Spouses: Poem by Miriam Sagan

A few days after the 4th, but still relevant. From my book of poetry START AGAIN (Red Mountain, 2022). This is an earlier version than the published one, a bit harsher and I’m in the mood for it.


“What’s that noise?” the wife asks the husband
even after so many years

night noises, raccoons, and the Federal Government
are his problem to solve.

It’s not late, before midnight
“Firecrackers?” he speculates

although it sounds like gunshot
and we’re just blocks from the capitol building

where armed men show the threat of force
against our governor.

That sounds straightforward,
but really I don’t understand

what they want
other than to bully us with a supposed right.

But probably the husband is correct,
It’s midsummer’s night, and America’s birthday

a few weeks away
although frankly I’m not sure

this country of mine
deserves much of a party.

Much later, towards the witching hour
skunks head home and spray

through our bathroom window
that opens on the narrow alley

that creatures use to cross.
The thrashers are sleeping

in the blossoming cholla bush,
not once in all these years

has the invisible neighbor’s orange cat
manage to catch a bird

in all those cactus needles.

Poem by Phil Geronimo

Willian in Chelsea Blue

How hard was it to live
In that tanned leathered skin you wore as a defense
Against the power of the hauntings in your head
The pints of Importer’s vodka you would hide and ingest
The hours you spent watching the same sit-coms
The tranquility of their perpetuity
The endless cycle of their safety
An escape from the pain that was never to be named
A war of scarred pasts that could never be won
Your flooding the house with the toilet
Bouncing your head off the wall in a blackout
Enduring the soul’s escape
The dark sentence of the ghost’s plague
The unknown names in a file of hate
And now, you are no longer my condemnation
You are no longer singing the praises of English League football
Willian breaking open in the midfield to feed Costa
Like the Latter Day Saints feeding us in our lean days
How you fell back into the warmth of their spirit
Into the arms of their natural calm
As they helped carry you across the Great River
Into the final solace of God

Fallen Star

Fallen Star
after Do Ho Suh’s sculpture, 2012, UC San Diego

the house fell like a meteor
but didn’t burn up
in earth’s atmosphere
or even hit an old lady
hanging out her laundry
in Yuma, Arizona

instead it landed
on the 7th floor
of the engineering building
at an odd
but secure angle
looking down on campus
with its hopeful self-engrossed undergraduates

once we landed
we set about
cleaning up
luckily the green garden hose
had survived the fall
along with the flower pots
and two mourning doves
had nested
on an unused bucket

you were there
and I was too
with our usual
asleep in each others’ arms

best of all
three crows
landed on our roof
cawing as if
they finally realized
we are all at home
here among the stars


Photos by Rich Feldman.

At Miracle Hot Springs: Poem by Miriam Sagan

At Miracle Hot Springs

the old lady
with the Russian accent
in the becoming
2-piece bathing suit
and the huge hat
asks what I’m
reading—an uncracked
hardback thriller

she thinks
I’m taking notes
on the book—hopefully
a dark and provoking
tome of philosophy
or Dostoevsky
but I say no
although I can’t quite explain
I’m writing
about how the pools
beneath palm trees
will be
even more beautiful
when the moon comes up
and also about her
the old Russian lady
in the very large straw hat

Intergenerational Love: a poem by Judy K Mosher

I’m 70, Evan is 6
his smile is earnest, respectful
his laugh ripples through his body
contagious to the very walls.
Over dinner, he asks Aunt Judy,
do you have any questions for me?
Oh, yes, I do, I reply warmly.
our Q and A go on a long time
I learn of riding the yellow school bus
with Lydia from across the street,
with Conner his seatmate, and
recess play with friend Arseem,
and how this fall
the leaf sucker comes down
the street and sucks all the leaves
raked into curbside piles.
You wait, I’ll show you he grins,
anticipates sharing this wonder.

his brown eyes dance, reveal
his lightening quick mind
followed by rapid speed of
tongue-twisted words, giggles.
my aging brain only vaguely
recalls such sensations.
Not vague however, is the warmth
of his small hand in mine as we
cross another snowy street.

The Concrete Ships: Poem by Miriam Sagan

The Concrete Ships

At first you thought
the tankers in the shipping lane

weren’t real, but some kind
of mystic breakwater

then they seemed real enough
to leave, and go in search of

of something else
nine concrete ships

piled up in the Chesapeake
to protect from storms, and the imagination

that balks
at floating perpendicular skyscrapers

ghosts of war
never leave certain shores

is its own holy grail quest.

As children
we rather loved

the huge fractured hull
sinking in the sand

broken off, a monument
to failure, wreckage

not unlike our scarred exhausted

who still could tell
quite a story.

It rained at night
off Hatteras

the place names
soothe me like a lullaby

but even the strongest lighthouse
can be displaced

and dreams dashed
over these rocks.


Photos from Atlas Obscura

Stranded: Poem by John Macker

Stranded by John Macker

for Gary Snyder

It’s 3:28 p.m., I’m just another writer at a snowed-in
airport between teaching gigs waiting for the jet to de-ice
and take me to somewhere in the Upper Midwest.
At this moment, some of the dead in here are still breathing,
I’ve been elected president of this last bar in the terminal
and the polar express is taking no prisoners. Our ipads
are beaming us up, some reservation for the harshest climate on
mother earth has been made for me in my absence.
Absinthe is one of the magic words I repeat for complete
strangers until they realize I write verse in America. I try to
tell the children high on lack of sleep and adrenaline,
they’re going nowhere fast. Like a carnivore, I rip to
shreds snippets of conversation I’ve overheard like:
everything that happens in Milwaukee stays in Milwaukee
until it happens here. I smile to myself: that was a good one
and fire up a celebratory joint until I’m told by two lone
gun men to extinguish all smoking materials, fasten my
illegal smile and recall the last airport poem I read where the
poet wrote: most of my work, such as it is, is done.
Well, Gary, easy for you to say. I look out onto a frozen
silent wasteland that was once the tarmac: my loitering
has become a sacrament; my stillness, the void.

Poem by Leroy Quintana

Although I’ve anthologized his work, I was unfamiliar with the poems about Vietnam.


Armed Forces Recruitment Day
Albuquerque High School, 1962

After the Navy,
the Air Force, and
the Army,
Sgt. Castillo,
the Marine Corps
got a standing ovation
when he walked up
to the microphone
and said proudly
that unlike
the rest, all
he could promise
was a pack,
a rifle, and
a damned hard time.
Except for that,
he was the biggest
of liars.

Poem by Marietta Leis

Studio 2020

Sunlit and ready
Linda Ronstadt singing
her talent oozing
over my space

Outside quiet and still
with spring tentative
and virus stirring
amongst the wind

Me, lackadaisical
with exhibits canceled
and deadlines obscured
and inactivity seductive

By habit I’m here
years of discipline
and passion and purpose
quelled but not forgotten

I pick up brush
I smell the paint
I feel the wood
and my hand responds

Another afternoon passes
with focus and work
gratefully my art
has saved my spirit again

Maybe contributing also
to some peace for a
world in need
and silence to my fears