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Michael Dunn, Kellogg Manor

Ray Marsocci



Acts of Contrition



Our vegetables grow well this year,

foliage fanned and shading the squash,

carrots, bean curls, tomato stalks

crossed along our land’s hem,


yet the lilac flowered then was gone, and lilies

rust the yard’s swift green, while about the bed

honeysuckle rosaries, frothing like garnish.


None of this—

None of this is what I want.


This morning I carried my wife up the stairs again,

two a.m. and she dropping drunk, waking me.


It’s her garden, but in my wife’s life

the sermon is disease, her gospel

a reading from the incurable.


It is her garden, but I tend it, my penance

my weeding, my digging with my hands,


my kneeling with the flies

in the garden’s sullen soil, a purgatory

hymned brown—saturated, softened—

my hoping to solve its complication of weeds,


the slight wind’s shadow, the light’s hymnal,

late summer’s surprising chill.




Ray Marsocci, who remains employed in working on a novel but otherwise not so employed for several months now, has published his poetry and fiction in such places as Quarterly West, New Delta Review, La Fusta, and Green Mountains Review.


Conrad Hilberry



No Creases

New born up there, the snow
is tossed into the cold
by a sky that has other things
to think about—GPS agents
bouncing their signals
off its airy elbow. On its own,
snow is an avenue of absences,
houses all addressed
in zeroes, no roofs, no curbs,
no shadow to shape the day,
only some twisted wood
against the sky. The mailman
has given up, can't find the sack
he dropped behind
some bush. Who was I
in those creased trousers,
shaking someone's
hand?  Whatever was
is blown and gone. A moment
of sun on the drifts—
the world waving on its way out.




Conrad Hilberry taught in the Kalamazoo College English Department for many years.  His most recent books are After-Music, 2008, Wayne State University Press, and This Awkward Art, a father-daughter collection, matching his poems with those of his daughter Jane Hilberry, who teaches at Colorado College.  It was published in 2009 by Mayapple Press. 


James Cihlar



In the Name of the Mother


Holy mother, full of grace, you’ve opened the window.
Blessed is the white northern sky with
birch rising up to meet it, and blessed is
the brood cat living in the garage, Sally.
Blessed are the quiet streets around Viola’s house,
And blessed is the floor of Lake Superior
Under a domed night, a tanker docked in silhouette.
Blessed is Kathleen’s copy of Esquire,
A naked man diving from a cliff on the cover,
And blessed is her face waking up in hospice,
the passage from what the fuck to understanding.
Blessed is the all-white room Rhoda designed for Mr. Grant,
And blessed is the break in the season, the weather turning.
Blessed are Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferrarro,
“Philadelphia Freedom” and Birchbark Books.
Patron saint of the unexpected, pray for our winters
Of cream, silver, and brown unfolding from the open door,
Forever tinting Fisk and Avon, Mackubin and Arundel,
The city blocks of Cathedral Hill. Monster of God,
Give us our trespasses so that we may escape.




James Cihlar’s book of poems, Undoing, was published by Little Pear Press in 2008. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Bloom, Minnesota Monthly, Northeast, The James White Review, Wisconsin River Valley Journal, Water~Stone Review, Mankato Poetry Review, Briar Cliff Review, Plain Songs, Verse Daily, and in the anthologies Aunties (Ballantine), edited by Ingrid Sturgis, Regrets Only (Little Pear Press), edited by Martha Manno, and Nebraska Presence (Backwaters Press), edited by M.K. Stillwell and Greg Kosmicki. The recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship for Poetry and a Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner, Cihlar lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.



Judith Skillman




We all of us change colors and become worthless.
Our bodies trunk-like, our skin like raw silk, chafed
by the clothes we use to cover nakedness.
We lose our hands, cheat ourselves of the use of digits
for a whole season, gone fallow with chores
instead of putting thought through its paces.
We search the blackness for light from other houses,
stars, or airplanes caught between the branches
of maple, cherry, poplar.  Our veins stand out
blue on the bones of our wrists.  We like to think happiness
can last as long as the memory of happiness,
that the dream of erotica might substitute for Eros.
In this way we resemble those trees lining streets
of upstate New York. Leaves gathered in piles
wait to be lifted by the truck that comes on Tuesdays.
Ruddy-faced, orange-hearted, or just plain yellow—
we’re like the drift of autumn tidy now and feather-light,
raked by husbandry into its place curbside.





As from behind cotton blouson…
French lace fed by breeze or presage.
The what-not of history like run-off spilling from glacier.
The hanging of such linen from a one-way draw rod.
As before the Montreal fire in a theatre where characters are seen before a façade of paper flames.
The Mama, Papa, the petite bébé who chose or did not choose its parents.
To be swaddled in flannel…
Ah, Quebec.
Where trains run silently back and forth from Greenfield Park to the Creperie.
Come, enter the fourth wall.
Cross the boundary, he would say.
Keep this secret safe from the others.
As with his dollars he fed those chicks hatched under a sun lamp.




Judith Skillman’s twelfth book The Never is forthcoming in 2010 from Dream Horse Press.  The recipient of an award from the Academy of American Poets for her book Storm (Blue Begonia Press, 1998), Skillman’s work has appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Seneca Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies.  A writer, educator, and editor, Skillman holds an M.A. in English Literature from University of Maryland, and lives in Kennydale, Washington.



Margaret Walther



Perhaps About to Be Swept Away
            (Violin Construction, Cremona, Linda Butler, black & white photograph)

praise to the tools—
           the saws, gouges for rough arching, the chisels
           knives, the thumb plane which allows for the precise contour
           the reamer for peg holes
           steel scrapers to execute the finale
           all that prepare willow, maple, ebony, spruce for its debut
praise to the hands—
           and their acquired cache of memory—
          the tappers of blocks, makers
          and setters of backs, fronts, ribs, f-holes, scrolls, purfling
do not forget to praise that which is planed, gouged, reamed, knifed, scraped out—
         the extraneous, superfluous, redundant
         all that must be sacrificed—to present the wood to its voice—
         these fragments, stacks of furled backlit shavings
         spilling around the roughly planed back and front of the violin
         and their attendant epiphany of shadow—




Margaret Walther is a retired librarian from the Denver metro area and a past president of Columbine Poets, an organization to promote poetry in Colorado.  She has been a guest editor for Buffalo Bones, and has poems published in or forthcoming from many journals, including Connecticut Review,, Ghoti, Quarterly West, Naugatuck River Review, Chickenpinata, Nimrod and Many Mountains Moving, where she won the 2009 Poetry Contest.



Hal Shows



A Letter from the Occupation

Purely for purposes of pacification
we are clearing away the enemy's past.
When our officers gesture
across the river to the tiled roofs
and the hushed cortiles where the cypress rise
their gloved hands are indicating
new highways, necessary eliminations . . .
My job is mining the bridges.
Today, as I packed the plastic bombs
and fastened fine wire fuse
to the rough stone of the old foundation,
knee-deep in a heavy current,
something like sleep, a sudden trance
of memory and remorse ravished me.
I came to stock-still in the shallows,
close to the occupied bank.
Through gathering dusk I could see
desolate doors of deserted houses swaying ajar.
Betrayed, betraying, I had almost gone over,
though nothing is left in our wake.
Florida poet and musician Hal Shows is a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. A chapbook of his poems, A Breath for Nothing, was published by the Anhinga Press in 1977. In 1980, Shows founded the post-punk rock band Persian Gulf, with whom he released Changing the Weather (1984), Persian Gulf: The Movie (1986), and Trailer (1987). Subsequent solo productions include Birthday Suit (1990), Lifeboat (1995), Whitman’s Sampler (2000), and Native Dancer (2003). Shows teaches at Keiser University in Tallahassee, Florida. Parasol, his first full-length volume of poems, was published in 2007.



Nigel Holt



The Call of Days



The dawn clears slowly from the sea and dares

day heave its beams upon the land to lull

the ancients from their deepest dreams, then pull

the chains of change with early morning prayers.

Allahu akbar,

Allahu akbar.


The swirling adhan turns the sky, a whorl

that draws the faithful to repentant light;

its roll-and-tumble tides of plainsong fight

the smothering grip of night's enduring caul.

Ashhadu la illaha illa allah,

Ashhadu la illaha illa allah.


But nearer now, one mueddhin draws the dawn;

dark superlatives of moment resonate 

through words replete with time, to enervate

a world his fourteen centuries have worn.

Ashhadu anna Mohammedar rasooulallah,

Ashhadu anna Mohammedar rasooulallah,


And one on one they cease and start to rise

in measured waves that wash athwart and mingle,

eddy and swell beyond to bring the tingle

that bristles up from back to neck to skies.

Hayya ‘alas salaah,

Hayya ‘alas salaah.


Across the living threshold of the day

a hundred, thousand, million voices climb

all pointing to the qibla of the way

together in the search for their divine.

Hayya' ala Falaah,

Hayya' ala Falaah.


The dawn clears slowly from the sea and dares

day heave its beams upon the land and lull

the ancients from their deepest dreams, then pull

off the chains of change with early morning prayers.

Allahu akbar,

Allahu akbar.

La illaha illa allah.



Note: The Adhan:


God is great, God is great.

I bear witness that there is no other god but God.

I bear witness that there is no other god but God.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Come to prayer, come to prayer.

Come to success, come to success.

God is great, God is great.

There is no god but God.




Nigel Holt has lived and worked in the education field in the United Arab Emirates for a number of years. He has been most recently published in Counterpunch, The Recusant, and Snakeskin magazines. He has work forthcoming in The Raintown Review, The Anglican Theological Review, The Flea, Soundzine, Decanto and Poetry Salzburg. He is the editor of The Shit Creek Review.


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