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.