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February 2011
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An inconceivable loss (The bears game)

by Mark Hudson
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler,
Will be so rich he'll need a butler.
An interview with Brian Urlacher,
It's Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay packers.
Nelson takes it to the 5 and 22,
Stark takes it to the!
Rogers gets a touchdown for Green Bay,
Those cheeseheads are just cheering away.
Davis gets it across the 35,
And the 1st quarter is up to 10:45.
Matt Forte gets to the forty,
Then Nick Collins tackles him shortly.
An overthrown ball is missed in the end zone,
53 field yard shot causes some groans.
A handoff to Brandon Jackson,
Creates a little bit of action.
An incomplete pass and Rogers twisted,
The ball hits the sideline—they missed it.
Jenning gets to the 30,
Aaron Rogers is playing dirty.
Now we're into the second quarter,
Is this game getting shorter?
Jackson gets a first down,
Stark scores another touchdown.
Then we get an interception,
The Bears are losing is the perception.
37 catches the ball,
The Bears seem to be having a fall.
Halftime performance by Lee Dewyze,
Is an act I choose to despise.
The 3rd quarter is beginning,
And the Bears aren't winning.
Nick Collins makes 24 yards,
Jay Cutler is hurt and scarred.
Greg Jennings sends an incomplete,
Let's hope Green Bay doesn't defeat.
Urlacher makes a 39—return
Green Bay has a lesson to learn
Chicago has a challenge to concern
Lovie Smith has a title to earn
Rogers throws it out of bounds
And it's a hold on third down
Bears intercept the ball again
Maybe we still have some hope then
Forte is brought down by Hawk
And all the fans start to gawk
A penalty is added to the end of the play
Things are looking good for Green Bay.
An ineligible man down field,
Causes Green Bay to have to yield.
Now the third quarters comes to an end
One more chance for the bears to ascend.
Chester Taylor gets a touchdown,
And the Bears are finally coming around.
A helmet to helmet crash,
Leaves the football in a mad dash.
Jim Jennings has a pass interference
The game disentegrates into incoherence
Big BJ gets a touchdown,
The bears are getting kicked around.
The ball is intercepted by Sam Shields
The super bowl contender is revealed
It's not going to be the Bears who go,
This is a terrible day for Chicago!


by John Pawlik
At the library
Is a woman
About fifty
Or more
I see her
A book
Her looks
I see her
Are still
And now
I want
To sleep
With her
The one
I've been
Waiting for
She is slender
Has thoughtful eyes
Dyed hair
Because her face
In certain light
Remembers us
After all
And finally
After all
There isn't
At last
For either of us
That much
Time left

Save What We Can

by David LaRue Alexander
It's snowing,
the wind's blowing,
and I drive home knowing
I have no place to go.

keep racing
through my mind.
Wife lost her job, 
we fell behind,
another one 
she couldn't find.
How could I
have been 
so blind.

I knew 
this day would come,
but the mortgage folks said
they would give me some, 
more time ....

I turn the corner
and from my seat,
see all our belongings
there on the street.
I love that woman
she's so sweet,
even now 
through tears,
with a hug she greets.

The kids are at school,
we are in luck. 	
Save what we can, 
on the back of the truck.

Love Sick

by Farouk Masud
She's such a thief! 
    Stealing my belief 
       Causing me so much grief 

For in my dreams 
    Love glitters and gleams 
       Oh! so steamy it seems! 

Beneath a tree 
    I rejoice with glee 
       For there is hope for me 

One day you'll miss 
    The day that we kiss 
       Our story goes like this: 

She's so pretty 
    She makes me giddy 
       She's funny and witty 

The chilly air 
    Flows through her black hair 
       As only fairies dare 

It's no surprise 
    She can hypnotize 
       By winking her blue eyes 

I'm in denial 
    For I love her smile 
       Cute and perfected guile 

We'll wed in time 
    And her heart will chime 
       With songs of loving rhyme 

My luck is quirk 
    This plan better work 
       Lest she think I'm a jerk 

Should our love fall 
    Like a broken wall 
       I have a Barbie doll

I Remember You

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Dedicated to Teachers and Staff at Richard E. Byrd Elementary School in Cabrini Green
You left an indelible mark upon
my young life,
I have been so many places
And I can never forget your
Teachings and your passion,
Sometimes it seems like yesterday
When I think about sitting at a desk
And hearing a rhythm stick crashing
Against it,
You didn't mean any harm,
And none was taken,
I remember you raising
Your voice to quiet us down,
I remember the smell
Of your fragrance
And the clank of your
Bracelets and your
Chalky fingers as
you snapped them
To the rhythm of a
Black History poem
For an assembly
And the black national anthem...
I remember your stern voice
When you read Brer Rabbit stories
And gave us an exercise which showed
us how to place items in sequential order...
I remember you being so intense and teaching us
how to 'think' and
Thinking that you
Misplaced your glasses and looking
All over the place for them...
And all of us frantically trying to help you
Find them and all the while they were on top of
your head... Another teacher came
In laughing and pointed that out...
I remember you pushing us
To be the best that we could be,
I remember you embedding a poem in
My heart when you gave me a text
Book which contained a poem about
The four little girls who were bombed
In their church while attending Sunday
School in Birmingham, Alabama,
I remember you pulling me to the side
And asking me what was wrong.
I remember you telling me to
Meet you after school so you
Could give me your slightly
Worn clothes,
I remember you telling me
To stand up straight and enunciate.
I remember you recommending me for
An extemporaneous speech contest.
I remember you telling me to let a 'smile
be my umbrella.'
I remember you having us sing "Lean On Me"
for an assembly,
I remember you having us sing Stevie Wonder's
'Happy Birthday' for a Black History Ceremony,
I remember you having us acknowledge St. Patrick's Day.
I remember you taking us to Wild Wood Elementary
School in the fourth grade  for several weeks in order
for us to learn more
and meet other students from
different backgrounds.
I remember you teaching us the parts and personnel
of a plane and
and taking us to O'Hare Airport to board a
plane and meet the crew.
I remember getting in the
breakfast line sometimes twice on'doughnut day'
and you'd smile at me and give me another doughnut and milk.
I remember you holding a contest for a few weeks
and whoever finished all of their assignments and
received a 'gold star' behind their
name was able to enter a contest to see the stage play 'The Wiz.'
I remember you teaching us 'Hava Naugila' and the dance to go along
with it and we performed it at an assembly and everyone loved it.
I remember you saying "Come on Franklin, Schiller, Jenner,
Manniere and Byrd let us know the news so we can
spread the word...Here comes the comes the news...".
I remember when one of our classmates who was an honor roll student
was killed the next day you played still footage of him and his
graduating class on their 8th grade trip to the capital
Springfield, Illinois.
I remember you requesting my name from
A list to work with you when you saw it on the
Mayor's Summer Youth Program Schedule,
I remember working alongside you and seeing
You teaching the kids and just loving it...
I remember you...


by John E. Slota
As I stumble to the vending machine and contemplate my choice of beverage,
I realize I am in need of change.
Plodding to my cube, I fumble through drawers in search of green-tarnished silver and copper.
Dusty layers of years past, I apologize for disturbing your tranquil respite.
An expedition, I dig with reverence through bric-a-brac and this and that.
Great Abyss yield forgotten treasure, unearthed after years of safekeeping.
In a moment I find what Iíve been searching for!
I discover change inevitably remains the same - if left undisturbed.


by Ina Perlmuter
Under the ermine blanket
of pure white crusted snow
God is working miracles
as He creates the world anew


by William Vollrath
I guess I'm not convinced
it is only a number
A relatively meaningless anniversary
of my departure from the womb
My wailing entrance to this life
of too frequent want and need
My uncertain debut on this magical stage
of angst, but also joy and fulfillment
I guess Iím not sure if this is a moment
for profound celebration or sadness and regret
A triumphant day to reflect on
hard-earned past victories
Or is it just a little rest stop
on a long journey to distant shores
I do know it is a fine day
for some enlightening reflection
And several hearty toasts
to all life has revealed at sixty

Winter Reverie

by Susan T. Moss
White silence falls
in crystal layers.

Suspended now, all time
holds its eternal breath
with nothing to do,
no place to be but here.

The world waits
in transient peace

while soft flakes drift on stillness
beyond sudden avalanches
from crusty hemlocks
that shatter pure moments
between life and death.

Transcendence requires little
but to breathe and ignore 

all temptations that insist,
like the foolish fly at my window
struggling to break out,
that I leave this warm place
and perish in the cold.


by Wilda Morris
Think as you ride
the New York subway
how many men labored
all day for twenty cents an hour
in the deep dug trenches
and dark, gaseous tunnel
Edward Arlington Robinson
called a living hell. 
Think as you sit
watching people disembark
at Times Square of the timid poet
for nine months inspecting
building materials, think of him
with his dark hair and moustache
stumbling through dim light
with his lantern, dirt clinging
to his sweaty clothes, inhaling musty air,
peering gravely through spectacles,
scrutinizing stones ten hours a day,
feet aching, lonely, depressed,
longing to do nothing else but write.
Think of him almost penniless,
drinking to forget, moving from one
cheap rooming house to another,
a third of a century old and still
only paid for one poem, living
on hope, the free food he got
with a drink of whiskey,
and help from friends.
                As you ride,
a book of poems in your hand,
be thankful he didnít go home
like Richard Corey and put a bullet
through his high forehead
before winning his first Pulitzer Prize.

(An earlier version of "Subway" was
published in DuPage Valley Review
(2009), p. 14.)

Setting Sun

by David McKenna
in the time    before 
all was in its place    and sure 
but we     declared war 

then    everything ever 
known    altered    forevermore

a single bomb   melted 
eighty thousand souls    within 
one mushroom of flame

it warped the world we live on
whistling death    as it came

shadows on bank steps 
belong to vanished spirits 
carbon silhouettes 

burnt    blackened blood    vaporized
zero sum    atomic deposits

between "Little Boy" 
and "Fat Man"      we lost our way  
lost the taste    for joy 

infused our hearts with finance 
learned to smile        in defiance

Morning Interlude

by William Marr
the winter sun
as the moon in silky clouds

how many of the manly men
who have now become househusbands
after conquering the world
are in their aprons sipping coffee
watching you with a smile
from their kitchen windows

The Boy and the Moon

by Cathy Lou Pearson
The young boy raced out the back door
To gaze at the almost full moon.
He was intrigued by it.
Looking up, it kept hiding behind clouds.
It would appear briefly
And then retreat.

The boy never got 
The moon show he anticipated.
The row of tall Blue Spruce
Running the line of the backyard
Obscured his view, as well.
His elation quickly plummeted.

The young boy felt disappointment and betrayal.
He thought the moon would be his friend.
That night he realized the moon would
Display only on its own terms.
With sadness, the boy went
Back inside and turned on the TV.


by Steven Kappes
just above treetop level
low haze not really clouds
scuttle quickly northward
blown on a fresh breeze
while high overhead
real clouds
puffs of dirty cotton
hang suspended
or move slightly southward
as a cold front advances

I too aim to hang suspended
high above this worldly fray
detached and disinterested
in the actions of mankind
but am blown about by sharp winds
unable to maintain my course
buffeted by dark angry attitudes
of those who surround me
I am no more able to resist
than any wisp of fog

Poignant Pangs

by Anne Dudek Slota
I am old 
and grounded in today.
Sometimes, longings of some sweet yesterday 
grip my heart.

A summer's sun bronzing taut skin wrapped around young bones
that stretched idly on hot, dry sand Ė 
washed in sun tan lotion like cooking oil from head to toe
till the setting sun said "Time to Go."

Winters came with blustering winds,
chafing young faces sledding head-long
into freezing gusts of snow,
and painting laughing faces with cheeks of rosy glow.

Youthful energies' flow 
kept the winter chill at bay
till the end of

When remembering spring Ė 
the most poignant of all Ė
like new love, lifted the soul anew
and heaven's fragrant breezes blanketed the earth.

Footsteps light and quick glided over sidewalks 
with rhythms of a dancing beat.
Days and nights forever, then, 
and sleep came so easy, with thoughts of only

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
with no thought of these todays.

Spirits Shout Still

by Chris Holaves
I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate
within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.
Ps. 77:6  

The PATH* train rails loudly through the site each day
with people from this and other countries.
These motley groups sit solemn and never say
what in their hearts hurts—snake bites with no boundaries.

The PATH passes and shakes the earth
and all around ground, concrete, life, and steel
give a unanimous groan, one of birth
from the bowels of Justice for God makes her feel

the wrong, the evil perpetrated then, there,
for now it's known as 9/11.
The PATH passes with pain but few dare
to blame. Most sense Satan's sting, some God's Heaven.

Each journey out seems longer than it is
for anticipation and the unknown
slow the commuters' minds as rain on snow hardens to a freeze
and their pains turn the aches callous to the bone.

As the PATH train passes, some one whispers,
"Ground Zero!" Some heads turn; eyes open wide.
All know what happened; the heart now sees and whimpers—
a site cleared of carnage and steel—deep pain in pride.

Above the train noise, above the city life
on a star-filled, moon-September night,
a passerby near the site hears the sobbing of a wife
and from Ground Zero howls that give the living fright.

Some say they hear these cries across the river.
Others say the PATH train makes these moaning sounds.
Still, others who hear, cross themselves and shiver.
Steel crushing, grinding mixes with cries and rebounds

to harden like crystals—jewels for our collective soul
for the journey to see always takes longer.
Ground Zero, cleared and fenced in, reflects our fall.   
The crystals are diamonds that make us stronger.

Remembrance of our dead strengthens our will. 
Hear! On Ground Zero their spirits shout still.

*Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) commuter train runs from
New Jersey to Manhattan under the Hudson River and arrives
at the World Trade Center site.

(First published by The Rockford Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, 2007.)

This Dark Day - Part I

by Jim Valencia

Lying still before the candles that will guide 
your path into the stillness of the grave
to be covered, cold by coldness, on a hillside
with an entry marker at the spot you gave, 
can I come and kneel and speak to you
of things that no longer turn your brow?

Freed of flesh do you soar the cosmos and explore?
Or are you happy to seek the fabled Paradise of afterlife?
Can you speak in other tongues unknown before?
Roar between the stars without destination - free of strife?

Know my questions for what they are:  the envy of a man alive
who, not knowing much, tugs the sleeve of one who does;
keen to learn of things profound that can set the mind to strive
for the real substance of this life and ease the longer period of repose.

My words, in truth, bear no intent but to comfort whom you leave
those who wish you love in a parting that could not be barred.
Outside the winds blow strong and the clouds grow grave
I leave you friend to find my way and wait for death to spread.


This wayward storm that blusters overhead, does it know my friend 
is dead and can no more be driven from his peace?  Or is it a company
of friends gone first who now greet and call him to ascend?
to join a band of love that stretches back to that first dawn.

Can salvation be so simple as love nurtured every day?
Finding grace and holding on as we struggle not to stray.
Chipping envy off our soul like barnacles from a ship?
Plowing forward through our differences toward kinship?

Can this maudlin view be real in a world so full of pain?
Where the vipers gorge each day on the meek and helpless, 
tossing shattered bodies off their feasting tables with disdain
while the cries for mercy turn to dreams of bliss no less.
I will not try to sort this out but quickly leave this rain and seek
the shelter of my car and drive to where the squall line ends.


There is so much right and wrong upon the road
and on the choice may lay the gamble of a life;
so much concrete beneath the wheels and glass clad
canyons, growing faster than the mountains or the reefs
that its rigid order must surely dull our souls
and twist our growth as we move upon this road.

I speed up to keep the light but faster still to lose the darkness
- thus I end my journey of the day in the mischief of a mall
for death has lingered in my nose and throat and will not leave.

Perhaps, lost in the crowd, amid the flow of life I can elude
the sounds of my friend now dead.  Maybe the chatter will dissolve
the echoes of his life and hurry it to memory's solitude.  But, 
how do I measure what space to give his end of life - I said farewell.
Is there power to give him more?  I do not know nor can I tell. 

This Year's Geraniums

by Marguerite McClelland
This year's geraniums are dead.

No, not yet.
I take them in
to shelter them from frost.
But here,
in this strange place,
faintly remembered from last year,
their flowers drop, 
their leaves yellow,
their buds soften and fall.
It will be winter after all.
I take them to the basement 
to sleep in the dark.
I think they know 
they've been here before.
And then, behold!
in March,
a bud appears,
because I watered them sometimes,
because I believed.


by Jason Sturner
On the roof of night, stars dangle umbilical
cords like worms over starving fish. It's the
vision behind a moon spitting out poison
over American cities. It's a massacre of our silent,
invisible angels. They fall on their faces,
wings breaking as they convulse in flowerbeds.
But time passes, and visions die as new ideals are born.
We can never be sure of what's next—prophets or not.
And pirate flags just don't seem appropriate anymore.
What's this? Tigers meandering through traffic jams.
A new, terrified generation ignorant of lush green
jungles and bolting prey. But this animal does not
anti-exist as an animal. It never cared about our art,
or the industrial revolution, or if our eyes roll into the
back of our heads. And as we continue to nail our
egos to Roman columns, we may one day know a
giant who plucks no humble thing from life and
wipes its hands of it. This we should require.
Evolutionary gifts such as this, which know kinship
to angels and poets, will surely prevail—for the
fruit of today rots on the untended vines of tomorrow.

These Days

by Bonnie Manion
when I rise, silence rolls over
the orderliness like a malaise,
floors are no longer covered
in a jumble of G.I. Joes and
Barbie clothes. Sofa pillows
are not tented to dining table
hiding Winnie-the-Pooh or
Star Wars adventures.

My rooms, empty of toddler
shrieks, of preteen tantrums
and adolescent despair, know
no fun unless company comes.
No longer do I rush to the grocery,
stroller loaded with three preschoolers,
to purchase lunch. No longer do I have
seven loads of laundry to line-dry before
dark, hung on a hunch that getting outside
might save my sanity as much as a dime's
worth of electricity. No need to finish
painting a ceiling before naptime ends.
No need to mend socks or lower
hand-me-down hems.

These days I watch what I want on TV
and have all my evenings free instead of
bathing three to a tub, washing hair amid
splashing hubbub, emptying out bath toys,
hearing night prayers, checking homework,
loading the clothes dryer.

Once I taught orderliness by helping
with pick up. I taught tolerance
by forgiving slip-ups. Taught independence
with many a gentle push. Encouraged
better behaviors by naming them new
adventures.  Today, home alone,
I feel defeated and distressed
dealing with the internet. I'm reticent
to blog or try E-bay.  Today I'm indolent
as the neighbor's dog, lazing
on his emerald lawn on a sunny day.

Children in a Boat

by Mardelle Fortier
The lake, a Persian carpet spread before us
on which ballerinas danced their golden
steps, light and airy. Summer wind
brought scents of pine, tiger lilies, and
dresses of dragonflies. Far off, the loons laughed
at a private joke, and our boat shifted

and sped through time
through hoary centuries
pulled by falcons tied in blue ribbon
and we sailed into Norwegian mountains, home of
trolls, and watched them frolic on gnarled feet
through an icicle night

returned peacefully to our lake, our faces
no more wrinkled than before, our swimsuits
no more faded. To our parents we looked
hopelessly young, naive, unknowing.
We looked down at our hands
touched by angels.

(Published in The Prairie Light Review,
Fall 2010; issue XXXII, No. 1)

Sharing Copedom

by Alan Harris
How do you cope with nopes, with fallen hopes,
with must-haves that go poof in the night?
Do you glum out and turn numb?
I do, for a while. Join me.

How can you know what you don't know?
You need answers, but all you hear is
the inside of your head. Do you worry?
I do, for a while. Join me.

Is happiness just beyond the next locked gate,
and no one around with key or hammer?
Do you fantasize with fruitless wishing?
I do, for a while. Join me.

When trouble somehow dissolves from notice
and leaves you breathing free again,
do you smile a breath of thank you into the One?
I do, for a while. Join me.

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