Archives for posts with tag: Poetry

by Ed Ruzicka

When I had just passed
from plastic trainer-pants
to big boy tighty-whities

I got left alone. I turned a knob,
made my way across porch boards.
Two-feet-per-step, I clutched
the bottom of an iron rail tight,
edged down a paint-chipped staircase.

Mom was probably in the kitchen
turning pork chops into shoe leather
so none of us would succumb to trichinosis.
It was during one of those magic shows
November puts on when light snow
whisks along evergreen branches, settles,
or swirls off in the breath of dusk.

Mary was already away at Creighton U.
Dick and Jerry would have been out
with friends till the moon got tired of them.
Clare was probably on her bed
performing the sacred art she mastered
young, and still practices,
the art of turning pages.

I let myself out into mingle and flurry,
the soft iteration of flakes.
I found a small cove underneath a row
of hydrangea bushes, put my back
against house boards and watched

crystals, whirl and flutter, find spots
along the dried, brown crenelations
of Hydrangea flowers that had
been pink four months before.
Mom found me sleeping a sleep profound.
Cold to the touch, flakes freckled my skin.
Mom scooped me up, raced me to a hospital
where I had to go under an oxygen tent for days
though the good doctors of Geneva General Hospital
proved unable to cure a clinical addiction
to seeking wonder any way I can.

Image by Fotofix.

radio dec 20 Charlie and me (3)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka’s most recent book of poems, My Life in Cars, was released a year ago. Ed’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Rattle, Canary, the Xavier Review and the San Pedro River Review, as well as many other literary journals and anthologies. A finalist for the Dana Award and the New Millennium Award, Ed is an Occupational Therapist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he lives with wife, Renee.

New Venue
by Alarie Tennille

That night in 2015 when Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony
performed at the new Helzberg Hall in Kansas City, Missouri,
Maestro Muti was so impressed with the acoustics that he promised
they would return.

Even while the orchestra warms
up, one second violinist wears
her stormy Beethoven face
lest we forget whose Fifth
this is. The baton drops,
duh-duh-duh-DUH. We all know it.

But something is very different
tonight. We hear the color
of each instrument. Less thunder,
more lightning. Flutes take wing
over a buzzing meadow of strings.
Our eyes race after our ears to find
each star of the moment.

Instead of pouring over us,
like the soup of sound we’ve heard
a hundred times before,
the music lifts us.

Previously published as “Why Riccardo Muti Wants to Return” in the author’s collection, Waking on the Moon.

PHOTO: The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Helzberg Hall, Kansas City, Missouri.

Tennille 3

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I share a love for the arts, especially literature, Classical music, theatre, and ballet. In our newlywed days, when we were house poor, we relied on libraries and the Classical radio channel. Soon after we moved to Kansas City, we began subscribing to an annual concert series. We thought it was wonderful! Then we got a new concert hall, and it felt like we were hearing music for the first time. Of course, that made it even more heartbreaking when our concerts and ballets were closed down due to Covid.

PHOTO: The author and her husband.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille was a pioneer coed at the University of Virginia, where she earned her degree in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. She serves on the Emeritus Board and Programming Committee of The Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2020, she was honored to receive the first Editor’s Choice Fantastic Ekphrastic Award from The Ekphrastic Review. In January 2022, her new book, Three A.M. at the Museum, was selected as Director’s Pick at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art gift shop. Please visit her at Her books are available at Amazon.

At Middle Falls
by Tamara Madison

Icy water drops
from the rocks
in sheets

We swim like otters
in the pool the falls
have filled

How hot the sun
How sweet the water
My children near

PHOTO: Middle McCloud Falls (Siskiyou County, California). Photo by Adri.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a camping trip to the McCloud River, near Mount Shasta, California. There was a heat wave that week, and the campground had no showers. Fortunately, the cold mountain water was always available and we loved swimming laps in the pool below the falls. The photo of me and my son jumping in was taken at a different spot along the river on that same trip.

tamara m

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison is a native of the California desert. A retired teacher of English and French, she is a well-traveled lover of nature, dogs and water. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Chiron Review, The Writers Almanac, The Worcester Review, Pearl, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and many others. She’s the author of two chapbooks and two full-length collections of poetry, with two more in the wings. More about Tamara can be found at

by Penelope Moffet

for Gilah Hirsch

We ate in a fancy restaurant
where elderly waiters refilled our water glasses
every 30 seconds, brushing crumbs off our table
between courses. Both soft-spoken,
we misheard each other’s every turd
but enjoyed the whole mailed lobster.
There were lots of plates for the smells.
The crème brulee a luscious mustard,
reminding G of flan she used to make.
The thing about that flan was,
when it was ready, it was gone.

IMAGE: Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali (1938).

moi march madness 2019

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Several years ago my friend Gilah Hirsch treated me to a meal at an elegant, over-staffed restaurant where neither of us could make out much of what the other was saying, but the auditory misinterpretations led to a lot of laughter. Somehow, that day, it was more fun to misunderstand each other than to understand.

PHOTO: In March 2019, Penelope Moffet (left) dines with Gilah Yelin Hirsch (right) and friends on another festive occasion. (Photo by Cynthia Wood)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penelope Moffet is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Cauldron of Hisses (Arroyo Seco Press, 2022). Her poems have been published in Gleam, One, Natural Bridge, Permafrost, Pearl, The Rise Up Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Verse-Virtual, Gyroscope, and other literary journals. She lives in Southern California.

by Beth Copeland

Lying on the yoga mat in corpse pose,
I want to levitate above all suffering,
to return to a summer long ago when
I lay flat on my back in a turquoise pool
with eyes closed. The swim instructor
said, I’m letting go but you won’t sink.
When I opened my eyes, white clouds
billowed like the bleached sheets Mother
hung on the line to dry above fresh-mown
grass and clover or like a flock of sheep
grazing on a muscari-blue pasture of sky.

Lately, I don’t know if there’s any hope left,
if there’s a lifeline reeling us back to shore
or only a frayed rope pulling us farther out
to sea. But as I deeply breathe, I become
a child again, eyes open to heaven, held
on the water’s shimmering surface, adrift
in that moment of wonder when we know
nothing is holding us up and we float.

“Shavasana” was previously published in Blue Mountain Review, June 2021.

ART: Public Pool for Daytime Swimming by Joyce Kozloff (1984).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem during the early months of the pandemic. I was doing yoga at home, focusing on deep breathing to calm my mind and body. It reminded me of learning to float when I was a child. I remembered looking up at the sky as I floated on my back, a pleasant, calming memory.

Beth Copeland

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Beth Copeland is the author of Blue Honey, 2017 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize winner; Transcendental Telemarketer (BlazeVOX, 2012); and Traveling through Glass, 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award winner. Her chapbook Selfie with Cherry is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press. She owns Tiny Cabin, Big Ideas™ —a retreat for writers in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

breeze 1
Rags or Riches?
by Lynn Norton

Oops! Toppled coffee forms
a pond the size of a serving
platter. Scrap of cloth absorbs
the torrent, spares my shirt from
stain. Subtle fragrance lingers
over the calamity, decades old
but unmistakably BREEZE laundry
detergent, venerable workhorse
of wringer washing machines.
The perfumed remnant, a towel
redeemed with specially marked
box tops. Soft terry that once
blotted shaved faces, scraped
knees, tears of disappointment.
Memories stored in threadbare
rags cling to familiar skin.

IMAGE: 1956 ad for Breeze detergent.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Each time I employ a piece of discarded cloth for a grimy chore, I’m flooded with memories of its original purpose. My rag-bin is like a scrapbook. It needed a poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn Norton is a commercial sculptor of original patterns for ornaments, toys, and collectibles. He recently added pen and tablet to his toolbox alongside chisel and rasp. To his delight, the new tools enabled compelling images to be rendered in another dimension.

Jean Landry
Spring Storm Along the Yuba
by Robert Coats

Red osier dogwood over black water,
Each flaming twig rimed in white.
A ghost of snow lit by lightning flicker,
Dark clouds hasten on-rushing night.

Each flaming twig rimed in white:
A sudden unexpected gift.
Dark clouds hasten on-rushing night;
In deep shadow, the last remaining drifts.

A sudden unexpected gift
After a day in the woods, alone.
In deep shadow, the last remaining drifts,
Ahead, the long drive home.

After a day in the woods, alone
Wind-driven hail pummels the truck.
Ahead, the long drive home
Down highway carved through glistening rock.

Wind-driven hail pummels the truck,
A ghost of snow lit by lightning flicker.
Down highway carved through glistening rock:
Red osier dogwood over black water.

PHOTO: Red osier dogwood reflection in water looking like kissing lips by Jean Landry.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I believe that we are surrounded all the time by poems, but most of the time we do not see them.  I have been fortunate that my work often takes me to beautiful and amazing places, and provides opportunities to catch potential poems as they fly past. My submission describes the moment of catching some raw material that, with considerable sweat, eventually became a poem.¶ “Spring Storm Along the Yuba” was published with 10 other poems that together won first prize in a 2010 contest of the on-line journal Word Worth (apparently no longer accessible).  It won first prize in the “forms” category of the 2020 contest of the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, and is included in my book The Harsh Green World.

Coats photo for Silver Birch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Coats is a research hydrologist with the University of California at Davis. He has been studying climatic, hydrologic, and ecological processes in the northern Sierra Nevada—and writing poetry—for more than 40 years. His poems have appeared on the websites of Canary and Poetry and Places, and in Orion, Zone 3, Windfall, Song of the San Joaquin, in two anthologies (Fresh Water: Poems from the Rivers, Lakes and Streams and Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California), and in his book The Harsh Green World, published by Sugartown Publishing. He spent his childhood years in the deciduous forests of the Potomac River basin, and the summers of his teenage years in northern Elko Co., NV.  He lives now in Berkeley CA.

chevy 1957
Candy Apple Red
By Ellen Rowland

There was a time I loved a boy
who drove a ‘57 Chevy, restored it
himself with gentle, oil-greased hands.
He taught me to recognize a model year
by the fins at the back of the car
which seemed to me more like wings
as we flew across the highway to distant towns.
I can still tell you now, for instance, that the ‘56
tail is slightly more rounded than its showy upgrade,
headlights prominent in the front grill.
I loved him for other reasons too.
The peach fuzz on his upper lip, how he palm-cupped
his cigarette as we walked down Main Street
invisible to anyone who might object
until he brought it to his lips, more like a harmonica
then a Marlboro Red. How he would only take a drag
after we ducked into the alley behind Bones Diner,
tucking a long, windblown lock behind my ear
so it didn’t get tangled in our tongues.
How he listened silent and reverent
to my imitations of celebrities, my theatrical
readings of Emily Dickinson, saying,
“You really need to get out of here.”
I was dragged out at sixteen and hardly looked back
but I can still feel his eyes on me
adjusting to the street light glow in the Chevy’s front seat,
stick shift our chaperone. Have never felt anything since
like the thrill of his leaning in, engine idling in our only winter.

IMAGE: Candy apple red 1957 Chevrolet BelAir (

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Growing up, my family lived for several years in a small town in West Virginia, where I met my first love. Over the years, I’ve woven together a patchwork of moments we shared, always amazed at the details of what has remained in memory, including the heartache of being uprooted. This poem is a fond attempt to honor the teacher that first love can be, a relationship many adults tend to dismiss as frivolous and fleeting.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellen Rowland is the author of two collections of haiku/senryu, Light, Come Gather Me and Blue Seasons, as well as the book Everything I Thought I Knew, essays on living, learning and parenting outside the status quo. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and in several poetry anthologies, most recently The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy and Hope is a Group Project. Her debut collection of full-length poems, No Small Thing, is forthcoming from Fernwood Press in spring 2023. She lives off the grid with her family on an island in Greece. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

scent bottle 2
There has to be a morning
by Alex Barr

There has to be a morning
(one at least among nearly thirty thousand)
where niggles fall
into the Great Melting Pot of Niggles
and there is a sense of lightness
not the fragile lightness of balloons,
more the floating of clouds that just don’t mind
where they are heading.

And you notice that Victorian thing you found
(“A scent bottle,” she says—news to me)
with its glass pointed stopper (like
the top of a stupa, yes?) and elegant swelling body
of cut glass, which you formerly
consigned (along with much of what you wrote)
to the Oubliette of the Useless
along with a heavy heap of Victorian values
and specialized kitchenware: moustache cups,
piping-bag holders, grapefruit spoons . . .

And from the old green wooden box of dusters
and shoe cream you dig out the long-forgotten
Goddard’s Long-term Silver Polish, while
the garden (which usually feels too small)
seen through the window is peaceful, without wind,
neat and rectangular, birdless (but so be it),
and you shake the bottle and follow the instructions
and rub and rub and chain back to those mornings
when Billiken God of Things As They Ought To Be
took charge and sent the dour distractions off
to the Desert of Enduring Emptiness,
and although the sky is a blank
tapestry of grey, the neck of that useless thing,
Victorian thing, has come alive with light.

PHOTO: Victorian Cut Crystal Scent Bottle, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem when for once in my life I didn’t feel driven, the weather outside wasn’t sunny enough to tempt me out, there was nothing pressing to do, and I happened to pick up the scent bottle, a familiar sight but one I had never fully noticed. Engaging with it, studying it, cleaning it, I was fully in the moment . . . wonderful, simple, memorable.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alex Barr’s recent poetry is in Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Scintilla, The Dark Horse, and Orbis. His poetry collections are Letting in the Carnival  from Peterloo Poets and Henry’s Bridge from Starborn Books. He lives in Wales. His blog is