March-May 2006

Inge Pedersen
Featured Poet

James Cushing

Maureen Wallner

Helen Losse

Suzanne R. Harvey

Geoff Stevens

Rich Murphy





Inge Pedersen
Translated by Marilyn Nelson


The Potatoes

Hospital. In sinking
yellow gardens. Water
stands still
under trees.

In a white bed lies
my immortal father.

Behind our closed eyes
we are busily
throwing leaves into the air
to make gold rain.
When we run
our feet swish.

Come evening we rake
the litter together,
make a bonfire.

In the air above the flames
his face is peeled
vibrating, naked

his glance in mine
before it congeals.

The potatoes in the ashes
are for me.


The Move

Can everything burn, can everything give light

after you died, father
I found an old cigar butt
on the planing-bench in your workshop

matches and avalanche


Towards Morning

Towards morning
I ride high in the saddle:
or you're dead meat
I snarl at all
the small rodents in my heat

the day is a falcon
On my shoulder



The sparrows whisper
in the dark at the back door

Every morning
I sprinkle salt
at their tails


Letter To My Flighty Daughter

Don't listen to me
when I say
you should obey

ignore me
when I say
humanity is lost

don't look
when every day I show you
my programmed life

use my safety nets
but unveil them
when they become ingenious traps

use my helping hands
but break away
when they become ugly tentacles
that surround and deform you

don't look
don't listen to me
don't feel guilty



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James Cushing

Autumn Lesson


The air's no longer sliding across me.
Drunk on its own invisible blood,

the creek sounds louder than the street.
I'm keeping my stubbed toe carefully hidden.

I see my name beneath me, smeared with shadows
whose fingers turn into snakes in a hundred stories.

As long as I remember I own none of what
I pick, I may take these apples from their branch.

I read a list of foods that make me happy,
fold the list into a square, and throw it away.

I think I have the right impression of wind and its fish.
Now I see them, now I see them magnified, now I see them not.

I see no star, I see no flower, I see no fruit-bearing trees.
Three times tonight sirens have darkened the moon,

twice terror has grabbed and shaken me, leaving me
hungry and crying, behind a strange cold house.

I seem to have fallen onto a garden where poplars know me
and the crisp brown edges of my left hand flake off.

Each detour adds up to a cabin in these woods, where
a stove burns as a woman reads a story to her son.

He joins me tonight at the wheel of a cool fall evening
when all the clocks in town read differently.

Alert to shifts in the mood of the ground,
I listen in silence to the story she told him.

Midnight comes like warm water, softening each edge.



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Maureen Wallner

Man's Best

She was nothing but a dog
who slept in mud, scratching at the
bugs playing on her skin. A dog
who lived in a hole behind a bush
by a house small as a box of matches.
And the hole would cool her body
as her tongue hung by her plastic dish,
shriveling. No water, but crumbs of dirt.
The hole would keep her warm enough
when frost fingers dug needles into her paws.
She was chained, thick and heavy like her tongue
hanging by her empty dish, like the man
who chained her there, waddling like a duck
across grass dry as old bristles. A man
whose own tongue was heavy with beer
and blasphemy, tempered in rancid weed. 

I visited her there a few times,
visiting a friend, who occasionally
spilled water into her dish, tossing
the stuffed rabbit, dangling feet, dislocated head,
into the air for Pal, as she spoke to Sasha,
words light in the steamy air that fell heavy
into the dirt at her feet. A deadly summer for playing
on the lawn. No rain for weeks on the frying trees. 

She escaped once. Broke her chain.
And I cheered, waved my freedom flag,
praying she’d never return to the chain
and the dirt and the fat man
who smoked weed, drank beer, cursed.
Man, highest on the food chain
with his ability to reason.
But the dog was found.
Most unreasonable.



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Helen Losse

Two Chickadees

After the rain fell
softer than the wind,

two chickadees hopped
on the railing of the deck.

One of them visited
our wren-house. The other

didn't. When the birds
turned their heads, the wind

tousled their brown-
gray feathers. And I was caught

hand under chin-staring through blinds.
So I began to prepare my defense,

declaring my certain innocence.
But by the time I spoke,

both bodies of evidence
had flown away.


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Suzanne Richardson Harvey

Living on Landfill

Her friends complained of wind shifts
Colors that galloped through a kaleidoscope
Like an avalanche fueled
By rage, terror, desire
To win the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval
No one was sure
Her selves lay in the path of ordinary disaster
Like skyscrapers on landfill
When they disappeared, no one noticed
The vacant lots she had inhabited
None of them long enough.


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Geoff Stevens

I'm Up Greatham Creek

It is an island in the Tees
an untidy rotting plank or two
from the industrial sludge
of the mainland bank

its homestead whitewashed waste brick
and tarpaulin over composite board
its heating a black cast-iron stove
its bed a rickety bunk

Its  outhouse sheds are full
of rotting junk
its one mildewed tree
grimed with soot

its land covered with scorched grass
a wilderness of weeds
it is a sepia-rusted place
with dismal views of oil refineries

is stuck in muddy water
left wallowing in a polluted mind
is a picture of irreversible decay
It is my life


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Rich Murphy

American Dream

The home movie of the fenced-in putting
green surrounding a house of sticks puts
a nation to sleep, so that if anyone wakes
he is without the bacon to buy his life back.

Franklin's promise of original self-crafted
homo sapiens was buried among pages
of fiction to be disinterred by desperate
shovelers. Mass produced husbands

and wives spray lacquer on each
of the conveyer belt's children and lose
them on continental shelves. The people
of ceramic molds fear the feeling of

their bodies in their hands to keep a thought
of their own from adding or subtracting. Too
few lumps of clay from the land of the free
find their way to a hand of the brave.



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Contributors' Notes


Inge Pedersen, Danish author, has published four collections of poems, two volumes of short stories, and two novels.  The winner of many Danish and Scandinavian fellowships and prizes, she lives in Jutland.  The above poems were selected from Pedersen's book, The Thirteenth Month  published by Oberlin College Press; FIELD Translation Series.

Marilyn Nelson, American poet and translator, has published eight collections of poems, including A Wreath for Emmett Till, and has won numerous awards and prizes.  She has been Poet Laureate of Connecticut since 2000.

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James Cushing, Ph.D. University of California, Irvine, 1983, winner of Renegade Magazine’s 1994 “Warlord of the Subculture” Award, has published two full-length collections of his poetry, You and the Night and the Music (Cahuenga Press, 1991) and The Length of an Afternoon (Cahuenga Press, 1999). His poems and essays have appeared in such publications as Antioch Review, California Quarterly, Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review and Yabolusha Review, as well as in The Second Set, a jazz-poetry anthology edited by Yusef Komunyakaa (Indiana UP, 1996). He joined Cal Poly's faculty in 1989, having previously taught at UC Davis and Cuesta College. Cushing hosts a jazz program on Cal Poly’s radio station, KCPR.

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Maureen Wallner is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, having majored in English literature with a minor in journalism. She is also a member of the English Honor Society.  Her non-fiction work has appeared in journals and newspapers, including:  Augustana Magazine; Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa); the Melrose Herald (Melrose Park, Illinois); New Realities and Trinity Today (Trinity Medical Center, Rock Island, Illinois);  PCC News and the Beacon (Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa); Bonsai (Summer 2005). Her poetry has appeared in Arts News (“American Gothic,” October 2002); in Beginnings (“Locker 94,” Spring 2004); and in Lucidity (“Heart Attack,” December 2005). “Chicken Soup” is currently in press with Jewish Currents.

Wallner's poetry and short fiction have also received first prize at the Midwest Writers Workshop, Rock Island, Illinois (June 2002) and her poem, “53rd Street,” is a finalist in the 7th International Mattia Poetry Competition in Canada. Lucidity also awarded “No Words” with Honorable Mention (December 2005).  Her “Only in America,” was the only poem included in a refugee story anthology published December 16, 2005.

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Helen Losse is a poet, free lance writer, and Poetry Co-Editor of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Her recent poetry publications Blue Fifth Review, Southern Hum, Adagio Verse Quarterly, The Centrifugal Eye, and The Blueprint: An Assemblage of the Fifth Element.  She has a chapbook, Gathering the Broken Pieces, available from FootHills Publishing.

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Suzanne Richardson Harvey, Ph.D. lectured for 19 years in the English Department of Stanford University in California.  She's now retired. In addition, during that time for almost a decade, she served as a resident fellow in an all-freshmen dormitory. Before that, she was an instructor at Tufts University in New England, where she received her doctorate in Elizabethan poetry, specifically that of Edmund Spenser. Recently, in her retirement for about six years, she has been active in teaching at Emeritus College in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Geoff Stevens was born in the industrial Black Country of England. He's the editor of Purple Patch Magazine since 1976.  More on

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Rich Murphy is the director of writing programs at Emmanuel College in Boston where he teaches writing and poetry as literature courses.  His poems have been published widely in such journals as Rolling Stone (yes, once they published poetry), Poetry Magazine (featured poet), Grand Street (featured poet), New Letters, Negative Capability, Confrontation Magazine, Barrelhouse Review, West 47 (Ireland), Aesthetica Review (England), New Delta Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. You may also read, or listen to Murphy read, poems in the current issue of Inertia Magazine ( His essay “Vanishing Artist: American Poet and Differend” was published in Fulcrum: An Annual of Poetry and Aesthetics and again in The International Journal of the Humanities.