Saturday, September 24, 2022

Three Poems by Karen Neuberg


I start with the intention to peel
the potatoes for a bubbly scallop
when I suddenly find myself
thinking they'd make better fries

only to quickly envision them
as hash browns for next day's breakfast.
It's like that with my writing -- an idea
comes to me in a way that feels

as if I'm channeling finger to finger
when suddenly "be more wild"
hurtles out of me as though it located
a path through a dense forest and I'm 

in the forest, measuring trunk sizes,
thinking about sentient life and looking
up at light patterns through leaves
while surrounded by sounds of birds

and scuttling creatures and breath.
I'm alive in breath. I want to pull it all
into myself.  Want to share it with the quick
of this world.  I don't want to waste

time or breath on worry.  But, there it is,
always pecking at me.  My liver aches
but I'm not chained to any mountain,
no eagle in a loop to tear my side.

Instead, I'm here with the potatoes
and my latest plan to keep their skins
and bake them, then split and slather them
with butter, sour cream, a dash of pepper.

Somewhere and Elsewhere and Everywhere

Agency of weather.  Of virus.  Of unrest.
Contingency planning, disaster planning.

History bleating, bleeding, bloating into the future into our eyes
crumbling into our bones.

Wind and rain rattling our doorways:
hurricane, tornado, downburst, cyclone, monsoon, derecho . . . 

Somewhere nothing remains upright.
Elsewhere, tremendous hours of watching

what's approaching.  And everywhere, everyone
knowing what's already arrived.

Just a Handkerchief of Thought

Just a handkerchief of thought -- there,
in its corner, the girl on a swing
is me.  My skirt lifts above my knees
& shrieks of joy carry through the years

past the moon and back,
through the waves, at the shore, around
the playhouse, into the kitchen, platter of sandwiches,
bowl of cut melon, my mother, still
young, holding out her arms to give a hug.

How I want to step in, step up
and introduce her to these two boys
whose hands I hold -- her great grandsons.

Karen Neuberg is the author of the full-length poetry collection,  PURSUIT (Kelsay Press) and the chapbook the elephants are asking (Glass Lyre).  Recent poems can be found in Big  City Lit, Nixes Mate, and MAINTENANT 16.  She is the associate editor of the online journal First Literary Review - East.

Three Poems by Robert Cooperman

Good Neighbors

They never robbed in the neighborhood,
but would return at 2 a.m. or so, and silent

as a cloaking fog, unload TVs from their truck,
piled them high as Stonehenge in their living room,

and always polite as refugees afraid to say
or do anything to upset their American neighbors.

Once, the family patriarch offered you a monster
system bigger than your living room wall.

You thanked him, but said your son
had already bought you a very nice one.

He tipped his battered fedora, and sauntered
back to his house, with its buzz-cut front lawn.

Hours later, their pick-up rumbled off,
on another foraging mission:  washing machines,

from factory outlets, appliance stores, or private homes?
Discourteous for a church-going lady to ask.

The Lies We Tell

These are the lies we tell
to comfort a friend
whose small, skittish Sheltie
vanished during an evening
of sorcerer-dry thunderstorms:

"She'll make her way back,
just search the neighborhood
and call her name.

"The chance that a fox
or coyote took her
is more remote than venom
from a cobra
in our safe Denver streets.

"Someone found her
and will call any second,
telling you to forget
the reward you posted
on every tree and telephone pole
within two miles of your house,
and he'll bring her around
in a minute or two.

"And of course, the biggest,
most comforting lie of all:
you'll open your back door--
the door she always returned to,
when you let her into the yard--
and there she'll be, wagging
her elegant, impatient tail,
wondering what took you so long."

A Lesson in Gambling

Once, watching on TV with a friend
and his old man, as the anathema Yankees
played the Tigers, I gloated:  Dean Chance
was striking out Yank after Yank.

"They can't touch this guy."

Freddy's dad, who smoked cigars
bigger than Babe Ruth's bat, got fed great,
bloody steaks by his run-off-her-feet wife,
and had guys dropping off paper bags,
and whose mugs I'd seen on post office walls,

"Blomber'll hit one out,
and the Yanks'll win the game."
Before I could reach into my first wallet,
Freddy gripped my arm and shook his head.

On the next pitch, Blomberg parked one over
the right-field fence, so short I could've put one
into the stands if I pulled it right down the line.

I sat fuming, not so much for the Yankees winning,
but that they needed to cheat, like the dumbbell-rocks
who threatened they'd make me bleed everywhere,
if I didn't let them see my math answers.

Robert Cooperman's latest collection is GO PLAY OUTSIDE ( Apprentice House). Forthcoming from Kelsay Books is A NIGHTMARE ON HORSEBACK.

Two Poems by Kelley White


It's a black and white world.  Papa
and Gran.  Momma and Dad.  Skin
that looks gray and purple and red.
You know those old jokes:  Black
and white and red all over.  A newspaper?
A nun chewing on a razor blade.
Lick your finger after you run your 
test strip.  Sweet?  That metallic tingle.
Yes, of course, sweet blood.  Name
the sweetest of them all?  Candy Kane?
Sugar Cookie?  Daddy Sweetums?
Here we are, alone and sour.  Camden
across the river with His Master's Voice.

I have a tuxedo cat.  You have a dog
in formal wear.  So polite, these pets.
'My dog is more popular than I am.'
He got a dozen valentines.  I got none.
The Elite Hunger of Belonging and I'm 
alone.  Along for the ride and he's dangling
his tongue out the window.  I'll finish all
the vegetables on my plate, especially
the peas.  Call me Lima Bean.  Green
is the color of my blood.  Ichor.  Ah,
serum of the Gods.  Tomorrow we may
all twitch and stutter to the beat
of a spoiled neuron.  It's a white
and black world.  You know the jokes.


The children have made a new game.
Peacemaker.  One child sits cross legged
atom the slide platform and dispenses
wisdom to the others.  Until she gets bored
and slides down the woodchips.

Another takes a turn.  Perhaps he closes
his eyes, hums.  This is after all, a Quaker school.
Questions are asked.  Advice is given.
Then a quick slide down.  And another climb
up.  They sit atop their world and play at truth.

And Liberty and Justice play together
on the swing.  And a See-Saw for all.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire.  Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA.  Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press).  She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.  Her newest collection,  NO HOPE STREET,  has just been published by Kelsay Books.

Three Poems by Ray Greenblatt

Play Time

Once our skin was golden too,
as sleek and agile
        as river otters
nosing and grinning
        in and out of the river
sunning on the bank--
        moist bodies tingling
our tongues were fragrant
        saliva heady
our fingers, our members
        explored new lands--
who knows what moments
        we will remember
as our Eldorados,
our kisses then
        were not hollow
wrapped round moral lapses
those sighs did not
        yet croon blue songs.

Daylight Savings

The train sighed to a stop
          2 AM
darkness stretched in all directions.
Couple of distant lights twinked,
lost stars fallen to earth.
I hoped most people were tucked
         in their beds,
not twisted in tragic moments.
Those on the train snored through the time.
An hour given back, in a way,
a golden hour!
What had I done with it.
What had I done
          with all the golden hours.
What would I do?
An engine turned on,
          the train lurched
and we continued down the track.

I Swam at Walden Pond

Surface sparkling
mottled shadows of leaves
          float on the water
bottom silted and warm.
You were all around, Henry,
tramping, taking measurements
and observing . . . observing.
What would you think of all
          the people?
All the development?
The Fitchburg Railway upset
         you enough.
But life must go on
and things always change,
you'd agree readily
         to that.
However, what you wrote
indelible as Testaments
still aids in pointing the way
limning the verities.

Ray Greenblatt is an editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and teaches a poetry course at Temple University in Philadelphia.  His most recent book of poetry is Until the First Light (Parnilis Media, 2020). He has also written book reviews for the Dylan Thomas Society, John Updike Society and Joseph Conrad Today.

Three Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

Counting Sheep

I am trying to recite my mantra:
'aum mani padme hum'.  It's just long enough
to force some concentration and cheat my
brain into believing that getting it right
is all it needs to agonize about.  I sleep

until that aging bladder wants to be emptied,
and after feet on cold floor, broadening hips knocking
the chest of drawers again, I worry that
I might have woken my partner, but daring
to look in his direction I cannot make out movement
or accusation.  My brain lights up and gets to work,

making lists of everything that might be useful
for a little panic.  Will I remember that first line
of my just conceived poem tomorrow? Did I put
some beers in the fridge to be cold tomorrow?
Perhaps I ought to write to my bank first thing or they
block my account! Where will my friend and I have lunch
tomorrow?  (Why on earth should that make me worry . . .)
If the lift doesn't work, I'll have to climb six floors tomorrow.
When was that funeral -- should I have gone?
Do we have onions?

Sleep finally finds me again 15 minutes before
my body knows it's time to make breakfast.

I always love you, life

You have showered me with riches.  You have hurt me beyond
measure.  But I am getting tired now.  I started the battle
early, and the warrior woman's arm is lowering her bow.

I wore a coat of many colours, became what the world
wanted me to be.  Claimed my freedom by melting
into walls.  Sometimes you could see the fissures.
I did what I needed to do in the anonymity of plain sight.

I lusted after the steppes of my mother's forebears,
my long mane blowing in the wind.
My DNA remembered that I honoured the goddess,
cared for the land, herded and told the stories of old.

Didn't know what it means to belong.
But I always was a quick learner,
my deceit well practiced.
You never quite found me out as not of your pack.

About Bread.  Germany, 1944

I can see myself.  A small girl.  White vest, black, ballooning
shorts, handmade. She stands on a milestone, giving her the height
to overlook the wheatfield, trying to see the wave.
In the distance a coocoo calls.

The children have finished picking out the
potato beetles and their larvae by turning over each leaf,
walking slowly through the field where row after row
of the potato green thrives, ready for August.  I see the girl
in front of the big farmer's wife, her apron a sea of colours,
here and there slightly soiled.  The woman presses
the big round loaf against her swelling belly,
cuts it in half and hands her a slice as long
as two of her hands after spreading some lard.

The girl is walking home from the bakery.
The baker lady cut out two coupons from the ration
card. Under the child's left arm a big, crusty loaf.
With her right hand, and an experienced finger, she hollows
the bread through the crust from the exposed end.
At this moment she doesn't think about consequences.

They picked up the last wheat from farmer Braun's
field after he finished the harvesting.  Mother
carried it home in a bag she'd brought.  Left the stalks
to dry on the windowsill, beat out the grains.
She sits, the coffee mill between her legs,
her dress sagging between her thighs.

If we find enough firewood, we'll have
a small fresh loaf tomorrow.
If the train doesn't get bombed,
Father will arrive just in time.

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as six poetry collections.  Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print).  She was twice nominated for a Pushcart.  DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022) and WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Taj Mahal Publishing House July 2022), are both available on Amazon.

One Poem by Rebecca Behar

Puppets and Pain

Tears for bones fragments
From Ground Zero
Tears for thousands of photos
And one disaster, layers of memory
The Merry Widow takes a gamble
Rewind: back to the 90's, the 70's
The fashion in the 80's was the 50's
I love Radio days, etcetera, I just saw
The Adicts mummified at the MacBa
Linking Park's still good on line
"Waiting for a light never comes"
I just mumble my own life
At odds with my recollections
While the parrot of the retro clock
Squawks "what's new, what's new"?

Rebecca Behar is a French writer, poet and slam performer.  She has published children stories and short stories, CDs of poetry and music, philosophy and literary criticism.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Three Poems by Taylor Graham

How They Got Where They're Going

Early memories jammed into 
projects, poolrooms, suburban split-
levels -- what outlaw habits, or one
bad choice, brought them to this place?
Their present bonds are of the psyche
as much as prison bars.
But you come here voluntarily, once
a week, to give theme men a voice,
unchain their thoughts through 
metaphor.  You bring the generosity
of words. Poetry. Your reward:
to see metamorphosis in their eyes.

A Scotty-Dream

Beam me up
to a space I've never seen
and never heard of,
not a tourist attraction nor at war;
some place that's suffered
no human contact
since pre-Industrial Revolution;
out of human time.
I'd wander among plants and animals
left to themselves,
who won't regard me as an enemy;
some place I can't identify
by name or position
on a geo-political map
and -- waking --
can't return to again,
to see how we've changed it
in my lifetime.

Letter to You in the Other Seat

Our trip yesterday up the mountain --
you should have been driving, corner of one
eye on the road while you appraised ridges
and canyons -- miles of skeleton pine and cedar.
You'd tell me about the forest coming back
after fires you fought when you were younger,
when you could still pass the step-test.
You'd tell me how this fire was hotter, more
unpredictable, born of climate change.
You'd point to small green coming back --
deer brush, bear clover.  But you're far away
in the passenger seat, while I drive
and tell you what the landscape looks like now;
if you could remember how it used to be --
hardpan forest roads we'd drive, wondering
where they went; their names on wooden signs
burned away now like your eyesight
and your memory.  I'd wait for you to tell me
the forest will come back.  And I'd believe it, if you'd come back too.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler and served as El Dorado County's inaugural Poet Laureate.  She's included in California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present; California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology, and elsewhere.  Her latest collection is Windows of Time and Place (Cold River Press, 2019).