Summer (June 1-September 11), 2011

Ten Years Later

by Janet Leahy

We remember the morning
planes broke
the sky

We remember those who died
in a leap of faith . . .
the cooks and the waiters

money exchangers
policy makers
We remember the rescuers

rushing the stairs
And the “let's roll” brigade
diverting the plane, after

one last call home
We remember how fear
pushed the needle of hate

into our veins
and the cathedral
of half-truths, where

men in dark suits
preached the gospel
of vengeance

Janet Leahy is a teacher in Milwaukee who lives in New Berlin.


Just When I Thought I’d Seen Everything

by Margaret Rozga
Yesterday mid-afternoon, something on the move in the middle of Wentworth Avenue caught my eye.  A gaggle of geese on the march reached the corner, turned left and headed east on Pryor. They walked in triangular formation down the middle of the street, moving so fast that they crossed Superior before I could get my camera. They continued on foot east to South Shore Drive. I couldn't see if they turned north or south at that point, but still they did not fly.
Why not? I wondered: did Scott Walker clip your wings, too?
Margaret Rozga lives in Milwaukee and blogs about poetry and social justice issues at

Epic Battle

by Margaret Sherman

The governor abruptly strips the poet
of his laureate and his budget.
Puffed up with victory and power
the imperious leader tells the writer
to go and peddle his poetic devices
on his own dime.
Which provokes the polar bears
to march for more ice.
And the pelicans to march for less oil.
And the boilermakers to march
for more safety valves.
While a firemen plays his bagpipe,
everyone with a gripe
marches until the bossy honcho
renegotiates with the demoted poet
who finally gets his mileage back,
puts on his rock star sunglasses,
fells the scoundrel with a villanelle,
and delivers polar bears, pelicans,
boiler-makers, and dactyls from extinction.

Margaret Sherman lives in Beaver Dam.



by Katherine Mead

The color of barns
The color of wine
The color of heart
This color of thine

Negative balance
Battle cries

Clay mud

Bricks on bricks
Insular lives

That one puppet

I'd rather be dead than...

Katherine Mead grew up in Central Wisconsin, attended the University of Minnesota, and currently lives in St Louis, MO.

Spring Comes to Wisconsin, 2011

by Thomas R. Smith

Four days sick in bed, and when I go out
the mid-March sun has rid the yard of snow.
What a shambles, that matted waste pale
as pulped newsprint, gauzy with snow-mold,

mottled runoff where the melt-stream carried
lawn silt on its way to the river. That all this
will become summer’s liberal green
stuns my heart open, setting foot on spring earth.

Hope was blindsided this winter,
our easy-going state set against itself
by ruthless profiteers and manipulators.
We need your help now, green spirits of life:

Wanton and wild springtime, rise also
in us that we may be powerful as
the grass, as abundant and erotic
as the leaves. Overwhelm with your holy

argument those crouching soot-shapes
of fear that have too long darkened our dreams.
It’s time for them to melt away, to yield
to the season of creative generosity.

Thomas R. Smith, River Falls, Wisconsin, has a web site at and some lines of poetry in granite at the Elizabeth Link Peace Park on State Street in Madison.

A Fire Storm

by Janet Leahy

The Koran burns
a preacher in Florida sets it on fire
the butterfly’s singed wings darken
unrest in the streets of Kandahar
A man of God burns Islam’s holy book
news travels the world
in the streets of Kandahar
the fire spreads
News travels
U N workers attacked and killed
the fire storm rages
fueling riots in Afghanistan
U N workers killed
the preacher claims no responsibility
riots surge in Afghanistan
fists raise against Americans
The preacher not responsible
yet the butterfly’s wings are singed
anger against America
the Koran burns

Janet Leahy is a teacher in Milwaukee who lives in New Berlin.

When Can We Play

by Janet Leahy

In the classroom
there is no time for play
even the very young
sequestered at desks
fill in small circles
answering questions on tests
Not wanting to leave
any child behind
we serve test after test
on a platter of sameness
young children afluster
eyes devoid of luster

When can we play the child asks
There’s no time for play
no time for painting
folk dancing
or trips to museums
no money for music, for art
things that make children smart

When can we play the child asks
will it be today
Yes, today is the day I’ll put tests away
choose something you like
they respond with a cheer
eyes lively, no shadow of fear
They read books, write stories, build
bridges and towers, paint with bright
colors, houses and flowers

The new boy
takes Legos and fashions
a gun
in a flash veteran students
explain rule number one
we don’t like guns they say
make something new
use your imagination
that’s what we do everyday

The new boy doesn’t listen
points his gun
pulls the trigger
let’s play war he taunts
loud bangs make him tough
he wants to play rough, his peers
turn away
Confused, and not knowing
what to do, he asks
     what’s imagination
     do I have one too

He comes from a school where they
tested and tested
lulled by the dullness
creativity arrested

I love to play the child says
this is so much fun
but why does the new boy
take up a gun . . .

Janet Leahy is a teacher in Milwaukee who lives in New Berlin.