Monday, August 31, 2015

A Poem by Rick Hartwell


Scorpion of the Sea
(or of the North and Back Bay),
society of Sculpin
(camouflaged algae green, brown),
family Cottidae
(broad head, gristle gum, gaping maw),
saltwater bullhead
(prehistoric mien and manner, grotesquery),
labeled a trash fish
(horrific to the uninitiated and intimidated),
toxic dorsal spine
(a conjurer's spell to fright young fishermen).

At ten or eleven or twelve,
setting out for perch or smelt,
quicksilver flashes, lip snagged,
something worthy of a frying pan,
collectively a dinner, if not singly,
or the slow reeling of dark weight
until a halibut's quick pancake flip
presents pallid mouth and belly flesh.

Hooks baited with fillets of raw bacon,
oily aphrodisiac cast in polluted water,
we, angling from an eight-foot pram,
young Hemingways next to the docks,
catching bullheads in the north channel,
unhooking them with our bloody fingers,
as they'd attempt to breathe an atmosphere,
unfamiliar medium unsuited to their needs.

Once released, they'd disappear below,
residents of the shallows, no longer aliens,
yet soon caught again by insatiable appetite,
relieved occasionally by a wayward stingray,
another denizen of nightmares freed yet again,
as we played out this ritual day after day,
keenly expectant, as only the young can be:
our luck would change and we'd be fed instead.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher living in Southern California.  He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity.  Given his druthers, if he's not writing, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.  He can be reached at

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Poem by Barbara Bald

Traveling with a Hare

I smile when I see them, there
on the edge of the woods—
fan-shaped prints spreading out
across a snowy expanse,
sun glinting on them,
like crystallized sugar cookies,
gray shadows, deep within each track,
peeking out at the light.

Large fur-padded hind-feet, positioned
ahead of small front paws,
leave marks that confuse the eye,
and warm spring rays, melting edges
of the imprints, expand them
to a size that equals those of Sasquatch.

I like to imagine a giant hare, hopping
in thickets behind my house.
My legs tucked snuggly
within his gigantic haunches,
he leaps with me on his back.
Whether fleeing from predators
or racing in zigzag patterns of play,
we dare to leave the trail, the ground,
all security far behind.
Risking everything, we surrender to passion,
bound like Icarus into giddy, free flight.

Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire and For Loving Precious Beast. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests including the Rochester Poet Laureate Contest, Lisbon’s Fall Festival of Art Contest, Conway Library’s Annual Contest, Goodwin Library’s Annual Contest, and The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s National and Member Contests. Her recent full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her new chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, NH with her cat Catcher, two Siamese Fighting fish and a tank of Hissing Cockroaches.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Two Poems by Dilip Mohapatra


Under the banyan tree in the street corner
few worn out scooter tires and semi-wet sands
which once supported the earthen pots
filled with drinking water not long ago
now feel desolate and deserted.

The red flames on the Gulmohar trees
flanking the streets doused by the first showers
have lost their sheen to the verdant green.
Blue polythene covered sheds have mushroomed
along the rows of shops skirting the footpaths.

The summer has slipped away
and perhaps is hiding behind the clouds
and a farmer in his ramshackle hut
puts an aluminum pot below the dripping hole
on his thatched roof and scrapes
the dry mud off his overused plough.

Paper Boats

Monsoon descends
and the clouds split open
the gutters running parallel
on both sides of
the narrow village gully
swell up in a spate and
bridge the gap
between them
to shake hands.

An endless ribbon of
muddy brown water
slithers on the road
like a huge serpent
after its prey
a faint and translucent sun
swims on its back lazily
a wanton wind whistling
through the coconut fronds.

Tiny dots of paper boats
appear from nowhere
riding the crests and troughs
of the gushing stream
dancing in tandem
to the rhythms of the ripples
wobbling aimlessly
with no compass nor chart
and no harbour to enter.

They set sail on their uncertain course
with no ropes nor even an anchor
and with no cargo in the holds
of their folds
but their transparent rigging
laden with laughter and cheer
and boundless glee
like the trinkets twinkling
on a Christmas tree.

The notebooks become
thinner and thinner
while some topple and capsize
and some continue to stay afloat
their keels becoming
wetter and heavier as they sail by.
An infinite joy abounds
in the air and
spirits soar high.

Dilip Mohapatra, a decorated Navy Veteran, started writing poems in the seventies.  His poems have appeared in many literary journals of repute in India and abroad.  Some of his poems have been featured in the World Poetry Yearbook, 2013 along with the works of 211 contemporary poets from 93 countries and few are lined up for its 2014 Edition due in June 2015.  He has two poetry collections titled "A Pinch of Sun & other poems" and "Different Shades" to his credit, published by Authorspress India.  He holds two masters degrees, in Physics and in Management Studies.  He lives with his wife in Pune.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Poem by Michael Lee Johnson

Willow Tree and Sparrow Wings

I stare at my willow tree
outside my balcony for hours --
all motion, all wind music,
shade of shimmering sunlight
begins to fade --
tongue lapping of shadows between
these branches the clouds
move across.
Even my wind chimes
nearby sing an unknown
language calls out
spirit of God "I am what I am."
Then there is my quiet night,
all I hear is shifting
of those sparrow wings.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era:  now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 750 small press magazines in 27 countries.  He edits 8 poetry sites.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freendom (136 page book), several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 70 poetry videos on YouTube.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Poem by Mary L. Westcott

Stopping by Ocala Woods, A Decima

The fan palms damp with drops
of water from the drizzling sky
that rains quietly on ferns and high
pines at Marshall's Swamp, a stop
To see the marsh, the oak treetops
in a cool place, to sit meditating
Surrounded by tall cypress abating
The whirl of life, the shop-strewn world,
of commerce, cars and new stores unfurled
like a million black ants proliferating.

Mary L. Westcott has been writing poetry for more than 25 years.  She received an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2010.  She has been published in more than 55 literary journals.  She has published 6 books in poetry, including the latest from Balboa Press, called Fluttering on Earth, a poetic memoir.  She retired from the National Institutes of Health, and lives in Central Florida.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Two Poems by Lyn Lifshin

December Pond

The v of mallards
criss-crosses the
beaver's wake.
Feathers clot on
apricot water.
Dried camellias
flutter like the
feathers.  What
isn't, haunts like
the name "Bethany"
of the stain on
a quilt that some
how sucks me back
to before my mother
was howling in the
smallest dark room
under a moon
of brass

The Pond on the Walk Back from the Metro, December, A Night You Can Smell the Melt

without leaves,
lights thru silver
branches hang
icicle stars.
Jade and ruby
lights.  I think of
Liv Ullman saying
"life is what goes
on in other people's
rooms."  Squishy
earth, barberry.
New dandelions.
Birds in clumps.
Feathers on the
silk of the pond
like ghosts about to
take the shape of
whatever you
make of them

Lyn Lifshin has published over 140 books and chapbooks and edited three anthologies of women's including Tangled Vines that stayed in print 20 years.  She has several books from Black Sparrow books.  Her web site,, shows the variety of her work from the equine books, The Licorice Daughter:  My Year with Ruffian and Barbaro:  Beyond Brokenness, to recent books about dance:  Ballroom, Knife Edge and Absinthe:  The Tango Poems.  Other new books include For the Roses, poems for Joni Mitchell, All The Poets Who Touched Me; A Girl Goes Into the Woods; Malala, Tangled as the Alphabet:    The Istanbul Poems.  Also just out:  Secretariat:  The Red Freak, The Miracle, Malala and Luminous Women:  Enheducanna, Scheherazade and Nefertiti.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Poem by Alicia Cole

The Fig Tree

Under the shade of the tree:
grandmother and light
suddenly struck;

leaves' tiny hands; moist
summer air; and jam
tasting of song.

a cat winnowing sinuously
through the yard.

a bird calling, its voice
great carelessness.

Song, grandmother's forgetting
like running yolk

or the day's cracked light.

Alicia Cole, a full-time creative writer/talent/educator, lives in Lawrenceville, GA, with her husband and menagerie of animals.  She loves the variety of wildlife that live near their home, and has recently become fond of baby snapping turtles.  Her first chapbook "Darkly Told" was recently published by Priestess & Hierophant Press, and her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Torn Pages Anthology, Bitterzoet Bonbons, Drabblecast, Glitterwolf Magazine, and Eternal Haunted Summer.  You can find more of her work at