Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two Poems by J.K. Durick


We chose sides years ago,
From the foot of the bed
I'm on the left, my wife
On the right, a half court
Each, goals are not easy
To score, the advantage
Goes to the one who gets
To sleep first, a matter of
Timing and then position,
On our backs we can roar
From the depths of our being
Asleep, whine and wheeze,
The tone and range depend
On the day we left behind,
Restless pausing, running up
And down the scales, solo,
Nasal passages and throat
Partially obstructed, playing
Disturbing tunes over and
Over to a captive audience,
Our opponent in this odd
Contest, breathing exercise;
Sleeping we get away with
So much, disturb even our
Love ones, sometimes drive
Them out to a couch, the one
The dog isn't snoring on,
To wait out the storm of it;
Snoring settles after awhile
To a soft almost soothing hum
That couples come to know
Over the years, a peace offering
Worth the wait, rhythmical,
Reassuring, a thing we'd find
Hard to sleep without.


We have set aside too many things
As if supply and demand had little
To do with everyday use, as if our
Demands could ever be satisfied
As if supply was the easy answer
We bought and brought, selected
And collected, this and that and yet
More to store away, let's just say
Until today, our day of reckoning
Of tabulating, getting the measure
Of our time spent, of our hoarding;

Here we have several shelves of
Canned goods, without opposing
Selves of canned evils, an obvious
Metaphysical flaw, a balance lacking
Like this explains the unread books
The recordings and tapes no one
Plays, like the tree falling way out
Somewhere with no one to hear it
Fall or call, and over here we have
Paper products, all useful things
Waiting us out, enough tissues to
Sneeze at, to wipe tears and noses
Soothe and suffer, paper plates and
Plastic cups, enough plastic knives
And forks to feed the troops, and
There are toys and games minus any
Children or anyone playful enough
Any more to find the sense in them;

There are cobwebs enough here too
And dust, as parts of our collection
Reminders of where all this is going
This supply and demand, our certainty
Our caution, our planning, inventory
Surrounded by cobwebs, turning to
Dust, as we sit here counting it all.

J.K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor.  His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Third Wednesday, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Ink, Sweat, and Tears.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Two Poems by Robert S. King

Late Riser

Inside the irons of gravity
and long, heavy orbits of my years,
I bow my back upward
like a lost horizon, push up
and point my arms skyward
until they lock in place, shape
my hands into birds with open
mouths above me, where earth's
centrifugal spin no longer pushes
down, where gravity snaps and wings
sprout from shoulder blades.
Like a jet I fall upward higher
and higher at last, the dust of me
writing my name across the sky.

Rising Light

In the core of a sleeping seed
is a dream that wants to grow.

A blanket of dirt warms the will
that softly turns the soil to sky.

Even those too deeply buried
see flashes in the dark depths.

The inner eye shines
always toward the morning.

Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky.  His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review.  He has published four chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; The Traveller's Tale, Whistle Press 1998; and Diary of the Last Person on Earth, Sybaritic Press, 2014).  His full-length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger's Roots, both in 2nd editions from FutureCycle Press 2012; One Man's Profit from Sweatshoppe Publications 2013; and Developing a Photograph of God, Glass Lyre Press, 2014.  Robert's work has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net award.  He currently is editor-in-chief of Kentucky Review.  His personal website is

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Weeds and Blooms

Alice, a mother and housewife,
watches her husband, the doctor,

out in the garden on weekends
weeding with a speed and ferocity

she can't muster, her energy spent
taking care of the kids.

They never discuss his work
at the clinic where he digs

bulbs out of wombs, snuffing
any chance for blooms.

Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.  Some of his earliest work can be found at

Three Poems by Paul M. Strohm

'leaps with an awakening sound'

'leaps with an awakening sound'
    seems generational
    seems a ghastly obsolete
'bankrupt master, a fallen angel.'

'would that the ship Argos had never sailed,'
    symbolizing what,
    meaning that if
'perforated with holes,'

'what can they understand,'
    after all these words,
    fated to pass away
'our unofficial view of being.'

'flesh is weak but love'
    makes a myth permanent,
    wandering on waves
'he was but a good man.'

A Curse of a Sensuous Chair

Chair scrolling a metamorphic exaggeration
   a sensuous image
   a roundness heightened
   a curve within boundaries
   a slow moving line
   white and blue arms
   a grasping arm
   grasping and opening
   a darken background
   a thinness
   a thickness
   a stretching arm
   woman and man entwined
   a sudden hesitation
   hesitating and starting
   a soft pink lightness
   a briefness
   a shrillness
   a tendering arm

All the Bad Assed Bananas Have Spoiled

All the bad assed bananas have spoiled
their brown skins peeled
tossed out near Catholic thrift shops
attracting only the vomit of flies

These curving yellow pleasure wrappers
one hole in and no holes out
disgorged upon by cossack clowns
torn, sticky, evidence of carnal sin

Shared treasure trove for a kid's buck
dispensed within a rowdy gang
sculling dirty magazines for information
monogamous hands a guy's last friend

Each afternoon the streets are cleaned
All that's left is the next boy's dream.

Paul M. Strohm is a freelance journalist working in Houston, Texas.  His poems have appeared in, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, The Lake, WiND, and other literary outlets.  His first collection of poems entitled Closed on Sunday is scheduled to be published in late 2013 by the Wellhead Press.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Poems by Carl James Grindley


The Young Fisherman waits
For the Old King's forgiveness, a replacement
Abalone license, and some sort of half-
Arsed tax deferment.  Crown
Askew, the Old King feigns wisdom
And sternly orders the return
Of a previously misplaced
VHS tape of his coronation,
But the King is going
On five years late with it
And since Red Hot Video went out of business,
The tape does not get
Re-shelved, but is instead dumped
In the trash.  The Young Fisherman returns
Breathless and sweaty, entering
The chamber on his knees.
He freezes in supplication.

Folio verso folio verso--every
Time a new page appears, a litany
Of Slack-jawed nonsense words--half
Thought out bullshitcrap--attempts
To scribble itself down in poorly
Remembered Greek letters, only to edge
Its way from a ruined and quite
Imaginary landscape and into the real world.
The only way to stop it is through
Unexpected violence.

As you guessed, Lora, no one
Is ever impressed, and smoking
All the cigarettes I have ever
Smoked, everyone I have
Ever met just stands
Around my front porch, waiting
For the collective news that all of our other friends
Have died.  After the telegrams finally
Arrive--bags and bags of them--the only
Thing left behind is a mere
A dunce cap of ash to spread
On some pebbly shore.

One quick
Question:  if I put on
My girlfriend's panties, can we
Go and see an opera?
I haven't been to one in so long,
And to tell you the truth,
I miss the shit out of going
To operas.

The Old King's youngest daughter used to snort
Ground up Oxy and cry rape every fifteen
Minutes, but he got the dumb bitch into
Rehab and now she's in sober living
And works nights at Tim Horton's.

In the end, none of it matters:
In my version of the Greek
Alphabet, it is unclear whether
Theta follows or precedes eta.
It is flexible in a way Greek
Is not supposed to be.


No one on television is ever going to live
My life for me--and it is both
Disgusting and disappointing
That it took so long for me
To figure this out.

Notate bene, you people of the cold Pacific:
I have been repeatedly woken up
By all sorts of irritating
Noises:  rusting buses idle interminably
Outside my apartment in Little India;
Nearly ask and my laundry room
Window, a thin woman with brown, rotting
Teeth slurpily sucks cocks in the alleyway; George
Bowering angrily writes shitty poems
In rathole that passes for Kelowna;
My downstairs neighbors actually stay
Drunk for weeks on end.  The guy who got
Evicted rather than break
Up with his girlfriend, returns
Every other Friday to sell me
Illegally-caught sockeye
For five bucks a fish.  Virtually worthless
Knowledge continuously washes
Down on me like fire.  It no longer
As much as stings and I miss
That sting in much the same
Manner that I miss the cold
Ocean and all those dank
Mats of stinking cedar needles.

If Floyd showed up, by God,
I would wave away the flies
And buy a fish--the Crown
Be damned.


Sterile weapons, dead and yoked
To a horsey mist of regret:  this poem is a meat.
Missile, one you cannot possibly
Recall--recall, by the way, meaning
That a) you cannot take any of it
Back and b) in a few years, you will
Not remember any of it, even
If you wanted.

Life is a salad of doubt
And fate and as everyone grows old
And misshapen, a whole
Bunch of ruthlessly random
Maladies conspire
To crop the edges away
Until everyone is either content with
Everyone else or too miserable
And too drunk to care.

No amount of arugula is ever
Going to change
Anything.  Frisee avec lardoons is ultimately
Pointless with or
Without Southern Ontario chevre.

Ballcocks and razorblades and
Two young people screwing
Every single chance they get--
If there is more to life than that
You are going to have to work much
Much harder than I did and even if you
Do, you are never going to convince me
That I should care.

Carl James Grindley grew up on an island on Canada's pacific coast but now lives and works in the south Bronx.  His last book of poetry, Lora and The Dark Lady, was published in 2013 by Ravenna Press.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Poem by Paul Tristram

Sherbet Lemons, Pineapple Chunks, Rhubarb & Custard Or Pear Drops

With icy cold teenage fingers
I would pull free
from the front right pocket
of my black school trousers
a corner of a paper sweet bag.
It had been ripped in half
by the mean old shop lady
to penny-pinch by making two.
The paper would be pinkish
and yellowish in places
where the 5 or 6 knobbly objects
inside dimly shone through
the wrapping that was now
stuck and moulded around them.
I would pick off the loose bits
of tobacco and pocket fluff
with my evenly bitten fingernails.
Then I would start the delicate
operation of removing the sweets
from the complicated cluster.
I would eat them one by one
but only after freeing them
completely from their sticky prison.
It was about a mile and a half walk
home from school and I would
often stop in my concentration
and dawdle along busy in my work.
I would still be sucking upon the last
Sherbet Lemons, Pineapple Chunks,
Rhubarb & Custard or Pear Drops
when I finally reached the front door.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Poem by Marianne Szlyk

After the Summer of Young Men in a Hurry

The young men in a hurry played
all that summer in Manhattan,
the once black and white city
ripened beyond lavender into red.

The piano sounded
like storm clouds on the horizon
in a neighborhood
with only fans and open windows.

The high-hat shivered
like the taste of ice chips
about to melt.
The saxophone slipped

into the tightly-packed room
and across rough brick walls
like the last breeze
before September.

Listening to them, you wonder
how they would have sounded
in winter when clouds mean warmth
and storms spawn the steady fall of snow.

Marianne Szlyk is an associate professor of English at Montgomery College and serves as an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review. Her poems have appeared online and in print, most recently in Jellyfish Whispers, churches children and daddies, Poetry Pacific, and Kind of a Hurricane Press' anthology Tic Toc.  She keeps a poetry blog at and hopes that you will consider submitting a poem or two to her "contest":

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four Poems by Michael H. Brownstein


Because the subbasement flooded,
I dig into the fresh earth
in search of pipes,
cracks in pipes,
something I do not wish to touch.
The clay a few feet down,
the rock full of grease:

cast of clouds

cask of clouds

casket of clouds.

Did You Know the Poet Who Lost Her Voice?

This is who crushed the water
and this is how the tree died
and do you see it in the distance?--

    how the mud grew
    how limestone forms
    the color of graffiti,
    the statues of litter and paint . . .

Did you know life is a poet who lost her voice?

The Science and the Design

The Sunday after the Great Blizzard of 2013,
the only atheist of Calloway County attended church,
the sun threw a flare between clouds of thunder coloring a diamond strand of
   paper birch completely white
the old lady of the wheelchair walked unhesitatingly to the front of her fellowship
   thanking them for their letters and support,
Bible thumpers of a different sort began the reading of the New Testament
A. discovered a bag of minneola tangelos padlocked to her front door,
K. discovered a completed research paper in her inbox,
L. savored fifteen minutes of internet fame.
This was the truth of Wallace and Darwin,
the morning a seven year old sat on a school bus looking out over fields of rain
   and water and thought:
God or no God, it's raining outside and I'm on my way to Sunday school.  It will be
   this way if I pray or don't pray.
Rain.  Water.  This bus ride,
and he knew immediately everything in his long life would always be that ordinary.


-- from an anecdote by Alexander Yakoulov who tells of one of Stalin's trains on the way to Siberia stopping very briefly at a crossing and leaving behind a litter of small scraps of paper full of addresses, names and phone numbers

I was there when her train stopped,
Vents open in the cardinal corners like scars
Or better--the pox mark left by a crucifixion.
The day was a solid blue, so pretty, beautiful.
I could not know what was soldered in behind
Sealed doors and steel curtained windows,
But I could see the litter of paper scraps like rain.
When the train left, I picked up as many as I could
Pretending to be the one in charge of cleaning platforms.
When you bend to work it is easy to deceive.

Money was hard to come by then, the war just over,
And food, yet there were things you knew needed doing.
Twice before I had failed:  A woman across town
Wailed for help when her baby stopped breathing,
And I could have done one thing, but did not.
Then there was a failure of the shelves at the art fair,
A lifetime's work crashing to dust and broken clay.
Was it really so impossible for me to balance one shelf
To save the others?  I left her to her dust and tears.

I had one pair of torn shoes and I was hungry,
And I gathered the scraps of paper and waited.
Somehow I knew I could do the right thing.
Years later I still find a phone number in a crevice,
An address in a pocket, a name stuck in a box
I knew I would never send.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published.  His latest works, Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Books on Blogs) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside and other poems (Barometric Pressures -- A Kind of a Hurricane Press).  His work has appeared in The Cafe Review, American Letters and Commentary, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005) and I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Poem by Tejan Green Waszak


On the waterfront
you blankly stare
waiting for some ship to sail in
or out
and maybe this time you'll get on one
We all know you've never felt you belonged
The winter is killing the flowers but the spirit is awakening
And you with this hatred of these Canadian breezes
at least you know that you're alive
The man who runs the fruit stand
Sees you walking and says hello
Smiling, you manage something inaudible as your hellos are selective
not reserved for strangers
Maybe he is just a nice man hoping for a halo
Everyone down this broken road deserves pleasantries
You are careful as there are cracks in the sidewalk
Ever aware, ever on guard
Waiting for the rain that will make everything new again

Tejan Green Waszak is a New York based writer, educator and doctoral student.  She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Long Island University and a BA in Journalism from Hunter College.  She can often be found consulting with writers about their work in the writing center of Columbia University.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Two Poems by Art Heifetz

Chez Heshme

It seems like yesterday
I was dining chez Heshme
on a pigeon a student had brought
in payment for his lessons
served up in a piquant sauce
on a bed of steaming couscous
with the sheeps balls Heshme said
would make me virile.
Tears streamed down my face
the tiny bones caught in my throat
I cried for more water
and the brown burnooses heaved
with raucous laughter

When I returned at sixty
with an envelope of old photos
everybody argued over
who was who
the restaurant remodeled
Heshme gone to his reward.
But dining there alone
I could still see his bovine face
behind the counter
beaming like the laughing cow
on a box of French cheese.
I could still feel
the warmth of your petite body
curled up like a satisfied cat
on my straw mattress.
I could still hear
the muezzin's cries as the lights
of the medina flickered on
reminding us that no one lasts forever
that before too long we'd all
be dining alone chez Heshme
on a plate of fragrant memories.


you were a child
of the East
not yet nineteen
hunched over your sitar
playing ragas for me
in your bedroom
your feet tucked under
the green sari
you always wore
your long braid
tossed back
over your shoulder

your body had already
turned against you
but you talked about
the immortal soul
born again and again
in new incarnations

what form have you taken
now that you've left us?
are you the sparrow
perched on the fountain
or the caterpillar
inching its way
across the railing?

I imagine your ashes
floating down the Ganges
accompanied by
saucers of burning oil
petals of exotic flowers
and I a mourner on the shore
holding a candle
in a paper lantern
chanting a prayer to Vishnu
remembering your ragas
which changed
according to the season
according to your mood

Art Heifetz has published over 140 poems in 11 countries, winning second prize in the Reuben Rose international competition in Israel. See for more of his work.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Two Poems by Neil Ellman


(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

What grows soon dies
what dies transforms
imagination to a dream
a dream to flowers
in the garden of the sun
soon grows again to die
again in dreams
of solitude and light
until the silence of the end
where flowers grow
to die at last alone
in a sepulcher
of fading light.

The False Mirror

(after the painting by Rene Magritte)

Such arrogance
In the random spray of sprks
that constitute a thought
create a symphony
from separated notes
and waves of air
a vision made of specks of light
that register behind the eye
as something other
than it truly is
the mind connects the dots--
such impudence that sees reality
in the muddle of the stars
the future in a cup of tea.

Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey with almost 1,000 published poems to his credit, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Rhysling Award.  His poems appear in print and online journal, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Poem by Eric Evans


". . . hell doesn't want you,
and heaven is too full . . ."
                     -- Tom Waits, "Earth Died Screaming"

And the survey of the selected
says there is no justice for
the trafficker, no sufficient
retribution for the salesman
of a seven-year-old's still-forming
sex, just a businessman, he'll
claim, matching service to clientele,
finding a market and making it known.

The survey of the selected offered
suggestions of the second bunk
in a rapists quarters, of incarceration
and the burial of an ocean-bound
key, of torture and colonization
and the chance to prey on one
another, of a metal chair and
a slowly flipped switch.

The survey of the selected fell
silent en masse with a thoughtful
pause before a voice rose over
here and a murmur issued from
somewhere there, words measured
for weight and handled with care
as I asked with the certainty
of genetic disease if hell, in
all its permutations, could be too
good for such an enterprising soul,
the punishment grotesque enough
for the incomprehensible crime.

Eric Evans is a writer and musician from Buffalo, New York with stops in Portland, Oregon and Rochester, New York where he currently resides.  His work has appeared in Artvoice, decomP magazinE, Tangent Magazine, Posey, Xenith Magazine, Anobium Literary Magazine, Pemmican Press, Remark and many other publications and anthologies.  He has published seven full collections and three broadsides through his own small press, Ink Publications, in addition to a broadside through Lucid Moon Press.  He is the editor of The Bond Street Review as well as the proud recipient of the 2009 Geva Theatre Center Summer Academy Snapple Fact Award.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two Poems by Ralph Monday


In the moment that we realize we are
uninhabited, the dance a nullity,
intuitive instinct like an insect’s
hum flows in, rushing waters, ebbs, recedes—

any blank space moving now to fill our
cracked Roman urn. The time eternal as
Earth’s star casting shadows on a sundial—
        reach for an insulated place, clean, well-lighted
where consequence consumed drives moment’s fable.
Life’s gluttony, unfulfillable satiation,
pipes to us, forest satyr—drunkenness,
        miasma’s dust eternal inebriation.
Begins then the feast in many mansions:
couplings like springs coiling and recoiling
eventually ends, a Tiresias snake breaking
where love and desire fall apart.

Perhaps money’s love, usury of self—
gold, unconscious desire for the sun
that warps our time, our space on cave’s shadowed wall.
        All now Sisyphus or Job burnt stoics.
Or youth’s forceful memories, time forever green—
possibilities, promises, eternal balm
soothing unopened wounds, unsung lullaby
        rocking us into wakened dream.
When all have failed, many turn to the apple,
find it sour, bitter, all faith mirror’s reflection—
final fidelity remains, an embrace,
caress, solace in faith a faceless face.
Three Muses Bitching
Only three of us left now,
the other six split long ago,
Paris, Rome, New York,
anyplace but Athens.
Whatever, they never write,
mail, phone, or even drop
a short text saying “hey sis,
how are ya!”
Left us with this drag, me
Calliope, Erato and Euterpe.
Can’t even visit Olympus
anymore. Everybody split
to condos, mountain cabins,
tiny three room apartments.
Get all these requests from
rappers, pop music kings,
queens, and wannabes
begging for inspiration.
Hell, since Orpheus passed
on (or maybe Elvis and Dusty
Springfield), what with the
internet and music videos,
there are no more golden
voiced oracles.
Get email all the time with
stuff like “need inspiration,
just two hit songs, a poem
or two to crack the best
Most of the time I just ignore
the pitiful requests, or laugh
with my sisters about this
pathetic lyric, this clichéd
theme. If I’m feeling really
wicked, I write back and
say “leave a bowl of milk
and crackers on your doorstep
at night. In the morning the bowl
will be empty except for inspiration
on folded slips of paper.
Copy right optional.”
Ralph Monday is an Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing courses. In fall 2013 he had poems published in The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Fiction Week Literary Review, and was represented as the featured poet with 12 poems in the December issue of Poetry Repairs. In winter 2014 he had poems published in Dead Snakes. Summer 2014 will see a poem in Contemporary Poetry: An Anthology of Best Present Day Poems. His work has appeared in publications such as The Phoenix, Bitter Creek Review, Full of Crow, Impressions, Kookamonga Square, Deep Waters, Jacket Magazine, The New Plains Review, New Liberties Review, Crack the Spine, The Camel Saloon, Dead Snakes,  Pyrokinection, and Poetry Repairs. Featured Poet of the week May, 2014 Poetry Super Highway. Forthcoming: Poems in Blood Moon Rising and Down in the Dirt Magazine. His first book, Empty Houses and American Renditions will be published by Hen House Press in Fall 2014.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Poem by BZ Niditch

Vision of San Francisco

In low rise San Francisco
at five PM
among smooth jazz enthusiasts
the dish still repeats
with no one watching
behind withdrawn blinds
but everyone speaking
or chewing on gossip
pasta or pork
trying to sleep off
war or death
chilled out
by every Dear John or Jane
letter, not willing
to surrender
the happy hour
even the remote possibility
of going offline
or losing control
of a poor reception
yet you still keep on
playing the blues
here in October
on the sidewalks' café
no one sleeps
except on music sheets
in harmony on brass beds
with my newly haired bow
of my violin's rosin
I'm floating in a morning shine
gazing at the Bay.

BZ Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher.  His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including:  Columbia:  A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard, Kadmos, Prism International, Jejune, Leopold Bloom, Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others.  He lives in Brookline, Massachusettes.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Poem by Linnea Wortham Harper

Poem to Popsicles
                  after Judith Barresi
Popsicles, popsicles,
sweet and cold,
I estimate your worth
by the calculus of calories and color,
refinements of texture and taste,
the power of the pleasure shock,
hydraulics of licking and sucking,
numb lips, dull ache of jaw, brain freeze—
the internalized science of melting.
Like kids out of school
popsicles say, Now it’s winter. 
Come and play.
There will be no premature thawing
in this house.
Fruitsicles, fudgesicles, Rockets
and push-ups, blueberry, raspberry,
strawberry, orange—
I choose you—
because the iceman no longer comes
but still has a pension, because in
hospitals you can get one any time,
tonsils or no tonsils,
because between things,
like the space between stanzas,
or generations,
you need something sweet
and bracing, to give you a reason
to stop, and gather what’s needed
to go.
Allowance:  Enough to buy one
double popsicle five days
a week, preferably blue, but
root beer will do.
Obedience:  Not crossing 6th Street
alone to buy popsicles at Reeves’.
Obeisance:  Abject subjugation.
Popsicles, I am yours!
Coconut, mango, tangerine, cherry,
grape, lime, mixed fruit, berry—
if I never eat one again, how will I fill
this void that wants to swallow me,
reward thirst and task completion,
bring childhood’s sweet mystique
to the heart of each day, escape
the tyranny of meal time, win
sweepstakes, make angels
in snow?
My dears, the cold wars are over.
Heat rises around the globe. We must
conserve our resources. In the freezer,
fill up the spaces between things with
popsicles. Pack popsicles in the cooler
instead of plain ice. Use crushed popsicles
for a cold pack. Drop popsicles for
drought relief in Africa, to distract the
Taliban in Afghanistan, and annoy the
French wherever they are. Make slicks of
popsicle slush to slip-up Wall Street.
Provide popsicles free to the citizenry. 
Let us eat popsicles!
Creamsicles, Jolly-pops, diet or sugared,
store brands, Dreyer’s, home-made with
jello, quiescently frozen or rock-hard—
I eat popsicles not to satisfy hunger
but to celebrate it. A longing somewhere
between lust and thirst rises up and my
organs sing a churchly tune. A mouth has
so much to do, all that talking, spitting and
flossing, it needs a quick lift now and then.
Boxes of popsicles, take me home now.
In the movie version I leave the store
with a sackful of edible mercies—
personal sandbags that keep the black holes
at bay. But what of the waif with a sign who
preys by the door? I give what I can
or at least what I have in my wallet.
I know she can’t fill her belly with bills.
Must I give her what I love most?
Jolly Rancher, Ice Pix, Arctic Blasters,
Swirl Stix— wave your wands and take me
to your truth. The freezer is calling. Cubes
clatter as the ice maker drops a new litter.
They do not pelt me when I open the door.
It is not the cold I fear, but the emptiness.
Linnea Wortham Harper is a regular contributor to Kind of a Hurricane Press, most recently in the Storm Cycle anthology. Her work has been published in CALYX, and she has been a finalist for the Bunchgrass Prize. She was once a social worker, twice a mother, and always a poet. She lives and writes on the Oregon Coast.