Archives for posts with tag: poetry

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Beach Blanket Babylon Is Gone, Ferlinghetti Too
by Howard Richard Debs

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco—apocryphal Twainism

July 1990
I remember
my first time
in San Francisco
not wanting to
miss a thing:
the Golden Gate
Bridge, that majestic
span, symbol of
American ingenuity,
Chinatown, sampling
much too much dim sum,
the best they said this side
of Shanghai, block after
block of Asian wonders
engage the ear and eye
down an alleyway
I peered into
a fortune cookie
factory where I
found the secret
of how those little
slips of paper get inside.
I ride the Powell/Hyde
cable car arriving
at Fisherman’s Wharf,
Ghirardelli Square,
to indulge in chocolates,
considered there to be
important, rivaling
halibut and sole.
I took the boat tour out
to Alcatraz, the place
they call The Rock,
the churning waves of
San Francisco Bay
ominous and cold
matching with the edifice
it harbors. I explored the
neighborhoods, Japantown,
Little Russia, the Castro,
Nob Hill and ventured
to North Beach to
pay homage at
Ferlinghetti’s City Lights
echoing the cadence
of the Beat Generation.
Mere steps away
I discovered Beach
Blanket Babylon, a
unique San Francisco
treat, the revues at
Club Fugazi turned
spoofing into an artform,
the exaggerated costumes
and caustic humor pointed
a finger at any who dared
to place themselves above
the rest. I saw an article
the other day noting
that the troupe no longer plays,
a casualty of the changing times.
So Beach Blanket Babylon
is gone now, Ferlinghetti too
yet—I am still waiting for
another show, another Howl.

PHOTO: Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, California, with City Lights Bookstore in right foreground and the Transamerica Pyramid in center background (September 2015). Photo by Joseph Kenny, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Herb Caen, the San Francisco humorist and journalist whose column appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 60 years, dubbed the city Baghdad by the Bay in recognition of the cosmopolitan cultural diversity it shares with the Middle Eastern city. Another humorist and journalist who for a time called San Francisco home was Mark Twain, but the words of the quote attributed to him about the city’s weather most likely are not his. He enjoyed living there, writing in Roughing It, “I fell in love with the most cordial and sociable city in the Union.” During Twain’s time in San Francisco, a literary movement was imperceptibly taking place against the propriety that perpetuated Victorian tastes. The constrictive standards of the day started giving way to a new way of writing, an American way. So in its history the City by the Bay became a prime example of how an environment of cultural diversity spawns both vibrancy and stimulates creative endeavor. It is no coincidence that during the 1950s San Francisco became the hub of the avant-garde in the visual and performing arts, and of course poetry. My own journey as a poet led me to the Black Mountain poets including Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, both closely associated with the so-called San Francisco Renaissance—an interest that was an impetus to undertake my first pilgrimage to the Bay Area. Who knows where and when there will be further evolution in the arts? We are waiting.

PHOTO: The author at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (1990).

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PHOTO:  The author’s treasured keepsake, the program from Beach Blanket Babylon and the ticket from the performance he attended.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. His latest work is the chapbook Political (Cyberwit). He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming in later 2021 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.

Still Waiting
by Feroza Jussawalla

I am still waiting, son,
still waiting,
for you to return,
for you to know,
that I love you still,
and, will wait, for you,
till the end of my time,
hoping always
to see you
before then.

How have you changed?
Is there bristle on your cheek?
That dimple?
Those hound-dog eyes?

It has been twenty years now,
And you would be turning thirty-five.
What keeps us apart,
I have yet to know.
Your umbilical cord doesn’t tell me.
It withered long ago.

I am still waiting to know,
the what and why of our apartness.
Someday, my mother-love,
will know.

I wait every day,
I am still waiting.
Waiting, to know.
Waiting, I know.

The tolling bell says,
“I beg to urge you everyone,
Life and death are a grave matter
Awaken! Awaken!

PAINTING: Blue Divided by Blue by Mark Rothko (1966).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was impelled by the recent Mother’s Day, and the loss of contact with my only premie child. And, inspired by the call for poems, “I am still waiting…” I wait every day. Waiting is my being. The last stanza of course is inspired by the evening bell of Zendos. It comes from my experience of sitting with Natalie Goldberg in Taos, New Mexico.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feroza Jussawalla is Emerita Professor of English at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Originally from India, she is the author and or editor, and co-editor of several scholarly works, in postcolonial literature. Her collection of poetry, Chiffon Saris, was published by Toronto South Asian Review Press and The Writer’s Workshop, Kolkotta (2002).

Sheltering, Day 306
by Debra Kaufman

Another day of falling
and falling apart:

ragged-kneed, ligament-torn,
stented and stitched,

my heart battered,
mind like a leaky boat.

I shine but thinly,
I am still waiting to
offer the spare change

of what I believe,
still polishing my ideals

like my mother did
the family silver,
to be passed on to heirs

who have no place for it.

PAINTING: Spoon by Arsen Savadov (2004).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debra Kaufman is the author of the poetry collections God Shattered, Delicate Thefts, The Next Moment, and A Certain Light, as well as three chapbooks, many monologues and short plays, and four full-length plays. Her most recent poems appeared in Poetry East, North Carolina Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, and Triggerfish Literary Review. In 2019, she produced Illuminated Dresses, a series of monologues by women in Raleigh, North Carolina. Visit her at

by Munia Khan

There is nothing left
between the sky and rivers
Only the numbness of wind
that mildly describes my senses

I touch, I hear, and I behold
I feel—a pins-and-needles feeling
As I wait for my daughter’s smile
to bring me back to life…
A flesh from my flesh
A sacred soul from my departed womb
She is…

I need no sunshine to relish
No weary sound of thunder my ears need to bear
The seven colours of rainbow might reduce to four
Perhaps the frozen tree leaves won’t meet the spring next time

I don’t mind as I wait for my daughter’s smile
who never fails to lift my spirits.
She smiles and says, “All will be fine, Mommy!”

That’s why I always wait for her smile
She smiles every day for me
Yet I love to wait all day

Even right now I am still waiting for her smiling face
To bring me back to life

IMAGE: Décor de la salle à manger by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1901).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My 14-year-old daughter Zaima is the one and only treasure in my life. She never gives up cheering me up in my hard times.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Munia Khan was born on a spring night in 1981. She enjoys her journey in the literary world. Most of her works are poems of different genres, short stories, and articles. She is the author of five poetry collections and one nonfiction inspirational book, Beyond The Vernal Mind (September 2012, USA), To Evince The Blue (Published 29 October, 2014, USA), Versified (October 2016, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Fireclay ( Published March 3, 2020, USA) and Attainable (June 2020, USA), The Half Circle (July 2020, USA). Her poetry is the reflection of her life experience. Her works have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Romanian, Urdu, Italian, Dutch, Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Albanian, Finnish, Greek, German, French, Indonesian, Hindi, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali, and Irish. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies, literary journals, magazines and, newspapers. Her words have been inscribed on a series of commemorative plaques in Ireland, including on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church at Holy Trinity Heritage Centre at Carlingford, Ireland, as a tribute to those lost in the 1916 collision of the SS Connemara and the SS Retriever. Her quote has also been inscribed on a memorial plaque, in tribute to the Hannah shipwreck victims in 1849, beside Newry Canal, one hundred metres from the town centre in Newry, Ireland. Visit her at

by Mish (Eileen) Murphy

I am still
for my husband to finish
the living room—

for your birthday,
he agreed
six months ago.

Did I mention
that the one wall
he did paint


the one with the
big screen TV
the size
a twin bed

that he bought for himself
without asking me?

I do love that TV, though…

While he was painting
the black wall

he dripped a splotch
of black
on one of the
dingy white walls,

when I was watching
my shows on TV,

out of the corner of my eye
I would see
what looked like a


climbing up the living room wall.

And after I nagged and nagged him
to evict the roach splotch,

I eventually realized
that this black
would still be
the same dingy wall

until Ragnarök died down.

Hire a professional?

He spent all our
extra money
on the

my “real”
birthday gift…

In the meantime,
the only light
in the living room
comes from
the flickering TV screen,

as shadows
the room,

all insects,
big and small.

PAINTING: Untitled by Jiro Yoshihara (1969).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mish (Eileen) Murphy is Associate Poetry Editor for Cultural Weekly magazine and teaches English and Literature at Polk State College, Florida. She has an M.A. in Fiction Writing/Teaching of Writing from Columbia College, Chicago. She just published her third book of poetry (fourth book overall), the collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press Feb. 2021). Fortune Written on Wet Grass (Wapshott Press April 2020) was her first full length collection. Her second book Evil Me was published August 2020 (Blood Pudding Press). She’s had more than 100 individual poems published in the U.S, Canada, and U.K., in journals such as Tinderbox, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and Thirteen Myna Birds, and many others. Mish also is a prolific book reviewer and visual artist; she illustrated the children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus (2019). Visit her at and on Facebook and Instagram

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Jim Morrison Tells Me I Have Greek Feet
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Jim claims inherited feet shapes
are based on their origins.
“With that index toe outgrowing
your hallux (big toe),” he says,
“yours are Greek.” Then he grins.

For decades, I ignored my feet,
except to clean—soak in Epsom salts—
until this year, when they bleed.
I rub a pumice stone over cracks,
wait for them to heal, and
meditate about feet:
Cornerstones to columns,
pedestals to pillars—
our feet hold up our worlds.

Greek feet—barefoot runners
leap across urns for eternity.
Greeks used few feet in poetry—
Sappho’s many lines lost.
And they wrote plays
in couplets, repeating the first line’s
number of feet in the next,
so back-row listeners knew
who spoke when feet repeated.

“You know that means you dominate
a marriage or household,” Jim adds,
grins again, wrinkles his nose.
“I don’t,” I boldly say.
“I am still waiting for that to be.”

PHOTO: Ancient marble statue with a young foot hanging into the void. Photo by Lnmstuff, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, when I (my persona) screamed down asphalt through mauve Kansas fields and the Flint Hills, rock shaman Jim Morrison crawled out of my car stereo while a yellow hornet on the windshield danced like a Kachina in a sand painting. It was magic. Perhaps. I still don’t know. Yet poems resulting from this encounter resulted in Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s third poetry book, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison. In it, Jim comes with me to find La Loba*, in hopes she’d resurrect his bones. But the wolf woman refused, and we went to Paris and the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There, Jim’s dark monument, wrought with graffiti, commemorates him. I’d thought this story had ended when I left him there. But I was wrong. He won’t leave me alone. He pushes into poems and ignoring his burial, often joins figures from everywhere—ancient Greece and Eleusinian mysteries, wild and wooly creatures in my “frenzies” poems, and post-modern philosophers. Even today, he whispers to me when I stare at a waffled, red-lace sky filled with popcorn clouds looming above our foothills.

*Wolf woman. Bone woman. According to Southwest legends (from various tribes and Mexican cultures), La Loba works with angels to gather bones of humans and wolves, then resurrect them. 

PHOTO: Jim Morrison (Dec. 8, 1943-July 3, 1971) at age 25 in a promotional photo for The Doors (1969).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pushcart and Pulitzer nominee Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City Review, Phantom Drift, Ekphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review, Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 15 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook and on Amazon.

One small child
by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

At my teacher’s second-floor studio,
I fidget on the piano stool.
I am staring at
the opening bars of
The Moonlight Sonata.

I am still waiting
to perfect this piece,
fine-tune it in time
for the Christmas concert,
feel and express it
as viscerally
as my teacher does—
each sombre note
seeming to dissolve
on her fingertips,
tell-tale tears twitching
on her waterline.

I peek outside through
a gap in the curtains
and see my father—
he is waiting in his car,
windows rolled up,
air con turned on,
patiently parked
in the shade of two acacias.

It was an hour-long drive
to get me to my lesson,
and my father naps off
his fatigue,
knees folded against
the dashboard. He and I
have been doing this
ever since I was
a toddler,
and I have often wondered
what he dreams of
during his micro sleeps
as he waits for me to finish.

While the Moonlight Sonata
lulls my mind,
something tells me
that he dreams
of Christmas Eve,
seated in the audience,
waiting to hear me play
his all-time favourite piece-
“One small child,”
like I have
every year

PAINTING: The Piano Lesson by Henri Matisse (1916).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am very fortunate to have a devoted father. He used to drive me to my piano lessons. This was usually after a long day, after he had worked two jobs. Over the years I evolved as a pianist and my father has heard me perform many pieces. But to this day he says that his favourite remains “One small child.” I like to believe that that one small child is me. My father will turn 74 this year and I wrote this poem for him.

Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist, poet, and pianist who was raised in the Middle East. She holds a Masters in English and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent works have been published in Silver Birch Press, River and South Review, Bracken Magazine, Ethel zine, and several other print and online literary journals and anthologies internationally. Her poem, “Mizpah,” was awarded an Honourable Mention at the Glass House Poetry Awards 2020, and her poems on the Covid crisis were made into a podcast by The Someone New Theatre Company, Melbourne. Her mixed-media pieces have been published in over 40 literary journals, including 3AM Magazine, Star 82 Review, Otoliths, and The Amsterdam Quarterly, as well as on the covers of Ang(st) the Body Zine, Pithead Chapel, Uppagus, Periwinkle Literary, and elsewhere. She is a chief editor for Authora Australis, and regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her paintings at shows. She teaches art to young children, and lives in Sydney on the land of the Ku-ring-gai people of the Eora Nation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

silver apples of the moon
by Jagari Mukherjee

I am still waiting for you
to hand me love
in a shiny blue-and-silver
wrapping paper, tied
with a slim satin bow.
If only romance had been
smooth as silk—or soft,
such as the music
you often play,
with the harmonica
between your lips.
I thought this time
it was for keeps, but
we smoked passion up
in joints and planted hyacinths
in the ash collected
in a green glass vase.

So now I mourn my loss alone,
and the eyes fill with moondrops;
I failed to transform the soul
to stone. I am still waiting
for you to return.

PAINTING: The Silver Apples of the Moon by Margaret Macdonald (1912).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jagari Mukherjee is a poet, editor, and reviewer based in Kolkata, India. She has authored three collections of poetry. Her latest full-length volume of poetry, The Elegant Nobody, was published by Hawakal Publishers in January 2020. She also co-authored an ebook, Wine-Kissed Poems (Blue Pencil, 2020), which was an Amazon bestseller. She is a gold medalist in English Literature, a Best of the Net 2018 nominee, DAAD scholar from Technical University, Dresden, Germany, a Bear River alumna. Her poems and other creative pieces have been published in a range of venues around the world. She is the winner of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2018 for Book Review, Poeisis Award for Excellence in Poetry 2019, and the recipient of Reuel International Prize for Poetry 2019, among other awards. Jagari is a part of the Reviews team at The Blue Nib, and the Managing Editor of EKL Review. She recently won the Women Empowered Gifted Poet (Powerful Emergent Voice) Award.

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The Tarmac
by Sue Mayfield Geiger

Houston Hobby airport coffee shop.
We sat close, knees touching, hands clasped,
my lipstick on your shirt collar.
Tears in our eyes.
You were off to Panama, “Just for a few months—”
I’ll write every day,” you said.
Coffee consumed and bites of toast crumbs
on your lips, I brushed them off with an
index finger that you kissed with a grin.

We walked out onto the tarmac, arm in arm,
you turned and said goodbye, giving me a wink,
a tight squeeze of a hug and soft kiss.

Today, I am at that same airport, the coffee shop is gone.
Your letters are tucked away in a shoebox
in paper-thin envelopes, stamped “Par avion.”

I am still waiting to walk out on that tarmac
when you return.

PHOTO: Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, the star-crossed lovers saying goodbye on the tarmac in Casablanca (1942). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A few decades ago, walking onto the tarmac to board or deplane an aircraft was common, until the jet bridge became the norm. Some smaller airports still allow boarding and deplaning via the tarmac, but very few. There was something exciting and often scary about taking that long walk on the tarmac—the surrounding spaciousness, the roar of the jet engines, the wind blowing mightily. It was very freeing, and sometimes a reminder of love lost.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Mayfield Geiger is a writer, singer, and model living on the Texas Gulf Coast. When not writing about home décor, fashion, or a new restaurant opening, she reads and writes poetry. Her literary publications include Grayson Books, RiverLit, Dos Gatos Press, The Binnacle (U of Maine), Of Burgers and Barrooms (Main Street Rag), Red Wolf Journal, Waco WordFest Anthology, Perfume River Poetry, THEMA, Silver Birch Press, Poetry and Places, and most recently Odes and Elegies: Eco poetry from the Gulf Coast, available on Amazon. Visit her on Instagram @LovieSue and @Beyond70ish or

Winning at Solitaire
by Elaine Mintzer

At the motel, I laid the four kids
sideways in a bed like wooden matchsticks.
the oldest with her feet sticking over the edge.

I warned her to lie still so as not to disturb her brother
who matched her arm to arm, knee to knee,
next to their sister who thrashed in her sleep,

stirring the covers, finding her own order over their limbs.
And the baby on the end, curled into himself,
lips sucking a dream breast.

I propped a pillow at the foot of the bed
to keep them from falling,
from meeting the stained carpet,

the cracked foundation,
the dust and spiders
that spin in the dark.

I am still waiting for passers-by to pass by,
for the strobes in the parking lot
to roll down the street.

When the night quiets and the kids settle,
I pick up a deck of blue bicycle cards,
soft at the edges, and shuffle.

I hear the breath of their intersections,
the soft slap as I lay them
on the wobbly table in rows, in piles,

aligning each new one with the last.
In the palm of my left hand,
the remainder of the deck

turned by threes.
Turn after turn.
Game after game.

PAINTING: Motel, Route 66 by John Register (1991).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I remember my grandmother playing solitaire, in the rare moments she was not working.  My mother, too. These days, my mom plays on her iPad.

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Elaine Mintzer lives in Los Angeles.  Her work has been published in journals and anthologies, including Gryroscope Review, Last Call, Chinaski, Beloit Poetry Review, Panoplyzine, Slipstream Press, Perspectives, Borders and Boundaries, Mom Egg Review, Subprimal Poetry Art, Lummox, Lucid Moose Lit’s Like a Girl anthology, The Ekphrastic Review, Cultural Weekly, Rattle, The Lindenwood Review, and 13 Los Angeles Poets. Elaine’s collection, Natural Selections was published by Bombshelter Press. Visit her at