Archives for posts with tag: Relationships

hokusai plum
My Wife Says—
by Shahé Mankerian

In your poems, you remember the kiss
your mother gave you under a loquat tree.

Pressed between stanzas, a blind dog
hides in the residue of a demitasse.

In the melted snow of Mount Ararat,
you always trace the face of God.

You’d rather describe death by skewers
in the sewers of Beirut than kiss me

in a steamy sonnet beneath the stained-
glass gown of the Virgin. I don’t need

morning walks on Champs-Élysées
or a blue heart pendant from Tiffany’s.

My needs are minimal like a haiku.
I’m still waiting for a poem, a pristine plum,

like the kind William Carlos Williams
stole from the fridge—so sweet and cold.

PAINTING: Plum Blossoms and Moon by Katshushika Hokusai (1803).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always loved and admired Charles Bukowski’s poem “one for old snaggle-tooth.” It’s an exquisitely vulnerable love poem dedicated to FrancEyE, the mother of Bukowski’s only child. The poem I wrote is dedicated to the woman I love who reminds me periodically that I no longer write her poems. The prompt “I am still waiting…” coupled with Bukowski’s inspirational verse provided me with a poem of redemption, a long overdue birthday gift to my wife.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California. He is on the board of the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His debut poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in October 2021.

bathtub outside
What Shrinks, What Grows
by Ed Ruzicka

I should have left you
before you left me.

If I had boarded a train
that pulled out of a nameless depot

you would have grown smaller, shrunk:
lover, heron, bunny, quail, cricket, one iota.

Instead you have grown, swollen—
weather front that settles on top of a landscape.

Memories solidify, brood within, without.
You are still on the jetties in Racine at midnight.

The tumult of Lake Michigan bashes stone,
jets up white walls that crash back to rock.

You still giggle in candle light
in our clawfoot tub. While Billie Holiday

sings from the record player’s needle,
you slide a loofa over the limbs of desire.

In some part of me, the weather
has never changed, I am still waiting.

Silly though. If you came to me again
with softness, turmoil, delights, distress,

what would I do now, an old man
who has forgotten how to hope?

PHOTO: Windmill and bathtub (Polaroid) by Moominsean.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Once you have loved someone deeply, that feeling is always there, though largely locked away. I am completely happy as I am now and yet a certain undeniable truth and strong emotion emerged as I wrote this. I can’t figure the heart out. If you do, I’m on Facebook—let me know.

radio dec 20 Charlie and me (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka has published widely. His most recent book, My Life in Cars, is a sort of tell-all-tale about the rocky relationship between freedom and the American highway. Ed began working in his father’s Rexall drugstore at age eight. He lit out from Illinois cornfields in 1970 and has traveled widely. He worked as a deck-hand, short order cook, oil-field roughneck, tree trimmer, welder’s assistant, barge cleaner, social worker, and more. Ed settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he practices Occupational Therapy. Ed and his wife, Renee, often sit out at sunset on a patio that backs up to the rest of the world.

The Changing Light
by Burleigh Mutén

I am still waiting behind the hotel
even though you are    hours    late,
the sky already purpled     just
barely winking     a steady breeze
chilling my cheek

First your shoe will swing around
                              the corner, your leg
and smile, you      and your hat
will slide into view       you’ll glance
at your wristwatch            tuck your head
look over your glasses and          time
will fire the concierge
                                        our gaze
whispered Ferlinghetti line
after another
                    a sea light
                                       an island light
the light of fog
                          the sea light of Greece
my pleated skirt, my suede heels, your
                                      tie         your ear
your heat

PHOTO: Hotel De Sebald 3 by Elina Brotherus (2019).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I fell in love with poetry and Ferlinghetti as a teenager almost 50 years ago. The italicized phrases in this homage to him are from his poem “The Changing Light.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Burleigh Mutén’s poetry has been published in several anthologies and online publication, including The CDC Poetry Project and Meat for Tea, a literary journal. She is the author of five children’s books, including Miss Emily, a verse novel about Emily Dickinson and the children she loved. Mutén enjoys the privilege of leading tours at the Emily Dickinson Museum.

western-motel 1957
Waiting for Me
by Tamara Madison

I keep waiting for me
to be done with the shower,
for the hot water to sooth my aches,
for the shower to tire of me, cut me off,
stop the stream of healing what will never heal.
I am waiting for my hand to reach out,
push the knob, stanch the flow.
I am still waiting for the towel, the lotion, the clothes,
waiting to be done with all this taking care of the vehicle that is my body.

I am waiting for you to get up from the table
to take your shower, shave, put on that old shirt with the hole in the sleeve
tie your shoes
find your glasses, your keys.
I’m waiting for you to say you’re sorry for what you said and the way you said it.
I keep waiting for you to mean it.
I am still waiting for you, as always.

I am waiting to be tired enough of the pickle I’ve put myself in to end it.
I am waiting to have finally had enough and this time to mean it.
I am still waiting for myself to finally cut the ropes that tie me
to this spot where I curse all the time, where I grumble and rage.
I am waiting for me to set myself free
while I still have feet to tread the earth
and the desire to move.

PAINTING: Western Motel by Edward Hopper (1957).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is yet another in a long line of poems expressing my ambivalence about a long-term relationship which I am, at last, working to extricate myself from.

madison 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison is a California native who began writing poems as soon as she could hold a pencil. She is the author of the chapbook, The Belly Remembers, as well as two full-length collections, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Silver Birch Press, Califragile, Sheila-Na-Gig, Worcester Review, Chiron Review, The Writers Almanac, and many others. Please check out her website,

two women and dove 1956
How to love a daughter
by Rose Mary Boehm

She will never forgive you
your love. She will reject the profound knowledge
that you are bound to each other.
Oh, sometimes, very occasionally,
she’ll almost be seduced by your insistence.
Make no mistake, it’s only a truce,
never peace. There is no steadfastness
in her offering of absolution.
She loved you once with a fierce
and all-consuming emotion.
That she will never forgive.
Neither will she forgive
that you had a life of your own,
that you needed to leave for fear
of the master. She looks at you
and finds you wanting
and tells you in a roundabout way
that you failed.
And you know you are guilty.
You look into her eyes
and feel her pain. She is judging you
and you will never forgive yourself.

IMAGE: Two Women and Dove by Pablo Picasso (Lithograph, 1956).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first marriage became a little “crowded” at one point, and quite untenable. I had to leave. I left the country for what I thought would be two or three years. My daughter, 19 and a bit at the time, was the hardest hit. And, even though I supposedly left them with their father, he soon moved in with his girlfriend. Soon her older brother left too. She stayed behind in our big, old, rambling family home. It took my daughter years to “forgive” me. I carried the guilt for a long time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press in 2020. Visit her at and YouTube.

garlic by stijn nieuwendijk
How to Mend a Relationship
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

You must call and say “I am abject,”
and you must be abject
and tear at your clothes
until they’re shredded.

Make him dinner
while wearing your rags,
dice garlic, the knife rocking
on the cutting board. Say to the garlic,
“You must help me with this,” and it will obey.

When he asks about the mumbling on your plate
explain that you are eating your words
which are quite bitter
and, as you look at him expectantly,

he will hand across a needle
and a spool of thread.

PHOTO: Red garlic by Stijn Nieuwendijk, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Nimrod, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards including the League of Minnesota Poets Prize in 2009. In 2010, she won the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. She was also the 2010 winner of the Grandmother Earth Poetry Award. In 2012, she won the Paumanok Poetry Award. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Northern Colorado Writers first prize for poetry, and, in 2014, the New Millennium Prize for Poetry. In 2017, she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize and was nominated for the third time for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild was published by Finishing Line Press. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and cat.

Picture 52
by Joan Colby

Our daughter is at the door with
A plastic baggie containing two masks
And some alcohol wipes. Ordered from China
A month ago,they have finally arrived
In time, we hope, to save us.

I contemplate if you had survived
How would we have managed—getting you to the
Clinics for the treatments that kept you alive.
These clinics might be closed like
Everything else. To shelter in place, for you
Would have been suicide.

Anyway, you died before that could
Happen. One bad thing, at least, that you
Dodged. You could hardly breathe—
How would you have tolerated this mask?

O my unmasked love, I’m glad you didn’t have
To bear any more even if, for me, it seems
To venture into the poisoned world
With a white cup over my face
Like a muzzled animal—no words, no cry.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written after the death of my husband on Feb. 27 just before the Covid-19 virus hit us. This poem will ultimately be part of a book to be called The Salt Widow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). Her poems are winners of the 2014 and 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She also was selected as an International Merit Award Winner in the 2015 Atlanta Review contest She has published 22 books including  Selected  Poems, which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize  “and Ribcage, which won the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her latest books are Her Heartsongs  from Presa Press, Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press and Bony Old Folks from Cyberwit Press. She has a new book forthcoming from The Poetry Box titled The Kingdom of the Birds. She is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.

My Front Door with Art
Gorgon in Cameo
by Jennifer Finstrom

          Maybe there is more of the magical
          in the idea of a door than in the door
                    “Doors opening, closing on us,” Marge Piercy

You lock yourself out of your apartment
about thirty days into shelter-in-place,
know as soon as the door shuts behind you
that your keys are on the floor. Since this
all began, you’ve given up the ritual that
had been part of locking the door when
you were going to work, wouldn’t have
forgotten your keys if you’d looked back
at the four small pictures that are the last
things you see as you’re leaving: drawings
of a rearing centauresse and two winged
Roman Genii, Pegasus in flight, and
the one you bought right after your divorce,
the head of Medusa in cameo, her snakes
small curls on her head. You daily asked her
to guard your place and guard your person,
but now no one is looking out for you, and
you’re here in the hallway with a winter
coat over your pajamas, on your way to
walk in the alley behind your building.
Last summer you went on a first date
for the first time in years, spoke a different
prayer as you were leaving, the words
“Army of witch queens, be with me” coming
unbidden. As you wait now for building
maintenance to let you back in, a new
prayer is taking shape. You want a different
life when this ends, but you’ll be so changed
that the words remain formless, and no
new or old door can yet open in response.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Last summer, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction of the poems is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still keeping on with the project.

Finstrom Picture

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Eunoia Review, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine, with work forthcoming in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and  Rust + Moth. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

All Doors Are Locked Except the Front Door
by Temidayo Jacob

in this house, there are many doors
to open — entrances to elsewhere.

i have a lover — i am addicted to her.
the strangest love i have ever known.

she teaches me how to make love to
myself — something i can’t do alone.

asking her to go out of my life can be
likened to me writing a suicide note.

lately, my lover has been acting like
opener of doors — testing every door

to see which one opens without sound.
last night, we had a brief argument.

this morning, i wake up to a still lover
beside me. all doors are locked except

the front door. my lover left without a
note. a thread from her dress dances on

the door knob. i stare long and hard at
the door thinking of what life without

my lover will wear. tonight, i’m thinking
of going after her through the front door.

i mean, my heart beats to die after my
late lover and there is nothing i can do.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Here, front door is a metaphor for death. We all have people we love so much or are addicted to or feel we can’t live without them. When they leave, there is usually this urge of joining them wherever they may be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Temidayo Jacob is a sociologist who writes from the North Central part of Nigeria, with his work published in many local and international journals and anthologies, online and in print.

Shadows on the Door
by Terrence Sykes

As daylight comes to closure
I lay in bed with another’s lover
My gardening weary body
His blue collar exhausted soul
Yet after a slow smoldering our bodies
Entwine into a fiery falling star
I like you too much — his lament
I make tea for him while he showers
Away with the parable of the adulterous
I open the shades & bedroom window
As the moon shines like a pale rose
I watch him drive away but then
Slowly shut my door so his other cannot see

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The process of this piece was a clashing of memories…real or imagined…of Los Angeles vacations & East Coast home imagination of once or future lovers.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Although Terrence Sykes is a far better gardener & forager & cook…his poetry-photography-flash fiction has been published in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, India, Mauritius, Pakistan, Scotland, Spain and the USA…he was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia and this  isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations — whether real or imagined.