PoetryIssue 05 | June 2009


by Esther Greenleaf Murer

  Kabul, 2006
A shopping mall has opened, full of wonders.
There is a thing here, and into it you put
a card, and in maybe fifteen seconds
money comes out.  The locals spend days
yo-yoing in the city’s only elevator,
and take pictures of all their friends
riding the escalators.

  Chicago, 1940s
The mecca of my childhood: Marshall Field’s.
While my mother shops, I ride and ride.
Curious about a crowd, she finds
that all those people are waiting for me
to finish coming up the down escalator.

  Gardemon, Norway, 2003
As we step onto the horizontal strip
that carries us and our luggage from here to there,
a slant-slashed red circle informs us
that on this escalator that doesn’t escalate
jumping rope is not allowed.

  Prague, 1988
In this gray, glum city the escalator
runs down and down to the metro,
deep, steep and swift.  Longing
to transmute my terror into hope
for my fellow riders, I shut my eyes
and sing:  “The Lord God is at work
in this thick night.”  I cannot know
that next year the government will fall.

  Heathrow, 1968
Between flights we stand by the top
of the escalator where my husband
takes movies of cresting bowlers,
headbands, topis, turbans, fezzes, kofias;
miniskirts, granny dresses, lederhosen,
caftans, djellabas, saris—
all the peoples of the earth
rising and rising.

About the author

Esther Greenleaf Mürer grew up in the Old Northwest, spent most of the Vietnam War years in Norway, and now lives in Philadelphia.  She has accompanied her biochemist husband to scientific meetings in many places, but now, at 73, leaves the traveling to her children.  Her recent poetry has appeared in Mimesis, Town Creek Poetry, The Externalist, New Verse News, and The Ghazal Page.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok