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.

Upcoming Reading Featuring Four Writers Published On This Site!

STIENGAS Book cover-1


The Reading will take place at Crescendo Espresso Bar and Music Cafe on Monroe Street in Madison, Wisconsin. It will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Readers will be David Steingass, Jerry McGinley, Roy Dorman, and Andrew McCuaig. The evening will also include questions and answers as well as book signings.

See details below at Crescendo’s website:

REQUIEM By Steven Fortney

The pond is crystal down to the bottom,
And has no banks. On it swim mallards and 
Wood ducks, swans, and water spiders,
And is over-coated by lily pads and lotus
And water hyacinth on its glass surface;
And there I float too, as do the world’s 
Multitudes, and every thing that creeps on 
The earth where there is life in it. Here, like 
All water-babies, though knowing heaven 
And earth, the entirety of science and art,
And history and mathematics scampering 
There: these sense the depths of its pond,
But, at best, can only point to light beneath.
We have water in our tears, in the body, water
Creatures we, hinting that the pond is where
We came from. And one day like a mayfly 
I will fall into that crystal clarity and 
De-construct into the parts that made me, 
Ecstatically dispensing limb, wing, and ego,
Each piece floating down, as fearless separate 
Notes of song falling, my ceasing—water 
Mingling with water, consciousness with 
Consciousness, clarity bottomless, absent 
Of limits to confine it, into its selfless rest.



A river called


Covets my backyard.

True, he was here first.

We cling to

His slippery, green, muddy hide

Like ticks on a dog.

And now he tries to shake us off.

We hardly worship him,

Or even respect him,

So, can we blame him?

So, our basements fill with

His mud and snake choked invasion.

Our puny gravel roads

Are gnawed into gullies.

Our LP tanks are liberated

And become hissing terrorists.

These are all messages from

The river called Kickapoo,

Hinting we should leave,

Or at least get out of his way.