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



Featured Poems

Three Postcard Poems


Monica Schley



Heartrock Marrowstone

An estuary of overtones

A symphony of many mouths

Squirting seasalt spouts

If you’ve got something to say

Spit it out

Lake View Walking Tour

Monica Schley


On the walking tour

You may see


A poet, a pioneer minister,

A prominent town builder

And the locks commissioner

Buried here


Also: three town mayors,

Princess Angeline

And a famous madame —

Everyone knew her

Lullabye for Endless Summers

Monica Schley


Now I lay be down to sleep

I pray Jim Morrison’s dream lives on

Summer’s almost gone

But I’ll never take

My love beads off

Scented clover in my hair

Where will we be

When the sun has gone?


Bill Gillard


Purple harbors of blood through tissue-paper skin

Brown mud puddles over the bones of the Earth


She scrubs the black spots on the fry pan, the breakfast dishes

A siren in the street, the people upstairs dance.


The tide rushes in from the whole wide world

and covers the mud flats in Ironbound.


Her daughter, Susan, teaches in Miami, writes poetry in

A big house on the beach, she's married to her second orthodontist.

Michael's a rabbi in Westport, leads tours to Israel

Every winter, mails magazines to his mom.

The youngest, Rachel, never came back from Marseilles.


Twice a day, every day, a salt wind strokes the lace curtain above the sink

She stops, unfolds her creased fingers, breathes deep.

She touches the damp edge of the fabric, the embroidered texture,

Steam rises from the dishes, the wet air pushes in from all over

Florida, France, and Fairfield County.


The tide, the salt air, covers the flatlands of Ironbound,

Her home. She plunges her arms elbow deep

into the hot dish water, feels the connectedness of all things wet,

closes her eyes, and smiles.


Dragons in Subway Tunnels

Bill Gillard


from tar roof tops people

lean and watch

in the soft summer afternoon heat

below them I crusade

in the flush of innocence

through the holy land of NYC

St. Mark's Place across town

I am a warrior bound

to take back CBGB's from the


I am a warrior bound

there's a bar called Mojo's

the scene five years later of our

last fight ever when I bought

you a cactus for your birthday and

it only got worse from there

a grate in the street cuts loose

a roar, a fiery blast from the Bleecker

Street 6 that burns off my sweat

the future comes on like that

a dragon's white eyes and acid roar

down those dark tunnels below the city streets

beyond human sight

but tonight's the night Tony promised

when you and I will begin

Teenage Fanclub at CB's and some girl

he thinks I might like

beware you dragons of light

we're coming in

beware you dragons of light 

we're coming in

Her Squid Uncooked

Bill Gillard


I could have walked faster than the bus

bounced along the stone alleys of Athens

through lifetimes of neighborhoods, the people

doing their thing, living life.

Athens, Tokyo, New York--it doesn't matter,

house upon house, more shops and bars.


The woman across the aisle

sags under groceries, smiles at me vaguely,

as if she were carved from marble.

It's her end-of-day smile,

not an offer to teach me

to say σας ευχαριστώ.*

Hand on the seat in front of her,

she shifts her weight forward, shouts,

"Stasis!" and the bus knows

Greek better than I do.

It slows, stops. 

People get off.

She gets off.


I press my cheek to the dusty window

to watch her walk down the dark side street.

where she remains

her Feta whole

her squid uncooked

the workday over

the night spreads down from the Acropolis

the coming of the night in Athens

a garden of white statues in deep shadow


* thank you



Laura Winkelspecht

Green Bay



“Stay with me,” you say, dark eyes pleading.

“Mommy, lay by me for a minute.”

I relinquish my grip

on the chores that will keep me up tonight

and rest my head on your pillow

for just a moment.

Wonder is a gentle hand on my cheek

as your eyes bob on tides of sleep.




“I wanna come,” you say,

and I take you with me to the grocery store

even though it will take me twice as long

because suddenly we need cookies and juice boxes.

You take my hand as we walk

across the cracked blacktop.

I wonder at my blessings;

your fingers are soft and warm.




“You don’t understand,” you say

and it’s true, I don’t know how to fix
your grades or middle school social dramas.
When you roll your eyes at my concern, I wonder

how I got so old. Your hands fold
across your chest as you turn away.




“You’re one of the cooler moms,” you say

with the conviction of your sixteen years.

I smile, wondering if I’ve chosen cool mom

over good parent, and then your hands sweep

across my shoulders as you pull me close. 



Laura Winkelspecht

Green Bay

Patent leather purse, sensible shoes

and a floral print dress.

A pantry half full: boxes of Jello,


chicken noodle soup,

cinnamon graham crackers.

Every morning she walks


the three blocks to the hospital

to take patients

through the antiseptic corridors


for cat scans and MRIs.

In the evening, she walks home,

checks her empty mailbox,


and waves at the neighbor across the street,

who nods absently in her direction.

When she closes her door,


the sound of wood on wood

echoes in the front hall.

She heats a can of soup


and gazes out the window by the sink,

remembering a yard full of kids

and the smell of cookies in the oven.


She carries the soup to the table

sits down, casts her gaze low,

and puts her hands together.

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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