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Theme - 'MUSIC'

On this page: poems by Patrick Osada, Niki Nymark, Neal Whitman, Michael E. Stone, Johnmichael Simon, Maude Larke, Alex Skovron, Matthew Moran, Marilynn Krause, Marian Kaplun Shapiro, Margaret Fieland, Lynn Veach Sadler, Lisa Aigen, Linda Simone, Linda Mills, Nina Newman, Sonja Smolec

The following works are copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.

Patrick Osada

Patrick Osada is a retired Headteacher, he now works as an editor & also writes reviews of poetry for magazines.
He has been writing poetry all of his adult life. His first success came with a prize-winning poem in a National Poetry Competition. This gave him the confidence to submit his work more widely, leading to regular publication of his work in many of the leading poetry magazines.
His first collection, Close To The Edge was published in 1996 & won the prestigious Rosemary Arthur Award.

His second collection of poetry, Short Stories : Suburban Lives (Bluechrome), deals with the difficulties and loneliness of the many people… “trapped in dark suburbia, just trying to survive.”

His work has been included in many anthologies, on Internet sites & broadcast on national & local radio in the UK. His poetry has been translated into several European languages and has appeared in anthologies published in a number of different countries.

Gloucester born, Patrick has lived and worked in Berkshire, England for many years.
His life in semi-rural Warfield has inspired him to record life in this charming parish as a sequence of poems that have formed the basis for his current collection, Rough Music, which was published by Bluechrome in the Autumn of 2006.
A new collection, Choosing The Route, is planned for publication in the Autumn of 2010

Many of these & other works have appeared on his website :

Lord Ormathwaite’s Rough Music
(The Ballad of Warfield Park)

This tale from Warfield’s history
Is, perhaps, the most bizarre :
Of the second Lord Ormathwaite
And a night that was ill-starred.

Arthur Benn Walsh was this lord’s name -
The Baron of Warfield Park -
Confronted by a village mob
In the deep October dark.

Arthur’d married a sweet young wife -
Somerset’s Emily Kate,
Her kindness to the villagers
Had them queuing at her gate.

During that time of hardship, when
The poor were really in need,
Emily won their hearts and minds
With charity and good deeds.

It was back in seventy-four,
In Queen Victoria’s reign,
Rumour ran wild in the parish
That Emily was in pain.

It seemed that domineering lord
Would often mistreat his wife-
Feelings raged high in the village,
Hearing of Emily’s strife.

They plotted in the old New Inn
And in the Plough & Harrow :
The talk was all of “Skimmy Rides”
Instead of growing marrows.

“What that man needs is a lesson,
We need to cause him some pain -
If we give ‘im a good tinnin’
‘E might start usin’ ‘is brain.”

“Get pots and pans and old tin cans
An’ a whacker - like a stick,
We’ll deafen that louse Ormathwaite
When we play our Rough Music.”

So off they marched passed Horsenaile’s House
Shouting and making a din,
“We’re off to see Lord Ormathwaite
To repent ‘im of ‘is sins.”

Four hundred trekked to Warfield Park
Where they marched around the Hall,
Arthur was finishing dinner
When his neighbours came to call.

The Baron rushed to the window -
Leaving his half finished meal,
Fury and anger took over :
Stormed out to face his ordeal.

“Quiet, you rabble!” he shouted -
The music suddenly stilled,
The mob faced up to his ranting -
The air now suddenly chilled.

“I know your face Thomas Butler,
I know you Harry the Smith -
Don’t try to hide Robert Bowyer -
You’re standing by young Griffith.”

Those at the back were now restless,
Someone let out a loud moan,
Suddenly up the band started -
Cheering, they headed for home.

The tinners’ triumph was short lived -
Twenty nine summonses came,
Calling them to Wokingham court -
These few to carry the blame.

But Arthur soon left the parish -
Slunk to his holding in Wales,
Ormathwaites ended up bankrupt -
Put their Park home up for sale.

Ghosts don’t forget the harsh treatment
Of those poor men who once erred…
Sometimes, on dark Autumn evenings,
Rough Music still can be heard.


One of the most alarming rural traditions in England was known as the Skimmington Ride, Ran Tanning, Riding the Stang, Tinning or Rough Music.
When a man was exposed as having been unfaithful to his wife or shown to have ill treated her, a mob of neighbours would gather together to shout, beat frying pans, saucepans or anything that would make a noise. Often an effigy of the offending husband was made. The mob, effigy in tow, would make their noisy way around the village to the house of the offender where the effigy would be burnt.
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy’s novel of 1886, describes such a Skimmington Ride.

Fade Out

Gentle sounds in rhythmic waves
Steal swiftly through my heart’s red rage
Impinge, behind my scowling stare,
Upon the malice burning there.
(The music played to sooth my pain
Billows around my troubled brain.)
Timed notes cascade in euphony
Quenching angers flame for me,
Freeing the bird of black despair
To flutter on the quivering air.

Niki Nymark

Niki Nymark is a native St. Louisan. She worked for 20 years in journalism and public relations, then earned an MSW and for 16 years served as a patient educator, social worker and psychotherapist. Her poetry has appeared in several collections such as New Harvest Anthology of Jewish Poets, OASIS 2007, Across the Long Bridge, and Flood Stage: an Anthology of St. Louis Poets. She also has produced three chapbooks, Kavannot, A Stranger Here Myself, and Nothing Smaller Than Your Elbow. She is currently a full-time poet and new bride. This is her second appearance in Cyclamens and Swords.

Midnight Tango

At midnight the phone rings; I pick up.
“Hello,” he says, spanning
a year of silence with one word. I
am terrified “Hello,” I answer,
(pause, pause,)
It took years to learn that hesitation step,
to pass the music back to him.
Before, I worked solo.

“How are the kids?” (dip) He always
lays down a safe line. I follow,
“Fine,” I think, in spite of you
and in spite of me. (turn, kick).
A little small talk,
he solos, I solo.
(Glide, shuffle, turn.)

“I just finished a job,” he says,
(pause, pause, step away.)
I don’t move into the space,
although, according to the beat, it’s mine.
“and I was wondering” he says
(pause, pause,)
“if you’d, maybe, come and
celebrate with me.”
(Dip, half-turn away,)

“D’ya know,” - my line, (turn, kick,)
“I’ve often thought about what I’d say,
if you called again,
would it be, ‘Yes, Partner, dance with me,
the music is only sweet when I’m with you.’
or would I say ‘I’ve got new shoes
and I’m doing a solo now.’”
(pause, break away.)

Is he still there
at the other end of the line?
Is he still marking time
to my tango beat?
“I don’t know,” he says, “which
would it be?”
“Neither do I,” I say.
(kick, turn, dance away.)

Neal Whitman

Neal Whitman is a retired education professor who began professing his belief in poetry in 2005, and, since then, has published over 100 Western form poems and over 150 haiku poems. In 2009, his free verse won first place in the James McIntyre Poetry Contest in Ontario, Canada, and two haiku were awarded honorable mention in the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society judged by two haiku masters in Japan; in 2010 he won 3rd prize and an honorable mention in Western New England College's Common Ground Review.

a door just opened on main street

ruby eyes like
the bottom of an emptied sherry glass
a bittersweet autumn dusk, like
a Schubert impromptu
a spark when my finger
touches my lips
to your lips…

The Name Game

Remember the Name Game?
It was a children’s sing-along rhyme.
Then a pop hit in 1965,
Shirley Ellis’s claim to fame.

Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley
Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!

Girls sang it on the school bus
Calling out each other’s names.
Snickering boys taunted, “Let’s do Chuck.”

Here is a new Name Game.
Look up where you
should appear in the dictionary.

Of course, you could be there:
“Elaine died of unrequited love for Lancelot.”
Arthurian legends make the cut.

If your name is not there,
what words appear
where you should have been?

Next in line Neanderthal Man:
“A Middle Paleolithic Hominid
known from skeletal remains.”

Below Neal, neap:
“The tide occurring during quarter moons
when gravitational forces are weakest.”

That’s correct.
I am strong, then weak,
then strong again.

Everyone deserves to be defined:
to know what they are below,
what they are above.

Michael E. Stone

Michael Stone was born in England in 1938. His family moved to Australia in 1941, where he received his schooling. Michael was awarded academic degrees in Australia and at Harvard University. He holds an earned Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Melbourne. Michael lives in Jerusalem with his family, writes and publishes original poetry as well as translating. His translation of Adamgirk', a medieval epic about Adam and Eve in 6,000 lines, was published by Oxford University Press.

Disc Deluge

High stacks of backs
plastic with cracks
hold music encased
in bright CD tracks

voice and bassoon
oud and duduk
encaged in the burns
of the disc that turns

burst open the door
let sound flood the floor
and tuba's boom-booms
flow through the rooms

music surges in ears
sound drowns out fears

ears mind and soul
submerged in one howl.

Johnmichael Simon

Johnmichael Simon has lived in Israel since 1963. He has published three solo books of poems and two collaborations with partner Helen Bar-Lev. His poetry has been awarded numerous prizes and honorable mentions and is published widely in print and website collections. He is the chief editor of Cyclamens and Swords publishing and webmaster of Voices Israel group of poets in English Johnmichael’s personal poetry website is

Circus Music

When you were a child
breathing street lamps
from your cold window
your world an oyster shell
bequeathed by fairy tales
moons hanging on silver threads

Don’t you remember

When lions and elephants
cavorted and the tattooed lady
waited under her marquee of stars
watching the horses on the merry-go-round
eat lady fingers from little hands

Yes, that window’s frosty, grimy now

As lamps glimmer on shortening wicks
and those figures on the painted lady
cram into each other’s wrinkles,
disappear into themselves

But the music stays with you, big tent music
beat and throb, trumpets blaring oompah pah
it plays on, your private juke box when
you glimpse the moon, smell the fragrance
of a painted carousel or circus animal dung

A silver arm encircles a shellac disk, lifts,
moves over, places it on a spinning table
and you hear all those old tunes again
your ten year old pockets filled with
an endless supply of glinting coins

Wolfgang Amadeus Blackbird

Most nights he serenades me
outside my bedroom window
hidden in dense cedar needles
his compositions accompanying
my nocturnal preparations

While bulbul and crow practice
their scales hardly deviating
from accustomed themes
Mr B. (God bless his ingenuity)
sings endless variations
seldom repeating himself
and when he does
it’s always with some surprising
little warble shifting almost
seamlessly from orange beak major
to black wing minor and back again

Tonight he’s moved his perch
to the pine tree as he chirps
another multi-movement divertimento
and I, sleep denied,
bless him, curse him,
sometimes wish to murder him

Slipping at last into sleep I see
Salieri preparing his devilish plot
and in delightful flashback,
young Mozart playing improvisations,
lifted horizontal by his fellows
hands effortless over his head

Chopin, Nocturne in C Sharp Minor op. posth.

a darkening city, tired
from blood shedding
wasting at the sleeves
a tired angel

A Chopin nocturne is playing
over the rooftops
as we remember,
explosions, car bombs,
burning, incendiary music,
but it’s not Rome

And perhaps this is
a more appropriate way,
soft sad fingers
across the skyline
nocturne fingers touching
silhouettes of buildings
one by one
turning the lights off

Maybe it is an angel,
you know the one I mean,
playing this nocturne
across an emptying cityscape
the last ghost
watching from a rooftop
as the lights go out

From broken window panes
in a city without ears
yet somehow, still
with a posthumous echo

Bella Figlia Dell'amore

The soprano
in this opera
has a way
with arias
that denies
her proportions
perhaps Verdi’s
conception of
with Rubens’
the audience
slurping it all
like pizza
the Prima Donna
in Rigoletto
wriggling into
her corset
then warbling
her enchantment
like a sprinkling
of oregano
over melting
covering all that

Maude Larke

Maude Larke has come back to writing after years in the university system, analyzing others’ texts and films, and to classical music as an ardent amateur, after fifteen years of piano and voice in her youth. She has been published in Bird’s Eye reView, Breadcrumb Scabs, the Syracuse Cultural Workers’ Women Artists Datebook, The Naugatuck River Review, Oberon, The Story Teller, Flowers & Vortexes, Doorknobs and Bodypaint, and Cyclamens and Swords.

Two Hands

Possibly solemn, those two hands,
rippling slightly through the double beat

but, white from the light,
they pause, they float
like two sculpted doves
over the fermata in Couperin’s Tomb

then, winging off anew,
they gather in the full expanse
of alpine landscapes, Faust’s desire,
waltzes, Jupiter, and Stravinsky’s sacrifice,

one with the inspiration rod,
the threading needle,
the slim mark of vital ephemerality,
the beat of that moment,

the other open, up or down,
asking, or perhaps restraining,
punctuating the fabric
with buds of entrances
or holding air tightly.

Both dance, spring,
or smooth, or dredge,
scooping through the geography of sound.

Whether pressed to breast
or pressing the presto,
weaving the strands and strains
or choosing the colors meant to flash,

those two hands implore, command,
stitch the verticals,
stretch the horizons,
mold largo, bite con anima.

They are not separate
they are not apart
for all their flight
and syncopation
their complete dance away from each other

they will be
through every beat
through every rhythm
through every long journey through airs
joined at the heart.


the man bent
over his guitar
(looking so plain,
speaking so fully)
like an uncle,
his favorite niece
on his raised knee

with no outer movement
but his fingers
and his lips,
flexing with the melody

through stolid,
sure hands
come the centuries
of sound
that he heard

and the years
of patience
that he held
with the light
through the long nails
at his fingertips


to tease the fickle senses
and create a stream at will
to tease the fickle senses
with costumed smiles
and hidden fingers
and masquerading perfumes

to tease
with captured light
and create a stream at will
with costumed smiles
with wizard sparkle
and laughter falls
and waves disclosed
and cool shade

to tease
with smiles
with sparks
and scents
and waves
and shade
and light and

to bottle spontaneity
in black prisms

and set it free
in refracted air

Higdon Strings

those strings –
not quite like whale’s breath
volcanoing as it crests

nor the zen of aum
one thousand times at once

an attempt at cascade perhaps
but more like
an attempt of cascade
to belong to a page

how mere paper holds
suggests sheer alchemy

nowhere here the mincing of Mozart
if rockface wailed
it would have that voice

a calcite cliff
in full aria

granite spheres baying their vibrations

and the whole
like a cliff lifting
thrusting earth’s exhalation to the vertical

whistle or profundo
bouncing or gliding
assaulting or surreptitious

keening or sneaking
up from under
newly awed brass

those strings –

much more like

straining against
sheets of sound
taut as on masts
and hissing through stitches

of a katana
direct from fire
through silk
to bubbling blood

in drapes
at worlds’ beginning

and somewhere
one woman
lifted in a shudder
from her bed

Alex Skovron

Alex Skovron was born in Poland, lived briefly in Israel as a boy, and emigrated to Australia in 1958, aged nearly ten. His family settled in Sydney, where he grew up and completed his studies. Since the early 1970s he has worked as a book editor for various publishers; he now lives in Melbourne, is married with two children, and works as a freelance editor. Alex’s poetry has been published widely and five collections have appeared to date, most recently The Man and the Map (2003) and Autographs (2008), a book of prose-poems. Awards have included the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry (twice), the John Shaw Neilson Poetry Award (twice), the Australian Book Review Poetry Prize (2007), and, for his first collection, the Anne Elder and Mary Gilmore awards. His prose novella, The Poet (2005), was joint winner (with Kate Grenville) of the FAW Christina Stead Award for fiction. A book of short stories is in preparation.

Midday Gavotte

‘a duet in which the other instrument is silent’
– Henry Miller

His fiddle burns in the sun
as the shoppers crowd around to listen,
looking for the hat. He has come

out of nowhere, his teeth are missing
and his oversize jacket
wriggles with the music, and he glistens

with sweat. His violin is lacquered
a brilliant ochre, the bow
dances, and the eyes bestow a regular rapid

smile (not the lips though),
and the little stool that he perches upon
is almost comically too low,

and a second almost identical one
stands empty a foot away.
Just then he nods at the invisible companion,

sniffs, and ceases to play –
but continues tapping out the colourful beat
with his bow; he nods again

and smiles surprisingly, his absent teeth
gaping, as if in pride
at so adept a partner, steals a fleet

inspection of the financial side
of the performance but continues conducting.
All at once he nuzzles high

into his instrument, slyly whispers something
to the second fiddle: with a poetic
toss he resumes his own song, disrupting

the loud silence of traffic,
all the unseen migrations, the mall’s frenzy;
the audience is clapping

as if in appreciation of the tacit cadenza
just concluded – then sever
slowly, diplomatically from the climaxing dancer

to go about their day. Weather
is turning: he stops, collects his disconsolate chum
and they walk off the stage together.

Mona Lisa

No Nat, it’s not a smile to tempt a lover,
I’m past all that. In fact it’s many moods, they alter
imperceptibly: sweet longing for a land I’ll never see
again, the glaze of boredom, and a gentle mockery
(my one defence left) of the puzzled eyes of all these
voyeurs who’ve trooped to Paris one thing on their minds,

to stand and outstare me for all the wrong reasons.
You’re probably right about the broken heart.
I’m sick of this city, weary of its seasons:
cold, lonely and lovely? – Dimmi, what price art?

Supper Song

The perfect utterance is not enough
The measured utterance The disembodied face
Baying at the moon
Is not enough You are not
And I am not enough To have been guided
Out of Egypt is not enough
Climbed to the pinnacle
Of ashes or the point of a pin is not enough
To have danced in the storm Danced
Inside the needle's eye Danced upon the tongue
Of a fat flame is not enough
To have stared stared into the eye
Of the needle or curled into its thin comfort
Is not enough The comfort
Of blistering flame The slash
Of blistering ice in the jaws of dawn
Is not enough The knife
Turning gold in its glistening hand
Is not enough And the flung stone And the lamp
At midnight
Sweating a thin song is not enough
                                               No song
Is enough without the inconsolable tide No word
Enough without the groan under the earth
The dizzy sudden shock of a plummeting flight
Downward into the well of a dream
Down into the square cell
At the staircase foot No fever No magical flute
Is enough without the shuddering breath
No lie enough without its drunken truth
No life without its death O pathos
Of the spheres

Water Music

Trapped in a rainy car, I am conducting
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with concise
      Passion. The Scherzo has just reached
      The intersection of Wattletree and South,
I soar into the vinyl ceilingwork and bump
My head and bite my tongue a bit;

My wrist flows back like a tide – I feel
      The English horns are always so mellow here.
      Rounding the curve into the Rondo finale I feel
My feet on the pedal podium starting to itch.

Matthew Moran

Originally from the United States, Matt Moran now lives in Oulu, Finland. He is an English teacher at Oulun Lyseon Lukio. His poems have appeared in the Marco Polo Quarterly and Threshold (DePaul University).

At first light

Just as the uilleann-pipes
bellowed sob-filled wails,
your mother reached for
the warm of my hand,
letting me round the full of you.
You, who knew nothing more
of Me, than man of God,
set forth your cadenced thwack
against your mother’s belly
like soldiers beat bodhrans,
thumping the sorrows of
uncoffined Irish blood
spilt upon fields at Aughrim.

And waiting for the fiddler
to break into a festive reel,
outside, on that October night,
plump dew-drenched snow dropped
like a hailstorm of confetti
for You.

Marilynn Krause

I live in two rooms, one in Berkeley California and the other in Eugene Oregon. That's almost adventure enough but not quite. Now that I'm done with the child-rearing part of adulthood, I'm trying to wean myself away from an accidental financial district career. That's freeing up some time to write, to read others' work, and to submit a bit. Fun.

Dance Marathon

We overflowed the hall – we’re such a crowd
we littered every niche and split the schools.
While other cohorts gossiped we made loud
eruptive innovations, suffered fools,
invented newer music, ate vaccines,
and danced until the sun sent us to bed.
Our parents put their hopes into machines
but we were warm and mystical instead.

Now reeds are split and gut has come unstrung
and all the instruments have gone untuned.
The night is old and we few move among
the ghosts of dancers, limping, sore, marooned
together, rhythm-linked by happenstance:
coincidental partners at the dance.


Impressed by narrow chest behind me when
I exited the opera’s airy tier,
I hyper-noticed he was present then
and wondered if he angled to be near.
Of all the things we talked of with our food
I recollect the strange tenacity
that underlay his words about my mood
after I dance, what music does to me…

The evening sparkled Saturday, the sky
a hemisphere of scoured navy air,
the leaf-wet streets reflecting vapor lights.
Within an arc of autumn he and I
began to be impressed: as much aware
of nuances as teenagers or knights.


I heard a bird whose song was like a bell
of silver, like a ringing glockenspiel,
like water falling on itself. I tell
of it for beauty’s sake, again to feel
that lightness in my ears. The creature sang,
it seemed to me, of liberty and spring.
Upon a wire overhead he rang
the world awake. He took in everything.

Ingenious people, we reduce our view
with our invention, while the days are tolled
by birds. Our windshields frame our sight; our thoughts
are bound in plasma screens. The pixels skew
and limit us. The tempered glass is cold.
A song explodes the strictures we have wrought.

Marian Kaplun Shapiro

Born in 1939 in a housing project in The Bronx, Marian Kaplun Shapiro practices as a psychologist and poet in Lexington, Massachusetts. The author of Second Childhood (Norton, 1988) and many professional articles, her poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play appeared in April, 2007 from Plain View Press. Her chapbooks, Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line), and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House) also appeared in late 2007. She was named Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts in 2006 and again in 2008.


this is a lot of folderol, (♫ fa la la la la, la la la LA ♫), what land is this, this is my land, my country ‘tis, Massachusetts chu choochoochoo chew shoo shoe (oe = oo?) (what a ridiculous spelling) where I livewhereIloveneed wanthavelose motherfatherfriendfriendfriendand time years if it weren’t for the mirror would I notice not being 20304050 yes tho I am the same girl I am the me I always was but and now even moreso coming back even moreso coming back (♫ this land is your land, this land is my land) (♫la la la LA LA♫) it always was but it’s the paying attention that makes the difference it’s the noticing what flowers grow there wild no matter what and which will never grow no matter what and which will grow only with careful watchfulness and tender fingers and lots of mattering,

and this is what I come to, the lots of mattering. The musicians finally can lay
their instruments to rest. The dissonances spread their arms, an arabesque penché,
one hand grabbing for the sky, the other for the ground. The chord resolves. It all
falls into place, lifts off. I know what I have to say.

John Cage In The Wild


What     about      the     rabbit?

Her ears at attention, she

    waits.                       Silence.

Listens.                                       Silence

            Waits.               Hears

            the sound

of her breathing.

                            The music of


Margaret Fieland

Born and raised in Manhattan, Margaret Fieland has lived in the Boston area since just after the blizzard of 1978, thus missing the opportunity to abandon her car in a snow bank and walk home. An accomplished flute and piccolo player, she is also able to write backwards and wiggle her ears. Thanks to her father's relentless hounding, she can still recite the rules for pronoun agreement in both English and French. Her poems and stories have appeared in anthologies and journals such as Main Channel Voices, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. Her book, "The Angry Little Boy," will be published by 4RV publishing in 2012. You may visit her website

On Being Stopped by a Moose Crossing the Road

I drive to a Mozart string quartet,
twilight sky hangs gray overhead,
dulls new green of birch trees.
Violin scatters a flurry of notes,

cello answers, deep voiced
bass echoes underneath.
Two robins flutter down, red breast
atop brown, then scatter on either side.

A breath brings stench of old feet,
musky and strong. I slow, then stop
in deepening twilight. A Moose,
taller than my Chevy, sways, ponderous,

across the road, into tangled green
on other side. On the radio,
first movement ends,
second begins.

Road Work

Cars creep along Route 6,
sign reads,
Road construction
Expect delays,
while Chicago's "Stay the Night"
blares on the radio.

Headlights illuminate
bits of fog,
rain blows through
open window
while Peter or Bill
sings "Remember the Feeling."

Swig cold coffee,
get a mouthful of grounds
as "Something About You"
drifts out my window.

Jacket's wet,
no place to pull over
while someone's singing
"Something was Wrong."

Car cuts in front of me,
I stand on my brakes.
Chicago's crooning
"Please Hold On."

Sirens sing
up the highway
while Boyz II Men belt out
"End of the Road."

Lynn Veach Sadler

Widely published in academic and creative writing, former college president Dr. Lynn Veach Sadler has six poetry chapbooks out and a full-length collection in press. One story appears in Del Sol’s Best of 2004 Butler Prize Anthology; a novel will soon join her novella and short-story collection. She won the 2009 overall award of the San Diego City College National Writer’s Contest and Wayne State’s 2008 Pearson Award for a play on the Iraq wars.

The “Old Time Music” of Marvin Gaster

Old Time Music—two- or three- [bare] finger
banjo picking—has little in common
with “flat-chording” (“no picks”).
Marvin gets downright “contrarious”
if you confuse his music with Blue Grass
or “claw-hammer” Mountain Music.
Like his Uncle Henry, he learned
his “melody style” from listening
and observing local masters, never went
to the mountains in his life.

Much of this music was performed
at “frolics” after hog killings,
corn-shuckings, other communal work.
It led naturally to fiddle and banjo contests.
The best (like Marvin) could
play and flatfoot-dance at the same time.

Old Time Musicians “make” music—
create it from memory and ear.
“John Hardy,” the first piece Marvin mastered,
simply went “down his arm to his fingers.”

Old Time Music was “discovered” by
the “Philly” and “New York” “crowds”
flocking to festivals at Mt. Airy,
Union Grove, Carter’s Cave, Galax . . . .
Hippies in brogans trying
mightily to appreciate snuff.
They listened in awe, asked questions,
copied as best they could, promoted CDs.

No way.
The Japanese also became
Old-Time-Music groupies,
like to flat-foot to “Forked Deer.”
Nothing’s provincial about “Old Time Music”!
The very thought of it amazes—and delights.

Still Life: Cat with Horn

Mother saved No-Name
when our neighbors meant to drown him,
thinking him retarded, a freak.
The runt in a litter of five Persians.
One eye green; the other,
yellow, ringed with black, then blue.
More cross-eyed than a Siamese.
“Wall-eyed” Father calls him,
out of Mother’s hearing.

Worse, he has two tails (the part that’s freak),
both beautiful-regular-big-Persian,
If he doesn’t keep them straight up,
he tips to one side.
But when they are straight up,
his front end rides high, and No-Name claws air.
No-Name doesn’t move around much,
probably for the problem of his tail.

The worst, for Mother, is that No-Name’s mute.
Every time she looks at him, she says,
“What a sad state of affairs when a kitten
is not allowed his God-given sounds.”
Out of Mother’s hearing, Father says,
“His silence is what’s saved his life.
Why, no self-respecting Southern boy
would look twice at doing in a non-protesting cat.
The noise is the thing, you see.”

Wherever Mother is, No-Name is, too.
In the rare moments she sits on our front porch,
his eyes appear beneath her.
Father says No-Name’s willingness to go
double-barreled against a rocking chair
is proof of retardation.
When Mother stands or moves about the house,
No-Name’s between her feet.
They “accommodate” each other perfectly,
no stumbles or mashed tails.

But Mother watched and worried for her cat.
The day the idea came, she was, all-over, cat-in-catnip.
She sent Father to have her idea special-ordered.
He complained, but his eyes were shiny proud.
He drove the store man crazy asking was it not in yet.
We all helped Mother with the training.
And now when our cat wants to talk or call,
he sits upon the rubber bulb to blow his horn.

No-Name wasn’t No-Name from that time.
After family debate, we agreed to
two names, one per tail.
If we ask him to blow, he’s “Gabriel.”
If it’s his idea, he’s “Joshua.”
He prefers Mother’s “Gabriel Joshua.”

Tuba Talk (Rondel)

“The tuba’s oom-pah-pah is fine,
though oomph is really not its forte.
I’d not choose it to woo escort.”

“Its weight can hurt or curve one’s spine?”

“Pray, was it favored by Bernstein?”

“Now, will it give my lips a wart?”

“The tuba’s oom-pah-pah is fine,
though oomph is really not its forte.
Don’t give the tuba ‘Auld Lang Syne’!
It can the sweetest sounds distort,
but, oh, how I do love its snort!
And it will never, ever whine.
The tuba’s oom-pah-pah is fine.”

Glissie Harpo Pluck’s Life Among the Glitterati

It takes pluck to grow glissandi.
No glissie’s for the sissy.
If you grow glissandi
with twinkles, grace, and star shine—
if you grow glissandi
without glitch, glitz, or grime,
you can get transported
to life among the glitterati!

I’m Glissie Harpo Pluck,
a name with which I’m stuck.
I used to think, “Oh, yuck!”
Now I’m quite wonder-struck.
It’s no name for a smuck.
It’s not a name to buck.
It’s not mine by potluck.
It did not come through luck.
With such a name
as Glissie Harpo Pluck,
I had to be a harpist!

I can hoot and toot.
I can rumble-grumble.
I can turn a raspberry
into a merryberry.
I can express my pleasure
in SpaghettiOs
with happy arpeggios.

I pluck up; I pluck down.
My music earns renown.
My music glides like stars.
No, harps are not guitars.
Harps have placed me
among the glitterati!

Lisa Aigen

Lisa Aigen has written poetry from the age of eight, and was only mildly deterred after her father commented that Shakespeare did it better. Now in her second childhood, she wishes to make up for lost time. She writes in all spare moments, when not serving as an art therapist or serving dinner to her family! Ms. Aigen has been married to the same person for 33 years, has six children, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren. She also paints and is presently learning Chinese Brush Painting.

Klezmer Festival 1

She hands out ice cream
to her children
who squabble over the flavors,
tiny hands gaping like beaks,

The clarinet hums.
She raises her finger
to her lips,
reminding them
to listen to their fathers' music.

Nearby, a Hasid, with velvet skullcap,
a boy with pink hair,
two soldiers dripping hot sauce from their falafel,
clap to the beat.

A round man with suspenders
brandishes hot corn like a baton.
His wife taps and twitches,
If she were younger, she would dance.

The violinist,
black coat shiny at the elbows,
seems to have more than ten fingers.
He cradles his fiddle like a swaddled child.

The melody does arabesques,
meows, screeches,
like the tearing of a shirt
at the edge of a grave.

This music
we clap to, tap to,
take off our cap to,
is, after all,
a resurrection.

Klezmer Festival 2

Hills, crisp in the moonlight
were studded with lights
as if a celestial saltshaker had sprinkled
its stars.
Several others stood by the fence
Distracted by the view
though the music was beginning.
Her scarf was wound
like a bandage around her head,
long skirt trailing the powdery dust,
the child on her lap
Picking pink wisps of cotton candy
with his sticky fingers.
Spiraled blond sidecurls bouncing
as the tune gathered momentum
and rolled.

Dedalous's Poem for his Son

I wished to give you
the flight of my songs,
Feathers, pasted in couplets,
Sticky wax of image and metaphor
Light wood wings for you to sing,
but you wrote your own chorus
Icaraus,my son
Bewitched by a small hot star
You plunged into the sea,
I could not hold you on course
my expertise, experience for naught.

Linda Simone

Linda's work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and appears most recently in the anthology, Lavanderia and in the online journal, Assisi. Cow Tippers won the 2006 Shadow Poetry Chapbook Competition. She lives and works in NYC.

Andante on 42nd Street

Like the Daytona 500
I fly past faceless tourists
rush to subway,
heavy with purpose,
destination, deadline.

Across the street, Port Authority
doesn’t exist.
I ignore the man hawking A.M. New York,
wishing no one in particular
a blessed day.

Old woman ahead
ticks side to side
like a metronome,
her cane, her breaks.
Hair, the gray of winter sky,
parts to pink.
She’s hunched, raincoat
too loose,
not warm enough.

It’s a cinch to catch her
but as I approach
she stops dead
in her tracks
bends to retrieve
a single, dull penny

like a memory: sweet shop
where such coin, surrendered,
would yield two
strawberry licorice twists,
pink tongue left for red.

Rhyming Box

To capture it inside a rhyming box
I sing your name once and again.

It coats my tongue
fills my mouth.

I chew on letters
chant until your consonants and vowels

echo in the cathedral of my head
reverberate in lush alveoli of lungs

spiral and elevate toward cirrus clouds
then saturate the loamy earth

into furrows down

down to the very roots
of me.

Voice Lessons

The lady downstairs teaches voice
to screeching pre-teen girls, acrobatic
with their chords
but just missing the wire.
At my desk, I hear them barely clear
the high C.

I call my high school teacher,
30 years later,
the one who made me love words.
I picture the convent hall,
black-draped arm reaching for the phone.
Browning and Frost still in the voice that answers
her quiet Who?
My name hanging in silence. And then, Of course,
sending me forth to write.

It’s been 21 years since my mother spoke.
I can no longer remember her music.
I’ve inherited her myopia, her walk.
Sometimes I notice my Ls
loop generously like hers.
But somewhere her voice still echoes.
What I wouldn’t give to find that place.

I’ve slept through terrible thunderstorms
and, once, an earthquake.
But at slightest rumble of our son
in dead of night I rise,
hyper as a hare.
My husband knows
if he wants a glass of water
or me to turn off lights,
all he has to whisper is: That Justin?

My husband asked me
to name the last sound I’d wish for
before dying. I don’t recall my answer.
His: Your voice reading your poems.
That’s it – what I want to hear
at that last millisecond:
his voice, those words.

We all can be found out
by the map we carry: junctures of words,
singular river of song.
We leave voice-prints
on this journey.
What we desire, louder than words:
Who seeks money?
    Who wants toys?
     Who lives for love?
      Who longs for voice?

Linda Mills

In the past, as Linda Trujillo, she has had poetry published in the US, England, and Japan. However the complications of life temporarily redirected her energies but never stilled that secret voice within. She is once again, as Linda Mills, presenting her work . She recently received First Place in The Queen Mother Poetry Competition 2010. And she has been accepted for publication in two more poetry journals.

The Bell And The Clapper

I move
to your touching
like a bell through sunlight
swinging to the rhythm of our

Your kiss
is the clapper
that brings out my longing
a peeling of music so sweet
and clear

But this
song will linger
with passion’s long echo
Even when its heart is silent
and still

Storm Music

Rain drops
on the roof tiles,
a percussion solo
coming between the woodwinds and
the brass.

Storm Dance

move back and forth
to a wind born rhythm
A restless storm from northern seas

Nina Newman

Nina Newman lives in an agricultural village facing Mount Gilboa in Israel.
She teaches English, loves walking, traveling, cooking, movies, dogs and life
Nina writes short stories, flash fiction and poems .


The sequins on my dress glittered
he said it looks as if your heart’s on fire
then he grabbed my hand and
we stepped on to the dance floor
he was trying to teach me the samba
Tum Chiki Tum he said over and over
his hands held high in the air
When the music began
my hips swayed the wrong way
my feet barely kept up the rhythm

and he just said Tum Chiki Tum

Sonja Smolec

Born in 1953, Sonja Smolec is a well known author of children books, giving numerous presentations and readings around her native country – Croatia. She is widely acclaimed and appreciated by local schools and libraries for her public appearances and contacts with children. Sonja is also a member of several local organizations supporting art in all its forms as well as a member of the Croatian Society of Writers for Children and Youth. Being a prolific author and trying to reach a wider audience, she tries her hand in a variety of styles - poetry, mystery novels, and English poetry.


Dim light,
a table and cutlery for two,
sweet, dark red wine,
reflecting drops
on the glass’ rim
make me feel light headed...
...and I just wonder at the beauty I see
as I watch curtains play
behind your back
to the rhythm of a springtime breeze
inhaling the fading Dvorak sounds
from the house next door
when your fingers play the bow
upon the roundness of my shoulder,
the voice of love
on this Friday night.

Moonlight sonata

the beauty
waits to unfold
to expose the bosom
out of its water-lily bud shape
under the moon light
in the cathedral of night.

followed by echoes...

...Beethoven's fingers soft touch lingers
upon the white and black harpsichord keys
holding together arch shadows,
stained glass light,
and Cologne pretzel crumbs

on my lips and shirt.