April 8-30, 2011

Oh Wisconsin!

by Mike Orlock

Sovereign state of the lactose tolerant,
Wheelwright of brick and cheddar cheese!
They tell me you are beautifully bovine and I believe them,
for I have seen your livestock tempt young farm boys with udder impunity;
They tell me you are poetry pasteurized and I say, yes, that is true
for your maidens are blessed with unusually creamy complexions.
And having answered so, I turn to those who sneer at our state
and its new governor, whose thinning pate and slender shoulders
and blank expression have made him fodder for late night comedians,
and I answer for my adopted home with lowing voice
and belching protest,
    Show me another state whose public employees can
    be stripped of their collective bargaining rights
    with the stroke of a pen,
    show me a state who would gladly sell itself
    to Koch Industries for the promise of a trifling
    campaign donation;
Gentle as a cow chewing its cud with quizzical bewilderment,
Helpless as a calf against the machinery of neo-conservativism,
    Easily manipulated,
    Calling, voting, recalling,
Marching through the Capitol with banners lifted high in protest,
Voices united in anger and revulsion,
Shouting to be heard, shouting the hoarse, raw-throated cry
of people herded like cattle come to the realization, perhaps too late,
that the new farmer has other plans for them than the dream of dairy.

Mike Orlock is a retired English and Social Studies teacher who, with his wife of 36 years, splits time between Sturgeon Bay and the Chicago suburbs.

How sexy are you?

by Ros Nelson

We hoped for the melt but it was too sudden.
The forest yielding its cover of snow
took us by surprise and we were unwilling 
voyeurs of exposed, fallen limbs  
and defenseless patches of wet earth.

Like picking up a magazine and finding that someone
had filled out the quiz, "How sexy are you?"
And you know that person
and you can never tell them that you also know
their score.
So we hoped again, this time for spring 
to hurry, to rush in with leaves
and cover it all back up again,
to ease our discomfort.   

Nightfall offered a softer view.
One lamp in the front room spilled
generous pools of light outside
which for some hours dressed 
the bare earth and trees
and let the forest
appear hushed and secure
the way it was before.

But the deer, beyond the light
pick their way on muddy ground.
They search for footing
with cautious, slender legs
and each step is courage
so of course, they will find spring 
even in the dark,
step by step.

Ros Nelson is a graphic designer, book publisher and poet who lives in the forest near Washburn, Wisconsin.

The Demise of Philosophy in Nevada

by Ed Bennett

(In March of 2011 the Provost of the University of Nevada, in concert with the
President, presented an austerity budget to the Faculty Senate that would
eliminate the Department of Philosophy.)

Back to Miletus we go,
banished by a Board of Regents
grown fat on Business Administration and a “Gentleman’s C”.
Why should we teach the learned arts
when we can teach pursuit of money and money is the value
of thought, word and deed.

Plato’s glass is darker now,
Aristotle’s Poetice muffled
by the scream of the football crowd
as the Provost plans a bonfire
because it’s cheaper than a library.
Philosophy is for esthetes –
we can no longer afford learning
or the paper on which it is written.

These barbarians have been here before
clothed with skins and bloody armament;
the confliction in their presence
is their seat at the academic table.
One sets fire to their own house
out of spite or a fit of lunacy;
the pendulum will reverse it’s path
toward these jesters in history’s footnote.

We drink the hemlock as required,
accept our sacrifice to fiscal gods,
make allusions to Charon’s ferry
knowing it has gone over their heads.
We’ll return again, a sign that sanity
is now present, encouraged and allowed
to teach the universal truths while they
skulk forever as a cautionary tale.

Ed Bennett is a Telecommunications Engineer living in Las Vegas and is a Staff
Editor of Quill and Parchment.



by Laura McNeill

small hands scrawl
           on 1/2 sheets of paper
           recycled church announcements
                      dyed goldenrod, teal
                                 orange and blue hues

'rain stands for justice'
'rain stands for justice'

           droplets of rain poised
                      in penned perfection
                                 to summon God's gift
                                            on a cloudless day

faith endures

as sandstone and limestone
           weight down these prayers
                      on walking bricks

They will bring the rain! you cry
Rain is justice!

on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination
we remember...
           killed for loving
                      opening his heart
                                 shifting us
                                 to a better place
           killed for standing
                      with workers
                      with voices unheard
                      for justice

for bearing that cross
so we could bear witness
and only hope to take up ours
when our names are called

We are Wisconsin

           still loving

                      still standing

                                 waiting for justice
                                            to fall
                                                       like a mighty rain

Laura McNeill lives in Madison, WI and can be found backyard beekeeping or playing a fiddle tune with her two sons, ages 5 and 7.

A Villanelle: Madison, 2011

by LaMoine MacLaughlin
Within this confluence where lake meets lake,
Amid the bitterness and biting cold,
We gather now for future children’s sake.
Some soaring eagles scream the dead awake
While others seek responses more controlled
Here in this confluence where lake meets lake.
Already all this land has felt the quake
Reverberating from both young and old
Who gather here for future children’s sake.
Together we will sing to soothe our ache
And reach out for another hand to hold
Here in this confluence where lake meets lake.
Our voices will be heard, make no mistake,
Our stories, every one, will all be told;
We gather here for future children’s sake.
Returning spring will see this glacier break
And witness how this epic will unfold.
Within this confluence where lake meets lake
We gather now for future children’s sake.

LaMoine MacLaughlin lives in Clayton, Wisconsin.

The Madison Front

by Uche Ogbuji

The motor mogul gets revenge
And holds his torch to union rights;
His freshmen find unsettled scores
In budget crisis, by their lights.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
The sewer pipes beneath the dome—
No bill to switch to chamberpots
And send the manhole workers home.

Some speak of private enterprise
Like so much winking fairy dust
But no society dare leave
All resource management to trust.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
The shock-absorber-friendly roads—
No bill to stop importing tar
And limit freight to wagon loads.

Some unions tend to garner waste
And shelter mediocrity;
The states should be the vanguard labs
For measurements in policy.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
Free education for each child—
No bill to auction off degrees
(The rest can study running wild.)

Some claim the state is flat out broke
And challenge others to debunk—
The time for fiscal caution is
Before the bonds get rated junk.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
Correctional approach to crime—
No bill to shut the prisons down;
Just hang 'em high! No serving time.

A mansion for each family
By standards understood worldwide,
An LCD TV, three cars
And surplus matched to kingly pride.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
Demand for clean water and air—
No bill to slap a UPC
On molecules found everywhere.

When parties agitate at tea
The point I never hear addressed
Is what our living standards mean
If not attachment at the breast.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
Our elders fighting off the grave—
No bill to cap the right to life,
Emancipate the youthful slave.

The marchers on the capitol,
Creative with their signs and facts,
Still somehow cannot bring themselves
To speak the hated name of tax.

The problem lies as yet untouched:
Development of industry—
No bill to shun research and cleave
To stone age tools or alchemy.

Solvency or luxury
Or modesty of revenue—
Both sides seem to want all three
But most that they can have is two.

And so they set themselves to war
Pretending budget needs dictate,
And so the protests carry on
But no one calls the true debate.

And so we set ourselves to war
In far off lands for dwindling goods;
For all that cost we're left
The Don Quixotes of the Northern Woods.

Uche Ogbuji is Computer Engineer and entrepreneur who lives in Boulder, Colorado.