Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Cowboy in Spring
(Love in a Pick-up Truck)
by Beverly Koepplin

Come on, cowboy, come on down from that line cabin,
ride your trusty old Ford steed into town,
pick up a new Stetson, soft fawn suede, at the mercantile,
and grab a shirt off the rack, pearl buttons shining in the sun.

Dust off your jeans and polish your boots to newness,
saunter over to the saloon and breathe in your freedom,
free from winter snows, cold days and colder nights,
bawling cows, stiff joints, and solitary hours without end.

Grab yourself a stool and order that first draft of beer,
swirl it in around in your mouth, swallow the nectar.
Ah, for a couple of bucks, paradise is found at the beat-up bar,
and the future suddenly looks like spring and summer and love.

Come on, cowboy, I am waiting down at the end of the bar,
waiting for you to thaw out, waiting for you to find your feet,
waiting for you to unwind from off that stool and walk my way,
waiting for a glance that catches me and holds me tight.

Come on, cowboy, I want to try on your new hat,
dance a two-step with you as Elvis croons from inside the jukebox,
wink up at you to say “Hi, cowboy.  It’s been a while.”,
feel the stiffness in your shirt, smell beer and leather and the springtime.

Come on, cowboy, swing me around and dance me out the door.
One last twirl, then a quick murmur to “wait right there, darling”,
you go to get your pick up and drive it right up on the sidewalk,
and you say “Come on in, sweetheart.  It’s a good day for love in a pick up.”


Monday, July 31, 2017

by Lucille Hamilton

Think how big their egos must be
that their name is known even
in villages that grow cotton or rice
for a living, or that depend
on the diminishing fish that are
hauled from the swelling sea.

Never before in our known earth's history
has there been such power among so few.

Is it the power of the head, the thinking power,
or is it the understanding compassion of the heart?
Who has both,
that can lead us wisely through the extremes
of our extreme creations
that involve us all
in decisions that mean life
or death - for us all
in our shared lives' experience
here on this beautiful, giving earth?


Monday, July 24, 2017

Contemplation of Unlabeled Wine
                   by Joan R Brady

I have always known it to be thought of as...
potentially...dangerous...and possibly exotic...

A one of a kind created by an artist’s hand...
crimson...dark in its bottle...

Tinted green glass...some thought given when chosen...
cork fitted tightly in place...level with slim opening...
waiting to be popped...and pored into a glass...

But when sipped...there could be rancid taste...or...perhaps...
a head-reeling sweetness clouding your senses...

And if offered by a known vintner...promising...”fresh filled ...from my private keg...
”you must either decline...and...probably...

Offend...or taste in front of eyes that assume you will consume all of it...and smile with delight...past mouth and stomach processing...

And if your pronouncement is contradicted...if that does 

happen...smile and shrug and say... “well I don’t know too much about this kind of thing...but I do know its taste is memorable.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Splash of Blood - John Field

The crime scene of this Raymond Chandler thriller

Is an avenue in Beverly Hills lined with palm trees,

Pink-stucco villas, mansions and cobblestone courtyards.

It's midnight on a warm summer evening in 1949.

Suspect number one is Gino,

A big-assed, pig-eyed, sleazy-hearted gambler

On the skids who needs a lot of dough, fast.

Gino and his lo and behold drop-dead gorgeous wife

Lorraine are sipping martinis in their living room

With Jake and Bernice, a mismatched odd couple

Who live next door. Jake never had a music lesson

When he was a kid, never kicked a soccer ball.

He spent his youth practicing his hands

Against furry little animals he fondled

And then killed. He's suspect number two.

Suspect number three is whoever's hiding behind the curtain.

Bernice's face is as plain as a plastic table cloth,

Her heart as closed as the innermost ring

Of a redwood tree,

Her smile as tight as a hundred year old

Morning Glory seed

And her eyes as empty as two knot holes in a fence.

Why did Jake marry her?

Because she's got the money.

Bernice never lets on that she knows

Jake is in love with Lorraine and why not

Who wouldn't be is the way she reasons it out

Pragmatically because Lorraine is blonder,

Younger, sexier and slimmer than she is.

Buried alive by Lorraine’s perfume,

Jake lights Bernice’s cigarette,

Sizes Gino up and decides 

To put his lights out forever.

Gino, meanwhile, has similar plans:

After he bumps Jake off  

He’ll divorce Lorraine, marry Bernice 

And live with the hag

Until she pays off his gambling debts.

Bernice, as usual, sees through Gino’s plot;

All week she’s been coming apart 

With victim-sickness, weeping incessantly 

Each time she thinks about

Lorraine’s fantastic curves. 

"The things lust drives me to do,” she tells herself,  

As with a sigh she lies down on a couch

And blows obscene smoke rings in the air,

Her face lost beneath heavy layers of skin

As she hums an old Irish folk tune so mournfully 

Lorraine’s standard poodle Buster whines with pity, 

Wishing Bernice would disappear, afraid she’ll stay.

Suddenly the lights go out like electric tablets dissolving
In a glass of inky darkness----shots ring out, 

Two bodies fall.

Moments later Lorraine’s butler James

Switches the lights back on again,

Calmly pushes the curtain aside

Behind which he’s been concealing himself

And wipes a splash of blood off Lorraine’s 

Beautiful Persian rug.

Then drags Gino and Jake out of the living room 

And deposits their bodies in the hall.

Will that be all, ma’am?” he asks politely.

Lorraine, gift-wrapped like a present 

In a scarlet and gold Ralph Lauren gown,

Waves James away and with gentle urgency

 Embraces Bernice who nervously fingers 

The gat she’s concealing

In a fold of her frumpy dress. 

I didn’t have a plan,” she tells Lorraine,

It was just something that happened.”

 “Hush, my love,” Lorraine coos
As she leads Bernice in a fancy little dance step 

Across the floor in the general direction 

Of her bedroom.


Monday, July 10, 2017

by Nancy Martin

Laurie was over the moon. Her gorgeous and charming boyfriend Jared, had invited her to his very important work-related party. He must - she reasoned - be getting serious, to have asked her to be his date to such a prestigious event. Jared planned to introduce her to all of his co-workers and others involved with his industry. The party would be black-tie, held in the grand ballroom of the ritziest hotel in town. His suggestion to take her shopping for an evening dress was too good to be true. She could barely believe her good luck.
When they had a mutual day off, the couple drove to the city for a romantic lunch. Pleasantly satiated with oysters, cold sauvignon blanc and warm sunshine on the deck by the bay, they set off to find the perfect dress. In a mellow mood, Jared told Laurie not to look at price tags. “The sky’s the limit today.”
Taking their time, they meandered in and out of small fashion boutiques and large department stores, looking for the exact right thing. Stepping out of the dressing room in an exclusive designer shop, she modeled a clingy pale blue sheath dress for Jared. The shade of blue, emphasized her large sapphire eyes. They both knew that this was it. Laurie was thrilled when Jared told her how sexy she looked in the slim, blue dress - “My friends will be totally knocked out.” Then he took her home, asking her to put on the dress again, only to see how quickly he could remove it.
On the morning of the long-anticipated event, Laurie visited a luxurious beauty spa – courtesy of Jared – and got the works.  She emerged, feeling great and knowing that she looked her best. That night, Jared arrived right on time to pick her up. Raving about how great she looked, they went on to the hotel. In the car, he told her stories of boyhood escapades with his best friend Matt. She would, he felt sure, really like Matt’s girlfriend, Nora.
       The ballroom was every bit as elegant as Laurie had imagined. Tuxedoed waiters passed delectable hors d’oeuvres and tall crystal flutes of bubbling champagne. When Jared elbowed her and nodded in the direction of the door, they both gasped as Matt and Nora made their entrance. Spotting them, Laurie was horrified and tears filled her eyes. Nora was wearing a dress identical to her own, the ultimate social embarrassment. As the couple approached, the girls silently took a hard look at each other. Then Nora – throwing her arms around Laurie – began laughing hysterically as she said, “What a co-ink-e-dink, I need a drink! Linking arms, they confidently strode toward the bar in their brightly colored spike heels, leaving the boyfriends, standing speechless and wide-eyed in amazement. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

by Beverly Koepplin

For eight days she laid in the hospital bed.
Eight days of her life went missing in that stillness.
If she moved, she does not remember.
If she shed tears or laughed, she does not remember.

Her watchers said sometimes her eyelids flickered,
And one of her thin hands 
moved restlessly across her body.
Otherwise, like a cocoon, she laid there 
waiting for life to come,
Not even knowing she was waiting, just being.

On the ninth day, she woke up, facing the window
where a tree bloomed against a beautiful blue sky
and the light was so bright it hurt her reborn eyes,
but her room was strangely dim 
and the air smelled stale.

She turned her head to find she was not alone.
A flock of angels crowded around the foot of her bed.
She thought “this is the end, my time has come”,
and she gazed at their hands 
outstretched to beckon her  on.

Half rising, she looked closer at the host of angels.
Their halos were crumpled tin foil 
their wings made of thunder clouds.
She stopped moving in her bed 
and pointed her finger back at them.
“Leave.  Hell already has enough people.  
I  am not going today.”

On the tenth day, my friend told me this story
and, with a quirky smile that lit up her wan face
and spoke to the sense of humor 
she had had all of her life,
added  that she guessed
her final flight had been delayed

Monday, June 26, 2017

Herewith There was Frost Last Night
by Lucille Hamilton

There was frost last night;
my fingers knew it even before
I left my warm house
to go get the groceries.

At that early hour,
it was a benediction of white
as if the heavens wanted to remind you 
of the outline of earth's beauty.