October 11, 2018

Murphy's Woods / Late Autumn by Richard D. Houff

Murphy’s Woods

Clouds undress over the pond
and flowers stroll
along the edge
A modest leaf curls
—floats away
Cattails and water lilies recite
on the superfluous in modern verse
A mechanical doll
plays a flawless harp
to an audience of leopard frogs

Late Autumn

I am thankful for the tree as backrest and wind-block,
and the sun warming my face

Today, the wind is unkind,
stripping color from tree and hedge

Nat King Cole is singing “September Song”
with George Shearing’s accompanying piano
from a parked car on 42nd Street

The song fades with a sustained note
from Shearing, and the music comes to an end
like the season; racing away with a flotilla of leaves

Richard D. Houff currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His poetry and prose has been published in Brooklyn Review, Chiron Review, Midwest Quarterly, Rattle, and many fine magazines throughout the U.S. and Europe. There are three recent collection of poetry: Night Watch and Other Hometown Favorites (Black Cat Moon Press, 2016), The Wonderful farm and Other Gone Poems (Flutter Press, 2017), Adventures In Space and Other Selected Casualties (Alien Buddha Press, 2018).

October 10, 2018

The Couple / Walking Among Wolves by Darrell Petska

The Couple

We've lain together 50 years,
she to her side, I to mine.
I know her smells, her wrinkles, moles.
She shows no quarter as we battle
though her blade has little bite, and mine
avoids her armor's weakest chinks.

We live by accord, the rules long set.
We'll die governed by our bond,
yet her mind's a mystifying place
and she its wily temptress drawn
to charms and secrets locked in a box
with a key right there on her dresser.

Walking Among Wolves

All summer the droning lawn mowers
kept the white wolves at bay.
Soon autumn's telltale leaves
will register their footfalls, stealthy at first
then increasingly bold till their slick tongues
lick the air at my doors and windows,
sleek bodies waiting dare I go out.

In my attic, persistent angels sing paeans
to spring eternal just around the corner—
the same tiresome tune since I turned 60.
My stout walking stick leans by the door.
Rather it, braving white wolves' jaws
than succumb to angels' mawkish song.

Darrell Petska's poetry has appeared in After the Pause, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Tule Review, Picaroon Poetry and elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Darrell has tallied a third of a century as university editor, 40 years as a father (six years as a grandfather), and almost a half century as a husband. He lives outside Madison, Wisconsin.

October 9, 2018

The Banshee by Elaine Reardon

Wait for the banshee 
to commence wailing
notice her compatriots 
at the river's edge 

Washer women prepare
to wash the funeral
garments in the waters
loosening mortal ties 
knotted through many years.

Tears tumble down faces 
words are murmured, 
tea and spirits are poured.
No one speaks of the banshee 

The Banshee raises her arm
calls the departing one 
to her side   enfolds 
him into her embrace. 

Elaine Reardon is a poet, herbalist, educator, and member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. Her chapbook  The Heart is a Nursery For Hope was published by Flutter Press. Most recently Elaine’s poetry has been published by Crossways Journal, UCLA Journal, Automatic Pilot, Nicht.com, and MA Poet of the Moment. You can find her at elainereardon.wordpress.com 

October 8, 2018

The News by Don Brandis

The news is worse than usual
blank-faced, she hangs up 
her sodden raincoat, sits in your lap
through the wisps of your limbs unfelt
says little      her voice small, distant
heard in your mind as in an empty room  
an open room with walls folded out
onto a broad prairie in moonlight
spinning just perceptibly
faster and erratic when noticed
shepherds and Magi appear
dozens of your younger selves among them
some no more than a dream-minute younger
crowding you with their camels and sheep
with their cherished truth-gifts
wrapped in watchfulness
you feel their eyes on your shadow body
their look is meat and wine
you feel someone not quite yourself
but welcome flow into what might have been you
an airplane leaving with no sound
a fate once dreaded now welcome.
She’d said something about gifts and passages.

Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker living in Maltby, a small incorporated area north of Seattle.  He lives quietly, tending his fruit trees and garden.  Don reads and writes while his wife teaches piano.  He's had a few poems published mostly online.  

October 7, 2018

An Exit Strategy / Vines, Tangled with Frost by John Sweet

an exit strategy 

the factory on fire, the ladder
to heaven, the sunlight
and all of them lies

the stars at midnight instead,
five below zero at the end of january
and the animals in this room with their
failed attempts at language

the smell of gasoline

the absence of humanity

i have embraced it for reasons
that remain my own

i have imagined an ending to the
story in which all pain is
fleeting and easily discarded

have grown tired of swallowing
poison but
can’t seem to give it up

can’t seem to call this house home
even after painting its walls
with my blood

can’t make these words explain 
the things i need them to

vines, tangled with frost 

no fear because you’re pretty
sure it’s a dream, this silence, 
this late afternoon room with
the shadows of trees climbing
the walls, dust caught in sunlight,
child facedown on the bed you
sit at the foot of, your oldest
son, crying softly, dying, which
is a weight left unspoken, air
thick with the taste of metal,
of sweat, of the fear you
thought was missing, and you
can’t get warm enough and
you have no words

you wake up lost
in an empty house

sound of ragged breathing

John Sweet writes from the vast deserts of upstate New York.  Recent collections include Approximate Wilderness (Flutter Press) and Heathen Tongue (Kendra Steiner Editions).  Most of the truths about his life can be found in his writing.

October 1, 2018

Come Out / Breaking Bread by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Come Out 

Wild flower spread for me.
Winged angel sing.
Naked muse come out.
Black swan dance with me.

Summer is ending
full of love’s sorrow.

Weigh my suffering
in the pain in the wound in my heart.

Mine is the light.
The animals take and take.
The skylark sings
of the roads I must travel.

Breaking Bread 

Breaking bread
with a bird
in a dream,

the bird takes
his piece and
pecks at it.

Soon it is
in flight and
it sings out.

My piece of
bread is gone
in one bite.

I do not
sing.  I fly
in this dream.

Luis, born in Mexico, lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. Pygmy Forest Press published his book, Raw Materials.  Other books and chapbooks have been published by Alternating Current Press, Deadbeat Press, Kendra Steiner Editions, New Polish Beat, Poet’s Democracy, and Ten Pages Press.

September 27, 2018

Hymn for an Aging Dog by Eira Needham

You pushed into life as I slept, 
flashed past in a vision, 
chasing a tabby away 
from our Braeburn tree. 

Four years on, I recognised 
your huge pirate patch 
and we rushed seventy miles
 to adopt you.

 I will not forget -

my husband lay prostrate in ripples, 
you howled ceaselessly until 
they heard further along the bank
and hotfoot it to drag him out.

May you drift away in reverie 
of bounding by the river with us 
before you paddle in to lap.
When death arrives, leash in hand 

may he gather you gently,                                            
not with a merciful potion, 
but dreaming
on your jungle green bed.

Eira Needham is a retired teacher, living in Birmingham UK, with her husband and greyhound, Maggie. Her other pets, leopard geckos and corn snakes, sometimes slither into a poem or two. She was Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly and came first in Inter Board Poetry Contest, August 2017.