December-February 2008

Featured Poets


January 2009

Michael Salcman
S.D. Lishan
Allan Peterson

December 2008

Ruth Stone

Howard F. Stein
Sarah Maclay
Jim Harrison
Dan Murphy





January 2009


Michael Salcman

An American Refugee on Vacation in Prague

Summer solstice in the Staré Mesto of Prague—

everyone as usual is looking for Kafka.

Even the 14th Count of Lobkovicz,

a cultured soul who shows me

the 400 year old mummified arm in the Church of St. James,

who speaks of the Master Theodoric

with the voice of a true connoisseur, to whom

locating Tycho Brahe's tomb

in Our Lady Before Týn is the merest child's play,

even he can't find Kafka.

Reported sightings at No.2 and No.3 Celetná

go unconfirmed; the café

at The House of the Black Madonna is closed.

Waiting for more reliable information

I smoke three Havana cigars:

a Romeo and Juliet, a Cohiba and a Partagas.

I do not manage to visit more than two houses in which

Kafka wrote or worked.

I do manage to visit the Castle that gave him nightmares.

I watch the clock on the Jewish Town Hall tower

run the wrong way round

and the Czechs lean backwards going down

the steep escalator in Republiky's Metro.

I do not twist my ankle on the cobbles in Celetná Street;

I do have dinner with two actors in a barrel-vaulted restaurant

two stories below the Gothic ground.

I make love to one woman and to this golden city.

I deserve nothing of this but the sound of bells.




S.D. Lishan


Root Bound                                      


I used to be golden threads of bristly light

folding down a swale of light gray clouds

onto the lavender in the morning beside the blossoms


of sweet white violets. Before that I used to be cold 

water in a tin cup beside a clump of mint growing

near a forest of white pine, but now I’m your lips curled


around a cigarette as you hunch into the winter rain.

Nearby, herds of water rings penned in

by the lake’s shore break open like hope.


What escapes rises into the succulent air, circling

slowly, like a tanager lost in the leafless ashes,

floating still in the winter afternoon, like a spirit lost


over skeletons of toadflax, flowering catchfly, ironweed,

and steeplebrush, before finally coming to rest

in a soybean field puddling out in the rain


south of Marion, Ohio. But none of us

knows any of that now, not your lips stroking

a last suck of embered fire, not your mud-caked boots,


or your tightening back as you plant a white pine

on a hill sloping down to the stream rushing

in a freight train of snow melt. Spanking the bottom


of its plastic pot with the flat of a spade as you cut free

where it’s root bound, for some reason you think

of the cicadas last May, their ratchet cries of longing,

still rotting in the grass, their delicate orange-veined veils

of wings, like the touch you imagine when you separate

the curtain between desire and faith, between what you know


and what you want, and all that ungovernable land that lies in between.


Allan Peterson

Available Light

Last night we sat passive in a dark room
a hematite sky accompanied by music
Large figures who lived in available light
loved and failed against one wall
When the lights revived hours later
the survivors that valued the dark gathered coats
the stars of their nightmares rolling behind



December 2008


Ruth Stone

What It Comes To

Sometimes I cry for that young man
I loved fifty years ago.  My, my he has been
dead for almost half a century.
His voice trembled when he spoke to me.
What did I know of men and their cupidity?
And do I cry for myself,
that lonely, ignorant woman?
Not half, I think.
Even in my sleep I laugh,
a common sentiment.
The average cheap romance;
the family's dull drama.
But you
bone and skin that you are
you didn't even want
to come to the desert without shoes.
Scorpions, snakes, thorns.
But there were the stars
and the breath of something, stamens,
the centers of the thinnest tissues;
the momentary
and almost intangible universe.

Howard F. Stein

For Whom Do I Say Kaddish?”*

Tell me, for whom do I say Kaddish?

The number grows, so many have died —

My father, my mother, my grandparents,

So many uncles and aunts —

I was named for one, a lifelong soldier

Killed in the Battle of the Bulge;

The millions murdered in death camps,

Including half of my family;

The tens of thousands murdered in pogroms

All over Europe for centuries; the martyred sages.

Then there are the living, the resilient, the survivors,

But whose lives are haunted

By the terrors of so long a history of settling in,

Only to be later hounded out, hunted,

And butchered along the way.

For the tormented living, I say Kaddish, too.

I say Kaddish even at times

That are not appointed, times

When I am alone and not at the synagogue

In the company of a minyan.**

I violate the Law to say Kaddish,

So many dead, so many names

To remember and to keep alive

In me. Sometimes they take hours

To recite, and I know I will never

Finish. There will always be more.

It slowly creeps into my awareness that

It is my turn to begin to say Kaddish for myself —

For hopeless desires, even for hope itself.

For dreams and tasks I have been given

Generations ago and cannot possibly

Fulfill. I gently lay them to rest

In the cemetery of my heart,

And let them finally die with me.

For all these, and more,

I say Kaddish.


*The “Mourner’s Kaddish” is a prayer in Aramaic that Jews recite at appointed places in the Hebrew liturgy for the most part in memory of a deceased relative. For many modern Jews, it might be the only prayer they know. It is recited during the Yizkor or memorial service four times a year, twice daily during the eleven-month period of mourning following the death of a family member, and afterwards at the daily services on the anniversary of their death.

** A minyan is a minimum ritual quorum of ten adult Jews, male or female in Conservative and Reform denominations, and only male in Orthodox practice. Any group short of this number cannot perform certain rituals, such as reading the Torah, and reciting the Kaddish, which are public events.

Sarah Maclay


It have to be a kind of walking on the ceiling. And outside,
a loon.  No marshland.  Still, four calls.  The footsteps, though, too
close to be occurring on a floor.  Too audible.

Wht. Wht. Wht. Wht.  Then nothing.

The calls so measured.  Then the sounds of dishes being done.

The water running.  Spatulas, maybe.  But as though outsidejust
outside the bedoroom window.  Someone doing dishes in the yard.

Or maybe not a loon.

Or someone walking up the stairs, perhaps, if stairs were level.

Jim Harrison


Before I was born I was water.
I thought of this sitting on a blue
chair surrounded by pink, red, white
hollyhocks in the yard in front
of my green studio.  There are conclusions
to be drawn but I can't do it anymore.
Born man, child man, singing man,
dying man.  This is a round river
and we are her fish who become water.

Dan Murphy

Get a Good Seat, a Good View

Lying low we stay cool the best

part of the morning, the good part

of a decade separating effort

from intention.

                  Life is this

perfect headache that keeps you sensate,

keeps you honest, seasick really,

finding your feet in that carnival

rumba someone fixed

                           into the soundtrack

your personal ringtone, personal trainer’s coo

calling you forth from your anthologized

heart to the world-as-bride.

                           Someone shuffled

the laminate dancefloor, the songlist to show not all love is sad

but makes the best contemporary song adults sing

when drunk or accelerating through traffic stop

and go.

                          Lying low to watch

jets pass through park trees fingers shading sun

to get a good view, the best, the first day to work

waking up late, trailing in smoke past a shuffling commotion,

a sheaf of papers. So get it out of your system,

          get the gears in mesh,

                              and rolling.

Now everything’s going to change as the wheels lurch forward.

Everything, when she walked by the air, softened with caution,

with grace applied as addendum, as

afterthought, burning the 90’s burning that song

from memory and I was born today born the day

after yesterday when my heart skipped a beat

a digital glitch and said I’m here for the after party here

                          for the aftertaste

gone bad like gun metal and aspartame, here

to be counted and ignored, with my cousins, all of us

rushing forward hair blown back

                          like a shampoo

commercial to sell a decade’s weariness beginning

to jitter towards a hum-able melody.


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Contributor's Notes

January 2009

Michael Salcman is a physician, brain scientist and essayist on the visual arts. He was chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. Recent poems appear in such magazines as Alaska Quarterly Review, Ontario Review, New Letters, Harvard Review, Raritan, Notre Dame Review and New York Quarterly.  The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises Press) and a chapbook, Stones In Our Pockets (Parallel Press) were published in 2007. 

S.D. Lishan is an associate professor of English at The Ohio State University. His book, Body Tapestries (Dream Horse Press), was published in 2006. His poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in the Arts & Letters, Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Bellingham Review, XConnect, Barrow Street Creative Nonfiction,, and other fine magazines.

Allan Peterson's
latest book All the Lavish in Common won the 2005 Juniper Prize. Recent print and online appearances include: Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Bat City,  Boston Review, Northwest Review, Perigee, Press 1, and Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry. He is a recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the State of Florida and has been nominated nine times for Pushcart Prizes. He lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida and Ashland, Oregon.

December 2008

Ruth Stone's recent book, What Love Comes To, is published by Copper Canyon Press.  "What It Comes To" is taken from New and Selected Poems.

Howard F. Stein, Ph.D. is Professor and Special Assistant to the Chair Department of Family and Preventive Medicine University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Sarah Maclay's second book, The White Bride, is published by University of Tampa Press. Her first book, Whore, won the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry.  Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, FIELD, Ploughshares, Poetry International and many more journals.  The above poem is selected from The White Bride.

Jim Harrison's new book of poems, Saving Daylight, is published by Copper Canyon Press. "Harrison is one of America's most versatile and celebrated writers..."  "He see the sacred in the world around him." (New York Times Book Review)

Dan Murphy's poems have appeared in IMAGE and The New Zoo Poetry Review.  He's worked as a public schoolteacher in Los Angeles for twenty years.  He's "married with two daughters, a mortgage, and a car, and a manageable caffeine addiction."

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