Searching for Sushi in a Walmart in Salina, KS, by Barbara A Meier

Searching for Sushi in a Walmart in Salina, KS
by Barbara A Meier

Obesity roams the aisle, and Meth stubs grimace in a smile.
Plodding onward through a grocery wasteland;
A desert of Little Debbie crème pies, Pringles with a pop!
Coca-cola, and Jalapeno Ranch Doritos.
The best bargains at 11 o’clock at night.

Sorrow dictates I eat. Lateness dictates Walmart,
and all I see is a holocaust of processed foods.
Pain rises up to choke the heart lodged in my throat.
Tears seep down the back. Drip. Leak.

And I think I can find sushi in Salina….

There’s no sushi in Walmart in Salina.
There’s no way to feel good. It collapses inward on itself.
The pressure spills and there’s no stopping.
I’m truly alone and nonexistent at this point.

I cannot lay out my life like rice on a sushi mat.
Nor can I pick and choose spicy,
Fullmoon Combo, or California Rolls with Eel.
There’s no wasabi to burn away the pain,
or pickled ginger to open the dam.

Just myself, dressed in cold fluorescent light,
walking circles in Walmart.
I cannot roll my life up to fit my dreams
or my ideas of what should have happened.

inspired by “What Passes for Salvation in Salina, Kansas” by John Dorsey

Barbara A Meier has spent the last four years living on the Southern Oregon Coast. She retired from teaching this summer and hopes to find time to travel and write. She has a Micro Chapbook coming out this summer from Ghost City Press. She has been published in The Poeming Pigeon, TD; LR Catching Fire Anthology and The Fourth River.

If You Forget Me (From Pablo Neruda), by Diana Raab, PhD.

If You Forget Me
      (From Pablo Neruda)

by Diana Raab, PhD.

I want you to know
one thing

if there is ever a day
when you begin to think
where I am in this world
and if I could live without you

you need to stop,
like not move in your tracks,
but look down upon the imprints
your feet made in the sand
where you and I walked together
arm in arm, side by side
shoulder touching shoulder

and observe that you are ingrained
in my brain like every kernel of sand
that lies beside the largest ocean
in this world where we inhabit
two sides familiar, yet foreign
to one another

just beside the log cabin
you built me for my last birthday
before you had to say good bye,
while I begged you on all six legs

not to leave me like this,
but, in the end, I just had to let you go
because when you love someone
that is just what you must do.
Set them free
to do what they need or want to do
just when they want to do it

whether it is with you or not—
while always keeping in mind

I will never in my lifetime or yours
ever stop loving everything about you.

Process notes:
I love the poems of Pablo Neruda and all of his work inspires my own poetry.
Source: “SI TÚ ME OLVIDAS” by Pablo Neruda (1952).

Diana Raab PhD is a poet, memoirist, and workshop facilitator. She’s author of poetry collections including her latest, Lust. She’s also author of 5 non-fiction books and a frequent blogger. Please visit her at

Red Wolf Editions Spring 2020: True Love

true love issue 16

Red Wolf Editions Spring 2020
Theme: True Love

An honorable human relationship…that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love”—is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation. It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity. It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

—Adrienne Rich

On the subject of true love what are your thoughts? I guess you do not doubt that there’s such a thing in the Platonic realm. But in the world of sinners the quest is truly tricky. Of that forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, is there a sense of that present in true love, that true love is a test of character, involving a transgression of sorts? For without the breach there’s no struggle, no tried and tested. If true love is divinely ordained, there must be a struggle to find it. We’re searching for a divine union so as to enable a coming into knowledge (or rather knowing)? For in impediment do we grow. Not just love thoughtlessly, like mating rabbits. How else do we discover ourselves? How do we discover another except in how we love? Or how we are loved in return. Or not. Are we using the other person, wanting them for reasons other than love? Are we being loved or used? Love is blind they say, but that blindness does contain sight. True love is about seeing. We need to see and discern another person’s heart. Is it true? Or false? Only time will tell. So only time is a test of love.

Part of why true love is difficult is that we are so imperfect it is difficult to love truly. There seems no such thing as immaculate love—love is an expression in action, often involving sexual desire. In its passionate form it is a deep union. However it can and often is fraught with complications. Why? Because human nature is selfish. Inconstancy, fickleness, disagreement, illusion, self-sabotage, illness, third parties, all sorts of selfishness. Any of that can surface in your poems. All of which you are probably privy to being properly adult.

It is true isn’t it—we are not making this up. The institution of marriage enshrines the Platonic concept of true love. But being sanctified by church or temple does not mean that a marriage is sure to last. It is a union but is it lasting? The actual experience of a marriage is a test…of true love. It all goes back to a testing of this fundamental goal.
So what is true love? Is it something that has to be tried and tested? Does it need to have physical expression for it to have meaning? Sometimes it seems that the physicality of love dominates so its absence makes love intangible, unreal. On the other end of the spectrum, physical love is only one aspect of love and without all the other spiritual and practical aspects, true love fails. Love that is real providence—financially and everything–or captivated by mesmerising beauty, is that true love? Take away the providence, take away beauty, does love remain? As the fallen, we ask ourselves, is it real or is it fake? Is it an illusion of mirrors? Love is about seeing I said. Seeing the other person’s emotional core, all analysis and logic being pretty meaningless. What makes you fall in love with another person is beyond words. I guess poetry is as close to falling in love.

True love sounds testy, and it really is. What kind of a quest it is is a subject of interest in this issue. I believe that we’re all looking for a version of true love. In a way that it is the most important quest, it is the soul that is searching. Maybe we hope to find God (redemption) there, in so doing we become who we’re meant to become—our best selves. I want to hear your version of it. Does the quest interest you? We want poems about love in all its tender, or violent moments. Love poems in all its complexity. Real (even if imagined), touching poems.

Look at these lines from Li-Young Lee’s “Adore”:

This strewing and gathering
of Love’s face, of Love’s gaze, and only this,
begun in death’s audience, is the founding
action, call it the fundamental
paradise…did I say paradise?
I meant paradox…the fundamental paradox
of the breaths we breathe,
the thoughts we witness,
the kisses we exchange,
and every poem you write.

The idea of love beginning in “death’s audience”—how can love come through except through an awareness of the other’s mortality? I love you more because you and everything you represent will die and then the world will become a shadow of what we once had. Death is both literal and figurative. Lee once said, “My dream is love.” I suppose that will be our dream in this issue.

We don’t have to be limited to couple notions of love. The parental edition of true love seems the purest form of unconditional love. Brotherly or sisterly love, friendship based on love—are these acceptable notions of true love? The way a sister cares for an ill brother seems to me a remarkable statement of love. How does love, what love does to survive adversity or loneliness? How does love celebrate the beloved, what does it see? How love is a fixation, an anchor? How love exist even when the beloved is absent? And the fact of unrequited love. Can a lonely heart be in a good space? What about love even if your protagonist does not actually have a person to love or the person is gone? What is the calm after the storm? Love that is true and isn’t true.

Shall we just come right out and say it—true love is hard because it’s supposed to be unconditional. It’s agape. It is not eros is it? There’s such a gap there. Write about eros anyway. The world as a love poem—what does it mean? We want love stories. Remember John Lennon’s all you need is love. And Freddy Mercury’s I need somebody to love. How you choose to interpret love, to breathe love, that really matters. As Lady Gaga sings, we’re far from the shallow now…that resonates somehow. If you had not fallen in love, and loved deeply, and lost, would you call that as having lived? Love as abundance. Love as suffering. Love as discernment. True love is wisdom.

Above all to risk one’s heart–because it is a risky undertaking, your poems should try and reflect some of that complexity and not be a tad easy, too empty, too airy…if you know what I mean. You do want to leave the reader with something significant.

Here’s Mary Oliver’s “A Pretty Song” for inspiration.

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.
Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?

This isn’t a play ground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.
Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods

that hold you in the center of my world.
And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song.
And I say to my heart: rave on.

—Mary Oliver, Thirst

Read our submission guidelines here. Please check back on our site to see if your poem has been selected. We will not be sending out any rejection letters.

Submissions period: August to February 2019. Selected poems will be posted on this site and compiled into a PDF release in Spring 2020.

Good writing.

Irene Toh
Spring 2020

PDF Release of Borrowed Poetry, Fall 2019 Issue 15

Borrowed Poetry Fall 2019 Issue 15

We are pleased to announce the release of the Fall 2019 Issue.

The poets with work in the Borrowed Poetry edition are:

Jonathan Beale
Gabriella Brand
Misky Braendeholm
Kersten Christianson
William Conelly
Tim Dunne
Lisa Fleck Dondiego
Jo Angela Edwins
Linda Goin
Sue Mayfield Geiger
Christopher Hileman
Diane Jackman
Ron. Lavalette
Barbara A Meier
Lisbeth L. McCarty
Annie Morris
Kevin Oberlin
Stephanie Pressman
Debi Swim
Alan Walowitz
Martin Willitts Jr,

You may download a copy of the PDF release here.

Borrowed Poetry Fall 2019 Issue 15

You’re invited to submit to our new issue, titled True Love. Read submission guidelines here. You may also find us over at the other site at Red Wolf Editions. Happy writing!

Irene Toh
Fall 2019

Patina Means It’s Timeworn, by Debi Swim

Patina Means it’s Timeworn
by Debi Swim

Old age is a greened penny
minted with a long ago date
that then was bright shiny copper
worth more then than now
now it won’t be picked up from
the hot asphalt of a parking lot

but soon it will be polished up
shine once again and placed
upon satin in a box and people
will come by and remember
all that penny used to be worth
then close the lid and bury it

with only a label etched in stone
what was will never be again. Amen

Process notes
My father-in-law is dying in quiet indignity at the age of 95. I came across the poem “To Waken an Old Lady” by William Carlos Williams and that led to this.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts. Blog:

To All the Dogs on the Bank, by Debi Swim

To All the Dogs on the Bank
by Debi Swim

There’s a dog howling
I walk through the house
looking out windows
trying to see where it is
I can’t pin down its direction
I relax
then the howling begins again
somewhere in the trees
but the trees are all around
and I can’t decide if it is
from the housing development
on the hill behind poplars
or the house to the right
hidden by maples and pines
where a dog is kept tied up
or behind the house
where sometimes
dogs chase after the deer
through the trees and underbrush
baying and howling
like the hounds of hell
then I remember
the dogs
buried on the hillside
and across the road
beloved little dogs
life cut short by cars
one by illness
one by my permission
eighteen years old
with so many things wrong
but all I can see are brown eyes
that loved me, trusted me,
and he lies in a favorite
blanket, snug, turning
back into dust
maybe that was goodbye
or a howl of outrage
or a greeting to the other dogs
that romp and run these woods
on phantom paws
and I wish I could be buried
on a bank between the woods
and howl my delight
or outrage
and run on phantom feet
through the woods and underbrush.

Process notes: “A Dog Has Died”, By Pablo Neruda
The last dog we will probably ever have died in Dec 2018. He, and other dogs we have loved, are buried on our property. I love that they are near.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts. Blog:

Look Here Too, Pamela Alexander, by Barbara A Meier

Look Here Too, Pamela Alexander
by Barbara A Meier

Next time you post that fruity paper sculpture picture-
you know matte white with golden phallic swirls
your scalp all gleamy like candied apples, neanderthal ridge
like a mounded fruit basket,
next time you post across my page with your slender folding fingers
reaching with hers in Warrior one on Coronado Heights
wearing arty turtlenecks like fruit baskets wearing cellophane,
I may just vomit a bit in my mouth,
next time I see you in flowering lotus, origami creases,
those spirals held in place with Elmer’s glue,
you could answer the questions in my email sent 4 years ago.
Your silence in the Cloud is as loud as your buddha sitting on your shelf.
If you can’t at least give a reason for silence- like
“I’m not interested in you anymore.” or “Long-distance relationships just don’t work.”
don’t be trespassing on my facebook page with Down’s syndrome girls draped around your shoulders like a bouquet of grapes on your vine,
or holding HER hand in “fruited plains” of sunflowers.
I won’t seek you on the web- your flat dimensional imprint hiding in my hard drive –
my life is 3 dimensional, fat and meaty.
Time like fruit ripens
becoming compost with fruit fly mists,
soil to bury you in my dreams.

inspired by “Look Here” by Pamela Alexander

Process notes: “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned”. I am at the Southern Oregon Writers Conference listening to Carolyn Miller talk. She gives us copies of Pamela Alexander’s poem “Look Here.” Wow. We analyzed the poem and I made a connection to my last experience with a relationship with an ex-boyfriend from Highschool. It felt good to rip and tear him up with words. I did not want the ending to have the hope implied at the end. I just want him to know I am just fine without him.

Barbara A Meier has spent the last four years living on the Southern Oregon Coast. She retired from teaching this summer and hopes to find time to travel and write. She has a Micro Chapbook coming out this summer from Ghost City Press. She has been published in The Poeming Pigeon, TD; LR Catching Fire Anthology and The Fourth River.

The Wrack, by by Barbara A Meier

The Wrack
by Barbara A Meier

I came to dig through the wrack.
The blades are the experiences.
The stipes are life.
I came to see what was salvageable
and how many pneumatocysts are intact.
I grip the shaft of my shovel, tense my muscles
and scoop anticipating.
This is the life I live for:
the wrack and not the sand.
Pieces of vegetation, not the ocean.

The seaweed flies swarm upward toward my face,
disturbed in their feeding, attracted by the rotten smell of kelp.
Their maggots gorge on gelatinous fiber eating away at membranes
of memories stored in gas-filled bladders.
I spread the kelp on the dry sand shelf, nudging it,
But the shovel is not enough–
My hands need to feel
The putrescence of life.
it coats my hands
as the flies invade the nose,
the mouth, the ears.
It makes a bed when spread to sea,
a mattress to bear my weight
green strands grow from my sides
Medusa hair of kelp.
It’s hard to see where my life
begins or ends on the high tide line.
The ocean nips at my ankles.
Between the wrack and rock
below, above the wave
the harvest continues.
The sand, the kelp, the shovel
Begin again in a Book of Death
where my name is written.

inspired by “Diving Into The Wreck” by Adrienne Rich

Process notes: Southwestern College, Winfield, KS, 1979. Mrs. AD Cope, one of my college professors, introduced me to Adrienne Rich. She became my favorite. 30 years later I picked up my pen and decided to write poetry again. At loss for where to start, I decided to use “Diving Into the Wreck” as my model. The subject matter- divorce and being alone.

Barbara A Meier has spent the last four years living on the Southern Oregon Coast. She retired from teaching this summer and hopes to find time to travel and write. She has a Micro Chapbook coming out this summer from Ghost City Press. She has been published in The Poeming Pigeon, TD; LR Catching Fire Anthology and The Fourth River.

Let August Be On Woodrat Mountain Rd, by Barbara A Meier

Let August Be On Woodrat Mountain Rd
by Barbara A Meier

Let the dust of a gravel road
mask the reddest of red poison oak,
the Douglas fir, reaching for sun.

Let the yellow jacket suck
the juice of a rotting plum like a drunk
nursing his bottle. Let August be.

Let the chrysalis on the milkweed fall
beneath the blade of the county tractor,
the Monarch disappears. Let August be.

Let the ghost of my dogs, pull me up
the road, tangling their leashes, tongues lolling.
Let August be.

To the Bud can in the starthistle, to the buzz
of the junction box, to the beat of a heart.
Let August be.

Let it be as it comes, as it will always be,
life sliding down. Summer whining
in the cicadas, so let August be.

inspired by “Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyan

Process notes: I discovered Jane Kenyan about 2 years ago. Poetry was at a hiatus in my life for the past 40 years about. I started to write again at 58. I have 40 years of poets to catch with. One of the magazines I submitted to recommended reading Jane Kenyan. I knew I had to try her style. I’d been playing around with August a lot and not really finishing anything. August to me was a cruel month. My Dad died in August, summer is dying in the madrone trees shedding, and poison oak turning red and yes time to report back to work. (teacher) The greens are tired and dusty. It’s hot. It’s dying.

It is what it is and I let it be on my walk up Woodrat Mountain Rd.

Barbara A Meier has spent the last four years living on the Southern Oregon Coast. She retired from teaching this summer and hopes to find time to travel and write. She has a Micro Chapbook coming out this summer from Ghost City Press. She has been published in The Poeming Pigeon, TD; LR Catching Fire Anthology and The Fourth River.

Woman Cursing the Coast, by Kersten Christianson

Woman Cursing the Coast
by Kersten Christianson
After Miroslave Holub’s “Man Cursing the Sea”

From the top of Harbor
Mountain, woman shakes
her fist at the outer coast.

Ridiculous water, you carry
the world’s sorrow from loud-
mouthed sea, bawling in its loss,
to arrogant sky. Between the both
of you: mist, drizzle and rain,
enough to drown the sugar
sweetness of granulated sun,
to drench the silken dress
of Himalayan poppy blue.

Ocean, you petulant child,
scribbling each day new lines
along coastline, markers
on the wall, uncapped,
left in disarray.

And so she shakes her fist,
while sky pewters and forest
songbirds issue their last
twitters for the day.

And then she treks
down the mountain,
and returns home.

Here is my poem in response to Miroslav Hold’s poem, “Man Cursing the Sea.”

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing Alaskan. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage), has authored two books of poetry – What Caught Raven’s Eye (Petroglyph Press, 2018) and Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017) – and is the poetry editor of Alaska Women Speak.