linda aschbrenner | verse wisconsin | issue 101 winter 2010

9 03 2010

Poetry Dispatch No. 317 | March 9, 2010


Issue 101, Winter 2010, $6

It’s good to see Linda Aschbrenner’s excellent FREE VERSE, alive and well, newly christened VERSE WISCONSIN, all dressed up (cover, design, glossy paper, etc.) looking great, the Wisconsin (and beyond) poetry torch passed on to the very capable editorial hands of co-editors Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman. If the first issue of VERSE WISCONSIN is any indication of the direction and depth these editors seem determined to take it, we’re all in good hands.

I was a firm believer and supporter of the old FREE VERSE from the beginning. I was especially thankful that Linda kept the pages open to new poets, young and old, writers looking for and needing their first taste of print: the word on the page. Though it has always been a challenge to break into little mags, from indies to university publications, it grows increasingly difficult these days to find print, period, not to mention experienced and honest editors who keep the door open for one and all—the quality of writing alone, being the determining factor. Not who-you-know, not a long list of previous publications, not all the professional ass-kissing that takes place amongst the usual suspects. Linda Aschbrenner deserves much credit for nurturing poets and poetry in Wisconsin (and beyond) since 1998.

There are over fifty poets represented in this first issue of VERSE WISCONSIN under Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman. I wish I could feature all of them. But you’ll have to buy a copy—or better yet, subscribe to the magazine, (have your local library subscribe) to read all the good poems I was not able to feature.

Here are some of my favorites though. –norbert blei

Silly Little City I Live and Love In

by Susan Firer, Milwaukee, WI

Silly little city with your harp street lamps,
blizzards and vigil light stars,
with your tutued street lights
and 30 below wind chills, bandshells and polkas,
and steamy smoky lake’s pink waves,
with your huge orange moons rising from the lake,
with your huge red suns rising from the lake,
with your sad jumpers falling into the lake,
& your socialist watershed and Oriental Theatre minarets
………………..and Sunday morning Quakers’ meetings
………………..surrounded by church bells and taverns,
with everyday George Washington
walking down Wisconsin Avenue,
with your ice fishing clinics and beer blessings,
with your seven deadly sins parades,
with your alewives” parades and cladaphora winds
…………….and streets named after sausages (Nock),
with Francis Bacon’s blue face
………………..on the side of your art museum
………………..and Joseph Cornel! “s “Celestial Navigation
……………… Birds” (Gallery 18) inside your museum,
with your statues of Goethe and Burns,
……………………………….Olmstead parks and bakery winds,
silly little city that erases me, I keep
fastening your lake winds to the page.

The Way the Light Shines

by Ralph Murre, Baileys Harbor, WI

The way the light shines
through Vermeer

on a Dutch afternoon
a girl with a pitcher

of something cool
and sweet I’ll bet

The way the boys
in the low sloop

laden with the smell of salt
look through Winslow Homer

The way the stars see
through Van Gogh in the night

The way you’d come
right through

me painting you
in your room with red walls

The way water-lilies
make love to Monet

Home, Sweet Home

by Antler, Milwaukee, WI

A mouse in its nest inside a moose skull
looks up at miniature icicles
……..dandling from cracks in the bone
above her head,
Silver icicles inside a moose skull
as darkness falls
…….and the cold wind howls
while the mouse feels
…….safe and warm-
home, sweet home.
But one night she froze
..and come spring
……there was a mouse skull
..inside a moose skull
……and inside the mouse skull
A spider spun a web
and lived all spring–
home, sweet home,
and when it died
A tiny mite moved in
inside where the spider’s brain was
…….and lived all summer-
……..home, sweet home,
……….before it died,
So there was a skull in a skull in a skull in a skull
causing a poet’s brain in its skull to think
…..isn’t the Earth in the Sun’s skull
…..the way his poems
…..are in his head?
And the sun in the Galaxy’s skull
…..and the Galaxy in the Universe’s skull
and the Universe in the Big Bang’s skull and the Big Bang in Eternity’s skull
…….and Eternity in Infinity’s skull and…. Home, sweet home.

Our Body

by Bruce Taylor, Eau Claire, WI

It’s too heavy
in the early morning
too easy to lay down
lightly late at night.

If only this were bigger
and this smaller,
if these were like that
and that was blond..

If this could be longer
harder, sharper,
if that weren’t too soft,
so palpable and moist.

If only it didn’t fill
and empty, didn’t ache
so sometimes to be held
and others to be let go.

Miniatures, a Quintet

by Philip Dacey, New York, NY

1. Ars Poetica

I’ll leave the porchlight on for you,
the mother says.
That’s what the poet says, too.

2. At the Feeder

Is the favorite word
Of the hummingbird
Stillness or motion?

But I’m the same:
Should I stay home
Or cross an ocean?

3. The Suicide

I always liked
to be early
for my appointments.

4. Hanging the Wash Outdoors

My mother stood
with wooden clothespins in her mouth,
a fan of benevolent little cannons
she plucked out one at a time
and squeaked down over my heart,
which is still on the line.

5. Tanka

I have written
too many poems;
they live now
in refugee camps,
inside tents.

Editor’s Note: VERSE WISCONSIN appears quarterly. $25 regular, $18 students) VERSE WISCONSIN, P.O.Box 620216, Middleton, WI 53562-0216 | editorsATversewisconsinDOTorg