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The Uptown Poetry Group was founded by Dan Schneider in June, 1995 & was the premier poetry critique group in the Twin Cities metro area- as well the best, oldest, continuously-running, open, all-poetry critique- not support!- group. The UPG sought diversity & excellence in thought, style & work (beginning-advanced). The UPG was free & met @ 7 pm on the 2d & 3d Fridays of the month @ varying locales. Poets would bring 8-10 copies of a poem they wanted critique on & enjoy a good intellectual discussion on art & more! The UPG ended in September, 2003 after 200 consecutive meetings.

A Review of the Uptown Poetry Group 

Poems by Uptown Poetry Group participants:  Bruce Ario  Brock Bowman  Lizzy Cooperman  Greg Degerstrom  Art Durkee   Jen Hanel  Don Moss  Dave Nelson  Robert Newkirk  Andy Patterson  Jason Sanford

BRUCE ARIO   (1955-2022)  Bruce was a UPG regular since the 3rd meeting- he missed only a handful after. Bruce is a native Minnesotan and Christian. Bruce also has an excellent unpublished novel titled CITYBOY that publishers may want to take an interest in as well as belonging to the local Playwrights Center. Most of the poems below are in Bruce's patented ario form: 10 lines in 4 free verse stanzas of 3 lines, 3 lines, 3 lines, and 1 line. Bruce is often the UPG's answer to Norman Vincent Peale. Read more about Bruce & from his novel by going to http://home.earthlink.net/~ariowrite/.   Here is a link to his obituary.

Apparent Scope      In Brief    Just as it Was    My Coffee And I    Not Every One Is....    Pickings   Searching For A Laugh   Speculation On Dots   The Dog In Heaven    The Fullness Of Time   Train Coming   What Is This Wind?   Where Has It Gone?


My life sashayed into a train
Running far faster than legal limits.
I was thrown out of the passenger seat like a pit.

There I met dogs, thieves and victims
Occasionally with light in their lives-
A place to rendezvous and start up 

For a match I could only sense.
I couldn't hardly rise to take my seat
Among the others who didn't know 

Where I was or where I was going to.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario 

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE2IMBM2Trk 

In Brief

the brevity of life
Ticks in my watch
Slapped on my left wrist
And I pick up the pace
Then slow down
To see the Phillips screws on the machines,
Somewhere a cat meows
Longing for attention.
I stand unadorned
Ashamed and half broken-hearted.
Before I die I must go back,
Back to a spot which may have never been.
Clearly it is a time of warning
For me who dreamed endlessly.
The rosebushes are covered;
It's winter out there.
Someone's telling me,
"Live for today."
I must collect, always collect
Myself who spins like everyone else.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxBNGuXhpWs 

Just as it Was

The moon isnít quite the way it was

Last month it was over there

And it seemed lighter in the sky.


But Iím on the same bus bench

As I have been for some time now

Whether tonight or the last 30 years.


Change seems so difficult

Genuine change

Anybody can change clothes


But few can move the moon from there to there.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

My Coffee and I

at five o'clock i'm off work,
And by five-thirty
I meet my cup of coffee downtown.

I'm on the skyway sipping
From my cup -
So warm and good.

The people I watch below from above
Look like they're part way -
More than nothing, but less than full.

My cup and I finish with a heavy gulp.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVUFGOW9e9E 

Not Every One is…if only they all were.

Birds would find it difficult to go through a square birdhouse hole
In the same way cars would be standstilled with triangular tires.
Pluto with a rectangled orbit would look strange.

Why is it then, squares seem to take such a prominent place?
Homes are really circular when you think
The paths you make to from and around.

Wouldn’t you fall off the edge if life were flat?
Why can’t we see that clocks are round?
Who’s been laying that straight highway?

I’ve been reading about Haiti…now there’s a square peg.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE_f4m2Oc4A 


Sensitively rendered ones are good.
And the unexpected ones as well.
I especially like bright, shiny ones.

Oftentimes I must stoop to get them.
Or grasp them out of the air.
But that's hard if it's windy.

Some graciously appear of their own right.
While others are dug out.
Pulled, stretched, or excavated.

It's the getting I'm after.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r2kVM8-CAw 

Searching For A Laugh

Searching for a laugh is a serious business

In todayís world where nothing is off the cuff

And throats are tighter than a straw.


Youíve got to know where to not look

Funny is absence, out of body

Our natural state is funny


Which should rule

Which doesnít for sin and greed prevail

But itís funny when the wicked are in our sights


Then timing, timing, timing.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

Speculation on Dots

Highly blended dabs as a surface
Rebounds the mirror of minds
Come to on waves from somewhere else.

Eager to differentiate the glows
Opposing preconceived opinions
Wax now in sleep.

To the contrary, amusement plays keys
On a piano of dreams in the sky
Bluer than your cold lips

Or a lexicon from your general direction.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAI_UjN2quc 

The Dog in Heaven

confronting the contradictions in the bible
Was quite a proposition
For me - a wannabe Christian,

I didn't like to see
Anything left out of something
So beautiful.

I'm referring to revelations.
I was okay with leaving out
Murderers, idolaters, even the sexually immoral,  

But somehow I just couldn't agree with leaving out the dogs.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IReOOuZxFfQ 

The Fullness of Time  

Tempered by the hand of God
Time exists like space
Or something equally senseless.

Gripping me as would a vice
I am surrounded by
It's thump, thump, thump.

prettier than music
I like time
For its gaiety of being

reminding me of an inexpensive watch.

copyright by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8DMb847Y6s 

Train Coming

Tracked. Don't give'em everything they ask,
Just what they worked for.
Land passes by

And out the windows
Life is what it seems
Or much more than possible.

Suppose I settle in
Suppose I give up support
Suppose I just ride

I really hope the headlights are shining.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsPQKC81aJg 

What is this wind?

The marionetted leaves filter
Power lightly taking on
The images before me.

Invincible courier of my imagination
Defeat of gravity and all
Else locking my mind. 

Blow through me until
I am transported into
That special place

And stand against your whimsy. 

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4KnZbfbxG0&list=UUN5kTfj5u8XcTBg51Z65EKw 

Where Has it Gone?

Burning up the calendar

Like a gas guzzling SUV

I look over my shoulder


Realizing no ultimate politeness

Will bring back the summer

And I could have never saved


Even a blade of grass

To blow a whistle

Stop the game


No, NO. It’s time to gather poles.

Copyright Ó by Bruce Ario

A video of this poem can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVhEwNqAhxQ&index=1&list=PLTwKY0XeFydOa78AujbXg-PAwhKLJbhvE 

BROCK BOWMAN      Brock was- with his then-girlfriend-  a frequent attendee of the UPG from '96-'98. He only came a handful of times after, as has not written as much. Here's hoping the bug strikes again!

footfalls on....     Girl Waiting    The Winthrop Hill Dance  

Footfalls on the other side of the door

your eyes are moody;
behind them crumbling December
rattles, the sun has left
for a warmer place.

The river you helped
name has slowed to dirt;
it’s shadows bow deeply
blue to a sun like midnight.

on our backs, barely blue,
we fold ourselves smaller.

copyright © by brock bowman

girl waiting  

lightly in a falling,
ironed flowers spread across
a cloth pattern. In a field.
In a blue blaze behind you.

This wintering afternoon street
sniffles as a crowd passes, youthful
thighs yellow-looking on
the bearded black snow.

as these thought grow into
you like roots,
the dividing world stops a moment
to listen.

copyright © by brock bowman 

The Winthrop Hill Dance   

The summer loved us then,
wind and woodthrush clicking
in the knee high grasses;

but now it is October scattering
in the reeds, and needles of broken
pine pinch the wet ground. 

In red faced memories, the lighted
edges of the dance hall fold
into the curves of an older wood,

a rush of papered stairs empties
into a bumbling river of boys
leaning on their crooked bow ties,

and wine colored songs toss
themselves like shipwrecked water
over the curling shapes of curious dances; 

but the place where her shoulder falls
and her stare rises to continue,
the slick haired boys are careful not to look.

but now it is october.

copyright © by brock bowman    

LIZZY COOPERMAN   lizzy was a semi-regular to the upg from late 1998 through 2001- although we'd like to have seen more of her and her work. she is also an actress who has written and performed a one-woman play homemade recently. her poems are all first-person but she usually has interesting scenarios that are very well-written. she was often a daring young voice at the upg.

rushing      Sonata


We used to think our uncle passed
In a contest to see how long he could hold his breath.

The only way we thought to die—
Being underwater too long at the public pool

The little dime flashing at our noses as we dove
Against the rippled pressure, our feet propelling us

To the end, where diving feels more like crawling,
The last kicks to keep you at the floor to grab it, silver

Rushing back up, ripping the skin, shocked to inhale,
Your arm catching chills just to hold up the coin.

The mother in the background nods from under her sun hat,
Smiles, turns the page of her magazine, over on her towel.

The sky loses pitch.  The cold will catch up soon…
But not rushing up?

My sister practiced holding her breath in the bathroom mirror,
Cinching her lips, adjusting her features to match the almost red

Pressing to make it past that intermediate phase,
To come through, the final firework blue.

It became a contest of tolerance between us,
Two pained faces gripping the counter to stand it.

I was afraid of what might happen to our heads
Or the color of heaven if we saw it so young,

So I exhaled first, encouraging her burst.
She squeezed my wrists, making me support her fit.

Her look proved she was more serious than soap operas.
Leaving the mirror for my face, warning right into my eyes.

Sometimes I had to push her cheeks in, deflating her.
She screamed, got pink, sometimes cried, not letting her die.

I was left with the mirror after my sister’s storm.
The last rattle of hangers on the door she slammed

The moisture of her hands still left at the counter’s edge,
My circulation lifting back to level.

Copyright Ó by Lizzy Cooperman



              If there is a God,
              he keeps handing me
              this toothless piano
              that makes no sound
              unless I crawl in
              and move around.  


              If there is no God,
              then society presents
              this toothless piano
              that expels no chords
              unless I press
              against its boards.


              If there is no society,
              then my family installed
              this toothless piano
              that begs for divorce
              unless my sonata
              keeps timing its voice.


              If there is no Rest toothless piano,
              I am left with God, society,
              and my family, making an orchestra
              to avoid my keyless gums of noise.


Copyright Ó by Lizzy Cooperman

GREG DEGERSTROM   greg was a upger since day 1- and we could't get rid of him! greg was the upg's wildcard- both in verse and temperament. a walk inside the degerstromian world is an experience- to say the least!

a measure....    At Brass Tacks, Inc.  Being Someone  The Present  To Helena, Montana

A Measure, Door to Door

From youth's thirst
For a big greenevergreen yard
Just off a breath of lawn,
We come to a tangle of brush over
Where few things are so
Hard to take,
As cold wet springs
Rusted, or such a rake
Back to a house stuffed with room
So late. Then wanting the door
To some far inside night
Life, striding, forcing
The screen door
Balanced on a Universal  (spring
Hinge)     that brings hurry back
At the rate of our hugeness
of being
beyond our means
In a new home.

Copyright Ó by Greg Degerstrom

At Brass Tacks, Inc.

My wife and I and homework now
in clean diapers, we shake out
our cobwebs, spin them around
like color clothes in waltzes
over carpets. These wind down
with sealed faces of clocks like clones.
Monday daybreaks into pieces- of us
as drones in a working factory.
The huge morning hum just is,
into dispensed cups
as caffeine spits
for us to think.  So it happens
in an industrial vacuum,
Of our minds continue-flashing existence
turning to ash. When no overtime
results, eyes are sparking open enough
for workers to find a serious
tank of thought. Our minds favored
for steel traps must open doors
leading to fumbled empty boxes, parts filled
with bits of rusted suggestions.

"Improve? Well how would you do it?,"
is glare off a plastic new hard hat.

My wife replies, "There must be something
to do around the clock. Something
We can get good at, then don't have
to go back. But people don't talk much."

Copyright Ó by Greg Degerstrom

Being Someone

As an athlete he starts: his lawn mower's mowing....
Cramming it toward his marks in the world
he stops (and hits golf balls, dimples of universe).
He wants to get to the big final running
into time. He rides a drunken bus ahead through
old joints of city stops, all the while waiting on
slow breaths of big houses
getting a handle on their lawns
as they would their pedicures, and carry
each like the morning paper so their neatness
and kind are everywhere. Rain through windows
is sheets falling off stars rising above it.
His best work was rush hours in sandbags
along a levee once, never staying away so long
that waving spilled over. The rolling stars
must have gotten over enough of these jobs.

Copyright Ó by Greg Degerstrom 

The Present

The branches seemed to weave floor space above
rooves as we walked. She knew all about that,
premonitions too, including crashes
into mountains so blue lost on trips.
She and her family know the abstract in
Picasso names and can make up
four sides around mind games.
But I could see a triceratops' display
or Egyptians' ruins- and be with them
cooling off calloused feet under
translucent mayfly wings,
felt this was worth something.

She wasn't in touch for months
but then sent a "carbon-dated" present,
a skeleton key, in case
I wanted into her planned treehouse
in the future or any old New Years.

Copyright Ó by Greg Degerstrom

To Helena, Montana

Again I open all the Great outdoors, past
all architectures so rounded cubed
angled colored and present, sent from the ground,
past corner toughs whose wild sides
are steps into sound tapping softness
for clear streams, past the shed gray
beyond a building block's leaden adjacent
lake, my past jobs stunted sunfish
swimming their circles, somehow still- fraying
against each other, wearing in the tall shadows
from sky places. The pine clearing
is a further dream sifting through
straining tree tops into their sleep at evening.
Indian paint brush leans on a frame of mind

Copyright Ó by Greg Degerstrom

ART DURKEE   art graced the upg from late 1997 on & has published a number of chapbooks. most of art's poetry is free verse and often focuses on nature and eastern approaches to living. he is the upg's resident polymath and/or renaissance man. 

art's bio: arthur durkee is a poet, musician, photographer, and artist. currently living  in the twin cities area, he has lived in india and indonesia, and calls michigan and wisconsin home. h is photography, writing, and musical compositions have won several local, regional, and national awards. Websites: (personal) http://3.avatarreview.com:8081/dragoncave/  & (professional) http://3.avatarreview.com:8081/BDP/

a book of woods     ...And Light   La Madonna    Not There, Not Yet    Red Pines   The Books Of Binding   The Water Temple    Tsuru No Sugomori

A Book of Woods

Cold of the cedar heart. Storks in the road. Pausing.
Up the valleys of red air, sunset finches blur into being.
Sun barks through pine needle carpet. The green birds.
Red shoulders to the wind. The eldest wind up quiet, watchful.
Nothingness. Your back to the cliff. Grey grows land, become stone.

Remarkable ironies. Hands becoming memory.
Birdcries of children in serious play. Try on this life for fit.
Porcelain sky turning grey. Murmurings in the scrub pine.
Does any geometry encircle the fallen birch? Where the red bird is.
A path, a winding, a trick of falling. Thunder clearing the fallen.

What is the right hand saying to what’s left?
Anything moving is chaff, what’s left to scare.
Apples of the irrigated chest. Naming is not the source.
Sweat of the night christens this marriage bed: two spirits.
Wrens in the headboard. Your breast full of chattering birds.

Agony of acorns ripe with vivid green lies.
Following the bell into silence. Two strokes midway.
Taking night’s throat into stillness. The dry lands.
Falls of sulfur, the beating of wasp wings. Speech of dust.
In this memory of river, underground, the religion of lamps.

A convergence inside something infinite.
Conflagration. Ekstasis. Remorse and removal.
Olive trees pretend to dance. Only wind.
Hardpan underfoot: dolomite and shrubs.
I’m walking on the gods’ home mountain: sun falls bronzed.

Moon veiled in bright ice-cloud, pine-tree sentinel.
The howling. Red-eyed, mewling, clawed and torn.
Every eye a tree-spirit, a passing light. Into cedars.
Loon: black dot on grey seas. Dark island.
Into the every world a circling, a wheeling. These times.

Stars bleed in from grey: watchers without hope.
Outside after aurora, sky cloud-blinded, veils.
Aspen snow boughs white on white. Footprints.
Trail starlit, moonlit, firelit. Eyes opening to Orion.
Clouds knocking snow loose, sugar on the wheelbarrow.

Copyright Ó by Arthur Durkee

. . . and Light


the shaman crouches
on a boulder at lake’s edge,
crouches taking on the raptor shape:

his eyes and ears wordlessly swell:
aware of the tilt of every marshgrass blade,
the flick of toad and waterstrider,
counting tamarack needles on the far shore,
golden eagle turning far above,
long line of the wake of a loon flying low,
winging at the edge of air,
rush of a dark blue dragonfly thrumming past,
the pause as it catches, eats a fresh mosquito.
he hears the tic of small fish
breaking the lake surface, a fitful breeze
in the high cedars, insects humming over loam.
his lungs fill with damp lake-scents,
humus, peat, the abiding pond-muck.
his toes flex on lichen-encrusted stone (he feels 
muscles moving in his thighs, fingers alight
where they hang between knees), time and water
crumbling granitic matrix into sand. 
wavelet rings with brightening.

these times of raptor eyes
have overshadowed him: now released.
this heightened afternoon, brightness comes
without hurting, clean and timeless. he has waited.
promises kept in a wing’s turn at vision’s edge.

and the sunlight on his skin, a welter of grace.
counting the leaves. following the raptor soaring.
the deepening stillness, as time
pulls elastically towards Now.


the shaman stands
on a boulder at lake’s edge,
stands in a cathedral of light:

the lake is hushed, a silvered stillness,
black, deep, stars reflected in its mirror,
Jupiter dancing to the east in stalks of floating grass.
mist rises, veiling the opposite shore,
gathering into a spiral vortex at lake-center,
the island where loons call
white-shrouded, half-washed away,
a world floating between fog and stars.

this is night’s high mantle, blue hours long before dawn,
but a daybird twitters in the distance, confused:
the sky is split with blue-white radiance,
Northern Lights spreading across the skybowl,
glows veils spikes and crossroads
pulsing as waves wash through them
at the speed of solar wind.
brightness falls from the air.

washing of mind and heart:
covers the sky, sheets of luminescence 
enveloping as he stands on a boulder
at the apex of spirit’s dance.

the temple of the night,
waxing with shimmer light, with point light,
burning moon just down.
the shaman said,
“show me the Face of God.”


the shaman builds
a frame for the lodge
where rocks will hiss: from their own heat,
sweat and prayers will stain the dirt.

birch saplings curve over
to meet their twins:
this tying together is already
the ceremony: cleansing.

clear the land just so: giving thanks
for every greening that allows this lodge.

the shaman builds a sweatlodge, 
defining space: this will be inside,
this will be outside. they are the same size.

saplings curve together
to make a dome, bound to each other,
children clinging to their mother’s hands.
their feet are planted in the dirt,
small rocks caging their ankles.

working in the circle, he smells
sea-salt and brine, blood and dung.
the air inside comes from everywhere.
geometry of meeting in the womb.

inside, shadows loom, waiting for the revealing.
cries of bears, wolves, birds, and dragons
will ring from the pitted earth.

as he pours cool water,
the shaman remembers his own
and is glad and grateful.
most recent: nearly going over
the waterfall, a sacrifice to the river
on its own altar. he pours water and sings.
steam rises, draping them,
a mantle laid on the shoulders.
“make me a better little hollow bone
for your spirit to blow through,”
he cries. and pours water.

Copyright Ó by Arthur Durkee

La Madonna

in a minute, i’ll make a sandwich.

until then, it’s enough
to sit here by the window
nothing tugging at my skirts.
Soon there will be work to do,
children at my breast, demanding,
a husband little more than a child,
hungry. He imagines that my days
are not work, and my nights are his.
Now the light is changing
towards the cooler half of afternoon,
and the house still—just for a moment.
Such a deep green on the leaves.
I must prepare dinner,
for he and they will soon be home,
filling the rooms and halls with clamor.
Look at the light on the sill.
It used to be adoration.

in a minute.

copyright  Ó by Arthur Durkee 

not there, not yet

                                           the gull still
becoming the cloud that chases the boy,
or the boy puts himself into the water
like moose or dark elk tasting lichen.
no, not yet: if you never arrive,
you never have to choose between trails,
one going up past the waterfall’s steam,
another idling in the heat, stirred 
by the strokes of gnats’ wings—
the story doesn’t have to end; the telling 
braids words into watercress, the cry of the rabbit, 
caught in the lynx’ jaws, rings out 
over the reeds, echoes never receding.

Copyright Ó by Arthur Durkee 

red pines


The red pines droop
low over old snowbanks
while drip water melts

into their shoulders
and over the feet of crows.
I have to wonder

if, after all, there isn’t
some place for me
under their boughs,



Three planets coax the moon
through a purpling sky,
until everyone’s down but the Daughters

and the train lights on the hill.
In the stand of red pines
near the park’s eastern road,

wind flicks needles against
the feathers of sleeping crows,
who fidget, dreaming of maize

in blue evening August.


Last night, the park filled
with fresh snow, not even
children’s tracks, yet

lit high in relief by the street
lights acid yellow and harsh
on the eyes.

The park huddles silently
where crows burn,
black coal chips

under the red pines.

Copyright Ó by Arthur Durkee

The Books of Binding

the book of spells 

the drumbeat. all things enclosed in the circle.
their cycling rhythms, the dark voices of stone altars.
from this rough place, another is made, is touched.
seahorses stride across the plowed fields.
breezes stir the leaves. the weakening sun.

The Book of Air

whisssst. sssstinfickertick. sssssshhhooom.
mouths of the dark birds shatter.
roaring in the sky, three knocks above the hill.
death of a god, birth of another.
now the sea and air are their own gods, restless.

Atlas of the Dead

come see: how quietly they move through the stones.
parchment fingers rustling their leaf tambourines.
the dew is on the grass. their feet, in all their wanderings, do not touch.
they float above the earth, or dissolve near to it, into it.
their compass rose is of the greater earth: these leaves fall through them.

The Book of the Sea

the sea speaks fiercely, cursive waves and shouting spray.
surge. pull. the tides rock under the sky, chariot rhythm.
foaming at mouth and mane, the green mares race ashore.
prairie grasses break in waves over the river’s edge, churning.
leaves fall into the eye of the ocean. whales sing of hot, dark love.

The Last Wave

god is a huge encircling round, like the ocean, permeating everything.
like the ocean.
the eye of the ocean is the heart of time. the Dreaming.
dreaming true of a rose, a shell, four moons, a crescent scythe.
sickle moon pricks these trees, the earth into humming.

A Book of Elements 

Earth says: I turn. I adhere to myself, lichened unto time.
Air says: I fill. There is no burning without me, and no living.
Fire says: I consume. Living is dancing, the immolation of love.
Water says: I flow. I slowly wear it down, seeking the lowest ground.
Spirit says: I spin. Every grain a web, a lantern, a long  weaving.

Copyright Ó by Arthur Durkee

the water temple
            for Ando Tadao

Go down between the lotuses
to the red dawn of the West.

Drowned under the moon-pond,
yet still breathing: lungs complain
at the extra work.

someone filled this garden
with cedars, tall, red, blank-faced:
witnesses or guardians of the sunset.

she sits humming, the aether filled
with lotuses floating in her hair.

Each time a monk descends,
shaven head bobbing on the pond,
a blank cork:
drowning the self, finding the self. 

Mirroring your original face
in the flowering lotus:
path down through
open water.

copyright by Arthur Durkee 

tsuru no sugomori

and a white crane rising
from the braided pebbles
of a stream, sandbars and rivulets
intertwining mare’s nests—
transfixed on the god of fishes
as it stalks the royal river,
shrapnel of god’s yellow eye
nailing the dusk to you—


and a white crane found loving
the flicks of late spring snow
hounding fluffed feathers, the stream
too cold to stand in long,
in a riffle tadpoles have
just now thought of dancing—
and a white crane’s careful step,
the graceless launch that merges
down the river’s twists,
till you can’t separate the distances,
wind blows the mind into snowdrift,
there’s only a golden eye where
the sun was a white feather
(adrift in a dust dance longlit at dawn)
landing on feldspar boulders
pinked by aspen through sunrise—


and a white crane lands 
downstream, repeats its silent
long-legged march upriver,
all hunger for the cold-slowed
salmon of wisdom, and repeats—

Copyright Ó by Arthur Durkee

JEN HANEL  Jen started coming to the UPG in its last year & proved adept with quick darting phraseology. She has some good potential as a poet.  

Impotent Impromptu

Impotent Impromptu

Rural subjects,
Lonely men -
No one speaks anymore.

Too many
          Fidgeting in family-style restaurants,
          Skin like paper,
          Eyes grasping,
Eagerly lapping
          The overspilling conversations
                     Of club kids and hip chicks -
Starving third world alley cat...

          I want to scream for him!
I want to writhe along the filthy floorboards
          And shake off my skin
                     And become
            A true human again,
               And approach him,
                And say "hello"
                And make friends
And play chess on snowbound Sundays;
He could tell me stories -about –

nickelodeons & Tokyo Rose & bathtub gin & JFK &
The man on the moon & the children long gone & ,
The wife long dead & the silent measures between -

And I would smile
To offer him
The last bite
Of coffeecake.

           Yet on my plate, it remains -
            In my chair, I remain-
           And in his booth, he

Copyright Ó by Jen Hanel

DON MOSS   don was a upg regular from our first set-to till mid 1999- since then he less frequently wrote poetry, but more prose. don is known for his mordant wit, as well his poems' allusive punning- yet he is capable of devastating emotion, at times. he has an excellent 80+ page long poem, dominions, that needs a publisher. don is the upg's philosophic maestro. don is one of the few writers whose prose excellence does not deter from his poetry's. we hope don gets the poetry bug again. click here for don moss's zazen .

a subsidy....    Electra's Great-granddaughters   Goodness, Inc.    Makeup    Soda Fountain    Stirring Aunt Libby....   21 Club    x/y  

A subsidy for not planting feed corn 

Again he wandered the course of remains kept out for private viewing.
Well trained, though by no one he remembers,
perhaps more by being inclined to not knock things down,
nor even smear the light dust softening his grandfather’s framed likeness,
one speck of which, magnified enough, carbon dated, would reveal
what part of the second rib of a small extinct omnivore (which once
trailed a receding glacier that had raked this whole county,
eons before fenced lines drew a farm’s argued borders),
the very mammal from which cows and horses evolved,
in fact, the ancestor of all tamed animals, at a time
when they (though then one) fended for themselves (self),
and fended meanly, long before merely turning round with a shout
would halt their playful stampede, but back when they kept coming,
full-bore, with one great animal heart that was not yet torn
off into so many nobodies, into so many merely live stocks,
named and numbered, their lives only their lives and
whatever ran faster, but were fit for that,
no part of greater economies. He took
care not to knock about. One has room
along the sides of things, along with things paid not to be,
diverse and thus still joined, of one great heart, faintly beating.
He heard that heart, as he sometimes heard within his own
the beats of his brothers’ never born, each full beat
of no mean spirit, a war beat to roam and eat and sleep
and catch out new flesh for one next feeding.

Copyright © by Don Moss

Electra's Great-granddaughters


The consciousness-raising...is evoking a qualitatively new understanding. ...

                                 Mary Daly


"Ellen, I wasn't ill enough as a child,
Seldom stumbled enough to fall as if
Thrown down or unattended by some god."


"He's talking to mom again, Beth called,"
Bringing to attention her idle siblings,
Long motherless in this great inner house.


But even after Beth called, they'd mumbled
Irritation, wrested from their stupor,
A sort of remission from ideas afloat.


Since birth, they'd netted no more than sighs

From great orations, were orbiting moons
Awaiting a morning, a doctor/lawyer/


Rosicrucian. But cauldron stirring,
Too, was lost for them; their hands closed, repulsed
By handling frogs, felt used if asked to sear


Lamb to send sweat smoke to please the heavens. 
No Gods means No Goddesses, and they damned
Logic for that, Aristotle and Bertrand


Russell, who'd had three wives and outlived them
All, damned all those lessons they'd gotten A's on,
And Beth, whose administration they coveted.


But now they were by his bed and weighing
Reaffirmation. "Say," the middle one said,
"That you know how much we love you," (words


That would still the dead). Defying physics,
The father blinked, and Beth lifted her arms
In resuscitation, with the full power


Of a leading child. Expelling air,
He said, "Luck, Ellen, flew away with you,"
The beat of which each younger girl resisted,


As it pried up one side of her face.
"Dumb fortune," he said, "is far better than..."
And thought, but found nothing that would compare.


Knowing their mood and nodding to him,
Beth said, "he's not finishing our sentence,"
Which freed others to be their collective self.


"It is the father mom'd a1ways marveled
Over," one combed, chorused by looks and umm's.
"Bless his poor heart for staying...on."


"Amen, amen," each girl quickly chanted,
For a second accepting that there was never,
No, enough of him, to have and to hold.


Copyright © by Don Moss

Goodness, Inc.

There’s goodness in preparation, clipping
the soul of strings that shalt-not away
its perfect punch, line and sinker; its head
sinking, as floor upon floor of perspicuity
crushes Counterculture Coffee, whose head at last
is loosed of something worth a slip of paper.

Hello, in there! Who’s alive and who’s an evil?
In there! Does this upset your life of style?
Feel the bristle of this face,
whose 8:00 shadow does not flee
when it takes flight.
                            You’ve not finished
your baccalaureate, but what cum laud
this would right—the honor, the action,
and mostly nothing to pretend.

Copyright © by Don Moss


How long it took to stay away,
To find the unforgotten  
Fractured signal sent and sent.

More is made to make matter of
To make worthy of, than to make
The most of what was not made up.

But dost thou know who makes thee,
Whose fits sit up and in and ride thee
Down as thy own hot rejoicing?

A fit to wind and wind about
And fling out from, through all of nothing
Which had changed the least, turning in

And getting up, love yet saved,
And love war spent, spending,
Spending to make up so much more

For nights without one empty seat,
And acts and acts before curtain call.
Our understudies understanding

And more, as unknowing as we
Our lines their lines. And when I awoke
And there once he was until you

Came to and quickly stubbed this self
Absorption. What richness there
And poor behavior! How silent

And warm your arm about my shoulder.
How like a wake these tailed moments
Of release. Through flesh bone rings through.

Copyright Ó by Don Moss

soda fountain

That Mall bridal shop has lost its lease:
Signage reads: If It's Here It's Remaindered!  
I wonder if real shoulders will ever fill
The gown sun-baked pale yellow.
Perhaps it's of acetate, which
I've heard reacts to gamma rays.
Nearby, the Woolworth's soda jerk
Once spun drinks to twice their volume,
And the extra (plus(?) in French) was set
Beside the straw-topped glass, bright canister
Frosting white for all three flavors.  
That was when downtown really bustled,  
Ladies shopping and all those big black cars.
The windows recorded that like a fixed-lens Kodak,
The countless consultations, the refittings,
The mother's mother's failing to give an inch
(For the bridesmaids contrasting color).
Transactions were entered in Indigo ink. It goes
Without saying that renters and their private  
Ceremonies seldom saw the Basilica.
One was to store what was never again worn,
Nor the cake's small top layer
Maneuvering the messy melting ice,
I give way to a flower delivery man,
His chin steadying a large, shrink-wrapped box,  
Which so confined his point of view he drops,
And with no time to shout, through an uncovered manhole.
The box, somewhat square, hits the hole and covers it up.  
Frantically looking for help, I notice a named street,  
I'd always thought an alley, right before me
Between numbered avenues and streets.

Copyright Ó by Don Moss

stirring aunt libby from her 91 st Year

"Do you know who brought you out?" she asked.
Too slowly, I said, "Out from...where…what?"
"From Nowhere, Dear," said Libby, "to forming
your very first whole, coherent thoughts?"

Silence alone was the answer for yes
and who and what, and made long-distance sense.
Even I gave up bungling words before
her absent but giving, resolute voice.

Her only mistake was calling you Pat,
which I wondered over but let pass
without comment. Libby can not be trusted
to forget, nor I to give thanks enough.

Copyright Ó by Don Moss  

                X once told me that love had protected him
              against worldliness: ...ambitions, advancements
                ...had made him into a social catastrophe,
                to his delight.- Barthes, A Lover's Discourse

21 Club

Attending St. Michael's six o'clock bells
For Mass and start of winter’s longest night,
Fog, heralded in whole notes, tumbled in
In kingly cotton balls that dabbed air gray,
Then caught on cottages and palms to pack
Against itself in mulls of indigo.

A couple rushes across two stalled avenues,
Outpacing arrested traffic, then funnels
Onto a dune-protecting over-walk,
Depositing them on high, loose grit,
Their steps miring in the mire of steps before.

As they inch out to tide-firmed sand, a shell-
Cap of luminous anti-light unclouds
About them, dims, then seeks a focus point.
R. wonders, "What second-shift sky clinician
Has sought us out for isolation,
For inspection, from all the world's buzzing

Citizenry? This light is lab enough
Cold enough for kingdom come's condo                                             
Committee to judge whether we merit
An invitation to the grand ball, where
The Martian dances charmingly with Marie

Antoinette, their antennae combining, and..."
But 0. can't stand it, "What are you thinkmg?
Up there there'll be no room for aliens.
Astounded, R. drawls, "Why not, since down here
They read ones mind?"
                   "No, you murmured Martian,
And counting St. Michael comes to four."

"Won't that be three," R. figures, "the church less
The third planet out, leaves a trinity?"

But flush quiet, crawling wavelet shadows
Saved them from faulty numerology,
Forcing a faith that more active wave-work,

Would keep itself distant in the fog,
As sound reported sounds more remote,
Which prompted R. to think "Where are my senses?
Where is Proust's Combray perception?
     ...air...illuminated...by myriads
     of protozoa which we cannot see...

     secret system of life, invisible,
     superabundant and profoundly moral,
     which their atmosphere holds in solution...
Acrid vapor of the Master's incontinence
Of detail, his eruption of scents, each

Vying for adverb on adjective
To chisel a taxonomy of air."
R. breathes in, bit the meter reads: 'No data,'
‘No data.’
               The man had somewhere once read
     That specimens love most what is absent,
     And cling in emptiness to what that holds

      And do not know it? The woman, we observe,
     Aware that the man was off somewhere
     In his metaphysics, said, "What is that?
     To which he replied, "Was I thinking again?
     Quite aware that he didn't know where he was...

For both to hear, R. says, "Actually, ending
A half-thought,"
                     0: "But professing or asking?"
R: "The subject was love, wasn't it?"
0: "So, then, for now, is that yes, or no,
Or echoes in this laboratory? You know,
Many people would never have been

In love if they hadn't heard it talked about."
R: "Look who's quoting La Rochefoucauld,
But is love a concept, or more a flu:
A stranger sneezes, and in two-week's time,
Candy and flowers fill the buffet,

And he's there singing sonnets refitted
From the Portuguese?"
                                0: "Or his ennui?"
R: "No, actually sung in several keys."

      The man here references the squalls of gulls,
      Snapping crackers from their rigid hands.
      How they laughed applause for such greediness,

     Thrilled that as the hovering birds lifted them
     To cheap tricks of prestidigitation,
     For which two dozen beaks bid them insults,
     Each took and took, and for their giving gave
     The lasting fan of all those beating wings.

Copyright Ó by Don Moss



With the first phrased stroke of thigh,
Readers shout and suck for air,
Then float to read "...thin hips whirl."
Others hold, then spill a sigh,

Turn the page and fantasize:
Forever it's you mon cher
   Ah, only and only...tu.
With close eyes they ape, "Ah, aye.


In the book, one grips the stage,
That is, a cleared strip of bar,  
And bites out, "No, no you must..."
"Must what, for why?" she rages.

"Must, Must," ten drinkers censure.  
The one who grips grips harder.
"Her bared hips swirl," ignoring  
His clutching, his century.

Copyright Ó by Don Moss    

DAVE NELSON  (1957-2015) Dave was a UPG regular since mid-1996 through 2001. He was a native Minnesotan and member of the local Playwrights Center. He had a very good play THE DREAMS OF A PHILOSOPHER, A Farce In Three Acts waiting to be produced. Dave has written in a number of forms and styles but seems to have a penchant for the sonnet, as well as a bent for the philosophical. He may best be described as the UPG's Beautiful Dreamer.  

Bugaboo Bugaloo....   I Don't Hate....    It seemed too obvious....    The Wild, Wild....

Bugaboo Bugaloo of the Bagabos  

Ideas of the Hairy Ainus or
the Bagabos of Mindanao-oh
like the poor bastards we put down for fools,
amused by their absurdly sloping chins,
their noses crooked in comical contortion,
eyes that bug out or skew about their sockets,
so you just can't keep a straight face, but smirk,
suppress a snicker that escapes in splutters,
snort-downright chortle-pointing at the rubes-
rolling with uncontrollable hilarity
-only to look up after hours of laughter
to see the clowns are laughing too; in fact
that they surround us like Tibetan Yogis
in levitation to a chant of chuckling.

Copyright © by Dave Nelson

i don't hate roger rolligen

you know how oddly this all came about?
there was the broken window,  
the delicate frame (with paint peeling),
the dusty light inside.
were it possible to be sure, i would not have been,  
but roger rolligen has a distinctive silhouette,
and i could not believe he had his fingers on-yes-
on the heffenweisser bodhisattva.
and that wisp of blonde hair  
just near enough the window not to be seen.

when i consider how closely i came  
to walking in and saying, "surprise, i'm home,"
though the runninghams hadn't seen me in years
(and though, what with the change in weight and facial hair,
would hardly have known me anyway),  
what a good joke that would have been:
roger? and...juliette?
what exactly are you doing in the runningham's bedroom,
and them...dead?
and the heffenweisser bodhisattva!
good heavens, what are you doing?

you see, i would have dreaded the
"isn't that kinda obvious, deacon?"
the way he says it so airily
you figure you've just called shakespeare 'the bard of cleveland'
or something.
and then what do you do?
take a monkey wrench and try disconnecting the plumbing-
by conking him on the head?
then, just because she's your ex-wife, it looks suspicious.

but maybe it would have been totally different.
you know, roger rolligen wasn't all that given
to bouts of manslaughter.
once or twice, maybe. or probably never.
what if, when i wasn't looking,  
he had made great friends with the runninghams,  
and when some villain broke in
and swiped the heffenweisser bodhisattva,  
had charged off on an indefatigable spree  
of rounding up the hoodlum
and now, just happened to be basking in their gratitude
at the very moment it would be least gracious  
to bash his skull in?

you wouldn't think, after all these years,
the memory of his silhouette would linger so,
but there's something roger rolligen never knew:  
i cheated him at cards once
and snickered about it to myself for days afterwards.

copyright by dave nelson

it seemed too obvious to question, but -  
well, you know what those hanging buts imply.  
like the phrase 'your ass hanging in the wind,'
it was t little obvious at that,
and yet -- well, let me set the scene for you.
there was a carnival in town that day,
and the great carousel was all lit up
and playing music like a marching band
with women on the undulating horses
and children laughing and a fireworks show
almost exploding from its rolling top
and -- well, you had to take a helium
balloon or two and drift into the sky -  
it was quite obvious until they popped.

copyright by dave nelson

the wild, wild ungk-de-skude

he had a gun.  
(i think he had taken it from the mantelpiece
where it had lodged since the revolutionary war.)  
the way was obvious,
but there was, unfortunately, a wire or two in the way.

-but it wasn't in this manner that the ungk-de-skude was tamed.
no, the custodian of the wire told us these were only stage tricks.  
his brother, however, was concerned
now the marionette wouldn't dance.
coonskin hats, eagle feathers...
"the struggle", as they so grandiosely titled it,
was monomaniacal.
like a tug of war, wires were being pulled all over,
and the blinds kept going up and down.

is this why light was whirling around the room like a police cherry?

i was confused at the amber of the lights:  
the equivocal nature of optics,  
mixed with the general illusion obtaining in the theater  
led me to swing from a chandelier
-which had the regrettable effect of drawing the curtain open  
half an hour before its scheduled time,  
when the argument between the lovers had not developed,
and they were still in a lascivious act of union.

i cannot think the powder had gotten damp,
but for some reason the struggle was inhibited,
and without a shot being fired, the ungk-de-skude  
shrank like a shadow into the comers,
and the tittering was silenced in the seats.

and so the story goes.  
i don't regret anything, particularly, but...  
well, the vision may be slightly skewed.

copyright by dave nelson

robert newkirk  robert has been a world traveler in times past- but in late 1998 he hit the twin cities & the upg. he was the upg's formalist, as well voice for the emotion in verse.

arse poetica

arse poetica

your first drafts scrawled
while getting drunk,
typed up on days 
the free-flow's stuck.

slave twenty years,
cop small press luck,
some gilded leaves
in pails of muck.

but there's no feast
when fortune's struck-
though published you
can't sell the stuff.

cheer up, don't say
your calling sucks-
once poets die
life ain't so tough.

copyright by robert newkirk

andy patterson andy graced the upg from mid-late 1999 through 2001. he writes mostly dramatic 1st person monologues- laced with pathos and humor; no oddity since he is also an aspiring standup comedian. he has won a number of contests in that field- but we preferred he remain the upg's champion of the disaffected (did someone say psychotic?).

if     please


wake from your sleep.
tell your dad
how much you love him.
and how you'll be a baker
or a painter
and how when you grow up
you'll live next door to him.

i often dream of you.
you're usually lost
within a forest.

but last night i dreamt
you were in your handsome
blue suit.
with your mother's
beautiful eyes
you looked at me and said,

  it's okay, dad.

but now you rest deep
beneath a bed of dandelions
and i'm just on old man
drifting on a lake
in a rowboat

forgive me,

copyright by andy patterson


smile for me,

if even i am a stranger
a prince
or a glass
treasure-box of sadness
for you
for me

arikka, arikka,

where are you now?
standing on a tall
kenyan savannah?
a russian steppe
a shanghai dance floor
a japanese

send me feathered wings
and i'll become an albatross
traverse the pale
carnation sky

far away
for you.

copyright by andy patterson

jason sanford i 1st encountered jason in 2000 while organizing a poetry forum with art durkee & laura winton. jason was to provide a fictionist's pov on poetry. about a year later jason started attending the upg to use poetry to hone his wordplay. he showed a willingness to experiment with technique that few 'real' poets do. jason's website: www.jasonsanford.com

mee-maw's split....    mobile bay   processes   the oxford book....

mee-maw’s split            down nails

mee-maw’s nails         raise middle ridges
buckle seamed            granite horizontal,
gash limestone             valleys, ravines—damned
to pose as deep flow rivers for yuppie canoes.
but mee-maw denies implications:
“nails just do that with age.”

mee-maw gives          care to her calcium knots,
giants stowed             onto cracked knuckles,
phalange quivers         metacarpal pebbles
and the wedding ring she can’t wear
dangling off necklaced-looped shoulders.
“i sure do miss that man.”

instead mee-maw      remembers you at six
slipping tiles               squeekin’ door,
her squatting toilet      in nightgown drapes,
modesty not in the matter of you
flushing that toilet while she still sat.
“yeah, hon, it splashes my behind too.”

but mee-maw’s         eight-inch thick of arms
from milkin’s              choppin’s and farmin
quick one pops          through chickens’ necks
ain’t got no place for late years’ thinnings.
through her waitings and fractures and antibiotics:
“lord, there ain’t nothin left to me.”

when videotaped     mee-maw in flannel gown
surrendered by         grandkids and great grands,
startles, stares           to broadcast image,
not giving smiles but still knowing:
“is that me? god help.
guess we all just gotta claim it.”

copyright © by jason sanford

mobile bay

2 bits don’t slide
3 ways past stanton
but his comings up behind
finds superheated air trapped
between twin glass door entrancements,
so he wipes gulf fisherman boots—
mackerel guts, eggs, scales—
skid marks the rug and knows
you don’t catch this kind of reek
unless its suddenness jumps to bile.

off season, no fishes, just backhoe dangles,
dredging shipping lanes for eight-love-fest barges
bound the intercoastal, bored captains who wave salute,
pissed tourists in bass boats settin’ out in six-foot swells.

stanton finds the slick cheese
smell of slap-washed thighs
and her sweet waddle walk
taking him to rarely visited,
arched tenement circles
where everyone he’s known
well enough to keep—
but not enough to name—
shank their way past him.

scooped half a spanish galleon outa bay mud, lucked
to seeing wood beams collapse for air,
no questions for pontificated arches and dead spans
as the engineer screamed to keep dredging.

red sky nights
but stanton can’t delight
unless his eggs bubble burn
off the skillet
and their droughts smash
gales through shrimp-netted pups,
and all for him, being—bolted
to the sixes—the only catch
off snapping gill lines.

galleon sterns and mud splashes and the 'neer
being captain being dredged being barge
says dump it all 'cause no galleon’s got times
on his scheduling looks or cares. besides…

ups a ways, stanton says. ups a ways
are the only finds we oughta be keepin’.

copyright © by jason sanford  


woman processed at tuol sleng detention center
finds her way to my morning paper,
ending stat unmoving
as instant-cereal bleeds—milked, spooned off—
silver her halftone dribbles from black into
shades of ten-second mugs, death
off to simple point and click sentences—
           the guards…out frame, head…shadow-bulbing wall,
           flashed eyes…just an infinite hair—
looking beyond until she’s silted ten thousand photo
things of more befores than insides
until the ends of academics rescue her for exhibit
           (and in exhibit reaching art
           and in art caesar’s bust)
before across my entertainment section—
column two, above fold—
her eyes snap to see if
any from right unto death
tell all we need, knowing
that our own reasons state the same as
crunching frosted flake twines, setting
orange juice glasses
over war crimes exhibit a, and
her face relaxing away solemn
to half-body comings about the world
until halfway here it's reminding of
the same eyes as my girlfriend
who, despite repeated promises the night before,
i will not call this morning.

copyright © by jason sanford  

the oxford book of english verse

henry, from nancy.
            to christmas. 1926.
            browned ink. limned paper.

            bought. smart & mookerdum.
            booksellers. rangoon.

by nancy, for henry.
            for british in burma.
            no knowing. to come.
            between. all war.

            henry finds. only dates:
            wordsworth: 1770 - 1850
            tennyson: 1809 - 1892

henry reads. them all.

to nancy, off henry.
            the book. returns.
            death railroad. down kwai.
            major dunn. delivers.

            “a good chap. held fast.
            to ends. henry did.”

           henry: 1901 - 1943

so nancy, no henry.
            well versed. rests down.
            those times.
            that won’t book.
            their becoming.

still a while, far away.
for nancy. anyway.

           nancy: 1904 - 2001

copyright © by jason sanford  

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