by Karl Elder


The spider I’ve missed killing
carries his two broken legs
close to his body
somewhere hidden in the closet.
Like the bear
he is then most dangerous,
Unlike the bear he will
crawl back where I sleep
and there in my ear
lay eggs.

from Phobophobia. Originally
appeared in the Chicago Review.


by Grace Cavalieri


May I sit or must I stand?
You see
This salon favors me, what shall we call it -
My sprightly lover? Reluctant lover?
Exhausted by its own lust?
Although you cannot see me,
Thank you, I’ll sit in
This red velvet chair
Nearest the fire.
Dissipation and levity once sat where I am now,
Without trinkets here, or dolls.
I can well imagine how you wish modesty, temperance,
Painted flowers, or a downcast eye.
Louis XlV would have loved me
So gracefully he knew
Who he was.
So it is with me,
In a different room, toasting a confusion of lies.
The child is eating mud
Off the street outside,
The blood is rolling in France
While you write of it.
Where have I heard this sound before:
This slobbering, this swaggering ape lying at my feet,
Drooling in his own malt, what shall we call it,
The blush of reason? Warming us? As if I belonged?

Poems in the Voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)

Jacaranda Press


by Judith Strasser


Radiation, that mad barber,
rasps an uncertain razor
across her nape.

The hairline will never

Years later, a new lover
will stroke her thinned triangle.
He will want to disappear
in the thicket
he pictured before
they stripped.

What can she do
with disillusion?
She will kneel
on the bed, bend
her head,
reveal devastation,
brush her living hair
across his coat of fur.

Originally published in
The Ledge, Spring-Summer 2005


by Tom Montag


I was alone on the bench. I am not
Alone now. The old man with his story
Has come to me. He tells about his days

In baseball, playing semi-pro in Nine-
Teen Hundred and Twenty Eight. Oh how he
Loved it. He loved the smell of his glove, sting

Of the bat, fetching smile of that pretty
Miss in the stands watching him - who became

His wife, who has since passed on. But we are

Talking baseball. His eyes water, looking
Back so far, so long; his hands, they tremble,

Remembering. He swells with joy. We share
A silence that resonates. Hey batta
Batta. And then he is gone, direct as

Lightning, like a young man racing to beat
Out a bunt. Between here and where he has
been - wind and dust or a shadow, passing.

Previously published in PAGE FIVE.


by Karl Elder

A Life

With both hands a small boy holds a ball of string so big it
doesn't occur to him there are two ends, so far from him is the
center. It is only after the string is tied to the kite, the ball growing
smaller-yet, with each glance, more vivid-that he can predict a
beginning, the nothing the sphere is wound around.

So it is that somewhere between boy and man he is made to
understand that the atom, too, is hollow, and therefore the universe.
He comes to see that this is how his life will go, that the string
unwinding so fast, which at the very last he was unable to hold, had
nothing to do with a beginning or an end, but-like the makings of
the sphere-everything to do with both.

from A Man in Pieces. Originally appeared in High Plains Literary Review.


BACK on May 11


by Louis Jenkins


When he finally landed the fish it seemed so strange, so unlike other fishes he'd caught, so much bigger, more silvery, more important, that he half expected it to talk, to grant his wishes if he returned it to the water. But the fish said nothing, made no pleas, gave no promises. His fishing partner said, "Nice fish. You ought to have it mounted." Other people who saw it said the same thing, "Nice fish. . . ." So he took it to the taxidermy shop but when it came back it didn't look quite the same. Still, it was an impressive trophy. Mounted on a big board the way it was, it was too big to fit in the car. In those days he could fit everything he owned into the back of his Volkswagen but the fish changed all that. After he married, a year or so later, nothing would fit in the car. He got a bigger car. Then a new job, children. . . . The fish moved with them from house to house, state to state. All that moving around took its toll on the fish, it began to look worn, a fin was broken off. It went into the attic of the new house. Just before the divorce became final, when he was moving to an apartment, his wife said "Take your goddamn fish." He hung the fish on the wall before he unpacked anything else. The fish seemed huge, too big for this little apartment. Boy, it was big. He couldn't imagine he'd ever caught a fish that big.


by Robin Chapman


Walk the old logging trails
through the spring woods,
six miles out to the spine of the ridgeline,
walk the tractor paths overlooking the river
six miles back to the bluff and road.

Walk the deer trails through the underbrush,
walk through the aspens just showing their green
and the carpets of leaf mold,
walk through the red of the poison ivy leaflets,
the whiplash of raspberry canes.

Walk through the prairie’s first showing
of pussytoes, puccoon, and bird’s foot violets,
walk through the tick-ridden grasses,
walk through the wild phlox
and unfurling ferns of maidenhair.

Walk through the cloudshapes
moving on turned fields,
walk through the sunsoaked uplands,
the lilacs of old foundations,
the white light of wild plum at wood-edge.

Walk the river margin, sandhills calling,
walk through the morning, walk through afternoon–
return with empty hands to the city.
Dream into the long green well of walking
that opens now whenever your eyes close.

Originally appeared on Tom Montag's blog,
The Middlewesterner