karla huston | page 5 | spring 2012 number 14

31 05 2012

POETRY DISPATCH #375 | May 31, 2012

Karla Huston

Editor’s Note: It’s good to see two favorite Wisconsin writers, poet Karla Huston. and poet/writer/publisher, R.Chris Halla, come together in this latest PAGE 5, Spring 2012, Number 14.

Halla has been publishing his unique Page 5 on-and-off / occasionally / whenever-the-spirit-moves, finances allow, for going on twenty years now. I think Gary Busha’s, THE OL’ MAN (another little beauty) was the last in 2009.

Fold a 17×12 inch sheet of quality paper in half, fold it again, and there you have it: 5 pages, front cover, back cover (Halla’s own drawings usually/perfectly gracing the cover and inside), two pages of poems on the first opening, and as many poems as you can get on the full opening.

Karla packs all that space with a sure sense of poetry-self and a command of ordinary/extraordinary language that makes even hurtful love worth living for, knowing as only poets do, what’s good for you.

Did I say two favorite writers? Make that three. One of Wisconsin’s finest poets, Mariann Ritzer, provocatively pens her praise (beyond ‘blurb’) for Karla’s work on the whole back page.

What a joy these poems, what a perfect package everything and everybody coming together in five pages. What a deal: $3.00. –Norbert Blei

R. Chris Halla, E&P
W6175 Aerotech Dr.
Appleton, WI 54914


The first time I drank it,
I thought it was cough syrup,
it was so sticky sweet and biting.
After prom, my boyfriend offered
a sip while we sat in his car,
a ’49 Ford with a huge bench seat
perfect for making out.
He tried to get fresh–me heated
and woozy–but even then
I was not going down
that road, his blackberry tongue
in my mouth, hands slipping
into something lacy.
Later and down from my brandy high
I combed Grecian curls from my hair,
each fat coil unfurled–until it was finished.
Clearly I was finished with my boyfriend
because by then he’d taken off,
and I was there with girlfriends
who were in far worse shape.
I never drank blackberry again,
though, I confess to sloe gin,
the crimson drizzle tasting worse
than brandy going down
and coming up, l learned to like
little shorties at a quarter a pop,
to dance in the flash of blacklights,
There was a war going on
in my head and in a place I’d never been,
but in two years, the boys in my class,
many, would be gone. And my guy—
off serving his stint and that car
with its itchy seats–gone,
and my taste for brandy replaced
by beer and a new boyfriend to please,
a new set of rules to swallow.


He’s got it right, the friend who wrote
about a woman wearing a man’s shirt,
the way she can pull his scent to her
and feel his arms around her again.
I think a man likes to see a woman
dressed in his shirt: the sleeves
dangling and the buttons and holes
that go together backwards, the stupid
grin on his face when she tells him
she’s going to pee, and he asks to watch.
She wraps the shirt more tightly
tries to fit her body into every
stitch and seam. She likes the way
the shirt holds her, so soft and so manlike:
that, and the sigh of his breath
in every thread, Yes, that most of all.

A Note On What To Wish On

by Mariann Ritzer

I want to fail in love with poetry the same way I’ve always fallen in love with men–quickly. Karla Huston’s seven unencumbered poems in this collection let me do just that. And then these poems take me on a journey off the interstate and onto the backroads, the country roads where I can hear the wonderful sounds of assonance and consonance in lines and phrases that take me up and down hills, around curves — quickly, slowly. And, as with falling in love, I want some surprises — the kind that make me go back and realize it was the craft, it was each poem’s attention to detail, each poem’s emotional veracity that sustained me.

It’s important to read these poems in sequence first. You don’t want to miss the narrative these seven gems tell collectively about love and sex (and the abyss between). You don’t want to miss how these things can masquerade for each other when you are in the throes of blackberry brandy or wearing a man’s shirt and nothing else or falling painfully out of love while listening to Rod McKuen’s “divine sorrow of words.”

When you’ve read them all, go back and find the moon’s chalky face, dandelions taking flight, the deep dreams of love. Take the slow country road. You’ll fall in love all over again like I did. You’ll know What To Wish On.

Alice D’Alessio, Susan Godwin, Jerome J. Jagielski, Joan Wiese Johannes, Jackie Langetieg, Mariann Ritzer | WISCONSIN POETS’ CALENDAR 2012

1 10 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No.353 | October 1, 2011

Alice D’Alessio, Susan Godwin, Jerome J. Jagielski, Joan Wiese Johannes, Jackie Langetieg, Mariann Ritzer

Editor’s Note: I am pleased to say that The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar for 2012 continues to accomplish its mission for poets and poetry here on the home-front, annually showcasing some of our most respected poets (books and publications to their credit) as well as introducing newcomers to its pages,

I continue to commend the long history of the Calendar for this open-minded approach, as well as the co-editors of the publication this year, Jeffrey Johannes and Jean Wiese Johannes, for their superb efforts in putting together another handsome volume featuring the work of over two hundred Wisconsin poets, not to mention the beautiful cover art and watercolor illustrations of William Karberg of Port Edwards.

Here’s to everyone responsible for the project, including, business manager Michael Farmer, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets who published this work.

Though I have read and enjoyed all the poets, regretfully (time, space, etc.) I present a mere six to give some idea of the range and talent to be found here. No other explanation as to why these six poems other than the way a poem calls attention to itself and settles for good somewhere in the reader’s psyche. No other measure of personal choice except perhaps a smile, a heartbeat, a related memory …something in the poem whispering ’yes’ in those late-night hours I consign to reading, when a particular poem won’t let me go. The next night could very well be some different poems entirely. — Norbert Blei

What I Learned From the Important Poet

That it’s not enough
to let the Poem out for a quick pee
you’ve got to take it
for a long walk
on a frost-filmed morning
let it tangle its leash around your legs
yanking for attention
…….sniffing for lagniappe.

Or perhaps
you should consider
turning it loose to roam
through city alleys
on a sultry night
to acquaint itself with abandon
with those who wrap themselves
in newspaper blankets
clutching their shoes and bottles
let it nuzzle the pizza crusts
needles condoms.

If there’s still no leap or whimper
drag it if you can
across the highway
to a gnarly clump of oak.
Encourage it to snuffle
leftover nature coax it
to remember
it came from the wild from weeds and rot
birdsong and blossom. Let it wallow
dig deep.

Warn it about the traffic. Let it find
its own way home.

—Alice D’Alessio

Dreaming in the Midst of a Madison Winter

I’d like to be that man who visits celebrities
in their homes, except the houses I enter
must be flawed as well as beautiful. And their beauty
hold herb gardens of thyme and rosemary
and the spice of cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

The sun will blaze through a skylight
to a faded red terrazzo floor; I’ll lie limp
on the fainting couch and dream of muscular Italian men
who sit at my side,
stroking my toes and humming Neapolitan songs.

I found one today—in a Mound Street co-op
filled with cats, paintings and a musk of mystery.
I stayed the afternoon, drinking lemon grass tea
and sharing sensual looks with the cats

then drove home on Regent Street satisfied with my life
behind the wheel of my ’89 Oldsmobile
both of us growing more obsolete each day.

–Jackie Langetieg

Oak Hill Cemetery

………..Comfortably they walk
………………..in graceful steps
……………….a slow movement
………...among the community
……….of hallowed tombstones
a congregation of wild turkeys

–Jerome J. Jagielski

Things To Do Around Port Washington

an homage to Gary Snyder

Peel the fog
Count and climb the steps to St. Mary’s Church
Smell smoked fish; eat smoked fish
Collect dead alewives on the beach
Count children in Catholic families
Find your brothers’ graves, your father’s grave
Listen for the Angelus bells at noon and six o’clock
Wash your hair in Lake Michigan
Imitate the one o’clock whistle
Find Mile Rock
Dig your toes in Sauk Creek mud
Swing from vines on Moore Road
Watch old Dula mumble on her porch
Find God in stained-glass windows in St. Mary’s Church
Slap through Lake Michigan waves at midnight

–Mariann Ritzer

early autumn sunlight
streams through birch leaves
honey on my toast

–Susan Godwin

Come Closer

Heavy air wanders
around the corner of the barn
bends into evening
and staggers through the peonies

to meet me under the porch light
where dizzy moths flit
and midges swarm
around the naked bulb.

Tonight I wonder why
I once thought love darkens
too soon in June
when days are too long

and nights too eagerly late,
when stems grow spindly
weak from
too much too fast too soon.

A night-blooming blossom
luminous as the moon
reminds me of something
I should have done.

–Joan Wiese Johannes

To Order Calendars:

Michael Farmer, Calendar Business Manager
P.O. Box 555
Baileys Harbor, WI 54202

Phone: 920.839.2191


mariann ritzer | relative trade

30 09 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 3 | August,29 2005

Relative Trade by Mariann Ritzer

This is trade day, giveaway day
and I’ll take Jennifer Kruger’s grandmother
who smells like fresh-baked oatmeal bread
and trade my gnarly, wrinkled, liver-spotted,
cabbage-smelling grandma with the babushkas
she ties tightly under her chin and mine.

I’ll grab Henry Kowalski’s father with his
sweat shirts and swear words and his slow
pitches in the backyard and give Henry
my stoic, gray-eyed, Bible-quoting father.

I’ll trade Martha Bittle’s red-lipped, light blonde
mother with painted nails, quick laughter and arms
put there for hugging and give Martha my frail,
driven-by-migraine-headaches mother who dusts
the window sills thrice weekly and eats bran muffins
with raisins on Mondays and Fridays.

I’ll take Millie Roiden’s Aunt Sassy,
who reads romance novels and whispers
the love scenes to us in a husky, steamy voice
and wears three inch heals and cracks Juicy Fruit gum
between her beautiful, straight, white teeth.
Yes, I’ll take her and give Millie
my Aunt Betsy and her five black cats
with green, glow-in-the-dark eyes who walk
and stalk her efficiency apartment
like burglars in the night.
If they won’t agree to an outright trade
I’ll play marbles and throw my winnings
in for their people.

I’ll trade even Steven and they’ll thank me grandly
for giving them my people and the marbles
and this will be one time they won’t call
me an Indian giver. This time I’ll play
for keeps and surprise the hell out of them
and when I am rich and famous because of all
the genes I acquired through that thing called
osmosis I’ll thank them publicly for playing
the game according to Hoyle and give them
each a crisp, snappy, new dollar bill
and tell them not to spend it all
in one place, like my grandpa says.

I’ll keep track of my people, once in a while,
like every month or so, just to see
how things are going, but I won’t want them back
nor will I miss them or the bran muffins
with the raisins, the tightly tied babushka,
the black, green-eyed apartment
or the preaching Bible versus

Praise Be The Lord, Amen.

crp001_t1.jpgfrom, AN EVENING ON MILDRED STREET | Cross+Roads Press | Chapbook 1 (1995)