You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2014.


Other notable work by Richard Merelman, Sharon Auberle and Catherine Jagoe.


Timothy Walsh-

Chanterelles, Portabellas, and Morels

The very first day the ice left the lake,
two loons appeared on the wind-awakened water
as she walked the rocky shore.

Within herself, she felt ice
still encasing her soul—
or if not her soul, at least the place
her soul should be.

Weeks later, at the farmer’s market on the square,
she held the enchanted horn of a giant morel,
thought of her husband that morning in bed,

remembered how the severed arms of the apple trees

At the kitchen window above the sink,
she cuts the stems from a box of chanterelles
while watching the backyard birds—
the plump mourning doves, always in pairs,
the peacock iridescence of the grackles
when they catch the sun.

Having known the lift of wings,
she feels her arms nearly useless things.

She takes a star anise pod from the sill,
the seeds still perfect in their astral case,
remembers how starfish littered the beach at Hatteras,
the red sands of Malpeque Bay with northern lights
quivering aloft.

For months, she was bewitched by human music,
the melodies seeming to offer a secret doorway back.
Now she wants no music, sits at dusk beneath
the front-door yews she no longer allows
her husband to trim.
Mushrooms are her music—
chanterelles, portabellas, and morels—
bloodless flesh feeding on rotted roots.

She sits in silence, waits for the stars,
looking up through the trees’ wingspread limbs,
yew needles furrowing the dark, filtering
the moon.

She wonders if there’s a way these evergreen combs
might remake her extravagance of hair—
some whispered spell or chant or curse—
or if she might best become a tree,
flying aloft in the breeze
while steadfastly rooted in the ground.



“People persist in the mistaken assumption that winter is caused by the earth moving farther away from the sun. But this is not at all the case. The cycle of the seasons is caused by the fortunate accident that the earth is tilted on its axis as it orbits the sun.” —Maurice Gampf

On this golden October day,
I can’t help thinking how this marble of a world
twirls around the sun—
the slight tilt of its axis the only reason
for these falling leaves, this deliciously slanting light,
the coming winter,
the resurrection of spring.
This slight tilt the only reason for eons of mythology
about solstices and equinoxes, sun gods, harvest gods,
Yule logs, and Easter eggs.

Without this slight tilt, without the four seasons
revolving on their merry-go-round way,
wherever would we be?
No land of midnight sun. No fall colors.
No winter-bare tracery of branches at twilight
bestowing glimpses of something beyond.
No migrations of birds or butterflies.
No hibernation of bears, bees, or frogs.
No such thing as perennials, dying back to earth
and rising again.

What would become of our deciduous minds—
shedding our sorrows and shattered dreams
as trees shed their leaves?
Our vernal resilience, budding hopes, and flowering desires
tutored by the temperate earth?

Without this slight tilt, what interminable sameness
there would be—
the days always equal, never a new slant of light,
the weeks and months running together
like successive bowls of oatmeal.

So let us all thank this tilt-a-whirl
of our slightly tilted world,
say a soft prayer, as I have done today
when I woke to this benediction of frost,
these crisply tart apples,
walked out among hay bales and blue silos,
the luminous pumpkins dotting autumn-brown fields.


Reversing Gravity

You might be wondering what I’m doing here,
hanging upside-down from monkey bars,
a mature, middle-aged man
not in playground clothes.
It’s my back, you see—my neck a nest
of tension and stress—
and my chiropractor tells me that traction is good,
anything to reverse gravity.

So I stopped here at the playground,
saw the monkey bars, smiled, and upended myself
as I’d done often enough as a child,
and I’ve been hanging here ever since, unencumbered,
looking curiously at the upside-down world,
feeling all the pressures and stresses drain out of me,
dripping down onto the playground sand.

First, my keys fell out of my pocket,
followed by my wallet and a rain of coins.
A clench of worry passed, and I felt a thousand pounds lighter,
wondering what life would be like in an upended world—
no keys to open the doors that have closed me in,
no wallet bulging with credit cards, IDs, cash, receipts—
and the world, you see, the world—the sky, the trees—
looked so utterly fascinating from this tumbled
point of view….

And so I’ve been hanging here from the monkey bars
for perhaps longer than I should,
but I just can’t seem to find it in myself
to put my feet back on the ground.



At the stroke of twelve, feel
how each day teeters,
teeters on a precipice,
clock hands pointing straight up
like two hands joined in prayer.

The twelve inches etched on rulers,
the twelve hours marked on clocks,
the twelve months of the year’s creaking wheel—
all tell us to measure well our allotted time,
our plotted space
and count each breath that brings us closer
to our last.

We package things by the dozen fatalistically,
as if it’s foreordained—
the eggs we carton so carefully,
six-packs, twelve-packs, a case of twenty-four,
a box of donuts, always a dozen,
the perfect circles of dough
whispering of eternity.

Why this endless catalog of dozens?
We are taught to think in tens,
but our lives are bound by twelves.

At the piano, count the twelve notes within each octave—
seven white keys and five black,
darkness interpenetrating light.
The ladder of tones follows the wheel of hours.
C ascends to a higher C, just as twelve comes round
again to twelve,
midnight to noon, noon to midnight,
the hours growing narrower and narrower
like the tightening frets on a guitar’s notched neck.

How easily we could measure out the difference
between destiny and desire—
the shortfall of shattered hopes and scuttled dreams
recorded as so many inches, months, or hours…
as so many minutes, miles, or days not granted us
before the dark auctioneer nods.

Tomorrow, pick twelve apples
and savor one each day,
then pick twelve more before the last is gone.

If pressed, barter apples for hours,
handing apples across to death’s boney hand,
the apple seeds hidden within
like shards of hope infiltrating
the land of dust and stone.


Timothy Walsh’s most recent poetry collection is When the World Was Rear-Wheel Drive: New Jersey Poems (Main Street Rag Publishing). His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two other poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). Find more at:


Richard Merelman-

A Practice Piano

The used upright Steinway that our entire savings have bought dangles overhead
like a cargo container
being off-loaded from a barge. Its ebony bulk sways from a hook on a hoist
three stories above

the pavement. It should fit by an inch through our window. It’s too heavy
for any dolly
to mount the back stairs. Jane and I have been married a month of squabbles
about laundry, meals, cold rooms.

She is eager to sight-read a Schubert impromptu for her first class at the Conservatory.
The Schubert should flutter
like a hummingbird among poppies. But can it, on such worn strings, so gravelly a bass?
Still, there’s a burnish

despite the sound board crack that reminds me of my own voice whenever
we argue
about who should scour the bathtub. Plus the damper pedal muffles resonance;
harmonies are hard

to sustain. Some keys virtually plead for new felts to synchronize the hammer-strokes.
The timing is off,
like her hour of yoga at bed time while I drink wine, or watch the late show,
or read myself to sleep.

These are kinks that patience will repair, the way a good piano tuner will wait to hear
the pitch lift
less than a quarter-tone. Now the piano’s shadow engulfs us. I rub Jane’s shoulder blades.
The movers winch their load

toward our casement. One of them mentions that a baby grand recently slipped
its belted riggings
and splattered the street. The piano wobbles, tilts, bangs the sash, skims the sill.
“Here we go,” Jane says.


The Inheritance

His wife phones from the adobe house
where her mother has lived alone, and lies near death.
The house squats at the end of a dry wash where only
cactus grows, a species that mirrors her mother
in its spartan lines; its spear point spine;
its spiky stems, like needles that inject venom
into those it punctures, those with skin
that is easily pierced, like the skin of his wife.

While her mother sinks into the sleep that erases
every dream, his wife confesses that she
slipped outdoors, heard the howl of a distant coyote. The wind
sandblasted her face. She staggered to a ragged thicket
of cacti, a jagged tangle with magenta blossoms.
She says she pressed her breasts against the thorns, dug in deep,
mimicked her mother’s breathing, bled.

She begins to sob. He murmurs “I hear you,”
guesses that she hasn’t eaten, can barely brush her hair.
Soon she’ll scatter her mother’s ashes, gather tattered letters,
board the plane home. What should he say when they meet?
Should he even speak? She could cry for weeks
in a blackened room, fingernails ripped to the quick,
her back to him in bed. He imagines her arms barbed,
clavicles pricking her neck. Will her wounds
fester, raise scars, or yield smooth pale skin?


Richard Merelman taught political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as other universities, for thirty-five years. His poems have appeared in MAIN STREET RAG, MEASURE, STONEBOAT, COMMON GROUND REVIEW, and VERSE WISCONSIN, among other journals.
His sonnet, “Civil Inattention,” won Third Honorable Mention in the 2012 Triad Contest (Poets’ Choice) of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. His first volume of poems–THE IMAGINARY BARITONE (Fireweed Press)–appeared in 2012. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


Sharon Auberle-


on the street of crooked houses
it’s the only yellow one
and I wonder if Becca’s dad painted it that way
to match the bus he drives everyday
the one we kids who go to Holy Angels
don’t get to ride because Becca’s dad
only goes to Lincoln Elementary
where kids don’t have to go
to Mass every morning

and they don’t have to confess things
like how lots of times they hate
their dad for not being there
or how sometimes they lie
that it wasn’t them who broke the vase
or threw that eraser at Tommy
who’s always looking up girls’ skirts
on the playground and it makes them mad
enough that they call him the worst name
they can think of and then
they have to confess that too

but it’s okay because tonight
I get to sleep over at Becca’s
and pretend that her slow-talking
pipe-smoking daddy is mine
and the yellow house too
and even her brother James
who sometimes calls me bad names
yes, even James…



in the next life
to be brunette
answer to Sophia
play flawlessly
a Stradivarius
while wearing only
sleek red dresses

resolved next time
to henna the tips
of my hair into flames
blaze out of darkness
imagine my whole life
I am fire

resolved yes
in that future life
to carry always
the audacity of belief
that you will not
again break my heart



…everything we touch turns to a poem
when the spell is on.
~Linda Pastan

the mystery of cornstalks
murmuring among themselves

a brown-skinned man
in orange serape
walking between them

the slump of his shoulders
tugging at my heart…

from any of these
a poem might grow

but today
there is only the man
light streaming down on him

he, who could be an angel
for all might be holier
than we know

his serape, fiery
in morning sun
the wind lifting it

like wings


Sharon Auberle is the author of three poetry collections– two of which also contain her photographs. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, both on-line and paper copy. For reasons which are still a mystery to her, she has authored a blog–Mimi’s Golightly Café for seven years, which contains a potpourri of her images and words.


Catherine Jagoe-


After Louis MacNeice

As if we were still so deep in love as if
the seas had not ganged dry or sands run on
and you and I stand locked together on that cliff
where skylarks burble new as first world dawning
your eyes a deeper blue drowning and drinking
one another in this one interminable kiss
sundazzle spangling sea below
a cup of sky our tears unshed sea pinks
a sweet breeze blowing and your face unlined
and all our years unlived drink from this cup
of eyes sky sea and lips and time will stop
our fears unrealized the dregs of rancor
still undrained and still that summer’s day
we two enfolded blended melting fused



At Target I survey the clothes available for boys.
All sports or war-themed, in drab loden, navy, brown.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.

No turquoise, grape, cerise for them, no coy
velour or glitter, sequins, ruffles, gowns.
At Target I survey the clothes available for boys.

How soon they are cut down, hemmed in, small joys
denied them—painted lips or toenails frowned on.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.

Take my friend’s ex, who owns a .22, thrives on noise
and gives his son a buzz cut every time he comes around.
At Target I survey the clothes available to boys.

Face-painting is for girls, except for camouflage, when boys
can daub themselves, or football. Touchdown.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.

A man I know loves watching how a fighter jet destroys
a Baghdad target on his laptop, smoke puffs on the ground.
At Target I survey the clothes available for boys.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.


The Dogs of Love

I hear him crowing on the wooden fort,
the boy my mild son worships like a brother,
hear him taunting and my child’s faint answer
from below, defensive, sounding hurt.
For something in the air has shifted. A cry,
repeated. Impatiently, I trudge around to see,
and find my child weeping, laced with pee,
dark ribbons on his hair and shirt, while I
am speechless. Visions of my own best friend
whispering to us girls once, “Let’s be men
and piss on that wall.” When I demurred they swore,
ranks closed, claws out, street-tough.
How savagely we punish difference, weakness, love.
And yet we keep on going back for more.


Catherine Jagoe is a freelance translator and writer. She is currently spending a year in Spain, although her home base is in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a PhD in Spanish Literature from the University of Cambridge, England, and is the author or translator of six books. Poems from her collection Casting Off (Parallel Press, 2007) were featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Daily. Her poetry and essays can be found in Gettysburg Review, Chautauqua, Apeiron Review, The Common online, American Athenaeum, North American Review, Ninth Letter, Atlanta Review, and other journals. Her website is



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
June - Ruth Kessler
July - Chanel Brenner
August - Darren Demaree
September - George Moore
October - Joshua Medsker
November - Ralph Monday
December - Howie Good

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2018

January – Simon Perchik
February – Julia Travers
March-June – Journal on hiatus
July – Simon Perchik
August – Hiram Larew
September – Kevin Casey
October – Ditta Baron Hoeber
November – EG Ted Davis


Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without permission in writing from the copyright owner/author. Any unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.