Thursday, March 27, 2014

A pantoum by Michele Mattice

Family Photo
by Michele Mattice

The furrows on my mother’s face
frame her features, like a photo
of a warm, familiar place
as comfortable as home.

Her features—a framed photo,
crinkled as fine linen
and comfortable as home—
tell a story, draw me in.

Linen-crinkled skin
pulls her coffee-colored eyes
into a squint, as I’m drawn in
to the depth of her soft smile.

Her coffee-colored eyes
dance as memories, retold,
deepen her soft smile,
each worth more than gold.

We dance to stories told—
a near-century of life—
treasured more than gold;
years as mother, teacher, wife.

A near-century of life,
yet beauty never clearer.
Years as mother, teacher, wife
grace the face seen in the mirror.

Graceful beauty ever clearer,
born of a familiar place.
I look into the mirror,
I see my mother’s face.

Bio: "A native of upstate New York, I currently reside in Indianapolis with my husband and son. I have studied poetry under Shari Wagner, Micah Ling, Allison Joseph and Karen Kovacik at the IWC and various other venues. I have had two poems published by Bereavement Magazine; 'Broken Vessel' in the October 2010 e-magazine, and “Treasure Chest” in the Winter 2010 issue."


Friday, March 21, 2014

Power of music: Poems from Norbert Krapf and Richard Pflum

Scorpio Wrecking Ball
by Norbert Krapf

I’m your Scorpio wrecking ball,
the red pepper in your soup,
the flash of pain in your belly.

Oh I can sing it intense,
I got the gut-bucket blues
deep down in my psyche

but I can see the stars
when they flash and sometimes
I climb the ladder higher and higher.

If you’re the one listens well
I’ll sneak into your office and let
my roiling guts spill in your truth chair.

I bet you’ll even smile ever so slow
and sweet and offer me herbal tea.
That’s when I go ballistic, baby,

quoting the prophets and visionaries
before you put a hand on my shoulder
and tap me into good-boy submission.

Come on outside and we’ll howl together
in harmony at the full moon over our heads
before it’s time to head back to the cabin.

You wouldn’t believe how calm
I can become when the time is right.
Sit with me, stare into my animal eyes.

Bio: Indiana Poet Laureate 2008-10, Norbert Krapf is the author of ten full-length poetry collections, the latest being American Dreams: Reveries and Reflections (2013) and Songs in Sepia and Black and White (2012). In April 2014 his Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet's Journal of Healing appeared. He has collaborated with jazz pianist Monika Herzig, with whom he released a CD, Imagine, and with bluesman Gordon Bonham. He has also collaborated with photographers Daryl Jones, David Pierini, and Richard Fields in books published by Indiana University Press

Editor's Note: Norbert Krapf will be reading and signing copies of his latest book at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W. 42nd St., Indianapolis.
RSVP before April 20th.  Go to:

Pianos Too Must Have Souls
by Richard Pflum

For my Newfoundland dog Steinway”

Once I found it hearing Bach’s Well Tempered
It was so apparent, I felt more than heard.
But it sometimes was a tangible apparition, there,
in my dreams where in the morning my parents
are not up yet and I am practicing a Bach Two
Part Invention
, without pedal. My teacher always
warned about using too much pedal in Bach.
“Connect with your fingers,” she said. My parents
always say my practicing Bach sounds like I’m
doing my technical exercises, so I practice him
only when they are still asleep.

These days I dream of a lone upright piano sitting
on a stormy, deserted ocean beach. Its lid is open,
the steel frame along with the tops and pegs
of some of the strings are exposed. The white
overlays on some of the keys are chipped or
missing. It sits there like a lost, forlorn dog
awaiting its master—who will never return.

Bio: Richard Pflum is a native of and now lives in Indianapolis. He is the author of three full-length books of poetry, A Dream of Salt (The Fredrick Brewer Press, now The Raintree Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1980), A Strange Juxtaposition of Parts (The Writers’ Center Press, Indianapolis, 1995), and Some Poems to Be Read Out Loud (Chatter House Press, Indianapolis, 2013). He has appeared in Tears in the Fence (U.K.), The Flying Island, The Reaper, Exquisite Corpse, PlopLop, Hopewell Review, and Kayak. He also has a poems in the anthologies The Indiana Experience (Indiana University Press, 1977) and A New Geography of Poets (University of Arkansas Press, 1992), and two poems in The New Laurel Review (1999), and a poem in Glass Works (Pudding House, 2002). On the Internet, he can be found on the archive of PoetryNet, Poet of the Month, October 2003. He is the host of Evening With the Muse, a monthly reading and open mic of the Indiana Writers Center.

Editor's note:
Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier (prelude):

Bach’s Two Part Invention #1, C- Major:


Monday, March 17, 2014

A St. Patrick's Day poem from Dan Carpenter

Happy St. Paddy’s Day
by Dan Carpenter

I remember it best as the best of excuses
for cutting class and getting drunk and kidding yourself
that you looked as good to the girls shedding their winter pelts
and inhibitions as they looked to you;
that their green tongues said go.

It came to reside, with New Year’s Eve,
in that locked upstairs room of the mind and heart
kept by the loved ones of alcoholics;
misshapen mockery of faith, flag and sex,
lost youth leering beneath a green plastic derby.

With you in my March, I open again to the phony sodden clamor,
extend my thousand Irish welcomes to the daytime drunks,
the knob-kneed parochial step dancers, the corsaged politicians,
all the flaunters of the color the singer reminds us
my ancestors wore at the risk of their shabby lives.

With you in my retreat, across the miles, as they say,
I say to them, Yes, you are, all of you, please, be Irish
for one afternoon, herded away downtown, insane and innocent
of Yeats, of hunger, of my toothless coal-miner grandparents;
of the pair of us, colorblind, deaf to your drums, free, green, locked in song.

Bio: Dan Carpenter is an Indianapolis resident, a freelance writer and a contributor to Indianapolis Business Journal, StatehouseFile.Com and other publications. He has published poems in Poetry East, Illuminations, Pearl, Xavier Review, Southern Indiana Review, Maize, Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island and other journals. A book of his poems, More Than I Could See, was published in 2009 by Restoration Press; and one of his poems was included in And Know This Place (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011), the first comprehensive anthology of work by Indiana-connected poets.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

An ekphrastic poem from Lylanne Musselman

Bye-bye Blackbird
by Lylanne Musselman

               To Wounded Bird and Cat, 1938 – Picasso

The cat’s
bloated belly
fades into
the blues—
a blackbird,
once vibrant
and free,
now limp,
feathers plucked—
unsung music
from a beak
agape, its
last song
fed black
cat’s hunger
for winged beauty,
plump breast,

Bio: Lylanne Musselman is a native Hoosier with many family, friendship, and poetry ties that keep her returning often. An award-winning artist and poet, she has been published in many literary journals and anthologies. She’s authored three chapbooks, and co-authored Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013) with Jayne Marek and Mary Sexson. Although, in 2011, she moved to Toledo, Ohio, she continues teaching online writing classes for Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis.

Wounded Bird and Cat

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tales of the heartland: Poems from Don Nelson, Thomas Alan Orr, and John Sherman

Crossing Into Iowa
by Don Nelson

On steel
rails westbound
horn blaring
grain bin,
winter wheat
flea market,
back lot
spray painted
junk yard,
small town
cash crop
cell tower,
power line
signal arm
gas truck
crossing gate
lone tree
corn stubble,
steel bridge
river barge
mark twain
sand bar

Bio: Don Nelson is from South Bend In. He is a graphic designer specializing in magazine design. He studied visual communication at Herron School of Art and Design and was a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame (communications arts).

Act of God
by Thomas Alan Orr

When the Mississippi crested at Cairo, Illinois,
they called in the army to blow the levee, sparing the town
and flooding a hundred thousand acres of farmland, doing,
the old Mennonite said, what the military does best,
wreaking havoc in service to the greater good,
a man’s livelihood in exchange for a beleaguered city.

He steered the boat over muddy water covering
his ruined crops, dead deer and rabbits floating in the waste.
A barn roof bobbed among the tractor tires
as he neared the homestead built by his grandfather,
now sitting in seven feet of water,
windows blank as a drowned woman’s eyes.

People could call it an Act of God if it consoled them,
but building cities on a flood plain or farming the bottom land
were choices made by men. This, in faith, he understood.
He searched the mercury-colored sky for some hint
of sunlight to warm that wide prairie sea. A framed picture
of four generations washed against the bow.

Bio: Thomas Alan Orr's poems have appeared in Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor, and other anthologies and journals. His poetry has also been read into the record of the Maine State Legislature. His first book of poems was Hammers in the Fog. He is finishing a second book under the working title, Tongue to the Anvil.

Freed From Kansas
by John Sherman

from kansas they came
free souls from soil once said free

the others remained:
clustered in churches
and saturday night corners
to gossip with neighbors
gossiped about once gone

but these two
believing those
sermons unpracticed


Bio: John Sherman has published three books of poetry. His poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies. One of his poems was selected to appear on an Indianapolis Cultural Trail bus stop. Another was selected for the poet-quilter collaboration, Poetry in Free Motion. He is the recipient of a Creative Renewal Artist Fellowship and Individual Arts Program grants for his writing.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seeing miracles in the mundane: A poem from Mac Greene

25th and Central
by Mac Greene

cracked concrete, broken glass,
empty half-pint whisky bottles,
McDonald’s litter, dog turds,
a red condom with French ticklers,
wads o’ foil, a crushed crack pipe

here we find the unending search for transcendence:
          whisky, the sacred fire;
          cocaine, Freud’s magic key.
we find evidence of
          food, love, and man’s best friend.

a waist high field of chicory
grows over this abandoned lot
flowers blazing blue in morning light.
morning glories wrap the knobby stems.
dandelions peep improbably from cracks.

ants travel on their busy highways.
bees buzz and flies inspect.
starlings gossip.
pigeons thrust out iridescent purple chests
as they soar down to steal from
house sparrows who find seeds to eat
in all the grassy weeds.

Bio: Mac Greene has been a Hoosier by choice for the past 17 years, finding Indiana a wonderful place to raise a family. His goal is to become an "emerging writer," but for now he is keeping his day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in teens and gender issues. All day long he looks for the little miracles that add up to the big miracle.