I retreat to the woods because I must.
In isolation I confront my true self.
I am not afraid of darkness because it
Shields me from the glare of violence.
I have hunted men–dangerous thugs
Who prey on the weak and defenseless.
And, yes, I have at times become the brute
That I have been praised for crushing out.
Even heroes, when they bathe, stand naked.
In solitude I lose the self that others see
And become a shadow or maybe a ghost
Of the creature I always wanted to be.


Two New Poems by William Tecku

If Horses Were Wishes

If horses were wishes
this house painter,
who rides ladders,
would ride with Jesse James
into Northfield, Minnesota
if it meant he could steal
life back into the bones
of seventeen souls
who drowned
riding a Duck.

If wings were wishes
the angel, who wing walked
the Spirit of St. Louis
to wake up Lucky Lindy
so he could land in Paris,
would feather down
grave digger waves
on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake
so a fun, family friendly
Duck boat would not capsize
into a collective coffin.

If horses were wishes
survivors and mourners,
like Stan “The Man” Musial,
who would rescue the Cardinals
whenever they were going down
for the third time, would ride
the wild horse storm to a walk
and that Black Swan of a Duck
was parked on shore where flowers
and candles now flood lakeside parking.

If ladders were wishes,
this house painter,
whose eyes swim the sky
for rain clouds, would extend
his longest extension ladder
up and up and up and up
until he could touch up the face
of The Man in the Moon
if that’s what it would take
to paint back to life
seventeen ghosts
in Table Rock Lake.

An Emperor’s Midsummer Night’s Scheme

On a midsummer night in Duluth,
after Emperor Narcissus plods
onto his campaign stage
and hums “Hail to the Chief”
with his pitiless, petulant,
immigrant-jeering, fact-fearing,
flag-waving, minority-scapegoating,
misogyny-extoling, sold out AMSOIL Arena crowd,
he muses to himself about Lake Superior,
how he don’t like the sight of so much fresh,
clean water because EPA regulations,
most people are saying,
cost thousands of jobs.

Before he teleprompter shares,
in single syllable slices,
his boiler plate baloney,
left over from a raucous rally in . . . Moscow,
Missouri, his party’s local politicos pander
for his support and his supporters’ votes.

As loud as a salt water ship’s horn in a foggy harbor,
recycled rally chants blast, “Lock her up! Lock her Up!”
and “Keep our empire right! Make Narcissus emperor for life!”

As his Cirque du Deceit roadshow returns to Rome,
the emperor stares and stares and stares at his reflection
in Lake Superior’s waves.
Zenith City’s puerile plebs,
like Iron Range pawns,
go to bed with visions of jobs!
jobs! jobs! dancing in their heads.

In the disconsolate dusk
Duluth’s Lift Bridge
drops down and cries.

(William Tecku’s website:

Love States (3 Samples of Ovillejos) by Richard Swanson

Healthy, Healthy

7:00 a.m. At the gym, then next,
Let’s have sex?
2:00. Post-lunch biking treks—
Hey, more sex?
8:00, after Pilates in the gym:
Sure, it’s their bedtime regimen.
They’re tip top fanatic? Buff, toned,
their joints are soaked in cortisone.
Let’s have sex? Hey, more sex? Again?


Stopwatch sex, flings on the run.
What fun!
Clothes ripped off, Jill and Jack
in the sack
on catch-your-breath highs.
Wham bam, bye,
come and go on the fly.
Serious jobs and kids on the way?
Say wha? Whadya say?
What fun in the sack. Wham bam, bye.


Guests gone home, in bed these two.
“Want to?”
says done-in A. to pooped B
. . . a dopey plea
a groggy request
at best.
“Tomorrow?” mumbles B, brain at rest
in the pillow, dozing.
“. . .’morrow . . .” (A. grateful, eyes closing).
“Want to?” A dopey plea at best.

***(Ovillejos are ten line poems, with a rhyming scheme and a snappy ending line.)

Two new poems by John H. Sime


Last night I dreamed of the turtle mom–
So full of eggs and with her loving shell
Cracked down the middle.
A highway victim, she bravely lifted her head
As I drove past, in the other traffic lane.
Despite her stink, rescue I must.
She reeked of green Kickapoo mud.
Her smell embraced me like a wet dog.
Round eggs rolled out.
Blood and slime coated them, her, and my car.
At the river bank, I gave her a self-satisfied toss
To the moss green water far below.
But, she turned upside-down in mid flight
And caught on a branch,
Too far away for me to help again.
Face down in the water: unreachable, helpless.
Sighing, I drove away.
Thinking: “at least she will die in the water”.
Last night I dreamed of her–
Dug into the river bank,
Surrounded by growing young,
Looking up at me with a grateful smile.


So once again I envy the dead
Upon whom I work.
Is he at the shore,
Chatting with Charon,
Buying a seat on the ferry?
Or maybe he’s made the crossing
And is surrounded with dead friends and kin.
Personally, I’d pay extra
To land some place up river
Away from that crowd.
I don’t need to see
Some of those hungry eyes and outstretched palms again.
Like my ex-wife, and the kids, and the swarms of do-gooders.
I did as much for those jackals as they deserved in one go round.
I study the shape clothed beneath the sheet.
His dysfunctional kids
Lurk beneath his dried up features.
Hidden beneath the raccoon-like eyebrows,
Climbing the sharp peak of a nose,
Walking the thin ribbons of lips.
In my head, I already hear their cackling, greedy voices,
Slicing up his money, begrudging me mine.
At least the new embalming machine worked just fine.

PINE TREE WOMAN, a prose poem by Chanz Loman


She roams these haunted woods at night disguised as a fragile pine. She feeds on aspen leaves and thistle seeds and moths and fireflies. Her bed is a heap of dry meadow sedge in a cave next to Mossy Pond. She wakes to the call of the whippoorwill then prowls till the pink of dawn. The great yellow-eyed Barred Owl perches on her thorny jack-pine wrist. Its phantom spirit hoots  keening cries to souls in that otherworldly realm of ghosts. I have heard her sing on moonless nights, an airy, lilting, tune without words. Native people refuse to utter her name, for fear her spirit might hold a curse. Legend says her warrior died in battle, Blackhawk’s last stand, and she still searches for his grave. I like to think she’ll find him soon, so she can lie down beside her brave.