Friday 30 December 2011

The Spectacle by William Ogden Haynes

My yellow Labrador puppy
abruptly stops
halfway through his dog door.
He eyes the grey early morning sky
and regards the giant snowflakes
as they slowly fall like white doilies
covering the red Alabama mud.
He emerges into the yard
and licks his back
tasting the snow,
then runs full speed
in a large circle,
snapping at snowflakes in the air.
Stopping in the middle of the yard,
head cocked to one side,
ears peaked with attention,
he looks at me through the kitchen window,
wondering how I can stop to make coffee
on such an amazing day.

William Ogden Haynes, AL, USA

Saturday 24 December 2011

Assembly Required by Michael Keshigian

In bits and pieces
they fall from heaven,
disassembled snowmen,
one flake after the other,
strewn about the countryside,
discovered by those young at heart,
and with a dash
of imaginative insight,
they roll a gleeful creature
in their own image.
No directions needed.

Michael Keshigian

Monday 19 December 2011

After the Fiasco by Anna Sykora

A few new cells
May breathe alone
And hide inside
Old cracks of stone
Or creep through
Seeping ooze.

It’s survival
Life will choose,
_Forgetting our mistakes_.

Anna Sykora, Hanover, Germany

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Close Calls by Joseph Harker

This planet's going to hell: either wrapped up
in a suffocating shroud of coalsmoke
or boxed away between six thick planks of sin,
maybe starved of liquid capital
or drowned with disease: one way or another.
The End Times are a moveable feast that is always
next year.
given all the times we played chicken on the racetrack
with atoms and nuclei, the bottles of plague
just waiting to be shattered and re-debuted,
comet fragments blowing out boreal candles on a
Siberian birthday cake (rather than smashing into
Berlin or Beijing), it's a wonder
we haven't been burnt to a memorial cinder
We could
keep worrying about either side of the present, but
imagine how foolish we'd feel if we almost
lived our lives, and missed it, just by

Joseph Harker,

Monday 5 December 2011

Afghanistan by Raud Kennedy

In bed, prolonging the moments
before pushing back the covers.
The voice on NPR, a reporter in Afghanistan,
refers to the spring fighting season
as if he’s announcing the opening
of ski season at Mt. Hood Meadows.
I brush my teeth, minty fresh, extra whitener.
Death tolls from suicide bombings.
Toweling off after showering, it’s total US casualties,
a number that could be the population figure
of a small city. A city of dead young men and women.
The refreshing lather lifts my beard
as my triple bladed razor shaves my face kissable smooth.
Tell me again why we are there while I am here.

Raud Kennedy, Oregon, USA

Monday 28 November 2011

The Conclusion of Certainty by Ken Poyner

The day before the sun blew up
We took breakfast late, watched
The twenty-four hour news channel,
Considered doing nothing.
You placed on the back porch
Our cats' left over food
For the stray that has been
Looking in across the patio glass
Days, sun and rain, for a week.
Our cats have excess, and, as with all
Your other backdoor bowls of generosity,
Never has any bowl gone less than empty.
What do you think that cat
Feels for us now? Nonetheless
For as long as we could, we were
Committed to doing something, something
Sheepishly cliché, even knowing that the end state
Would be that it was the process that mattered.
Or perhaps it was the other way around.

Ken Poyner, Virginia, USA

Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Buyers by Lee Stern

The buyers are here
and they want to be sure there is something to buy.
If there’s nothing to buy, they’re going to go back to their sad houses
and line up behind the other sad buyers.
So please try to keep that in mind
when you have something ill to say about them.
Let the buyers advance for the good of humanity.
And let them reconcile their obligations
even when it is still the morning hour for us
and we stand amazed at the quality of the light.
Let the buyers settle their affairs
using the most advanced principles of modern accounting that we are able to relate.
And let the things they have bought settle down easily on shelves.
Let the dust that accumulates become the surface for the road that we keep.
And let the super abundant boxes
sail nightly through the shores of the heaven we can name.

Lee Stern, California, USA

Tuesday 15 November 2011

absolute velocity by Linda King

sometimes it is enough
this pull of distance its bitter wind
flung past evening driven
beyond the off ramp

even the gods are unhappy
at the broken places
where solitude collects

lean out your window sing
to the street lamps
the half moon dangles
from barren branches

between the lines
memories are written on the bodies
of those plastic flaxen-haired women
the ones that young girls crave

their stories compose a world
where violence becomes a verb
wrenched from another language
all scars and bruised knees

inherited disasters
passed on passed down
like heirloom silver
and those long ago neighbourhoods
where the hard summer grass remains

Linda King, Vancouver, Canada

Monday 7 November 2011

Lotus shoes by Jan Harris

Li combs the elm tree’s roots apart
as Ma Ma once teased tangles from her hair.
She prunes them short to fit the shallow pot
and soothes the severed tips with soil
like arms around a weeping child.

Annealed copper shapes the trunk,
as if it’s growing from a windswept cliff
where clouded panthers climb with ease.
Li twists the boughs with care.
The cracks and tears will heal with time
and all will wonder at its grace and style.

Tonight she’ll lift the Penjing from its plinth
and carry it with tiny steps to her betrothed.
She’ll wear her golden lotus shoes -
two crescent moons of satin silk,
embroidered figures dancing down the sides

Jan Harris, UK

Monday 31 October 2011

Misdirecting Merlin by Kevin Cadwallender

if you had known
would you have said?
in all the magic of our
being together,
a darkness.

was it trickery?
did you weave love
into a shawl?
did you wrap
yourself in it
to save you
from darkness?

if I had been Merlin
I could not have cast a spell
to redeem you.
I am the shabbiest
of conjurors
drawing nothing
from the hat but
my hands, gloved
by your darkness now
and infecting all light.

My cloak hangs
on your bedroom door,
stars long dead still visible.

Kevin Cadwallender, Scotland

Sunday 23 October 2011

Bound to Place by Vivian Faith Prescott

Children know haa áan—our land,
ways-of-knowing. Language binds them
to place, my incantations. Fish spawning
in streams, bear cubs birthing in dens.
Children, a seasonal calendar, interwoven.

Daughter born during the Child Moon—Dís yádi

Daughter in the Black Bear Month, S’eek dísi


Another daughter born in At gadaxit dísi


Son born in At gadaxit yinna dísi—the Breeding Month.

This animal landscape.

Vivian Faith Prescott, Alaska, USA

Sunday 16 October 2011

Lunchtime Dispatch from Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary by Gail Goepfert

The green anole lizards along, puffs out
the dewlap under its neck, inches across
the weathered fence rail, postures
in the shade of his tiny domain.

The pileated woodpecker sports
his red workhat, pries off long slivers of wood in search
of carpenter ants buried in the hollow-topped cypress—
home, kitchen, and drum.

The red-shouldered hawk cruises
the swamp understory, scouts
perches and preens, then performs its sky-dance—
an artist’s flipbook in flight.

The great egret, white in a field
of lettuce greens, edges forward in the shallows,
neck first, zen-master of patience
keen-eyed hunter as it stalks its prey.

The nursery log, fallen cypress
opens light in the canopy—
welcomes seedlings
insects, mosses, and ferns.

I set out hungry and fill my plate.

Gail Goepfert, USA

Wednesday 12 October 2011

star ash fire by Joseph Mayo Wristen

looking to understand
what it was like
to have walked here
before star ash fire,

circle of city lights
surrounded by desert rock
pyramids, scorpion shadow
migrating to birth’s field

mountain Blue Bird nesting
against sage nectar time’s
Saquaro forest stretched
across sand painted earth

October moon rising in Sagittarius

sandstone monument
surround by spiritual
red drop wind chants
layered canyon walls
earth’s endless colors
giving us the ability
to recognize the different
choices civilization has made

looking to understand
what it was like
to have walked here
before star ash fire

Joseph Mayo Wristen, USA

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Testimony by Brittany Michelson

Do not hold anything I’ve said or done against me
I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth
And nothing but the truth
So help me stars
Raising my right hand and placing it
On your heart
I make a solemn oath
To unlearn the sound of you

I do not recall the exact lighting condition that day
Nor the precise weather forecast
On the night
You struck a chord in me
But I know the feeling of tiny wings
Caught in a flame

Brittany Michelson

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Waymarks by Mavis Gulliver

Not a goose in sight
but all around are signs
of last night's roosting,
half a mile
of sea-smoothed sand studded
with droppings, the dune edge
flecked with feathers,
scatterings of breast down
heaped in hollows, filling
the small spaces
between sand sedge
and sun-bleached driftwood,
or trapped on tips of marram,
a flurry of restless pennants

Mavis Gulliver, Scotland, UK

Thursday 22 September 2011

The Upkeep of Canaries by Andrew Spacey

No one any longer imagined us as real,
we had to imagine ourselves

Joe Wenderoth

Were we once dreaming, like men,
of curly clawed ancestors
who inhaled day, exhaled night
long before skin became song?
Now all of us
are amongst subdued musings chewed innuendo
between gobs and baccy.

The black wheel blurs, silhouettes alter shape,
a gruff choir on concrete finding themselves.
Long gone are children of wax who would melt away
in winter sun, leaving ponies, patterns in grass.

Light is a pinhead or a mirrored star they drop
us towards, like larks in steel introduced to rock.
All continuous song, deep song, transmitting finch.

Work mystifies.
Hold us up against definite warm roof space.
Wait for the planet to twitch.
Breath, breathe, brain, men, main, methane, all the voices
buried in their eyes.
Lemon yellow cravings when we turn to stone.

Fleshy Elwell of the Lamps,
(his wife had decamped
years ago)
hums electro

magnetically, speaks hendiadys in the foul air of cabined nights,
sucking coal egg shaped, the mind labyrinthine.

Is it a bit of fresh pippin? Seed time, fink sunflower, sip the dew it’s only awkward legislation.

He brews tea in a kettle that steams we delicate exiles, we’re inspired,
filigreeing apprentices and veterans alike until hessian blankets our sky.
Only the wheel and its umbilical feed this faked existence.

Wings make much of wild whilst we build music
compatible with each colour.

Andrew Spacey

Thursday 15 September 2011

The Dogs by Helen Calcutt

Tonight the heat invites them
to sing: they stir in their tears
the moon’s light,
tonight she is touching on doorsteps
in the streets. They in another place
hear their voices remember. Sounds

crawl to the red edge
like fingers through gates, we invite them
with our silences. our long stares
of the nowhere darkness sounds
replacing our own.
and we could never say

how sad. how beautiful sad
they sing themselves into the dust
of the day’s ruin

Helen Calcutt, Birmingham, UK

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Benevolence by Michael Keshigian

Fall approached
with tender kiss
and startling display

gently unhooking
the verdant dress of summer,
who blushed

and dropped soft petals
to the ground,
emerging pale and tired

in the unfamiliar setting,
then curled
to keep herself warm

till a bearded man arrived
with white garb
to comfort her.

Michael Keshigian

Sunday 28 August 2011

Ocean Alone by Allan Peterson

Wasps are hunting under leaves
for the late sleepers
Every glitter is a sound below hearing
or we would go deaf from the ocean alone
aspens and cottonwoods
or the little crossed wires slicing wind
beside the horses

Allan Peterson, USA

Friday 26 August 2011

Pond in Deep Summer by J S Watts

Where the fish lie at pond bottom
Deep in the darkest shadows of mud stroked green
The end of this year’s summer waits
Not to be enticed by the orange darts
Of almost too late love.
Time belongs to him now
So he can take his time
Squatting in the black and olive slumbers
Until the ghost beat of goose wings
Draws him out.

J S Watts, UK

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Townie by Melissa Harrison

National Trust houses, cows, huge open fields:
The countryside is not present in these.
Rather, it is the brief, warm smell of rain on earth,
The dank, warm taint beneath the riotous grass,
The bare blue chick dead and drying on the path.

The earwigs always in the fencepost-holes
And sycamore-copters that spin down in dizzy lines:
These are the secret things that ‘country’ means.
The scuff of beech mast under rare feet, and the low
Content notes of the wood-pigeon that drift

Above long-shadowed summer air, sifted and sweet
With the haze of distant smoke, and a gentle heat…
Later, the tea-time frost that silvers drifting leaves
So summer’s swelter seems an old amnesia;
These things are the countryside’s lazy treasure.

It’s not the framed, uncomprehending space
Beyond the Intercity’s rain-blown window glass;
Nor is it the cloud-chased wold carved through by car
En route to somewhere easier to picture. No,
It is both more secret than these things, and richer.

It is the simple benediction an evening hedgehog brings
Shambling a myopic trail through dew-veiled grass;
The chain of tiny beads a bramble leaves on skin…
These country things I have given up remembering.

Melissa Harrison, UK

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Having Gone West by Jessie Carty

It is a landscape I don’t recognize.
If it wasn’t for the heat, I’d think

of winter, of when things die back
because the vegetation here

rises into spikes, reminding me
of leaf empty trees.

Even the red dirt of the cliffs
could be the Piedmont.

Except here, nothing moves
and the occasional

flower on a cactus is a surprise.
I read somewhere

that bats pollinate in desert climates.
I try to picture that

but the image is too dry, too
thin, until I see it,

the shape of the bats wing
in the unlined rock.

Jessie Carty

Sunday 7 August 2011

Cloudlonely by Susan S Keiser

bookslept, she's
late and soon,
she's sung out,
too waterworded,
still lochlost,
reading a word's
worth in a night;

gnawing the paper
behind the words;
sordid boon--
a wasted power,
laying waste
the words,
the lakeworth
words. the ones
she reads,
the tarn-ished
words, the
stillworth knowing.

Susan S Keiser, USA

Sunday 31 July 2011

Morning in the Churchyard by Joseph Harker

The sea, turned upside down and hung over the city from
four posts, is beginning to drip. It rolls over itself, grey and
inverted, and breathes into the belltowers. The sky's language
is this suggestion of copper music. One big tongue of metal

clacking against its flared lips, one tall throat of marble
rattling with air. The first slants of rain stick to low angles,
coming in so shallow that they skip the surface of street
and sidewalk. Falling trigonometry and the calculus of

rogue oceans slamming themselves fragment by fragment
into earth. One church door is half-open. The wood is growing
dark with water. There is a surprised tree, its leaves caught
mid-flutter, each one laughing at its shameless green.

Joseph Harker

Saturday 23 July 2011

Thunder by Karuna Chandrashekar

We sit on swing sets,

sand in our shoes
leaves swirling by.

The sky pulses-
a storm approaches.

You hold my hand,
tight, but smile as if

in a photograph
taken by a stranger.

Karuna Chandrashekar, India

Saturday 16 July 2011

A Morning on Our Earth by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke

for Michelle Mrozkowski

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”
-- Frederic Chopin

Carefully, morning unfolds itself; filled with small,
trackless serendipities grounded in light. An Emperor
Butterfly blesses a lagoon—a still cool breeze accepts
its royal blue.
We are eighty years beyond, the speak-
easy is now filled with many garish, fleshly butterflies,
some barely legal; we are sixty-six years beyond, Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, once laid bare, now contend with fallout
of mornings fallen:

into the west their wabi-sabi

has wandered; and all the lagoons, all the butterflies
it has passed are soft calls in this hard, digital age,
governed by men intoxicated by anything but the sensum
of feeling. Such is the cliché. I see


their private regrets, they are a thing of beauty to our
quiescent Earth. The wars; of ideology; of flesh;
are different intimations of the same breeze—so
futile to try to bundle its usefulness into anything
harmful: its power is the timelessness of time, the
forgotten purity of movement centuries gone, now, to
come. Butterflies do not die from cancer. Humankind
juggles its death, but somehow the skittles do not fall.
Let us return. Morning calls. And as today becomes
extinct, let us not be ashamed: a crimson past

affects us now, and the slices of hope, still fragile,
still carefully unfolding, have at their edges nothing
if not the defining darkness we are leaving, for
our hearts’ language now lives in the breeze.

Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke, Queensland, Australia

Friday 8 July 2011

Wiregrass by L Ward Abel

A transfusion of yellow butterflies.
It fills the woods late in the afternoon.
I stretch out my arm to receive

and feel wings of silk in my bloodroad
veins. Survival. Gray areas of my seasons
line a path recently paved with white mud.

It sinks better drivers than I ever was.
And I wish I could play the chord
that the color bluegreen makes

just after it rains. Under live oak my legs
are jerking. They refuse to die. It rains again.
Me outstretched now, beaded wet,

out of breath.
See, I want to take something in
like sweet air. Like time.

L Ward Abel, Georgia, USA

Sunday 26 June 2011

Annoying Fly by Chris Crittenden

a fly like a meteor
chides my head,
orbiting the big bang
of my distress.

i nap
and its proboscis
daps on my sweat.
i complain
and it whines

like a misunderstood
whose vision is superior-
-full of sheens, prisms
and wonders--

as if it had seen god
through mandalic eyes.
found manna
on Universal Rundle.

it has zigzagged awed
and nose
dived true,
but never so dizzy
it forgets to see.

why should i be
its nemesis,
the claw in the gloom
that swipes? why must i
exist to thwart

its hallelujah?

Chris Crittenden, Maine, USA

Saturday 18 June 2011

Elkins, NH by Terri Muuss

Black fly season peaked
in June. My brother and I
would wade up to our thighs, digging out fresh-
water clams with eager toes. Moist patches
of skin on my cheeks, I feared the
uneasy murk under my feet. In these silent
hours, we never talked
about the tiny spaces between
the wood slats of our childhood.
We were always more comfortable
with the sinking
our ankles made into rotting sediments
of lake and the buzzing
of mosquitoes circling
our heads. We’d stoop down
to catch striders and wait
for the inevitable sting.

Terri Muuss, USA

Friday 17 June 2011

Beechbank Burn by Ross Wilson

We’d run by the burn when the burn
didn’t run at all. Stopped in summers youth,
low and still in the no flow time zone
when we had it all – warm summer light,
nights far off as the sea mouth gulping
greedy as a beer monster, our burn.

We didn’t know it crashing through bushes,
on the run across imaginary enemy-lines,
ducking behind NO DUMPING signs
people ignored to jettison their crap –
magpie-bairns salvaging scrap:
old washing machines concealed in leaves,

wheel-barrows, car seats, cupboards in trees . . .
One day we discovered old cassettes
from the fifties in bags beached by the burn –
compilations of voices recorded long before
we were born: discarded, flowing on
in the winter-gush fast-forwarding the burn –

archaic pop guddled by a new generation.
We ran against the current to an old soundtrack.

Ross Wilson, Scotland, UK

Friday 10 June 2011

Winter Clothes by Ian Mullins

Almost summer, they say; and outside
all the evidence is in place
to confirm the diagnosis. A stale water sky,
yard dressed in confetti; and that sweet aching smell
that’ll wake me up sneezing
every day in June, driving me indoors
until the weather cools

and I can look out
on a dream so beautiful
that everyone dreams it
at exactly the same time.
Remember crossing the bridge
from school, tearing off your shirt
bombing down through the waves:
finding a hollow in the dunes
that feels more like home
than the room barricaded
with the winter things you love
when frost smokes leaves
dry as new sweaters,
and the snow posts cards
through your door.

But here you must be naked
and afraid, shot out of a dream
you only belong to
when you turn out of the office to run
someone else’s errand
and all the skies of summer are out there,
like a postcard from a land
you’ll never visit again;

and you’ll never know why
you need winter
to feel such a summer in your bones.

Ian Mullins

Thursday 2 June 2011

Nesting by Robert Demaree

On our pond at Golden Pines
We check each day the shaded grove
Where the swans are nesting.
Shouldn’t be long, we say.
The male shares the duty,
Giving them a leg up
On other species we could name;
But then he wanders off.
Any day now, we remark.
But at the water’s edge:
Some eggs are smashed,
New ones in their place.
Still the mother patiently sits,
Reminding us of things
We wish we did not know.

Robert Demaree, NH, USA

Thursday 26 May 2011

Time Travelling by Peter Branson

“Bird species are disappearing at a scarcely conceivable rate.”

(‘Muscicapa Striata: The Spotted Flycatcher’)

Each spring as you stack up they journey north,
re-lay that nest in your old garden wall.
You catch them at their ease, such elegance;
ash brown above a creamy dappled breast.
They dart and twist, snap insects on the wing,
turn deftly back to where they started from.
Eggs warm to touch, as sheer as porcelain;
flecked shades of gilded bronze, the Midas brush.
Each year they leave, conceive strange distances,
exotic latitudes you’ve never seen.
You’ve flown and your old habitat’s turned down,
six houses scheme. No summer guests these days.
That’s progress, you concede, fast in the fourth
dimension where your travellers still breed.

Peter Branson, UK

Friday 20 May 2011

Tree Dream by David Chorlton

In the dream all that remained where the tree had stood
was a stump that marked
its former place at the incline
on which a trail curved back as it climbed
through white stones and grass
from the streambed to the deserted mine
and up into the stars. In the dream
some friends who had never seen the tree
when its roots ran deep into the earth
came to the spot on the occasion
of a loss so great they knew nobody would recover
the boughs reaching high
through all the seasons and thousands of leaves
opening and turning in the forest
as they had fallen and opened
for longer than anyone has been alive.
In the dream they knelt
and raised their eyes toward the sky.
In the dream there was such grief. There was
operatic weeping. There was
black, black mourning. In the dream
it was only one tree.

David Chorlton, Arizona, USA

Monday 16 May 2011

Of Warbler and Quail by Rae Spencer

Drab little she in the brush
Muttering her song to lure
Someone else

But only I respond
Drawn across the dune
To listen closer

As a child I spoke to quail
I whistled out their bobwhite name
To hear them shriek it back

But this little warbler
Outside my beachfront door
Her accent slips my ear

Measures of water wisdom
Refrains of woven nest
Codas that fall silent

Because I have come too near
To understanding
What is lovely on this shore

Of daily tide
Of sandy soil and storms
Of quickening flocks

That speak their sea-swept names
In secret tangled tongues
Of salty sail and oar

And then they fly away
While I struggle, yearn to say
What I remember of briars

Of dry summer streams
And winter dreams
Of silent quail

Hungry among the thistle
Of home, my distant valley home
So many years from here

Rae Spencer

Friday 6 May 2011

In Memoriam by Nadya Avila Chant

You are text and subtext, my sound and my caesura,
The verdant meadows of adolescent summers,
And the fallow fields of a dreamless winter.
You are sigh and gasp and bated breath and I
Your restless child and somnolent woman.
You keep a home in the curve of my earlobe,
In the scar on my wrist, in the white of my fingernails.

Nadya Avila Chant, Utah, USA

Tuesday 26 April 2011

antler by Arthur Durkee

antler bone found in the grass
speaks of lost deer rituals, their religion of seasons
and blood

dance of hoof and antler, horn and fur ruff
circle of apple trees full of bees
and the tender undying evergreens

horn-handed deer staff a dance ritual for young bucks
while old men sit blanket-wrapped watching
sweat-braced flanks they used to know

we rub our bodies with suet and red clay
we dance the deer in spring and autumn
becoming those bones found in the grass

edges of the field at dusk still full of bees
where deer stop to stare, then walk on
suddenly doubled with ghosts of the ancestors

Arthur Durkee, USA

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Ancestor Worship by Debby Regan

The last Imperial Chinese parts of
Ourselves reside in the attic
With jade busts

To throw garlands?
.............Show our reverential

These ancestors whose
Maddening destructiveness
Mocks what PBS would instill.

(I cried about the lost
polar bears who float
away from our fingertips
on iceberg rafts)

some Edwardian sailors keep
a naturalist's case of
extinction but when they retire,

the glass eyes reincarnate and
follow the specks of light
from the ceiling

Is the Irish elk in
heaven? I never saw such antlers

They say on
forty feathers of passenger
pigeons the Woolworth Building stands

Debby Regan, USA

Friday 15 April 2011

My Tribe by Ray Sharp

The trouble is not
with the names of flowers

how to make fire
or find my way home
on a moonless night.

I dream
of the long walk
and the endless green river.

What happened to the frogs?

The sky
is bruised
above the blood-red sun.

I live among people
with three simple rules

do not kill birds
do not pee at the water-gathering place
and I can never remember the third.

Ray Sharp, Michigan, USA

Friday 8 April 2011

A Silent Poem by Michael Keshigian

In the beginning it must have been
that the Neanderthal
emerged from his cave
early one day
into a cold and ruthless world

and noticed for the first time
sun’s reflection glistening
upon lake tranquility
between twin peaks
of a snow covered summit.

And speechless
as he might have been
for images never seen
he fell to his knees
staring mutely

unable to excise
the swell in his soul
and realized
each morning thereafter
would speak differently.

Michael Keshigian

Monday 4 April 2011

Pathfinder by Alan Britt

Like Pathfinder
I retreat
across smooth roots,
and the moon’s severed hand
reaching for the wrinkled waist
of a pear tree.

Like Pathfinder
I slip sideways between mercurial shadows
on my way to the outskirts
of the known universe
just behind the speckled thigh
of a golden pear.

I enter each brown spot on the pear
looking for salvation
born inside each russet scale
sloughed from the body
of our most precious religion
we call time.

Once inside, I’m greeted
by black violins
and ten thousand suns digesting
a watery consciousness
inside snail shells.

Like Pathfinder
I retreat
across smooth roots,
and the moon’s severed hand
creasing the wrinkled hips
of a pear tree.

Alan Britt, MD, USA

Monday 28 March 2011

In Late March by Alicia Hoffman

Bulbs peek green
tongues from the soil, snow
becomes a philosophical
question: How long can
one stay the same before melting?
All the while, cold holds. Always,
though, it is the gravity
that gets us in the end, the heaviness
of the mind, that cerebral tug.
In the morning, a wrinkle,
the scrutiny of night. And then
there are the words,
the memory tease
of Thompson, Pennsylvania,
the blue jeaned girl leaning
over, stroking chickens upside down
between the eyes, putting them to sleep.
I never knew her. That’s what I think
now, remembering her lying
in the dark, the coo of the birds
gone with the down
of the sun, unable to find the switch
on the wall in the familiar room,
flailing her long arms out of that
warm blanket, cold fingers finding nothing
but what she thought was not there,
the cord to a lamp, pulling the porcelain
weight through the air, the crashing glass and
the remaining shards. We are all like this,
she thought, like the tulips this time of month,
clawing through the damp, pawing the air, always
with the struggle, the searching for light.

Alicia Hoffman, NY, USA

Monday 21 March 2011

Foxes by Christopher Woods

Running with them
For a time I once divided
Into weeks
Is like a river that never dries
But goes and goes, coasting
Over shells and sand beds,
The souls of mountains
Breaking up, migrating.

Being among them
Nights in frostbound fields
Beneath a ghost moon haze,
I need to believe
They too are counting stars
And all the time between them.

Christopher Woods, Texas, USA

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Fever by Corey Mesler

On the couch
I lay
and watched

the suncats
chase a

string of yarn
my unknit sleep

Corey Mesler, Tennessee, USA

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Attunement by Chris Crittenden

on a silent pond
a bufflehead
sparks to flight,
sowing gleams
in its wake.
ribs blend
without flaw,
until it is clear
that physics
is a perfect harp.
anything that moves
strums it to play.

Chris Crittenden, Maine, USA

Monday 28 February 2011

watching by Joanna Lee

herons stalk the edge of
civilization; the river
sings a marbled song
of fire and forgotten glory while
the sun casts about the rapids; geese
fish from the shallows, men
from the bridge. stones bake;
clouds come and go
like the old women searching
the banks for change and lost
youth while a train slows
with its mourner's whistle and i
lean on the edge of
wildness, watching.

Joanna Lee, VA, USA

Monday 21 February 2011

Crazy Crow by Joseph Harker

what would possess him
to make a stage of the driveway
for his encrypted hopskip in
three-eight time–

some urgent fire is
smoldering under those
ruffled India ink shoulders

for perhaps he mourns
the loss of a secret magic
with words that are almost
forgotten language–

the depths of his eye
in turn reflect the beholder’s
like two mirrors face-to-face

Joseph Harker

Monday 14 February 2011

Professor Winter by Mary McKeel

I feel like I’m on stage, ready to read a scene.
There’s no one to give me my cues,
or to take cues from me.

Reason says, the loyalty I gave you
is just a crumpled piece of paper.
I keep smoothing it out.

I love how the crocus comes back first
every year. No gardener needed.
Is persistence weakness, or strength?

I wanted to do something old – fashioned,
like give you a lock of my hair,
or keep a lock of yours.

I can’t keep from coming back every year
without betraying myself.

Mary McKeel, North Carolina, USA

Monday 7 February 2011

My Mother’s Cancer by Kay Middleton

winter days
strung together
like cheap beads
snap and spill
onto the earth
chattering hailstones
on window glass melting,
leaving circle scars
of unforgotten pain
tomorrow is gray asphalt
divided by white-lined
platitudes stretching straight
and flat between barren arms
of oak and birch on, undiluted,
to an unknown garden
devoid of fragrance,
yellow daffodils.

Kay Middleton, Virginia, USA

Monday 31 January 2011

The Weight by Hal Sirowitz

I’m being crushed
by the weight of

this relationship,
she said. I have to

carry it all by myself
from one date

to the next. Not that
it weighs a lot - about

the same as our hearts –
but it’s the responsibility

I bear of not letting it fall,
and shatter in a million pieces

which is frightening. It’s not
like a puzzle that can be put back

together. It’s more like a poodle
who’s going to run away

in search of less contentious owners.

Hal Sirowitz, PA, USA

Saturday 22 January 2011

Mulberry by Andrea Potos

At Keats House, Hampstead

They've made two
houses into one,
moved the staircase where the poet
once climbed to his small room.
The door he staggered through
after the chilling coach ride from London
is now in front.

Even the nightingales are gone.

What remains
is the mulberry tree,
low-lying, far-spreading, two centuries old.
For him--only a bush in the garden
where Fanny waved while he lay ill
in the front parlour.

It yields
the most succulent fruit,
juice dripping
over my hands,
staining my fingers
my palms, like ink
like deep,
red remembrance.

Andrea Potos

Monday 17 January 2011

The San's Promise by Rethabile Masilo

They came from the south
holding the sun in their right hand
like an object of worship,
crossed the Mohokare into the mountains,
leather bags full of ochre
and painting sticks, venom in small phials,
dried meat conserved in leaves. They stayed
long enough to paint the fat of the land:
hunt scenes, children hopping in playful circles
round a fire. An ostrich egg and roots
dug up from the desert's giving sand,
hand prints lit like sepals
exploding on grotto walls.

Rethabile Masilo, France

Wednesday 12 January 2011

On Reading Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ While Watching My Daughter Draw Unicorns by James Valvis

I close the book to look at my daughter’s drawing.
Rainbows and unicorns are everywhere.
People with colorful eyes
smile sky-blue teeth that take up half their faces.
She wants to know if it’s good, and I tell her it is.
Then I open the book and read again,
but my mind wanders to gemstones, of all things,
and I think, a ruby is red
because it can accept every color but red;
and an emerald is green because it can’t accept green.
And it’s not just that way for rocks either.
The banana skin you think is yellow isn’t yellow,
it’s every color but yellow,
yellow alone bouncing back to our eyes.
A little more reading, and I decide,
this is true of the races of people also.
The people we call brown are everything but brown,
and the Indians are not reddish
but blue and burnt umber and purple.
Try getting your head around that.
What we see is the rejected color, not what we accept.
If we could see beyond the rejection,
we’d see that each thing is a near-complete spectrum,
colors forever moving through the form.
And then we’d have no need for political correctness,
marches, morons shaving their rainbow heads,
or race-baiters shaking down CEOs.
And the girl in this Toni Morrison novel
who wants the blue eyes,
she’d know she always had them,
and pink eyes too, and peach, and gold,
and any color an imaginative child cared to scribble.

James Valvis, Washington, USA

Wednesday 5 January 2011

a penguin in Cardiff by Dave Lewis

I never knew her, baby chick, King.
A fleeting movement, walked past, stared for a while.
She rescued me from damp lottery dreams and
I recalculated my entire life in a fly-past. I had back pain, terminal
hopefully not, but she mattered more that minute.

We all chatted about her, her thick coat of fur never mentioned.
We knew in that summer sun it was colder than we’d ever know.
We instinctively knew there was no need to bring up Photoshop,
like a curse, a cheat or a steal. She didn’t warrant it,
not even Smart sharpen or Levels, no need to Crop.
Two sets of footprints in one world. You could feel the
tears flowing inside.

I’m sure we could have all stayed forever, until
the security guards pushed us out. She needed rescuing,
protecting, from iPads and oil spills. The badger killers
lived in this town. Fact is, she was probably surrounded
by a million of her kind, soft and warm. On an ash beach cool as
icicles she’s programmed to wait
for mammy and fish

But we wondered, kept wondering
how the story would end, would she make it?
Yet the answer was as near as her image
the answer was always the same
the answer was frozen in time
like a still shot of God
in black and white.

Dave Lewis, Wales, UK