Wednesday, January 27, 2016

THE SUNDAY POET: Dianne Robitaille

Dianne Robitaille (Center)

Dianne Robitaille is an editor for the Ibbetson Street Press. Her work has appeared in Pegasus, The New Laurel Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Christian Science Monitor, and many others. She was the former secretary for the New England Poetry Club.


a fractional
moment -
gift of the
eternal speaks
round corners,
razor lines, angled
Hues of misty gray-
illusion of earth's time
Caught - fleeting, running
itself to death - Halted - 
in a breath

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Of Bugs and Love and no spiders were harmed: poems by Steve Tomasko

Steve Tomasko

Of Bugs and Love: Review

and no spiders were harmed
poems by Steve Tomasko
© 2015. 48 pages/ $12
Red Bird Chapbooks
1055 Agate St.
St. Paul, MN  55117

Review by  Karla Huston

“You said I should write more love poems/and I said, I’m sorry, but I’ve been thinking about/sloths.” This is the opening gambit for Steve Tomasko’s debut chapbook of poems.

Some may think there are enough love poems; some may think there is need for more. Certainly, there is a need for more poems about sloths, ants, spiders, cicadas, “sparrows, crows and moles.”

With the ears and heart of a poet, the eyes and sensibilities of a scientist, Tomasko leads readers on a wonder-filled journey of what it’s like to be human, animal, human. Though filled with critters, these poems won’t give readers the heebie jeebies unless you’re creeped out by spiders, which, the poet himself admits: 

Sister Therese writes in a letter that she
has a spider on her pile of books,
wants to know if I ever wrote about them.
How to confess that I, who people call
bug man, get the willies around them.

There are a lot of spiders in this small book.

He tells about spider silk collected to make wartime bomb-sight cross hairs and a golden, brocaded cape. In another poem, a bodhisattva spider shows up trying to teach the poet (readers?) about being hooked in the lip like a caught fish.

Yet, these poems are more about love than they are about spiders and bugs. These poems are accessible without being predictable. In one, the poet removes a toad, hibernating in a pot, which will surely die if left “well above the frost line.” In another, the poet kills and flushes a spider found in the corner of the bedroom ceiling, but the next night, he carries another in a Mason jar to the garden.

I did mention there are lots of spiders.

There is humor—“Females who have mostly dispensed/with men” or the female praying mantis who eats the head of the male while he’s mating with her. “And it’s not that he moves faster/without his head.//Well, actually,/that is the horrible thing.”

Tomasko uses the trope of non-human creatures to lead readers through the very human subject of grief, how verb tenses can be tricky. Is one day is was the next. He says, “The body hungers on despite the question of tense.”

Intimate without being sentimental—maybe that’s what love should be, not cloying expressions of sentiment—hearts and flowers or initials carved into a tree trunk or beachy, sunset proposals. In Tomasko’s world, a marriage proposal is a description of a hatch of dragonfly larvae.

Still, his wife wishes he’d write more love poems.

The algae-covered sloth fur is the only home
the sloth moths know. The only place they live.
I know it’s a Darwinian thing, but fidelity
comes to mind. Commitment. Patience.
The world writes love poems all the time.


Karla Huston is the author of A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) as well as seven chapbooks, most recently, Outside of a Dog: 2013 ( Her poems, reviews and interviews have been published widely, including the 2012 Pushcart Best of the Small Presses anthology

Monday, January 25, 2016

THE SUNDAY POET: Krikor Der Hohannesian

Krikor Der Hohannesian

Krikor Der Hohannesian lives in Medford, MA. His poems have been thrice-nominated for a Pushcart prize and have appeared in many literary journals including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, Louisiana Literature, Connecticut Review, Natural Bridge and Comstock Review. He is the author of two chapbooks,“Ghosts and Whispers” (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and “Refuge in the Shadows” (Cervena Barva Press, 2013). “Ghosts and Whispers” was a finalist for the Mass Book awards poetry category in 2011.



Sometimes in dreams, sometimes
in hazy reverie, in those feeling
adrift spaces they appear side by side
like offerings to appease the dark gods
of despair, as buffers against the siren call
of isolation, sentinels against the flight
of the spirit, the dread of mortality. The vase
of runnunculus, tight-lapped petals
pigmented yellow-orange, a medley of
all the sunrises and sunsets since earth-time
began. And the candle, pomegranate
red, its tenuous flame dancing in rhythms
at the whimsy of each puff of air, waxen
blood the melt of its own heat, the ebb
of its own life dripping, pausing, yet
inexorable. The flower always,
always bending toward the light,
the warmth, the promise of life. 

Sometimes, the candle flickers out,
a mean incubus haunts the air,
ghouls of the dark side fill the void.

      I reach out to relight it, the flame dances again.

Or the flower wilts, petals drop one
by one, a shedding of yellow tears,
a stalk sucked dry of life’s juices.

      I give it water and its thirst is quenched.

When the day comes that I move on,
it will pass to others. The candle will
be kept aflame, the flower will have water
until the day all our suns finally flare out,
a circle completed, perfectly round.