by Gerard Wozek
Temple of Wings

What is permanent?
That mountain sloped
toward the lake,
our bucolic sun waving a truce
through lavender smog?
I play patty-cake with a sea anemone
as the tide hoards up sand bridges.
I'm forgetting again: blights, viruses,
the enemies of song.

I move into open spaces
the way a spark devours a path
of acetylene, burning up old selves,
losing faithlessness,
rendering shyness to ash.
What will finally save us
from ourselves?
Giotto's stalwart cherubs marking time
on chapel frescos? Music that lopes
across the bar stirring the memory
of a first kiss?

Some moments we find ourselves
weightless, transparent,
temporarily cast into the iconography
of a St. Michael wielding his sword
or Joan as she succumbed
to the voices that prodded her into battle.
Most times we keep ourselves hungry,
while some go on praying,
staunch in their knowing,
that the kingdom of the cross-eyed
will never take over,
cascades of grace
will entomb them as they sleep,
enshrine them in a landscape
sheared of cynicism,
flowering with portents
assuring them, they breathe
as Wender's angels do:
infinite, limitless,
sewn into a pattern of destiny
that matters.

-from River Oak Review, No. 14, Spring,
2000, Guest Editor Patricia Monaghan


by Peter Whalen

Artist Unknown

Atop a flight of stairs,
while pickups push snowplows,
an engraver’s hand
plays on the frosted pane.

she cut oak leaves
revealing midribs
palmately veined.

Frost etched
by her exacting blade.

Woodcuts scored
in pre-dawn glace.

Sunday, strands of coral,
backlit by street lamps,

form from morning’s flake,
bordered by a walnut frame.

Currents sway—
Weaves break—
Rosaries bead with pearls—
Wild horse braids flow—

The dormer’s eye delights
on images
carved by wind
in ice.

What comes tomorrow?

Apples on a bough?

July plums?

Owl’s clover or indigo?

-originally appeared in Wisconsin Poets' Calendar


American Life in Poetry: Column 094  

While many of the poems we feature in this
column are written in open forms,that's not
to say I don't respect good writing done
in traditional meter and rhyme. But a number
of contemporary poets, knowing how a rigid
attachment to form can take charge of the writing
and drag the poet along behind, will choose, say,
the traditional villanelle form, then relax its
restraints through the use of broken rhythm and
inexact rhymes. I'd guess that if I weren't talking
about it, you might not notice, reading this poem by
Floyd Skloot, that you were reading a sonnet.

Silent Music

My wife wears headphones as she plays
Chopin etudes in the winter light.
Singing random notes, she sways
in and out of shadow while night
settles. The keys she presses make a soft
clack, the bench creaks when her weight shifts,
golden cotton fabric ripples across
her shoulders, and the sustain pedal clicks.
This is the hidden melody I know
so well, her body finding harmony in
the give and take of motion, her lyric
grace of gesture measured against a slow
fall of darkness. Now stillness descends
to signal the end of her silent music.

Reprinted from "Prairie Schooner," Volume 80,

Number 2 (Summer, 2006) by permission of the
University of Nebraska Press. Copyright (c) 2006

by the University of Nebraska Press. Floyd Skloot's
most recent book is "The End ofDreams," 2006. This
column is supported by The Poetry Foundation,

The Library of Congress, and the Department of

English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
This column doesnot accept unsolicited poetry.



American Life in Poetry: Column 093 


Newborns begin life as natural poets,
loving the sound of their own gurgles
and coos.
And, with the encouragement
of parents and teachers,
children can
continue to write and enjoy poetry into
their high school years and beyond. A group of
elementary students in Detroit,
Michigan, wrote poetry
on the subject
of what seashells might say if they could
speak to us. I was especially
charmed by Tatiana Ziglar's
short poem,
which alludes to the way in which poets
learn to be attentive to the world.
The inhabitants of the
Poetry Palace
pay attention, and by that earn the stories
they receive.

Common Janthina

My shell said she likes the king and queen
of the Poetry Palace because they listen to her.
She tells them all the secrets of the ocean.

Reprinted by permission from "Shimmering Stars,"
Vol. IV, Spring, 2006, published by the InsideOut
Literary Arts Project. Copyright (c)2006
by the
InsideOut Literary Arts Project.
This weekly column
is supported by The Poetry
Foundation, The Library
of Congress, and the
Department of English at the
University of Nebraska-
Lincoln. This column does not
accept unsolicited poetry.


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by Jo Balistreri


Two white-bellied turtledoves, like small
Buddhas, perch on the edge
of a snow-clad branch. They are still,
breathe in, breathe out.
They watch or not the black-masked
cardinal pecking furtively
for hidden seed, the single bronze leaf
tremble as it falls.
If they hear the wind-blown chimes,
they give no nod. They sit zazen.
Perhaps they have reached
enlightenment, imagine the green
spring which is as good as done,
lost as they are in their own creativity.

7 January 2007
Originally appeared in Bellowing Ark