July 24-30, 2006: Todd Heldt, Elizabeth Rose and Brenda Levy Tate

week of July 24-30, 2006

Todd Heldt,
Elizabeth Rose
Brenda Levy Tate

the judges of the
2006 Poetry Super Highway
Poetry Contest

click here for submission guidelines

I’d Like to Bake Your Goods | Stolen Mummies | Brendan Constantine is My Kind of Town | Up Liberty’s Skirt
Feeding Holy Cats | Mowing Fargo | I’m a Jew, Are You? | Lizard King of the Laundromat | I Am My Own Orange County
Paris: It’s The Cheese | Poetry Super Highway | Judaic Links | Rick’s Bookmarks | Cobalt Poets
E-mail Rick | Other Cool Rick Stuff / Upcoming Readings | Who The Hell Is Rick

Todd Heldt

Bio (auto)

Todd Heldt completed the MA in poetry at Texas Tech University in 1998 and has published dozens of poems in magazines and on-line journals His chapbook, The Science of Broken People, was published by Little Poem Press, and his first novel, Before You Were a Prophet, is available through Hiss Quarterly at http://hissquarterly.com/ He currently works as a librarian in Chicago, where he lives with his fiancée and their adopted greyhound

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Todd Heldt and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Story at the East St Louis Bus Station

I don’t believe things like this:
a blue jay got loose in the station Layover-numbed, we all kept to ourselves Then this woman started whaling on her son The kid must have been seven and wanted
a candy bar from the machine We all tried to ignore it, at first,
but when her hand kept falling,
and the boy started screaming,
I could tell some us were on the verge of
saying something The jay swooped
so sudden, I didn’t have to remember
I saw it in the rafters when I came in The blue blur kept diving, and she turned
from the kid and punched at the air We all thought it was funny,
and some of us were laughing out loud,
until she connected, and the bird
smacked the glass, dropped We gathered around as it shrieked,
struggled to right its crooked wing Sometimes when I tell this story,
I put it out of its misery,
my thumb and forefinger at its throat But most of the time, the woman presses it
with her shoe until it quiets Whenever it ends that way,
she says to our silence, Shutup It’s just a bird I don’t know if you believe me,
how easy a fact turns into a story,
and a story turns into a fact˜
the burden of things that happen
in my head But it’s there, and I told you You probably think the worst of me Make of that what you will But don’t tell a soul
.It’s just a bird .Shutup
–Winner of the 38th annual Abbie M Cops prize

On Stabbing a Man and Being a Good Listener

I stabbed a man once, but not without reason He found me sitting on the hood of my car,
talking with his wife Mostly she talked
about him and I listened I was a good listener,
she said, I didn’t interrupt.

When he found us he yelled, and she yelled She must not have been a good listener He broke his beer bottle, held the neck
in his hand, a bouquet of jagged petals I pulled a knife and planted my feet.

How it happened isn’t important:
a raw hole in his stomach, he pitched
forward, wrapped his arms around my waist Nothing much happened after that He eventually let go.

His wife cradled his head, glared
hard at me He told her, I love you I love you Every time I looked back
he would be saying those words,
but she never took her eyes off me.

.appeared first in Laurel Review

Old Love in August

Close like the spiderweb
cracks in the sidewalk,
they tangle in fingers of shade
darker than stains on wedding-day linen She is a print-dress balloon, and he,
a brown-burned lizard Under the front-yard magnolia,
she props her feet in his lap,
listens to the beat of cars passing,
hitting the dip at the corner They count years by summers’ heat:
she sips lemonade;
he clips her toenails.

.appeared first in Borderlands

Elizabeth Rose


Elizabeth Rose, born and raised on Eastern Shore of Maryland, is still a Chesapeake Tidewater girl at heart, but lives now on the prairies of Eastern North Dakota, where the only traffic is deer After a career in manufacturing and economic development policy in the tri-state and the Baltimore-Washington regions, Elizabeth became disabled in 1998 and moved to be with family in Lisbon, North Dakota She still writes policy papers when she can, but has found time to enjoy the finer things, like poetry and photography Her favorite inspirations, in addition to her adopted home and memories of the Chesapeak of her youth are the wilderness areas of North America and the place she considers a second home, Cape Cod.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Elizabeth Rose and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


[The Lord God] said to me, “O man, these bones are the whole people of
Israel They say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is gone, and we are cut off.‚”
Ezekiel 37:11

I watch them This people, 
descending from the mountains
claiming the sea, finding a sea of grass They wring tears from hearts burned
and petrified in the holocausts of ancestors Like laundry wrung by ancient women,
and left on stones to dry by the river,
held down by rocks in the sun, 
bleached white for their men, 
the cloth dries like grave-opened bones.

Seen through the gauze of threadbare cloth,
wind and sun foil this plain into the waves of a sea And the people demand the dry bones bear flesh But dry bones break, and flesh blisters They wait for sunlight to rumple the water
as it smoothes and drys the cloth
They don‚t see how it bakes the soil like a brick,
dries the cloth brittle, and tears.

I want to go back and say to them
“Turn around: See another world, 
a world where sunlight drys tears
in the cloth so it can be sewn
See new cloth woven under shreds
of blue sky, washed by the waves
of a green sea, where rain bows
before the sun, like a covenant, 
then is washed clean by the moon “
Would this move the rock of history?
Because no rocks are needed
to hold this cloth down We need no bleaching here Here the cloth is always clean, 
the soil is fit for sowing,
and bones are fit with flesh.


It was careless, really, but it is what he wanted He liked the look of candles grouped
with their cascading wax, in earth tones,
to match the upholstery.

He’d burn different candles at different times,
some just a little, some until the wick was hidden in a molten pit.

Wax would tumble and crumble, peel down the sides
of this paraffin mountain he built on top of the bookcase.

Just like a man, I thought, wanting to build his own mountain,
his own monument, his own effigy.

When the mountain was just as he wanted it,
he would light it and stand back to admire his work.

Even I could admit it was stunning,
how it lit the corner of the room
like the sun in the late afternoon.

It made me think of pueblos, like an Anasazi dollhouse,
with cooking fires lit and awaiting the return of the dollpeople.

But like all mountains, it eroded The books below became the Badlands, collecting erosion
in strange and curious shapes and layers.

I cried to see them, my precious books, wax covered and stained,
some burned beyond repair, others melted together
like extinct creatures imbedded in rock.

I saved what I could, and moved these remnants to a new shelf It’s your mountain, I said Let your books be the Badlands That’s when he decided to stop burning the mountain.

He and his mountain are gone now, but I found one of those books
the other day, in a box that had been stored away.

As I pulled the wax off, and carefully separated each page,
I saw that the book, even misshapen and stained,
like a petrified Badlands skeleton, could be excavated.

So I have saved it, and now it can be read,
as if I’m a paleontologist carbon-dating.


I gobble the music, swallow it whole,
starving, thirsty,
deep empty from the hole holding me down.

But I bit off more than I can chew,
its sweetness tastes like more until I am choked by beauty, dying of gluttony.

It is stopped in my throat, it has chopped
off my breath as cleanly as a pine cover
made to slide over the coffin

in which I will rot in death;
because in life I could not stop the hunger
for the arpeggios cycling life

like the detritus I am, nurturing
new life in the soil of the world
I left because a hole was holding me down.


To dive out a door over the sea,
and join the gulls in their screeching,
I’d beat my wings to flight, 
make myself a shadow across the sun.

To be light, I’d roll between sky and sea
infinitely, like the swells of whitecaps
in the eastern Bays, filling the porches
of Meyerowitz, the hallways of Hopper.

To be water, I’d be the Gulf Stream
meeting the Arctic, where the whales
dive deep while the schools swim shallow,
and light cycles creatures to spawn.

To be a water creature, I’d live
in the Chesapeake, like a blue crab
cradling and shell-shedding
in steely waters, cleaning them green.

To be green, I’d be a rainforest tree
living large near the pacific sea
I’d be reflected in glaciers and
I’d smell like the beginning of the world
Then I’d become seaside cedar shingles,
for a house on the Cape, where the
fog kept me mindful of my place, 
mirrored in light and shadowed by gulls.


Mosquitoes buzz with such certainity
but they spin in your hair so carelessly, 
it belies their purposeful drive to feed

The wind blows your car as it blows
bugs through the window into your hair It has traveled across fields of sunflowers and wheat

bent them back, driven purposely by sun-wind-heat
and ahead, the horizon looks like a beach
covered with bits of mother oyster shell.

Instead of being reflected on the flats
of the Cape or in the waters of the Bay,
they are washed up on this prairie sea.

Reflected in the algae of an August slough, 
the bits of cloud contrast with gray road They are mother-of-pearl buttons

covering a grosgrain ribbon zipper
on the breast and hip of an Edwardian
lady’s grassgreen dinner gown
Because this old road is straight-laced,
it holds tight to the land, like the lady’s
corset, her maid pulling breath

(breathless like the breath you lose
to the wind blowing a 65 mph car
across a prairie sea)

while she zipped and buttoned, 
dressing at twilight for
dinner in another time and place.


In the haven of temptation dancers love to hate,
where honey keeps them on their toes,
but bulimia keeps them in the company,
they are trapped, ghostly disciples,
mastered by unquestioning loyalty.

One day the earth will open up and swallow them alive,
making them food to fill her starvation
and fluid to quench her thirst.

But until then she teases, gives of herself as there is tomorrow
in this beehived world where combs are misshapen
and skin is honey: oiled, tear-salted, bloodied.

In the halls of power we’re all dancers We’re all trapped in the honey of our skin We’re all chained by disgust And our whispers are like candle flickers
before being snuffed.

Brenda Levy Tate


Brenda Levy Tate lives near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where she taught high-school English until her retirement. She has written and directed plays for young actors, worked as a singer in a theme park, created a televised docudrama, collected fossils, raised a daughter, parented a motley crew of pets and horses, and shoveled countless tons of manure.  Brenda is a member of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. She’s been a finalist or prizewinner in several competitions including the Winning Writers War Poetry Contest, Glimmer Train Poetry Open, Web del Sol’s Interboard Poetry Competition and the Atlantic Writing Competition She won the Rising Tide Press 2005 poetry contest and as a result, Rising Tide recenly published Cleansing, a collection of her work Her poems have appeared in LilyLit Review, The Panhandler (Houston), Halifax Magazine, Green Tricycle, The Guardian Brenda maintains a website at www.brendatate.com which features her unique “paleo-poetry”. She has just completed Nightingales Don’t Cry, a young-adult novel.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Brenda Levy Tate and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

On the Rocks near Crawley’s Island

It’s snagged between two boulders — ivory
and thin, parchment at the broken edges,
more than half smashed by years of combers.

Skulls and vertebrae roll to the reaches
every spring with fresh currents But this
is inshore, beside a dog-walking path.

It could be disconnected from a young
girl washed off the Cape Forchu rocks, below
the light-so long ago, her face is gone.

Maybe it’s a duck-hunter fragment, his boat 
already salvaged, his spinal column
impaled on a spar-with the head wrenched off. 

Our dead recede like water down gravel,
their departure marked by the tideline, where
sad mothers shiver with snow in their eyes.

Christmas is such an inconvenient time
for families with missing limbs to ask,
Are there any teeth? Can they tell its age?

Is there something we can do? They extract
childhood molars from envelopes, haircut
ringlets from picture frames, still listening

for the gift of a certain name — or not,
since all will be finished then, put away
for good, no chance of error or reprieve.

I fridge-magnet the newspaper clipping,
though it may be a stranger’s loss, and start
my angel cake No need for mourning yet.


Her wings are formed
but wet, too tightly locked
against their shoulderblades The fluff of mattress stuffing
cradles her legs; she curves
in a cotton blur, naked
cheeks paler and frailer
than luna-moth powder.

Why has no one opened
this cocoon of torn bags,
dried the ichor of tomatoes
and umbilical juice?

She’s sheened with scale,
the white baby down
and out, so far away now,
cold as a tongue stuck to iron,
rigid little girl with blue eyes
shut A frayed cord net
binds her in the trash flow —
dissolving, gone.

Summer Fallow

My dappled horses paw the pond’s margin,
breathing green bubbles. This hot day’s end
funnels from their nostrils, while scavenger

birds celebrate dung I’ve been told that Christ
lurks underneath but I never meet him
outside, on pavement pastures or the mean

rectangles where no grass smells of heaven I too am fenced, a centaur, hollow-hoofed
and flared like an overturning wine cup

whose dregs are darker than my human blood For I know night’s approach, while these mares taste
only the self-hours and find them sweet.

Small toads hang silver necklaces on reeds;
the water sings in its sleep and opens.

I’d Like to Bake Your Goods | Stolen Mummies | Brendan Constantine is My Kind of Town | Up Liberty’s Skirt
Feeding Holy Cats | Mowing Fargo | I’m a Jew, Are You? | Lizard King of the Laundromat | I Am My Own Orange County
Paris: It’s The Cheese | Poetry Super Highway | Judaic Links | Rick’s Bookmarks | Cobalt Poets
E-mail Rick | Other Cool Rick Stuff / Upcoming Readings | Who The Hell Is Rick