Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Vol 4, Spring, 2019 Poetry Expressed Magazine,

Welcome to Poetry Expressed Magazine, Vol 4, Spring, 2019.
The authors and Poems below find their way onto the page in random order.

Editor’s note: This was a fun issue to put together (but I apologize in advance for omissions and mistakes).

I hope you spend the time to read all of these interesting , engaging works. Some are funny. enjoys. bb.
Contents (in random order of work, scroll down to find work)

D. Jayne McPherson
43 theories of reality
Gary Turchin
A Phone Conversation with Julia Vinograd
Bruce Isaacson
A Trip Around San Antonio Valley
Britt Peter
City Boy
Yarko Sochynsky
Clausen House 
Adele Mendelson
Doll Factory
Zephir O'Meara
Don’t Mistake Her
Florence Elon
Eternal Impermanence
Chris Dupuy
Ladder (3)
Grace Marie Grafton
Old Cars are the King of the Road Again
John (Jake) Cosmos
God’s Little Practical Joke
Jan Steckel
Carol Criss
Gray Rosado
Hypothetical Reality
Chris Chandler
i captured an asteroid
David Zeltzer
The Nest of Love
Indunil Madhusankha
IV Stars
Tureeda Mikell Story Medicine Woman
Jazz Play
Jean Biegun
Leaf Song
D. Leah Steinberg
Juan Sequeira
I Make Love to the World
Clive Matson
New Blues
Mimi Gonzalez-Barillas
Your Eye on a Small Elusive Detail
Marty Williams
Sharon Metzler-Dow
Nuts In Charge
Garrett Murphy
On This Shortest Day-Solstice
Kelliane Parker
Past and Present
Lori Lynne Armstrong
October 2018
elana levy
As The World Splits Open
Andrena Zawinski
John Rowe
The Purpose of Life
Richard Loranger
Bruce Fessenden
Sharing a Room
Jack O’Neill
Jeannette DesBoine
Some Ways to Become a Bird Watcher
Dan O’Connell
What Everyone Believes
Dale Jensen
Supraclavicular fossa
Riss Rosado
The Life I Want to Be Living,
Cathy Cade
The Yellow Vest
Dee Allen
Their Carpets Speak for Them
Jan Dederick
There Comes a Time…
Marilyn Flower
Tightrope Walker
Chris Warren Smith
Saswati Das
The Tumbleweed’s Dance
Jim Barnard
On Returning Phebe’s 100-years Overdue Library Book
Judy Wells
What If Duane Allman?
Larry Beresford
What She Doesn’t Know
Dorty Nowak
Why shouldn’t she go today?
Melissa Hobbs
Where I Come From
Barbara Saunders 2019

A Driving Issue
Deborah Fruchey


D. Jayne McPherson

Something quiet inside us knows
if we ignore an urge
to murmur our name aloud
when we drive the mountain road
as if teetering a catwalk
or a pregnant pause to claim
the woosh inside our coursing blood.
We may sense before we arrive
the unfamiliar body asleep ahead
of us, long sinuous snaking
to investigate.

It may never concede that
these detours give travelers
a welcome nudge home to
shoulder mystery against a dead-
pan calm fortune telling: there’s
no life we’d rather live.

Yet, this faint sound, as if a knock
delivered to a stranger’s door
must find a shovel and bury
as common cost, the mole that
would be hidden if not found
in the open road.

It may bring the flight of
a swallowtail to plead for our
beckoned hope, to meander into
a thicket or to elevate a spider
and its hazing rustle for our future
of skirting time --- that we will
never own, divorced as it were
from interruptions.  We halt, all
to dare, before crushing our heel.


43 theories of reality

Gary Turchin

Nothing means anything.
Everything means something.
There is no god
There is one God
There are many gods and goddesses
There is only one Good Book  
There are many good books  
Science books are the best books of all
The world is an illusion
The world is real
We’ll never know which it is
There is only one universe
There are an infinite number of universes
It all began with the Big Bang
And God said “Let there be Light!” And there was Light
Earth is the only place where life exists
The Universe is teeming with life
You can’t be in two places at once                  
Some electrons appear in two places simultaneously
Matter is energy in a different state
Energy is matter in a different state
The speed of light is the universe’s speed limit
Everything is relative
There is an absolute truth
It isn’t fair
Karma rules!
We’ll find out when we die  
When we die, we are fertilizer and nothing more
There is a heaven and hell
Heaven and hell are here on earth,  
Consciousness manifests matter
Matter manifests consciousness
We are not separate beings
We are each of us our own universe
You get what you pay for
Time is money
Compounded interest is the key to long range financial planning
Compound this, buddy!
Some folk are luckier than others
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
Vinegar is good for digestion
One good shit a day will keep you healthy

A Phone Conversation with Julia Vinograd

Bruce Isaacson

I hear the familiar tones of her number
called several times-a-week for thirty years.
Heck, when we started it was rotary.
“Hi, Bruce, how are you?”
There’s a pause as I sort of grunt.
“Aahh, Julie, not so good since you died.”
“I understand.”
She’s always understood.  It’s her special gift.
“But, well, think how it feels for me.”
This she says with just enough twinkle
so I hear how I’m being ridiculous.
“I know, Julie.  But really? Dying?  
And on my birthday, nonetheless.”
“I’m sorry, but anyhow, happy birthday, Bruce.”
“I know you got the bad end, Julie.  But what about
our friends?  And Berkeley? And poetry?  
They all need you.”
She puts on her wry tone to point out—
“I can’t do everything, you know.”
“But you’ve done so much.  Seventy books, published
so far and wide a bibliography’s impossible.
What about those who think poetry's only homework—
the ones made to read what they couldn’t understand,
who started hating poetry, what about them?”
“Well, I’ve got a new poem.  Can I read it to you?
Damn—” she says, “my phone is beeping.  Can you hold?”
“Sure,” I mumble, remembering when she first got call waiting,
knowing when Julie had another call it was inevitable, as taxes, or…
So I let her go, as I had to, promising to be there, but am still
holding on best I can.

A Trip Around San Antonio Valley

Britt Peter

We saw a gold bull
Growing in a field
Near the dirt road
No statue or mirage
Roll down the window
Listen to his breathing
Like a charter oak
He owned that meadow
We drove further
Into the rising valley Talked of war
50’s ball players
Dreyer’s “Ordet”
But that early image
Had not passed from mind
On the way back
Along the same road
We saw a fox running
And what might have been
An eagle
Swooped across our path
And still unexplained
Where we left him
Beyond the fence
Beyond menace
Conjecture or
Religious certitude
A gold bull
Growing in a field
 -for Bob Stephens

City Boy

Yarko Sochynsky  

I’m a City boy,
Botanical Gardens a first taste of Nature,
but now my ear’s attuned to Walden’s rhythm,
stark contrast from this immigrant kid’s first encounter,
when a quarantine doctor’s tongue depressor made me gag,
I now navigate by sound alone, my eyes asleep.
I know when a voice is coming round a corner
my senses keened to all that breathes.
I’ve taken in fresh green smells of grass
from verdant mists of Great Plains Spring
and crisp vanilla wisps of icy mountain air.
But now I’m walking block by block in Springtime New York City
hoping for a verdant spot to rest, to dwell a bit,
on a bench in a parish garden on Hudson, where
a black and white nun takes a break from prayer,
souvlaki corner smells,
Le Pain Quotidien.
I’m in the City again.  

My roots are there for sure though some will say
it’s so congested, too many roots!
But inextricably to earth we’re bound
be it black or loam or something else
or even just an empty park, at dusk perhaps,
no statues to make me think, just pigeons and the lawn.
To reconnect I lie down.

With comfort I recall an early memory
when after disembarking and the quarantine,
we lived on a farm in
Port Jefferson, I think, with only kerosene lanterns
to find the outhouse.
Water came from a pump in the yard.
The grizzled old farmer driving his tractor nearby,
a tin can atop the exhaust stack rattling away,
he’d give me rides.  
I think he liked my grandma.  
The rural smell of kerosene mixed in with hay
no fancy toys for this immigrant kid
just Lincoln Logs to build a future
on Davy Crockett’s coonskin raft.

I cried one time when seeing a movie
Of a man-eating plant devour a child.
So even flora can be scary.
But red brick alleys in darkened streets
are even scarier  
as are the bullies with their angry cheeks
triffid-like they assault the sensibilities.
And so I watch our blatherer-in-chief
spread fear and disinformation.
A human tongue depressor  
strewing seeds of doubt and hate.
We’re in a new phase now,
a different dimension one could say
where everything appears one way to some
an alternate reality to others.
Divided we stumble into the abyss.
This is not a child’s game,
yet childish snarks roll down the hilltop,
each evaporating as the next one picks up speed.
They fill the air we breathe.
Where in hell are we?

What can be done to save us now,
not just our children but their own as well.
Let’s act together, not just make noise,
cut the purse strings feeding gold to craven geese.
Clean out the shameful lucre making all so wrong,
the old-fashioned way, one (wo)man, one vote.
Only then can we again breathe free
with cleaner air and clearer conscience
with Nature and Justice as our friends.

So now I’m in my seventh season
grown up, I’m urban yet urbane.
I plant a garden in my smallish yard
away from hubbub and choleric strain.
I smell the jasmine and the lime tree mist
as crocus pushes up in Spring.
Too many roots, could be
but still this is my bide a wee.   

Clausen House 

Adele Mendelson

(Clausen House, now defunct, was for many years a thrift store on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.)
It was a Saturday afternoon at Clausen house
I was looking for strings for my guitar.
Over the years I had bought a Chinese gong,
a mah jonng set, and a signed photograph
of John Lennon just before he died.

I was looking through a drawer for drill bits,
when she walked in wearing bicycle shorts
and a red halter top. She walked up to me, stood close,
and said “Have you seen any sterling--forks or spoons,
a small kiddish cup?  I know the prayers.”

She smelled of sex, if sex were the deep
dark light of a ruby. Her eyes changed from gold to green,
and I knew I could never trust her,
but trust, you know, is sometimes beside the point.

I was paying for my strings
when I noticed she had gone. I ran out
to the street and saw her a block away
walking her bicycle.

I ran after her and asked, “Would you like to get a latte?”
She said, “I know a bar.” She ordered a Pisco sour,
explained that it came from Peru.
I watched her sip through her straw
while she taunted me with her thighs.
I asked her name.

I was caught, drawn to the center of her web.
Why didn’t I walk away?  
Because she knew the story I needed to hear.
She told it in a low voice, eyes closed.

“It is winter,” she said.  “We’re holding hands,
almost married. We’re standing at a railing
above an ocean of ice. I take your hand,
pull us towards the edge,
but you hold back, a fear of death.”

Then she said, “I know about death. Death happens
when the sky cracks, a tiny fissure opens,
and a body falls in.”

I could have chosen that dark-haired girl
who lived upstairs. She would have loved me.
Instead I became a beggar, living on crumbs.

I could kill her, but what would that do?
I would be obsessed by a dead woman
instead of a living one.
And would it be my story

So this is not about a woman in a casket
dressed in ash. It is about love and all the ways
it can grab you and squeeze you.
It is about drowning in ice.

Doll Factory    

Zephir O'Meara

Mosaic on the floor says
Walk all over me
What you don’t reflect on now
Will be your undoing eventually
Sistine chapel in the sky
Did you know I’d be bored looking around looking up
Did it hurt your neck painting that thing
Sweat from the stage

Sage sweat dripping
The singer that's lost their voice
For me
All the pain ever suffering for your art
For me
Pen scratches
Chalkboard screams
The punishment that is a doll factory as sockets stretch
Eyeballs punched into place

Did my last swift kick in the ass
Pass me by
Unnoticed unannounced
No fanfare
No sharp relief
Just endless tumbling humbling again and again
Rolling down the hill laughing
The fun half of sisyphus’s life you never hear about
The miracle of prometheus’s daily new liver feeding baby eagles
Here again in the piercing blue dawn flapping
The mystery of winter
Will they won’t they
While life is moonlighting in the southern hemisphere
This could be it
This cold infinite expanse
Just one more pomegranate seed couldn’t hurt

Hell but frozen over so many times it’s actually kinda nice right now
Glaciers and steam a lovely place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there
I guess I wouldn't be living
Wormy warmth of a compost pile
Endless crying of new life
When you whine into the abyss
The abyss whines also
Echo chamber meow
The stiff upper lip of decay
The way mold makes flavor
The way sugar dies and becomes whiskey
The way loss leads to found

Don’t Mistake Her

Florence Elon

Now don’t mistake her for that one
who shakes in your arms at dawn:
you two shudder, tender,
coming together.

Look: she can stretch to yawning height;
with sure hands, draw the sheets tight;
toss a black and white spread
on the straightened bed.

Her spikes put the street in its place
as she clatters forth to face
others, standing over
her desk, takes cover

all day long behind those owl frames.
Fluttering, tripping, she comes -
as you are drawing home -
at dusk, back in time.


Eternal Impermanence

Chris Dupuy

A dichotomy, I wink
Or a fraud, I blink
    I never wanted to be one of “them” – I think

Insidious evil, the influence of affluence
    Lonely largesse of a life unfulfilled
Succumb to the seductive siren Surrender –  sexy and soft, silent
A quicksand of trappings, bleeding dreams of possessions and power
    Soothe the searing sense of selling out

What to make of ego, oh miscreant messiah
    Smashed to pieces, deadly shards pierce a bloated self
         Empty bottles and ambitions floating to sea
Skeletal vessels peddling woe, desperation, remorse

Hippies, heroes, whores and homeless
    Spectacular spirits – a horizon brims with untapped promise
    Where barefoot freedom exalts, souls rediscover light

Brothers and sisters and strangers
    Asleep under the wisdom of omniscient stars
         Ideas form, bond, unite, alight

Beds of grass and the faint aroma of burning optimism
    The surf creeps forward offering a whisper
    Its secret – one of pain, passion

And your path

Ladder (3)

Grace Marie Grafton

What a tomato day, I can just see the red burst,
ruddy globe rolling easily under redwoods
downslope into bay trees' bay, not a scratch
on its trim skin. I know that’s ridiculous but
I must trust the metaphor to make the day’s juice.

My voyage into hyperbole brings me right out to
my skin, I’m skimming along on the present’s
motorless current, no nails in the boat's bottom,
something drifting just under the surface,
I see its silver flash, its winner eyes.

The music of sympathy, what every school child
wants, and the kid locked inside the frigid wasteland
of the prescribed. Listen, there’s the piano that forgives,
there’s the clarinet that leads Peter safely away
from the wolf, there’s the flute that climbs the hills.

Each moment, a new constellation of cellular matter
to replace the vanished. If I truly understood
the maelstrom of the time-space continuum, I would
burst. I keep crawling back after the thought I thought
before this last one. Or the minutes-ago orchid.
Not to try too hard, I think that’s the secret.
Secret of bringing wish to fruition. Take it
in my palm, does it have petals, does it whistle?
Is it the shape of the granite boulders I rock-climbed
as a kid, never thinking of my mother’s terror?

It’s never the last chance, there’s always another chance
or change or breath. Even no-breath wouldn’t mean
my materia would completely dump its load.
It would just change shape. What do I believe in?
Not angels but why not? Metaphors are angels.

Old Cars are the King of the Road Again

John (Jake) Cosmos

After the end of the world
after the bombs stopped falling
and the nuclear holocaust ended

there was nothing left that worked
except for old cars

left for dead
deep in the forests

and the old cars
now were the king of the road
nothing else worked

and no one was left alive
except the old run down

old men
who lived deep in the woods

They drove around the now dead world
looking for signs of life

as they nursed their ancient cars
down the dusty road

and eventually, they found
a few survivors

and so,
the world began again

with the dreams of old men
in their ancient old cars

God’s Little Practical Joke

Jan Steckel

The physicist Dick Feynman did his best work in strip clubs.
Helped invent the atom bomb at the Institute of Oral Love,
quantum computed while a dancer shimmied.

Jerome Vinograd, husband of the poet Sherna Shalett,
father of painter Deborah and poet Julia,
used to meet him there for a drink. Feynman wore

his shark’s tooth necklace. Vinograd always wore a suit.
He didn’t read his wife’s or daughter’s poems. Too busy
laying the foundations of modern molecular biology.

Lions of science, the Caltech titans, dazzled by truth,
only had eyes and ears for particles doing the wave,
the tarantella of molecules separated when spun.

And boobies. The orbit of gyrating hips.
The surface of a nude girl in partial light.
It helped them think. Clarified things, as it were.

Vinograd won the Nobel Prize, dropped dead
before he could fly to Stockholm to accept it.
Had the airplane tickets in his pocket.

He slid down the supercoils of his own DNA, swearing
at a god he didn’t believe in. His ghost turned up
at the Institute of Oral Love, but Dick couldn’t hear him.

When Feynman got the news, he figured life was short.
Strippers’ legs were long. Whiskey made subatomic particles
easier to spot. Here’s to Jerome, he said. Bottom’s up.


Carol Criss

I had my father’s hazel eyes
neither blue nor brown.
Flecked like gold confetti,
sometimes almost green with glint of gold.

Not my mother’s deep brown
luminescent irises
Nor her father’s Black Irish blue eyes
that she coveted.

His eyes were striking blue,
even in the black and white
antique photos softening his face.
He, who died too young.

I hated hazel for being nondescript,
neither blue nor brown
but both at once.

Now I gaze in the mirror
and cannot believe my eyes.
They appear blue now.

Is this possible?
I look again and they are green.

If my hair can turn white with age
then my eyes can transform too,
Into the green eyes of my Celtic ancestors.


Gray Rosado

when there’s nothing left to cross off the fuckit list because you’ve bought the beginner’s bondage kit off amazon
and it was so boring it ruined date night when you can’t shock even yourself anymore you can’t deviate from already being deviant what’s left
do you remember the number date in june when human food repulsed you
because the word i’m thinking of is paraphilia
is it any fun if it doesn’t scare you, a little
when was the first time you bit your partner so hard they sent you home
how old were you when you learned the old wives tale about banana peels as remedy for hickeys
describe your lover’s face when you asked them to pretend to be a home invader intent on ravaging you
when did you realize that wasn’t enough anymore
on a scale of one to shitless how frightened were you
knowing the bar is a moving target now
more than hunger adrenaline is a fathomless well
last week you bought a steak knives instead of eggs and you’ve even paying for it ever since
because you’re starving
because you’re empty
because the bucket is full of holes
and instead of plugging them you keep adding water
it’s not enough
you’re drowning

these words give off heat
when you consume lovers and breathe fire
you want alchemical nourishment and i want to melt you to gold
you think i'm kidding
i'm going to devour you
you think i'm kidding
i'm going to dry rub you with red peppercorn and black clove
and this $42 bottle of salt i got from a bougie gourmet salt store in portland
i'll massage your tender flesh and sear it medium rare
i'm James Dean I'm Elvis Goddamn Presley I am the cannibal of your dreams I am your God Now
have you realized you're not leaving in one piece let alone alive
that i will boil your bones to stock and sip you on chilly november mornings
think of your eyes crying beautiful tears while i slice filets from your perfect thighs sizzling your eyelids to a crisp chomping them like chips
I think of your tattoos like brands on prime cuts and in this economy  isn’t eating your loved ones kind of the noble, carbon neutral thing to do?
I promise
I will eat your eyes last  
so i can gaze into them for as long as i can pickling comes in handy they’ll sit in a jar on my desk
and when i write that bestseller i’ll still be picking the you out of
my teeth that last eye i’ll plop into a vodka martini dirtied with your blood.
then i’ll re-download tinder and find my next meal.

Hypothetical Reality

Chris Chandler

It was Plato that said,
"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom."
I was thinking that knowing my self only justifies my persecution complex.
My persecution complex comes from the fact that I am a performer,
and vicariously hang out with performers....
and frankly,
I am sick of all these people with their massive egos who have no interest in "ME!"
They look at me as if I have failed... but I say,
“No! I am the grand discoverer of a new way that does not work....
Someone should make a plaque.”
I mean to me, the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and actually GETTING different results.
Like... take the wheel...
They say it was mankind's greatest invention.
But I say,
"It wasn't the wheel it was the axel!”
Even that idea was once feared.
Can you imagine the first guy to see some other guy walkin’ through the woods pushing a cart?
Him crying out to his friend,
“Damned Kids today - why back in our day just picked heavy stuff up and carried it.”
'Cause... if ya think about it...
All the scientific facts that we know on this earth to be true...were once taboo.
Every single human invention was once thought to be popy-cock.
All human discoveries were at some time considered a threat to some doctrine,
some dogma... somewhere.
Any artistic achievement was once smeared as vice.
In fact... All human progress, has come about because someone
at sometime
refused to bow to Authority.
But, instead bowed to a higher force... The unstoppable force of ideas.
We could not have come out of the trees...
...hell we could not have gone INTO the trees...
hell, we could not have even crawled out of the primordial ooze...
if it were not for the insubordination and obstinance of the rebellious idea.
Sometimes, I am afraid to be rebellious...
I was afraid to face my fears... So I turned my back on them.
We are all have to face the fact hat we are not going to live forever...
And that is good...
I don't want to live for ever...
I want to build a world that will live forever!
That, is the truth I seek.
I love those who seek truth.
That's my peeps.
Those of us who seek the truth are usually afraid of anyone
that says they know the truth.
After-all, One single daydream can change a million realities.
I want to dream a new reality....
For there is no other way to create a new reality...
Than to dream.
I say, “When life feels like a nightmare...
Wake up and take a nap... Dream.”
And remember...
No one created this world....
Except for you and me...
The bible was misinterpreted...
The world was not created in 6 days.
In fact it was not created at all...
Because, it is still being created...
And not in 6 days... In 3.
Yesterday is gone... Forgotten...
we will never see...
Leaving us today...
So we better get busy...
'cause all we got is this one short life in which
we can walk upon the earth
and stare into the clouds and imagine
the world's glorious design...
For your imagination
IS the world’s glorious design.
For there is no God...
Or forever...
And for that...
I thank God,

i captured an asteroid

David Zeltzer

i captured an asteroid cold
as a lilac’s garden
so cold a woman's flower
has no scent

careen a rocket among children
preening with their eyelids
the bright stars
sinking deeper in
the sad mud of this nation

i wander and rocks stop lying
tailless crystals burrow
in the flaming sand
and disappear like me

who leaps
over cars and trucks
and spray-paints a poem on
spain, france or chile

a poem thin as someone flying
in a hole in the ground
with a child's wing

a poem i stole from
a lilac petal
floating cold and lonely
among the stars

The Nest of Love

Indunil Madhusankha

(Previously published in the Leaves of Ink Magazine on 15th March 2016, in the Spirit Fire Review)

The giant mango tree on the rear lawn
towers above the window in my room upstairs
Beneath its canopy, laid on a limb, there is the bird nest
A small family – the mother, father and the son
In the evenings, when the sky turns primrose
with the golden moon peering above the distant hills
I hear some tweeting sounds coming from the nest
Then I rush towards the window
I see the tiny bill – wide open, rising above the nest wall
saying a thousand little things to its mother
who pats the baby head with her soft slender neck
In a while, the father’s shadow emerges from the distance
with some wild berries clipped between the mandibles
fluttering his wings more hastily seeing home
As he lands on the nest, the mother welcomes him
tenderly kissing his sturdy neck
Then both start cuddling their son
They chop the berries with their beaks
and feed the baby with the bits
who gulps them down
while relishing the very warmth.
Oh, I am so happy that I have been
lucky enough to witness this nest of love!

IV Stars

Tureeda Mikell Story Medicine Woman

Church fathers say,
Star Knowledge is sin!
Devils work!
Fortune telling!  

          In secret we learn Sin means;
          To miss the mark!  

We watch Church fathers miss mark often.
They have no ledge, footing, or balance,
They have overlooked heavens fortune,
  stars covenant with earth survival.
They don’t understand we’re made of stars
That they are relatives who keep watch over us,
They do not care if celestial rhythm is our rhythm.

When we follow Star Stellar instruction,
We are fed!
Food soil grows richer,
Water, cleaner

Church fathers tell us,
Pray the, Our Father, prayer.
There is no integrity in this prayer’s word;
  “On earth as it is in heaven?”
Father’s prayer speaks without deed!!
There is no trust in their god-spell!

We hear Churchman tell us,
“We’re not supposed to know how the heavens go,   
   We’re to know how to go to heaven.”
Their Christ is our crisis!
Heaven on Earth is living word
Churchmen talk out their head
 Like they want us dead!!

Jazz Play

Jean Biegun

Jazz croons every buck from your pocket
deals out sorghum laced with black flame
dares you play it back neat

Jazz gets drumsticks jamming like Picasso
bass lines dancing like Pollock flicked paint
solo tenor keening colors most can’t dig

Mailman slides four past-due bills under the door
Corinne wants some new high-heel shoes
and all what else you brought home

Lucky riff of cobalt blows in the window
your fingers flex unconsciously
complex undertows in your belly laugh

One quick grab for your horn
J. D.’s keyboard smokes the blue air
and Mae’s twins cook gumbo on strings and drum

Jazz is the harbor burning
with your boat anchored there
hot foam blinding above and sweet sirens below

No player rows to the pale side of the moon
over a sleeping summer bay
who has ever touched jazz heat

Only gamblers speed to that wail
search currents like screeching birds
dive for gold that can flash past your eyes

Leaf Song

D. Leah Steinberg

Colors reveal themselves
In this Canadian autumn
Gold, crimson, green, pink, orange
Fluttering over white birch trees

Portraying their proud life
Calling to me
Look, I am here
Remember me in verse
And pictures

I will be gone soon
For this is my swan song
For you and others who
stop to see

Breathe in my scent
Bow to my dance
Remember my colors

Come back
I will return next year
And fall in your hair
And on your shoes



Inspiritus truly truly in this world unruly at the Library
A Rhyme in Time for She Be Sublime the effect was hardly contrary…
Fortune favors the Bold least that’s what’s been told
And during these weary times surrounded by neverending crimes the weather’s been exceedingly cold…
The world be the stage for true Warriors to engage…. With a Fierce Love and a smidgeon of rage… only a real Action would ever turn the page…
She inspired my Spirit She roused up my Soul…………. For thee Promise of America has always been my Goal
To free all the innocents all Sentients every Child…. For this be Spiritual Warfare requiring the Spirit be Wild
So too Mother Earth requiring all Warriors in Unison to release their true Power this moment this Hour as a Spiritual Birth
Freezeframing the slaughterhouse so too industry oil… for this be how Warriors be Arisen busting this Prison in Being so ROYAL….
Was She a Secret Agent…. FBI…or CIA….. really all that matters be how I act in this Play
She must be a Goddess or an Angel at the Least… whatever it be regarding She…be a Power at the Kingdom’s Feast
Her demeanor was subtle yet strong confidence yet within I spotted Her Fire…. I wished Her silently well for She did indeed INSPIRE….
Peter Tscherneff…. King of Masterpiece Theatre


Juan Sequeira

Another year, another month, another day
carried on the shoulders of sapphire memories

your leaving pierced my heart that wilted morning
the orchard harvest macheted under the cloud canopy
the weeping crater on the moon of my blue curtain night
the handkerchief wave of time has not dried the stream of tears

I listen to the song of hummingbirds to hear the echo of your voice
wander in the garden to smell the gardenias on the petals of your breath
reach for the blanket of the sky to wrap me in the nest of your arms
watch the constellation parade and search for the light on your face

I carry your embroidered shawl of wisdom on my uncleared path
the ribbon banner of your heaven love before the unleashed winds
the footprint you painted in the fertile canvas of my winged spirit
Madre, you sleep in the rocking chair of my candlelit silhouetted dream

I Make Love to the World

Clive Matson

Ashes of burnt roses, ashes of broccoli,
ashes of hydra, ashes of proton plasma.

Grass pushes a soft green wave
up the hill. The wind's tiny hands
roam angles on your face.

I make love to the world.

Oak trees: ashes.
Scattered boulders: ashes.
Sheep skin: ashes.
Wagon wheel: ashes.

The sun goes out in a flash. For half a half
second the hills all around light

Night shuts down the sky like a cap.
Two hours later the sky streaks itself
with a meteor. Then unstreaks.

You're not dusted with ashes.
Ashes show through our illusion skin
                     from inside.

Parents dance through my memory
at the head of a stream of ancestors.
Grandmother points to imprints
of worn soles in the dust.
                                   A finger of bone
from the yearning past.

Cat's paws appear overnight,
musty red scatterings on the sand.

Translucent fingers light the sky and lower
to earth. Bestow dimension and color.

Horn honks and from a car window
a stranger waves. His palm cuts
the air into head-size chunks.

Homeless lady talks and why not?
Her lips outline a swash "S."
                                        A single strand
of DNA wraps around the planet.

Look at the picture!

Orange poppies spread in flurries
up three-sided washes.
                        Dudleya's yellow-pink stalks
dot clefts in a rocky cliff.

Iron rebar by a clear grocery
bag, bent at right angles

Eye sockets frame a picture
of every thing
                       precisely in place
every moment. Furry texture
the visual of a conjoining buzz.

Thunderhead grows white puffs
and when you turn back
                                       lightning crashes.
How strange it is all ashes.

This is a perfect view of the world.
This is Dewachen.
This is walking in beauty.

In-chocolate youths laugh
and look back, tease and don’t touch.
                            Their bodies hum.

Orphan trudges through a rain of ash
and wet drops. Fists and toes clenched.

Ashes of the big bang.
Ashes of 10,000 trillion novas.

I make love to the world.

How easy when orange warblers
trill in pine branches.
How easy when earth moves
and sky blanches.
                             How easy
when you stroke soft ashes
on my chest and I throat lyric
tones of my ashen song.

New Blues

Mimi Gonzalez-Barillas

Spectacle begat storyteller
begat theater
begat town crier
begat broadside
begat page
begat newspaper
begat radio
begat screen
begat television
begat monitor
begat diode
begat handheld
begat world wide web
of wonder and wronged
Shadow selves sit in flickering fictions
ghosts foreign and foul
strobe against every home wall
perfection parades in seamless symmetries
watchers become shadows
of selves they’ll never be
instructions on desire
                        thick smooth hair
                        biceps in ballast of broad backs
                        angular faces carved into acceptance or defiant poses
Plato’s shadows march in presenting
                        what we could should would be if only
                        we’d stop watching
naked Horus sees everything
   sexless, nationless
   stripped of judgment
   knowing objectivity through absorbing
   tasked to cross hemispheric divides
                        from seeing a thing to
                        seeing oneself as the thing
                                                            diviner, possessor, beloved

From the first images projected in silence
            accompanied by live orchestras below
to stories on screens gathered around in homes

Blue screens ride along
accompany day into night
we’re no longer alone on a subway, a car, a flight
electronic pets even
devices as companions filling
                                                former silence, space

Images we crave
touch faces we adore
trees saved
flipping pages Horus stores

            Blues was born from being blind
               not able to see yourself as boss, brother or bride

New Blues 2/Other People

 you see     you see     you see
you wake in the middle of the night
you read other people
               other people
you look at your screened device
           at other people
               other people

I wanted so much to be
               other people
               other people
     because what is the point
               in being just me
                              what’s me
     is it sleep waking
            through screen dreams
            of other people
                other people
     is it hunger for
            being seen
            being seen
            by other people
                other people
yes yes yes it is
            so close a microscopic view
            of looking into tiny holes
            is an occupation
            generation is one too

I sit I watch I wait
            you were being me
            seeing memory
            sitting in fascination of color
            repeating Taj Majal space
            of repetitive mirrored infinity
                                                 someday someday
                                                 I’m going to write the best
                                                                                the answer
                                                                              a Gohonzon
                                                                     to finally SOLVE
                                                but I’ll die to be born to
                                                run track it all over
                                                then I’ll be other people
                                                                 other people
                                                in a someday on a Sunday
                                                today it’s me
                                                scratching itches
                                                on a page with a pen
                                                hoping to create a beauty to
                                                share with other people
                                                                 other people

Your Eye on a Small Elusive Detail

Marty Williams

—after reading Detail by Eamon Grennan, b. 1941

I love the birds because I have so little to say
about them. Details of plumage, shape, and
color fly right out of my head. I can only watch
and hope to see. They are such flitting things
to follow. There is no name I can give to their
songs or calls or even know for sure who’s who.

I am a simple witness. Later, a small voice,
a spirit, visits the page, some brief feathered
energy touches down to nest in my words.


Sharon Metzler-Dow     

(At age 15 Lynne Cox swam across the English Channel and shattered the men’s and women’s world records swimming from England to France in 9 hours, 57 minutes.)

It’s another year
and time to swim the English Channel.
Safety boats at distance follow 
but not near.  At anytime a shark
can mistake us for a seal and devour
our whole estate for his next…
we wonder what’s nipping at our heels.
Higher, lower, faster, slower, 
night’s tides test our willpower.

We navigate by watching moving sign-posts 
in the black firmament above and below
and by currents pushing our back
then our toes
for good or detriment.
Hold onto the stars to avoid vertigo!

Liquid laps our skin, enfolds us.
Phosporescence scintillates  —
neon prosecco.  Firefly fish.
Blue tears and blue comets.
from Dover to Calais
treacherous and luminous.

A lot can happen
swimming to another continent.
40,000 armstrokes.
It’s all in the mind.

Nuts In Charge

Garrett Murphy

The world is in need of so many a thing,
The times they are a-waiting and they’re crucial to boot.
Our survival as we know it is open to question.
The nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.

The bullies have been turned into the heroes of the world.
McCarthy has come to and dissent is treason.
A crisis has done struck and leadership is sore needed
The nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.

The genocidal maniacs now have a field day.
Respondents act because they feel they’ve nothing left to lose.
Those who claim they’re for the victims love oppressors instead,
The nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.
And the nuts are in charge of the cookie jar.

Now if you see the profilers out licking their chops
Of all the dark-hued and non-Christians on the menu
And you say it’s okay it’s just a tad inconvenient,
You must be a nut in the cookie jar.
Yea, you must be a nut in the cookie jar.
And you must be a nut in the cookie jar.
And you must be a nut in the cookie jar.

On This Shortest Day-Solstice

Kelliane Parker

On this shortest day
On this place that I do not belong
I see wings clipped, feathers plucked
Bird made flightless before flight
And uses will to create lift
To escape just before

On this shortest day
I send light under wings
Make light, make lightness
Make lighter and loftier
Before fleeing, unseen by
And revealed in lunar luminescence

Stepping into alternate realm
Watching, waiting
Waiting for a sign of safety
Waiting for my human green card
Waiting for an invitation
That never comes, never comes

Lunar light like tidal push-pull
Beckons and repels
Promises and poisons
Revere and repulses
So visceral, vain and violent
As only deities can do

Past and Present

Lori Lynne Armstrong

I dream that I can leave the past behind
craft myself out of new ingredients
found only at the finest establishments.
Not perfect, but the imperfections
will all be new creations.

I wake and rise and dress
in the glow of light through the windows
light from the same stubborn sun
that warmed the past.

I stir ancestral dust into my morning coffee,
thinking it is only sugar.
In the driver’s seat of my car
I only look forward.

My eyes in the mirror are the blue of my father's,
A shadow fist of rage behind their gaze.
As I drive onto a road I think is mine
a ball of darkness dangles from my keychain.

A moment of fear rounding a sharp curve
makes the early ribbon of highway turn dark
to twist in midnight hairpins high in the Rockies
and I lay once again in the back
of a black station wagon,
cigarette fumes inside closed windows,
burying my head in my arms
while drunks in the front seat decide my fate

but that was the past.
Focused again, I make it to work
this is a new job, a new career for me
new is where it’s at

but the morning meeting bores me
I daydream old rooms of privacy
chocolate and bookshelves
casting their I’m-not-listening spells
using more power as night voices rise

John from accounting pounds the table
to make a point and I flinch; I shouldn’t,
he is the present, a jerk but no threat
I go to the restroom for a moment alone

wash my hands in icy water
splash cold onto the blue-eyed mirror face
my fingers brush a phantom ache
from my mother’s last black eye.

October 2018

elana levy

Sun tinges roses
along front yard fence

Mist's drips feed
the redwoods

Bees bounce from
daisy disc to daisy disc

Workers ride
orange city trucks
yellow-lining streets

Well-dressed milenennials
swarm to
Apple emporiums

Unkempt young man plays
guitar on busy sidewalk
money basket at his feet

Too warmly dressed young woman
discreetly walks city streets
scoping out safer space for
tonight's sleep

soldier on leave
flinches and flails
when people pass too near

A poet writes verses
to point - not to the moon-
but to human life's impending

As The World Splits Open

Andrena Zawinski

Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing...
on a woman’s hunched back—Marge Piercy, 1975

Six men rape and murder a New Delhi medical student
on a bus, her ashes and their crime scattered
to winds crossing the Ganges.
A woman is raped
every twenty minutes in India.

Three brothers take two low caste village girls,
twist their scarves into nooses to cut deep into their necks,
leave them to die hanging from a mango tree.
Women protestors are blasted
by police water cannons.

A mob of twenty attack a girl in Cairo's Tahrir Square
in front of her parents at a presidential inauguration,
her body bloodied, clawed raw, clothes torn from her.
Crimes against women
are repeated and unpunished.

Women go shopping, to school, to jobs in Ciudad Juarez.
They disappear, their bodies found stabbed, dismembered,
mutilated, torched––desert blood.
Crimes against women
remain unsolved and unstoppable.

Five soldiers rape a Nairobi mother, charge her for insulting
a government body, her sentence delayed to breastfeed.
A crime against one woman
is a crime against all women.

Buried neck high, stoned before a thousand spectators,
a Somalie girl suffers a public death for reporting her rape.
Hundreds of Nigerian girls are kidnapped for sex slave trade
to be brokered across the Middle East, Europe, Russia.
Girls bought and sold as talismans of youth and virility
in India, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, are more likely
to die than learn how to read.
Countless millions of children
are ravished in times of war.

On the home front two Steubenville quarterbacks
and one receiver brag a girl you get drunk can’t say no,
are videotaped for a You Tube splash.
One in four American women
will be raped in her lifetime
on dorm floors, in labs, in classrooms, bathrooms, at work,
or just walking home watching the moon and the stars
     as the world splits open,
                 cold winds blowing
                 across their hunched backs.

(appears in the book by the author, LANDINGS, from Kelsay Books)

The title is adapted from the question Muriel Rukeyser posed, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?” and answered with “The world would split open.”


John Rowe

Oh Heavenly!
You sure ain’t a poet pissin’ on a fire hydrant
though you’ve been known to piss on a fire.
We nicknamed you Angel of Nowhere
with your yellowed white wings, overexposed
to the elements, underexposed (in your mind)
to a life full of deep meaning. At the corner café
you shake some salt into the flavorless soup,
fork-stab the Caesar with its few strips of chicken,
scribble down words and restless thoughts  
and swallow hard as the voice inside your head says:
Time to get up and walk out the door, you moron!
“Where do you get off saying something like that?”
You’re right, oh sensitive one, let us pray instead:
Praise the earth and sky, and your breathing, your breath.
Praise be! Amen Amen.

The Purpose of Life

Richard Loranger

I move hundreds of objects around every day,
literally hundreds – socks, dishes, pens, books, bags,
empty bags, bags full of groceries, bags full of bags,
containers of food, chunks of flesh, parts of plants, various soaps,
pieces of metal, pieces of plastic, pieces of wood, so many,
so many. Sometimes I think that the purpose of my life,
of all human life, is to move these objects around.
Sometimes I feel like an ant. That might be more than simile.
It’s really not that too far-fetched, if you think about it.
After all, we’re so fond of ascribing to bees the function of moving pollen,
of rats to knowing the way out – but do you think that’s how they see their lives?
I think not. So why can’t we, in the greater scheme of things,
and we are in a greater scheme of things, are we not,
much as our hubris and wack sense of self might lead us to think otherwise,
mightn’t we, as I say, in the greater scheme, in the dance,
in the cosmic funk, mightn’t we really be fertilizing, or preparing to fertilize
something we can’t see or comprehend, with odd chunks
of plastic, metal, wood, trash, farts? Might we be purposed,
divinely or not, to set some galactic far-from-human bloom in motion?


Bruce Fessenden

People are sick these days
   you can hear it in the coughing
   at the coffee house, behind the words
   you can hear the phlegm
   from rushing around too fast
   chasing after what they already have.
Inside lung and organ tissue, inside marrow of bone
   unseen surfaces, stairways, hidden windows
   are already here in the world
   patiently waiting to be found.

It’s not that I’m rough all the time
   it’s something else, something that doesn’t quite fit
   or is a little too silent
   some part of me a little awkward
   a little alien; never feel quite right
   in the light of the everyday world.

I’m not a misfit, not a stranger
   I fit in, in a different sort of way
   like a crystal, opaque and transparent simultaneous
   almost black, but inward, not glowing
   more like an emphasizing
   the innerness of the stone
   a soft radiance, like an animal
   attentive, alive to its world
   just noticing, nothing more.

My darkness is the glade
   on the western side of the ridge
   where nobody goes.
Or the wild desert, a land of extremes
   harsh at high noon; yet crystalline purity
   with the early morning light.
Caravansari of old brought a human exchange
   all the remains is the sand, the dunes
   nights littered with stars.
What is exchanged now?  Where there is only wind
   and endless quiet, where footprints
   are erased in an instant.

What is my last day?
   Is it the holly tree, with its deep greens
   and reds; luscious growth and a steady joy?
Or is it the aurora borealis, with crackling mystery
   and otherworldly colors: lime, magenta, pink?
What have I released back to the
   ground, to matter, to the mother
   to the innerness of all things?
What gesture was I making inside
   the arc of my days, that others may have noticed
   which I could never see.
But love is not for understanding
   love is an activity; love moves.
Ashes to ashes, the course of my days
   a hollowing, for innerness
   a hallowing, full circle, the shape that
   holds the sacred, like a garden
   sifting, reflecting, dreaming
   then releasing.

Sharing a Room

Jack O’Neill

For in a room
The game is spliced
Into the creed
With allowed merriment
Four in a room
A simple fact
Beds need corners
How do clothes?

The sun since down,
Other lights come in
The window, in pairs,
From a black and white movie

And sweep the wallpaper.
A soldier’s destiny, the
Treasure chest, taking fire.
Taking turns, we hutch behind
For this is what
Treasure is for
That and the spliced
Game, not just now
But from the ground
Up and ground back down
Into the ground.  That
And the joy, the

Childish glee at
Embodying the
Anti aircraft, twin
Legs pistoning each

Other, and the sky


Jeannette DesBoine

sing a song of slaughter
a pocket full of shells 
four and twenty black folks
murdered in their beds

when the dead were buried 
choirs began to sing
the echo heard around the land
astounded modern man 

the banter from the white house
left much to be desired
condescending hateful words
fueled a raging fire

the justice system turned its head
and looked the other way
until the day the tables turned 
and vengeance joined the fray

Some Ways to Become a Bird Watcher

Dan O’Connell  

work a miserable job for forty years
where all you see is grey
iron cords
burning red
realize what was missing


commute on an exhaust-choked highway
brake lights fluttering in
stop and go dawn
take note of mallards
far above the traffic
when a shimmering male
dies in the sky
dents your hood
makes you look up

spend eight hours in a bar called
Birds of a Feather
sipping Donner whiskey
depressed as a worm
when a scrawny sparrow
on the window ledge
stares at a you
stare back

take up a hobby to fill time
with beauty
inspired by an old man who hunts
for watches and coins
in sand
find nothing
but gulls

kill a man over a trifle
get life
without parole
through the bars
one crow
perched on barbed wire

live an ordinary life
it is unavoidable

walk through thick forest
of a fabled mountain
feel the sun
rising through green
notice the quiet
realize what is missing

birds!                        birds!

What Everyone Believes

Dale Jensen

there was a sky then
a perfect sky inside the sky
the inside sky was the only one people saw
and everyone believed in it
belief    that was essential

there is a little dog
smaller than a yorkie or a chihuahua
that waits each day for the sun to disappear
under the earth at sunset
then smells it out    leads it all night
through a terrifying labyrinth you
wouldn’t think you could get light through
then    the next dawn
takes it to its place at the edge of the eastern sky

you wish you could thank the little dog
but you can’t find it
the little dog is beyond its own belief
beyond the greyness of cloud
beyond any visible layer of sky

you can point at a barely discernable star
and say there it is    there it is the little dog
but you’d be wrong
that’s a star    someone else’s sun
and now maybe yours too

Supraclavicular fossa

Riss Rosado

do you know what ​this​ is called?
snakeskin syrup hawed flesh ridden bodies retching counted sorrow above you below me “Rise” said the voice beside me, as in of course, get up, even if you are acutely dead from a broken heart Supraclavicular fossa i sat in the bath for hours scrubbed my skin with coffee grounds lipstick smears lashes laden with wishes heartbeats the bandaids i put on your eyes when crying hurt too much shreds of your love letters
flesh scrubbed raw still you linger like a bite held too long is a bruise
is that familiar blood taste a reminder that i miss how you taste draw blood like you draw a blank
careless, wasteful
Supraclavicular fossa
Bet You Didn’t Know They Spoke the Original Love Language:
and other tricks my tongue is dying to show you i left a drawing of a horse on the windowsill it came to life, whispered my name i saw death wearing his same hat i asked how his day was i didn’t mean to flirt with him
i never do
Supraclavicular fossa
you, stubborn, refuse to be forgot anchor your nerves to the kite string shooting straight from my gut tug when you have nothing better to do
first taste of maker’s dripped down your sternum and kissed away
do you know what this​ ​ is called this dip north of collarbone this sunken dream i’ve wasted so much time unwise, too busy  that i have yet to fill with
july blueberries  or honey or a dipping sauce  enough kisses to make you weak
this voluptuous void this concave i crave Supraclavicular fossa this is where i lived this is where i spent evenings fluttering my wings faster than eyes can perceive this home made of breezy laughter and lower lip bites
where i collected the bits of us till it overflowered with lillies
which made a beautiful exoskeleton to keep me out if i could only keep part of you
let it be this hollow  side by side across your perfect throat to catch me when i fall for you again:
Supraclavicular fossa.

The Life I Want to Be Living,  

Cathy Cade

I take my white-self for a walk down Oakland’s 14th St.
I’m exercising and looking around
When a black woman in her late 30’s approaches.
She calls out: “Thanks for your great smile!”
I had no idea I was smiling!
I hear myself respond: “Back at cha” with a lift of my finger.
Her smile grows very large and very beautiful.
We are talking about more than our smiles.
We are “seeing” each other, as women, across race, generations, and probably sexual identity.
This is the life I want to be living.

The Yellow Vest

Dee Allen

Austerity means
Governments can save
Themselves from debt
By leaving their
Citizens in debt.
Austerity means
Governments can cut
Pay and pensions
For workers and retirees
And in return, give
A higher price for petrol,
A heavier cost of living.
A population
Unable to make ends meet.
People's one defence
Against a long midnight in debt
Is the one they
Drape over
Their shoulders.
Favouring the rich
Is a good way
For the state
To instantly make
Countless new foes
Wearing Day-Glo yellow
Over their clothes.
Desperate measures
Had to be taken
In the most
Desperate economic situation:
Blocking the motorways,
Surrounding federal buildings,
Storming the TV stations.
Streets had to be
Broken into stones
Assuming flight
From open hands,
Cars risked being burnt,
Shops risked being smashed,
Upscale sectors of cities looted
So the powers that be
Can finally see
How their measures of austerity
Are massacring folks
Accept this urban warzone reality.
No amount of water cannons,
Stun grenades and arrests
Prevents rage
Against unshared
Wealth from
Traversing classes and
National borders
Beyond France.
The yellow vest means
Resistance is
High visibility
As its colour.
The yellow vest means
Choosing to fight
The threat of lingering
Poverty on the ground.

(W: New Year's Eve 2018)

Their Carpets Speak for Them                                                          

Jan Dederick

Sloe-eyed women’s furtive glances
slide like shuttles on carpet looms.
Centuries since,  countless wives,
unnumbered lives, veiled in mum domain.

In the silence of palaces, women’s voices,
like shadows of cats on candlelit walls:
muted mothers thread ancient knowing    
into burkaed daughters’ slotted gaze:

how to unravel cocoons of their hope,
spin thread of their dreams,
stew languid longing with rainbow blossoms
in taciturn crucible, dye deep.

So, millions on millions of silkworms
surrender coiled chrysales,
unwind and spin and string the warp
of women weavers’ rugs.    

So, poppies, abob in Persian fields,
numerous as stars, nod assent,
splash scarlet red on carpet’s face,
speak of women’s hot life blood.

So, numberless marigolds
proffer their gilded heads:
sun’s splendor will sing
in daughters’ woven songs.

In the silence of palaces, men walk in  
to ink-dark chambers as they will.
In the clatter of shuttles, women weave
their art, those children of unspoken things.

There Comes a Time…

Marilyn Flower

Into every life there comes a time
when the heart wells up
with a vision, a calling,
a picture of possible
that won’t leave it alone.
It nags and gnaws day and night
like a dog with a much loved bone.

So the heart dons its rucksack
and heads out the door
on a journey made of love.
And when we don’t gear up and follow
our life shrinks in proportion
to the distance our heart travels alone.

Then our heart shaped hollow easily fills
with toxic imitations—
such that saying NO
turns lethal and eventually kills.

But when we say yes, oh when we say YES
and yes and yes and yes!
and grab our gear and run to catch up
then, then, the angels cheer,
the path is breezy--
every night--full mooned and blessed,
every day--warmed by the sun of success.
And even the steepest climb is easy.

Tightrope Walker

Chris Warren Smith

Death my old dark friend.
You have no beginning and no end.
Yet people still fear your story.
You are all powerful yet never get the glory.
The unwanted guest in any situation.
Huge body of work.  Bad reputation.
Always the wrong time at the wrong place.
We never really catch your face.
Are you a twist of fate?
Or just an expiration date?
Like a tree falls under the night sky.
If we don’t witness our own death do we actually die?
I bet you know the answer but you’re not talking.
So I’ll press my luck and keep tight rope walking.


Saswati Das

I traveled through the mountains,
I traveled through the wood;
I wandered through the forest
As far as I could-

I sailed through the rivers
I breathed in the sea
I tried to touch the horizon
As far I could see-

I climbed the skyscrapers
And the lofty tower
I saw the brilliance
Of the cruel power;

Roaming through the world,
As my traveler cease-
Nowhere, nowhere,
Could I found peace!

And then finally
I went to city,
To slum, to village
To people’s simplicity.

I saw their struggle
Their weakness and strength-
Their pain and misery
What all they meant!

I empathized with them
And their trembling faith,
I supported them
In their eternal gait-

I fought for their rights,
I felt their smiles,
And with them, through them,
As I walked for miles-

Suddenly I realized
I found peace!
The unrest of my heart
Now cease to exist-

My wandering heart
Have found the nest;
And this is the place
I travelled best-

For nothing is more wondrous
Than the human;
Their life's a story
As deep as ocean-

And here I belong
After all I roam;
My traveler's heart
Finds a home!

The Tumbleweed’s Dance

Jim Barnard

Now decades
since they built the freeway,
since lonely desert road crumbled into asphalt sand,
since outcast settlement abandoned.

Boarded-up windows attracted graffiti
like a drunk divorcee
draws cowboys at closing time.
Sand climbs high
against the cinder block wall.

A sign —
battered white letters
against splintered gray background —
“Dean’s Feed Store”.
Rusted ’54 Chevy up on blocks out back.

Tumbleweeds dance in a devil wind,
creosote and cachanilla
where alfalfa used to grow,
the scent of sage replaces feedlot stench —
the desert reclaims her own.

On Returning Phebe’s 100-years Overdue Library Book

Judy Wells  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Dear Phebe,
I just wanted to tell you,
that you became famous
for 15 minutes today
100 years after you died
though your name was misspelled
Phoebe Marsh Dickenson Webb
instead of
Phebe Marsh Dickinson Webb.

Your great-grandson Webb Johnson
found a library book in your old trunk
you checked out a century ago
in 1917 in San Francisco
and decided to return it.
You see the San Francisco Libraries
had an amnesty
on returning overdue library books
without a fine.
Yours would have been
$3,650 at 10 cents a day!
Oh, I know that’s outrageous,
Phebe, but it’s inflation!

Dear Phebe, you died before
you could return your book
so my cousin Webb and I
took it to the Park Branch Library
in the Haight Ashbury.
We expected a solid handshake
and perhaps a snapshot for our saintliness
but no! We were greeted
by a barrage of ABC TV cameras
and reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle
to broadcast the extraordinary news
that a 100 years overdue library book
was being returned at last!

The head of the SF Public Libraries
handled the book like a rare relic.
I wanted to check it out again
as soon as Webb returned it—
he had cooked up that plot.
I had even applied and received
a psychedelic library card
from the Haight Ashbury library
but the Library Head said I’d have to wait.
Was this precious jewel intended
for the library museum? I guess.
Its title: 40 Minutes Late & Other Stories.

Postscript: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dear Phebe,

Today I read in the Chronicle:
In a back room at San Francisco’s Main Library,
staffers are organizing the building’s
newest exhibit: a wall of shame.

And there’s your book, Phebe,
40 Minutes Late & Other Stories
prominently displayed in a photo
amongst all the other laggards.
You have front row, Phebe,
top billing! A second shot at fame.

My cousin Webb Johnson,
your great-grandson,
a short story writer himself,
told me he always wanted to be known
for a book.
He just forgot to specify
his book!

From Dear Phebe: The Dickinson Sisters Go West by Judy Wells (Sugartown, 2018)  
Note: “On Returning Phebe’s 100 Years Overdue Library Book”:
The author of 40 Minutes Late & Other Stories (1909), F. Hopkinson Smith, was also an engineer and artist. He designed the foundation under the Statue of Liberty; did many drawings and watercolors from his travels in Mexico, Europe, and North Africa; and authored short stories, novels, and travel pieces.

What If Duane Allman?

Larry Beresford

What if Duane Allman
had strapped on a helmet
before roaring off on his motorcycle
on October 29, 1971,
the leader of a band
that had only recently made
huge ripples in rock?

Just eight months since recording
Live at the Fillmore East,
perhaps the greatest guitarist of his generation
was poised at the pinnacle, the big dog at last,
with every reason to believe
it was only getting started.

What if he had been there
to talk his band mates back
from the ledge of narcotics?
What if he had punched his brother Greg
in the nose when he announced
that he was going to marry Cher?

What if Duane had skippered
four, six, eight more albums for the Brothers
before going back home to Melissa
to finally pop the question,
gently rocking her porch swing
with his freshly shined boots,
his Southern brogue unseasonably husky
as he promised to forsake all others
while the limo idled in her driveway?

What if they’d bailed on celebrity
and moved to Hawaii or Bahia or Jamaica?
What musical fusions could he have cooked up
on his verandah with that enchanted bottleneck?
Later their kids would move back Stateside
to form an island-scented band with Derek Trucks.

What if Duane had just refrained
from driving his motorcycle at high speeds
with everything to live for
on Hillcrest Avenue in Macon, Georgia,
without a helmet, without a prayer,
with the future waiting to unfold
like a golden highway, the road not taken?

What She Doesn’t Know

Dorty Nowak

Across the back fence I hung Tibetan prayer flags the week after
you died. I didn’t tell our neighbor Sophie, they hung only on our side.
When I met her walking - the street I don’t remember, she said

I heard the news. How are you?
I’m sorry for your loss.
I could never live without my Fred.

My heart fluttered, hands flapped.  
If you’re ever lonely, knock on our door.

A crow pecked an answer from my lips.

From my kitchen window I see the maple at the back of her property.
It’s been there since before our times.  In summer, generous green
shades our yards. When fall winds feather my garden with leaves,
I sometimes want to cut the tree down.  

Sophie has hung a birdhouse and tray from a limb, its raw wood not
yet weathered.  From my window I watch a crow perch to feed,
scattering sparrows like seed.

I took your seat, it offered a garden view. From it I peer over the fence
into Sophie’s kitchen. Each morning Fred sits by the window drinking
coffee, reading the paper. Each morning I greet him
Good morning, Fred.
Looks like a sunny day.
Do you believe the ruckus in Washington?

He never answers, how could he? Besides, I know from years with you,
a response is not guaranteed. I watch him sip coffee, flap the pages, worry
when he isn’t there. Sophie doesn’t know I’ve borrowed her husband,
and sure as the crow flies, neither will you.

Why shouldn’t she go today?

Melissa Hobbs

The Pacific ocean of faith floods
halfway up my eyes’
gaze of indefinite blue.
Hiking the Coast Trail this afternoon
I tramp the dried-up grasses.
September sun broils
the copses of Redwood and live oak
loping down the ravine to the beach
where dots of people swim.
So far away
individuality departs.
In Ohio where hers is, I cannot be.
The trail pitches into the shade grove.
Bay leaves roast the raiment
of Mom’s favorite seasoning.
My hands turn into ferns reaching
but her rock spring is dry.
The path out of the trees
walks on the sea.
A skiff leaves a white streak
outgoing on the tide.  
It was a tiny sound
the priestess said
strumming her harp
to Alma purring
around Mom’s neck.
“If there’s something after life,
I’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Mom said.
Mom, your California born
pomegranate ripened in Ohio.
The husk burst open.
The jeweled seeds dropped sweet
and robust as blood.
You are floating upon a keel
which scuds clean of the horizon.
Open the portal to us
like the scent of ancient trees
wafting that camphor of mystery.     

Where I Come From

Barbara Saunders 2019

My grandmother had soiled herself
A nurse was wiping her when I arrived.
I backed out of the room,
Waited in the visitors’ lounge
Until the bath was done.

The sight of her naked body shocked me:
The ground I traveled to get here,
A patch of brown earth
The water draining out
The winds carrying her away.

A Driving Issue

Deborah Fruchey

You touched my heart. Oh, more.
You could have eaten my heart with butter and mashed potatoes
with my blessing.
But when you touched my skin,
nothing happened.

I was a red Ferrari.
You were a man with a pink slip
but no key. You'd never learned how
to hotwire.
Oh, I tried to help without nagging
press in the choke
caress the wheel
lighten up on that accelerator

Nothing helped us achieve ignition
though I let you have the driver's seat
for a long time.

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