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Other notable works by Joan I. Siegel and Mary Makofske.

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Joel Solonche-

FOR ONE WHO SAID A POEM IS A SAFE PLACE

But I know some that are dangerous places,
that once you stumble
into them, suck you down and kill you.

But you are right, a poem
can be a safe place, as safe,
at least, as any place can be considered safe,

safer, for instance,
than a mirror,
but not as safe as the past.

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A READING

Silence.
No questions.
Questioners but no questions.
Silence.

The silence is awkward.
The non-questions are awkward.
The room is awkward.
The room tilts backward awkwardly.

The room spills its awkward load of non-questions
on the lectern.
The silence is a door.
The lectern is the knob on the door of silence.

He folds the silence in half.
Then in half again.
Then in half again.
Then he puts the door of silence into the inside

pocket of his jacket.
The room tilts to the angle gravity loves.
He slides across the stage.
He opens the door and falls into his pocket.

_______________

THE PATH

A spring-like day in Autumn.
November tries warmth on
and it fits. On the common,
a flag football game.

A girlfriend watches
her small-time hero
run his predetermined zero
into the green patches.

I circle around the players,
shift my bag from hand to hand.
They do not understand
what the past is. The future,

too, is a mystery to them.
To these, time is nothing.
To me, everything.
They ride the pendulum.

I count each swing,
perpetually, back and forth.
I hasten along the arcing path
and look up without looking.

To know what will happen
never makes what happens easier.
The ash leaves seek one another
on the ground, to form again,

in the path’s curve, an ash tree,
and on the lawn of Morrison Hall
the brown and red leaves fall,
and in front of the library

maples get lost in light.
The faces blur into one face,
and the names, without a trace,
disappear overnight.

I see myself in the glass
of the door, a shadow,  hurled
through the zero of the world.
Harmless, I pass

in, to disengage,
to read the maples lost
in light, to read the frost
coming on, to read a page

or two, to read the man
looking back in the glass
like a book I read once,
and since have forgotten.

_______________

THE ALBINO ON THE BUS

I looked at him
with doll’s eyes
clicking up as
he moved along

the aisle clicking
down as he passed
his pink worm’s
eyes tunneling

to the rear where
there were empty
seats but he did
not sit down

He stood grasped
the pole with a
hand whiter than
a mushroom

and hummed to
himself like a
fluorescent
bulb about to blow

He stood and hummed
and looked like
a flower not being
looked at after sex

after the petals drop
his white hair
the gauze of a spent
seed or the filament

of a popped flash
or the ashes of real hair
No one looked at him
longer than needed

but the driver looked back
a few times in the safety of
the rearview mirror
and shook his head

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J.R. Solonche is co-author (with wife Joan I. Siegel) of PEACH GIRL: POEMS FOR A CHINESE DAUGHTER (Grayson Books). His work has appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies. Most notable are The American Scholar, The New Criterion, The Progressive, The Literary Review, The North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, Salmagundi, Poetry East, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Barrow Street, The Cumberland Review, Fugue, the Coe Review, and the on-line Review Americana. He teaches at Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York.

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Joan I. Siegel-

Haggadah
(after reading Primo Levi)

If not death
still there would be winter

If not winter
that burns a man’s lips blue
and freezes excrement and blood
winter that roars through cloth
slashes the weft of flesh
the warp of sleep

still there would be hunger

If not hunger
growling like a wild beast
in the empty belly
in the bones
in the eyes
in the ears

still there would be fear

If not fear
in the eyes of the mothers
in the eyes of the fathers
in the eyes of the daughters
in the eyes of the sons
all eyes
crawling in the mud
slouching toward nothing

still there would be hope

If not hope
when the spring rains came
and washed the air
and washed the earth
and washed the fire
and washed the blood
and punished all with memory
so that one might recall
he was once a man

still there would be shame

If not shame
for what one has thought
or not thought
shame for what one has done
or not done
shame for what one has become
or not become
among the living
and the dead

still there would be death

And if not death

still there would be memory

*Recipient of 1998 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award
(originally published in The Journal of Genocide Research)

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How the Tortoise Knew It Was Her Time

Did the sun dip into the water this morning
staining it with blood, an omen
while the pale moon looked on like a blind eye
or is it how the water moved and didn’t move
around the water lilies or the way the lichen spread
over the rocks or because of a sudden agitation
in the beating of the dragon flies’ wings or how
the day lilies spread open and shut or something
in the blue of the Sweet Williams reminded her of winter
and loneliness edged downward from her belly
so that she heaved herself out of the pond
and up the steep roadside to dig the hole
where she sits now
still and purposeful as if to say,
it suffices

(originally published in The Amicus Journal )

_______________

Memory

As though darkness were a hand,
a tactile memory
like playing the piano.
You touch lost things:
The texture of green walls
in the living room where you lived.
Walls green as a forest at midnight
of the new moon.  How a stain
on the ceiling was a bird’s wing
in the shadows of the table lamp. You
and your sister on the floor playing jacks,
comfortable as animals in each other’s
smell. The iron radiator hissing
steam, warming
the room while winter
scored its breath on the window
pane. In the kitchen, voices
of mother and father. Out of nowhere
the notion they could die. Later
the broiler’s red
hot wire. How the veins
of the lamb on your plate looked
just like the veins in your wrist.

(originally published in Rattle)

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The Horse

To save us forever they said,
If that old horse climbs up on the sidewalk
watch out! He’ll swallow you whole
when I was five in the summer streets.

If that old horse climbs up on the sidewalk

dragging the peddler’s wagon load of melons.
I was five in the summer streets.
I knew his wet eyes looking at me

dragging the peddler’s wagon load of melons.
The plums were dark as night in the afternoon.
I knew his wet eyes looking at me.
Iron bit in his gums. Teeth grinning.

The plums were dark as night that afternoon
he waited at the curbside, whinnied to the sun.
Iron bit in his mouth. Teeth grinning.
I touched his flanks. I kissed his dusty mane.

He waited at the curbside, whinnied to the sun
while they reached for bags full of juicy plums.
I touched his flanks. I kissed his dusty mane.
The harness rattled. The wagon creaked.

They reached for bags full of juicy plums.
He shifted his weight, one hoof in the air.
The harness rattled. The wagon creaked.
I smelled his smell on my hands, my face.

He shifted his weight, one hoof in the air.
Melons bounced. Plums rolled in the gutter.
I smelled his smell on my hands, my face.
My heart jumped high in its ivory cage.

Melons bounced. Plums rolled in the gutter.
Dizzy down the street with love and fear,
my heart jumped high in its ivory cage.
I hid behind a cellar door and cried.

Dizzy down the street with love and fear,

Watch out! He’ll swallow you whole!

I hid behind a cellar door and cried.
As if that could save me forever and ever.

(originally published in Prairie Schooner)

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Dance
(for Joel)

Because the moon is in the white birch
I will dream you are sitting
on the naked branches
one arm draped around
the winter moon
your fingers tapping
on our window
waking me to tango
in the milky light
lean into your body
my arms thrust back like wings
balanced high above
all other sadness.

(originally published in Poetry East)

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The Great Masters

In the paintings of the great masters
a woman is usually naked, stepping
into the bathtub or just out of it. Water glistens
on her breasts. She bends like a branch to wring out
her long, thick hair. You can hear the master’s breath.
Another time she is with her sisters
splashing naked in some sylvan pond
in the middle of the woods.  Or they dance
together around the trees.  They don’t know
they are being watched.
She sits naked at a picnic on the grass
with some well-dressed Victorian gentlemen
or in a meadow by herself daydreaming
in the artist’s dappled light.
At home she stretches out on the couch
as though she has nothing else to do — naked and
bejeweled at mid-afternoon, surrounded
by bowls of ripe grapes and pears, or peacocks.
The maid stands by with flowers.
Sometimes she sits at the mirror,
wearing garters or wearing nothing at all,
simply brushing her hair,
or she undresses herself,
pulls off a stocking,
unzips a skirt,
as if she were finally alone in her room
at the end of the day.  She doesn’t hear
that other woman screaming in the next gallery—
the one thrown to the ground,
hair trussed by the roots,
clothes ripped from her body,
trampled naked and torn by thundering
gods and satyrs
and all the king’s men.

(originally published in The Gettysburg Review)

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Joan I. Siegel is recipient of the 1998 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award and the 1999 New Letters Poetry Prize. Author of Hyacinth for the Soul (Deerbrook Editions, 2009), she has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The American Scholar, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Witness, Poetry East, among others.

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Mary Makofske-

Milk Teeth

In the jewelry box, under fake
gold and silver, imitation stones,
I uncover these raw pearls of teeth.

The jagged edges where they tore loose
from the gums are hollow in the middle,
and in some, the old blood ages brown.

I could not throw them out, these fragments
of their bodies. Now I can’t tell
whose teeth they were, pocked and uneven

as those years when time slowed to a leaf
seen on our walks, unfolding day by day,
or repeated itself like sandbox castles.

So near the nerve, the cavities
carved by sweetness in that enamel
boredom. Teeth formed around my milk,

outgrown and thrust away. I see them strung,
the medicine man’s bone necklace.
When I hunted under pillows trading

these for quarters, I made the best bargain.
Now they jangle in my palm, a currency
rising in value, these healing stones.

(published in the author’s book The Disappearance of Gargoyles)

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Room for Song

Lately my sons are rapt
in rooms bristling with warnings–
Keep Out! No Trespassing.
This means YOU!
I trespass, by the cracks
closed doors can give
into their lives. Inside,
footfalls, a rustling.

No calculating how far
they have walked
between the windows and the white
iron beds their bodies now
can take the measure of.
Under my feet the floor begins to pulse
with music they inhabit like a room,
locked, as these old doors won’t lock.

After their baths, I enter the steam
they’ve left, breathe deeply, gather
towels like shed skins.
As in the rain forest after
a storm, one by one
the birds pick up their songs.

(published in the author’s chapbook Eating Nasturtiums)

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Falling

They bend over the innards of cars,
hands plugged to the sparks of motion.
Or crouch under sinks melting soft wands
of solder to liquid, touching it
to jointed pipes where it is drawn
into the fault to harden against water.
The friends of our son
crack open the door of the future
and enter, tools lined up in boxes,
to fix what is broken.

Bent over his guitar, he too
is concerned with mending.
In his room each day scales soar
into a hymn, the ritual chants of monks
who kneel at dawn in meditation,
and he moves through the visible world
like a man whose faith has already
sworn him in as a citizen of heaven.

But tonight he straightens and begins
to talk of something to fall
back on, the Friday paycheck,
what he can sell for a living.

Amid machines and engines, gears and valves,
bridges, assembly lines, assembly language,
it’s easy to assume his hours
of practice are something less
than an apprenticeship.
A calling.

Fall back, the lieutenant cries
to his beaten soldiers.
Fall away, says the demon
that lures us from grace.
Our words, taken in at last,
come out of his mouth.
And sound like heresy, like treason.

(published in Eating Nasturtiums)

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In an Unnamed Country

In her haste to salvage what she could,
some flower vendor must have dropped
this tulip on the pavement near the curb.
Or husband bearing from the florist shop
an anniversary bouquet, as those first
shots were heard, was jostled just enough
to loose one flower, now the only color
after rain has washed away the blood.

The few who slink beside the buildings
will not stoop to lift it. A tulip
can’t be eaten, can’t be fired. How did
these yellow petals and this fragile throat
escape the heels of panic? It still breathes
as in a meadow, waiting for the bees.

(originally published in Poetry East)

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Euthanasia: A Geography

Spoken, it looms
like some vast island
he did not mean
to discover.

Its rock wall spans
the clear horizon,
daring him to scale
cliffs without footholds
to the bleached plateau,
treeless, cracked by heat.
Beneath a molten sky
spined bushes hunker.

The landscape he might
have mapped takes his own
measure. Now he must shoulder
light and shadow, chiseled
sky, and let the stars
draw closer.

He scans the distance
for the way across,
the pass through mountains
he does not choose to name,
words precious as water.

Consumed with thirst,
he walks in circles
till the land that seemed
too stark for bones
dissolves in sudden rain.

White blossoms open, fall
from clots of berries
poisonous, but sweet.
And what he thought were stones
unfold their wings.

(originally published in Poetry)

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Mary Makofske is the author of The Disappearance of Gargoyles (Thorntree) and Eating Nasturtiums, a winner of the Flume Press Chapbook Competition. Her poems have appeared in Mississipi Review, Zone 3, Calyx, Amoskeag, and other magazines and in the anthologies Hunger and Thirst (San Diego City Works), A Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (Iowa), Tangled Vines (HBJ), Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge (Grayson), and Essential Love (Grayson). Her work has received the Robert Penn Warren Poetry Prize, Lullwater Review Poetry Prize, Spoon River Review Poetry Prize, Iowa Woman Poetry Prize, and second place in the Writer’s Digest competition.

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Masthead

Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2017

January - Robert Lietz
February - Jocelyn Heaney
March - David Brinkman
April - Lana Bella
May - Kaitlyn O'Malley

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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