Thursday, July 30, 2015


by Stephen A. Rozwenc

a devoted gathering of cosmic pig parts
in the open rear cargo enclosure
of a farmer's dented pick-up truck

street side parked
for cheap sale
machete shaved smooth
angelic ribs
the tenderest of loins
along with other assorted cuts
eerily confess
no compassion for self


by David Chorlton

There’s a flower in the desert
where a man lay down and died, a cactus
blooming at the spot
he put his backpack down,
and a trail of yellow blossoms leading
to the tree beneath which
he sought shade near the end.
                                                 And they bloom,
the penstemon, ocotillo, and mesquite,
again and again, with each returning year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No Photosynthesis Occurs

by Patricia Williams

I remember eating white asparagus
at a sidewalk café
in the shadow of Cologne Cathedral      
on an amiable day in June.

This seasonal ivory treat,
topped with sun-colored hollandaise sauce,
tastes best in the company of friends,
with glasses of pale German wine.

To cultivate white asparagus,
bury the shoots in dirt as they grow,
allow no exposure to sunlight.
Use this same process to produce
sterile, non-permeable minds. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Riparian July: The San Pedro

by David Chorlton

A last river flows
where cottonwoods glow
against the storm side of the sky
as light behind the mountain
turns to rain.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


by Theresa A. Cancro

broken bottle
at the end of the path
blue-eyed grass

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Two Cents

by Maury Grimm

A steady rain throughout the night and now a thick fog lies across the field, making fence posts a haze and the cottonwoods not even visible.

I scan the news feed and would rather listen to Łizhiní crowing in the gray than the radio. Not much seems to change and it seems too much sometimes, the constant hate of war-drum beaters, people afraid of each other because of race, sex or religion, the greedy decimation of our home. I am saddened as I approach 61 that we could not learn to live together on this lonely planet and care for her better.

I have no religion but this place, the places I wander, my family and meager friends. The heaviness I feel, is it just the fog? Another day of small, but meaningful accomplishments? One hopes they be meaningful, are the right way and not another mistake to undo, redo, overcome.

Chart out the tasks for the day: Fix the chicken coop door so the magpies do not get in to steal eggs, measure fence lines, gather materials for building a new coop for winter, check the currant bushes and harvest quelites, radishes, cilantro. And maybe there will be time for a mountain foray before meeting with the Forest Service to discuss the fauna, the endangered plants.

I will put my two cents in where I can and pray what I leave reflects who I was and am.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nocturne Incomplis

by Karla Linn Merrifield
Frogs stop rain starts
as wind stirs midnight
with hiss drip rattle creak
full-moon gutter-gushing
puddle-making vernal storm
delivers cool June
on a Canadian front
lately of Toronto.

Wind moves waves
toward the end that is not.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Signals from a Dark River

by Tom Sheehan

Dangers are everywhere about my river: its own porous bog whose underworld has softened for centuries, the jungles of cat-o-nine tails leap up into. Once, six new houses ago, one new street along the banking, two boys went to sea riding a block of ice. They are sailing yet, their last flag a jacket shook out in dusk still hiding in Decembers every year. One old man at river's mouth grows rows on rows of strawberry plants in his front yard. These plants run rampant part of the year. He planted them the year his sons caught their last lobster on the last day of their last storm. Summers, now, strawberries and salt mix on the high air. A truck driver, dumping snow another December, backed out too far and went too deep. His son stutters when the snow falls. Worn wife hung a wreath at the town garage. At the all-night diner a waitress remembers how many ways she put dark liquid into his coffee. When she hears a Mack or a Reo or a huge, chromed but cumbersome International big as those old Walters Snow-Plows used to be, she tastes the hard sense of late whiskeys. He had an honest hunger and the most honest thirst, and thickest eyebrows, she remembers, thick, thick eyebrows. Once I drove a purring Saab 580 miles to my brother's home in Conneaut, Ohio in 8 hours of summer darkness:

six-pack hanging cold
         on his pre-dawn's split rail fence
                  he never drank beer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


by M.J. Iuppa

Slow, at first, then over-
flowing, a flood that no one
warned us was coming from
a distance, so far away.                                      

Two Plum Trees

by Sandy Benitez

Two purple-leafed plum trees
stand as sentries on opposite ends
of the earth-hued house.
Hummingbirds flit in and out
while crows fly loudly overhead.
There is a drought in this land
but not here, maybe next door
where the neighbors removed turf
and replaced it with beige gravel.
Or down the road where succulents
line the garden shelves.
The plum trees are always aubergine,
blooming and birthing fruit,
shading the wildlife who come
searching for sustenance and shelter.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

For the record

by Stefanie Bennett

We’ll understand
That enough
Is enough
When the stars
Climb down
From the Labarum’s
Of change

... Leaving
It bare
A hole in
The heart
Of darkness.

I asked a cow if she wanted depression meds

by Emily Ramser

and she just shook her head,
saying she was a virgin
in sex and medicine
and that her body was a temple
for the carnivores
who'd suckled her on plastic udders
in place of the mother who'd abandoned her.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Upon My River, Upon My Soul

by Tom Sheehan

What of all the spills that ache here --- upland dosage where the delta’s done and settling its own routines, the near immeasurable transfer of land and other properties of the continent chasing down Atlantic ways, shifting nations and cities from directly underfoot, moving towns along the watershed, oozing territories.

Oh, how I loved the river feeding the ocean.

I have plumbed the Saugus River at its mouth, found the small artifacts of its leaning seaward, tiny bits of history and geography getting muddied up against the Atlantic drift, suffering at tide’s stroke, roiling and eddying to claim selves, marveling at a century’s line of movement, its casual change of character, its causal stress and slight fracturing under ocean’s dual drives, the endless pulsing tide and the overhead draft of clouds bringing their inland torment and trial, land and loam and leaf running away with the swift sprinters of water, the headlong rush of heading home like salmon bursting upstream for the one place they can remember in the chemistry of life, impulses stronger than electricity, smells calling in the water more exotic than Chinese perfume.

The flounder, sheaving under the bridge at the marsh road, pages of an un-sprung book, one-eyed it always seems, hungering for my helpless and hooked worms, sort over parts of Saugus in this great give-away, and nose into the extraneous parts that were my town, my town.

“Listen,” my father said to me, his eyes dark, oh black during a whole generation, “for a sound whose syllable you can’t count up or down, for what you might think is a clam being shucked, a quahog’s last quiet piss on sand, a kelp bubble exploding its one green-stressed overture.”

He talked like that when he knew I was listening, even at ten years of age.

He wasn’t saying, “Listen for me,” just, “Listen for the voices, the statements along Atlantic ritual, every driven shore, rocks sea-swabbed, iodine fists of air potent as a heavyweight’s, tides tossing off their turnpike hum, black-edged brackish ponds holding on for dear life, holding a new sun sultry as anchovies … all of them have words for you.”

I hear that oath of his, the Earth-connected vow all the sea bears, the echoes booming like whale sounds, their deep musical communication, now saying one of his memorials, “Sixty-years and more, I feel you touch Normandy’s sand, measuring the grains of your hope, each grain a stone; and I know the visions last carved in June’s damp air.” 

“Oh,” he’d add, “you sons, forgotten masters of our fate.”

Deepest of all, hearing what I didn’t hear at ten, but hear ever since, the hull-hammered rattling before rescue from the USS Squalus, 60 fathoms down off Portsmouth, the sound and the petition count never fading; three quarters of a century of desperation and plea hammering in my ears.

Say it straight out: “Some were saved and some were lost. That is a memorial.”

The eels squirm and fidget on Saugus farmlands, pitch-black bottom land gone south with rain and years, gutter leanings, great steel street drains emptying lawns and backyards and sidewalk driftage into the river below black clouds. The worn asphalt shingles on my roof yield twenty-five years of granules, and now and then tell that story inside the house.

A ninety-year old pear tree shudders under lightning and offers pieces of itself as sacrifice to the cause, dropping twigs, blasted bark other lightning has tossed into the soft footing, the grayed-out hair of old nests, my initials and hers and the scored heart time has scabbed up, dated, pruned, becoming illegible in the high fancy of new leaves and young shoots. There, too, went my father’s footprints in one April storm, washed away in late afternoon as he lay sleeping in that tree’s hammock; and grease off my brother’s hands from his Ford with nine lives hanging on a chain-fall; and across the street a neighbor’s ashes spread under grapevines and pear tree an August fire later took captive in dark smoke I still smell on heavy summer evenings.

This is my word on all of this:

 It is where the river’s done, where a boy’s hung between the sunlit surface and a pinch of salt, who’s read of twisted souls at sea, knew sweet misery of warming sand, I know how water marks horizon’s dwelling where dark stream and ocean meet twice in the flow of bayside surge and ocean merge grasps the river’s downhill push, losing lush things like the very gravel I have trod, and the locks and board holding back my river horde.

Oh, believe … I have come up by image from the sea in other times, by overhand, by curragh, by slung-sailed ship of oak, afloat a near-sunken log; have crawled sandy edges of the bay, looked back at waters’ merge and flow, found the river’s crawl reversed where floating parts are nursed, toting redwing nests the winds abuse, good ground the rain in swift return hauls down the river … Saugus on the loose.

Ever now, when I fish at the mouth of the river, rod high, and hope too, I catch awful parts of Saugus. I know the stream and ocean meet where I dare dangle my awkward feet, where love-lies-bleeding and the primrose meet, where tempting sea and bay greet all of rhyme and so its clime:

The rainbow catches up the horde;
         Sea color's set by the Lord.
                  This you can believe;
   It’s Saugus I cannot leave,
         I race the river to the sea,                                                                                              
                    always it’s ahead of me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Is It Ever Spring Anymore?

by Doug Draime

Outside the robins return
Pecking the thawing backyard earth
Like benevolent and silent jack hammers
They are relentless, only pausing cautiously
For sounds of human beings: banging  crushing
Yelling  spewing the arrogance of
Self consumption into the cool polluted air

California Visit

By William Cullen Jr

The only rain that fell
was a sun shower
as if the drought
just couldn’t let go
even for a little while
as your award winning
jalapeno peppers
succumbed to the heat
you took it out
on the scarecrow
knocking him down
with one punch.

Visions of the Old Ones

by Kevin Heaton

Tears of brother eagle fall to mother waters.
No longer does he rise above clouds borne
on pristine thermals. Herds, too vast to number,
lie gasping beneath an incoherent sun, their lifeblood
flowing to tainted streams on a journey to troubled
seas. Creatures in the depths retch the bitterness.
Thorndrops vex through weary eyes, and salt
the wounded furrows of a people still cloaked
in the earth, forgotten; more trails for their tears.
They mourn the ravaged child born in hope,
abandoned. A land of plenty; rendered into blood.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bird in the Tree

by Taylor Graham

An owl in the grain of a stump –
what had been a great oak in sparse
woods – image of a bird etched
by years of rain and drought, lightning
strike and natural healing.
In woodgrain, the idea of bird. Owl
watching with sharp-taloned eye.


by Joyce Lorenson

where the river widens
over the sand bar
fingerlings in sunlight

God’s Gift

by Daniel Barbare





Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Calm Before

by David Chorlton

A raven’s wing peels away from the sky
above an empty road
that does not deviate
from its course beneath the clouds
until the first bend
where an oak tree twists into a breaking storm
and the coyote
who precedes lightning
crosses over
and stops time in the mesquite.


by Wayne Lee

black angus
meat on the hoof
identical dots disappearing
over the horizon...
pronghorn nowhere
to be seen