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

HOTT tomato.png



JUNE 2014

Featured Poems


 For Remedios Varo

Estella Lauter

Door County

In my favorite photo of the artist 

she is half-concealed behind a screen. 


Always doubled or tripled

both Basque and Andalusian


artist and entrepreneur

allied with Spain, France, Mexico


wife, lover, provider of bread.

Only her paintings show


what came of stepping out

from behind the screen.


Surrounded by Surealists,

full of high spirits,


arrested for sympathy

with rebels,  she joined


the lines of artists waiting

in Marseilles for passage west


three times a refugee

at thirty-three.


No wonder her paintings

are full of hybrid images.


Few have gone further

to make art or love.  

The Creation of Birds

 La creacion de las aves, 1958, a painting by Remedios Varo

Estella Lauter

Door County

She is an owl.

But it only takes a second

to see that she is also an artist

who uses the energy of stars

to paint four birds that rise

in turn from her paper

and fly off in full color

to live their avian lives.


Her heart is

the musical chamber

that gives wings

to light and color

bringing them to life.


She sits firmly at her table,

gently focused on her task,

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.

Surrealist Women

(1907-1954), Remedios Varo (1908-1963 Frida Kahlo)

Estella Lauter

Door County

Even now, people say

               they know the one

                              but not the other,


two women who lived in Mexico City,

               one rooted in her mother’s homeland by love

                              the other uprooted from her father’s country by war.


One tethered to a man more famous than herself

               the other, wife to men of three nations

                              and to none.


The one a painter of self-portraits full of passion,

               the other of strange personaje

                              who journey far in space and time.


One brought native dress and customs to her city home,

               the other lived in fictive landscapes

                              deep inside the forest or the sky.


One was always still before the gaze

               the other always moving, coming apart

                              and knitting back together.


One focused on the beauty and power of women,

               the other on the human in its earthly orbit,

                              swirling around the table of life like fruit.


Why choose between them

               when we need both visions

                              to repair our world?

Swimming a Life

Nancy Rafal

Door County

Spurred by fantasy she floats face down

Splashed by reality she strokes upstream

Sometimes synchronized                       sometimes solitary


            for the headwaters

                        the backwaters

                                    the open waters


Water, crystal-clear or murky as cream soup

She sallies on, exhausted or exhilarated by each encounter

Fording the rough patches

             threading the channels

                        taking the branch 

                                    riding the waves


Scanning shoreline but resisting the draw

            of whatever flotsam or jetsam swirls in the current

She pushes forward in waters tepid, frigid, boiling, roiling

Backstroke              breaststroke                 dog paddle   crawl 



Glancing back, she tallies 

            what has been 

                        and what will never be

                                    puddle  pond                 Pacific


Never knowing 


                        landfall will take her

When She Comes

After Ellen Kort

Nancy Rafal

Door County


When she comes to get me

               I hope we linger a while, smell the lilacs,

                              listen to the flutes, contemplate crows


I hope we can unwrap the stories, eat them slowly

               She can tell me about my father

                              I can tell her my adventures, I hope

                                             we can angle up the peninsula one more time.


I’d choose autumn with its kodachrome colors

               but whenever would be fine


Perhaps there’d be time to visit the Queen’s Chapel,

               watch the kites near Hay-on-Wye,

                              hug one more redwood, thank

                                             all those friends who made

                                                            my journey worth the effort


But she may take me

               quickly---no time to sort things out, no

                              time to thank the friends who helped

                                             smooth my fractured path


She may come in the night

               Stand by my bed, hold out

                              her hands.  I hope

                                             she brings apples and pears, pistachios and

                                                            olives and that we might nibble

                                                                           as we await the dawning


And I hope she will teach me to fly, 

               to fly with those angels

                              into the light

On Time

Nancy Rafal

Door County

Sometime after copper bottoms and before teflon

            between Aunt Jemima and Martha Steward

            in a land of aprons, Settlement, and Betty Crocker

She was sold the dream


“Lifetime,” he told her.  “triple bottoms, waterless cooking, stainless steel.  

            These pots will last a lifetime”

The slick salesman was larger than life when he kissed her 

            across the street in the school yard

            plied her with extras

            electric coffee pot, steak knife set, aluminum silverware


She paid on time

            never saw him again


The Lifetime still shines in kitchen cabinets

            seven or eight packings and unpackings in five decades

            countless culinary catastrophes, marvelous meals, eggs every which way


The Lifetime still shines.  The dream has flickered, dimmed, grown bright again

            Not as she’d hoped in Miss Rasch’s high school home ec. class  

            Not as she’d wished      or wanted            but yet


Looking back    a lifetime she is content to have lived

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. 

© 2019 House of the Tomato