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


JULY 2014

Featured Poems

One Job

Karla Huston


The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master;

so many corners always filled with grime

while I mop dirt, the dust falls even faster.


I sop dried puddles and admire the luster

of spotless doors, the chrome and porcelain.

The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master.


I continue scouring, cleaning even after

unearthing places, spaces where I sometimes find

I’ve missed.  Ignore these: I might finish faster.


Then I look behind the fridge.  And woe! A cast of

bread crumbs--nubs six months past their prime.

The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master.


So I swab the last spots and polish.  And lastly

admire the realm I own, the boundless shine

and yet the dirt accumulates much faster.


than I can clean (the eternal task, the gesture

of grime). I’m never done with scrubbing time.

The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master

though I should sparkle (Do it!) even faster.

Late Aubade

Karla Huston


It’s not a lover who rouses me with soft murmuring. 

It’s the train which startles me, the sucking sound


of a locomotive swallowing what’s left of the night. 

Or maybe it is the lover, his snore inhaling


what’s left of my dream.  I have to pee.  I’m dreaming

of peeing, not of the lover beside me who,


in my dream, might be watching me squat

over a bowl in a single-bulbed room. 


He is laughing.  My lover isn’t nuzzling my hand;

it’s my dog, who’s insisting on breakfast


as I try to forget the dream, forget about peeing,

ignore the snoring.  The dog has flopped on the floor


beside me, now.  An owl begins its outside song;

the moon is oddly on the wax or is it wane? 


My lover, still asleep, is hacking like a cat

with a hairball the size of a Buick.  In my dream


I’m peeing, but when I’m done,

I still need to wake up and go.    


Fifties Women at Windows

Karla Huston


They wait at windows

in aprons and house dresses,

cross-your-hearts, buckled

and pointed.  They wait

at kitchen windows, soapy hands

plunged into Joy, a little

orange grease catching the edges

of their wrists.  They wait for husbands

to get home, for children walking

down streets, for the delivery

with its boxes and butcher paper

wrapping what they can’t afford

this week.  They wait at picture

windows while plows clear snow

into impossible rows.  They wait

for neighbors and coffee,

the Fuller Brush man with his bag 

of brushes and cleaners,

for the Avon lady to ding dong, 

bring vials of To a Wild Rose,

tiny tubes of pastel pinks.  They wait

for the knock of The Millionaire

offering a check to solve

what ails them.  For once,

they want to be Queen for a Day—

or at least the idea of it.  Not

the pitiful sobbing women

in the small window of the TV. 

They wait for the window

of the world they knew to open

and take them back.

Live Like a Water Lily

Annette Grunseth

Green Bay

Water lilies wake up slowly

float in their dreamy

world --  soft arms folded over their

faces until mid-morning

when they open from the center of their bodies

as sun warms them awake.

Soft and supple, they breathe from

more than one place.

They do not worry

about yesterday or tomorrow.

They don’t care what you think of them.

Their egg-yellow centers are tough, strong,

nourished by water and sun.

Wind and wave may engulf their entirety

yet they separate their bodies from water

open their faces to the heavens,

pull back the beads of dark water,

move freely in open space

buoyant and beautiful,

making white water circles

in the sun until mid afternoon

when they fold gently into themselves

drowsing in the dimming daylight.

Oh! If only

to live like a water lily.


At the Back Steps

Annette Grunseth

Green Bay

During the Great Depression

they rode the rails,

knew where to get a meal.

They’d jump from freight cars

into this little prairie town.

They’d look for the white house

with the big porch. At the back steps

she invited them in, two or three at a time.

They ate meatballs rolled with nutmeg,

ginger, allspice and clove, swaddled in gravy,

with mashed potatoes and green beans,

snapped fresh from the garden, and pie.

Yes, pie! Resting on crust so flaky

it melted comfort on their tongues.

She fed them in late afternoon,

men with sad eyes. Hoboes -

probably with children of their own

somewhere back across all those fields of dust.

Great Grandma filled empty bellies,

asked one favor, that each do a chore

in return, before they hopped

the clacking wheels again, riding the

wail of the whistle into the distance.



Annette Grunseth

Green Bay

They are battery-powered devices that turn nicotine into vapor, a fast-growing alternative to smoking with sales expected to reach $2 billion this year.
— Epigraph

Have you heard about it?

Read about it?

The new device

comes in a spectrum of colors.

a plastic plumb line dangling

from a lanyard of light-up-ness

It’s a lung dart on a leash,

a butt on a battery,

Fags on flavors,

camouflaged camels.

The lucky strike of smoke,

a cowboy killer.

A cancer stick of comfort,

A wonder wheezer of wow--

Like the hookah-smoking caterpillar from

Alice in Wonderland.

These drags on durries

are delivered by vendors of vapor.

Electronic smokes,

without the smoke.

I watch a woman at the beach,

the vamp of vapors

raise the breast of a black and

silver tube to her lips.

She puffs on her pacifier

nursing the nipple of nicotine.

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