Learning from Asiatic Lily There can be no lotus flower without the mud. —Thich Nhat Hanh As red lick of sunrise brightens the airyou stand near sheets of greenerypause beside pillows of hosta / mosswitness / where love lands to kiss lilium lips. Slick with dew / petals glowas tongued bowls greet waspanswer beetle / […]Read more "Learning from Asiatic Lily"
Morning It was a morning like other morningsand yet perfect among mornings —John Steinbeck On the street behind barrierssquealing kids follow mum and dad along the boardwalk joggers jostle walkersamong handholding couples. Shore spume sprints to the tideline.Sand shifts and settles unhindered by human feet and towels,stabs of coloured umbrellas unimpeded by lolly litter and […]Read more "Morning"
Thanksgiving in Hometowns For thrum of yellow through sycamoresand slant of sunlight through milk jug’s rounded edges. For gold-ignited summerand star-spangled boneweed on the road. For the scarecrow in my mindthat calls me back a million times. The November sky is a freshly-pressed shirt.Leaves start unfastening from their branches. Kate Wylie is a softball coach and […]Read more "Thanksgiving in Hometowns"
Pig Farm Nine years ago swine flu kissed the farm,Obliging Virginia Hambone to stand firmAgainst the public use of mucky troughsWhich was causing the trots and coughs. Pigs were ordered to remain in their stiesAnd baptize their trotters to avert demise.Sty-to-sty sales sows solicited salty swill.A barn was set for the expired and the ill. […]Read more "Pig Farm"
not even the rain has such small hands Smokestacks of oak, hickory and birchlurch in the balance of sleet and snowon a confused Sunday in early Mayas my woods fill up with snow.It’s a snowy eveningtucked away on this Highland Park cul de sachugging Lake Michigan’s shoreas the gales of this Spring dayrecall the final […]Read more "not even the rain has such small hands"
My Pumpkin Pie Recipe Magicians don’t conjure up traditions,obsessionals do. That’s how my piesbegan to end every Thanksgiving dinner. Only my daughter knows that the doses of spicesand sweet milk came years agofrom the paper wrap on a can. The singing ingredient (two parts aria)is for the pumpkins, the gratitude momentwhen the seeds go in,the months cajoling vinesup […]Read more "My Pumpkin Pie Recipe"
Annie Dillard’s Weasel contemplates the umwelt of John Lennon.Having seized its last muskratthe weasel rides to heavenon a trail of half-eaten flesh and bones.Once arrived, its esteem for wildness fadesand its true nature is revealed.It wakes from an aphantasic nightmarebaser instincts melt away,the tacit animal-self vanishes.No longer does it graspat the necessities of the species.It […]Read more "Annie Dillard’s Weasel"
For a moment in the calm,between gusts of wind:the faint push of air beneath wing.The northern harrier drifts abovea flowering field of yellow mustard. Bobbing among the eddies,the murre learn centuriesof the waterwork and currents,driven unthinking by whatwe cannot know. Farther still, the north horizonis choked with fog;the clover lies trampled by salt windalong the […]Read more "North"
Muskrat She walks past the pond, up the road,toward illuminated shape—sunshineorbits its body, an auburn luster. Behind oak, near maple, she cloaksits remains with autumn’s leavings,honors its life. At bedtime, she smooths her grandmother’scoat, the mink repurposed into coverlet.Its plushness weeps with needless death. Animals have covered us long enough. Jeannie E. Roberts has authored four […]Read more "Muskrat"
Little Town Money almost enough.Sanity but not quite.Mellow mostly.Bowel movements plentiful.Hunger at times.Pain where expected.Growls and groans,grins and laughter,in proportion.Lambs and lions,about 50-50.Much more copperthan gold.Sex and sickness.Holiness and one barber’s pole.Hardware store.Movie house.Tractors – second hand.But much machineryin general.More than booksand places for a band to play.Scant art.Little style.A lot of unmarried virgins.A few […]Read more "Little Town"
Meteor Shower Canvas blackthe eternal oil spill galacticdark matterspeckled waves of crystaldiamond skyruby, emerald, sapphirelightspeedsilent night brightterminal velocityeyes focusstraining in the dark timeas seconds, minutes, eonsstretch galaxiesinto small handsthat even rain cannotfeelfor in feelingwe begin to fallheadlong into nightriding the meteorsof our pastknowing the showersof our futurewill smotherthose small handssomeday Mark Hammerschick writes poetry and […]Read more "Meteor Shower"
Not doing much but composing a poem in my head—which might be somethingif the poem is consummated,turning out to be good. Sunlight steps easy on the waterall the way to Quay Bercyand a new first line—that’s better.Lush, green leaves on the trees, a cat chases plump birds,a couple on the roof of a houseboatkiss and […]Read more "Along the Seine"
Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off Checkout behind befuddled womanwho places one can Turkey & Giblets Cat Foodon counter, watches the scan,selects a Price Chopper couponthumbing through a stack in her fist.Cashier shakes her head: “Coupon’s forthe small size, honey, you’ve got the large,”tosses the can in a reject bag white plasticwhile Ms. Befuddle lifts a […]Read more "Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off"
Bill of Delights …bosun wharf. That corduroy anorak molded you… * …al dente. Gash eggplant. Trickle… * …kite-flying matinee idol. The accessory… * …gravel rash. We zigzagged in fairyground… Christmas 2001, The Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored Christopher Barnes to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North. […]Read more "Bill of Delights"
Ocean City I’m on a fifth-storyhotel balconyat the crack of dawn staring past a row of rental propertiestoward vast waters beyond, as I wonderwhat ghosts lieon the hungover streets below. What sort of jukebox jiveor inebriated highdid that last breeze carry through? It’s a mid-summer den,a damn hotbed,of debauchery and sin on this morning after […]Read more "Ocean City"
Grasping at Straws “The thing is, unless you change, nothing changes.”— Jose Mujica Cordano “It’s easy,” you tell your niece, showing her how to managethe simplest task, baby steps and all that, perhaps how to formher first question, her first double-u, perhaps how to maintainthe fire in the grate, perhaps later to count out her […]Read more "Grasping at Straws"
The Field Guide to Nothing The Field Guide to Nothing, kepton a nightstand never gets read, too muchof every thing in life still in need of getting done. No day goes by without the hope ofdigging in, imagining what it might be liketo finally be finished with it all — and certainly, there have been […]Read more "The Field Guide to Nothing"
Witch Who said a witch need beas tall as me? I met a witchthinner than my fingerwho flew on moth wings. I asked her one or two things.She said her task was findingseeds to replant trees after wildfires I asked what is your name?She said she could not tellthose two words in her spell.She said I could […]Read more "Witch"
After The Party I do my rounds,collect the glasses,some emptied to the last drop,others with anything froma finger of whiskey,a solitary olive,to half a tumbler of flat beer. A couple are rimmedwith lipstickwhile others may bearthe weight of aftershaveor float a littleon a schooner of perfume. I’m no forensic scientist.I can’t identifythe individual drinkers.But I […]Read more "After The Party"
Grant’s Tomb From its roof, pigeons explode, their wingsthrumming like playing cards, clothespinnedto our bike spokes when we were kids. A jogger briskly thuds through growingpiles of leaves. One snags on a straywisp of her hair before it zag- zigs through the air. Sword-crossing spans,one dappled pair soar out beyondthe traffic’s flow. Through clouds of […]Read more "Grant’s Tomb"
I would rather put a chainsaw to my legs Tips of branches turn yellow;needles float down as from heaven.My heaven is a redwood forest. I clear duff from the roof with a leaf blower,from the deck with a snow shovel,mounds upon mounds rumpling earthlike rough blankets and then always comes rain,a season of rot. Seems […]Read more "I would rather put a chainsaw to my legs"
No More Flat Screens! Bring back the cathode-ray tubeto bedazzle us anewwith blizzards of orphaned electronspelting helter-skelteragainst the hard opaque backsideof awareness. And no more programming either!No more ambient laughterwhile wedding guests keen for their sinsand heroes go questing for the road less devouredand sidekicks turn toxic with spiteand speeding shibboleths slam into each otherand […]Read more "No More Flat Screens!"
Lesson Here’s where you work. On this table the chisels lie. Twenty-six. Some have grown blunt with the efforts of carvers before you. In time, tools fail. You work in stone. Cutting on the bias, you strike imperceptibly until something gives. Maybe the stone cries. Once there was lymph, slightly aquamarine. On this bench rests […]Read more "Lesson"
Spring Laying in the long grass I am on the frontier! Thumbing my way Through the old growth forest On the banks of the Allagash The whisper of the wind Feels like an ocean I spot a cloud shaped Like the old homestead I am lost In the North Country Swarmed in a psychosis of […]Read more "Spring"
The resemblance another existential morning and I’m having a coffee peering through the blinds at the chittering sparrows surveying the camellia bush at the centre of my lawn which the gardener has shaped into a giant ball dotted with blooms pink buds quivering like sea-anemone in the mild April breeze then it strikes me in […]Read more "The resemblance"
August Garden Overgrown, ravaged with insects, humming incessant sun, the lot of it buckles, sucks, sags and slumps toward autumn — all bursting, come to fruition, seeking divisions between sex and sex and death — breathing last breaths, heaving its seed toward next season. Stephen Jackson [he/him] lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. His […]Read more "August Garden"
Prescience The sky’s a graveyard full of ghosts and fossils. No one’s dared to bury barley; it hasn’t rained in thirty days. Neither almanac nor bible tells how to predict an ending. I thought I understood the lifespan of a star, but I was wrong: their deaths are expanding, infinite; I’m the thing inconsequential, impermanent. […]Read more "Prescience"
September This month cuts its own hair, the trees’ dream of going bald and old roses sport candelabras. The mosses cannot hold on as tightly as they did in June. The forsythia droops like a girl’s braids at the end of the first day of school. Black-eyed Susans flirt over the heads of dead-headed daisies. […]Read more "September"
Noting the Excessives We are the feeble, living on an oily, zit faced, nicotine stained bowling ball, the one spinning and hurling in the gut of a steel cobalt blue sky. We are the jolly simpletons stuck babysitting ourselves with the keys to the asylum tucked neatly beneath our slick and lying tongues. We are […]Read more "Noting the Excessives"
Unstoppable The silence fills the crowded hall The warlord standing tall As prisons swell and graveyards sprawl The people hear his call The peasants, merchants, nobles all To please, make themselves small Save one who looks on high and cries “This tyrant’s reign must fall!” Randy Lee is a graduate student at the University of […]Read more "Unstoppable"
The Ballerina’s Tale Each night inside that dead-end bar on the same stool without fail, she’d wait until the jukebox played “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Those barroom gallants jeered as they quickly gathered around, to cheer each time she’d pirouette until she tumbled down. While from a corner booth, dead set, his bloodred eyes […]Read more "The Ballerina’s Tale"
Williams I stole a book or two in my time— from a room where it bided unread winter and winter came Williams, came that greeny asphodel; unknown then to me in my darkness, how it bloomed when I brought it out, modestly, continuously, met me long years away with waves of renewed waking, a kind […]Read more "Williams"
The High Place How many winters gone And how many remain? I’ve seen seedlings Grow to be masts of great ships Felled by men with rum-warmed Bellies Into gentle beds of Evergreen boughs How many more times Will the tamarack fade into A golden amber bouquet That reminds me of the many Sorrows of being […]Read more "The High Place"
Border Stones Even death is just a concept we put on the bare facts of things. Alluvium and sunlight, names for the annealing world, the dough that turns into bread. I forfeit opinions because I want the startled wings without the assumption of the bird. In the forest, I’m simply dazzled. My heart may hurt, […]Read more "Border Stones"
Wilderness You call to me and I go. I leave my compass; I know North. I leave my rosary; my faith is in your Aurora Borealis. I’ll follow your light through the foothills. The spines of leaves shiver, emerald pools show me the way. I pray. For you, I’d catch a fish in my teeth. […]Read more "Wilderness"
Note for Note Lovers always know their doom. ― Lynette Roberts The shadows from the past don’t sleep for long. They wake when least expected, as note for note, an old piano plays an unwritten song. Your double spies a long-lost love you wronged, waiting on a pier. All that’s now rote. Such shadows from […]Read more "Note for Note"
Affirmation #207 This is the time When you understand That no one is coming. There is no horse in the distance. No woman dressed like she’s in a mystery novel, lurking in the final train car, about to turn your life into a hero’s journey with an ash of her cigarette. This is also the […]Read more "Affirmation #207"
hold true no reason to know kiss the ground as it shakes everything goes away a continuing sequence of holding on and letting go infinite in its finality; love has many names and none of them can ever be ours to keep. Edward L. Canavan is an American poet whose work has been published in […]Read more "hold true"
August It is no easier to escape August than January – late summer lassitude bows the asters, curls the sunflowers just as the blizzard quiets winter. My hammock is my sled hurtling with frogs in first fall of alder leaves, swinging over plums fried on the patio, watching the squirrel choose soft figs over peanuts. […]Read more "August"
Turning Point when the caterpillar digests itself or orange leaves erode with dry veins. the Dagger Moth appears a pile of mold plastered in a corner, shed of its fur. when the rings of a tree seem lost because they are no longer cut open by lumberjacks when …. hold on. hold on to… like […]Read more "Turning Point"
House Dust is skin cells shrouding the broom that once gathered them, draping it now in gray; his blind calico’s brown eyelashes; pearl fibers sloughed off thread she strung through buttons two nights before they buried him in his white church shirt; pollen the daisies he gave her exhale from their kitchen jars. They form […]Read more "House Dust"
Wrapped Tight Ball of string wrapped tight and tidy yearns to fling itself in a direction to unravel massiveness into feathery strand beckoning in wind for more length to discover more paths no worries of finding way back or to dangle like trapeze swinging back and forth inviting acrobats to fly unlike ball of string […]Read more "Wrapped Tight"
Paper Lanterns The self was invented after it was discovered that rocks plummet back to earth when tossed towards the sky, and that all laws are the same whether inside or out. But this is assuming that the self should be like a stone and not a bird or flower, a petal-light charm drifting casually […]Read more "Paper Lanterns"
Brother, Can You Spare The Time? To be fully present for the sensation of a moment where you can discover what lies behind the human masquerade, and have the chance to make everything in your life new again. You’ll uncover grief, sorrow and passion in the sensing of the body armor. The tragic spiritual mediocrity […]Read more "Brother, Can You Spare The Time?"
Rescue By the gas station rust dumpsters, against wavelengths of fence links, she tucks in legs, sucks her menthol, a kid unknown to the hour-rush home. She senses the halo around gas pumps, under canopy’s down-shining underside. It lures a luna moth, green as lime leaves, baited like she is to these fluorescent oases. As […]Read more "Rescue"
Haircut in Summer, South India My sister-in-law cut my niece’s hair— a strand, then a chunk, for each drop of sweat that taunted and whispered fever— until long black locks were shoulder high— then chin— then cut close to the head. A boy’s cut, she said would make the fever go away. Jennifer Jeremiah is […]Read more "Haircut in Summer, South India"
A Master What if A Master could teach my son to fly over the cornfields of any countryside a person might wish or dream to see. This Master would dress like a carnival barker. My son, who long ago stopped minding my rules, would kick off his tennis shoes and take flight. People would see […]Read more "A Master"
Chairs Rest Like old married couple almost holding hands two lawn chairs rest at lake’s edge. Arms spread in anticipation of sunset each evening before frogs launch into serenade, and waves lap against shore; sound of kissing. Diane Webster‘s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase […]Read more "Chairs Rest"
Delta Mouth Moon pull swift tide bringing arrowheads quiver dropped loosened skirt strings tight arm and notch to bow dead elks bloat in the shore foam Moon swift pushing so saturnine up a slick and bawdy ship hull up a sickly girl-thigh on a naked shoreline Moon full drip ink on a violet dry notches […]Read more "Delta Mouth"
Reviews of Crime Novels from the First Half of This Year A night unsettled, creepy with rumbled omens. Lightning! Counting to the slam of sky collisions. Beneath a cone of lamplight, I turn the page to the solstice reviewer who tots up semi-annual sales pitches and slams of stories: mercenaries, billboard illustrators, rotting heiresses in […]Read more "Reviews of Crime Novels from the First Half of This Year"