Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Friday, June 15, 2012


by Ed Werstein

Vampire Nun

Teaching fullfils me.
Be good students. Leave me some
blood in the inkwells.

Nosferatu's Garden

If Nosferatu were a gardener
he would raise beets
and beets alone,
fang-rooted Rumanian blood bulbs,
vampire of vegetables.

Sucking redness from radish veins
leaving its innards colorless.
Rutabagas, potatoes, parsnips
are no match for its red-robbing wiles.

Only the longer rooted carrot
has managed through the centuries
to cleave to a bit of orangeness.

There is an eastern European wives tale
claiming that before the beet bit
you could get blood from a turnip.

Bubbling in a borscht bowl,
the beet could sustain our fabled count
through those long cold damselless nights.


is an orator
carries his own soapbox
for impromptu speeches
in the park
trying to convince people
help them see things
the way they really are
how close to the brink we are walking
how green the park used to be
how it’s slipping away
and we’ll never know
what too late is
until it’s too late.

Frustration wants to shout
that soldiers are still dying
even if they are (mostly)
someone else’s kids
that innocent people are still dying
even if they do (mostly)
live somewhere else.

Frustration wants to get off
his soapbox and buy
a ladder and a megaphone
but knows
he’d just be doubling
the number of people
he’s not reaching

Frustration takes a deep breath
and knows --
but doesn’t know
what to do about it.


At the circus greedy
irresponsible elephants
ridden by fat cats
pilfer peanuts from spectators
throw frightened children to the lions
retroactively raise the price of admission
and laugh when they’re asked for a refund.

Down on the farm idle
domineering donkeys
ridden by fat cats
watch as laborers pull plows
and continue losing ground
day by day.
Yet, the laborers feel forced
to work for the donkeys
fearing they’ll give their children
to the greedy elephants.

At Sunday services
circus spectators and farm laborers
pray together
that greedy elephants and idle donkeys
might change their ways
as fat cats sitting in the front pews
smile, knowing futile prayers
when they hear them.


corn, grapes, olives, squash
spices that taste of the soil
shape of a pepper

Still Life
on February 27, 2010 an earthquake,
magnitude 8.8, struck the central coast of Chile.

In the photos,
taken just hours before the earth shook,
you are smiling,
happy to have a Wisconsin visitor,
happy to talk baseball and American politics.
Happy to introduce someone new
to the flavors of pastel de choclo,
that most authentic of Chilean cuisine,
which sits cooling in front of you,
its thick, sweet, corn crust,
like the crust of Chile, still unbroken,
but bubbling beneath its surface.

Later, after the meal
and the malbec, our friend,
your visitor, walks to his hotel,
and you, your wife, and my grandson
board the metro heading for home,
all of you still smiling,
still unaware
of the earth’s deeper motion,
unaware of the trembling night ahead.

Unaware that just off the coast,
frantic fish are already heading
for deeper waters.

Nosferatu's Garden was originally published by Verse Wisconsin

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