Joanne Merriam


Mildew stains the ceiling and the left back burner's broken.
Don't turn on the stove or you'll blow the fuse.
You check payphones for change. You're out of bridge tokens.
You can't make the rent and there's no more booze.
The cracks in the bathroom mirror make real look strange.
But love waits for you face wrinkled by your sheet,
the songbirds sound like little girls in ecstasy and when
you head to the grocery--the sun! Swallows you complete.
Just think how time alters everything, and this crisp ten
is enough to leave this last month's awful panic undone.

Lupe Quezada


I'm gorged with such thought with your body this near,
I do hope to display you this very same year.
Long enough you won't last, far too soon you'll decay.
I must devise a synopsis of ten ways I'll flay.
With blade tight in hand and your flesh now exposed
the room smells of warm sulfur as the candlelight glows.
The most sought after cut is what I'll cut first.
I butcher ladies and lads seeking the youngest flesh first.
For ten dollars a pound you'll eat the best meat.
At My Butcher Shop "You Always Are What You Eat!"

Gary Imperial


Ten days before All Hallows Eve he rises once again.
Goes upon his killing spree for vengeance on the ten.
A body's found each night, with a head severely bashed.
Next to a numbered pumpkin, a Jack O Lantern smashed.
He can't be tricked or treated, neither slowed nor stopped.
Each night death will be repeated, until the number drops.
"Katrina oh Katrina, my love for you shall never lesson.
Cursed night I lost that fight, my broken heart confession."
So now he rides a fortnight before All Hallows Eve,
seeking vengeance on the ten horsemen upon his ghostly steed.

Neva Wallace


TEN, you say, is currently the subject of our poem?
TEN, a digit thing about which to write a tome.
TEN, I calculate as my number of fingers and toes.
TEN other things I’ll find, since you’re not counting those.
TEN of this and TEN of that, would anyone believe,
TEN is just the numeral I have up my sleeve?
TEN, that curious number – I think I get the gist.
TEN words in every line? Well okay, if you insist.
TEN lines, of course, that’s how many we should write!
TEN words in TEN lines – did I get that right?

Anita Holzberg

10 zucchinis make havoc with the field of their dreams
Lemons lurk on lemon trees disguised by tall green leaves
Lettuce wilts on 115 degree plates on a LA patio
Purple plums rise as fall comes almost too soon here
Pastry chefs stand to reason with chocolate pumpkin raisin cake
Wedding Chefs learn quickly to create dreams skillfully and soon
Popcorn of every variety: kettle corn, garlic, just popped hoot
Pumpkins pop orange their flavor and colored candies float far
Avocados green as the season sprouts good fats into sky
Food freaks and nutrition experts allude to new attitudes now


Matt McGee


The man on the asphalt beneath the sheriff’s yellow sheet
was a friend, reliable mechanic, and tattooed local Good Guy.
His friend Weasel, in tight Levi’s and scuffed cowboy boots
spouted his hatred for the blacks, faggots, Yankees and sumbitches
the Good Guy somehow forgave. “He never saw it coming,”
his wife cried through meth mouth, Weasel’s other parting gift.
Weasel carried a loaded .357 in his 300ZX, made ‘shine’
in his trailer and sold it in plastic soda bottles.
“If you hear anything, call us,” said the Detectives, who –
ten shots later, spoke to Weasel where Good Guys failed.


Russell Salamon


Little bones little girl bones lips, falling snow kiss snow
falling all night eternal snow, slow drifts pile up dunes;
hold her little bones against my bones perfect fit bones;
teacup breasts little sips, bites, keep them even, don't make
them jealous, oh even little bites, the girls get jealous
if not even--sip kisses thousands of white kiss petals
melt ten centuries melt moods in moon lake flight light;
enter eternal spaces behind faces, connect faces with future spaces
water flowing down mountain frosts, mists, fog forests, small rills;
fold kiss bodies two kiss famines, illumine, drown, in embraces.


Neva Wallace


Tell me, sir, did it occur to you that I
might break the tie, the deadlock disperse with my verse?
I’d hate to share that money there but rather instead
win all, I said. Do the math. Beware my wrath.
You want TEN lines, then we align TEN little words
in each? Absurd. I shall try. Don’t say that I
was faint of heart, for in this art of poetry
I fail to see why in the end, poetic friends,
you’d not select with all respect this rhyme of mine.
It would be divine. So, why not, gimme the pot?!


Tim Tipton


It is now Ten O’clock. My head is wide awake
Is it a barking dog Or a screaming child crying
for it’s mother? Is it cloudy outside or am I
in a smoke filled room? Is it that my heart
is still beating Or am I dead? Is it California
Or Iraq? What day of the week is it, tell
me? What a chain of thoughts I have in my
Brain I crave slumber and freedom from thought a clean
Slate and a vacant box, let me start all over
Again with nothing to show for my past for once.

Radomir Vojtech Luza


in the back of the rowboat my dad cried hard
at her birthday party sheila died from alcohol and drugs
the beginning has no end unless it is to end
david and dorothy divorced after the death of son max
the american dream dances in my head like a jujubee
politics and poetry mix when neither is black nor blue
monopoly was my favorite game as a child plus ten
because i don't see god doesn't mean he isn't there
the road to myself does not go through anyone else
the bicycle thief was hung by his dirty rotten handlebars


Neva Wallace


You propose that we should write about the number TEN?
And use all the wittiness we have as we compose?
I tried that once and find I must now again
write more, perhaps to break a tie, do you suppose?
Now TEN, TEN, TEN again bounces through my weary brain.
This number keeps repeating – on the calendar it’s a date.
But it doesn’t matter anyway, I think I’ve gone insane
at the thought of writing something that might even remunerate.
Oh, TEN, thou TEN, sweet TEN, my hopes do rise.
I’ll send this in with aspirations to win the prize.

Lalo Kikiriki

Elysian Heights Elementary School, September 10, 2010

One set of squares in the empty schoolyard
Two times five and the beanbag sits on square one
Three o'clock shadows of the heart shaped mulberry tree leaves
Four more days to go before they unlock the gates
Five fingers curling through the zinc-flavored chain link fence
Six more minutes til the DASH bus stops at Baxter
Seven is the room I'll be in when school starts
Eight is the room that had the famous cat mascot
Nine is how old I'll be when school's out again
Ten dollars and two quarters for the movies today...Hooray!


Neva Wallace


TEN, TEN, TEN and then, marching up and down again
the TEN words, TEN lines, rolling neatly off our pen.
We carefully follow the rules devised for this poetic regimen
to win the coveted prize as literary women and men.
Great dancers knock themselves out, all in need of oxygen
to see those little signs go up - TEN TEN TEN.
But now the poets put together verbiage in their den,
concocting lines and counting words for your competition, and then
hope to please the judges, stand by patiently till when
we find out who's gone ballistic just before October TEN.

Ron Brown


Oh five oh six fifty-six is a pattern date.
Some say zero would be a correct way to designate.
But “oh” reflects an expressed epiphany that it is more.
Sigmund Freud’s birth occurred this day a hundred years before.
Oh five oh five fifty-five would fit our project perfectly.
Fifty years before my dad pushed into this world joyfully.
Now consider how number patterns are played by inquiring minds
And how we construct poems from patterns of disparate lines.
On ten ten ten this work will have its fame.
In print it won’t vaporize as a moth in flame.


Karen Audioun Klingman


10 has been a lucky number for many of us
my birthday falls on 10-10, no I'm not kidding you
2010 holds out more hope for hitting my lucky stride
with 10-10-10 on my side I might win the lotto
and Brett Favre whose birthday is the same day may
make 10 beautiful passes into the end zone for touchdowns
it's all up to the gods or some calendar guru
this date only comes once in a lifetime, if that
it's clear I will not live to see another tri-fecta
so I'll celebrate this one with friends food and wine


Bill Ratner

When I was ten I looked back on my life.
Boy, what a mean and rotten kid I had become.
By age ten I recalled my first crime against girls.
I think I was nine when I used my slingshot.
An innocent little girl, probably six, was dressed in cotton.
My old cruiser was dark maroon, chipped, rusted, and ready.
She did not see me coming, and I rode close.
I loaded up a pea and pulled the rubber taut.
She rode her tricycle onto the sidewalk, and I fired.
It was like shooting an innocent victim in the back.


Jim Babwe

a thousand decoded memories

shortened handwritten content threatened. frightened intermittent intensity. softened kindergarten, forgotten.
unintentionally forgotten potential. unintentionally forgotten attention. beaten. unfastened. softened. forgotten.

tense, intentionally tightened tenacious sentences pretend omnipotence. competent attention listens.
persistent attentive retention tightens content. potentially tenacious antennae listens intently.

unintentionally forgotten attention listens, tender intensity softens, extends softened tendrils.
extends potential. extends listening. extends attention. extends content. extends enlightenment.

unfastened. fastened. forgotten. unforgotten. unintended. intended. unintentional. intentional. competent. persistent.
enlightenment's extended tendrils listen. enlightenment's extended tendrils tenaciously fasten existence.

extended attention. extended content. extended potential. extended listening. extended contentment.
attentive, content, tender, intentional sentences extend potential. listen. listen. listen.

Wanda VanHoy Smith


Whose genius invention, the one to ten scale for perfection?
It wasn't Einstein the father of relativity discoverer of stars,
ten million times hotter than the sun just like thee.
Hollywood is more likely guilty of the scale measuring desirability.
My ten is sexier than Bo Derek queen of Ten.
Handsomer than John Wayne in a white ten gallon hat.
Swifter than Lance on a ten speed bike in France.
More fun than boot kicken a Texas Ten Step dance.
Swinging even more than Dave Brubeck playing “Take Five” twice.
Shake the dice and hope your tentative poem scores ten.