Friday, November 30, 2012

Two Poems by Walter Ruhlmann

Concrete Stairs

Smoking outside again, sitting on the concrete stairs descending into dad's garden,
the grey clouds covering the sky, invading my sight, some wind blowing on my face,
suffering the cold and damp weather in the Norman village, this jail I fled from years ago,
I watch the moss covering the wall, the weeping tree opposite the house
I hear the ducks quacking their ludicrous laughter as if one of them just slipped or performed
a dance like one used to sing in the eighties. I remember the red sleeve, the stupid tune.

These memories will be the end of me, the final step taken before I fall into madness,
complete, total, absolute, inevitable.

The first fall occurred some thirty-five years ago:
a toddler was I, just ready to discover the world.
I could have died the day I fell from the top to the bottom of these stairs;
a bump as big as an egg growing on my forehead.
This must have left me bad scars, bruises,
incorrigible but imperceptible mental inabilities.

Prior to that
they had almost blinded me with forceps – malignancy
they had dumped me on the bare bedroom floor – overtiredness
they had left in the sharp claws of a drunkard nanny – naivety
they had almost smashed my head against the garage door – absent-mindedness
their dog had nearly wolved me – jealousy.

I have escaped physical harm many times
but do not seem to be able to avoid being slime.

November Children

When the first of November comes ringing at our doors,
right after the tricks or treats children from the neighbourhood perform,
masked and laughing, shrieking gulls, ghouls and ghosts, vampires,
other zombies springing out from behind the bushes,
terminators, wolverines or cat-women,
all shadowy and whispering otherworldly words,
sharp, piercing knives of mockery,
we know Winter – my oldest, elder brother – my own secret lover – has come along with Shamain.

The frost at dawn warns us and keeps us inside
under blankets, thick covers, wool jumpers, heavy sweaters,
with cups of hot milk, coffee, water, whatever can warm our inside.

Somerset, Gloucestershire, Lancashire
Winter in these places comes like a dark grey veil brought by the wind,
a gentle breeze that soon becomes stormy and wet. Lingering for so many days. Lasting eternally.
Maore was windy and dry.
I wonder how Bresse will be like.

October child moons over rainy days.
Somehow he suffers from the recluse concept he inflicts on himself,
somewhat his eyes drop out of his bare skull, skyline for the flies,
somewhere certainly lives someone who would share his suffering,
sulphured semen stain the bed sheets.

November child comes right after.
Winter betrayed this court jester,
the king and the loons deceived him
while the mountains stare from their heights
the battles of two damaged brains,
the frights of fraternal foes fallen far from their lair.

Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher, edits mgversion2>datura and runs mgv2>publishing. Walter is the author of several poetry chapbooks and e-books in French and English and has published poems and fiction in various printed and electronic publications world wide. He is an associate editor at Poet & Geek journal. Nominated for Pushcart Prize once.
His blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Two Poems by Alan Britt


Streetlamp with Swedish hair like beams of
straw fueling Van Gogh gas chandeliers,
enters this habitat, this habitat primitive
though ideal for isolation.

Old terrier in distress awakens neighborhood
dogs curious to an emergency
exploding emeralds like fireflies
from antique clocks lining the horizon.


Pineapple relaxing the boulevard,
minding its pineapple business.

Artichoke releases gob
of spit, outlawed in 1870—
exhausted TB law.

Pineapple grows testacles,
chews a nail
& expresses 9-millimeters
from his rectum.

Bombers on the committee
to elect committees——

Sorry for that.

                     you       had
                    other  plans.

Dine in a dumpster;
cleave until cleaving no longer
holds a candle to the dumpster.

Silver wanderer.

Alan Britt's interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem ( will air on Pacifica Radio in January 2013. His interview with Minnesota Review is up at He read poems at the World Trade Center/Tribute WTC Visitor Center in Manhattan/NYC, April 2012, at the We Are You Project (WeAreYouProject.Org) Wilmer Jennings Gallery, East Village/NYC, April 2012, and at New Jersey City University's Ten Year 9/11 Commemoration in Jersey City, NJ, September 2011. His poem, "September 11, 2001," appeared in International Gallerie: Poetry in Art/Art in Poetry Issue, v13 No.2 (India): 2011. His recent books are Alone with the Terrible Universe (2011), Greatest Hits (2010), Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). The Poetry Library ( providing a free access digital library of 20th & 21st century English poetry magazines with the aim of preserving them for the future has included Britt’s work published in Fire (UK) in their project.   Britt’s work also appears in the new anthologies, The Robin Hood Book: Poets in Support of the Robin Hood Tax, by Caparison, United Kingdom, 2012, American Poets Against the War, Metropolitan Arts Press, Chicago/Athens/Dublin, 2009 and Vapor transatl├íntico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Econ├│mica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru, 2008. Readings & Presentations: Panel Chair for Poetry Studies & Creative Poetry for the PCA/ACA Conference 2008 in Boston, Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ (2009 & 2012), the WPA Gallery/Ward-Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, NY (2008), Ultra Violet Studio, Chelsea/NYC (2008 & 2009), White Marsh Library, Baltimore (2011 & 2012), Enoch Pratt Free Library (Canton Branch) Baltimore (2011), Pedestal Magazine Reading at the Writers Center, Bethesda, MD (2012). Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise and two formerly feral cats.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Poem by Diane Webster


White cloth captured by weed barbs
violently flapping, twisting in wind
to escape, release, rejoin currents
swirling, barging ahead and around…
free to fly without effort
like crows in hover mode
calm with wind
when all around struggles
against like this white cloth
playing dead against the weed,
gentling uncurling its grip,
limp until gusted away
in gleeful wave goodbye sucker!

Diane Webster's biggest challenge as a poet is to remain open to idea opportunities whether that's by noticing a blooming pansy in a pavement crack or seeing a hawk scowling from its perch or a woman guided down the sidewalk by a man with his hand on her neck.  Her work has appeared in "Illya's Honey," "The Hurricane Review," "Philadelphia Poets" and other literary magazines.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Poem by Dr. Smita Anand Sriwastav

Garnered Wisdom…

Memories are like sparks born
when on days of pregnant quietude,
two jarred stones of moments create friction
breaching the slumber of hibernating yesterdays,
lighting up an instant with revival
of snippets of bygone days,
only to come back today’s realities.

They are like warm pillows of comfort
cocooning sleep-spawned dreams,
gilded in sepia snapshots,
or in vague anecdotes of recapitulations,
surreal as the mirages
that loom on rain-starved azure
of parched desert days.

They are fragments of moments lived,
shattered by heedlessly racing feet of time,
like stilted words of a , song half remembered--
an echo limping back on crutches of whimsy
to wipe away the mist fogging
the glasses of myopic today,
they are unwrapped by the rays of thought
as silhouettes unfurled by fingers
of dawning day from raven mane
of night’s dark ambiguity.

Desires are like gossamer moonbeams,
Hesitantly etching faint umbra over the breast
Of vacant nocturne,
They are like impermanent reflections
Seen on drops of transient dew,
Soft susurrus of words punctuated in
sigh and pauses of hesitant expectations,
blank papers of existence yearning for
the scrawl of consonants of reality,
the bridge that connects
the lands of reality to dream’s shores.

Wishes are like starlight, eagerly grasped
In fingers of aspiration,
The origami delicately created by hands in
Stolen moments of whimsy,
Chiaroscuro spun on looms of
Octopus limbs of imagination,
Or the hues splashed in glorious graffiti
Over the cheeks of blossoming dawn
And in desperate attempt to revive the glow
of dying day at crepuscule.

Happiness is the elusive horizon
that beckons with allure of variegated shades,
a soaring bubble that bursts
after sailing over skies of dreams,
it is the dangling golden orb
with promises of nectarine delights,
just out of reach of grasping palms.

It is the rhapsody that enlivens life’s lyrics,
the soul of a sparkling smile,
the pearl nurtured within
uterus of otherwise insipid existence,
voiced in giggles and laughter
it adds color like autumn’s quill to
the canvas of drab, mundane days.

Guilt is like dredges of stale coffee left
In faceless paper cups,
The useless calyx that remains on
Stalks of withered flowers,
Remorse in the greenish mold that covers
The leftovers of yesterday
Like moist fingerprints left on cobblestones
By the dawn erased night,
Or the streaks left on cheeks,
By rolling brine of despair
Footprints left by berated mistakes….

Dr. Smita Anand Sriwastav is an M.B.B.S. doctor with a passion for poetry and literature, has always expressed my innermost thoughts and sentiments through the medium of poetry, uses nature as the most inspiring force in molding writings, has published two books and several poems in journals like the Rusty Nail and Contemporary Literary Review India and one of poem was published in a book called ‘Inspired by Tagore’published by Sampad and British Council.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Three Poems by Austin McCarron

Master of the Game

Sweetly singing, the sun
is like a youth of light,
a sea of broken hours.
I pick my way through
its clear eye and profoundly
dead the voices it blinds.

Quietly I descend into a tunnel
of flames.
I fight rats with rare diseases but
stars of sacrifice
I heal with breath of exotic visions.

I see hunters of glory, religions of hell.
Strange disconnected bodies approach
me for matches, howling with sickness
and joy.
I stare at pictures of destruction and the
silence of time.

On wings of dust, death is loquacious but
its smile is empty of words and
the odour of trees and
waves is rich like music of a burning sound.
Blearily I raise a glassy arm and
the tempest of my spirit is supremely calm.

The Disappearance of the Self

Slaves of history, in buildings of wire,
with lungs of birth, with hearts of light,
with eyes of flame, I have seen them off,
for the sake of magic, these dead spirits,
in a city of dark voids, in a garden of wounds,
in a wood of uncircumcised bones, in a mouth
of indignant flies.

Stunned by a dream of descendents, I patch up
a flag of wind. I survive the knowledge of self,
the death of being.  Half in punishment, half in
shame, I meditate on the offences of existence.
On beaches of Europe I raise the sand of water
until each country
of humiliating tenderness is properly restored.

On Flowers of Original Stone

On flowers of original stone
I lay streams of words in greenish light.
In cities and farms I celebrate the growth
of uncontrollable fire and wood.

I pass water on graves of wind and gardens
of choking soil.
Plainly I see a box of mirrors on its stained floor.

Gone before I know it, the festering
seasons, with corpses of pale and yellow flames.

There is death everywhere,
and its soul is sticky with vain attempts at love.

By evening the smell of earth is like great and
futile uprisings.
I open a gate of mountains, and it is like time
burning, the rush
of colours, the scent of rock, willing to explode.

Austin McCarron is from New Zealand but has lived in London for many years.  Poems appeared in Poetry Salzburge Review, Van Gogh's Ear, Snakeskin, Ink, Sweat and Tears and others.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Three Poems by Taylor Graham


5 a.m., she vaults onto the pillow - 
no easy landing. “Wake up!”

She never learned to puppy-pile, 
cuddle comfort against a mother's belly.

She's all angles - elbow, hock, 
shoulder-blade knocking against your 

sleep. Machine of intricately 
meshed gears on a drive-train spine. 

Pure energy and moving parts. 

You wake up cursing her knuckle 
in your eye. Nothing in your life is safe

now. She roughs the cat and rags 
the old dog, she rearranges the living

room. And then she unwinds
in a flash, on her back before me

for a tummy-rub, her tongue a flick
of love against my hand. Then

up and running, she's a constant change 

of plan. Shall I ever discover the sweet 
puppy wrapped in steel-spring?


It pulls her out the doorway, down the hill. 
Something new to a dog's nose.

This old world looks just the same to me,
dried out by drought at summer's end.

Nothing green or freshly minted -
but everything's new to a dog's nose.

Take this stone, whitewashed 
by last winter's floods -

just a chunk of creek-bottom rock - 
ecstatically new to a dog's nose,

with a tough scrim of dried-on fluff  
like old meringue. My dog scrubs

it with her breath; inhales its common 
wonder, new to a dog's nose,

a come-hither scent that's got her
creeping on her elbows

for a closer sniff. Secrets I'll never
know; new to a dog's nose.


This morning's first
light for a neglected pup 
who lived
in a crate, his life 
sieved through wire.

What does any dog desire
but to let the wild 
fire of sun,
wind, earth stir him 
to run for the horizon? 

Give him just one
to tug his end of leash, 
to make the rules 
bend; to fly.

Now just watch
the two 
of them dash by -
so happy 
under sky. Alive.
Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. She's included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman's Library, 2012) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor was awarded the Robert Philips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her current project is a collection of dog poems, about living with her canine search partners over the past 40 years.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Poem by Colleen M. Payton


During a hiding
game at a back-yard barbeque party,
the summer of my twelfth birthday,
my father and his professor friends
load up on burgers and martinis.
All the neighborhood children are here,
anyone who will play.
They hide themselves under bushes, behind trash cans,
narrow the lines of their shoulders into doorframes
as the darkness grows opaque and the adult laughter rises,
soaring with drink and daring.
I find a hiding spot in short grass and lie down in it,
invisible, glad to see my companions vanish into connecting yards,
hear their voices grow more faint as they call my name
less often. I flatten my body against the planet,
spread my arms wide, feel it arc under my hands,
hang suspended in gravity, empty,
neither up nor down, a speck of dust in encompassing stars,
a theory of consciousness insubstantial as an atom.
I am nothing. Then I open my head and take in the ballooning universe.
Comprehending all, I am all,
sufficient in myself.
Now, at forty-eight, humbled by this lesson that so long ago
I taught myself, I lie awake in insomniac hours,
examining my neglect of its message
for specters of petty yearnings.
Desire, my oldest enemy, closes in,
flattening my vision.
A collapsing telescope, it focuses ever less acutely
on the fractures in my lazy and feeble history.
The night after my father’s party I dream the moon is falling.
A radio program tracks its progress loudly as our teachers
herd us toward the bomb shelters.
I duck through queues of children.
I must find my father although I understand
I will not reach him and it does not matter.
The moon plasters the night sky, its landscape pocked
and craggy with experience.
I lie down in a patch of grass to wait out the voice of the newscaster.
It counts seconds one by one until impact.
The truth is no search will bring you closer,
no logic nor patience, no tears.
The decision, as nearly always, is a moral one:
to consent to the terrible and wondrous
laws of leave-taking.
COLLEEN M. PAYTON is a graduate of the University of Chicago and has taught college writing, literature and humanities throughout her years as a writer. Her poetry has appeared in both literary journals and popular magazines including The King’s English, Bluestem and Oklahoma Today. Ms Payton writes features and reviews – generally on topics related to the arts – for Atlanta Magazine, Dance Magazine, Native Peoples and other publications. A work of scholarship, “The Stage as Battleground: Opera, Ballet and Gender Politics in the Age of Giselle” will appear in February 2013, in the Journal of the Colloquium on the Revolutionary Era.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Poem by Larry Marshall Sams

The Human Fence
“Protesters Vow to Form Human Fence”—Greenwood Commonwealth 16 Oct. 2008: 1
As barrier, I surpass a dead wall
What person that I exist to keep out
equipped with a right thinking mind
would dare consider breaking through
The state’s committee wasted asinine months
selecting its exact candidate
Now my constituents thread the power
of their alternate choice along my length
The pales of this awful palisade
anchor together like corporeal steel
A reinforced Hummer snarling into me
would jolt backwards probably thirteen feet
So any puny candidate, even supported
by a horde of thousands, with the daring
to try my confirmed and resolute might
will painfully learn the word impenetrable
 Larry Marshall Sams' work has appeared in over forty publications, among others "The Mississippi Review," "POETALK," "Phantasmagoria," and "Valley Voices."

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Poem by Mark Hudson

Alzheimer's, or booze?
Last night, it was almost Halloween, there
was a full moon out. I got on the train late at
night. I got off in Wilmette to meet my friend
Ned. A man got off and he looked drunk.
He was counting the money in his wallet,
and he had tons of money, and food stamps.
He acted confused. He said, "What time
is it?' And I said, "9:30 P.M." and he said,
"No it's not, it's 1:A.M!" And I said,
"Sir, have you been drinking?" and he
said no, "I haven't had a drop of liquor!"
And then he wanted to take a bus, and
the CTA employer told him no bus
left till the morning, and he said
but it is morning." And it went on and on.

Mark Hudson is a published poet and writer who is a member of Rockford Writers where you can order the latest anthology of his interviews with people from Chicago about Chicago. He also contributes to magazines like Metverse Muse from India, which led to getting five animal poems being published in a book called Creature Features. He has also been taking printmaking for years, and is constantly striving to be a better writer and artist. He knows he is not the only one, so he enjoys other people's work as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Poem by Susan Dale

In Venice

In Venice I saw them

dancing across the spires of sunset


a twilight of gray luster lagoons

A couple with

Fred Astaire in his steps

Ginger Rogers

dipping and



Wayward winds broke into twilight

As they danced above the

dark waters of Othello

shimmering with halos

of Venice chandeliers

whispering in the windows

Puddle-lit waters surrounded them

Currents reflected with palaces and cathedrals

Sprays and mist kissed our faces

Gondoliers plied the waters

Wakes and swishes

Splashes of a boating song

A lone gent in suit and tie

Sat on a water-logged balcony

Dinning above the fluid poem of Venice

wrinkling the waters

Remembering all

through the fog of time

Shrouds of Venice

rising from the lagoons

Doves with iridescent wings

Ghosts of mist

And palaces swimming through

scrolls of currents

But mostly, from yesterday

they are yet dancing in my mind

Susan’s poems and fiction are on Eastown Fiction, Tryst 3, Word Salad, Pens On Fire, Ken *Again, Hackwriters, and Hurricane Press. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Poem by Bryan Murphy

Mazunte Jazz Hurts
The guitar awakens to Hamish's tuning touch.
Hamish the outsider: youngster, beanpole, foreigner.
Mazunte’s air is heavy with coastal flowers and Dolores.
He knows she is there.
Hamish disburses his allotted notes,
thrills to the skill of the tenor sax beside him,
follows his bandleader’s instructions to stick to the score.
Hamish glimpses Dolores. Has she changed?
Hair bleached to a lighter charcoal,
self-composed, at ease in town clothes,
she slips beyond his vision.
Hamish's notes slide into urgency,
playing for Dolores,
calling her to his orbit.
Hamish has become technique,
Dolores forgotten.
Now the drummer plays off him,
indulging in riffs unheard.
Band members swap expectant looks,
Hamish oblivious.
The players urge each other on
with twists of improvisation.
Tenor sax dives deeper into the music and leads it
to places new. Hamish follows him,
and then is following no-one,
rearranging the tropes of the genre to outline new possibilities and then explore them: no longer technique
but raw feeling.
Their music stops rather than ends. Applause takes its place.
The musicians stare
at each other,
Hamish threads his way to Dolores. She is not alone.
He takes her aside, implores her.
She snaps.
Sorry. Just not my type.
The world stops turning.
His blood has frozen in his veins.
His liver has turned to lead.
His head hurts.
The bandleader approaches Hamish
like a business-touting Charon.
Hell to pay for disobedience.
We have to talk.
Hell’s gondolier beams.
Let’s get us some beer,
fix you some solo time
for our Oaxaca gig.
Hamish is back, in a world that turns
towards light.
Bryan Murphy is a former teacher and translator who now concentrates on his own words. He divides his time among England, Italy, the wider world and cyberspace. He is the author of the e-books Linehan’s Trip and Goodbye, Padania, and welcomes visitors at:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Poem by Shelby Stephenson

From Country

You can look back at the resume of western swing and remember
McAuliffe, Leon. How I love to sing and live amid reminiscences!
At our son Jacob’s wedding at Warren Wilson College, I met
Billy Edd Wheeler. He wrote “Jackson,”
which Johnny Cash and June Carter recorded:
Billy Edd tells the story how that song came out of
his seeing “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Wheeler also wrote “The Reverend Mister Black,”
“Coward of the Country,” and hundreds
more, including “Ode to the Little Brown
Shack Out Back,” prompting Nin and me to restore
our two-holer: you can’t tell by odor
the quiet moments in a place like that: my
brother Paul read his love letters there: you
can’t tell the depth of the well by the length
of the handle on the pump either: Louis Prima!
Keely Smith! Josh White carried his folk songs
everywhere: FDR asked him to perform
at the White House. Songs of the people! I
imagine White singing “Boll Weevil,” “Frankie
and Johnny,” “Trouble in Mind,” and another
I learned from him, “Foggy, Foggy Dew,” plus
one more − “He Never Said a Mumbling Word”: March
’63 through December ’64, I worked for
A.T. & T. Long Lines, White Plains, New York, travelling
the northeast, buying land for microwave towers
and easements for underground cables and
I bought a small portable phonograph
to carry from motel to hotel in
my car, that black blob of a Plymouth Fury, whose
rear fenders swooped up and out like a caution: I
played Josh White on that phonograph, my
1960 Austin-Healey Sprite, the last of the
Bug-eyes, at home: I enrolled as a special
student in English, University
of Pittsburgh, January, 1965, to see
if I could get back that old feeling I had
for words − poems, songs, stories: I knew
the first night in a room I rented from
Mrs. Charles Caldwell, Regent Square, Swissvale, that
I would stay in school: I called my mother
and she announced she was pulling onions
out of the backyard when she’d drive the
Sprite for groceries; she said, “Son, your
Daddy says you don’t get in this thing, you
put it on”: Mama, I think of you when
I hear Josh White sing, “Were You There
When They Crucified My Lord”: remember, O
Bede, when dusk burns and my children’s
children flutter somewhere in memory
like a bird trying to fly through one window
and out the other − remember Who knows
what musical jam might field the singer’s
eyes − Walt, Emily, the Beowulf 
poet, Ammons, Roethke, Robert Lowell, Thomas Wolfe,
O Lost − one life, fat or slim, whittled-down
and left alone like Slim Whitman to sing
“Indian Love Call,” the song my brother Paul
sang at many weddings when I was starting
to remember, looking back to understand
How our school principal, Mr. N.G. Woodlief
could say often of Paul − He’s good at
dramatics − Paul, Rube Priest of our gigs: “You
just blow me away,” he’d say, raking his hand
through no-hair on his bald head or, to repeat, looking
at Nin, sizing me up: “Linda, do you ever wake up
grumpy?” Linda: “No, I just let him sleep”: I
don’t think we sow what we reap or sharpen what
we hoe, do you? Why, for instance, befuddles me, these
people have not been selected for the Country
Music Hall of Fame? I mention George Hamilton IV
again: Slim Whitman? Wynn Stewart! Hamilton and Whitman
spend a lot of time performing in England. Why
not adorn the walls of the hall with these
names: Jean Shepard (whoopee, inducted 2011),
Johnny Wright, Jeannie Sealy, Jimmy Capps,
Jimmy Martin, Bashful Brother Oswald,
Leon Rhodes, Hal Rugg, and more − more. Where’s
the reef which boulders the decisions to include
the side-pickers and players, pianists like
Hargus “Pig” Robbins, for example − fiddlers
like Tommy Jackson, Gordon Terry, Johnny Gimble,
Wade Ray, Paul Warren, Kenny Baker, Benny Martin,
Jason Carter, Ramona Jones, Elana James. Whitman’s
a Floridian, born Otis Dewey Whitman, Jr. My
Whitman’s Samplers melt away in the cupboard! Whitman
sweltered regularly on the Louisiana Hayride, raking up
bales of hits over the years: “Secret Love,” “The Bandera Waltz,”
“Love Song of the Waterfall,” lyrics which seem
made for Yodeler Slim: he was a good baseball
player, too, like Bill Monroe, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves,
Roy Acuff: there’s a small book which could
go on a table in a small hotel or bed-and-breakfast: “Ball
Players Who Keep Their Pitch While Pulling Up
Their Overalls to See Stars”: Slim sang one called
“Rainbows Are Back in Style”: my style’s to push
the W’s to roar after the Z’s tirement to a
heedless estate: I’ll say, “Think I’ll go fishing, it’s
my lazy day”: The Wilburn Family came along
that way − Teddy and Doyle − what a family − picking
and singing on street corners, discovered by
Roy Acuff, arriving on the Opry in ’61. As
duet-singers go, T & D Wilburn go pretty far
into any roll call: Karl and Harty, Bailes Brothers,
Bailey Brothers, Johnson Brothers, Louvins, Jim and
Jesse, the Malpass Brothers, Ted Jones and his
dad, Ronnie: some Ted and Doyle Wilburn
hits: “Trouble’s Back in Town,” “Roll Muddy River,”
“Someone Before Me,” “Knoxville Girl,” “Cry, Cry Darling.”
Wilburns: Teddy and Doyle, Geraldine, Leslie, and Lester.
D.K. Wilgus loved to conjure hillbilly music way back
there, when lyrics came from the mouths of the
people and legends were real as bats, mockingbirds, and
mouth-harps: Wilgus belonged to the American
Folklore Society when folklore was cool: I
belong to several societies, myself: Scottish
Society of North Carolina: there’s a little
scotch in me; North Caroliniana Society: my
friend H.G. Jones pretty much started it and
keeps it going: Nin’s mother was a Blue
Stocking: I’d get a hole in my sock and turn
that heel-hole part up on my foot; I never
belonged to the Holey Sock Society: my feet
would get rusty and hard: I took a weekly bath in
a washtub set in the middle of the pantry floor
next to Mama’s Home Comfort Range, dancing
with woodsmoke and wonder, while pigs-feet
steamed in vinegar and the reservoir heated
the little room. Every stove-eye gleamed red. When
I was fourteen that world ended except in my
mind. That was’52. My father had thirty-five
dogs and not a one named Blue: he praised his
“blue-speckled bitches” that ran the gray or red. As
a folklorist D. K. Wilgus swelt the land: he took
hillbilly music seriously: as the little boy Buster Brown
might say from his shoe, “Check him out, his name
is in the card catalogue and, of course, on-line, too”: I’ll
give the next entry to Hank Williams, since he’s the
crux of my love of poetry and music: he was
alive at the start of ’52, the year my life stopped
twice: left The Plankhouse and Hank died to take
on “phantom power”: I never understood that, how
microphones work: Hank didn’t have to worry about
such: fifty-eight years ago, January 1, 1953, I heard
on the radio that “Hank Williams is dead”: I was
standing under the walnut tree in the barnyard, as I’ve
said before, a Tree in Memory and
no longer out there, surrounding my childhood’s
ignorance in figures − low-flying mockingbirds, waves
of stories wafting, turning up their edges in verses, songs.

Shelby Stephenson's Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Prize for Poetry, Allen Grossman, judge.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Poem by Rick Hartwell


The allusive illusion of youth:
All too brief and ill-spent too soon.
Surrounded by a universe of death,
The scaley synapses of years,
Each one connected to the next,
Act as tumblers to the vault of your life.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonially-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife and their two children, and eleven cats. Yes, eleven! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Poem by S.E. Ingraham


It's been my experience
When the mantle smells
Like swamp-gas, it's time
To brew a pot of never

Wind the battery clock
And set it to snakes
In a basket or half past
Unpleasant children

Crank the pepper-mill
Past the scent of jackboots
Or being locked up in a jar
By now the tea should taste

Like forever and the mantle
Will be starting to sway
It will be past time to seize
A pocket level which will feel

Very much like nothing
Worth knowing, life
In prison, or a stack
Of quilted lies

Or, might I suggest
Instead you take
The powder brush -
The one giggling there

By the clock - but hurry
- if it coughs or worse,
Sneezes, it will vanish
On you -

For by now, the mantle
Shall sound like a waterfall
That really tall one
In South America -

And the level well - it will be
Old news, the tea will be dirt
The clock a cow and ...
It's been my experience

S.E.Ingraham lives and writes in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - a city not-so-jokingly referred to as being on the lip of the Arctic Circle. She shares space with the love of her life, a retired survey-engineer, as well as a supremely loyal wolf/border-collie. For the past two summers, she's been lucky enough to spend time with a group of crypt-kickers (aka: archaeological students) in a tiny town in southern Italy, in the shadow of a dormant volcano. She believes this is greatly influencing everything she writes. More of her work may be viewed here:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Four Poems by G. David Schwartz

Thinking About Wisdom
Thinking about wisdom
I didn't know it then
Telling about my mission
And where I'll go again

Over The Fence
I always looked over the fence at you
I would tell you everything true
Because I simple ronna do
Any and most things just for you

I Am Feeling Fine
It may be true
I am drinking wine
But I will just tell you
That I am felling fine

I Will Come To Your Ladies Group
To tell about either of my books
and give autographs
or saw a woman in half
anything you like

G. David Schwartz - the former president of Seedhouse, the online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue and Midrash and Working Out Of The Book
Currently a volunteer at The Cincinnati J, Schwartz continues to write. His newest book, Shards And Verse (Baltimore, PublishAmerica, 2012) is now in stores or can be order on line.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Poem by Kristin Roahrig

The tree and I stand- looking at each other
Roughened by elements
The trunk twists high above me
Lines etched in the bark follow the curves of the branches
Showing gaps within it’s skin
Full of spaces never filled
Or gaps such as mine carved out by others in my life
Holes never patched, only branches naked-
As I am, stripped clean for myself to see without prejudice
My hand unconsciously touches the gaps in my own skin, lined similar with the trees
The tree and I stand- considering
Kristin Roahrig's poetry and stories have appeared in local and regional publications. Her poem, "Dance of the Drums" won the Melba Geoffrey Memorial Poetry contest in 2010. She is also the author of several plays and lives in Indiana.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Two Poems by Chris Butler

Untitled Poem
A poem without any name
wouldn’t read as poetic.
A poem without any title
is unidentifiable
to the feeble minded,
by crippling their
metaphysical selves.
A poem without any header
beheads the scholars
from their crown on downward.
A poem is a poem
but its title isn’t untitled.
Damaged Goods
I am the can
of store brand
creamed corn,
dented and left
on the shelf,
behind the
rotating stock
of my long lost
siblings and
the cultivating
coverlet of
consumer dust,
only to be
years after my
expiration date.
Chris Butler is a twentysomething nobody shouting from the Quiet Corner of Connecticut.