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.

5:00 PM17:00

Poetry Reading

Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue


Featuring Jeanie Tomasko, Steve Tomasko, Ralph Murre & Sharon Auberle (Poet Laureate of Door County)

** Unusual Day | Earlier Time **

Sharon Auberle

Sharon Auberle is the author of seven books, four of which are collaboratipns with other poets.  Most recent is Dovetail, art and ekphrastic poetry with Jeanie Tomasko.  A Pushcart Prize Nominee, Auberle is currently honored to be serving as Door County's Poet Laureate.

Ralph Murre

Ralph Murre thought that fixtures were just for plumbing, but finds that he has become a fixture of the Door County poetry scene.  He has published several thin collections of his work.

Jeanie Tomasko

jeanie tomasko n. [g-knee tuh-mah-sco, origin: midwest]  : as in person, place or thing born and residing in Wisconsin a:  lover of autumn, dictionaries, lowercases, suitcases and horsing around b:  prone to brake for herons, coffee, novelty machines filled with shiny (M)adonnas, long periods of silence c:  makes a mean guacamole and occasionally enjoys dusting d:  married to steve tomasko who is responsible for all of the info at

Steve Tomasko

Steve Tomasko doesn’t fish as much, walk in the woods enough, or write as often as he should. At some point, Steve’s background in biology collided (hybridized?) with his long-time love of words, which is why nature and science often inhabit his poems. His first chapbook, “and no spiders were harmed” was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2015 and won first place in the WFOP Chapbook Contest in 2016. Find out more about Steve’s poetry (along with his wife, Jeanie’s poetry) at While there, you can also check out Bent Paddle Publishing and Design.


Sharon Auberle and Jeanie Tomasko collaborated on a poetry collection DOVETAIL. Read excerpts here:

A poem by Steve Tomasko was also featured in Bramble Winter 2018. Link here:

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes

 Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes

Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes

Poetry is my 911.  I am a retired professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside; have been  a librarian in a log cabin in the north woods, and a volunteer EMT—but I have always been a poet.  I have poetry, literary analysis, and research  published in three countries and languages.  I served as the advisor for the Native student organization, Sacred Circle, at UW-Parkside while teaching there.  

Over 100 of my pieces have been individually  published, including in The Malahat Review in Canada, The Greensboro Review in North Carolina, Nutshell in England, Root River Voices in the annual and collective publications.  My work is also in the anthology, Unsettling America, published by Penguin Books, New York.  A member of the Root River Poets and the Spectrum School of the Arts and Gallery in Racine, I am a photographer and have always believed in nurturing creative energies in grass roots community initiatives with both children and adults.  My chapbook, The Lost Italian and the Sound of Words, is always distributed to audiences for free, with the opportunity to explain its background and emergence. Another is in progress.

Sample Poem

Not much goes to waste up here
the corn we can't eat—
20 rows is more than we can use--
goes to rabbits, voles, birds, pine squirrels
the voles sometimes go to the hawks and the barn owl.
sometimes the rabbits
too young to know:
don't go sunning out from under the pines too long--
leap too late from those shadows overhead
and dark on snow will be the last thing you see.
scraps from the turkeys and chickens
wind up in the coyote hang-out
we try to help them along
hoping they will leave the rabbits alone
but we know  nightfall
brings the round-up howls
most people can't tell a coyote from wolf
but you can learn.
a couple of rabbits short by the end of a week
single digit nights sinking below zero
make us a little desperate too

 The rabbit tracks change with the weather
and the mood of the coyotes
even first young of a year
can do a three foot landing in clear snow
and they don't wear snowshoes around here.

 The pine squirrels--
let's just say there is a difference of opinion.
one  of us says they're just another critter
the other, well, I know
the rifle in the back hall is loaded for a reason
it was Hemingway said
if a gun shows up in a story
it has to fire.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Destinny Fletcher (“Deolinda Abstrac”) & Sue Blaustein

 Destinny Fletcher

Destinny Fletcher

Destinny Fletcher, also known as “Deolinda Abstrac”: A woman with the power to create peace within her community and culture through the phenomenon in her voice. With Milwaukee, WI as her hometown, art becomes her sound and her greatest enigma. Working with the youth and young adults, Destinny experiences cultural differences, graphic stories, and revealing deliverance that she relates to heavily while writing stories inspired by her work and her life. She has worked as a High School Slam League Coach for Still Waters Collective and Mentor with Dasha Kelly from 2012 to 2016, became a 2012 State Poetry Slam Finalist as well as competed in 2013 LTAB (Louder Than a Bomb) College Team Slam. She self-published her first chapbook:

"Fireflies & Peroxide" in March of 2014 as a discovery of one’s own being in a world full of darkness and released her recent poetry collection, "Black Girl Be Storm" in May of 2016. She has also been an actress in Yetta Young's "Butterfly Confessions” stage play in Milwaukee in

November of 2015 & June of 2017 and “UNTAMED” in July & October of 2016 with Milwaukee's own community theater group, "MPower Theater". She has been an actress and collaborator in "UW-Milwaukee Women's Resource Center Presents: The Vagina Monologues" in February 2016 & 2017. She creates confidence and deliverance as a storytelling coach for Milwaukee's "ExFabula" and continues to rock stages among many cities she touches. From Turner Hall Ballroom to the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she has been performing her art all over the continent and soon... the world!

Sample Poem

The Stories She Tell

If my hair could tell stories
She would speak Volumes
Tidal waves through bridges that runeth over Curse the avalanche in her tongue
She will speak only in tongues
She will speak in the language she's from Disobey the melanin they claim her to be Spite the order they believe she can see If my hair could tell stories
She would spit fire at your feet
Ground your presence every time she speaks She speaks to me
Evolution Power Revolution Devour
My hair is a protest
A march between my curls A nation within my scalp
A flag launched within my naps If my hair could tell stories
She would show you the battle damage
Clip her striped ends and twist out her shouts She has never been straightened out
Been pulled and yanked but curly nonetheless Yes
She is beautiful Yes
She is Strong Yes
She is Woman
Foretell the secrets to her black
Prophesy her fortune between her parted seas The God she speaks
Greased and rough around her edges If my hair could tell stories
She would cry
Laugh until her follicles swayed together Frown with persistence in her tone
Smile while she grows Watch her grow Watch her glow Shimmer
Rewind the details and repeat her song My hair tells me stories
I will never stop listening

Published in “Black Girl Be Storm” 2016. Pg. 4. and Short Film selections.

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Sue Blaustein.jpg

Sue Blaustein lives and writes in Milwaukee. In 2016, she retired from the Milwaukee Health Department, where she was a food safety inspector. Once retired, she completed the manuscript she’d worked on for some 18 years and published her book In the Field, Autobiography of an inspector. Poems in the book previously appeared in Wisconsin People and Ideas, Isotope, Verse Wisconsin, Mud Season Review, Blue Fifth Review, Kudzu Review and other publications. Sue is also a storyteller and active volunteer with Ex Fabula, the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center and the Zablocki VA Medical Center. More information can be found at

Sample Poem

It pleases my hands
to compare the weights
of bell-shaped sinkers, to
pass cast-metal blobs
          from right hand
to left. It soothes me
to squeeze the jaws
of split-shots and guide
transparent line
through golden swivels.
          You weaned me
from kiddie spinning rods
on the banks of the Rock River.
You showed me how to cast
with an open-face reel.
Drowsy from Hennessey
& Cherry Coke, I’d wind
back to childhood – 
to the front window of
Gray’s Hardware in Sussex, New Jersey. 
An amber sunshade colored
the fishing gear orange.
I got minnow nets
and clownish bobbers
for my little box. In the first
years, love stays liquid – warm
and close – like pond water
in July. Tackle boxes
are my museums
of contentment.  

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading



Featuring Nathan J. Reid


Featuring Nathan J. Reid

 Nathan J. Reid

Nathan J. Reid

Spoken word poet Nathan J. Reid is a current resident of Madison, Wisconsin. His poetry is born out of a simple yet strong passion to strive for and share inner truth. Constantly rooting for the good in people, he explores aspects of human nature both sweet and bittersweet to create art that has an ultimately hopeful message. He believes the truth of one individual can ignite new truth in another, and that this process of sharing and discovering truth forwards the human condition in a direction that is positive, honest, and intelligent.

Nathan grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the youngest of five siblings (then gained two more brothers later on). He developed interests in writing and theatre at a young age. At fifteen years old he became a member of Eclectic Arts Ensemble Theatre Company (now Oshkosh Community Players), where he spent ten years acting, stage managing, directing, playwriting, set-building, and gaining experience in various other facets of the art form. His first national poetry  and prose publications came at the age of eighteen, within the same issue of Teen Ink Magazine. Since then his poems have appeared in the Binnacle, the Penguin Review, the Fox Cry Review, as well as other journals. In 2014, he was the featured spoken word artist for “HOME: A Group Art Exhibition” and a featured poet for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Poetry Reading Series. In 2015, he qualified for Madison’s National Poetry Slam Team and was also the guest spoken word artist for “Byzantium (the Fallen Empire)“, a Silversärk event.

His first book of poetry, Thoughts on Tonight, was published by Finishing Line Press in the fall of 2017.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Amanda Ngoho Reavey & Estella Lauter


Amanda Ngoho Reavey is a Philippine-born, Wisconsin-raised poet interested in how we can transform story and myth to reconnect ourselves to the earth. Her debut book, Marilyn (The Operating System, 2015), won the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies. Amanda’s poems and essays appear in Construction Literary Magazine, Anthropoid, TRUCK, and Evening Will Come, among others. 

Currently, Amanda is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and poetry fellow at Black Earth Institute. Through her project, RestoryNation, she teaches creative writing workshops that help participants rediscover their origin stories. She earned an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University.

Estella Lauter.png

Since her retirement from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as Chair of the English Department, Estella has reveled in the writing community, publishing four chapbooks with Finishing Line Press (one of them in the New Women’s Voices series) and enjoying membership in three writing workshops.  Her poems have won awards from WFOP, the Wisconsin Writers Association, Fox Cry and the Peninsula Pulse.  She tied for first prize in the 2009 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry contest, and her work has been published in several literary journals, including Bramble, Midwest Review, Stoneboat, Free Verse, Verse Wisconsin and Wisconsin People and Ideas. Two poems were nominated for the Pushcart award. Poems have also appeared in several anthologies, including The Nature of Door, Sweeping Beauty, and Echolocations. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Door County for 2013-2015, during which time she founded the Door County Poets Collective to publish an anthology, Soundings: Door County in Poetry (Caravaggio Press, 2015). She co-edited the 2017 Poets Calendar for WFOP with Francha Barnard on the theme of water. 

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1:00 PM13:00

Summer Poetry Festival


Summer Poetry Festival Title.png

The lazy days of summer were made for poetry and music.

Come experience Green Bay’s third annual SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL outside at The Reader’s Loft in London Alley on Saturday, July 28. Come any time between 1pm to 4pm. Or stay all day.

Featuring Sylvia Bowersox Trio, Tom Davis, Kathryn Gahl, Maryann Hurtt, Amy Phillips and Marilyn Zelke Windau

Sylvia Bowersox Trio
A provocative war poet & music ensemble

Tom Davis
A sonneteer with a resounding T.S. Eliot-like recitation style

Kathryn Gahl
Dancer, performance artist, lover-of-red lipstick, a witty poet not afraid to traverse the highs and lows of what life may throw at you

Maryann Hurtt & Marilyn Windau
Members of the Grand Avenue Collective and contributors to The Water Poems

Amy Phillips
Music teacher and local songwriter-musician with a little raconteur thrown in

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Al DeGenova & Barb Germiat

 Albert DeGenova

Albert DeGenova

Albert DeGenova is an award-winning poet, publisher, and teacher.  He is the author of three books of poetry and three chapbooks.  His most recent book is, Black Pearl: poems of love, sex and regret, released in late 2016; his chapbook Postcards to Jack was recently re-released in a second expanded edition in late 2017. DeGenova is the founder and co-editor of After Hours magazine, a journal of Chicago writing and art, which launched in June of 2000.  He received his MFA from Spalding University in Louisville and leads several writing workshops throughout the year at WriteOn Door County and an annual writing week at The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay, WI.  He hosts the monthly Traveling Mollys reading series (Oak Park, IL) which is now in its 20th year.  He is also a blues saxophonist and one-time contributing editor to Down Beat magazine.  DeGenova splits his time between Sturgeon Bay, WI, and the metro Chicago area.

Sample Poems

Black Pearl

I hear a faraway cello
legato tone as long as life itself it seems –
the horsehair bow turns
on edge, the timbre winces
to the wind, to the thunder.
The Pacific reshapes miles of beach
overnight, sometimes in minutes.  Waves,
their sucking recoil, the salty tumult
teases me today
with nothing more than a bruised hip –
how dare I rest against a rock. 

From within the splashing crash
I hear a muffled baritone’s tempt, what
waits for you within the churning wave?
I’ve heard love sound like this.  My god
is not this heaving brute of sea, but a quiet
black pearl in the shell of my heart.
I feel the hair on my arm move as it dries,
the flies bite my ankles.  Too much love
in my one stormy life to ever deny god.

--Albert DeGenova

The night the wind

The night the wind left you on my doorstep
drenched, shivering with rain and tears
you carried a small brown paper bag
stuffed with toothbrush, underwear,
white silk nightgown
hasty luggage, narrow escape
night flight from a hospital.
Prison you called it
where they put you
because you bought a dog
and maybe a dog was a crazy friend to make
at this precarious point in your life
but did they need to lock you up
without phone, wine, or pills
or your daughters, or me, or
all the hims that haunted your
inability to say no.

The night the wind carried you through my door,
you stood in the middle of the living room
alone you stripped
naked, your wet clothes in a pile at your feet,
you let the nightgown cascade over you
arms above your head as if
standing in a waterfall, as if
you might be cleansed by white silk.
I watched from the doorway. Did you hear
my gasp, know my impotence? The wind
leaving you here tonight to unfurl
your madness, your whispers, you
gliding into your darkness,
sad white sails full.

--Albert DeGenova

 Barb Germiat   

Barb Germiat


Barb is a Fox Valley poet. Her poetry has been published in WFOP Calendar, Fox Cry Literary Review, Portage, Creative Wisconsin Literary Journal, Appleton Post-Crescent, Sisters Today, St. Anthony Messenger, and elsewhere. She published a chapbook in 2017 Look, the Silence. 


I could comb Roget’s Thesaurus,
search the edges of my memory,
hunt for words to tell you how this snowfall
honeycombs the dome in which we breathe,
saturates the air with quiet crystals,
muffles customary noises.

Or I could whisper
the silence.

-- Barb Germiat

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Featuring Dustin Luke Nelson & Ashleigh Lambert

 Dustin Luke Nelseon

Dustin Luke Nelseon

Dustin Luke Nelson is the author of the poetry collection "in the office hours of the polar vortex" (Robocup) and the chapbook “Abraham Lincoln” (Mondo Bummer). His poems have appeared in the Best American Experimental Writing, Fence Magazine, Paper Darts, the Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. His performance and video work includes STRIKE TWO (Gauss PDF, Washington Project for the Arts), APPLAUSE (Walker Art Center’s Open Field), and BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (Flux Factory). His videopoems and short films have appeared at the Filmpoem Festival, Short Film Biennial Ljubljana, Crane Arts (Philadelphia, PA), Altered Esthetics (Minneapolis, MN), the Washington Project for the Arts (Washington DC), O Miami Poetry Festival and elsewhere. Other writing has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Thrillist, Electric Literature, and the Rumpus, among other publications.

 Ashleigh Lambert

Ashleigh Lambert

Ashleigh Lambert is the author of the chapbooks Ambivalent Amphibians (Dancing Girl Press) and The Debt or the Crisis (Doublecross Press). You can find her poems and reviews in Rain Taxi; Bone Bouquet; Forklift, Ohio; Diagram; and other places. She lives in Minneapolis.

Sample Poems


Until you slump and curl

your bones around the meat of home,

it is never clear what

pattern the shadow


of the past has made

on now.


In the neighborhood you still won’t claim,

a magic lantern


 projects an image of you turning on a spit.

The oxygen you thought was yours is reassigned


to the body of the flame.

You are as dark, as tender


as you’re going to get.

Here in the schoolroom, the abattoir, the pit.

-- Ashleigh Lambert

Over the River Not Out of the Woods

I’m taking medical leave

                        from this clumsy struggle.


Sign me up for the slow drip

                        that ferries the weary away


From the hopeless, the extravagant waterfalling

                        hiding under the guise of Day.


I demand the pills that render

                        the river docile


Or else

                        I must be put in traction


At the crux of the water’s decision.

                        Oarless, aerobic,


Wobbly as an egg in a storm,

                        there is only one thing worth asking


And can you see I’m asking for it

                        now, and now.

-- Ashleigh Lambert

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Mark Falcone

 Mark Falcone

Mark Falcone

Mark is a native of Philadelphia’s Little Italy. He presently lives in De Pere. Mark has poetry published in numerous Poetry Anthologies. His first published poetry book is Fiery Mouthed Dragon published by Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia, in 1975 and Experience the Doorway to Life 2016 and Childhood and Other Tales 2017 also self-published. While living in Baltimore he founded a poetry club for local poets teaching members to write in various forms and critiquing poetry of club members. He has had Poetry readings in Philadelphia and Vicinity for other poets and journalist. He also had a poetry club in De Pere giving readings at St. Norbert Abbey and the De Pere Library. He is also a member of the Academy of American Poets which helps upcoming poets to get their works published. He has been recognized by the Academy of American poets as a contributor to fostering contemporary poetry. He has put some poetry of his own and that of Emily Dickenson to music. He is a composer of classical music, a photographer with a National Geographic web site of his photos. His music can be found on YouTube.

Sample Poem

When I was just 11 years old our next door neighbor
who was married three times
and had 5 or 6 children by each marriage
had a birthday party and all of his
children and grandchildren came.
It was a great mob of people.

In a small city street and small city house the
house overflowed with people many
were children.

The party was over and everyone was leaving, when
one couple were captured by great fear, anxiety and
trembling. They could not find one of their
children. Looking everywhere he could not

A powerful feeling came over me that forced
me to go on a search. Looking for him was
like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Some power just pulled me into a search.
After almost an hour of searching
I was exhausted, but continued the search.

Finally I saw the little child and worked my
way to him and was hoping he
would not be afraid and run away from me.
When I reached him he did not run.
Grabbing him by the hand
I proceeded to return him to his parents.
I was this boy’s savior.

However there are no prophecies about
my coming, nor recored history about
my living.
I guess none of that is necessary to be

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Laurie MacDiarmid & Emilie Lindemann

 Laurie MacDiarmid

Laurie MacDiarmid

Laurie MacDiarmid is a Professor of English and Director of Faculty Development at St. Norbert College. She regularly participates in April's Poem a Day challenge.

Sample Poem

How to Knit Love from Air

Travel by bicycle to where
crones spin thread from air, leaving
behind your need to walk on

solid ground.
You will find them clustered
in the last tower of a castle

built from cloud bricks,
overlooking a bottomless chasm
of fog and mist.

Select five bundles of
the weightless thread: sunset orange,
dusk purple, dawn red,

nightshade, mid-day cream.
Find a spot to sit under a weeping
willow tree, preferably

next to a brook.
Use wood needles carved from
an ancient laurel.

Stockinette stitch will work best.
Cast on a thousand stitches
in cream; knit a row, purl a row

and change to orange
after a thousand rows.
Remember to breath deep,

bringing the air into your belly.
Imagine your beloved
as a warm glow in your chest.

Continue to work each color
a thousand rows,
changing from red to

purple to
night, until the garment
reaches the stars,

spreading out crisp
and light and cold
as the fire in your heart,

then bind off,
weaving the ends in
like figure eights.

-- Laurie MacDiarmid

 Emilie Lindemann

Emilie Lindemann

Emilie Lindemann’s first collection of poetry is mother-mailbox (2016, Misty Publications). She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Small Adult Trees/Small Adulteries and Queen of the Milky Way, both from dancing girl press. Her Instagram account is all rural sunsets, her fluffy-haired son, and floral notebooks. Emilie is an Associate Professor of English at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Sample Poem


You imagine a navigation system for artists
           of the lightning bug variety.
Blue and purple pegs lined up on a Lite Brite screen,
Black paper punctured
with constellations.

You weave threads from trapeze bar wire hangers in dark closets.
           The baby is always crawling           towards technicolor
           When every peg falls out of the Lite Brite
You’re left with empty sockets, traces, residue.
Drool on the carpeting.
           The baby is teething again.

Outside, it’s firefly dark.

We look
           through frosted car windows.
We swim
in teal skies shot through with pink, yellow light.

Through pathways of the mind,
zipping indigo.
My midnight bluebird.
           At sunrise, through the blue curtain, patch of sky
Portal of cerulean light
beyond horizontal silo,

my little blue heart beating, blinking on the screen.

-- Emilie Lindemann

First published in Firefly Magazine VI. From mother-mailbox (Misty Publications, 2016)

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Annnette Grunseth & Bobbie Lovell

 Annette Grunseth

Annette Grunseth

Annette Langlois Grunseth, Green Bay, is a poet and advocate for human rights. Her work has been published in journals, books and anthologies in the Midwest, Oregon and Nova Scotia. Her chapbook Becoming Trans-Parent, One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry. Her book was also nominated for a poetry award with the Society of Midland Authors. She has won honorable mentions and awards for her poetry with Wisconsin Academy Review, Wisconsin People and Ideas and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She often writes poetry on the bike trail or in her kayak on northern lakes where her muse tags along, just for the exercise. 

Sample Poem

My Mother’s Moon

Her day was not complete
until she stepped out to see the moon.
It might be an orange ball rising
or a white turtle egg hovering.
More than a thousand full moons
shadowed my mother.
She studied the moon when Neil Armstrong stepped upon it.
She cried for her son who saw the same moon rising
over rice paddies and incoming mortars in Vietnam.
There was the empty nest moon the autumn I left for college,
but the loneliest moon was the August my Dad died.
The moon of selling her house changed the view,
rising to different walls. Yet it was always her moon at bedtime.
She loved the strawberry moon, harvest moon,
eclipses of the moon, Indian summer moon.
And finally, a full moon rising on her last night,
crickets in the grass singing.
I held her hand, bed pulled close to the window,
moonlight falling gently across her face.

-- Annette L. Grunseth 

Published in Portage Magazine 2017 issue

 Bobbie Lovell

Bobbie Lovell

Bobbie Lee Lovell won the 2016 Kay Saunders Memorial New Poet Award and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her first chapbook, Proposition at the Walk-In Infinity Chamber, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. The product of a personal growth and healing process, this collection features poems about relationships, decision-making and resilience with ekphrastic (visual art) and speculative (science fiction/fantasy) elements. Bobbie is an alumnus of the UW–Green Bay’s art department, and she has a career in graphic design and print production. Her website is

Sample Poem

Riding with Aladdin

“Do you trust me?” he asks.
The question unsettles me. 
No one trusts anyone anymore,
I want to say. Trust is cliché, obsolete.

He lacks a lamp but fancies me
his princess, dares me to deny
the romance of trusting
the kind stranger, the thief.

He is waiting. “Of course,” I say.

We are, after all, riding the same
sputtering rug. We’ve flown to the edge
of the world, and not once did I fear
he might elbow me off it.

“Good,” he says, “because I trust you.”

He smiles, and I am further disturbed
that he is appeased. I wish
I felt so certain. Where’s a genie
when you need one?

from Proposition at the Walk-In Infinity Chamber (Finishing Line Press, 2017

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Nathan J. Reid & Kathryn Gahl

 Kathryn Gahl

Kathryn Gahl

Kathryn Gahl is a writer, dancer, and registered nurse. Born to an Irish nurse and German farmer, she grew up with seven siblings in a farmhouse located at the end of a half-mile gravel drive. She earned a B.S. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a B.S. in Nursing at Syracuse University (NY). After 25 years in nursing and nursing management, she became a full-time writer, studying at Bread Loaf, Stonecoast, Sewanee, Iowa Writers’ Workshop Fiction Intensive, Iowa Summer Festival, Vermont College, and Taos.

Her poems and stories are widely published in small journals, including Eclipse, Hawaii Pacific Review, Permafrost, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, and Willow Review. Twice a Glimmer Train finalist, she received honorable mention from The Council of Wisconsin Writers andWisconsin People & IdeasMargie named her a finalist for the Marjorie J. Wilson Award. Other finalist awards include poetry at Lumina and Chautauqua , the Arthur Edelstein Prize for Short Fiction, the William Richey Short Story Winner, and the Flash Fiction finalist at Talking Writing .

for the eighth-grade girl writing love lyrics

Description of new work

There is a line you will cross
in the ninth grade or the tenth
quick slip of judgment, addling after
The Boyboy you wrote about in eighth grade. That
boy or a different boy will stir you if you
let him tell you what you want to believe. Study his
rhythms and those of the agent, coach, or music
marketer telling you how to dress, who you ought
to be between the measures before your body
becomes someone else's body
not the bright-eyed blessed and
testy one you need for your first album
and all the ones thereafter

-- Kathryn Gahl

 Nathan J Reid

Nathan J Reid

Nathan J. Reid is a poet and spoken word artist whose work has appeared in several journals, including the Penguin Review, Fox Cry Review, and Binnacle. He has a background in theatre and regularly performs his poetry at art events throughout Wisconsin. His chapbook, Thoughts on Tonight, was published this year by Finishing Line Press. He currently lives in Madison with his partner, Ashley, and their endless supply of books.  


From a small-town blizzard
are born two angels in the snow
whose powdery irises
bear young witness
to a truth such as this:

Paradise melts at the touch.

Every breath drawn in this town
flies shackled-wing flight
under Sheriff John's throne,
his icy yardstick
bending with command
to score another feathered pair
to force another tasty angel down.

And there is no sound
as snow pushes out
another clipped love.

There is no sound
as two angels watch crystal clumps
paint dying dreams
that keep their brilliant purity
their untouched white
even though pollution
has begun to stain their wings.

When You Wake 

you hear distant rumors about what it will be like
to go to sleep and never wake up

about a time when all vibrations cash in their casino chips, take the red-eye home
when the biggest number is again smaller than the smallest number
when your mind is a wilting flower
and an hour yet pending returns you to the realm that fed you into birth

you hear these things happening someday

but today you breathe fire and music as if fire and music, like yourself,
were somehow separate from this collapsing dream of time trying to remember light

you have always been light
light is the reality beneath the dream

as you are breath you are the nothingness
a photon knows not its own existence

so why fear the wilted flower?

if the color has gone pallid
the leaves too brittle to touch
then cheer the fragrance

it is still so incredible and lovely

From Thoughts on Tonight; Finishing Line Press, 2017

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Christine Swanberg & Tom Davis

 Christine Swanberg

Christine Swanberg

Christine Swanberg’s books include TONIGHT ON THIS LATE ROAD (Erie St., 1984), INVISIBLE STRING (Erie St., 1990), BREAD UPON THE WATERS (UW:Whitewater, 1990), SLOW MIRACLE (Lake Shore, 1992), THE TENDERNESS OF MEMORY (Plainview Press, 1995), THE RED LACQUER ROOM (Chiron Press, 2001) and WHO WALKS AMONG THE TREES WITH CHARITY(Wind Publications, KY, 2005) and THE ALLELUIA TREE (Puddin’head Press, IL). 

Hundreds of her poems have appeared in many journals such as SPOON RIVER, THE AVOCET, WIND, LOUISVILLE and many others. Recently GARDEN BLESSINGS, BACK TO JOY,  GRATITUDE PRAYERS AND POEMS, and EARTH BLESSINGS (June Cotner Anthologies) have included Christine’s poems as well as SOUNDINGS: POETRY OF DOOR COUNTY. An interview appears in POET’S MARKET 2008.  Christine is a writing teacher for museums, churches, arts councils, and women’s organizations. Recent essays appear in WOMEN ON POETRY and WRITING AFTER RETIREMENT. In Rockford she has won the Mayor’s Art (Lawrence Gloyd) Award for Education,  a YWCA Leader Luncheon Award for the Arts, and the Womanspirit Award at Womanspace.

She has given readings and workshops throughout the USA, most recently Palm Beach Community Center, FL;  Sedona, AZ;  Poetry Rendezvous in Taos, NM;  Door Country, Dickenson Series; The Clearing, Door Country, WI; and many others. Recently two of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes by CHIRON.

Sample Poetry

Hummingbird Whisperer

Glory be to the fierce little warriors
who return to my garden every year.
Come, enjoy, drink the various nectars,
tiny bold ones. You without any fear.
Teach me to cultivate fervor and focus.  
Stay in our shared secret sanctuary
created for you with bergamot and phlox, 
fuchsia and the feeder hung on the tree
you visit each morning. Hello! Goodbye! 
Who could be freer? Fast as a torpedo
when I'm digging, spading, you catch my eye.
Graceful as the wind--glanced from my window.
You share delight with your earthbound sister. 
You've made me a hummingbird whisperer.

First published THE AVOCET. Won a prize for Word of Art. Also published in June Cotner collection, EARTH BLESSINGS.

A Friend Asks

why I write poetry
and though I’ve dreamed of this moment
for years, it stops me like a siren:

Because Mayan women no longer weave chevrons
     in desert sunset threads
because it is no longer useful.
Because the snowy egret leaves the marsh forever.
Because the people closest to me suffer.
Because words are bread.
Because writing it is as mapless
     as driving down back roads.
Because without it my life is measured in paychecks.
Because I love you and can’t tell you.
Because I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.
Because there are so many questions nobody asks.
Because someone wants to know.


 Poet Tom Davis. Photo by Len Villano

Poet Tom Davis. Photo by Len Villano

Thomas Davis has had a distinguished career as a President and Chief Academic Officer of four tribal colleges and the Provost of Navajo Technical University in New Mexico.  He is the author of Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit (State University of New York Press), chapters in books published by Nebraska University Press and the Smithsonian, and has had poetry, fiction, and essays published in anthologies, books, magazines, and literary journals.  He has given poetry readings, primarily at colleges and universities, in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and several U.S. states and edited The Zuni Mountain Poets Anthology and three small literary magazines.

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6:30 PM18:30

Be Your Authentic Self: A Poetry Reading

Kress Family Branch of the Brown County Library, 333 N. Broadway, De Pere
Be Your Authentic Self: A Poetry Reading
Annette Langlois Grunseth & Bobbie Lee Lovell

Join us for a reading that honors the struggles and joys of living an authentic life. Two local poets will read from their new chapbooks, both published by Finishing Line Press. Annette Langlois Grunseth is the author of Becoming Trans-Parent: One Family's Journey of Gender Transition. These poems share the parental experience of an adult child transitioning from son to daughter. Narratives address issues including family life, clothing, medical care and social justice. Bobbie Lee Lovell’s book, Proposition at the Walk-In Infinity Chamber, is the product of a personal growth and healing process. These poems are about relationships, decision-making and resilience. Pivotal moments from dating to divorce are infused with ekphrastic (visual art) and speculative (sci-fi/fantasy) elements. The event is free, and everyone is welcome. Featured poets only, no open mic.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

James Botsford & Gregory Galbraith

 James Botsford

James Botsford

James Botsford started writing poetry in the basement of the family home in North Dakota in the 1960s when he discovered the Beats and the Taoists. He is the author of a book about the history of tribal courts of Wisconsin, a book of stories called "You Should Write that Down" and a book of poetry titled "Them Apples." The latter two books are available at Janke's Bookstore (the oldest independent bookstore in Wisconsin).

James was an Indian rights attorney for thirty years and has travelled extensively. He currently lives with his wife Krista on the banks of Big Sandy Creek east of Wausau and is at work on a book of rants.

 Gregory Gailbraith

Gregory Gailbraith

After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Dairy Science in 1981, Greg Galbraith bought a farm in Eastern Marathon County where his ancestors began farming in 1890. He is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and has been published in their annual calendar, along with Nerve Cowboy small press lit magazine, and MUSH a publication of  UW- Marathon County. Most recently, he had three poems and two images published in the March 2017 issue of Midwest Review.  He exhibits paintings and photography throughout Wisconsin, including a permanent exhibit in a health care clinic in Colfax, Wisconsin. His first full length book of Poetry, Germinations, will be available in April of 2017.

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1:00 PM13:00

Summer Poetry Festival

Summer Poetry Festival

The lazy days of summer were made for poetry, music, wine and sunny food.

Come experience Green Bay’s second annual SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL outside at The Reader’s Loft in London Alley on Saturday, July 29. Come any time between 1pm to 4pm. Or stay all day.

Relax and revel in poetry under the canopy with Wisconsin poets:

Sylvia Bowersox
Cathryn Cofell
Bruce Dethlefsen
Nathan Reid
Jeanie Tomasko
Steve Tomasko
Christopher Wood
 Daniel Dahlquist

Groove to local musicians:

Colin J, lyrics & guitar
Amy Philips, singer/songwriter

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Melissa Range

 Melissa Range

Melissa Range

Melissa Range is the author of Scriptorium, a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series (Beacon Press, 2016), and Horse and Rider (Texas Tech University Press, 2010). She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. 



Before the stepwork and the fretwork,
before the first wet spiral leaves the brush,
before the plucking of the geese’s quills,
before the breaking of a thousand leads,

before the curving limbs and wings
of hounds, cats, and cormorants
knot into letters, before the letters knot
into the Word, Eadfrith ventures from his cell,

reed basket on his arm, past Cuthbert’s grave,
past the stockyard where the calves’ cries bell,
and their blood illuminates the dirt as ink
on vellum, across the glens and woods

to gather woad and lichens, to the shores
to gather shells. The earth, not the cell,
is his scriptorium, where he might see
the interlace of branch and twig and leaf;

how green bleeds brown when fields are plowed;
how green banks blue where grass gives way to sea;
how blue twists into white in swirling lines
purling through the water and the sky.

Before the skinning of a hundred calves,
before the stretching and the scraping of their hides,
before the boiling vinegar, the toasting lead,
the bubbling orpiment and verdigris,

before the glair cracks from the egg,
before the monk perfects his recipe
(egg white, oak-gall, iron salt, mixed
in a tree-stump, some speculate)

to make the pigments glorious to the Lord,
before Eadfrith’s fingers are permanently stained
the colors of his world—crimson, emerald,
cerulean, gold—outside the monastery walls,

in the village, with its brown hounds
spooking yellow cats stalking green-black birds,
on the purple-bitten lips of peasants
his gospel’s corruption already sings forth

in vermilion ink, firebrands on a red calf’s hide—
though he’ll be dead before the Vikings sail,
and two centuries of men and wars
will pass before his successor Aldred

pierces Eadfrith’s text with thorn,
ash, and all the other angled letters
of his gloss. Laced between the lines of Latin,
the vernacular proclaims, in one dull tint,

a second illumination,
of which Eadfrith was not unaware:
this good news is for everyone,
like language, like color, like air.

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler Passes on Dessert

She's got a sweet tooth, a candy mouth—
yet she sweeps by the ice-creams without a taste.
She won't eat slave sugar from the South.

The company thinks it most uncouth.
A young lady knows better than to slight her host.
To make the boiled custards that candy their mouths,

the cook had to chip a ten-pound sugarloaf, froth
it with butter, thick cream, lemon zest.
It was labor, but she's not a slave mother in the South,

caught between the canebrake and the tablecloth.
The hostess is pound-cake white, dressed
in cotton, her sweet smile decaying in her mouth.

Seeing the plate of marzipan, Elizabeth,
in wool, sees women's unclothed backs beat to a paste,
children scythed in the sugar fields of the South.

Gnawed half to death by faith and wrath,
she fingers her teaspoon, bright and chaste.
Call her fool tooth, call her trifle mouth,
but she won't eat that slave sugar from the South.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Tom Erickson & C Kubasta

 Tom Erickson

Tom Erickson

Thomas J. Erickson’s poems have appeared  in numerous publications. His award-winning chapbook, The Lawyer Who Died in the Courthouse Bathroom was published by Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin Libraries in 2013.  His full length poetry book, The Biology of Consciousness, was published this year by Pebblebrook Press.  He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.   He is an attorney in Milwaukee where he specializes in criminal defense.

Sample Poems


When I was a little kid, and I swear this is really true,
once I prayed that I would get one of my migraines. 
And I did.  And the black jackal came like he always did, 
after the witching hour but before the birds sang, 
and in the darkest dark I knew I had to crawl as fast
as I could to the bathroom to vomit whatever was good
out of me and for a few seconds I could rest my head
on the white cool porcelain while my Mom got the cot ready. 
And I would lie there in the bathroom—
one movement of my head or sliver of light would
make the jackal mad and he would take his poker
and stab me right above my right eye and then the bile
would rise and he’d get what was left.

But the next day or maybe the day after, I could open
my eyes to the day and keep down some Seven-Up
and play Scrabble with my Mom. And he was gone.  

Burden of Proof

A crack addict client kidnapped
a UWM student and drove her around
and held a gun to her head and raped her
and put her in the trunk of his car and
showed her to his friends and then let her
go at a gas station.

That’s what she said he did.

He said he picked her up at a bar
on Brady Street and she wanted to get high
so he bought crack with her money
and she was ready so he busted
his nut in the backseat and then
kicked her out of his car because
it was almost morning and he was
tired and she was getting to be
a clingy white bitch
which bugged the shit out of him.

I don’t know what really happened
and I don’t care.   

Well, it’s not like I don’t care, 
it’s that I can’t care.  It shouldn’t make
a difference to me if he did it or not.  
It shouldn’t make a difference
that my son goes to UWM
and that girl could have been his friend.            
It shouldn’t make a difference that I get            
a palpable thrill when I cross-                    
examine this girl on the stand. 

But what if my doubts are reasonable
and my client did do it?

Then I can tell you I represent evil.
And I can tell you that addiction makes
experience matter.  And on we go.

 C Kubasta

C Kubasta

C Kubasta thinks poetry, like humor, porn, & horror, should be a body genre. Her favorite rejection (so far) noted that one editor loved her work, and the other hated it.  Her poetry has appeared in So To Speak, Cosmonauts Avenue, Construction, Tinderbox Poetry Review and The Notre Dame Review, among other places. She is the author of two chapbooks: A Lovely Box (Finishing Line Press) which won the 2014 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook Prize, and &s (Finishing Line, 2016); and a full-length collection, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX, 2015). Her next book, Of Covenants, is forthcoming from Whitepoint Press in 2017.

She teaches English and Gender Studies at Marian University, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and works with Brain Mill Press. She lives with her beloved John, cat Cliff, and dog Ursula. Find her at

Sample Poem

Them & Us & We

If you were my sister we would know each other beneath the skin as wishes of our father the
acquiescence of our mother or the reverse who is to know what happens in darkened rooms in
lightened rooms in rooms that are not rooms before we are born

If you were my sister we would know each other only by the way others know us through our
most visible layer and even if not kin or kind the world would name us such

If you were my sister we would love the same way or the same way others named it a love
distinguished by lack by touch the touch always the same as if there is only one way my kind
makes this love

If you were my sister we would live without too much wanting too much having or the men we
call father would bring down the word which is the only word that ever matters

and I would mark my body with the mark of your body to say to the world that we are sisters

and you would repay my questions with the kindness of questions

so that it seems again we may wear this body in common

and these bodies would not be only a snapshot series of a hall light falling on nakedness a dark
rustling the smell of charcoal like an artist's fingers must smell after making furious gestures

and I would not misspeak with the easy pronouns of us and them and you and I

If we were sisters and said "sister" to each other we would ask what kind of sister do you mean
what are you saying what are you calling me who are you to call me sister

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Laurel Mills

 Laurel Mills

Laurel Mills

Laurel Mills of Neenah is the author of five award-winning collections of poetry, including Hidden Seed which won the Posner Poetry Award, and Rumor of Hope which won the Encircle Publications chapbook contest.  Both of these books are about her daughter, Beth, who has a rare genetic condition.  Mills’ poems have been published in periodicals such as Ms. Magazine, Yankee, Calyx, Kalliope, and in several anthologies including Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boom Generation.  She is Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, where she taught English and edited the literary magazine Fox Cry Review. 


Work, Hers and Mine

I scour Lake Michigan for poems
while at school Beth learns work.
She didn't walk until she was three.
Now she carries newspapers to 63
houses, her hands black with ink.
The teacher dogs her tracks,
warning her to lift her head
at street corners.

I cross the sand, remember the year
she buried her beach ball and we dug
hole after hole searching for it.
She brings that same insistence
to scrubbing bathroom floors,
cafeteria tables.

Once she sat for hours
and hurled stones into the lake,
leaving a bald place around her.
Now she sits and fits washers
on a wooden peg, collates pages.
These tasks are not too small.

When asked if she likes her jobs,
she says, "Yes, me no fired."
When the lake whispers do I love her,
I say, "Yes, I am proud."

I draw her name on the beach.
She painstakingly prints it
on the back of a check.
And this red stone at my feet
is my heart the lake tosses up to her.

The Imaginary Husband

The ring on her finger is the size of Texas, plastic, 
red and blue, a lone star from the vending machine.
My wedding ring, she says. Bob, my husband.
When asked to give Bob’s last name,
she looks away and shrugs. I dunno.
Maybe this is her fantasy life: she has a dog
and two cats. The cats’ names are Fluffy and Nutty. 
The dog is a Brittany spaniel and sleeps on their bed
at night near Bob’s feet. The dog stirs
when Bob shifts to wrap his arm around Beth.  
When the sun comes up, Bob kisses Beth
on the fragile line of her collarbone.
He makes scrambled eggs with shredded
cheese and shallots; she makes cinnamon toast. 
They eat on the front porch and wave
to the paper boy when he bicycles past.  
All day at the sheltered workshop
Beth thinks of Bob and plans their supper.  
They like to do the dishes together,
though they argue about who washes and who dries.
They tell about their day, all the little gossips.  
Fluffy and Nutty meow around their legs, the dog
waits for a walk around the block when Bob and Beth
will “howdy” at neighbors. They take their coffee
to the little garden at the back of the house.  
Bob nips the dried geranium; Beth pulls a thistle
from the nasturtiums. Curled on the brick patio, 
dreaming of rabbits, the dog farts in his sleep. 
This is the story of their life together, the story of
Mr. and Mrs. I-Dunno and their very ordinary days.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Angeline Haen

 Angeline Haen

Angeline Haen

Angeline Haen was raised on a small dairy farm in Sobieski, Wisconsin, where the love of the earth and all things of nature collected in her heart. Through her participation in the Native American community in her later years, she learned how to nurture a relationship with all that surrounds her. A former electrical / instrumentation journeywoman and stay-at-home mom, she is currently employed as a school bus driver. She and her husband, Andy, steward a forty-five acre hobby farm and tend to the needs of four beehives. She is actively involved in the lives of her two children, Sophie, who is seventeen, and Peter, who is fourteen. 

Her first book, Sweet Wisdoms, is forthcoming from Shanti Arts Publishing in February of this year. Sweet Wisdoms was inspired by daily walks with her yellow lab named Wally, a van full of preschoolers, ponderings over split pea soup and every pause of wonder in between. In 2015 two of her poems were published in the Wicwas publication entitled Safe To Chew, an anthology celebrating the honey bee. Her participation in a local woman’s writing circle facilitated by Writing Specialist and Author, Sandra Shackelford (a.k.a Princess-Of-Quite-A-Lot) was life changing.

Not all wisdom is siphoned from bitter experiences in a life. Wisdom has a sweet side. It’s revealed from a perspective of natural curiosity about the mystical messages in our everyday circumstances. Uncomplicated observations are described with vivid imagery and metaphor. The vignettes are an easy big-hearted read. Sweet Wisdoms was inspired by a van full preschoolers, daily walks with a yellow lab named Wally, ponderings over split pea soup and every pause of wonder in between. Based on real-life experiences seeking human insights, Sweet Wisdoms will challenge everything you think you know about acquiring wisdom. Be inspired to recognize and acknowledge the existence of simple sweet wisdoms in your own encounters with life.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Kathryn Gahl & Sarah Gilbert

Photo Cropped.png

Kathryn Gahl is a writer, dancer, and registered nurse. Born to an Irish nurse and German farmer, she grew up with seven siblings in a farmhouse located at the end of a half-mile gravel drive. She earned a B.S. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a B.S. in Nursing at Syracuse University (NY). After 25 years in nursing and nursing management, she became a full-time writer, studying at Bread Loaf, Stonecoast, Sewanee, Iowa Writers’ Workshop Fiction Intensive, Iowa Summer Festival, Vermont College, and Taos.

Her poems and stories are widely published in small journals, including Eclipse, Hawaii Pacific Review, Permafrost, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, and Willow Review. Twice a Glimmer Train finalist, she received honorable mention from The Council of Wisconsin Writers and Wisconsin People & Ideas . Margie named her a finalist for the Marjorie J. Wilson Award. Other finalist awards include poetry at Lumina and Chautauqua , the Arthur Edelstein Prize for Short Fiction, the William Richey Short Story Winner, and the Flash Fiction finalist at Talking Writing . More at

Sarah Gilbert.JPG

Sarah Gilbert returned to writing poetry in the midst of two decades of Lynch Syndrome cancers. Her chapbook, Tendril: Living with Lynch Syndrome, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. At some point she will get around to pulling together another manuscript. Poems have appeared in Fox Cry Review, Wisconsin Poets Calendar, The Healing Muse, and Your Daily Poem. Sarah enjoys weaving, helping out in her community, library, and church, spending time with family and in nature, especially at the cottage on Lake Michigan. She hosts monthly poetry readings at Copper Rock Cafe in Appleton. 

Thoughts on a No-Hair Day

This autumn I am deciduous.
My hair without anchor
loosed with a touch
flies with the wind
like the leaves

I rake my hair off my pillow
my shoulders, the sink, the floor,
becoming acquainted with my scalp
cool and tingling
as delicate wisps of hair lift with the breeze. 

I am shedding
like cats in spring
but now they are laying in their winter coats.
This is not their shedding season.

Better to think of the trees
branches bare to winter wind
strongly rooted
leafing out anew in the spring.

* * *


Screensaver goldfish
drift lazily by
waving their fantails
moving their lips
while bubbles
percolate from blue gravel.
Lucy the cat
sits mesmerized
tilts her head
lifts a soft paw
bats and bats again
but the fish know
she’s not really there.

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11:00 AM11:00

Informal Recitation Event

Following her reading Thursday night, Kimberly will host an Informal Recitation Event Friday from 11am to 1pm.

For the recitation event, please select a published poem by a poet you love and learn it "by heart." Come anytime during the event window of 11am to 1pm and Blaeser will videotape you reciting your poem.

If you can’t make it to the recitation event, formal Challenge rules are below.


In her tenure as Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate, Blaeser created the first-ever Wisconsin Poetry Recitation Challenge to celebrate recited poetry, a lost art. 

Residents of Wisconsin are invited to select a published poem by a poet they love and learn it "by heart." They should then create a videotape of reciting the poem, providing:

  • An introduction with name of poet and title of poem
  • Insight as to why the poem is meaningful. 

Send video to:

In your email include:

  1. Subject line: “Submission Recitation Project” followed by name (for example: Submission Recitation Project, Kimberly Blaeser).
  2. Body of the email: name of person reciting the poem, title and name of poet, along with the location and date of the recitation.

All videos will be considered for posting by the Wisconsin Laureate Commission. 

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Kimberly Blaeser
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Poet, photographer, and scholar, Kimberly Blaeser, is the current Wisconsin Poet Laureate.  Blaeser is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee where she teaches Creative Writing, Native American Literature, and American Nature Writing. Her publications include three books of poetry: Trailing You, Absentee Indians and Other Poems, and Apprenticed to Justice. Included in volumes whose titles are as varied as Sing, Women on Hunting and Reinventing the Enemy’s Language, her poetry, essays, and short fiction are widely anthologized and selections of her poetry have been translated into several languages including Spanish, Norwegian, Indonesian, French, and Hungarian.  Blaeser has performed her poetry at over 200 different venues around the globe, from Bahrain to Spain, and identifies the two most memorial sites for readings as the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia and a Fire-Ceremony at the Borderlands Museum Grounds in arctic Norway. She been the recipient of awards for both writing and speaking, among these a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship in Poetry, the Diane Decorah first book award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, and four Pushcart Nominations.

Of Anishinaabe ancestry and an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Blaeser grew up on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. Her current creative project features “Picto-Poems” and brings her nature and wildlife photography together with poetry to explore intersecting ideas about Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance.   She lives in the woods and wetlands of rural Lyons Township Wisconsin and spends part of each year at a water access cabin adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota chasing poems, photos, and river otters—sometimes all at once.

On Climbing Petroglyphs


Newly twelve with size seven feet

dangling beside mine off the rock

ledge, legerdemain of self knowledge.

How do I say anything—magic

words you might need to hear?

With flute-playing, green-painted nails

your child’s fingers reach to span the range

of carmel-colored women in our past.

Innocently you hold those ghost hands:

each story a truce we’ve made with loss.

How can I tell you there were others?


Big-boned women who might try

to push out hips in your runner’s body.

Women who will betray you for men,

a bottle, or because they love you

love you, don’t want to see you disappointed

in life, so will hold you, hold you hostage

with words, words tangled around courage

duty or money. When should I show you

my own flesh cut and scarred on the barbs

of belonging and love’s oldest language?



No, let us dangle here yet, dawdle

for an amber moment while notes shimmer

sweetly captured in turquoise flute songs—

the score of a past we mark together.

No words whispered yet beyond these painted

untainted rock images of ancients: sun, bird, hunter.

Spirit lines that copper us to an infinity.

Endurance. Your dangling. Mine.

Before the floor of our becoming.

Perhaps even poets must learn silence,

that innocence, that space before speaking.

-- Kimberly Blaeser

Angles of Being

It’s all angle after all. What we see and especially what we miss.

Like the leaf bird limed and shadowed to match every other green upturned hand blooming on the August tree.  Indecipherable.  Even when wings flutter like leaves in breeze. 

Or the silhouette—dark and curved on the bare oak.  Beak, parted tail, each mistakable for knot, branch, or twig.  Only when one exits the scene, unblends and isolates itself, flies against too blue sky does the game of hidden pictures end.

Ah, angles. Tell all or tell it slant. What we dream, appear, or inverted seem to be.

-- Kimberly Blaeser

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Bobbie Lovell & Wendy Diehlmann

Bobbie Lovell’s educational background and career are in visual art, graphic design and print production — but she’s hopelessly smitten with words. She lives near Green Bay with her two favorite young people and works in a corporate marketing department. Bobbie's poems have appeared in several journals, and she received a 2015 Pushcart nomination from Star*Line. She tends to write about relationships and ordinary life, occasionally from outer space.

The Morning After the World Didn't End

You wake to a sliver
of wan winter light
leaking between curtains.
Peering out, your eyes
linger on the landscape,
blessedly familiar in its wholeness —
no smoldering skeletal ruins,
no field of fallen sky.

A passing jogger,
ponytail bouncing,
seemingly impervious to cold
but too pristine and nimble
to be zombified,
confirms that you aren’t,
somehow, the proverbial
last soul on Earth
left mysteriously behind.

You are infinitely grateful
for the steadfast sun
iridescent on the frosty lawn,
for the grounding scent
of brewing coffee, and even
for this exercise in dread
and hope. You brim with profound
relief in the mundane —
that which is often reserved
for cancer remissions
and military homecomings.

TV ads urge viewers
to complete holiday shopping,
confident that Santa
will indeed deliver.
But the news reveals
the flip side of sameness:
Oceans rise and missiles fall
today as they did yesterday.
Again, you feel the grip of the end
around your throat, threatening,
at any time, to squeeze.
Even so, you won’t give up —
not now. Especially not now.

-- Bobbie Lovell


Wendy Diehlmann has taken the long way ‘round, completing her Bachelor of Arts after her daughters were grown. Life has been a rich and full experience thus far, despite living it check-to-check, and the variety of that experience, in work, travel and people and friends, has been more than worth it. She lives in Oconto township, in a little piece of heaven on the bay. She was a guest on and read her poetry on Higher Ground with Jonathon Overby in 2005. She works two part-time jobs and is finally at a point where it is time for the writing.

I am an Old House

I am an old house.
A family whose roots
Reach and branch
back and back,
through country
through century
to obscure beginnings.
I came down from
Norway, France
and Germany
crossing paths along the way
with a Rabbi somewhere back,
I’m told.
There were Vikings.
I saw them,
in the sons and grandsons
broad-shouldered and
white-blonde hair,
ruddy faces
and blue eyes,
Stepping slow
bearing their mother, their grandmother
to the grave where we were gathered.
There were farmers.
I the child saw them,
in my grandfathers, in my uncles.
Their eyes
in wind-burned
leathered faces
looked across fields
into the sunset
as if they
were gazing back through time.
Strong arms, stubborn hearts,
backs bent to their work.
There were matriarchs.
I saw them, in the faces
of my mother and
her sisters
cooking in their kitchens.
Strong hands, stubborn hearts
beneath flowered aprons.
They got their way
When it mattered.
The old ones are nearly gone now.
I am ninety-nine
in my Aunt Hazel.
I am ninety-three
in my father.
I have seen the world
as it was
before cars
before telephones.
From the corner of
the country porch
I the child
watched dusk
creep, trailing
its shadow across the yard.
The windmill
turned lazily in evening breezes,
I listened to my parents
with brothers and wives,
sisters and husbands,
the cadence and
the laughter
led me back with them
to years before
when days, slower days
ended at dusk, and
the windmill turned lazily in evening breezes.
I am an old house.
I stand in the country.

-- Wendy Diehlmann

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1:00 PM13:00

Summer Poetry Festival

The lazy days of summer were made for poetry, music, wine and flavory food.

Come experience Green Bay’s first-ever SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL outside at The Reader’s Loft in London Alley on Saturday, July 30, any time between 1pm to 4pm. 

Relax and revel in poetry under the canopy with Wisconsin poets:

Brittany Cavallaro
Cathryn Cofell
Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2011-2012
Kathryn Gahl
Karla Huston
C. Kubasta
James P. Roberts
Nathan J. Reid 

Groove to local musicians:

Colin J, lyrics & guitar
Palmer Shah, from The Ugly Brothers
Abbey Jeane, special guest
Amy Phillips, singer/songwriter

Enjoy wine by the glass and tasty appetizers.

Poets under the Canopy:


Groove to music by local musicians:

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Poetry from Brain Mill Press

Brain Mill Press publishers Mary Ann Rivers and Ruthie Knox will read from the first four poetry chapbooks in the press's newly launched Mineral Point Poetry Series: Tanka & Me by Kaethe Schwehn, My Seaborgium by Alicia Rebecca Myers, Fair Day in an Ancient Town by Greg Allendorf, and My Tall Handsome by Emily Corwin.

The Mineral Point Poetry Series is edited by Kiki Petrosino. In alternate years, the series publishes chapbooks and a full poetry collection.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Sylvia Cavanaugh, Ed Werstein & Nancy Austin

Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin.  She currently teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies.  She is the faculty advisor for break dancers and poets.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in An Arial Anthology, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Prairie Review, Peninsula Pulse, Seems, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, Verse Wisconsin, and elsewhere.   Her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2016.


Duped by a rectangle of glass above the door
in the way its light came in
but we could not see out
like the eyeless yellow marigolds between our walks
all fringe with no insight
tough alchemy of the nearly defeated

sometimes a warmed patch of light drifted in
to land on dust mote winter days
we played with paper dolls

our fathers once re-shingled the dilapidated roof
outside our back doors were sets of stairs
they had agreed upon

edgy summers drummed time
the staccato whap whap of screen doors
our lives latched to the people next door
in the jumpy bang bang of summer

I used to dream of a house
I could run all the way around
timed myself over and over

we shared a chimney, devilish bats
would echo their way down its dusty tunnel
and then have to decide

sometimes we heard the neighbors’ shrieks at night
and sometimes they heard ours.

-- Sylvia Cavanaugh
First published in Making it Speak:  Artists and Writers in Cahoots

Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, spent 22 years in manufacturing and union activity before his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. He sympathizes with poor and working people. He advocates for peace and against corporate power. His poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Blue Collar Review, Stoneboat, Gyroscope Review, Mobius: the Journal of Social Change, and several other publications. His first chapbook, Who Are We Then?, was published in 2013 by Partisan Press.

The Way Philanthropy Works

At concerts in Rockefeller Center
sensitive ears can still hear the cries and wails
of the Ludlow miners
and their wives and children
slaughtered on the picket line in Colorado, 1914.

Without opening a book,
keen eyes can read
the lost lives of unschooled steel workers
on the facades of thousands oflibraries,
part of the Carnegie bequest. 

And who remembers
the abandoned artistic ambitions
of the aluminum smelters, the oil riggers,
and the bank tellers who labored
so the Mellon family could endow
the National Gallery of Art?

-- Ed Werstein

Evening Meal

Come, pump blood into my borscht,
heart-shaped beet,
fang-rooted Romanian blood-bulb,
vampire of vegetables.
I sink my teeth into you.
Warm this cold twilight.

-- Ed Werstein

Nancy Austin was born in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, but has lived on both coasts, and points in between.  She received a master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, and worked in Green Bay for many years. She moved to the north woods a few years ago to delve into the poetry of a quieter lifestyle with her husband Mic. She appreciates every moment she has free to kayak a shoreline, bicycle down a wooded lane, sing back to the birds, and eat eggplant parmesan, an interest she has held since childhood. She relishes time to write in between running an unofficial bed and breakfast where she melds with family and friends.

Nancy has been published in various literary journals including Adanna, Midwestern Gothic, Sheepshead Review, Verse WI, and The WI Poets’ Calendars. She is the author of a poetry collection, Remnants of Warmth, forthcoming February, 2016 via Aldrich Press, and available at, or through the Kelsay Books website. 

Old Firewood

The new cord of firewood,
delivered today,
released its musky scent
as it tumbled from the truck bed.
Its dewy, fresh cut,
warm, wheat color,
and earthy aroma
delighted us.
We chuckled, such a discount
for ready to burn,
solidly superior
to the old cord,
that shattered into shards 
when it fell to the ground,
loosening lichen-spotted bark
from tough, twisted cores,
thus, unceremoniously stacked
in the corner.
We lowered three perfect logs
into the cold, cast iron stove,
pulled chairs forward
in smug anticipation,
lit them up, and waited.
They sputtered,
but would not burn.               

-- Nancy Austin
First published in 2014 Wisconsin Poets Calendar

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5:30 PM17:30

Becoming Transparent

A Poetry Reading Featuring
Kathryn Gahl & Annette Grunseth

Thursday, April 14th
Barnes & Noble Cafe, Green Bay


KATHRYN GAHL is mad about ballroom dance, the color red and compassion.  Gahl’s fiction, poetry and nonfiction appear in many journals.  A writer, registered nurse and deep sleeper, Gahl is also a seasoned mother and grandmother. Her website is

 ANNETTE GRUNSETH shares a parent’s perspective on an adult child’s path to transgender. She is a Green Bay poet, publishing inMidwest Prairie Review, Peninsula Pulse, Free Verse, Blue Heron and others. She has been a member of     Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets since 1988.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Tom Davis & Ethel Mortenson Davis

Ethel Mortenson Davis was born in Wisconsin where her parents were dairy farmers in Marathon County. Her years on the farm instilled a deep sense of the earth and the various forms of life.  Her interest in poetry and art started in high school.  She studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and has had two books of poetry published, I Sleep Between the Moons of New Mexico and White Ermine Across Her Shoulders.  Her poems have been published in magazines and small literary journals.  Her pastels have been featured in a number of small galleries.

Thomas Davis has had a distinguished career as a President and Chief Academic Officer of four tribal colleges and the Provost of Navajo Technical University in New Mexico.  He is the author of Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit (State University of New York Press), chapters in books published by Nebraska University Press and the Smithsonian, and has had poetry, fiction, and essays published in anthologies, books, magazines, and literary journals.  He has given poetry readings, primarily at colleges and universities, in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and several U.S. states and edited The Zuni Mountain Poets Anthology and three small literary magazines.

Auschwitz, E Poland
January 27, 1945

Deep January
never felt so warm —
when the strong arms
of the Red Army
picked up
the skeleton-like people
and set them
on blankets in the snow.

The evil snake
had reached down
deep into their bodies
and tried to snatch
their very souls,

but the soldiers
gathered them
like sick dogs
in their arms
and set them
into the sunshine.

Libertacja was like
the swinging
of a thousand swings
up into the air —
a day when poetry
began to be written. 

-- Ethel Mortenson Davis
original published in Gallup Journey

The Raven’s Croak
A Spenserian Sonnet

Hunched down beside a woodpile, ebony,
In shadows from the cedars overhead,
The raven blinked black eyes, its dishabille
Of feathers rustling, stirring up a dread
So dark it seemed as if it called up from the dead
White wisps of spirits buried in the snow.
The raven hopped on top the woodpile, head
Cocked, moving like a dancer in a show,
A shadows’ shadow pantomiming woe.

Dawn’s darkness deepened as the raven leaped
Into the sky and hovered as the glow
Of blood-light saturated earth and seeped
Into the raven’s eyes, it’s dance undone
Until its beak croaked out the blazing sun. 

-- Tom Davis
originally published in Ariel

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Ralph Murre, Jenna Cornell & D. R. Clowers

Ralph Murre -- who comes without a degree or an apology -- is a sailor, a motorcyclist, an artist, and something of a jack-of-all-trades. He confesses to "messing about in books" and has written three small volumes of poetry and co-authored a fourth.  Murre says he is currently honored to serve as Door County’s Poet Laureate, and swears there really is such a thing and that he didn’t just make that up.


On the off chance
that we should meet again
given that there are billions
and, let’s say, in a different life

On the off chance
we’d be attracted to one another
and were of the same species
that is, I hadn’t come back

as your dog
or you, God forbid, if there’d be
a god, my cat
(not that there’d be anything

wrong with that)
On the off chance
we’d be on a planet
with breathable air

 and we’d survived acne
and alcohol and atomic
annihilation on that globe
circling a star, somewhere

On the off chance of love

what do you suppose
would be the chance
we two could get it right
learn the steps, dance the dance?

-- Ralph Murre

But We Were Beautiful, No?

In that illicit country of the uncountable injured
where we shivered in the heat of that night.
The height.  And the sky falling so close all around
there were constellations tangled in your hair.

Forget or remember, either way, there was salt
in the air a thousand miles from any ocean and
how could we not dance, listening to that music
and, (is it too easy to say?) glistening, in the liquid

in the languid of that place, and kneeling
at the altars of that nighttime nation, of that
small, defenseless nation, where we were beautiful,

And how could we not make sacrifices to those gods
just over us there (that close!) and worry later, if we
worry at all, about those in the clover and grass
to which we go?

-- Ralph Murre

With her first story written at age nine and first published opinion article at age ten, Jenna Cornell has since seen her work published in The Northern Lights Arts Journal, The Manifest, Sheepshead Review, The Fourth Estate, Mauthe Center Magazine,, and had plays read at Theatre on the Bay. 

She submitted her short screenplay "Hunk of Burning Love" to the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition in 2014 and made it into the Top 50 Quarterfinals. In 2015, she released her first poetry collection as an indie author titled Fantastic Illusions of Life, Love, the Birds, and the Bees.

Fiction, screen writing, and journalism are one of the many things she involved in. She also writes fiction, poetry,  and music.  As a vocalist and wordsmith, Jenna spends part of her time writing songs. She intends to record in the near future.

Since receiving her BA in English, Creative Writing and Theatre from UWGB, and her MA from Southern New Hampshire University, Jenna has become a professor at Lakeland College and Lakeshore Technical College, as well as a writing tutor for Pearson Education. She can also be found on the radio airwaves for Cumulus Broadcasting.

 When she isn't writing, she enjoys nature photography, painting, spending time outside, and with her family. Jenna lives by the belief that art is the essence of life in creative form.

Midnight Sea

Let us dance across the midnight sea.
Where stars collide.
Where it’s only you and me.
Where fire-tailed eagles dive
amongst the celestial
bodies flow. A moonlit
waltz, to then fro amidst
the ever-present glow.  

The tango twist in raptured twilight.
Where constellations dare.  
Where arrows fill the night.
Where teasing whips of gas fare
amongst the giant
spheres abound. A sunlit
rumba swings hips round amidst
the silent-black sound.  

The quickstep flicker in dark blue night.
Where dreams surpass.
Where fairies and sprites ignite.
Where red dragons flash
amongst the stardust
hearts transfix. A starlit
samba where bodies kiss amidst
the heavenly-dotted mix.  

Let us dance across the midnight sea.
Where stars collide.
Where it’s only you and me.
Where star-crossed lovers glide
amongst the translunar
ocean. A moonlit
bolero pivots left motion amidst
the extraterrestrial devotion. 

Deeper Still

A mirror of water
rests silently
against glistening-white

Words echo
in the cloudy air.
Bounce off
black liquid
frozen forests
frost-laden grass
in over-embellished

Ice crystals
fall delicately
in stealth
resting upon
the scene
like a picturesque

The water calls
me deeper still.
twisted guiles
sing Grimm lullabies
hush my heart
stop my voice
envelope my breath. 

I fracture the mirror
break its shiny
black ruse
with harmonic hesitation
dancing to its waltz
on its plan
to overtake me. 

Liquid trickles
into my lungs
the warm
tender air.
Deeper still
I enter in
its frigid depths.

Inner glow
covers me
in sweet
Summer days
flash on
then off.
my ears.
my eyes. 

I float
white and blue
into golden-orange
Deeper still
I have emerged. Free.

After receiving his BA in English Lit and MA from the University of Michigan and teaching for three years at Drake University, David or D.R. Clowers switched fields and got a law degree from the University of Chicago. After practicing law for many years in Milwaukee, he moved to a self-build, rustic cabin in Door County’s woods in 2001 and lived there, off the grid, for nine years, while re-establishing his law practice in Sturgeon Bay. He has been the featured reader at the UUFDC's Dickinson Poetry series, and has self-published two chapbooks, Shedding My Three Piece Birthday Suit, and Doggysattva Love. His poems have appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Fox Cry, Knock, Your Daily Poem, The Peninsula Pulse, WFOP's annual calendars and in Ralph Murre's Re-Verse. Several of his poems have received recognition in the WFOP's Triad, the Gruetzmacher and the Hal Prize contests. One of his poems appeared in the anthology, Soundings: the Poetry of Door County, and two others in an anthology published by Duluth's Holy Cow Press in 2015, Amethyst and Agate: Poems of Lake Superior.  He performs in community theater groups, serves on several boards, teaches poetry writing and reading theater classes at Door County's LIR program. In his spare time he goes to the Y, swims, runs, bikes, skis, sails, practices law and does the Legal Aid Clinic for Door County.

The Speed Limit of the Universe

is supposed to be the speed of light,
and I guess it is if you want to know
how fast a photon can travel
but what about information
in the universe?
How fast does that go?

Let me tell you a story:
my love was in London
when I called to say
I was on my way
but wished I was already there
and not a continent plus
the Atlantic Ocean away.

“You are here,“ she began
as I felt something slide
across my shirt and over my heart—
I even looked down to see—
and then she said
I’m in your pocket, Luv!

-- D.R. Clowers

Critique of Pure Reason

An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.
— Aldous Huxley

While my hands are fidgeting on your back, I think
about Jung saying that if you showed him a sane man
he would cure him for you—which
makes me wonder if anyone who is sane
can ever love, because love means losing yourself
in your lover. “Le petit mort,” the French have called it,
but then the French always have love
on the table with some red wine and a crisp baguette,
and Brecht could have been talking about love,
as well, I guess, when he wrote,
“First feed the face, and then talk right and wrong.”

But I think I’ve lost my place, my love.
Please take me around that curve on your body
that makes me stop thinking about everything
and puts me in touch with my hands.

-- D.R. Clowers


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