Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three Poems from S.E. Ingraham

On a Paris Night

Pacing, wearing down, I keep pacing in the alley,
Below the walls of stately, glowing Sacre Couer
Where the dark is seething and the intractable bats
Announce tonight's majesty: unfurling 'neath the bridges
On the Seine, ready to be pliant when the hour is struck
The flocks will rise as one to accommodate the master
They will turn the sky to pewter as they pilot him to me

By then if I've not squandered my remaining breath, he'll find me
In the lane beside the church with my heart just barely beating
He'll see it from the skies, a willing pulse, laid bare within my neck
And with the bats paying homage, slung from every surface
Watching us - a sea of green-black eyes - at last he'll grant me
Blessed sanction; the warmth of everlasting that only he can bestow ...

hemingway’s ghost

picture him here
perhaps growling
bleeding his work
over sacred porcelain
a sad prisoner
whose most haunted self
lingers like smoke
and darkness, seeping decay
which always surrounds
and embraces
the brilliant
old killer
after an eternity
he is broken, naked
ferocious with rot and
desires only to know
he will dazzle freely
drink clouded blue poison
then die

nigh time

the clock in the piazza is fixed
at the same hour it was when
last I saw it
as I pulled away
from the train station
bound for Roma ...
almost one year ago

puzzled, I spend long moments
many - watching time,
waiting futilely for a change,
a sign
and in my mind I hear
a voice -
Ferlinghetti's insolent
chattering gets louder

his has been in the background
of all the voices for months
maybe longer
he orders up insurgency
without which he
warns, the end of things
is nigh -

he points to the clock
stopped long ago;
one more example
of certainty
in an uncertain world
you wanted to bear witness?
he is mocking me, I know...
bear this

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 summer, 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. Recent publications have included Red Fez, Pyrokinection, and Poetic Bloomings:The First Year.  More of her work may be viewed here: The Poet Treehouse and here, The Way Eye See It

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Poem by Clyde L. Borg

We often visited the Hudson
To enjoy the cool breeze,
And our grandmother would
Alert us as we peered into the river.

The murky water beckons,
Each rivulet and swirl
Urging, tempting, calling,
Come, come to me!
Its rhythmic lurches
Summoning one and all
To be part of its vastness.
Its white foamy teeth
Wishing to engulf
And consume all
That gaze upon it,
Always enticing, luring
Everyone to enter its
Watery realm.

Clyde L. Borg is a retired high school teacher and administration. He has been writing poetry and nonfiction since 1998. Some of his work has appeared in Fate Magazine, History Magazine, The Rambler, Primo Magazine and Capper's. He resides in Fords, New Jersey.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two Poems from Robert Wexelblatt

Photo Found in an Old Copy of Open Marriage

You can tell the wife’s anxious about her looks.
Her thickset hubby in jogging shorts and Lacoste shirt
squeezes off a grin like a potshot at his dead
dad (“You’ll come to nothing, Pissant,” he’d said).
Her taut smile’s dissatisfied; she’s looking to flirt.
He wields a fork: outdoors, it’s the man who cooks.

A forgotten snapshot in a misleading book:
fading pastels, foolish hair and ugly chairs,
a leafy suburb that was in its prime.
These puerile swingers are unaware that time 
presently will poison their spanking new affairs.
The Polaroid has that washed-out, 70’s look.

 Ma Lecteuse

Rolled tightly, the story’s eleven pages just
squeezed into the ex-Laphroaig bottle. I pounded the
cork with my palm then drove to the seashore.

I pressed twelve stamps to the corner then slipped my book
inside. No address. “My letter to the World,” I mocked,
shoving it down the throat of a flag-colored mailbox.

I’ll fold and crease the single sheet with
this poem on it; I’ll make a glider of it—
then the slow climb up the stairs to the roof.


Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction. His most recent book is a short novel, Losses.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Three Poems by Susan Dale

Marriage Of Seas To Skies
Illuminated with dreams of liquid lights
And the coffered domes of sunset heavens
Dolphins and doves on an allegorical bridge
Woven with garlands of seashells and stars
A half-mask of twilight
Then … a blue cloak of night
Thrown across horizons
Imbued with the magic
Of the marriage of seas to skies
Skies lacquered with acrobat stars
Tumbling about the heavens
Rivers flowing into lagoons
And into shadowed canals
Where ligaments of light spill
Into the mezzanine of half-dreams
In the waters reflective pools of moonlight
And while sampans sail the skies
Mermaids swim in moon dust
All united by whale songs
And Saturn’s rings
Currents foam with magical myths
Poems of seas to skies
Pirates bury trunks of stars
Neptune sails on a sliver of the moon
Venus rises from a brooding sea
To sprinkle stardust over oracle’ dreams
And as a crescent moon sails a wayward night
So does a gondola turn the sharp bends
Into the luminosity of stars
Poured into a wild dark
To create silvery blankets in the night skies
And across the earth’s waters


Streams of Poems

From the far off skies
mellow with moonbeams
There was I swaddled on
a shooting star
and raced with her
to a planet I felt
pulsating with life.
And burning in her race towards death
The star smoked into ash
before she could tell me
I was a moon child
who once swam in milky-way streams
foaming with the poems
I unknowingly carried to earth
Lost, I wondered and wandered
until a crescent moon gathered me up
in her pale shroud
She missed me, her vagabond child
and sailed off with me
across the night
Across planets and suns, rings and stars
Into the milky way streams
of my bliss
Streams of poems I dove into
Swam with, dove amongst, splashed
And embraced
for all my eternities to come.

Summer, 08
Bursting forth from spatial spring
Flesh and blood physicality
Of earth - motherhood
Summoning sacred fires of sunrise
Let them dance
These rapturous roots
Roaming beneath a corpulent earth
In breezy meadows
An empty basket
With fleshy lip and handle to hold
Aching, lonely basket
Longing to be filled
Echoing down hills
The pipes of Pan
Wending through mossy valleys
Entangling with guttural songs of water
Pushing downstream
To smoky-hot July
Unfurling her flamenco blossoms
Yearning-open by day
Tight crimson buds in terracotta sunsets
Within an ornate border of earth and skies
A sun soaked soul
And the volumetric heart of summer

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Poem by Bryan Murphy

Show Must

Coldest night of coldest year
in fading memory. We’re here
to entertain the survivors,
the diehard go-outs,
to raise the curtain
on a fifty-minute monologue
with ten minutes of social drama
in foreign.

We rehearse, eat, wait;
the theatre fills
more slowly than the Times crossword
on the Tube, stuck between stations;
and then we play: the fictional Bar
in the real Café, sad as a ballad.

Actors and audience collude
to wring success from solitude,
playing off each other,
for each other.
Chastened, cheered, carefully
we pack our props
and take the lessons garnered
into the unforgiving white wasteland outside.

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:

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Poem by Jason Irwin


There were babies:
an armada of chocolate babies like the Luftwaffe
coming into view from the right side of the screen
in my head. The sky, the color of blood.
I could still feel the warm pulsing
where my left foot used to be.
I woke in sudden jolts
as if someone were shouting my name.
The room was blurry.
I tried to focus, tried to wiggle my big toe,
but the sky ran bloody again
and the babies were melting.

Jason Irwin grew up in Dunkirk, NY and now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. "Watering the Dead," his first full-length collection, won the 2006/2007 Transcontinental Poetry Award and was published in 2008 by Pavement Saw Press. "Some Days It's A Love Story" won the 2005 Slipstream Press Chapbook Prize. His poem “Main Street” was nominated for a Pushcart in 2005. Most recently his work has appeared in Potomac, Grey Sparrow, & Future Cycle Press’ anthology American Society: What Poets See.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Poem by Shelby Stephenson


I am lost in open doors, pondering breakdowns,
shouting for the wrap to fall and see you are ready to come back,

seeing you give and forgive all the jokes and control.
Then you blend into the crowd and the dream fades.

The seasons bring the chance you will come
around and Thanksgiving will be year-round,
with family at the table,
the sweet lingering yes in the clearing,
your walks, laughter, swings, sway,
the inward pull to me as you stride and hold on.

How’s Nin?
And I turn my head aside (your mother on the other end of the line),
the real conversation never uttered, though alive on arrival.

Give me my corner; we’ll look after your Mixed Moods.
The parking’s not easy here − but it’s the Hand dealt, smoke and flame −
didn’t Adam and Eve set the pace,
after Jocasta and Oedipus before that Easter morning long ago?
Didn’t the cave-men and women dither?

In the Valley of Sinking,
under Overhanging Cliffs, Irritable Mood squalls.
Scaling Phantoms increase.
Insomnia nods in the Basin.

In your chair at breakfast, you try to say something:

“Are you going to finish the sentence?”
Only a pursing of lips and a shifting of seat −
days going by – no − weeks − months −

My gums recede,
the scar on my back hurts.

And you fret: finances drained, health-insurance insufficient,
Social Security insecure.

Shelby Stephenson's Play My Music Anyhow is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Poems by Joan McNerney

Live oak boughs

Boughs build archways as tips
of trees touch each other. What
was shaded green becomes
nocturnal shadow. A
crescent moon hangs from
heaven. Light tracing
foliage falls dropping
dusty deep upon ground.

Secrets lie inside the
edged shadow. Animals
hide under darkness
resounding through night
as leaves rustle.
All changing except
this pattern of what
is now formed.

Eleventh Hour

Wrapped in darkness we can
no longer fool ourselves.
Our smiling masks float away.
We snake here, there
from one side to another.
How many times do we rip off
blankets only to claw more on?

Listening to zzzzzz of traffic,
mumble of freight trains, fog horns.
Listening to wheezing,
feeling muscles throb.
How can we find comfort?

Say same word over and over
again again falling falling to sleep.
I will stop measuring what was lost.
I will become brave.

Let slumber come covering me.
Let my mouth droop, fingers tingle.
Wishing something cool…soft…sweet.
Now I will curl like a fetus
gathering warmth into myself
hoping to awake new born.

Falling Asleep

Curling into a question mark
                  eyes shuttered
                           lips pursed
                                  hands empty.

Dropping through
long dusty shafts
down into dank cellars.
Leaving behind faded day.

That last cup of sunlight
pouring from fingertips.
Lulled by rattling trains,
                              sighs of motors.

Bringing nothing but
memory into night.
Now I will    untie knots
                      tear off wrappings
opening wide bundles of dreams.

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Camel Saloon Books on Blog, Blueline, Vine Leaves, Spectrum, and three Bright Spring Press Anthologies. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net. Four of her books have been published by fine literary presses. She has recited her work at the National Arts Club, New York City, State University of New York, Oneonta, McNay Art Institute, San Antonio and other distinguished venues. A recent reading was sponsored by the American Academy of Poetry. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky, A.P.D. Press, Albany, New York.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Poem by Melissa Steinle

Father May I

come inside he said
rubbing his beard
with his third right knuckle
let’s make confession

He ushered me in.
He sat me down.

he glided in one door
I fell through another
we separated
by sliding the screen.

He slid it back open.
He reached for my hand.

his tongue fondled his palm
his palm pressed into his cassock
I saw it
and gagged

He wiped my spit.
It became his own.

Melissa Steinle is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and has her BA in English and her MS in English Studies.  She's had letters published in "Rolling Stone" and "Milwaukee Magazine".  She currently resides in Milwaukee, WI with her family.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Two Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Around My World

Living in a small pink cottage
my body barely fits inside
the frame, and I’m sitting
on my buttocks with my knees
bent and my head
scrapes the inside wall
at the crease where
the roof starts leaning in
on one side against my brain.
A red flower pot balances
on my kneecap and gracious
black stems and black
flower leaves sprout skyward
through the chimney top
ascending into blue
winter sky like
Jack the Bean Stalk.
Small words are written
in black all over my pink
walls, inside and out,
and I can’t remember
any of them or how they
join together right to left.

Around my world of
pink and black are
blue skies with snow
frames around all four

My pink palm of my hand
holds my chin up;
I’m cramped up inside
of myself and the
black framed window
near my eyes
keeps most of the blues
and sunshine out.

Dancer of the Shoe Poem

Dancer of the shoe poem,
I trip over your shoe string
dress or gown
and keep walking with a beat,
you're missing a step,
let me take you there,
or did the ghost of the night
take your slippers away-
move right, slightly left,
back one half-step.
Dancer of the shoe poem,
it's my duty
to take you away
in a love feast.
Thank you for this dance.

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet, freelance writer, photographer, and small business owner of custom imprinted promotional products and apparel:, from Itasca, Illinois. He is heavily influenced by: Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, Herman Hesse, Charles Bukowski, Leonard Cohen, and Allen Ginsberg. His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available at: The original version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, can be found at: New Chapbook: Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems, by Michael Lee Johnson: Michael has been published in over 25 countries. He is also editor/publisher of seven poetry sites, all open for submission, which can be found at his Web site: All of his books are now available on Borders: Barnes & Noble:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Three Poems by Mark J. Mitchell


My sleepless neighbor
Paces while I count his steps.

Sky is washed by mist.
A siren sets off a dog.

Brakes scream, horns bleat. I’m waiting
For damp notes from a foghorn.


White and black keys
Dictate melodic tyranny:

Each note tickles an echo
From a matching bone.

Brittle strings snap under
Gentle pressure from felt hammers.

Somewhere a star is blinking out.
Someone isn’t getting kissed.

There is no singing, just the thud
Of a pedal connected to nothing.


My clothes creak
Like the Tin Man's jaw.

Heels click on bricks
Washed yellow by the porchlight.

I think she's home, inside.
I brave the doorknob.

Yes, there she waits:
The great and powerful.

Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places,Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors has recently been published by Negative Capability Press. Artifacts and Relics, another chapbook, is forthcoming from Folded Word and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Poem by Kate LaDew

every machine gunned word (stutter)

every machine gunned word
from my mouth is evidence of their failure,
tongue spattering against clenched teeth, syllables splayed in two,
blood dripping down my chin, watching them watch me,
forced twin smiles ripped in half,
clenched teeth, clenched fists,
clenched teeth, clenched fists,
weary heads nodding along to the clips and starts, eyes blurring,
hoping to reveal a prettier picture--
my mother took me to classes after school
waiting with other dumbstruck kids, the room filled with distractions
anything to keep the hands occupied, limit speech
my life has been stutters and stumbles to compensate,
afraid to say what I want when nothing comes easy
I’ve managed to become nothing, and been so slow doing it--
but what have I done to them?
this beautiful little girl they once had,
reduced to close lipped mutterings
this beautiful little girl grown up, unable to look anyone in the eye,
afraid to see the pity, the nervous laughter.
I will never give an acceptance speech,
never wave at my mother, my father from a stage
all my words have bled out, there’s nothing to reward, and all I am is afraid
curled up inside myself, waiting for the gunfire to die down--
hands grasp mine, old hands, tired hands, veins coarsing with matching blood,
we three are dying together,
felled at the knees and I’m sorry.
if only I could tell you, if only my lips could form the notes--
the rat a tat tat of consonants and vowels hits your chest,
leaves blood like a star over those old hearts, those tired hearts--
I didn’t want to fail, I wanted to give you something, anything at all,
if my breath would only fill my lungs completely for just a moment,
I could tell you what I’ve been saving up all my life--
I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Poem by Rees Nielsen

The Karl Rove of Checkers

My five year old grandson
is learning checkers
I try to slow him down
explain the strategy involved
Half way through the game
he reaches over and takes all his men
that I have captured
and puts them back on the board
"What's that?" I ask
"when a player wants to win,"
he says,
"and he has lost his men
he gets to put them back
on the board."
"O" I dsy,
"that's news to me.
I want to win too.
So I can put my men
back on the board?"

"No," he says,
"you don't get to."


Rees Nielsen turned 61 on November 30th.  He published short fiction and poetry in Santa Cruz, California in the mid 1970's (Sundaz, Big Moon).  He gave a reading in the Morton Marcus poetry series.  He married in 1976 and took to farming stone fruit in the San Jouquin Valley three miles south of Selma.  He did so for for over 35 years. He has retired and moved to Iowa to be close to his grandchildren. Recently he had three poems printed in SNR Review.  He has written poetry and fiction all his life.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Poem by Rick Hartwell

Color Codes

I’m like a cat looking backward
Over my shoulder at yesterday.
I see things best by movement,
Infinite shadings mixed of gray;
Black and white dichotomies
Escape the shutter of my eye.
Without the shift of real people,
Vacillations of petty purposes,
Individual meanings become lost
Among a phalanx of demands.

Sometimes in looking backwards
I can see shifting shades and shadows,
Emerald green on the edges of sadness.
I wonder why I paid so much extra as my
Color console still presents the news in
Tones of white and black and blue and red.
At least when the olden ships of state were
Granted Marque, they ran up the Jolly Roger,
You knew clearly which side they sailed for
Instead of them just pussyfooting around.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonally-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.