has seen.
Poets with profound statements.
Smoke hangs thick; inhalation of oxygen limited
to shallow breaths, at the coffee-house
Caught Out of Time.
The crowd thins out, bound for other places.
Searching for the next stop, Daddy,
Where they can just be cool.

Janice J. Robinson

Hearty Spirit of Maine

The wood pile reflected preparation
as smoke curled from chimneys,
relaying forced hibernation
under snow piled to the window sill.

Captured towering firs
witnessed winter beating against panes
and obliterated the long road,
disconnecting the neighbors in Maine.

Undermined by natures elements,
the people down under yielded,
and with Grandma and napping babies
envisioned a bountiful summer.

Amid friends seated round,
where covered dishes abound,
a bright-eyed toddler
giggled through Irish complexion.

Mud squishing between impish toes,
when her kitty is flung to the wind,
she discerns how it lands on its feet
and climbs back into her lap again.

Pam Miller

Love Note

Diamonds dance
on moonstruck Pacific,
like ecstasy,
now reflected in your eyes.

Pam Miller

Middle-Aged Madness:

What Happened When A Middle-Aged
Woman (With Osteoporosis) Lost Her
Mind And Tried To Learn To Roller Skate
In The Driveway

Wearing protection
Left wrist splint from last winter
Right wrist splint from the car accident last spring
Roller skates from a yard sale

Borrowed protection:
Husband’s bicycle helmet
Sister’s volleyball knee pads
Friend’s elbow pads

Supportive friends on each side
Worried husband, interested neighbor
Momentary distraction
Comedy action:  flying feet,
Bruised bottom, hurting head.

Supportive friends on each side,
Worried husband, interested neighbor
Removing useless splints
Knee pads, elbow pads, helmet.

Sitting in cushioned comfort
Fiction favorites, origami and Audubon
More distraction
From the result of comedy action.

Sanity returns, limping.

Vicki Bamman

Sand and Snow

I am buffeted by alternating winds from either side
of my sparsely forested path along a slender ridge of mountain,
struggling to remain upright with wind, birdsong, call of distant gulls

and rhythmically pounding breakers ringing in my ears, stinging my eyes, filling my lungs with
gasping breath the scent of pine and salt from the sea.
My surrealistic dream scape expands before me on either side

as I traverse along this needled spine of mountain ridge,
catching sight through trees of dancing dunes of sand on my left,
while on my right wind whips swirling drifts of blowing snow.

To where I walk or from where I've come I do not or cannot recall.
My attention is riveted upon remaining upright
as I walk between blowing dunes of sand and drifts of snow.

Nancy Ganguli

In the Deep Blue Sea

For years I have proclaimed
I want to come back in my next life
as an organized woman,
preferably a thin one who doesn’t sweat,
but the main requirement is:


But if denied my human form,
I wish to come back as a

     dolphin ... 

a female dolphin, a popular
female dolphin, clicking and whistling
and singing my loquacious dolphin-self
through the deep blue sea,
gossiping, eating,
playing, frolicking,
fucking with reckless abandon,
                   soaring ...

       up,                       left, right
AND ... there would be no clutter ..

                  HUMAN CRAP!

No toilets to clean,
no papers to sort
no bills to pay,
no dishes to wash!

Did someone say thin?
HELL with thin!

I am Nancy, the dolphin,
plump, blubbery, beautiful,
swimming and joyful,
naked and free,
far away
in the deep blue sea
     up,                    up,
           down,                down

                      left, right ...

Nancy Ganguli

Falling, Linda Post Lucas

Fall trees...are spitting

leaves...and I...

sit on a branch my mind,

fall asleep and breathe...

as fall trees...spit more

leaves...eating sky...and I...

twirl, breathe...

and leave...a seed.

Anita Stienstra
The Wrist Watch

You are the hands I watched turn
day after day, year after year
as if the movement of my being
relied on their rotation, and I was
nothing without you to tell me I existed
in this point in time, at this place
performing any particular job or task.

I despise you. I keep you
in my coffin of a jewelry box
to remind me not to care so much
about things that look alive
and helpful, hold me captivated,
but really only clasp
around my wrist like a hand cuff.

Anita Stienstra


Just before bedtime I let Max,
my Benjy terrier, slip past me.
Before I could stop him, he fled
across the porch, down the snow-
packed stairs and vanished.  Hours
later, he still hadn’t reappeared
so I got in the car and crept down
sepulchral streets and alleys
seeking a glimpse of his golden fur.

Pulling back into my driveway
I caught sight of a dog standing
on the glistening gravel as if waiting
for me.  A first I thought it might be
my prodigal, but this dog was immense,
white as the full moon and regal,
an ermine-clad Wenceslas. 
He gazed as if he knew me,
eyes emanating an unearthly power.

Beside me up the steps he glided
and would have followed me inside
but I turned and said No.
With trembling fingers I closed
the door and secured the bolt,
hoping he’d just go away.
The rest of the night I shivered
on the daybed beneath a moonlit
window, listening for familiar footfalls.

Pat Martin

Homeless in Arkansas

From the very beginning I was in love with
the natural world. My nursery rhymes were
wind blowing through treetops, gurgling
streams, the croaking
of bull frogs from pond-side. I sucked

on silky stems of wild mint and crawled
through fragrant fields of strawberries.
Once in awhile I’d help Mother fill a bag
with blackberries or red raspberries
sagging on a fence row. Often we slept

on a blanket under one of the dippers
so close I thought I could touch it
if only my arm were longer. I’d fall
asleep listening to crickets and tree frogs and
an occasional hoot-owl. Others

who had homes sometimes fed us. 
We’d trek over the foothills from one
to another, I a toddler nestled
between Mother’s warm breasts,
not knowing I was poor.

Pat Martin


Love on a Summer's Night, Rose Hutchcraft
Flirt of Flickering Fireflies

on the Sangamon
of male
wink in unison
through navy
august night

across the
of female
the splendid
unison winks

the flirt of
pulsing against a
blanket of dark
like me

Jean Staff

Summer Midday on the Pond

Lulled by lap, silk upon her bank,
still lies morning pond
—senses vagabond.
By noon her sandy ass winces rosy,
winces randy and sore
with sun’s spank.
Swaddled Bobolink, so nest cozy,
chirp chirps a snore.
In waddled grass,
duck royal does nap
with nary a thought that dog, cat
and  brat…do not.

Maiden flowers, manifold,
winking, they  tease
the   frantic showers
of bold bachelor bees
aswirl, atwirl
the red, gold, the please,
and stink, of the girl musky curl.
To nimbus cloud,
pink nippled thru white chiffon,
moppet  willows bawl for a drink,
as old granny breeze, cognac tippled,
stifles a salty yawn.

Then see them crawl,
their green skin rippled,
the jump high crowd
with  mump-eye faces that stare
and plump-thigh legs that sprawl
lily pad pillows.
Beware! By blink unseen,
shadows slink serpentine
thru the foxtail tall and blonde,
thru the rosette veil of steam.
While far beyond
the pale of pole and net,
fishes sink into unfathomed wet
Dream—Summer Midday on the Pond.

Jean Staff 


“Can’t you read?” snapped the monkey.  It waved
a threatening baton over the yellow tape; I stepped back
in surprise.  “It says, police line, do not
cross,” the monkey said.  “This means
you.”  “Who put you in charge?” I snapped
back.  No simian with a badge makes
a monkey out of me.  “Evolution is running
backwards,” it said.  “Darwin died and made me
god.”  “Not mine,” I answered.  “What’s the crime here?”

“Building a better mousetrap, with malice
aforethought.”  It raised a paw, pushed
the uniform cap back and scratched
its head.  “What do you know
about this?”  “Nothing,” I said.  “I never
fore thought in my life.”  “None of you
did.  That’s the crime.”  “You’re contradicting
yourself,” I pointed out smugly.  “That’s my
prerogative,” it answered, “now you move
on, there’s nothing to see here.”  “I want
to see the mousetrap.”  “You can’t, it’s been
impounded, expounded, and re-
pounded.  Also classified, eyes only.”  “Whose eyes?”
I asked.  It answered, “That’s 
the question, isn’t it?” 

Liz Huck

October Sestina

My year turns over in the fall
When the maple, fierce red heart,
Pulses fire in sprawling lines
Of redded gold.  Each leaf
A separate painting, its own story,
Detaches, rides the wind to the ground.

We sit in a circle on the ground
Feeding the fire as shadows fall,
Toast marshmallows, tell ghost stories – 
The Horseman, the Raven, the Telltale Heart
Written in the crackling of the leaves. 
Red embers in ash sketch runic lines.

Geese on gray sky waver into line,
Rabbits and badgers going to ground.
All things bright and fragile take leave,
Only the hard, the strong, the fell,
Dig in, settle down, stretch roots to the heart
Of the earth, to the riches stored.

In the last pages of the story,
The trivial falls away, the line
Of action runs clear.  The heart
Of fire in the west lights up the ground,
Every blade clear and golden, as it fell
From the anvil, every vein in the leaf.

Before the light goes, I will take my leave
Walking into the sky.  The ancient stories
Promise that glory comes before the fall.
I'll backtrack the geese, follow the twisting line
The rabbit's footprints make across the ground,
Into the winter's heart.

The sigh that stills the heart,
That empties flesh, like a curling leaf
Fading, crumbling into fallow ground,
Bears a vibrant word, reweaves the story
In smoldering scarlet curls and golden lines,
Unfolding in the winds while cities fall.

Learn this by heart, six times the story tell:
In every leaf, the web of lines reveals
Our struggle from the ground, our glorious fall.
Liz Huck

Miss Aimee B, Felicia Olin

Cream Tea at Miss Aimee B’s

Before there was tea there were teats,
The milk of human kindness flowing
Without silver tongs or lumps
Of sugar, breasts dispensing life.
We smile over our cups,
Ladies who lunch, the tearoom
Cozy, the cheesecake sweet,
And Earl Gray the only male.

Lola Lucas

Blue Sky

The snapshots remain:
In one, the sky above a train station
Is a blue that aches, so perfect

   so nothing but itself

Years fade the photograph;
The real sky, meanwhile,
Dark to light to dark each day, clouded
Or star-filled or sometimes, perhaps,
Even the same startling blue…

The wood of the train station
Older, benches inside more worn
   —as we are—
Tracks that lead, that will always lead,
Across the river and home again.

Lola Lucas

Tangier Samadhi

Golden crabs of Tangier
float in bubbles of gold
above the golf carts on their single tongue of road.

Their claws are castanets!
Their voices fire!
Dancing over backyard graves of fishermen
lost in the rocking bay.

Impenetrable, wisdom-diamond-eyed,
gods of the Chesapeake,
up in your Chinese clouds—

Hugh Moore

(Established in 1686, Tangier Island was discovered by Captain John Smith.  It is three miles long and one mile wide and lies off the coast of Virginia.)


They illuminate the sky above the lunchroom
all winged immortal, bristling with light.
Sometimes sinking through the roof,
their golden feet make sparks along the ceiling.
That toothless guy has seen them.

Those young professionals
dropping in for a ‘taste of the city’—
hell, they don’t even see me.

Above the Maid-Rite’s wooden roof,
homeless golden dogs of heaven.
They are anyone’s, everyone’s, nobody knows.
The crip who works the grill,
who sneaks free burgers to cops and crooks alike—
maybe they are his.

Hugh Moore

Reason Took Me

Reason played a game with imagination
A singles tennis match of
Imagination stayed on love
Until reason reached
And reason took the final
Imagination slowly dying
With age reason begins
To win as imagination
Stays on love, nothing, nothing, nothing
If two imaginations play
They stay in love forever
But reason took me by the hand
And killed my nothing
My Passion

Lindsey Buis

Bird Boy

Bird boy, scared of steel cages
Needs freedom to love life
And to feel the air. He hops
Away again leaving
Her with a bloody beak.
But that’s not what she loves
About him. He’s brief— a
Mystery. She sees
Towers of gold in his eyes,
Towers he’s still discovering,
Upturning soil, digging for
Worms— while Robin girl
Bleeds—waiting for her lover
Man to catch up to her.
But he just might not, and she’ll
Follow eagles, sparrows, and
Be up in the trees. While her
Bird boy digs ditches
And hops from one hole to another,
Dirty, bleeding onto another
Robin girl that will learn to fly
Above him also.

Lindsey Buis

assimilating the experience of you (for Bill)

we shook hands when we met
          three fingers fanned and arched like palmfronds shading
          thumb and forefinger that grasp the drinkingtab
          of your carryout coffeecup, steamcurlicues
          around them just like morningfog around tall buildings in The City

          two fingers extract one cigarette from freshpack,
          your cupped windbreak hand a shadowy vaulted secretchamber
          until illumined by the lighter's quickflame just like sudden
          transbaytunnel thirdrail electricity or
          inspiration with desire

your hands just once held mine; we danced
          four thoughtful fingers lounge against your cheek and jaw
          in individual attitudes like streetpeople posturing for sparechange
          as you listen to me, chin on palm
          five fingers bask like sunning sealions on the promontory of your knee
          one finger emphasizes salient points about which you feel strongly

i wish i wish i wish that it would point the way to me

          i can't even
                                 to contemplate your


Thea Chesley

rendezvous, Rue de Ursulines

yellow crescent moon
over Crescent City,
waxing, like my wanting

more potential voodoo than a full moon could have conjured
crawls out of the spreading shadows on Orleans Street
like a monster cockroach from your worst apocalyptic dream
as sun sets over clean, suburban Metairie
where they have no idea what is happening here

saturated air, as close as personal history
carries ominous, mysterious portents
that inspire objectless anticipation
like an itch i can't quite reach --
unfulfilled old longings recollected suddenly;
desire long sublimated rising in me like a primal moan

i walk the cobbled cracked uneven sidewalks of the Vieux Carré
too tempestuous inside to sleep;
a crucial thing is missing, i am negatively charged
my shadow catches up with me, then reaches for the unknown
that's ahead
          but aren't you afraid to go out walking there at night?
no; especially not tonight.
i am invulnerable, somehow:
i walk and others step aside to let me pass --
bleached blond gay in leather chaps and little else and
shoeshine boy on Bourbon Street

who'll bet a buck that he can tell me where I got my shoes
and whores of all kinds
understand that i'm not buying --
what i'm looking for is no thing that they've ever even had
to sell
and maybe isn't of their Earth

i want to see your forehead and your cheekbones pink
with sunburn and the neon of a beer sign;
your jaw and straight, strong nose
like burnished bronze in candleglow
your eyes darkened by passion, deep and black as interstellar space
glittering with constellations of reflected flame
and possibilities of travel to new,
unimaginable worlds

like any thing of quality
the journey just requires time

time with you is what i haven't had

time without you telescopes, distorts: i want it to be over
i want to start Time over now with you, expanding,
just until the universe we know will fill
a second-storey room-and-bath with balcony French doors thrown wide
to admit the heavy salty humid air,
laden with the fragrance of fresh-baked D'Or croissants
the clip-clop of the tired carriage horses on the paving bricks,
the murmuring of tourists much too self-absorbed to hear their driver telling them
that where I would lie touching you, this sanctuary thirty feet above them
was, once, long ago, a convent

i believe this passion is divine
as any that inspired this room's historical inhabitants
in the deepest reaches of their souls

being in this room alone feels wrong, discordant, incomplete; yet
i've no faith or reasonable hope
that i will find you here
that you will give me

i stand before a storefront on Decatur Street
the sun has risen over herons, hermit crabs and egrets,
bayou grasses, damselflies and water striders
i have walked, but now am motionless and
contemplating severed snake and alligator heads, Mardi Gras masks,
colorful cheap trinkets, Catholic icons, mudbug t-shirts:
            do ya eat da tails? do ya suck da heads?
don't be shy about extremes here

and i'm not

afraid to think, or say, or do
whatever it takes, either
to effect desired destinies

did Ruthie rollerskate behind me just then on the sidewalk?
did you just walk into Café DuMonde -- alone?
we perceive -- believe -- what we most want
and Love Potion Number Nine will work on you
if you can be persuaded

powders, potions, poultices and leathers, metal,
fur and feathers, wands and stones,
chalices and amulets -- the ju-ju of old cultures
and the newest: virtual cyberpunk playrooms,
batteried, electric and inflatable devices,
latex products in the shapes and colors of all fantasies

you can get them here

but that isn't how i want you
-- not compelled by magicks
of the supernatural or supermarket --
you will come to me
when you want me

so i won't stroll toward Café DuMonde now
if you won't tell me yes
right now
i will forego the answer
until later
you know i am staying at the convent -- alone

Thea Chesley
At Break of Day

clear morning
emerald line
emerging discreetly
cuts a boundary at lake’s edge to melody of crashing waves

upward climbing clouds
varied in shape and size
appear along azure skyline
as horizontal city across the void

outstretched beams
emanating from the place
where the great sun will first appear
rise into an oceanic sky

enter ignition
subtle as a candle
marking the window
from a temple in a celestial metropolis

gradual and mysterious
enveloping light
streams across the void
through windows in the city

then the shore awakens
with faint dim glow
as wet lustrous sand
reflects majesty of solar projection

as the building shake loose
their imaginary bindings
floating freely into the sky
nervous scurrying of gulls and terns on the shore
affirms that the day has officially begun

Mark Russillo

North Texas Evening

What Once Was, Tracey Maras

as forceful breeze
unsettles tenacious
sanded tufts
of spare prairie grass

two-lane highway
slashes defiantly
through acres
of mesquite trees

amidst myriad cacti
abundant scrub brush
burying its unclear end
in ubiquitous horizon

lone mesquite bug
searching relentlessly
for that one, brief sexual encounter
of its meager existence

poking his head out
from rotting tree stump
after lifetime of sleep
and mechanized consumption

with tornado, flood and drought
where uncertainty prevails
as ringmaster beneath the tent
of the vast starry sky

where life begins and ends
where the semblance of what is
may vanish in mere moments
where metamorphosis is expected        

Mark Russillo 

End of November 2011 poems