Errata Literary Magazine

Bucks County Writers Workshop

The Poetry Page

No. 2

edited by Kurt Krumpholz

What is it that draws us to poetry?

Is it that poetic imagination defies the tyranny of rules or oppression by any one single idea? After all, writing poetry can be a liberating experience for the fiction writer bridled by the commandments and restrictions of prose.

Or is it because poetry affords us the most candid means for the telling of our soul's stories? More so than perhaps even the short story, poetry permits us a peak behind the curtain, a direct glimpse into the heart of the moment. Each poem allows us to know what it was like to be here, what it was like at a particular time for a particular person to pass across this landscape, and to discern more than just the footsteps that person left behind, but instead, gain a chance to gaze through their eyes at exactly what they saw along the way.

Poetry is immediate. Poetry is enduring. Poetry can let us know what it's like to be alive, and to inhabit the moment in someone else's skin. A good poem can be like the shock of seeing a three thousand year old fly caught in amber. It can take what is fleeting and evanescent, at best, and render it transcendent.

The selections of this Poetry Page edition are all good examples of how being attentive to the details of each opening in time can help us to see beyond the abstractions of the moment.

Remember to stop by the workshop with your entry form to see if you've won this month's cap snaffler. Email me at:

Here is a mystical description of what happened to one writer alone at his desk one summer night. The immediacy of the experience is delivered through use of present tense.


Al Honig

As I sit at my desk
In the dark, I look out
The open window into
The summer's night, and
Feel that I am not alone.

A beam of full moonlight
Enters my fingernails, and
Provides the power for
My hand to write.

It casts a shadow, a clone that
Moves as that hand moves.
I fidget and tremble, flog
The gentle wind. I sweat,
Breathe heavy, wrestle its
Middle, pin it in a headlock.
Cut through its bone, bleed
Its arteries, but it is only I
That feels its pain.

I look out the window; watch,
As the shadow rides a message
Beam to the moon above.

I stand near the window and see
Five black claws tickle my toes.
I pace the room. The shadow
With bent back follows my wake.
Does it have a brain
In its oblong head?
Does it long for love?
The moon is motherly and so must care.
The sun watches over the beam of light.
Together, they birth this ghostly vision.
I try to bear it as a chum

We walk together fused by our feet.
My cavities are timid, scared, and skittish.

I stamp the ground, run up a hill,
Jump over a fence, spit at its face.
It spits back. I squeeze its chest, it
Hugs my waist.
My dog paws his in play.

Watching all this, my belly sooths
I think this ugly apparition
Must be a friend. Wearied,
I doze free from strife.
As will a baby sleep
The song of its mother's

Not every remembrance feeds on perceptions of a moment past. Time, in the linear sense, is not always relevant.

One, Long Ago, When We Lived in the Sky

Linda Banks

Once, long ago,
When we lived in the sky,
And the thin, ragged clouds were high
In the brightness,
And the coldtime wind was beginning to blow,
Mother, she called to us with her beautiful cry,
Clear and sharp.

She would come and give from her mouth
As we raised our heads,
Food, life, wonderful,
That she carried for us safe inside herself,
And warm in the cold air.

And then warm in the warm round place
She had made,
Part from what she had found
In the wide world,
And part from her own body,
We could, at last, close our eyes.

Often a single, concise image can transform the fugitive moment into one that liberates us from the burden of the present.


Kurt Krumpholz

February creaks like ice underfoot as I

open the blinds on a new day and coax Max

out of bed. Together we sit before the window

in a beam of light that slants in through the glass.

His head turned sideways and resting on my chest,

twitches slightly as the kite tail of a dream slips

off into the morning blush. Below, birdsong rises

from the garden feeder, filled just yesterday but

swaying lightly now as a Jay skirts off to a stand

of alders, their black limbs branching like millstreams

across the snow-white plane. How strange to be aware

of the nucleus that lies nested in my arms

and feel all that arcs between us; the root of a man

that rests beneath the blackness of a boy's sleep and

the recognition I will be the last shelter

he knows until he someday comes to question

everything, including the very source of love.

For now, at least, all is given, sure as water

and darkness and then the lightness of opening

to the world once again. Suspended here in this

moment of our life together, I wonder who will

someday press this man's cheek close to their skin and who

will succor him in the cold light of a far off day,

once his solitary birthright has been assured?

Perhaps eternity is the time between the instant a moment is recorded, and the flash of recognition that illuminates its significance.

For Harold

Shelly Quigley

Harold, what happened, what happened to you?
One day you were here
Next day you were gone

The first time I saw you, you seemed rather frail
Your pallor was green like the walls of a jail
You walked and you stuttered and sometimes you'd groan
But mostly you wandered the grounds all alone

You'd been in the hospital since you were eight
A lifetime you spent as a ward of the state
You always remained when the others would leave
You sat with the nursing staff on Christmas Eve

The hospital closed and you had not a clue
You never got warnings or notice to you
The place you called home, your hospital ward
Was locked and front door secured with a board

Harold, what happened, what happened to you?
One day were here
Next day you were gone

They put your possessions in one small trash bag
And gave you a jacket that looked like a rag
They found you a room in the slums of the town
No curtains were hung on the windows so brown

To care for your needs you received compensation
The boarding homeowner used that for vacation
You seemed to grow thinner and lost all your hair
You rarely went out and just sat in a chair

Then one gloomy day you were not seen around
The groaning had stopped, you made not a sound
We asked what was wrong, but the questions were late
Some said it was cruelty and some said just fate

Harold, what happened, what happened to you?
One day you were here
Next day you were gone.

The intensity of perception can freeze an instant, rendering the purity of the moment almost tangible.


John Scioli

Shaving cream pie in the face:
Eyes blind, nose numb,
A bitter taste upon the tongue
A white fluff of ambivalent play
A muted sack of laughs heard
By a confused and giddy mind
Coming to term with
Tantrum and tears,
Laughing while
Unstopping senses,
Joining the chorus
Of good will angels
The other side of the pie
And in the after hit
A fragrance sweet
In hair and nose
Upon the clothes
All over the face
A transfigured place.

Back Issues of the Poetry Page

Issue No. 1

Bucks County Writers Workshop