Archives for posts with tag: Musings

by Connie L. Peters

My friend and I hiked through the woods
to seek adventure there.
And then we tramped on rolling fields
to go we knew not where.

The wind blew cold, the day grew long,
and then we heard a sound.
We saw not man or animal
as we two looked around.

A shadow moved along the ground.
We looked up as the sky
filled with a huge shape over us
which drifted slowly by.

The wings were cumbersome but strong.
The creature inched along.
Till then we just encountered such
in story, poem or song.

We stared and did not speak until
some moments had elapsed.
Would we tell anyone this news,
or keep it under wraps?

We went to town to seek out some
who also might have seen.
But life went on as usual
with child, adult, and teen.

So we went home and shook our heads
believing not ourselves.
And chose to place this wonder on
back burners or some shelves.

But now and then go to that place
and gaze into the sky,
and wonder was it what we thought–
or not–that had caught our eye?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process is like a jig-saw puzzle, putting together a bit of this and that. This poem is based on many hikes in the Pennsylvania woods and one of my favorite poems, as a child, “The Family Dragon,” found in The Children’s Hour, Best Loved Poems (1953).

IMAGE: “Dragon” by Opal Arts. Prints available at

my pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie L. Peters, a 30-year veteran writer, has published hundreds of devotions, short stories, and poems in many publications. She writes from southwest Colorado, where she and her husband host two adults with developmental disabilities. Her two children, now grown, live in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Boat Exhorts the Fisherman About His Wife
by Carrie McKay

For days you’ve come to visit.
Rain coat, wet boots, fishing rod.
You sit on my bow
dangling feet in the sand.

Each day your steps drag deeper.
Skin cascades with downcast eyes.
You pull me up shore
and sit quiet, thinking.

For years we’ve been off at dawn.
Two friends spending the sun hours.
Fishing for dinner.
Peaceful lapping waves.

You know only one can row.
Take the ores back from your wife.
This is a whirlpool.
She’s steering you down.

You were kind to that gold child.
The fish, prince, dream destroyer.
Don’t whistle today.
Turn your back and row.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Boat Exhorts the Fisherman about His Wife” was my response to a challenge of taking on the voice of an inanimate object. In the Russian Fairytale “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish” by Alexander Pushkin, the fisherman catches a golden fish and sets it free. His wife sends him again and again to the fish to ask for a wish, each larger than the one before. With each wish the sea becomes more rough and stormy as the fish is angered by the grandiose wishes. In my poem, every day he has to bring his boat further inland. The sea is no longer safe. Imagine the boat, watching this and seeing this bad situation unfold. Like a good dog, it wants to carry the fisherman safely and enjoy their time. The boat knows the importance of happiness over wealth. Like any good friend, he does his best to help the fisherman see the problem and give him comfort.

IMAGE: “The Fisherman and His Wife” by Katrin Brandt (1970).

C McKay Poetry Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carrie McKay is a poet and teller of tall-tales. A convert to the warm So Cal weather, she began writing as a child in Cleveland during those many rainy days. She currently spends her nights harassing children about homework and days holding down a mundane job. Carrie can be found most Wednesday evenings at the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading in Orange, California. Her most recent publications can be found in Defenestration and A Poet Is A Poet No Matter How Tall.

by Rosa Swartz

At first frost I vacate the pond,
hooks and barbs wedged in the shadows of my flesh.
Asleep in winter’s wool blankets
dry beds of hot air scrape tears in my scales,
my pulse swoops into a murky scream.
Below the bridge at Wolf Creek,
my body swims away
each morning leaving just a raincoat,
the wind that slaps the maple trees.

IMAGE: “Water Dragon” by Robert Hooper. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Swartz is a writer and visual artist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she practices darkroom photography and creative writing. She travels frequently. She’s been a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review and Asylum Lake Magazine. Her writing has most recently appeared in Carnival Magazine, Really System Magazine, and Coal Hill Review. Her chapbook, All Along the California Coast, came out this year on Diamond Wave Press.

by Robert Okaji

One might claim a double victory, or after the Roman Empire’s fall, a reclamation from the slurred “b” and its subsequent reduction.

Survival of the rarely heard, of the occipital’s impulse.

The oak’s crook performs a similar function.

Shielding myself from its entreaties, I contemplate the second family
root, weighted in weapons, in Woden, in wood.

Not rejection, but acceptance in avoidance.

The Japanese homophone, daburu, bears a negative connotation.

Original language was thought to be based on a natural
relation between objects and things.

Baudelaire’s alphabet existed without “W,” as does the Italian.

The recovery of lost perfection is no longer our aim.

When following another, I often remain silent.
As in two, as in answer, as in reluctance, reticence.

I share two halves: one light, one shadowed, but both of water.

Overlapped or barely touching, still we complete.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR ON HIS CREATIVE PROCESS: One word, followed by another. Revise. Rest. Read.

IMAGE: Handpainted manuscript initial letter “W” decorated with thistles by Clare McCrory, available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Okaji’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Otoliths, Prime Number Magazine, Clade Song, and Vayavya, among others. He lives in Texas with his wife and two dogs. Visit him at

by Eric Burke

As a kid,
he couldn’t get enough light

to go through the aperture
from the small mirror.

At forty-two,

he finally sees
rotifers in the bird bath water.

SOURCE:  “Self-Portrait” by Eric Burke was first published in PoetsArtists and has subsequently been remixed into a whimsical poetry video by Paul Broderick for The Poetry Storehouse.

IMAGE: “Bird Bath Reflections” by Delia.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Burke lives in Columbus, Ohio. He has an MA in Classics from The Ohio State University, but has worked as a computer programmer for the past 15 years. More of his poems can be found in Thrush Poetry Journal, bluestem, PANK, qarrtsiluni, Escape Into Life, decomP, A cappella Zoo, Weave Magazine, and A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. You can keep up with him at his blog.

by karla k. morton

It is hard for me to study the mirror;
to inventory age and self and sunburns;

the scar from the pox—
chicken, not small;

flint blue eyes
saved only
by mascara.

Hair, back from a second tour,
Marine short;
cancers cut away like shrapnel.

And beside the sink,
a photo of a girl
from a thousand words ago;

a white swimsuit;
a face not so different.

But the mirror
holds a knowing;
a nightly pacing of crows;
an interview with a burning bush;

a gratitude
no smooth young thing
could ever comprehend.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wake every morning excited about the possibilities; wondering what miracle will reveal itself throughout the day. Always there is something – a glimpse of lizard changing from black to emerald; a research pearl; a poem that gets stuck in my head. It’s the blessing of being able to do what you love–the excitement of a blank sheet of paper; words pulled down from the sky.

IMAGE: “Summer Dreams” by Jan Matson. Prints available at

karla's colour pic from bill mackey 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: karla k. morton, the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate, is a Councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Described as “one of the most adventurous voices in American poetry,” she is a Betsy Colquitt Award Winner, twice an Indie National Book Award Winner, the recipient of the Writer-in-Residency E2C Grant, and the author of nine collections of poetry. Morton has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, is a nominee for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and established an ekphrastic collaborative touring exhibit titled: No End of Vision: Texas as Seen by Two Laureates, pairing photography with poetry with Texas Poet Laureate Alan Birkelbach. Morton’s work has been used by many students in their UIL Contemporary Poetry contests, and was recently featured with seven other prominent authors in 8 Voices: Contemporary Poetry of the American Southwest. Her forthcoming book (her 10th), Constant State of Leaping (The Texas Review Press), arrives Fall 2014.

Author photo by Bill Mackey

by Joannie Stangeland

Wings wipe the sky, smear and gone
leave the raw caw cry behind,
a fluid composition after rain
        rinses the high gray,

a day smudged, flood by light diffused,
no shadows but these black rags,
murder witness spelled across the canvas,
        incantation canted.

Tricksters in triplicate, carbon copies crease
oil shades I blotch below my eyes.
See the years fly, feathers brushing
        up against the fence,

the dead tree left.

SOURCE: Valparaiso Poetry Review

IMAGE: “Patched Quilt” by Gothicolors Images. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joannie Stangeland’s new poetry collection, In Both Hands, is available from Ravenna Press, which also published Into the Rumored Spring. Joannie’s the author of two poetry chapbooks: Weathered Steps and A Steady Longing for Flight, which won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. Joannie’s poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Tulane Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other publications, as well as in the Rose Alley Press anthologies Limbs of the Pine, Peaks of the Range and Many Trails to the Summit. Her poems have also traveled on Seattle-area buses. Visit her at

by Roxane Beth Johnson

A boarded-up house. Ransacked inside — broken glass and toppled tables, chairs overturned, books shaken for hidden money.

There are mouths in dreams full of gold teeth, chewing bread and meat. The body is hollow as flame and will burn down anything if pointed straight.

A bird flies in through the door, then flutters at the window. Although he is tiny, I am too afraid to help him escape.

I’ve made myself another house. I hum to fill its empty rooms. I fold in like saloon doors closing, then swinging out, keeping out thieves.

SOURCE: “Self-Portrait at Ten” appears in Roxane Beth Johnson‘s collection Jubilee (Anhinga Press, 2006), available at

IMAGE: “Girl in a Large Hat” by Mary Cassatt (1908).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roxane Beth Johnson earned an MFA from San Francisco State University. She is the author of Jubilee (2006), chosen by Philip Levine for the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry from Anhinga Press, and Black Crow Dress (2013). Of African American and Italian heritage, Johnson has said that her early literary influences were the Bible and church hymns; later influences include the poets Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Johnson has won an AWP Prize in Poetry and a Pushcart Prize, 2007. She has received scholarships/fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Cave Canem, The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and San Francisco Arts Commission. Johnson’s work has appeared in the Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Image, Callaloo, Beloit Poetry Journal, ZYZZYVA, Chelsea, and elsewhere.

by Jennifer Tonge

Hair still Titian,
but Botticelli’s grip has loosened—

not now Rubenesque,
and probably never;

Ingres approaches,
but Courbet might capture me.

Could I be surreal?
It seems almost likely—

bells in my ears
and fortresses under;

cones have been set on my eyes.
My spring is gone

and summer’s upon me,
rude in its ripening.

I’m espaliered, strung wide and tied,
pinioned, and thus can I fly.

SOURCE: Poetry (May 2005).

IMAGE: “Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl” by Gustave Courbet (1866).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jennifer Tonge received an MFA from the University of Utah. Tonge’s poetry has been anthologized in Rising Phoenix (2004) and Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (2000). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Quarterly West, Poetry, Ploughshares, New England Review, and Bellingham Review. The recipient of fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ucross Foundation, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Tonge has taught creative writing at the universities of Utah, Wisconsin, and Texas as well as at Butler University. She has served as poetry editor of Quarterly West, as president of Writers@Work, on the board of City Art, and as associate editor at Dawn Marano and Associates.

by Adam Zagajewski

Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter
half my day passes. One day it will be half a century.
I live in strange cities and sometimes talk
with strangers about matters strange to me.
I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich.
I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain.
The fourth has no name.
I read poets, living and dead, who teach me
tenacity, faith, and pride. I try to understand
the great philosophers–but usually catch just
scraps of their precious thoughts.
I like to take long walks on Paris streets
and watch my fellow creatures, quickened by envy,
anger, desire; to trace a silver coin
passing from hand to hand as it slowly
loses its round shape (the emperor’s profile is erased).
Beside me trees expressing nothing
but a green, indifferent perfection.
Black birds pace the fields,
waiting patiently like Spanish widows.
I’m no longer young, but someone else is always older.
I like deep sleep, when I cease to exist,
and fast bike rides on country roads when poplars and houses
dissolve like cumuli on sunny days.
Sometimes in museums the paintings speak to me
and irony suddenly vanishes.
I love gazing at my wife’s face.
Every Sunday I call my father.
Every other week I meet with friends,
thus proving my fidelity.
My country freed itself from one evil. I wish
another liberation would follow.
Could I help in this? I don’t know.
I’m truly not a child of the ocean,
as Antonio Machado wrote about himself,
but a child of air, mint and cello
and not all the ways of the high world
cross paths with the life that–so far–
belongs to me.

MORE: Listen to poet Adam Zagajewski read “Self-Portrait” at

IMAGE: “Reflection (Self-Portrait)” by Lucian Freud (1985).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adam Zagajewski was born in Poland, in 1945, moved to France in 1982, and has taught at universities in the United States, including the University of Houston and the University of Chicago. Zagajewski was considered one of the “Generation of ’68” or “New Wave” writers in Poland — his early work was protest poetry, though he moved away from that emphasis in his later work. His books include the poetry collections Tremor (1985), Canvas (1991), Mysticism for Beginners (1997), and World Without End: New and Selected Poems (2002), and the prose collections Two Cities: On Exile, History and the Imagination (1995) and the 2000 memoir Another Beauty. Zagajewski has won the Prix de la Liberté as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Berliner Kunstleprogramm.

Author photo by Ekko von Schwichow, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.