Motivation, by Christopher Hileman

by Christopher Hileman

I’m certainly not
one who gives two fucks about
who likes poetry
and who doesn’t or
even care much who might read
some scrawl of my heart.
Very few acknowledge
passing through my collections
and that’s fine with me.

I write because there’s
no freaking choice. My heart aches
if I don’t write some
most days and my brain
starts spilling out my damn ears,
staining my tee shirts
on my left shoulder
above the hole where my heart
used to lurk before.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 329.

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He has retired to live on the volcanic bluff overlooking Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Oregon. He ascends the stairs from his basement digs to improvise on his Yamaha keyboard or the house Playel grand when the calico cat releases him from below. The part-Irish Wolfhound here likes him.


wise audiences, by Sergio A. Ortiz

wise audiences
by Sergio A. Ortiz

when you’re inside me
i don’t know if you laugh

or if you come from boredom
if your tongue freshens

or arrives from fever
i don’t know

if what you search for
on weekends exists inside me

i know life stretched out
beneath your abs

is the same as snakes
and concurrent solitudes

that correspond to the twinkling
light where I can see you

Sergio A. Ortiz is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, Drunk Monkeys, Algebra Of Owls, Free State Review, and The Paragon Journal. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

Lover’s Tale, by Arthur Lamar Mitchell

Lover’s Tale
by Arthur Lamar Mitchell

   Early evening in the town
      A light rain falls
   On boulevards renown,
Famous sights, painted dolls.

   Lovers stroll hand in hand,
        And under a leafy tree
Hear distant strains of a band,
      They pause and kiss,
      To hold this moment
Uncomplicated bliss.

   On winding streets,
            music begins to fade
The evening star appears
        But no false promise made
   Before the dawn, growing fears:
                  Together in victory,
                                  Alone in defeat.

            As lovers often torn apart,
A memory of love, though fleet
Despite passions that rule the heart.
            All the glories dimmed by years,
   When a little tune resurrects buried tears.

Arthur Lamar Mitchell’s poems have been set to music for voice, and by several composers, and performed by small groups to orchestra. He composed all lyrics for a environmental concept album – Garden of Eden. Recent poems have been published in Remembered Arts, Winterwolf, and Nature Writing.

Pulsar, by Dah

by Dah

‘We can only be
as close as we can touch
until the Eye
stares, until the Eye
finds us, again’

I look through the grille
of bare trees
through the mineshafts
of shadows

then you say:
‘The Eye finds its way
when the sun sets its mouth
to earth’

I am motionless
like a broken shell

You continue:
‘I believe that
we are at the beginning and
in this deadly universe
we are nothing sacred nothing
more than matter caught
in a surge of light

Then you whisper:
‘You can make me happy
but it won’t change the way I feel’

I finish another night
without tears or repentance
without promises or sleep
watching stars traveling south
your black hair
bobbing and bending
like the weight of crows
on thin branches

your twin nipples glowing, expanding
pulsing, like dark radiation,
the morning-milk of kisses
flooding my mouth

Dah’s forthcoming fifth poetry book is due in late-spring 2018 from Transcendent Zero Press. His poems have been published in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, China, Spain, Australia, Africa, Philippines and India. Dah is a Pushcart nominee and the lead editor of The Lounge (a poetry critique group).

The Ash Borer, by Debi Swim

The Ash Borer
by Debi Swim

Insidiously, silently, they worked in darkness
Burrowing, eating, until there was no hope
Still it took a long time until the damage
revealed itself in bare limbs and stripped bark
twigs and branches scattered on the ground
at the whim of every passing breath of wind.

The tree was felled, cut into logs, loaded into
the back of a pick-up for fire wood this winter
and so in the dying it fed and in death warmed.
So life goes on. And should I curse the ash-borer
for doing what comes naturally? I pretend that
before the first bite a prayer was offered asking
the gods’ forgiveness for taking the tree’s life.
And I thank the tree for its sacrifice of warmth
a provision of God’s forethought.

Is this maybe just to curb the queasiness
at our survival at another’s expense? And yet
it seems right in the end to be aware that
life is life and never take it for granted.

There is a hole, a void where the ash tree stood
and generations of birds, squirrels, will never
know the safety of its arms. I’ll never feel again
the comfort of its shade or the pleasure of
watching its swaying leaves in the breeze.
And its roots remain embedded in the soil
and the stump rises like a headstone. Here
stood a living thing. Be thankful.

Process notes: Our Ash tree was cut down this past weekend. It stood close to the road and could have been a danger to passing cars. It was here before we build our house 36 years ago and so its death is like that of an old friend. How can an inanimate thing seem alive, have a personality and induce feelings of wonder and emotion in me? I don’t know, but it did.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 312.

Debi Swim is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

It’s Been A Slow Summer, She Said, by Barbara Young

It’s Been A Slow Summer, She Said
by Barbara Young

Something’s unlocked the gate.
But am I a husband good enough

for the strays I’ve lured
with promises. Caramel apples!

I have popcorn! Northwest window
overlooking squirrel-depredated tomatoes

and the previous owner’s privacy
forest, ever green and two trunks deep!

And the goldenrods are in bloom. Is it wrong
to wish for ironweed deep purple, too?

Or wish the baby fig twig-with-leaves
mature and heavy. To wish apple trees

and pears
like the rich women in Marx movies.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 321.

Barbara E. Young was born in October, in Nashville Tennessee, in 1947. She doesn’t remember learning to read. Her first poetic love was Ogden Nash. She is grateful to 30-Day writing challenges for teaching her to write. Habitually. She’s learning that slow periods are very good times for revision.

Summer Blue, by Marilyn Braendeholm

Summer Blue
by Marilyn Braendeholm

The garden gate is slamming —
the wind’s picked up, and August
is disappearing into drizzle;
sets petunias on their weary way.

A march toward mould and mess.
Odd how a slick of rain melts
purple blossoms into streaks
that stick to your fingers and

stain you like a typesetter
in a print shop — summer stains,
permanently blue. Blue, yes,
it’s the end of summer blue.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 320.

Marilyn Braendeholm, aka ‘Misky, lives in England surrounded by flowers in the summer, jars of sourdough starter in the winter, and old pots and pans when she’s testing recipes in the kitchen. Her poetry is regularly published by the literary magazine, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream.

Fall/Winter 2017/2018: Memento Mori

fall winter 2017 2018 cover

Poetry for Disaster Relief (September 2017)

Josh Medsker will be reading the poems posted to the current Fall/Winter 2017/2018 issue in September 2017. We got talking about how poetry does nothing and so came up with this collaboration to make a donation fund for disaster relief. When Josh eventually makes the donation he will post a receipt so you know exactly where your money goes.

The first poetry reading was posted on Facebook on Tues, 5 September 2017, 4pm (Eastern Standard Time). We are posting the poetry reading links as and when they happen. The links are provided below. Stay tuned.

Josh Medsker Reading Poems.

Josh reading poems by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Josh reading poems by Marilyn Braendeholm, Debi Swim and Barbara Young

Josh reading poems by Martin Willitts Jr and Irene Toh

Josh reading poems by Dah

Josh reading poems by Howie Good

You may donate here.

A poem will be posted daily on this site in September 2017. (Keep submitting!) You can like our Facebook page to keep track of the postings and of the poem readings by Josh.

Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song;
–Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

Memento mori–you know what it means. Transitory things. Perishable people. When you are in transit you seem to fit into some kind of plan but then find yourself in an empty space. In a parking lot. Sitting on a staircase in the middle of a social event. On a park bench under a chestnut tree. There’re really lots of empty spaces in between when you seem to be waiting for something or someone. Forever waiting.

On a mortal note, you’ve noticed too, “the body’s decrease/Of power and repair as these begin/The ultimate indications of old age.” (A D Hope, “Memento Mori”). When I was thirty I wrote about my mother’s ageing lament, noticing her slower gait, graying hair, spots and all. And tried to mythologize. Well now I am the exact same age that my mother was at the time of writing. Time’s winged chariot, kiss my ass!

Where did all the time go?

All the more then, shouldn’t it be that, as Andrew Marvell said, “the last age should show your heart”? We are bound to our hearts. That is truth. Back to Marvell’s famous first line.

“Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.’

Time enough to love. We still have time, and if we cared not for Marvell’s conceit, then even to be coy, awaiting love to ripen.

So by all means write about love. Write about happiness in the living. Because existence is predicated on life and death. What is life if we’ve not loved? What is life’s meaning if we do not die? What is death if not the end of living? And the end of writing, if I may boldly add. If you’re entranced by an author’s work, and had secretly read all her work, you’d weep when the said author has died. I know I did, read a postage stamp size of her obituary, and wept. Isn’t it by reading that we kind of enter another person’s soul? Pray, let me enter your soul.

Love, it would appear, is the ageless thing. If love is redemption where does it come from? Are there different kinds of adulthood other than the standard romance/sex/happily ever after? Why is that the main narrative? Surely there are other sorts of narratives, romantic or otherwise, that are equally true. Are you even going to surface them? Write about places where people find solace. What about the lack of solace, the limits of love?

And then there’s God, to whom most will eternally cling to. How do you deal with the concept of God, and are there other ways of godliness? Write about the mystery that is at the heart of human existence.

And then there’s eternity itself. Surely it’s not a “desert” as Marvell put it?
What is eternity, dear poets? Can eternity exist if there’s no concept of mortality? Or the converse, what is mortality without the concept of eternity? Are these purely rhetorical questions, like a blast of hot air?

On that mighty dubious note, let your mythologizing begin then.

Submissions are open for the Fall/Winter 2017/2018 issue. Closing date: 25 February 2018. Please read our submission guidelines before submitting.

Selected poems will be posted on this site from September 2017 to February 2018.

Our journal has a sister site, Red Wolf Poems. You are encouraged to write to the prompts over at the site, if you so wish.

Irene Toh & Tawnya Smith
Fall/Winter 2017/2018 Editors
Red Wolf Journal

A Lonely Man, by Christopher Hileman

A Lonely Man
by Christopher Hileman

A sense of the end
dogs me all around the slope
behind my log house
as I pull slivers
out my dad-blamed body parts
and hear the rooster
crow in his cage built
by Jose for him last spring.
A fine black fellow
is Leo, with eyes
that pierce the hen perfumed air
and his hens stay close.
I have no hen, me.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 320.

Christopher Hileman moved to Oregon in 1973. He has retired to live on the volcanic bluff overlooking Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Oregon. He ascends the stairs from his basement digs to improvise on his Yamaha keyboard or the house Playel grand when the calico cat releases him from below. The part-Irish Wolfhound here likes him.

Like Bourbon It’s Best Aged, by Debi Swim

Like Bourbon It’s Best Aged
by Debi Swim

Can it be possible
you look at me and see
something I don’t see?
You fell in love,
I can understand that,
cause love is blind they say.
What puzzles me is that you stay –
not stay with me, you’re a faithful man,
but stay in love with this old crone
of loose flesh and thinning bone.

Can it be possible
after all this time
of plodding forward arm in arm
you forgive the passing years
and gravity for the damage
to sweet young flesh?
Can overlook reality
and view instead
with eyes that gently see
beyond this shell
to the very soul of me.

Can it be possible?
Oh, yes.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 319.

Debi Swim is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.