four poems: Featuring the work of evalyn lee, joan colby, robert brian mulder, and luray gross


Advice from the Spoon

By Luray Gross

The best mirrors distort; don’t try to be clever.
Respect the knife and the fork, but grovel in front of neither.

A mouth is a cave you will enter and enter;
you are only a worker, never a guest.

Depend on the testimony of others: sugar is sweet,
but you will not taste it.  Nor will you taste the bitter remedy.

Silver tarnishes, pewter bends, iron rusts:
look to wood for grain shaped by time.

Nest with your fellows.  Despise not
those larger or smaller than yourself.

You will make no music on your own.
Curve and turn, scoop and carry.

Your edge scraped against the famine bowl
plays a song sweeter than any other.

Be kind to smooth gums, be they old or young.
Offend not the mouth guarded by many teeth.

For resting, the floor is suitable as the table or drawer.
Allow the one who holds you to find your balance point.

If you think you were born to be filled,
remember you were born to be emptied.

A Note About the Author: Luray Gross, a storyteller as well as a poet, has worked with thousands of students and teachers during her twenty-some years as an Artist in Residence. She was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and named one of their Distinguished Teaching Artists.  She is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently The Perfection of Zeros, published by Word Tech.  She lives in Bucks County, PA, a few miles from the dairy farm where she grew up.


Rue De Montparnasse  

By Robert Brian Mulder

The girl’s mother is out in front
Five steps ahead
Clenching her jellied jaw
Her dark eyes like small stones
And the girl, the poor girl
Tall, stiff, angular
Walking behind her mother
Five steps behind
Dutifully toting her cello
In its hard black case
The size of a child’s coffin
Moving woodenly, with the mechanics
Of a marionette
Jerked involuntarily to life.

When I approach
Passing by the girl’s mother
Whose labored breath
Whistles through cement-colored teeth
I try to catch the girl’s eye
Ready with a smile tailored to say,
It will not always be as it is now—

But the girl’s large, pale eyes
Are angled up and away—gazing, it seems,
Beyond the solid dome of gray sky—
Like those of a penitent in a Medieval icon
Seeking light from another world.

A Note About the Author: Robert Brian Mulder taught English in Papua New Guinea, Israel, and North Carolina. He is currently working as a writing tutor at The Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon.


By Joan Colby

They descend in umbrellas of trouble.
The foxhound howls, rolling in the grass,
Her belly thick with feeding specks.

Shuddering, a man in waders
Reels in his line. The sky darkens.
He seizes his creel, the fish crawling with marauders.

It is the singular mammal that makes the news.
The bear attack. The mountain lion. But it’s the pests
Small and voracious, we learn to dread.

In a marriage, it’s not the definitive fight
That is to blame, but the little persistent bites
Until the back of the neck is one red welt,

Until even the eyelids swell,
The hands measled, the scourged belt
Of flesh between pantsleg and sock.

When they arrived in a blanket of woe,
You dropped the camera and ran for the truck
Swearing you’d never be back

In a season like this, how the vows you meant
On the beautiful afternoon are moot
Now that the wind has lifted them

Into the story,
Now that the trunk
Has been opened and everything loosed.

A Note About the Author: Joan Colby has published 17 books including “Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and “Ribcage” from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her latest book “Carnival” is just out from FutureCycle Press.

The Story of a Coward

By Evalyn Lee

I made the mistake
Of telling my father how much
I loved to travel. He put down his paper
And called me a coward.

You just run away from life.
If you were brave
You’d stay home.
My father wasn’t brave,

He did not like to travel or me.
But for my job, for my pleasure,
My whole career, I crossed continents
Let mountain ranges rise and fall

Beneath the airplane windows,
Like waves in the ocean.
Now my passport aches
To be stunned with strange stamps

Gone are the frenetic
Nights of watched clocks
And snatched sleep along
With all the family events I missed,

For years, so I could cover
More distance, do more work,
Beat another deadline,
Interview one more stranger.

Now I am still,
Only trains travel past my window
And my heart beats in the darkness
Mossed with menopause and prayer.

I confront my static life
Harboring a family, being brave,
Facing down my father’s voice,
Beg each word I meet,

To reboot old memories –
So I can commune with life,
Put down words that build, ignite,
Gallop over capitol landscapes.

I am brave. I do not travel.
Instead I ask each character I invent:
How did you get here?

A Note About the Author: Evalyn Lee is a former CBS News producer currently living in London with her husband and two children. Over the years, she has produced television segments for 60 Minutes in New York and then for the BBC in London. Her broadcast work has received an Emmy and numerous Writers Guild Awards and she currently is working on her first novel.