Bob Hoeppner, Joanne Merriam, Carol Banks Weber

Home | The Last Issue | Submissions | Achieve: 2004-2009 | Essays

Bob Hoeppner lives in Southwick, MA. He's been most recently published in The November Third Club and Appleseeds, an anthology from Sacred Fools Press.


Stuck on a Bridge


The bridge that burned last

summer now groans under snow, clunks

from bumpers crunching

over lines that do not show

on this slidery surface suspended

over water frozen in its turbulence.

Green, red and white are pretty

seasonal, but it is the dark blue

bulbs that bloom a different wound

in me. A blue of drowning

in time, the color of childhood

sky in my bed just before

the monsters came. Shielded by a sheet

I sensed them sneak, could hear them,

when the TV wasn't laughing, move

as the latest casualties were debuted.

"It'll be over before you're old enough." 

my mom cooed every year.

She was right but not by much.

Some people like the white light,

are drawn to it. But not me.

I am moved to blue.



Xmas Rush


The toys that enrich a childhood

also erase it. The gun

in the hands of a boy. The Barbie

in fingers that will never be thin enough.

There are toys for tots to prop

their thoughts, so they don't totter.

You are loved, here's a toy.

Shoot. Dress. Grow.

Should I believe in the power of toys

any more than I believe in Mr. Claus?

Or is the real mystery--

does Santa believe in me?

I'd like to sit in the lap of someone

who'll tell me what I'm getting.

Or have someone sit on mine

and whisper sincerest desires.

But I don't have enough elf-space

for the tools to make dreams come true.


The boy is not father to the man.

The man is the hand-me-down of boy,

the rags of what once suited him,

tailored by aging, stained by evaporating dreams

that spilled from a cup he let go

just when his hand could hold it.

And Candy, with her cane

so hard and sweet at first, then soft,

the straightness worn down to a permanent curve,

she's earned her stripes at every step

of her carefully chosen shoes.


Maybe we should play

a game. One we pull out from childhood.

Maybe we should move our pieces on a board

worn from the past, outcome in doubt,

each taking turns flicking the spinner,

or warming the dice in our hopeful hands.

Maybe each should be the die for the other,

cast onto our squared relationship,

rules read and discarded, fears shuffled and cut.


If I could just understand that she

is not a toy, then I would be right somehow,

I would be on the right track,

the fantastic would be over, but reality,

that unwrapped present amongst the fantasies

broken within minutes of the wrappers coming off,

reality would be played with for the first time,

and it's then the really fantastic would not

be bought or won, but created,

not in imagination, but in hands that knew a gun

or impossible body, finding, in ourselves,

not perfection, but imperfections which fit perfectly

with each other.


Yes, there is a time for putting away the childish things,

but not all, and knowing which ones to keep

is the cut in the deck between

advancing your token to another one's space,

or sitting, possibilities closeted,

alone, with a vacant face.


Joanne Merriam is a Canadian living in Tennessee. Her poetry has appeared recently in Alba, Umbrella and Astropoetica, and previously in Big Toe Review. You can find her online at
Angels We Have Heard On High

Singing sweetly in the night, the telephone wires slowly turn into thin white blades of snow. The lawn blinks red and green. The cold of the window bites my forehead. The glass is feathered white. Everything
is muffled.

The mountains in reply echoing their brave delight, turkey debris
studding the tablecloth, Dad sleeping on the couch, a paper cracker
crown still draped across one ear, his mouth a comical oh.

My niece recites her day, singsong on the line. She's three and Eden
still burns in her. I don't know how to ask: What great brightness do
you see?

Carol Banks Weber is a writer who lives in Edmonds, WA. Before she became a mother (Jan. 21, 2002), Banks Weber worked on various trade magazines as editor. She has been writing her own weekly News & Gossip column at and has started work as a staffer in layout design/text flow at Childcare Exchange Her essays and poems have been published in Wired Web, Minotaur 17, The Plowman, Raven Chronicles, Heartless Bitches International, The Downtown Source, Computer Paper, Asian Focus, East Honolulu Newspaper, Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin.   



Diamond Hair

The only piece I had left of her fell out of a celebrity detox book by rosie o’donnell to keep my place between the beginning and the end, this card from Sunshine Art Studios (, a smiling snowman in a green and red vest, a candy cane scarf, inside her perfect blue handwriting, promise... Get together soon... The best friend ever... Love you always...

Besides this summer sun peeking through winter trees where she walked down an aisle of peonies and half-dying rhododendron, silver ribbons in her hair, before she fell apart




December rain over there

my enemy sings me Bing Crosby
to sleep, I must envision sugar plum

fairies rolling in sweetened condensed milk

and pine-studded snowit's another dimension,

where cell phones ring SuperMario in five-four

rhythm, a flamenco, some folk, and a passing

fancy to Rock Lobster somewhere in the Road

and Track, chicks and bars -- you'd never

find me here, straightening my glasses -- gravelly  

groveling voice mixed up in too much scotch,

soda and beer, my enemy sings me to sleep
(or it could've been the rain outside)

when he became my somebody, I can't say

the lyrical words anymore, I can almost lipsync
without him and me in the picture
it could be anybody, my pastor, my priest,

my friend I could stab you in the back,

in the back of a punchline, have another shot

he's not my enemy, duh




by author

a book about a dead Victorian writer, she killed
herself after the romantic period, a Nicole Kidman

without the Tom Cruise baggage stuck in a terminal

condition, arms bars, Tina Arena chains...
(okay that's him) all of my love
letters electronically sold, a sleep apnea's dream

unfolds in Hallmark dirges, demons, dragons, Lipton tea
somewhere in between the cotton houses on the hill

and tin-metal blocks beside a graying sea,
he's listening to Spice Girls and the soundtrack

from Saturday Night Fever, his whisky rum chaser
knocking back lie after lie...
these words rat turds by the coffee grounds
I dig them up perfect agony
Hurry, Santa’s coming in through the roof



Enter supporting content here