Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Hiatus - Submissions Remain Open

Generations of Poetry is going on a Summer Hiatus. 
Submissions remain open.

In our initial three months, we have published 54 poems, displaying the talents of 42 different poets. We are very pleased with the quality of the submissions we have received, and hope our readers feel the same.

Submissions have slowed, so we are taking a publishing hiatus. Our plan is to return in autumn -- as the leaves are changing colors, and children are returning to school -- with more great poetry to share.

Interested poets are encouraged to read the submission guidelines.  We will maintain our goal of a two-week maximum turn around on responses to submissions; the hiatus will only impact the date of publication.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Divided Plane

A Divided Plane
Diana Matisz

I look in the mirror
and chisel my face
into quadrants of four:

hands never still
Slovak and English
quietly falling from lips
kissing the sweet crown
of a newborn's head
her plump cheeks rest
on the bones of my face

stoic coal miner
living for family
dying for family
the one of four
I never knew
his nose delineates
my facade

inner steel beneath
soft Scots burr
pale soap-scented skin
the backbone of family
deep-lake blue eyes
those through which
life finds me

digger of earth
puffing pipe smoke halos
cigars and pinochle
reserved Englishman
my hesitant mouth
speaks his words never said

These four without whom
my face would be
just a face.


Diana Matisz lives in Pittsburgh, PA and writes for the simple joy of it. She's also a casual photograper and her work can be found at Diana's Words, and Life Through Blue Eyes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Erected to the Memory

Erected to the Memory
Charles S. Carr

I could not find you
among the weeping cursive
of names scrolled on crusty pages
listing Donegal’s dead 1847.

But here you are enshrined
under the foliage of an Irish Yew
cultivating questions in me,
but I only have the silence

to address your stone
with the murmurs in the mist
a breath of your vintage air
the babble of birds.

Listening to the crunch of my steps
scratch your edges
fingers tapping,
trace the inscription:

By his sons in America.


Charles Carr is a native Philadelphian, born and raised in Southwest Germantown. Charles attended LaSalle College and Bryn Mawr College, and has a Master's degree in American History. For 35 years Charles has worked in social services, developing programs and advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children. Charles has also completed missions to Haiti and he is active in raising awareness and funds for Haiti. In 2009 Cradle Press of St. Louis published Charles's first book of poetry: paradise, pennsylvania. Charles has been published in various local poetry reviews and is the 2008 First Prize Winner for the Mad Poets Review. Haitian Mud Pies, Charles's next collection of poems will be completed in December 2011. Charles is married and has one son.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling
Matt Quinn

My Dear Client:

All of European descent
are statistically bent
to be born of kings
and other royal things:
More ancestors were needed
for you to be seeded
than people provided
so tree forks elided.

If I coupled Charlemagne
to your trim train
and attached Brian Boru
to your scant retinue,
it’s more about the fact
than where they’re tacked.

Best regards,
Certified Genealogist Evan Gerard

—Kindly note Queen Elizabeth replaces
Uncle Joe who bet on races.


Matt Quinn is a freelance writer and professional genealogist who lives in St. Louis, MO.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Sigred Philipsen

We were on vacation driving through the Okanagan Valley

Which according to my Time Atlas of the World (Compact Edition) 

Is open shrub lands (I think)
It's hard to tell the exact colour
(On the tiny map, my eyes older, the light dim)
It could be croplands (It is croplands) 

Fruit trees, peaches, cherries & pears (Tomatoes too!)

My Mom & Dad were in the front seat of the car

My Grandpa Odinsen, my brother Garry & I were in the back

We were all a little weary

The Okanagan is hot (In the summer)
In the winter, middling winter (It gets the occasional cold snap below 20 degrees)
Not as cold as the Cariboo (Not as mild as the Coast)
(Fair bit of snow)

We had watched mountain passes
Through the car window

And semi-deserts
Had had a sandwich lunch & a campfire breakfast
And had driven hard
In a crowded hot car

For miles & miles
(Miles & miles)

Miles & miles

"Look!" my Mom said 

"Turn in there. See that sign!"
And she pointed to a large sign 

A hundred yards

Professional lettering (Three bright colours)
A picture on it (Of a TeePee)

"Where!?" my Dad barked
Weary too

Hot, tired, stiff (Confined)

"To the right Frank. It's not a government camp 

The sign said it's a KeeWee camp."

"What the hell is a KeeWee camp" GrandPa Odinsen
Rumbled up

From the right hand side (Window seat)
Me in the middle (The hottest)
My brother beside me on the left (His hand out the window)

"They're a privately owned camp site" my Mom explained
Often they have showers & sometimes a pool

"A pool!" I piped up"

Suddenly enlivened (By even the thought)
Of cool, blue, silky, wet, cool, weightless (Water)

"Oh can we, oh can we, oh can we!" I chattered

"We'll see" my Mom replied calm

"We'll see" GrandPa Odinsen replied ominously
"We'll see" my brother Garry mumbled so quietly only I could hear

My Dad swung his head to the back seat (I became quiet)

We turned off the paved road & travelled down a winding dirt one
Entered trees & a patch of groomed grass
And passed a children's playground

My heart fluttered & I leaned over my brother
Looking longingly at the slide

He pushed me back roughly (I squealed)
GrandPa's hand flicked up (ForeFinger raised)
Mom turned 'round (And scowled)
Dad growled (I shrunk in my seat)

"Over there Frank" my Mom pointed this time

At a concrete block building with a sign over the door that said

Office (I could read)

Dad went through a gate

Around a circular driveway
Past the building labelled office
And parked in a dusty parking lot
Underneath a green hill

And stopped the car
Turned the engine off

We all sat for a few seconds (Silent)
Getting used to the idea of not driving (Not moving through the air)
Hot (Dry hot hot)
Breathing (Hot air)

Dad turned round & looked at GrandPa
Checked out me
And my Brother too

"Well Gwen, what do you think?" he asked my Mother

I looked longingly at the pool (Noticed the showers beside the office)
Checked more thoroughly the slide in the park (And the merry-go-round)

Even my teenage brother had a soft smile on his lips (Watching the pretty girl at the pool)

"Looks fine to me Frank" my Mother said
With more enthusiasm in her voice

Than she should

GrandPa grunted (Dad made to get out of the car)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa mumbled

Dad swung open the car door (Letting in the heat)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa said louder

My Mom said "What?"
"I don't like me here!" my GrandPa said with no doubt in the tone of his voice
"I don't like me here!"

My brother groaned (My Dad turned to face GrandPa)
I moaned (My Mother looked straight ahead out the car's front window)
Straight ahead (Without a word)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa said one last time
His arms crossed over his chest

My Dad closed the door
And started up the car again

Drove past the office
Around the circular driveway
Past the pool & the patch of grass
Up the dirt road until we hit the highway

And then turned right (Or maybe left)


Sigred Philipsen lives with her partner in Ecuador. Prior to that they lived on a classic patrol boat in Vancouver British Columbia. Living on a boat or moving to Ecuador, they both take the same kind of general outlook on life. It's an adventure! Either that or they've both got a screw loose. In any case, there they are retired (finally) with their shih tzu Fredi, making a life for themselves at the equator. Sigred's poetry can be found on her site, Dangling on a Hook. There is also a blog, Planet Irony, chronicling their move from Canada to Ecuador over a 3 years period 2008 - 2010, and a new blog, Those Not Complicated Need Not Apply, which contains articles on Ecuador, random stories, cartoons from other authors, photographs, infographics from other authors, poetry, quotes and whatever else takes Sigred's interest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Way It Was (1937)

The Way It Was (1937)
Matt Quinn

In town, a man came up to Amos
saying he hadn’t eaten in three days.
Amos knew he’d give the man food
if this were his farm,
but it was town.
“There are Colored folk in Sparta.
You can get food there.”
Sparta was twenty miles away.

Fifty years later, Amos still told the story
on himself, of the man turned away
because of his skin, Amos still wishing
he’d been more brave.

The Way It Was (1937) was previously published in Phantoms (2008)


Matt Quinn is a freelance writer and professional genealogist who lives in St. Louis, MO.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Gun Lil

Two-Gun Lil
Karen Douglass

Two-Gun Lil is five years old.
She wears a purple skirt and vest
with white fringe, leatherette holster
for her matching six shooters.

She rides a broomstick to the edge
of the yard, careful not to trot
across the rotten cesspool cover
half hidden by waist-high grass.

A rhubarb patch by the empty barn blocks
the other end of her trail. She’s heard
that rhubarb raw can kill you.
She ties her stick pony in an empty stall

and worries that she’ll never catch
any cattle rustlers with so much in her way.
Inside, Gram has hung the jelly bag
from a knob on the cupboard door.

“Don’t touch! The jelly isn’t ready to eat.”
Nothing Lil can do for now but
accept Wonder Bread with butter
and sugar, folded to keep her hands clean.

“You can’t shoot with butter fingers.
Now go back outside.” No one tells
The Lone Ranger to go play. He doesn’t
worry about riding Silver into a cesspool,

or getting a mouthful of raw rhubarb.
Kemo Sabe won’t ever see his gram
thin as a fence rail and wonder
what he could have done to save her.


Karen Douglass writes poems, novels, a blog, and grocery lists. She lives in Colorado with three dogs, one cat, and her family. You can visit her at KD’s Bookblog, or you can come to Colorado. Her books include Red Goddess Poems; Bones in the Chimney (fiction); Green Rider, Thinking Horse (non-fiction); Sostenuto, (prose poems) and The Great Hunger (poems), which is available from Plain View Press (2009).

Friday, June 10, 2011

There Are Untold Failures

There Are Untold Failures
Patrick Winn

As a boy, I saw the processes of failure,
Unto those secret and leaden coves,
While others played in the industrial parks, waving dry sticks around,
I saw beautiful Maria melt into her cotton sheets
While the rest hid and sang to each other through the nettles,
Maria, we could never sing to each other.
And there was rage in me the likes of which you could not imagine.

But then, somehow, I was a man, and mellowed in the vale of years,
Before me a new generation rose in the Hollow,
shuttering and turning back and stopping.
In rising defeat, you ante-heroes, fearsome eyes for the decline.
I stand in the distance, your malignant Aeneas
Warm defector, wrapped in an aegis of calm,

But the distance between us is not that great.
Mark my words: the best things ever written have been thrown out on the backs of inventory tags
Or forgotten in the smoke and ether of broken hearts.
Heaven simply cannot exist,
If it is not a tender conclave of such failure.
You will lose beyond reckoning,
Failure upon failure, you will live forever.

Come, look into the sinking face of Maria,
You see, there, you do not know how to live.
But I love you more for it.
Your wounds are about me, and I am with you.
Sing your decompositions, and I will listen.


Patrick Winn is an attorney who studied literature as a grad student at Boston College, and as an undergrad at Brandeis.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Letter to a Dead Grandmother

Letter to a Dead Grandmother
Karen Douglass

Before I forget again, let me say
that I remember the front hall
with the stag’s head watching over us.
And the enamel topped kitchen table.
I remember your lap, the porch,
the rocking chair with paint so thick
I etched my initials in it with my fingernails.
Summer evenings we watched barn swallows
diving and darting, and you and Aunt Grace sang
“Bye, Bye Blackbird” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Bedtime meant the door between my room
and the dining room left open because
I was afraid of the closet and a little bit scared
of the whippoorwill who sang every night
under my window. We never saw that bird.
The summer after first grade, I never
saw you again. Oh, Uncle George said
the thin woman in that high bed was you.
I didn’t believe him. Now I do. I’ve visited
the cemetery and seen your name on the stone.

In those seven years you mothered me, did you ever
resent raising another child? After all,
your youngest, Gracie, was ten the day I was born,
soon dropped into your lap when my mother vowed
she had to work and couldn’t watch me. She was right.
Not made for mothering small children, not like you.
Maybe she never noticed your hands as you made
jelly, lemon pies, mashed potatoes, tea with milk.
She drank coffee and smoked Pall Malls and married
four times. You were widowed early and never again
had the comfort of a man at your side. It wasn’t fair
that you had to suffer, never an easy day or
enough cash to shop anywhere but the IGA.

I know you’ll never read this. Writing to you now
cannot make up for my silence, or break open
the family secret that you were dying.
I was yanked away, sent off to the other grandparents,
who were good, but who cut off my braids,
and closed the bedroom door, who had no birds but
silent, tiny hummingbirds they fed on sugar water
from red glass bulbs. Now I am a grandmother,
not like you, not singing and rocking. One day I will die
and my grandson will—maybe—think about
what he might have said, but didn’t. Generations,
lineage, heritage—what is it but a bird flying over us,
dropping feathers that blow away in the breeze?


Karen Douglass writes poems, novels, a blog, and grocery lists. She lives in Colorado with three dogs, one cat, and her family. You can visit her at KD’s Bookblog, or you can come to Colorado. Her books include Red Goddess Poems; Bones in the Chimney (fiction); Green Rider, Thinking Horse (non-fiction); Sostenuto, (prose poems) and The Great Hunger (poems), which is available from Plain View Press (2009).

Monday, June 6, 2011


Doris Lueth Stengel

Grandfather sailed into New York on the Bremerhaven,
clutching the American dream.
He waved to the lady with the torch---
she was an immigrant too, from France.

In the steamer trunk were his tools,
plane, lathe, level, chisels.
A cabinet maker by trade, also
undertaker, because he made coffins.

He traveled to Minnesota,
where other Germans had settled.
The train traversed broad prairies.
Such good land, such opportunity.

Then came the day when a farmer
hanged himself from rafters in his barn.
The widow pleaded with grandpa
to find a place to bury her husband.

Righteous townspeople
would not abide lying near a suicide.
They were buried south of town,
tidily laid down in order of death,
too thrifty to waste farm land on large plots.

A man must be put into the ground.
The immigrant carpenter walked north
where a family had a small private cemetery.
Could he buy one plot? Not inside the fence.

To this day, too sinful to lie among neighbors,
that man lies alone outside the fence.


Doris Lueth Stengel grew up in North Dakota. Her paternal grandfather immigrated from Germany and this is his story. Doris is a member of Heartland Poets, League of Minnesota Poets and National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) and has served as president of all 3 organizations.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Sewer Line Fall

The Sewer Line Fall
Geordie de Boer

        in memory of my grandfather

Melvin judges the fall while I dig
the ditch for the sewer line. A harsh sentence,
twenty yards hard labor. “Dig a bit more
out here,” he says pointing with his shovel
keeping me bent to the task and grunting,
a Semite slave and he, my Egyptian
master warning: “The rod is in my hand,
be not idle.” Under the house we hollow
a bowl below the joint where the sewer pipes
converge before making their exit
to the septic tank. Then, with a pail nailed
to the end of a two-by-four he dips
the tank, (an Old Master’s painting in dark
tones: The Sewage Dipper), pours sewage
into the wheelbarrow, which I push. Each
bump sends sludge sluicing forward in waves
that splash my face when they slap against
the back of the barrow. Thus, am I baptized:
The Wasted Baptismal, another painting
in somber tones. On Melvin’s command
the sewage goes onto Laura’s flower garden.
It scorches the plants and the fabric of
their marriage when she finds out. We
crawl back beneath the house to break the joint.
I sit, another clod on the dirt pile,
as Melvin, like a long-time jailbird, raps
an anemic tune on the pipes till they
give way. Sewage pours out wrenching at his
pant legs dragging him into the hole. (I
imagine him as a mummy wrapped in
a toilet paper shroud.) “We didn’t dip
the tank low enough,” says Melvin. “We could
have killed more flowers,” I say grasping his
arms. Escaping to daylight we watch as
sewage flows the length of the ditch, our toil
gone to waste. “You’ll need to dig that sewage
out of there so we can lay pipe,” Melvin
says. “And be sure to not ruin the fall.”


Geordie de Boer, a rambler and wrangler of rhythm lives in rural Washington. He’s been published most recently by Hobo Camp Review, Hobble Creek Review, the beatnik, Offcourse, and Cirque. Visit him at Cockeyed Fits.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Hundred Strokes

One Hundred Strokes
Bill Roberts

Never once did I count aloud
the hundredth stroke,
sound asleep in Grandma's bed
as she brushed my hair with
her silver hairbrush, counting
aloud with me till I tired,
closed my eyes, went off
to a comfortable dreamland.
Awakening next morning,
usually a Saturday, stretching
to get going, we'd dress,
head out the back door,
through her garden full of smells
that intoxicated if you lingered,
but we had a mission - the bakery.
There she purchased Parker House
rolls in a pan, still warm, so
we hurried home, made tea,
stretched out breakfast on her
sunny summer porch until most
of the rolls and orange marmalade
had disappeared into a full tummy.
I had to go back home, reluctantly,
later in the afternoon, taking
a sleep-inducing streetcar ride,
nodding as I counted blips
in the steel tracks, relaxing, yes,
nowhere near as comforting as
Grandma's soothing brush strokes.

"One Hundred Strokes" was previously published in the January 2011 issue of Long Story Short.


Bill Roberts is a retired nuclear scientist and widely published poet; his works having appeared in over 200 online and small-press magazines. His poetry has been nominated both for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Bill gives a seminar on how to write a poem a day in 15 minutes, then prep it for market. He, his wife of 53 years (both her age and years married), plus two totally spoiled dogs live too near the edge of Broomfield, Colorado.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Susan Duncan

I find they’d been neighbors on Fourth Street,
a garden, perhaps only a fence between.
But here
on the microfilm of the 1850 Springfield census,
they’re separated by just two lines:
David Grayston, preacher
Abraham Lincoln, lawyer
Footnote, that’s all, to a pedigree
whose pyramid of neat boxes has room alone
for my family’s birth dates, spouses, gravesites.

No place for the neighbors’.

Just a stair-stepping, very tidy
from father to child.
A careful sidestepping of the disorderly
waged beyond the boxes:
secession, sedition, emancipation,

In my next row down
hometowns and cemeteries shift west
one state.
Joplin’s 1920 census shows
George Grayston, lawyer
lived on Elm Street with
John Baker, preacher
Richard Smith, druggist
Henry Jackson, shopkeeper

Again, I have no boxes for the neighbors.

But they wanted to be nameless
as on that night—
in the interest of the neighborhood—
they pulled on white hoods
and bathed the Grayston porch in torchlight.

Genealogy was previously published in THEMA Literary Journal, Summer 2008.


Susan Duncan has an MBA in arts management from the University of California, Los Angeles. Having made her living in performing arts administration and arts philanthropy for many years, she is presently an independent consultant with a performing and visual arts clientele. She has served as executive director for San Francisco’s long-running musical comedy phenomenon Beach Blanket Babylon, the al fresco California Shakespeare Theater, and the Grammy-winning, all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Compass Rose, the G.W. Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, The MacGuffin, OmniArts, Poem, River Oak Review, THEMA, and The Yalobusha Review.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Lynn Otto

Sterkte says my mother when I go,
one of the many Dutch words she knows,
one of the few I’ve learned.

Her mother said the same to her
when she left Los Angeles for Tacoma,
two babies in diapers, no dryer.
It rained all but one day of November.

The tenth day of wet gray,
it took strength to smile even briefly.
On the twentieth, she whispered
it a hundred times. Sterkte.

My great-grandmother wished it
when her daughter, new baby in arms,
boarded the boat. Wished it for her daughter
and herself. Just to walk home.

In each letter we’ve sent: Sterkte.
Four generations, in different hands,
the one word we still write
in the mother tongue.



Lynn Otto teaches writing classes for homeschoolers and is an adjunct writing instructor at George Fox University in Oregon. She'll begin work on an MFA in poetry at Portland State University in September 2011. Her work is in Triggerfish Critical Review, Yamhill County Arts Alliance’s Paper Gardens chapbooks, and forthcoming in Plain Spoke.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Ed Bennett

(For my Cherokee great great grandmother)

Some days I can feel your breath
in the rustle of brown paged documents
where I seek a hidden trace or revelation
from so many generations removed.

I heard your name in childhood
from hushed voices in other rooms
sharing drinks and laughter
over great grandma’s legend.

You were my dream that night,
drawn from purloined snippets
of grown up conversation hidden
like coins beneath my pillow.

You have been erased from us,
turned from flesh to whisper,
invisible as the wind
yet part of me, contained in every vein.

Mother of wind, my blood, my breath
sit with me as I glean these records
where the pieces of your life lie open
for me to take and place on your bones.

My old life falls from me like leaves
in an autumn gust of anxious change,
to take this legacy of fire and drum
from someone gone to someone resurrected

You are part of me, a shaman’s cry,
the breath of change roiling my soul
like the angel’s finger in Siloam’s pool
embraced with the chant of eagle voices.

Bless the whispers of my childhood,
Mother of the Spirit Wind,
that restored my blood
with the songs of my lost people.


Ed Bennett is a Telecommunications Engineer living in Las Vegas and is a Staff
Editor of Quill and Parchment. Originally from New York City, his work appeared
in The Patterson Literary Review, The Externalist, Quill and Parchment, and
Touch: The Journal of Healing. In March of this year The Lives You Touch Press
published his chapbook, “A Transit of Venus”.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Captain

The Captain
Bradley McIlwain

The Captain, again,
has come and gone.

He has been here twice
in the last month,

each time his purpose
unknown –

and we have left empty

burning with the same
unanswered question,

each time, taking only
what you have to give.

I heard from your mouth
he was the lover no one

knew you had, not even
your daughter who was

baffled by your seventy
year silence,

left to wonder about her
legal birth.

We wondered if he died
in the war,

but you wouldn’t tell us;
only that he was coming

to take you away,
from that steel bed

and whitewashed walls;
when you were afraid to

fade out with the rest of
the furniture.

To this day I wonder
If he made it to your

deathbed, standing
there in uniform

with your luggage
and your boarding

waiting to take you

to the harbor.
No photograph

of him remained,
whose name you buried

with the dead;
and all his secrets

on your skin
were carried by the tide.


Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian-based writer and poet, who lives and works in rural Ontario. His works have appeared in Wanderings Magazine, New Verse News, Rope and Wire, Frostwriting, The Copperfield Review, and others. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in English Literature from Trent University. His first collection of poetry, Fracture, was published in 2010, and is available at Blurb.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Warrior Blessing

Warrior Blessing
Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Two old warriors
long divorced
bow gray-streaked heads
over their wounded firstborn.
Ask the Ancient One
to gird their son with strength,
hold him steady
in his new course.
They gaze at each other’s
life-scarred face,
smile about pain
inflicted, time-eased.
Muttering thanks
for what they’ve learned
they pass it in silence
with hands and eyes
to the young warrior
going into his greatest battle.

Warrior Blessing was previously published in Kota Press Poetry Journal, 2002


Patricia Wellingham-Jones is widely published with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Twenty years ago she got fired up about genealogy and wound up researching, writing and publishing five family histories.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Hester L Furey

You are the center, my word of power,
my whole life a series of your spokes,
of radii beginning with you
in the short overlap between us.
All my life I have flirted with Death
for your sake, but as I give her up,
Father, I lose you --
each day your flesh retreats a little
further from my mind’s anxious touch.
I gather now only buckeyes you carried,
copper bracelets, a feathered hipster hat, cocked to one side.
I find your smell on a lover's cheeks
from time to time, or asthmatic, I belt out
your wheezing, irresistible laugh,
and a few spoken phrases
catch me unawares in your voice.

You are becoming an idea, a story:
a wild old wicked man, a rake of the thirties,
the third son, the one who had adventures,
who threw parties every week and invited everybody,
right down to the police.
You kept a gun propped behind the bedroom door,
another across the back of the car, a pistol
in your desk, and probably another on your person,
for reasons we never discussed.
You talked to me about social policy from infancy
and invented “take your daughter to work day”
long before feminists thought of it. At three
I learned to read, so you gave me encyclopedias.
You left home in your teens,
with only a sixth grade education.
In 1929 when your mother died,
you came back to the farm in Amboy.

Then the market crashed, and
men dived from buildings in the big cities.
You hated farming. You opened
a laundromat, a bus station, bought an inn,
opened a bonded warehouse,
bought cotton for Hohenberg Brothers.
All through the Depression,
you had money when no one else did.
You let Mr. Philips borrow your car to court Miss Ruby,
and you never let anyone else pick up the tab.
At the height of success
you suddenly left everything behind,
the respect of your neighbors, the goodwill of family,
even a cabin at the river,
for a stubborn girl, crazy in fact,
young enough to be your daughter.

Later, you complained to her mother, almost your age.
The girl was wild and uncontrollable, you said.
She lied every day, drank, started brawls in public places,
and spent money like a house on fire. As if you didn't know.
The mother had herself a good laugh, wiped her eyes
on her apron, and served you more cabbage,
just the way you liked it, still a little crunchy,
steamed with butter and pepper.
Then she served you an old country joke.
"You wanted her so bad," she said.
"You got her. She's yours. We won't take her back."

The crazy girl did love you, in her way.
She knew that I preferred you, so when I asked,
she brushed me off, saying you cared only
for “women and money,” but in a good mood
after a few drinks she loved to recount
your life together, the good and bad
mixed together so that I grew up perverse,
unable to tell which was which:
The time you almost bit her toe off,
or the time she drove up and found you with Mary,
did not ask questions, just reached down and threw
a cinder block through the cabin window,
and you refused to fix it all winter long.

Before she died, she cracked herself up telling
about the babysitter who ate your chocolate rabbit.
Coming home from a party to find
the tub full of cold clean water,
me in bed with black filthy feet,
and the rabbit missing from the freezer,
the two of you parsed these signs
and discussed your conclusions.
She raged, "I told her to bathe Lee, damn it!" but
you said drily, "Naw, she thought you said,
`just go on in the kitchen,
an' eat up every damn thing in sight.'"
When you died you had lived with diabetes
and suffered cancer twice, but I always believed
– the therapist got this one the wrong way around –
my mother had finally killed you.
Over her protests, you had named me
Hester after your mother,
the only woman, you said, who ever really loved you,
the one whose death called you home.
The crazy girl called me “baby” for 3 weeks,
unable to say the name while I nearly died
before Dr. Lee saved me with goat's milk.
Sometimes I still run into people who knew you.
They tell me I have your hands.


Hester Furey teaches college English. She has published Dictionary of Biography 345: American Radical and Reform Writers, Second Series (She compiled and edited the volume, wrote the intro and two other essays), various academic essays and reference book pieces, and a chapbook of poems called Little Fish (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She lives in Decatur, Georgia.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Third Cousins in Norway

Third Cousins in Norway
Candace Simar

I would have been the one who stayed
behind. Timid, afraid of oceans
choosing familiar over precarious
caring for parents and sickly aunts
safer than uncertain wilderness
where Red Indians threatened.

I would have written letters
with news of deaths or sickness
births and weddings
tucked pansy seeds inside envelopes
to homesick brothers on North Dakota
prairies and Minnesota pineries.
Read their stories from afar, stroking
blond curls of nephews’ hair
pressing the locks to my lips
knowing I would never see their faces.

I would have been the last of my
generation left in Norway,
the only one to speak with tenderness
connect a face with names, share memories from childhood
answer questions why they left and what they gained
or lost by leaving.

I would be the one who stands
on the other side of the door
flatbread and lefse baked and waitin
hand-woven cloths with Hardanger lace
reindeer sausage, gjetost brown cheese
everything to perfection.
Welcoming distant cousins from America,
astonished they could travel so far
and yet find their way home


Candace Simar is a member of Brainerd Writer’s Alliance, Bards of a Feather and the Western Writers of America. Candace’s historical novels, Abercrombie Trail (2009); Pomme de Terre (2010); and Birdie (2011) tell the stories of Scandinavian immigrants in 19th Century Minnesota.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Photo Album

Photo Album
Juliet Wilson

She didn’t travel much
Clacton, the Isle of Man
for family visits and sea air.

Had her feet done before each trip
and a special blue rinse.
Packed a paperback.

Once there, played bingo, bought gifts
for the grandchildren,
drank tea with distant cousins.

For a memento of every holiday
she visited a photo booth,
pasted the prints into a book.

The snaps are still lined up, numbered
from early black and white –
bright eyes and jaunty hats

to later, older faces
staring straight ahead
bravely in full colour.


Juliet Wilson is an Edinburgh based poet, adult education tutor and conservation volunteer. She blogs at Crafty Green Poet and at Over Forty Shades. Her chapbook Unthinkable Skies was published in 2010.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Labor Day

Labor Day
Laura Madeline Wiseman

Council Bluffs, Iowa, late 1860s

Miss Florence E. Felts
Durand, Illinois

Happy birthday littlest sister!

I’m writing to announce our first,
Alice M. Fletcher. She shares your day.
The delivery was long. She seems to thrive.

Did I ever tell you what I remember
about your birth? I was seventeen
when you were born—

father (48), mother (43), Susan (24),
Aaron (22), Sarah (19), George (16),
Oliver (14) Emeline (14), Edward (13),
Armihta (8), Orilla (5), and Charles (3)

—all of us were there
by the summer kitchen. It was Sunday.
Besides the labor, only prayer work was done.
Our boarder, a new minister, whispered

verse as he turned pages in his book.
On the trellis porch above the kindling
a wasp flicked its wings as it climbed.
Runners twisted up the whitewash

with scarlet blossoms open as vulvas.
Honeybees purred in the red petals.
The leaves of broomcorn and squash
swayed in our mother’s garden.

Beyond the privy’s crescent moon,
father paced in the wildflowers
as mother cried out during your birth.
I think he knew something good
was coming into this world.



Laura Madeline Wiseman is a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. She is the author of Sprung, forthcoming from San Francisco Bay Press, as well as three chapbooks of poetry, My Imaginary (Dancing Girl Press, 2010), Ghost Girl (Pudding House, 2010), and Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in Margie, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, Blackbird, and 13th Moon. She notes this poem is based on the life of her ancestor, nineteenth century suffragist and lecturer, Matilda Fletcher (1842-1909).

Monday, May 9, 2011


Jacob Oet

First the settlers’ dream
to build a home.

Later the immigrants dreamed
of two-bedroom apartments
and fantasized
about the availability of showers.

Some came naked.
Some came with clothing but sold their clothing
for a bag of seeds
from trees back home.

And they planted their children in the new way,
showering them with allowances
and enlisting them in public education.

Some joined the army.
They planted
only their own gravestones.
In spring they bore a name etched into rock.

My name is Jacob.
I am the grandchild of second-hand dreams.


Jacob Oet lives in Solon, Ohio. He has loved writing and making images since he was little. Jacob’s poetry and images appear in The New Verse News, The Jet Fuel Review, Superstition Review, H.O.D., and OVS Magazine.

Student by choice, Jacob Oet is never sure which language he speaks. You may spot him in a park, forest or beach, with planted feet, arms stretched up and shaking in a breeze. But don’t let him see you; he likes to sing to strangers. He takes photos of snow, and hates winter.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dorothy Q - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Dorothy Q.
A Family Portrait
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

GRANDMOTHER’S mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less;
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist;
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;
So they painted the little maid.

On her hand a parrot green
Sits unmoving and broods serene.
Hold up the canvas full in view,—
Look! there ’s a rent the light shines through,
Dark with a century’s fringe of dust,—
That was a Red-Coat’s rapier-thrust!
Such is the tale the lady old,
Dorothy’s daughter’s daughter, told.

Who the painter was none may tell,—
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry, it must be confessed,
Flat as a rose that has long been pressed;
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white,
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien.

Look not on her with eyes of scorn,—
Dorothy Q. was a lady born!
Ay! since the galloping Normans came,
England’s annals have known her name;
And still to the three-hilled rebel town
Dear is that ancient name’s renown,
For many a civic wreath they won,
The youthful sire and the gray-haired son.

O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.!
Strange is the gift that I owe to you;
Such a gift as never a king
Save to daughter or son might bring,—
All my tenure of heart and hand,
All my title to house and land;
Mother and sister and child and wife
And joy and sorrow and death and life!

What if a hundred years ago
Those close-shut lips had answered No,
When forth the tremulous question came
That cost the maiden her Norman name,
And under the folds that look so still
The bodice swelled with the bosom’s thrill?
Should I be I, or would it be
One tenth another, to nine tenths me?

Soft is the breath of a maiden’s Yes:
Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
But never a cable that holds so fast
Through all the battles of wave and blast,
And never an echo of speech or song
That lives in the babbling air so long!
There were tones in the voice that whispered then
You may hear to-day in a hundred men.

O lady and lover, how faint and far
Your images hover,—and here we are,
Solid and stirring in flesh and bone,—
Edward’s and Dorothy’s—all their own,—
A goodly record for Time to show
Of a syllable spoken so long ago!—
Shall I bless you, Dorothy, or forgive
For the tender whisper that bade me live?

It shall be a blessing, my little maid!
I will heal the stab of the Red-Coat’s blade,
And freshen the gold of the tarnished frame,
And gild with a rhyme your household name;
So you shall smile on us brave and bright
As first you greeted the morning’s light,
And live untroubled by woes and fears
Through a second youth of a hundred years.


This poem is about Dorothy Quincy, the mother of Holmes' maternal grandmother.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Looking Into Origin

Looking Into Origin
Jessica Erica Hahn

I am from the green-blue world
born upon the high seas
to salty dog expatriates
who met on Belizian soil
who birthed me on a ship
where gulls flipped through the air
and sunshine glittered on the sea

a long line of fighters is where I spring from
on the matrilineal side,
Prussians pushing through
the Baltic sea, into forests sweeping
escaping Nazis, running to New York
where she grew up, leaving the money behind,
fighting with the freedom riders
raising my sister alone

my father hails from the tinker-builder-welder side
making machines for smashing atoms
weaving through quantum physics
surviving accidents that left others dead
building rockets to send mice to outer space
& riding motorcycles and mail trucks across the land
destroyer escorts & minesweepers from a mothball fleet
full of schemes & dreams
before drowning decades later in a southern sea

two wild creatures of the 60s & 70s
shirking lines of normalcy
crying for freedom in a whirling world
clinging to architectural visions of life together
propelled to leave remnants for posterity

birds flew over where my father
was to be buried in the sea, upon a silver sunrise
& the first night of many my mother woke alone
then there was the migration westwards for
us three, to land in SF, the city by the bay

build our timbered home upon a granite hill
and when the thieves crept in our windows,
padding softly, scattering pictures across the floor
we did not run or hide.
when cops devastated and raided us
it was simply fate’s brutality
my mom incarcerated for growing marijuana trees
somewhere someone whispers,
beware of crossing boundaries
or you’ll get what you deserve

I live in mythology & am
from the deepest part of earth
I have a darkened mantle
in which lives a craggy dragon
a guardian for my heart
to make the untrustworthy turn
to go back home,
or sweep in ones who are
like the old


Jessica Erica Hahn lives and writes in San Francisco, where she might be seen wandering over a hilltop with a baby on her back and a camera on her hip. In the predawn hours she's working on a memoir about her freight-riding days (Ontologica is publishing a selection this summer), and a novel about seafaring hippies in the 1970s. She's a student in the MFA program at San Francisco State, and has several self-published titles to her name, something she's both proud of and slightly ashamed of. Some of her writing can be found at and Hill Babies.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Judge Hilton and the Women's Hotel: Matilda Lectures

Judge Hilton and the Women's Hotel: Matilda Lectures
New York, 1878
Laura Madeline Wiseman

Urged and sent by a committee of sixty women, Matilda
Dared to come to New York alone with certificates of her
Good character. She arrived at the Women’s Hotel
Early one rainy morning, sick. No one received her or took

Her luggage. She was told she could not be admitted. Out
In the rain she purchased her breakfast. She threatened a
Lawsuit. The clerk said she might come in. Days afterward
The judge called and apologized. He did not want
Out-of-town women, only working women. He said,
Now, see here. The press will be down on us if we make

A single mistake.
Matilda knew that Judge Hilton was
No worse than other men. Back in the Women’s Hotel, the
Doors were thrown open on Matilda with the remark

They were never to be closed. Lady physicians couldn’t
Have libraries in their rooms. Lady artists couldn’t have
Easels. The management turned pale when instruments

Were mentioned. Then, a Superintendent ordered Matilda
Out of the library because she brought in a dress to
Mend its ruffle. But I have seen ladies sewing in here,
Even crocheting, she answered. The Superintendent said,
No. That’s different. Those were small things. Though
She hated to kneel to one man for charity, the Women’s

Hotel professed to offer protection and yet had not really been
Open to women. Matilda thought the judge ought to know how
The hotel’s inmates were presided over like school girls.
Even if he thinks otherwise, he doesn’t rule this country. It isn’t
Like a kingdom. But if it was, he’d never be selected as King.


Laura Madeline Wiseman is a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. She is the author of Sprung, forthcoming from San Francisco Bay Press, as well as three chapbooks of poetry, My Imaginary (Dancing Girl Press, 2010), Ghost Girl (Pudding House, 2010), and Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in Margie, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, Blackbird, and 13th Moon. She notes this poem is based on the life of her ancestor, nineteenth century suffragist and lecturer, Matilda Fletcher (1842-1909).

Monday, May 2, 2011

This is How the Holocaust Began

This is How the Holocaust Began
Emily Rosen

Grandma took me to the museum
We saw dinosaurs
or mummies
or 17th century costumes
or pictures by Turnbull
I was nine
or twelve
or six

a trillion steps down
Grandma gave the Good Humor man
a nickel
He gave me a chocolate pop.

Right near,
right near the Good Humor man
the newspaper wailed,
“Hitler invades Poland!”

“What’s Poland?” I asked

Grandma sat on the steps
of the museum
and pulled a picture
from her wallet,
a little girl rolling in the grass

“That’s Poland,” she said.


Since 2000 Emily Rosen has been teaching a memoir-writing workshop in Boca Raton Florida, "Memories, Milestones and Memoirs." A background in journalism, education and mental health counseling, for over 20 years she has had a column in local papers, "Everything's Coming Up Rosen." For over 17 years she has been a volunteer leader of mental health support groups. She has published two anthologies of stories from her classes - "Memories, Milestones and Memoirs: Selections From A Writing Workshop.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Editorial Note

As editor, I am very pleased with my 'child' after its first month, as I hope are you, the readers. I have been impressed by the quality of the submissions, and hope they continue.

The spring rains have brought a slower pace of submissions, so we will be altering our schedule and posting a new poem on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Search

The Search
Eileen Apperson

"The trees," my daughter pointed to
as we landed in a New England Autumn,
"the colors look like Fruit Loops."

I was there to finger through dank
parish records, step among
grave markers, relocate homesteads gone
for two hundred years. And I don't know
why I brought her along. She pulled
on my shirt and begged, "can we go home?"

Perhaps because she does not know her own
grandparents, only that the Roseville pottery
belonged to Grandma and those button-up
baby shoes once fit Grandpa's feet.


Eileen received an MA in creative writing with an emphasis in nonfiction prose and an MFA in poetry from CSU, Fresno. She teaches creative nonfiction, composition, and literature at Reedley College. Recent publications include the Platte Valley Review, The Packinghouse Review, The Mom Egg, Writing It Real, and Kaleidowhirl. Eileen’s latest writing project is in fact an old one as she has dusted-off the pages of a 10-year old manuscript and is working with a documentary film maker to bring her vision of landscape and memory to the screen. Genealogy research has been an obsession of Eileen’s since she was twelve when she inherited her grandmother’s letters.

Friday, April 29, 2011

American Heritage

American Heritage
Dean Olson

I don’t envy those who savor
sepia-toned photographs.
Those who sift the slender veins of genealogy,
mine the fissured tissues of family bibles
or distill diaries of voyages over sea and rutted trail.
My scrapbook has little depth beyond parents,
a childhood spent outdoors and an obscure
hard-drinking Danish grandmother.
That may be why I feel there is little pattern to life.
There were few hand-me-down expectations.
And it may be why I favored uncharted waters,
never giving more intimacy than necessary,
never giving the boss more than two weeks notice.
But I want you to know,
in this hour of falling leaves,
though I am captive to mysterious foliage
I believe everything I have done
is useful.


Dean Olson has published six limited-edition poetry collections. He is emeritus faculty of the Evergreen State College, where he taught economics, cultural studies and maritime history. He lives in Olympia, Washington with his children and grandchildren. His poems have been accepted for publication in Cascade #2 by the Washington Poetry Association, and by Prairie Schooner.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What My Father Believed

What My Father Believed
John Guzlowski

He didn't know about the Rock of Ages
or bringing in the sheaves or Jacob's ladder
or gathering at the beautiful river
that flows beneath the throne of God.
He'd never heard of the Baltimore Catechism
either, and didn't know the purpose of life
was to love and honor and serve God.

He'd been to the village church as a boy
in Poland, and knew he was Catholic
because his mother and father were buried
in a cemetery under wooden crosses.
His sister Catherine was buried there too.

The day their mother died Catherine took
to the kitchen corner where the stove sat,
and cried. She wouldn't eat or drink, just cried
until she died there, died of a broken heart.
She was three or four years old, he was five.

What he knew about the nature of God
and religion came from the sermons
the priests told at mass, and this got mixed up
with his own life. He knew living was hard,
and that even children are meant to suffer.

Sometimes, when he was drinking he'd ask,
"Didn't God send his own son here to suffer?"
My father believed we are here to lift logs
that can't be lifted, to hammer steel nails
so bent they crack when we hit them.
In the slave labor camps in Germany,
He'd seen men try the impossible and fail.

He believed life is hard, and we should
help each other. If you see someone
on a cross, his weight pulling him down
and breaking his muscles, you should try
to lift him, even if only for a minute,
even though you know lifting won't save him.


John Guzlowski is the author of Lightning and Ashes, a book of poems about his parents’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps. His stories and poems appear in such journals as Ontario Review, Atlanta Review, and Chattahoochee Review, and in the anthology Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust. Garrison Keillor read “What My Father Believed” on his program, The Writers’ Almanac. John blogs about his parents’ experiences at Lightning and Ashes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Olson Sisters: Field Notes of a Descendant

The Olson Sisters: Field Notes of a Descendent
Carolyn Moore


They looked alike back then, as any pair
of sisters can, and spoke in our clan voice.
Yet there all semblance ends. There, the trail branches:
daughters, nieces, grands and greats, must choose
a fork or stray down one with little heed
for the consequence of family mimicry.
A botanist with scant regard for genus,
I mist our orchid genera and log
the scentless differentia that all
our petals, sepals, lips, conspire to mask.


Like the ornate jewelry boxes she collects,
indifferent to trinkets inside, the younger
loves surface quelling form: the high baroque
of Cellini’s salt and pepper bowls concealed
amid enamel, gold, and ebony,
with Nymph and Neptune huge above the spice,
his facial cast more petulant than godly.
Nymph’s thumb and fingers idly cup her nipple.
Perhaps he pouts at this impertinent pose?
Perhaps he knows he’s just a bantam knock-off
of Michelangelo’s huge “Day”? And so
turns glum as any junk-bondsman now sunk
to schlepping ketchup packets to fast-food
condiment bins? There!—see how such excess
distracts us from the task of salting meat?


The older sister? No collections there.
Shelves kept spare and free of clutter, dust.
If a box, then she was made of unvarnished wood.
Joints trim. Apart from function, no décor.
Hold to the ear—do you hear the whir of watch-works?
Inside, a mechanism plain with purpose,
gears ticking close in tolerance. A thrift
of sufficiency. A shift to just enough.


Make no apologies, both the old sisters
would agree: the elder gone the way
of the wild native orchid, “Lady’s Slipper.”
The younger slipping her hold on that tree bark
where the mind shelters from the clutter of soil.


Carolyn Moore’s three chapbooks won their respective competitions as has her first book-length manuscript, Instructions for Traveling Light, pending publication from Deep Bowl Press. She taught at Humboldt State University (Arcata, California) until she could eke out a living as a freelance writer and researcher working from the last vestige of the family farm in Tigard, Oregon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen
Gail Eisenhart

Rain strips the maple tree and scatters leaves
in my neighbor’s yard, insulting his sense of order.
Raking all day, he mounds them at the curb, curses
their tenacity and strikes a match. Like his anger,
the damp pile fumes. An acrid cloud crosses
the street to choke me
and there he is,

Mom exiled him to the garage…
No cigars in her house.
He laughed, headed outdoors
dragging and sucking a stogie
until the butt was so small he held it
with a toothpick to get the last puff.
We kids snickered, waiting to see him
singe his nose hairs.

Funny, I knew every fold of Grandma’s girth
but Grandpa was a stranger, an old man with a Tipparillo,
a bottle of beer and left-over fishing minnows
in the bathtub. I hardly remember
his voice—except when he hollered
that supper was late. I thought him ornery,
his face and opinions set in stone, hopelessly
out of touch.

His specter sticks in my throat now
and my eyes blur in the haze.


Gail Eisenhart’s poems have been published recently in Jet Fuel Review, CANTOS, Front Range, Barely South Review and in Flood Stage: an anthology of St. Louis Poets. A retired Executive Assistant, she works part time at the Belleville (IL) Public Library.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Naming Stories

Naming Stories
Eileen Apperson

I want to know women's stories, get them right
before they go wrong, lost in the mouths of men,
of children who did not listen slowly enough.
Was great grandmother's name Havens or Littlejohn,
and was it she who scattered her eleven children
across the Nebraska Plain when Sioux came to visit,
or was that on my father's side?
And was it her mother who came to Virginia
a young Yorkshire bride, a widow within a year,
the one we have a photo of in the hallway
after she remarried, her hair pulled tight
at the temples, lips pursed?
I catch my reflection in the framed glass,
own lips tightened, wishing to know the connection.


Eileen received a MA in creative writing with an emphasis in nonfiction prose and a MFA in poetry from CSU, Fresno. She teaches creative nonfiction, composition, and literature at Reedley College. Recent publications include the Platte Valley Review, The Packinghouse Review, The Mom Egg, Writing It Real, and Kaleidowhirl. Eileen’s latest writing project is in fact an old one as she has dusted-off the pages of a 10-year old manuscript and is working with a documentary film maker to bring her vision of landscape and memory to the screen. Genealogy research has been an obsession of Eileen’s since she was a twelve when inherited her grandmother’s letters.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Jewish Cemetery at Newport - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Jewish Cemetery at Newport
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves,
Close by the street of this fair seaport town,
Silent beside the never-silent waves,
At rest in all this moving up and down!

The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep
Wave their broad curtains in the south-wind's breath,
While underneath these leafy tents they keep
The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,
That pave with level flags their burial-place,
Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down
And broken by Moses at the mountain's base.

The very names recorded here are strange,
Of foreign accent, and of different climes;
Alvares and Rivera interchange
With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

"Blessed be God! for he created Death!"
The mourners said, "and Death is rest and peace;"
Then added, in the certainty of faith,
"And giveth Life that nevermore shall cease."

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,
No Psalms of David now the silence break,
No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue
In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand unseen,
Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,
Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

How came they here? What burst of Christian hate,
What persecution, merciless and blind,
Drove o'er the sea -- that desert desolate --
These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?

They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,
Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire;
Taught in the school of patience to endure
The life of anguish and the death of fire.

All their lives long, with the unleavened bread
And bitter herbs of exile and its fears,
The wasting famine of the heart they fed,
And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.

Anathema maranatha! was the cry
That rang from town to town, from street to street;
At every gate the accursed Mordecai
Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

Pride and humiliation hand in hand
Walked with them through the world where'er they went;
Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,
And yet unshaken as the continent.

For in the background figures vague and vast
Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,
And all the great traditions of the Past
They saw reflected in the coming time.

And thus forever with reverted look
The mystic volume of the world they read,
Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,
Till life became a Legend of the Dead.

But ah! what once has been shall be no more!
The groaning earth in travail and in pain
Brings forth its races, but does not restore,
And the dead nations never rise again.


The Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in America (estab. 1763), but from about 1781 to 1883 the synagogue lay empty, though preserved, which partly explains why Longfellow wrote about the Jewish people as a "dead nation."  The cemetery dates back further to 1677. (Timeline)

Grand Canyon, 1937

Grand Canyon, 1937
David Vincenti

In a spring filled with escapes, a photographer
visits Arizona, his satchel filled with unlabeled
canisters. He carries his expandable Kodak
down and back up the many brown steps.
Lacking organization, he leaves markerless
mementos for months, until dusty piles
begin to block the light. Finally, prints find
manila folder homes: a few in Memories,
some under Magazines, still more are mailed
to the brides and grooms whose best days
financed his imminent move from Queens
to Albuquerque. He stops his Plymouth at
a Post Office in Manhattan to make one last
crass commercial gesture before turning away
from portraiture forever. The last face
he affects belongs to my grandmother,
whose eyes widen to the span of a canyon
when she finds only that great sepia gorge
in the box labeled “Milligan, June 26, 1937”.

It is spring again, and no number of buds
can tell the story of my grandparents’
first season, but one will finds its way to
the preserving pressure of a family bible with
a napkin bearing Nana’s writing, addressed
to someone clearly named, but not known.


David Vincenti is a father, husband, poet, engineer, accordionist, and bowler whose poems have appeared in Edison Literary Review and The Journal of New Jersey Poets. His first chapbook, To The Ones Who Must Be Loved, was published in 2010.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Samuel Packwood Burns at the Stake

Samuel Packwood Burns at the Stake
Sandra de Helen

“Dear God, Forgive me my sins and take me
straight to Heaven where my wife and parents
wait for me. Oh God, please do not let me
suffer.” His head is covered. He cannot see
the throng of friends and relatives gathered
on the banks of the Greenbrier River waiting
for the Shawnee chief to set him aflame.
“Heathens! Savages! Let him go!” But no
rifles are fired. Only voices are raised.
Shawnee warriors are dressed for this ritual.
Clad in skins and paint. Carrying spears and
torches, they whoop in excitement, the thrill
of justice about to be served hot.
“We will get them, Father!” the last words
Samuel hears in English before the smoke
overtakes him. As his head falls to his chest,
a young rider yanks the cover from Samuel's
head. “White Eyes! Watch our sacred dance!”
Packwood's clan misunderstand, and roar:
Long live Samuel Packwood!


Sandra de Helen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. You can see her current work in Mom Egg, Stillwater Review, and pay attention: a river of stones.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Granddaughter's Legacy

Granddaughter’s Legacy
Patricia Frolander

Time to gather and sort a lifetime,
Grandma’s receipts, a century old, lay
among dance cards and Christmas greetings.
Embroidered pillowslips rest
under dainty hankies, wool socks,
bone hairpins. A simple wedding band
hides among her flour-sack aprons.

I reach for her sewing box,
find a brown button from her winter coat
among needles and thimbles.
Nestled at the bottom is a yellowed photograph.

Who is the man with owning arms
around Grandma’s waist?
Dark curly hair droops across his forehead,
as he pulls her against him.
She’s smiling, hands rest upon his
as they lean against his car.

In our photo albums, she never smiles
beside my Grandpa.

I almost miss the yellowed envelope
nestled in Grandma’s Bible.
I unfold Mama’s birth certificate
and the obituary of an unknown man from Ireland.


Patricia Frolander tries to balance family, ranching and writing and have a passion for each of them. Her husband Robert and she own his fifth generation ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. They are blessed with three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all whom live close to the ranch. She says, "Managing family, ranching, or writing is like trying to rope the wind. In Wyoming, the wind is either bringing a storm or ushering sunshine. I love the changes, although as I age, moderate weather is appreciated."

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Lucille Lang Day

For Mariam Gertrude Peckham, 1846-1914

In autumn she picked apples, packed the good ones in barrels,
and husked corn on the back porch, storing
some for winter fodder, grinding the rest for johnnycake.

She piled yellow pumpkins in the cellar
while the children gathered walnuts, butternuts
and chestnuts--mostly to sell, but plenty to eat.

Sweet cider, which filled her china pitcher
through the fall, was kept
for vinegar when it started to work.

On snowy nights Mariam sat at her desk
and wrote that women should wear pants in public,
attend the universities, and vote.

It was often after midnight when she went upstairs
to the room where Henry was sleeping
under a star-patterned quilt.

He'd wake when she crawled in.
Splinters of moonlight pierced the shutters
clattering in wind.

In March, snow melting, Henry tapped
the maple trees and took the sap inside
for Mariam to strain and boil down.

She sold her articles to magazines,
sewed for neighbors, and ran a millinery shop,
all the while dreaming of a world where women

could enter any profession.
She told Henry, and he nodded as she tacked
a red silk rose to a hat.

Great Grandmother was previously published in Wild One: Poems (Scarlet Tanager, 2000), by Lucille Lang Day.


Lucille Lang Day is the author of eight poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently The Curvature of Blue (Cervena Barva, 2009). She has also published a children’s book, Chain Letter, and her memoir, Married at Fourteen, will appear from Heyday in 2012. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in such magazines and anthologies as Atlanta Review, The Hudson ReviewThe Threepenny Review, and New Poets of the American West (Many Voices, 2010). She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, writer Richard Levine. Her website is

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sam's Shoes

Sam's Shoes
Lucille Gang Shulklapper

Sam never talked much about himself. He told one long
story over and over to his sons:
When I was ten... maybe eleven...
the Polish soldiers picked me up and ...

Here he would pause, see himself walking,
I was looking for food,
on this dirt road,
it was World War I,
you wouldn't want to know,
they just picked me up,
a skinny, hungry kid.
They needed me,
to bury dead soldiers.

Bodies were thrown
everywhere, some piled
on a horse-drawn cart.
There was a smell
I'll never forget.
They lifted me up,
put me in the driver's seat,
put a whip in my hand.
I was scared. I didn't know how
to drive a cart. So they told me
to beat the horse.

At this point in the story, he
always moved his feet,
dug his heels into the avocado carpet,
and slid the front of his soles
back and forth.

I beat the horse like they told me.
But the horse fell
into a ditch
and all the bodies fell out.
They took the whip
and beat my bare feet.

In America, on rainy days,
Sam wore black rubbers
over his shoes when he walked
to his grocery store.
A hole in the tip of the right rubber
wasn't big enough
to make him throw them away.
After dinner, the smell of shoe polish
was stronger than garlic.

Precisely at five every morning
after Sam retired to Florida,
he slipped white vinyl loafers
over thin white socks.
He walked four or five miles
until his heart started to fail,
his legs swelled,
and he struggled to move
along the catwalk.
When the orderlies
carried him down the stairs from the catwalk,
he insisted on wearing his white, vinyl shoes
to the hospital.

Cheap, worn, old shoes,
tipping slightly to one side,
stand in neat rows in Sam's closet.
Some of the seams show
where the stitching comes apart.
Flakes of dirt and dried shoe polish
lie in the deep creases
of the white vinyl loafers,
The black, tasseled dance shoes,
gleam from the back of the
closet. He wore them three times,
I really need these? He had asked his Helen.

What else? You think you can
wear your white shoes
to your grandchild's wedding?
Throw them away, already.
Get yourself a new pair.

Inside his coffin,
as was his wish,
a white shroud
covers his naked body.
His bare feet rest
on their heels. His toes,
the nails waxen and yellowed,
point upward.

Sam's Shoes previously appeared in The Substance of Sunlight: Ginninderra Press


Lucille Gang Shulklapper has published poems and stories in many journals as well as in four poetry chapbooks, the most recent titled In the Tunnel. She has also modeled, sold realty, made recordings for the blind, taught reading from k-college, and led workshops for the Florida Center for the Book and workshops facilitated through the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Presently, she tutors third graders in reading as a senior volunteer, and lives with her husband, a retired pediatrician, and a rescued cat named Zoe.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Dedicated to Leslie Otho “Chalk” McBride (1892 to 1968)
and Iva Pearl Shattuck McBride (1894 to 1977)

Andrew Shattuck McBride

From Dad I know my grandfather Chalk was pale, short, heavily
muscled, with forearms big as hams (fists like sledgehammers).
I didn’t get to know him; we met one time, and I was an infant.

I know that he was a smithy, a mechanic, a wildcat oil driller,
and a businessman. His wife Iva Pearl Shattuck was a grammarian
and school teacher. During the Great Depression they paid off
company debts rather than declare bankruptcy. Chalk scrambled
for money. He resurrected an old skill of crafting fine Irish-style
lace (or tattering) to bring in money for food to feed their family.
Chalk and Iva crafted a sort of fine lace: they knitted together
essentials and kept their family intact.

Hard times and pain have returned. During this Great Recession
I’ve watched as a first snowfall knit together branches of
deciduous trees into natural finery and a semblance of lace.

I put aside most of what I know of Chalk, all but an image of
him with battered hands and gnarled fingers weaving fine lace
for Iva, Claire, Bonnie, Ruth and her twin brother Richard
(who would become my father). Now, these people – and my
mother Sally Kirkpatrick McBride - are all dead; I am the last
McBride of my line. I use my father’s mother’s maiden name
with pride. As I work on what is essential, I keep this fine lace –
this work of love – before me in gratitude and as example.


Andrew Shattuck McBride is a poet and writer based in Bellingham, Washington. His poems are published or forthcoming in Dreams Wander On, bottlerockets, Prune Juice: A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, The Temple Bell Stops: Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss, and Change, The Bellingham Herald, and Haibun Today. Writer's blog.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Was it Exactly

How Was it Exactly?
Carol Brockfield

Did she run away first,
take a job in another city,
leave him with the kids,
with him taking his turn next?

Was it stealthy
when he didn’t come home
that late afternoon
to greet the children one by one--
as they waited by the door?

Or did she agree that he should go—
dreams stillborn with the struggle to feed seven.
(And why didn't he see ahead to this
when he'd pulled her to him each night?)

There were better jobs somewhere
than the stink of the tannery.
He would send money home to them.
So was it the unexpected joy of freedom
that made him forget?

All that's clear is she scrubbed hospital floors
washed dishes in hotel kitchens
grew vegetables
plucked chickens,
tended livestock.
Kept them alive:
Six mouths meagerly filled,
six bodies barely sheltered.

Had she expected anything different?


Carol Brockfield has been doing family research for almost fifty years now, way before the internet brought us armchair genealogy.

She is the current chair of the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon State Poetry Association, and her poems have been published in The Hiss Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Women Writers, flashquake, Quite Curious, Verseweavers, and Napa Valley College anthologies. A former New Yorker and Californian, she now lives in Southern Oregon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's in a Name? - Helen F. More

What's in a Name?
Helen F. More

[Before the battle of Lexington, William Dawes and Paul Revere were both despatched to rouse the country, Dawes starting first.]

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, "My name was Dawes."

'Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear --
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.


Note: This appears online several places under the title, The Midnight Ride of William Dawes.  The credit is almost always given to "Helen F. Moore."  However, we have tracked down an online archive of the 1896 volume of Century Magazine where the poem was originally published, and have reproduced the title, author, and poem as it originally appeared.  A search suggests the author published a few other items, mostly prose, using the same spelling of her name.


Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz


When I was going to get married, you gave me a quilt.
The Wedding Ring, but the links were doubled. You had pieced
and sewed it by hand and it was beautiful, meant to grace
my marriage bed. I thought
you'd change your mind when I changed
mine, but you let me keep it anyway.
maybe, one day


Your work was always on display at the County Fair.
The state recognized you as a contemporary, traditional quilt maker
             and your quilts
hung in the Palace of the Governors. A magazine article and a splash
of fame in the life of a maid.
Later, when I worked for the Smithsonian, I offered your name
for the folklife program. The local coordinator was surprised.
Rosie Brooks is your grandmother? he asked.
And I smiled big, proud to say yes.
So proud.


I only wanted to learn the Bear Claw. So much a little girl, collecting plush
              and porcelain.
The other names meant nothing to me -- “The Log Cabin,” “ Strip,” “Flower Baskets.”
A “Britches Quilt” was what your family poor, black and in Texas
made to keep warm. Old britches were always saved. Your daddy's and your brothers.'
But I only wanted to learn the Bear Claw. And I didn't want anything
             made from leftovers.


Before you forgot who I was, you gave me
all the quilt tops you had. Of ten grandchildren, only I loved to sew. I dropped by
a quilt shop, once, bought muslin, but not the batting. You kept asking me and I
made excuses.
Later, when you left the hospital, in those days of your dying,
I would tell you how I was finally making progress.
I even promised to bring you a quilt for your medical bed in your daughter's house.
Yes, I lied. But I didn't care because talking of quilts made you smile.


Almost Christmas. A year after your death. At a craft show,
a woman stands and watches me stitching a bear by hand. She asks if I ever prick
myself and goes on to share how hand quilters often leave drops of their blood
in the seams. Later, at home, I unpack the quilt tops and lay them across
the living room floor. On my knees, I search the stitches
for that which also flows through my veins. Search for what I need in order
to do what you have entrusted to me, and finish it all.


Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz is a fiction writer and poet as well as a teddy bear making and aspiring photographer. She blogs about life at and about writing.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Three Women

Three Women
SuzAnne C. Cole

I. Christina Sophia Hoelzel Groskinsky 1849- 1937

As September sun ripened grain,
barns brimful with ample harvest,
Great-Grandmother's house emptied.
Four brief lives--ten, eight, six, and two--
buried green before their goldenness.
Battered so, she stayed on
for husband and remaining son;
not only lived but leapt into the abyss
of creation twice more and flew--
another boy, then Carrie, miracle
to mother forty-three, father, fifty-nine.
When this cherished child of her bosom
quieted forever when only eight,
Christina endured like limestone,
dark velvet cloaking shards of a heart
never again trusting life or love.

II. Rose Elizian Bunnell Ripley 1865 - 1958

Gram, married at seventeen,
mother of five, practical nurse,
outlived husband, son, and siblings.
Kept her own house until betrayed
at ninety by brittle bones.
Life narrowing to borrowed room,
living on malted-milk tablets,
quietly she withered, as sweetly
fading as the fragrance of her flower.

III. Mary Edna Ripley Groskinsky 1889 - 1988

Gangrenous leg amputated at ninety-eight,
still she struggled against the dark angel,
declaring herself too wicked to die.
There, there murmured the family,
petting away the nightmares,
remembering the woman who
wrestled laundry in a wringer washer,
canned beans and preserved fruit in
steam-filled summer kitchen,
brought light, flickering kerosene
illuminating endless darning.
Maybe someone should have asked,
Why do you think yourself so wicked?
Struggle between faith of her mothers
and dogma of daughter so tenderly caring,
grateful when the screaming stopped.


SuzAnne C. Cole, former college English instructor, enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother, traveling, hiking, and writing from a studio in the Texas Hill Country. She’s been both a juried and featured poet at the Houston Poetry Fest and once won a haiku contest in Japan. She’s also published essays, short fiction, meditations, and plays.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Visit to Grandmother's House

Visit to Grandmother’s House
Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Sprawled on grandma’s bed
across the quilt her grandmother made,
the little ones nap after an August lunch.
Cheeks flushed, eyelashes shadowy
as spider threads on silk,
their thumbs creep to rosy lips
pursed, already sucking.
The angels-unaware haven’t yet learned
they are the fifth generation to race
screaming with joy in the back yard
crammed with roses and apple trees.
After their naps they play
on the flagstone patio
under conversation of uncles and aunts.
They will only realize when much older
that the grandma who makes up
silly stories and sings in her funny
cracked voice played on these same
garden paths while visiting her grandmother.
The grown-ups, sipping cold drinks
and mopping up little-finger spills,
watch time speed in the sturdy bodies
of the babies.

Visit to Grandmother's House was originally published in Above Ground Testing, 2005


Patricia Wellingham-Jones is widely published with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Twenty years ago she got fired up about genealogy and wound up researching, writing and publishing five family histories.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

John and Sarah Bumpus, 1692

John and Sarah Bumpus, 1692
Lucille Lang Day

When the witch trials started up north
in Salem, Sarah was already heavy
with Jeremiah, their ninth child.
John thought back to when he was whipped
for idleness and flirtation as a young man
and shuddered, thinking how much
worse the allegation might have been.

Now even Governor Phips's wife
and shipmaster John Alden, son of John
and Priscilla, stood accused. Would
it never end? The Andover witches
all offered the same account: the devil
was a small black man who made them
renounce their baptism and sign his book.

Sarah hoped to God no witches would
ever be found in Plymouth. The baby
was due in August, the time to cut
wheat and rye. Had it been a mistake
for the Old Colony to join Massachusetts,
where the witches flew and cried? She
wondered, throwing corn to dappled swine.

John and Sarah Bumpus, 1692 was previously published in Blue Unicorn.


Lucille Lang Day is the author of eight poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently The Curvature of Blue (Cervena Barva, 2009). She has also published a children’s book, Chain Letter, and her memoir, Married at Fourteen, will appear from Heyday in 2012. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in such magazines and anthologies as Atlanta Review, The Hudson ReviewThe Threepenny Review, and New Poets of the American West (Many Voices, 2010). She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, writer Richard Levine. Her website is

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Family History

Family History
Carol Brockfield

My Uncle Robert (said my dad),
now he was somethin’!
He knew words, could
convince you of anything.
Helped me with that prize I won
in the fourth grade.
To tell the truth, he pretty much
wrote the whole thing.

He had a phonograph with a big horn.
Used to sit out on his porch,
play it so loud
you could hear it all up and down the street.
All the pretty girls would listen
at their open windows.
They’d been just waitin’ for him to come out
with his record machine.

Uncle Robert was an inventor, too.
Had a workin’radio
and a telescope for seein’ stars.
He’d invite the neighbors to take a look
and he always told the women:
‘You have to lie down in the grass with me.
That’s how it’s done.’

He got some takers, too.


Carol Brockfield has been doing family research for almost fifty years now, way before the internet brought us armchair genealogy.

She is the current chair of the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon State Poetry Association, and her poems have been published in The Hiss Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Women Writers, flashquake, Quite Curious, Verseweavers, and Napa Valley College anthologies. A former New Yorker and Californian, she now lives in Southern Oregon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Strength of Roots

The Strength of Roots
Patricia Wellingham-Jones

A forgotten graveyard, tumbled
remnants of a pioneer's home,
the white flaking fence and crumbled rails
long overruled by brambles and vines.

Great and grand parents are here,
chiseled in stone, their small blocks
in cool grass beckon sit and rest awhile.
Not, we hope, forever.

We find the site, once discovered,
lost again, an infant's final resting place
tenderly tucked in the roots of an oak, marked now
by acorns and a tangle of thicket, while

in town by the brick church
and colonial pilasters, exterior aisles
of well-trimmed boxwood, hovering yews, a marble
sarcophagus rules the rolling green.

My cousin and I tiptoe around the
cold box, trace with warm fingers
the weathered inscriptions, try to
understand what somebody said about
our obviously honored ancestor,

imagine him (with his barely mentioned wife)
in snug leggings and waistcoat, cradling the baby
who lies under the oak, siring all those others
who, two hundred years later, became
my cousin and me.

The Strength of Roots was previously published in The Lucid Stone, 1997.


Patricia Wellingham-Jones is widely published with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Twenty years ago she got fired up about genealogy and wound up researching, writing and publishing five family histories.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Family Photo

Family Photo
Anthony A. Lee

Stern white hair, walrus
mustache—three piece suit
that might be in style now
if you don’t follow fashion—
hands in lap, on studio chair
in Sunday best. “He’s not
related to us,” my mother said.

His wife’s standing—
mother’s mother’s grandmother
and my great, great—
with her fourth man
(no one knows what
happened to 1, 2, and 3).
She, gold spectacles (no smile),
starched blouse (no lace),
sleeves long to wrists (big cuffs),
cameo at her throat,
skirt dark to the floor,
gray hair bundled, tied back,
arm on his shoulder,
black, black skin,
not a wrinkle in sight,
her Indian blood (Cherokee, Ozark)
holding her up—though she
must be seventy.

This Kansas woman
is as far back as my family
can go. She stands well
(photo faded, 1890 maybe)
unbending, no slave crouch,
looks straight, straight
on great grandsons,
and great, great, greats,
with no shame.

My mother bragged
about her prairie store,
horses and surrey,
the cash in her drawers,
had a copy of her will
with our cut right
there in black and white
($500 was a lot of money in those days),
stolen away by no good cousins
before the funeral day.
No. 4 has no name, but
“Elizabeth Taylor Milton”
she belongs to us.

They stare out, unmoved,
wait for the camera to finish.
I stare back,
search for clues
stare at the shadows.


Anthony A. Lee, Ph.D. teaches African American history at UCLA. He is the winner of the Nat Turner Poetry Prize for 2003 (Cross Keys Press). His first book of poems, This Poem Means, was the winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award for 2005 (Lotus Press). Some of his translations have been published in Táhirih: A Portrait in Poetry: Selected Poems of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (Kalimát Press, 2004). He teaches a poetry workshop sponsored by the Creative Arts Center, City of Manhattan Beach, Califonria.