House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.


Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.

Featured Poems

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Featured Poems

The Sky is Full of Bluebirds

Ralph Murre

Door County

First published in the Wisconsin's Poets Calendar

but not everyone can see them

so they think it’s just a blue sky,

and at night, when it’s all crows  –

well, you know.

And early and late

come the cardinals and tanagers,

but don’t try to explain that

to just anyone.

There are gray birds, too.


Like This Morning, Crazy with Wind

Ralph Murre

Door County

First Published in Verse Wisconsin

Or just the other day, the bad roads

Even that time, and maybe it was long ago

When we all danced in circles


Take last night, what you said

Take the fire in the ring of rock

Take sun and rain, finally

Pulling frost from earth.  A garden


Like falling in and out and in, again

Since the beginning and until

We are very, very old and

Maybe falling in and out, even then


The seasons, I mean, the leaves

The greening and the turning to gold

The rush of it like the sea pulling

The ice and streams of high mountains


Think of that water in the Pacific

Or the rain in Spain if you prefer

Or the little cloud that you are, driven


Like this morning, crazy with wind

The Way the Light Shines

Ralph Murre

Door County

First Published in Verse Wisconsin

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


 Nathan Reid


I will be am who was before

the am who is, who was no more

who will be then when then is now

till now is not quite here somehow.


Give me a half-twist

this band, this width

this single boundary reaching forward for that asymptote.


My eyes are pillars of books that out-stack those alpine heavens

stories flapping open-faced along this strip of verity

of dreams alive and giant

the way your dreams use to be

but now you fade from our mise-en-scène     

afraid of being sliced out from that colossal film reel

and left behind on the cutting room floor.


When I was a boy I once asked if you believed in a god,

you suggested god perhaps only exists when you are thinking about him

and probably not even then.

I asked if you believed the world as myth,

you said faith is a moment and this moment is missing.


This moment is missing.


Or maybe faith, as a concept, has been turned inside-out

worn on the wrong hand.

Do I believe in a god?

I believe in light, I believe in darkness

I believe in all the love found in-between.

I believe the calmness that keeps old age from fearing death’s apparent horizon

is in knowing how this line, if continued, will meet its starting point again—

a persistence of perception.


One day you announce to us:

“Family and friends

I have cancer, I am not dying.

I have cancer, I am not dying.”

And that day you aren’t.


Neither are you the day after

but as each new terror is detected the calendar grows heavy with emptiness

our home three times its gravity

where I must sit witnessing this anti-miracle of breath to bones.

I read books about stereographic projections

with passages on how we one day translate back to our projection point

not understanding the moral to this story.

My burdens get the best of me like the anxious shepherd with his out of control flock

sheep pulling woes over our eyes as we behold you

your future history slipping away

struggles cementing into permanence, bankrupting unfinished business

slowly ripping you from us with no regard to quality

until one day I lose faith in the middle of a cold shower

drowning in every innocent tear I hear suffer

and wish a silent wish for you to die—

betraying the bonds of brotherhood, of friendship, the spirit of survival.

Forgive me, please, my friend, forgive me!


You woke from your soon-to-be-eternal sleep to tell us two things:

1. Be sure to spread happiness, move time forward.

2. I love each and every one of you.


The reel uncoils itself from the projector, lies flat

then is raised from the floor in ceremony.

It’s given a half-twist and joined start to finish.


Is this not what now is?

Is this not what faith is?

Is this what I am?


I will be am who was before

the am who was, who is no more

who will be then when then is now

yet now is not quite here somehow.

Happy Dreams

Nathan Reid


Haven’t felt like this

since I was four years old
sprawled out on my back

in summer grass
wearing bright blue overalls
arm blocking the sun
little body so light
I could fall into the sky.

relaxed,  ready to refract

or magnify the light, to dip

her brush once more and keep

on painting all the birds.


Look how one already eats his seed.

Sweet Dream Ash

Nathan Reid


Sweet dream ash.

A midnight purple powder that I breathe.


She stands on a flat stone

stares out to sea

notes of Liebestraum No. 3 splashing her feet.

The sky welcomes to her

sliding its summer bright blue into night

it settles in and listens to her songs.

Songs about angels that betray our heavens

about smiles that bust at the heart

about a candle that burns alone in the dark

while a thousand loving hands can be seen

reaching at the light’s edge

but are forever out of reach

and once upon a time she built a fire on the beach

but it fell apart into sweet dream ash.


A fragrance in the air we breathe.


She tells the sky about why she laughs

about the thousand fragments of piano keys embedded in her chest

tickling her soul

about the cold punch lines of sociopaths plunged into her back

about the side-splitting wrath

of the angel that betrayed her heaven

of the smile that busted her heart

and all that she ever hoped was for a love to lead her through the dark

lead each other to the fire

rub lips with the sisterhood of psalms and flowers

crying vows with blissful anarchy until this universe explodes into the next.

So she had peeled her guts from her belly, mind from her skull, fear from her heart

took all those tissue-torn pieces she used for trusting, shoved their raw beauty forward

and this creature raped her trust

with secret lovers kept beneath its wings

with relationships on puppet strings

and two-way mirrored truths

destroying this love, this dream.

Love. Dream.




She laughs!

Her hopes buckle, she begins to fall apart!

That’s when the sky cries

the wind swoops in, kisses her forehead

and says, “Whooooo-



She turns.

Still standing on that flat stone

she turns and stares at me

the language of Liszt licking her feet.

I tell her we can build fires together

that I don’t have wings but, baby, we can still fly

and when we fall we can fall into each other.

We can waltz, two-step, jitterbug, twist again like awesome fools

then kiss against the moon

because, darling, I have nothing I wish to sell

I will give this love to you.


She smiles

and walks with me across the sand and stones

back to our little camp on the beach

where I pluck out the punch lines and piano keys

use them as tinder, make some heat

then we lie down, lacing our fingers together until we have a solid grip

and in her ear I whisper, “Sweet dreams, Ash!”


The waves yawn along the shore their faint song:

ah-ahhh ahhh ahhh

ah-ahhh ah-ahhh ah-ahhhhh-ah…


And when the sky looks down

it sees two hands holding in the light

as our fire turns to embers

as embers melt into purple powder

which the wind then blows upon us, covering our skin

blessing us with a sweet dream.

Stray Dogs on a Hill

Phil Hansotia

Door County

A barren hill  lies beside

a military base in Pune.

It is home to a large pack of stray dogs

Who are harmless unless provoked.


Each morning people come to the

Rocky peak –sitting in yogic positions

-tasting silence and indifference,


The strays  are a motley pack with

Coats like old shoes beyond polishing,

Uneven ears, and prominent ribs,

They travel in small  packs and wander

Around like a soccer team looking for a coach.


Daily, an elderly couple bring  a jug of milk

And cans of table-scraps for the dogs..

When they are called they come instantly

And drink the milk and later polish off the food.

Then slowly walk away


I walk away slowly watching  the dogs

As the Jackaranda tree shakes with

 Its chattering birds.

The Poetry of Norb Blei

Phil Hansotia

Door County

He left noiselessly

Taking his sense of poetry with him.

He sat in those words.

.For him, his cup of coffee was a poem.

The unfinished moon and the howl of the coyote, a poem.

A fallen tree and a crow complaining of his presence, a poem.

He drew stick figures and spoke sentences that dangled

and floated like fragments in the wind.

He’d call that a wind poem.

For him, sunsets, old men, ripe apples,

 and old typewriters that could speak no more were poems.


He’s gone now.

The last time I saw him, he was in a bed at Scandia.

He did not speak but squeezed my hand. Jude was there.

I left without a word. The next day he died.

I suppose that was a poem too!

Looking for America

Phil Hansotia

Door County

I finished medical school in India

and came to America---

a gosling taking flight 50 years ago,

to a tightly- knit hospital community,

a retired couple and a grocer’s family,

 who taught me America’s values and traditions.

Wisconsin is middle-America.

Its cities, dairy farms, and orchards,

share a special character captured by

its cold beer and delicious cheese.


Overseas visitors often wish to tour

The Statue of Liberty, New York city,

The Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.

But that is not where America is.

Her roots lie in hope and opportunity

for the dispossessed with ambition.

Caged birds that are free to fly

in a land where isolation and

 scarcity co-exist with freedom.


America is a society that has committed

all the wrongs seen elsewhere—

but seeks to correct them—and eventually does.

Her energy, enterprise, ability to absorb

all cultures, ethnic groups and religions

with resulting tension that derives from

 the new always jostling the old.

That’s what America is.


At its best it lifts its vision to the stars.

It’s a place where the ordinary person

Is the object of planning and policy.

A nation of immigrants, each generation

Has to relearn the meaning of being American


America has always been a work in progress--

an imperfect entity busy correcting itself.

Taken as a whole it does quite well.

That’s why we’re all here.

That’s the America I’ve found.

That’s my America.


If you would like your poems featured on HOUSE OF THE TOMATO please email 2-3 poems for consideration with "submission" in the subject field. 

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