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.

Horns Of The Landscape, by Lisa Fleck Dondiego

Horns Of The Landscape
by Lisa Fleck Dondiego

In the Garden of Wish Fulfillment
        close to Gorky’s house in Armenia,
                stood an enormous poplar with no leaves,

bleached under the sun, the rain, the cold.
        This was the Holy Tree. Villagers
                tore strips of their clothing like signatures

to hang on the tree, a parade of banners
        in the wind. Often his mother and other
                village women opened their bosoms,

took out their soft breasts in their hands
        to rub them on the blue rock
                half buried in black earth.

But when he allowed the genocide
        inside him, the garden filled up
                with shadows. His eye became

a sentry, his visions not always holy.
        Painting became the horns of the landscape,
                like trying to wrestle the devil.

He didn’t finish his paintings, stayed up
        all night trying to grasp
                the exact vanishing point.

Arshile Gorky, Horns of the Landscape 1944

Note on Horns of the Landscape
Gorky painted his Horns of the Landscape in 1944. I first saw the work in Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center several years ago. I have borrowed some of Gorky’s own words as well as those of outside sources on his theories of art – although certainly not word for word – and have used my own intuition and re-creation as to his state of mind and feelings surrounding the painting. The Armenian genocide which took place between 1915-1917 evidently finally took its toll on Gorky, and began affecting him in a more powerful way. In 1948, overcome by personal injury and tragedy, he hanged himself. His painting and life story were so compelling that I responded with my poem.

Lisa Fleck Dondiego’s poems have appeared in The Westchester Review, Haibun Today, and in several anthologies, including Red Moon Press’s yearly anthology and in the Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley’s A Slant of Light. She has taught for 9 years in the Learning to See workshop series at the Greenburgh Library in White Plains, NY. Her chapbook, A Sea Change, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. She lives in Ossining, NY, with her husband.

Made To Order, by Sue Mayfield Geiger

Made to Order
(Shadowing the great Raymond Carver’s poem, “My Boat.”)
By Sue Mayfield Geiger

Watching a rainstorm, drinking a dirty martini.

Remembering dad’s 16-foot ski boat—
the one he built in my granddad’s abandoned
chicken coop from a set of plans he sent off
for in Boat Builder’s Handbook.

A plant worker, it took it him six months—
going over there nightly and weekends.

It was a beauty—all mahogany and teak
with a fiberglass bottom—shiny and dreamy.

Dad mentioned by name all his friends who would
go out with him on his boat. Especially Edna,
the love of his life.

He made several sets of water skis and he’d teach anyone
and everyone how to come up slowly, “don’t yank on
the rope, let the moment capture your spirit, avoid wakes.”

Food is important for a boat ride, so there would be
sandwiches, potato salad, beer—lots of it—and watermelon.

Fishing poles, laughter, music—dad wanted
everyone to have a good time.

While building his boat, Dad would say: “I can see us all
on my boat—family, friends, anyone who wants a ride.
I’ll take them out on the lake; pull them on skies, give them a thrill.”

Later he’ll ask: “What can I fix you?”

Everyone will eat with gusto, then share stories.
Stuff made up and those that are real.

“I want to hear them all,” dad would say.
“They all matter to me and my boat.”

After reading Carver’s poem, it struck me how much he had in common with my father. Kindred spirits, for sure. With every nail dad hammered into his boat, he was thinking of entertaining others.

Sue Mayfield Geiger is a freelance writer living on the Texas Gulf Coast. Her literary work has appeared in Grayson Books, RiverLit, Dos Gatos Press, The Binnacle, Blue Hour Press, Of Burgers and Barrooms (Main Street Rag) and others. Upcoming: 2019 Waco WordFest Anthology.

Script for a birthday card, by William Conelly

        for a birthday card
by William Conelly

Another year-long trip’s begun
encompassing the sun.
Days—like jewels in a circlet—
wait their being strung.

Raise me a glass from fortune past
to fortunes yet to come.
Pledge me anew that gem-like days
be common as the sun.

In ‘Script’ I’ve tried to enhance the emotion of Hallmark’s typical birthday greetings with the realities of our solar system. I hold no grudge against Hallmark.

After military service, William Conelly took two degrees in English from UC Santa Barbara. Unrelated research and writing work followed before he returned to academia in 2000. Since then he had served in both the US and the UK as an associate professor, tutor and seminar leader in English studies. Retired now, with dual citizenship, he resides with his wife in the West Midlands town of Warwick. In 2015 the Able Muse Press published an assortment of his verse dating back 40 years. It’s titled Uncontested Grounds and may be reviewed at their website or via Amazon.

Minerva and Arachne, by Annie Morris

Minerva and Arachne
by Annie Morris

(After a painting by René-Antoine Houasse 1645-1710)

She was still holding her shuttle of hard Cytorian boxwood
and used it to strike Arachne a number of times on the forehead. (Ovid, 6.132-133)

Minerva first draws my eye; she dazzles in white
          and Tyrian purple. Her right arm raised above
her helmet, a wooden shuttle in her hand, held
          like a dagger. Then Arachne, in arrogant yellow
and insolent green, as she tries to flee the canvas.

The basket of spindles, threaded with rainbows,
          unused – the contest is done, Arachne won.

Minerva treads on her trade-mark shield, her spear,
          too, on the ground – no matter, the aegis guards her,
it bears the head of a gorgon.

Then I notice, how Arachne’s left arm, raised above
          her head, open-handed to protect her face, is a mirror
opposite of the Goddess; and how her right arm
          stretches out at the same angle, as if to put her hand
on someone’s shoulder, just as the Goddess’ rests
          on hers.

And their legs, the same – an opposite match, a strange
          kind of synchronisation. But who mirrors

I look closer at Minerva’s left hand; her little finger
          almost caresses Arachne’s neck but at the same time
points to where the Lydian girl will soon place a halter
          to hang herself.

I glance to the left of the scene, where her gallows wait.

But even the Gods have mercy, there is an escape,
          should Arachne withdraw her hubris, walk through
the enlightened doorway behind her.

No tapestries, no ordered Gods, no misdemeanours,
          no transformation.

I marvel at this chosen moment that possesses its past,
          and holds its future – all is there to see.


René-Antoine Houasse, Minerva and Arachne, 1706

Annie Morris lives in South West London and is in the final months of studying for an MA in Creative Writing with the Open University. As well as writing poetry she sings and writes her own songs.