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It's Poetry Month at NHPR: Share your poems with us

Poetry Month Logo.png
Sara Plourde
/
NHPR
It's National Poetry Month, and here at NHPR, we'd like to hear your poetry.

April is National Poetry Month, and here at NHPR, we want to give you a chance to share your creativity with us. We’ll put some of your writing on the air and feature some on our website.

The past two years have posed unprecedented challenges and changes, and poetry can be an outlet for reflection. NHPR has selected four themes for four weeks in April and anyone in the Granite State is invited to submit their own poetry, or a poem by an author they admire, that touches on that week’s theme.

Photograph of Alexandria Peary for Web Use ATTRIBUTION JANE BUTTON PHOTOGRAPHY (2).jpg
Jane Button
/
Courtesy
New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Alex Peary.

Each week, State Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary will join All Things Considered host Peter Biello to reflect on your work.

April’s themes are:

  • April 3 - 9: Belonging
  • April 10 - 16: Growth
  • April 17 - 23: Waiting
  • April 24 - 30: Mistakes & Solutions

Submitting a poem is easy to do. Just email your poem, or a piece by a poet of your choice that relates to the theme, to voices@nhpr.org.

If you are 18 years or younger, please let us know when you send your poem to us.

We may not be able to include the entirety of your poem on air or online.

Mistakes & Solutions
Waiting
Growth
Belonging
Week One: Belonging
Week Two: Growth
Week Three: Waiting
Week Four: Mistakes & Solutions
Week One: Belonging

“Bereft”

She's somewhere else, not here,

Passed to a far fair place.

I've searched the silent hours,

She's gone with scarce a trace.

Gone yet still remembered---

Her smile, her voice, her face.

Faith has her safely resting

Now she's done the race.

Hope, end this sorrowful seeking,

Shine the light of comforting grace.

Love, fill this heart that's empty,

This wearisome grief efface.

  • Lucretia Ganley

“Infinite Mechanism with Levers”

Our minds are infinite mechanisms with levers,

Buttons and switches that we cannot touch from the inside.

The switches are flipped, buttons pressed,

and levers pulled by the present moment,

made up of the wind and our motion on the earth.

Happenstance and circumstance, pull a giant lever

And change the universe.

  • Michael Brown

“Because I Heard You Say”

I walked out of my

room and out of

my window the new red

blooms of spring stood

stark hued against bark.

I heard you, I feared

you, America. Because I

heard you say

I heard you say

And I know

I know joy, Black joy!

And, America says

Asphalt and blacktop

not mute after all, and

strip malls, sirens call.

Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet

the riot, quiet grief, quiet so well

the welled anger never spills.

Shorn-shell-shocked-shucked

and America says, “silence

is best” kept weapon against

death. The silent, the strong

survive the quiet

riot, the loud death and

the vacuum left after

-wards. Here, a soul

used to be, where

chalk lines only shade

what was once framed

Black, beautiful, and beloved.

Say her name, say

his name, say their names.

To hear America in echo,

say their names.

  • Ben Bacote

“Dear Pathetic Self”

Dear me;

The wind becomes me and you are nowhere to be seen.

I tell myself I cannot write this.

I can not;

I can not;

I can not;

I’m in pain. To talk to you,

I must become you, feel you, be where you’ve been.

And it hurts.

It’s a darkness like no other; all consuming, barren of life and light.

It’s a void that sucks my soul away, my heart away,

leaving myself

an empty husk of hurting hubris.

Stones are strapped to my ankles and I’m falling. I’m

Falling

and

Failing

Through a snowy bank of ice water, numbing my shadowy skin,

yet I feel more sunburnt than ever, and I can’t seem to grasp my fistfull of reality.

I’m blind and lonely, commanding a pirate ship

Through an endless desert earth.

I cannot write this.

I have to write something, or the waves of non-existence will surely catch up with me.

There’s a killer in my house,

Taking all of my possessions,

All of my pride,

All of my worthiness.

I can’t help but continue hiding in my dark closet as he takes the lives of my values one by one.

Sticky blood begins to leak through the doorway and wet my toes.

It’s salty.

There’s calm exterior to my face,

A metaphorical spread of off brand cream cheese.

There’s a faceless void under my skin, crawling around,

screaming,

gut wrenching,

eye bulging horrors, looking for a key, bargaining with each separate fake higher power to get out.

The door to my soul is locked too tight, and behind it lies a sea of magma.

I cannot write this.

Each word is a snowball to the face, and unlike the physics of real life, they start to pile up, until I’m so cold I feel frozen in time.

I feel like the very snow itself,

each flake different,

Each molecule of my body fighting this eternal conflict of an endless number of causes.

My spelling is deteriorating, and the cut on my index finger

Is making writing difficult and longer.

My mind is a mess.

How can I help you? Is that even possible?

If I told you it gets better,

it gets sunnier,

and lighter,

And that freedom, peace, can eventually be achieved by all humans,

even you,

would you even care?

Would it take you off the roof outside the bathroom window?

What is life, you might ask;

What is the meaning of ALL of this? Why do we live, why do we die; What defines worth, and value, and love, and what’s left for me?

It’s these existential questions that I realize you want the answers to, and I don’t have any to supply you with.

I have questions of my own you know.

Who loves you?

Why do you need purpose, meaning?

Who ARE you?

Who is the one with your name?

What does he value, what are his goals, his being?

You are HUMAN! Nobody takes that from you.

I know it dark,

and painful, shameful; hating yourself out of the fear that if you didn’t,

Others would do it for you.

I know.

I was there.

That was me.

It was me who wanted to jump, me who didn’t care who I fell on.

Was it fate that we share that in common, because it brought me here?

I can write this.

I love you. Never, ever forget that. I care. I feel that despair.

I hug you, hold your hand, like our parents did for us so long ago.

You’re not alone.

As these snowflakes drift along and tap our ears,

They’ll introduce themselves and life is just a single jelly bean sweeter.

We’ll sell lemonade on the intersection of Pope Rd. and Strawberry Hill, and laugh as we get a customer every 2 hours.

(those cat charity’s are certainly worth it)

For what it's worth, I won’t rescue you now, and maybe one day you’ll see why. Maybe today.

I’m glad you never gave up.

There’s no meaning in life. Not yet,

perhaps not ever. But that’s our forte, right? Traversing this crazy meaningless life of ours, and maybe finding a value or two along the way.

I wrote this. You wrote this. We- wrote that.

Now forget it, the moment’s already gone.

  • Timothy Stone

“I won't let myself go to sleep”

because it's the slowest way I know

of staying alive

this not going to sleep and not

going to sleep this timeless

space between days

so little happens so constantly

here and after the day after one thing

after another the night

magnified and all still

small because this not sleeping is being

adrift a floating in silence

on the sleek lake

a turning between the boulders

piled with pines and bright

leaves sinking through

air onto the water

and behind the eyes where

shores are far in the distance

there is no counted hour

and minutes are flicked waves

that shade to blueblack

as the moon feathers low over the bow

because I can't stop listening

for the sound of a mountain I can sense

hovering from the darkness the river

the rain an answer someone's

joy because I'm here I'm awake

and awhir with expectation

because I don't want to miss more

love or more loneliness or the voices

that shed their deaths between

the islands of dreams because

not sleeping and still not sleeping soaks

my skull soft till its listening

is the same as bones

as waiting and not waiting because

sleep's a loon that hasn't risen yet

it is late and it's early and I'm alive

in the space

I fill with the boat of my body

immersed hour after unstruck

hour in not going to sleep

the shape of the dark

fitting close against the hull perfectly

holding the outline of me

a light still on inside

because I want to hear it when the world

touches my door with both its wet palms

and leans with all its weight

into the room welcome

I will say

welcome I am not asleep

  • Alice Fogel

“My Father’s Letters”

My father’s grave

is a simple, flat granite marker:

Robert Whittier Dudley

12-27-1912 to 1-18-1984.

Each time I visit,

I yank out the grass

that continually creeps

as if it wants to grow over his footprints,

render what was of him

to fields of milkweed.

My father’s letters are scattered everywhere.

Not stashed in boxes. Not in random nooks

or tucked in keepsake albums,

but in the lists I make each day,

the shape of my feet,

the color of my eyes,

when I tighten my jaw,

and the way I tap my molars

like a metronome so I can keep my rhythm

when the song of life is complicated.

His tiny print and shaky hand

show up as I press harder

on the page

and don’t give up,

when I am gentle,

when I wait to speak,

and when I listen with my index finger resting on my lips.

Even with loss tapered over 35 years

when I do something well

I can hear him say,

“Atta girl!--I am so proud of you!

You can be proud of yourself.”

The words, like training wheels,

lodged in my matrix

of bones and memories.

I walk in a neighborhood

under trees that breathed

his salt and his dreams,

and I read in my children

his ongoing love letters.

  • Suzanne Dudley

“Atlantics”

I miss the ocean the cold thing itself

that stretches careless & brimful its

fingers out at dawn.

Oh my ocean which breaks its teeth

upon the shore ! Please

roll the sand in me to sea-glass

make the gulls pick clean my shell. Mornings,

tides tear themselves dripping from the dark

bury in-sand

the salt-washed dead of the night.

I pick up grave-robbed shell upon shell

and make stacks in my pockets. I love the ocean,

the empty-eyed bones of the waves

and they make my fingers numb with blood there where they

nick the skin of the sea.

I want the ocean

like I wanted myself, or the bitten-off tops of waves

or something I have seen sink away

some times and again.

  • Mary McColley

“A.M.”

In that black kitchen in that lonely morning,

bananas stank softly

and I was very tired.

I am sorry I have carried the living

on like this down lots of nights, sidewalks

up down stairs, leaning on so many métro doors.

I haven’t the right and

I kick myself like a pebble down the weeks,

wake too gasping, break at the stem,

settle in the corners of bowls.

There were not enough words to start the day.

  • Mary McColley

“Sometimes”

Sometimes, as I walk to get to the building for class

And the cold of winter sneaks below my winter coat

Or sometimes,

As I drive towards the hospital

Existing both inside and outside of my mind,

I think about how perfectly my head fits into the curve of your neck

Or how I never held hands before I met you

Because it felt inconsistent

The layers of fingers overlapping at odd spaces

How I fit so perfectly in your silhouette

When you hug me

And sometimes I wake up at home

And the sun slides through my curtains and wakes me up too early

I feel some warmth that spreads from the center of my chest

Down to my toes

And I know this has nothing to do with the

Impending Spring

Or Wasted Winter

But with the knowledge that

When I return to you this evening, we will belong to each other

Just as we have

Since we met.

  • Molly Wrobel

“Belonging”

Child, I have been there,

beyond the miracle of

honeysuckle blossom

on a fall day,

out where your great grandmother

anchored forsythia to earth, where

clipped lawn gives way to coarse field,

where the grasses run wild, where

birds flit beyond calculation, and

one stalwart maple surveys the centuries.

Spheres dissolved; every there

was every here:

forsythia, maple, honeyed earth—

calligraphic merge of soul and matter,

cantillation of always.

The ancients allowed this glimpse

and I dissolved into it.

I was nothing and all.

Carry this simple truth:

trees, grass, flowers, water, sky

breathe you,

the breath subtle, unmeasured, unending.

It can bring calm to your walk in the world;

it is all you will need

to go laughing into the dark.

  • Sylvia Beaupre

“Nexus”

Somewhere in this Great Belongingness is the Vitruvian Man of

da Vinci’s genius or worlds of Descartes or Euclid or Aristotle

or Vonnegut or Marie Curie’s first revelation of half-life

or the Etch-A-Sketch I had in 1967 or maybe the way

a Golden Orb Spider builds her dew-bright web

in August when the instars of Lubber Grasshoppers

emerge from the soil or the lattice of the Eifel Tower

or the fundamental arrangement of the elusive subatomic

or maybe the pattern of a CT scan or carbon nanotubes

anticipated by the first woven flax fiber or the way the internet

finds the route from me to you Across the Universe or the way

all are connected and divided by our apperceptions while still

striving for the unity we intuit is absolute and Somewhere.

  • John Lindberg

“The diversity of stars”

The stars fade and burn with each turning

A rainbow of colors

Differences are beautiful

But it can feel like they determine who we are

But beneath the light we cast

we find the same fire within us all

And so we see

In the luminosity of stars

The diversity of souls

This one dark

This one bright

This one fading

This one reflected in the light of another

  • Alda Dufilho, 10 years old

“Finding Your Place”

It does stop—

the voice,

the internal chatter

that makes you harness yourself like a horse to a plow,

drives you to work for hours to finish a job,

shouts in your ear, This time get it right!

The judge that shames you for making a wrong choice,

for not having enough money to buy that blue chevy,

for not being able to hold that yoga pose longer.

The doubt that keeps you tossing bedcovers till dawn,

rends you unable to tell him you don’t love him,

offers a mirror of you that isn’t you.

I tell you, kid, when you finally hold yourself

in your own arms, no matter your age,

when you swaddle yourself in a loving embrace,

rock to music in the cradle of your own bones,

when you finally recognize the miracle

you have always been,

it stops.

  • Barabara Bald 

“Togetherness and Saying ‘We’”

What happens when "WE" turns into "I"?

It was "WE" that accomplished tasks of daily living

Then suddenly it became the obligation of "I".

Is it forgetfulness,

Is it force of habit,

Is it hope verses reality,

When "WE" automatically falls into conversations with others?

Am I crazy to ask the other half of "WE"-

"How in hell did you do that?"

"Where could she/he put that confounded tool?"

Heading down the woods path

You stop,turn around, nonchalantly say "Come on, I'm all ready".

The answer is spelled out in silence-

No one is there.

Your inner voice reply's "Oh, I forgot".

Substituting "We" for "I" goes on and on

Solemnly interrupted

With serious bouts of separation and sadness

Glorious moments of spiritual togetherness

And glad relaxation found in excepting life's uneven coils.

Life flows on with a hint of sadness (that's only natural and expected)

But with unshakable joy-

"WE" binds our hearts together

Forever.

  • Tom Keegan

“Come Home”

Come home to the way the sunlight

softly enters the morning, where

birds light voices lift the hair of trees.

Come home to your feet walking

on rotten leaves, your mouth

breathing damp smelling earth.

Come home to the gentleness

of two-hundred-year old maple trees

changing from green to gold to red.

Come home to the killing frost

driving you inside to face your

troubles alone, the wood stove

Creaking and stretching, it's warm

glow filling the room.

  • Jean Varda

“Said the Culvert to the Bridge”

Good morning, Brother

Said the Culvert to the Bridge

You are no kin to me

Came the icy snide

You are but a narrow tube

And I am at least ten feet wide

But do we not ferry the same traffic

Asked the Culvert, span the same waters?

Perhaps, sniffed the Bridge, but for town funding

It’s the family name that matters.

There is a bridge in Brooklyn,

And one over the River Kwai

Somehow the “Golden Gate Culvert”

Just sounds so much … less.

It’s still a good morning,

Said the Culvert to the Bridge.

We carry the same travelers

And usher the same streams

But we bear such burdens differently

And dream very different dreams.

  • John Wengler

“No Words”

How can one NOT write poetry

When beholding a morning sky?

And surely heat in the house is a poem.

Isn't solving a math problem

Or finding common ground a poem?

Or a single smile?

It doesn't take a poet

Or a poet's point of view

But it only takes a little while

to walk a mile in someone's beat up worn out shoes

To know that suffering

And wordless wonder

Mute grief, hushed song,

and secret joy

All belong to poems too.

  • Amy Brenner Mitz

“Colloquy”

The sea shifts

and the wind and the sand,

such polyrhythms — this earthly agitation —

among the billion stars and stray planets

stretching out multitudes of light years, plowing

into the on-and-on emptiness, searchlighting.

How such a restless mess could pause

long enough to hammer out the blueprint of a cell,

then multiply it, add flagella, flippers, fins,

gills, lungs, the whole gamut of sensoria, is beyond me.

But I admire the unfailing desire to crawl out.

Above the sea, blustered about,

gannets circle and rise and arc across the sky,

fold in their wings and plummet —

bright white darts piercing the slate-green

roiling waves. Such a gorgeous,

splattering response, this

syncopated wing-dip and rise

of body and heart,

this

inhale and exhale

of pure hungering after.

  • Michael Brosnan

“Untitled”

As the child burns the village down

We embrace our own agendas

And our point fingers in the brightest directions

Smudging the big picture

Maybe a child can’t find warmth

In a Colosseum of Tenements

  • Alexis Couture

“Ode to Crocus”

She arrived one Tuesday in February

pushing through a fresh layer of newly fallen snow

a single fleck of purple caressed

by the warm-fingered rays of sunlight, stretching across the early morning sky.

She stood alone:

one small flower

challenging her snow-globe world

as the wind continued swirling, spinning, circling

I found it impossible

to not take notice

of the brave little blossom

waving hello to the snowflakes shimming past

I thought of stopping; I swear I did

but I was running late that day

my fingers clasped tight to car keys and shovel

So with sinking boots, I trudged on

leaving her to die

Yes, I must confess my crime

- but what more can be said of the tiny purple crocus?

The world was not ready

for her message of spring.

  • Kristin Leonard

“Intimacy Lost”

“I’ll meet you at the ATM by the Food Court in 20 minutes.”

I am early. He never expects that (for good reason).

He has his back to me with his feet slightly apart –

entirely focused on the transaction.

I move in very quietly and slip my right foot between the two of his.

Startled, he whips his head around.

We both laugh / then a quick – we’re in public - kind of kiss /

and off to order food.

He’s talking earnestly with a friend of ours,

sitting on the couch with his back to me.

I walk up from behind without speaking, and place my hands on his shoulders,

Move them around in a light massage.

He’s still talking, but he reaches up with his right hand and touches mine.

We’re singing hymns in church. (Well I sing – sort of, but he never does.)

Raised a Catholic, he is still pretty formal in this environment.

Not a jeans and sweatshirt kind of guy, but perfectly fine that others are.

When the music has a nice beat, I delight in subtly hip checking him.

He raises an eyebrow and allows a hint of a smile.

That’s our daughter or our son everyone is complementing.

We look over the nearby heads and share a discreet look of pride.

Big Box Stores can be a lot of fun. First, I check the aisle (front and back.)

He’s the only one here, and he’s behind me.

Focused on our list.

So, I start to saunter in a pronounced sort of way.

I love the happy laugh that breaks up the monotony of a too long shopping trip.

We’re out in the car, a long stretch of road to enjoy.

He loves driving – especially in NH.

He casually moves his hand to rest on the shift lever.

Usually I notice and happily cover it with mine.

But if I don’t, after a minute or two, he says,

“HEY !!” in mock frustration.

We are “mingling”. Not too big a crowd. 50 or 75 maybe.

Where is he?

Oh, with that angry looking man over there.

He catches my eye, when the fellow looks away, and rolls his eyes.

I’ll remember to ask him about it on the ride home.

I’m doing dishes. He’s putting up shelves. But he’s got his oldies music on.

A favorite song – “Brown Eyed Girl”.

He comes into the kitchen with his best dance moves…

And holds up his right-hand beckoning with his left.

I drop the dish cloth, dry my hands and move into his embrace.

My hands meet his at exactly the same spot they always have.

Our joy fills the kitchen for 2 or 3 songs,

but Dancing With the Stars is safe from us.

My hands still know exactly where they go

should my imagination take me by surprise.

A pit stop at Sully’s Grocery.

He runs in, I read a book in the car.

Here he comes, his head comes up,

he smiles at me – only me;

And – even after 42 years - sunlight floods my world.

I’m writing, but the word’s not quite right.

I scowl at my computer as he walks thru the room.

He stops, leans over me with his left hand on the desk

and his right hand on my shoulder.

“Want some help?” “Sure.”

I’m doing the dishes. He brings over a dirty cup for inclusion.

And he puts both arms around me and hugs me just above the waist.

And then he’s gone.

I miss his gait, and the sound of his keys.

  • Sharon Czarnecki

“Funneled”

It beams through stars from my house to yours,

this silent language, eternal asking

after you, how you are, how much you’ve

grown, a silent language like the tug

of an umbilical cord as it pulls

the placenta along with it out into the air

and the heartbeat, that noisy whoosh

now you can only hear when you

are held right against your mother’s chest.

Or mine, your grandmother’s.

For nine months your mother shared

my heartbeat. For nine months

you shared hers. Now your heartbeat

beats its own rhythms. Do you hear

my prayers, my granddaughter,

my constant wish that you be well?

So tall you must be now, whippet smart.

Will you remember my songs, how

I sang to you when you lived

outside here in the air

we must all breath when we learn

to walk on our own.

  • Laura Rodley

“The Evening Call”

Becca had just called to say Hi, and I, with basket in hand at the local market, paused to sign off while slowly approaching the waiting cashier.

“Fine. Doing just fine...” I replied to the nice young trainee at the register.

And then, turning slightly:

“They used to call my wife everyday; now they call me.”

Such simple words spoken to Carla, a regular acquaintance, longtime grocery bagger, trainer and Closer at the Shaw’s Supermarket.

Just words, but also a statement, a declaration of what has been lost:

The defining relationship of my life— precious, irreplaceable.

My Ruthie Love.

And Carla, a grandma herself with four sons, nods with affirmation for she knows I have daughters and then says, “At least you get the calls...”

Yes, I do. And I am grateful.

  • James Stratton

“On A Good Day”

Before dawn when I hear the owl

somewhere in the dark line of trees

across the field,

I wish to hold a lamp in the window

as a sign of life and welcome

rootedness and safety

where we each take our place

waking and working

stirred from the ashes of night

revealing the light and the laughter

of what we call a home

with rhythm and routine

for neighbors and strangers

all this on a good day.

  • Jon Escher

“As The Raspberries Ripen”

We circle the patch first like bears

plundering for their sugar happiness

yellow heat replenishes

white minerals in our bones

red berries placed in your mouth

then the world becomes free of addiction,

of angry men standing wide

in doorways. Now my garden

is where lilac bushes, blue delphinium

wall us in with air and light unfolding.

  • Christina Felix

“Watch Out”

Rough draft in my pocket

writers grouped around a

teapot. Watch out, warned

my inner voice.

Eager family dog

threading through

a forest of legs and feet

Watch out, they said.

Teapot empty, words

expired, we adjourn.

Watch out for the

high step, the rocky path.

Backing out into traffic

Watch out, I remembered

So much watching to do

before I reach a safe place.

  • Jeanne Bartlett

“Untitled”

Have you endured

the biting words

stigmas piercing your soul?

Have you tasted

the acrid tears

hoping not to unroll?

Have you battled

to belong

a desire to be whole?

Have you realized

You can rise

against the toxic trolls?

  • Deb Correia

“Belonging”

I belong here

Next to you and next to her

My ashes will lay snugged in the center

Just as I did when I was 7

I laid In the middle to feel your protection

Just like I did when I was 13

Between the two of you to feel your concern for me

I crept at the edge of your bed at 21 and slept at your feet to feel your understanding for my mistakes

At 27, I reluctantly sat in the corner waiting for you to ask me to stay and you did until my tears dried and you told me it was time to go

I belong next to you as I was when you took your last breath. At 30, I layed by your side taking note of your body, the curve of your nose, the resemblance we share and I felt gratitude.

I belong next to her as I was when she was dying. In my 50's, I longed to lay with her but that could not be since Covid was the cause. Only a brief visit to tell her all she meant to me and in her final minutes, watching her through the monitor, I felt her peace.

I know where I belong.

  • Patricia Restrepo 

“Untitled”

I belong here in this moment, nestled in your arms as the morning light begins its journey.

I belong here in this moment, with you, contemplating the blue of the ocean as the afternoon sun languidly disappears

I belong here in this moment, walking hand in hand under the light of the moon as the soft breeze whispers in the night

  • Laura V. Restrepo 

“Kathy’s House”

My best friend has been

6 decades on the planet now,

Roaming its crust from explosive heights to dud prairie,

still beautiful and enduring

as her antique stove is

beautiful and enduring

on the Chessboard kitchen floor.

Colored glass vessels

of diverse forms

Line the windows of a house

That was already old when she was born,

Some are costly goblets,

Some are beer bottles, all

Alike made magical

By their carefully arranged proximity,

The light coming through enhanced,

As I am enhanced by her

Colors, as

Her garden enhanced a scrub lot

Into an oasis of mystery, her lace

Curtains creating

an oasis of gentility

in the plain city.

She forms High art from

the disused and abandoned and

Kin from the rejected.

We are all her glass bottles,

And she is our hazy sunlight,

Refracted into clear beauty

By her amiable gaze.

  • Cherie Konyha Greene 

“Slam”

So here's me.

Since Kindergarten

Never cool enough,

Always the byword,

My name the swearword,

My turned cheek the

whole grade's

Spitball bullseye,

The wallflower of the sock hop,

The humiliated composer

Covered in baby powder

All over my blue uniform

Skirt, all over

The keyboard on the stage full

Of those I thought were my people.

Then the weird chick in the dorm,

Talking to poppets,

Listening to that

Strange classical music

From before 1600.

Later the evicted, the rejected, the fired,

The dumped

By a husband of 20 years.

Now every room I walk into

I wonder

What are the requirements?

Do I posses any particle of them?

Every room full of humans has

Unwritten rules

Which I usually manage to break.

So here I sit with my antianxiety bourbon,

Trying to adjudicate the importance

Of the red dreds across the table,

The moth wings at the bar,

The princess gown at the entry door.

I seem to be overdressed in my

Day job clothes.

Or underdressed

I can't tell which.

I tried to artsy them up with

Scarf and bracelet.

I'm not convinced.

Maybe I need a hat.

Would my Petrarchan sonnet have sounded better with a hat?

A big one with feathers maybe?

I like that hat.

I like that they can wear it.

I can tell them that, maybe

Start a conversation,

Would that be okay?

If I had a princess gown, I'd wear it,

Here where they scream

"Welcome home!"

I've heard that before.

I will try to trust it

This time,

If that's okay.

  • Cherie Konyha Greene 

“April among the stone walls”

Last year’s meadow recently unveiled,

having been pressed into flowing twists and locks

by a smother of the season’s snow, now

is awakened of fallow, yet

sprawling and tawny, unadorned,

dried burdock as candlesticks upon the altar.

Rolling grass opens to tunnels underfoot–

for her smallest revelers, the field mice.

Above, the pine warbler, as a jewel.

Something about April

rings a loud bell in the human heart

asking to belong here, to her.

Our arms, light as fascia

from the belly of a doe,

opening toward, beseeching.

  • Kiersten Wulff 

“Belong”

Some people belong to Kansas

Some to New York

Some belong to mountains

Some to desert

Some writing songs under the stars

Some watching the sun rise and fall

Some wishing to go somewhere

Some regreting for ever left

At your own risk they say

You may never find a place like home

Anyway I hit the road

To the winding ways my heart belongs

  • Sally An 

“The World’s As It Is, So What’s My Problem?”

Fish swim wide rivers unaware they’re where

they can contemplate four conscious seconds

four seconds before reawakening

in one another trust to keep swimming.

They look me in the eye as they swim by.

“Don’t play hooky,” they seem to say to me.

“Come school with us on this meaningful day.”

Hoards of horses herd themselves in pastures

packed to the gills with rich, nutritious grass.

Harvest hillsides host herringboned hoof prints,

but I demure, preferring prejudice

against horses to responding to them.

Well-worn flyways facilitate bird flocks

who find themselves fascinating and sing,

they are the wind beneath each other’s wings

all the better not to trouble themselves

with the risks of individual flight.

“Fly with us! This weather is delightful!

Space abounds in our formation for you!

You already have what it takes to lead!”

Flowering plants fling themselves at me –

nothing is crazy like a plant in bloom

bemoaning the lack of a praise poet.

Slim mold slithers over and underground.

Tree roots almost touch to communicate

turning my backyard into one big brain

shared by a multitude of tree species –

imploring me to become one of them.

So how is it I am hesitating

to enchain myself in life as they do –

alone yet highly interdependent

like all my wild brothers and sisters

who freely choose to accept who they are -

loving all sentient beings, sharing

every molecule of matter they need

with every other critter who needs it.

They plead with me to become one of them,

inviting me to join their ancient game

of staying faithful to keeping in touch.

Why do I find I ignore them so much

missing the chance to give and receive love?

I alone could answer if I listened

to what my heart is trying to tell me -

what I’m successfully resisting now.

Any moment I could change my approach

to how I wish to live my one, wild life.

It would take more courage than I feel now

to let go of my self-centered striving,

be more humble, give more than I receive.

All my relations say it is worthwhile

to become more aware of who we are,

and warn me I need to agree with them

if I intend to have much of a life

in the world as it actually is.

  • R. David Drucker 

“Morning!”

Sidewalk strangers

Exchange the greeting.

One word sufficient.

Shoulders passing

person to person

a verbal give and take.

Meeting eyes

slight nod of head

An affirmation.

A spirited energy

binds the salutation

With a clear message…..

All is well.

The action stands alone.

Isolated yet connecting them

in a solidifying instance.

Nothing else shared

No somber news.

No cheerful tidings.

Not noon or five.

Only for a brief period

When the sun begins to rise

A moment filled with hope

Promises a new day.

Beginnings anew.

While birds begin their song,

Can we say…..Morning!

  • Monica Boruch

“a tribute to those I have lost.”

Where there has been love -

love remains and endures.

Love embraces...

our deepest being --

incarnating

sustaining

inviting

Love weaves...

all our memories

all our experiences

into

new possibilities

new tapestries

new vistas

Love astonishes...

reclaiming

restoring

resurrecting

Where there has been love --

Love remains and endures.

  • Anne Roser 

“Lambs of God”

Come.

Come to the lambing pen in February.

Come sit in the muck and the manure and the damp body of your mother. Sit. Feel her soak through your bones. Feel your bones soak through her. Smell the dank rich metallic smells of blood and s*** and mold and tenderness.

Soporific sheep chew and chew and chew the dried grasses of summer grinding sunlight rain and thunder into shiny new souls. Let the sun patch work its magic on your heart and the sleepy milk-sodden drunken lamb lips and stretchy brand new twins’ toes tickle your sadness away.

Heaven is no further than your presence.

  • Carol Lake 

“He Comes Home”

He comes home from the garden with dirty sock lines

around his ankles, and fresh picked vegetables.

He comes home from the dump with other people’s

junk, and an old maple syrup bottle.

He comes home from the town forest with welted

bug bites on his face and neck, and a story to tell.

He comes home from Walker Pond with an air of

cool calmness, and a belly full or Richardson’s ice cream.

He comes home from summer wandering with fresh

scratches on his arms and legs, and a bucket of blackberries.

My husband comes home to me, with our beautiful and

imperfect love, and my heart is full.

  • Judith Abbe 

“I Don’t Like Baseball, Just the Red Sox”

The long-suffering. Scrap and scruff. My dad and me in our Clemens shirts. Day games on KTJ, our neighbors on their front porch, popping cans as the hitters came home. Fenway, that centenarian: scores hung by hand, Citgo steeple, mouthy vendors’ grease-glossed sausages. All those full-price seats, no apology, bolted down behind pylons. Everyone singing Sweet Caroline, so good, so good, so good. Red Sox Nation, as if New England rose up: the Massholes and the mill towns and the Burlington hip indivisible. Though not my dad, who tired of the losing. Who bought a shirt from when Clemens was a Yankee. The Sox won four Series since he got it. I’m still for Boston, but I liked them better when they were bad. Every spring could be our season. Every fall, a coming spring.

  • Abbie Kiefer 

“Swamp Beach”

I came to you

as child of the machine

that assigns all value

But to you none

Drawn by your color

first at close of day

-the songs of birds, the peace,

trivial sorrows forgotten.

Reminding me of Dillard

Woman knows wonder in all

You were the simple presence

that pulled me- pulls me now;

With gratitude for grace

For the promise of more yet

As I gaze through the grass

Past your wet mossy shore

I will rise at the dawn

To greet without fail

the blessed occasion -

A time at Swamp Beach.

  • Jim Whitlock 

“February 2021”

Post-election and

Georgia runoff

Post-storming of the Capitol

and 2nd impeachment trial

What now - dead of winter, polar vortex,

snow squalls, pandemic

No longer buoyed up by constant outrage

What replaces the daily

shock of tweets and lies? An unmoored,

sinking feeling, a drift

toward the couch, binge watching legal

dramas, UK house hunts

Red and silver Christmas ornaments, the size

of softballs still dangle

in a neighbor’s trees. In front of the picket fence

a faded Halloween dummy

holds a Biden-Harris 2020 sign. A placard stuck

in the dirty snow reads –

                   We are all in this together

  • Constance Hooker Koons

“Maple”

Late March, still a deep snowpack,

weeks before my first vaccine shot.

I needed contact, connection - beast

or fowl - pillows no longer satisfied.

I wanted to clasp my arms around

something solid, an anchor. I’d read

about how trees communicate, form

interdependent relationships.

I walked around the neighborhood

until I spotted a straight-trunked

maple behind an empty building.

Sheepish, I glanced over my shoulder,

approached. Snow crunched under

my boots. I took off my gloves, ran

my hands over the rough bark, moved

in closer, gave way to need.

  • Constance Hooker Koons

“SPRING RITUAL AT LANE VALLEY FARM”

When the sap finished its last dark run

and the frost heaves started to settle

just before black flies,

Oscar French stops by.

My father has just finished his poached eggs.

Oscar was in our doorway blade shears in hand.

I knew then it was time for our sheep

to lose their winter coats.

Once a year he spreads out his denim tarp

and straddles the first ewe with her head between his knees.

He gracefully flips her on her back to shear her underbelly

then frees her to run off into the field

as my father patiently leads the last bleating Dorset to be shorn.

When it’s time for a break he stretches on his back

to rest his sturdy shoulders and neck.

The clouds all look like sheep in the sky.

Oscar scoops the fleece from his tarp and stuffs it in his burlap bags.

My favorite part of this ritual is when he breaks for lunch.

He pulls out a meatloaf sandwich wrapped in wax paper

has a sip of coffee from his thermos and checks his pocket watch.

When lunch is over he pulls out his false teeth,

giving me a toothless grin,

"No nicks and not a speck of blood."

  • Jody Wells

“Snow Day on Mack Avenue”

First light reveals ten inches of snow - but at our driveway’s end there’s three feet of wet, heavy plow dump. Snow still flies fast, but I go out. It will be four feet or more if I delay. I’m not first to weather the storm on our one-block, dead-end, Mack Avenue. Chris, three houses up street, other side, inches a not-up-to-the-task snowblower into her snow dam, pulls back to avoid a stall, again and again. She pauses to give me a wave that says, ‘welcome to the club’. My shovel cuts small, heavy bites and pushes them where the city plow won’t return them to us later. Lisa, third house up on our side of the street, jogs by on her daily route, smiles, shakes her head – ‘here we go again’. On her return trip she nods to Chris, then stops at her own driveway. Jim comes out to join her and sends me an exaggerated shrug. Their son joins, a shoveling trio. Our new neighbor Jason, one house up, other side, comes out. He shouts me a ‘hello’. (Four days ago, a cold one, Jason, partner Jamie and I helped Jessica, next-door neighbor, pour diesel into an empty oil tank, bleed the fuel line, and restart her furnace, as Jamie played a how-to YouTube on her phone.) I catch myself beginning to enjoy today’s snow ballet, the neighborhood in concert renewing my energy. Jonathon, across the street, is out next and, as always, gives me the next two days’ forecasts - never good ones. Two houses down street, our side, Don’s snowblower revs up, followed by Richard’s four houses down, other side, lilting a bagpipe detuned drone duet. I’m drained by the time our drive’s end is cleared, so I leave the block party and the foot of snow in the rest of our driveway, to go inside for a coffee break. An hour later I head out again to finish, only to see that our drive is completely snow-blown clear. I know it was Mark, who has joined his son Jonathan across the street, now finishing their own driveway. When he throttles down I hail him ‘thank you’. ‘No problem!’ he shouts, ‘Happy to help. I’m just sorry I didn’t come out before you cleared that mess at the end of your driveway.’ I go back inside, feeling at home.

  • Phil Bush

“girl on the tracks”

her frail body shakes

to the thunder

of a passing train

must she awaken

it felt so peaceful there

morning light

sits upon her eyelids

she feels the earth

cold beneath her hips

little red ants scamper

across the back of her hand

she must be lying on a transit path

songbirds greet the morning

beckon her to open her eyes

her mouth is dry

her stomach flips and groans

she tightens her lids

one last time

then opens her eyes

to here

  • Beth Wheland

“Be Longing”

Measuring worth

in dollars,

houses,

belongings.

Ephemeral feelings

in followers,

likes,

false belonging.

Fading through time,

grasping at air,

having it all

is too much to bear.

Meaningless worth,

a permanent feeling

that leaves the soul

to be

Longing

  • Autumn Siders

“Untitled”

I wish for us a house

Built like the chambers of the heart

the gasp and sluice of doors

always opening

to let one another in.

I wrote this poem for my grandmother as she reached her mid 90s. She still lived on her own in a managed apartment complex and I had floated the idea by her to get a house where she could live in one part of it while we would live in the other. Ultimately she decided it wasn't a great idea because she said she would feel lonlier watching us come and go every day. Wanting to go with us and not being able to.

The poem has no form or meter. My writing isn't that accomplished. The poem itself means a lot to me because of who I wrote it for and the fact that the fear of being left behind, somehow not belonging even when family is closer, persists with age.

  • Lara Skinner
Week Two: Growth

“The Fantastic Truth”

Once, on the trampoline

in the sun, petaled open

like a starfish, I slept for

a thousand years, only to wake

freeze-dried to the same

scene: the yellow-green yard, the aging

house on the hill, mint growing

fat leaves in the garden.

It was an experiment in time

suspension; I was stasisbound,

studied from behind

one-way windows at the margins

of my childhood. “Look,”

instructed the guide, leading

students through corridors. “Watch

the ancient submit to the mercy

of hurtling space radiation

coming straight for its belly.” I was

the ancient. The sun ordered

my submission. All other calls

were muted by comparison. I did not

stand, even after one thousand

years. I did not bag the groceries. I did

not drive the minivan. I never learned

calculus or Latin or to do my taxes.

Why grow up when you can speak to the sun?

When its words are more true than those you have heard

from any god? The sun knows about the surface

of the brown water, and the roof of the rollerrink.

It plays in the church bells, and it is kind

to small bodies asking questions. It tells

them stories. It tucks them in. It sings

them to sleep.

  • Madi Marshall 

“For Jeremiah”

(On his 17th birthday)

As a man I falter when I think of all

The flaws and failures I perceive in me,

The wrongs I feel I’ve done, the rise and fall

Of fortune, and the struggle to be free.

As a seeker I discover there’s a force,

A higher power, that can be revealed

In Nature and experience, whose source

Is deep within the quiet soul concealed.

Then quietly without a clear laid plan

Who stands before me now himself a man,

And as a father have I come to grow,

And love, my son, is all there is to know.

  • John F. Pietroniro 

“Aspen”

It happens

now and then.

I’ll be workin

in the garden,

numb with the calm

the vegetables bring,

entranced by the still

of morning—and

I’ll here the sound

of water falling down

upon rocks below.

My ears lead my eyes

to the Aspen’s glow—

shimmering, quaking

in the first diurnal

thermal to rise

the mountain side.

A chipmunk climbs

the fence post to find

the first warm rays

as my gaze finds

thousands of leaves

dancing in the morning sun

like muffled applause

for the day has begun

and once again

the Aspen

has fooled me.

Once again

no water flows,

it’s a stream

of air which runs

as my smile grows

and I return to the rows

my hands black

with earth.

  • Dan Droughton

“Sunflowers”

The sunflower faces are bright as the

light of day they trace across their world; blues

and yellows to greens — like the longest sea

waves that break with July’s most vibrant hues.

By September they stand so tall that I

cannot touch their proud, round cheeks at all; still

I admire the slow way they sweep the sky.

But their pride roots them here, haughty until

December takes the sun so low the night

is bitter, cold and long; longer than some

summer days. Now their faces dark with fright

hang down anticipating what must come.

With arm and scythe I fell each one to earth

and leave all contemplating a rebirth.

  • John Lindberg

“Mapping”

Stand on tiptoes

Stretch to see

where you exist

You can't breath

in the past.

You can't breath

in the future.

You can only breath

your present.

Imagine a line

from your Crown

( because you are worthy

of one )

to your feet

extend it through the ground

to the center of the Earth

touch the Sun,

the Moon,

the Planets.

Stay present

Stay ahead

of your mind debris

Focus beyond

to YOU

Begin at zero

Rehang your Prime Meridian.

  • Ruth E. Harlow

“Wonder” 

There is lots to see in this world

You used to marvel over the smallest things

Rocks, water, mud, mulch, and sand

Where did that sense of wonder go?

Did it disappear?

Or is it hiding

Waiting for you to dig it up

Buried under work, words, your phone

Wishing you would remember

But you never do.

It will wait

For all eternity it will wait

But you never come

You are stressed

Worried about surviving

Your taxes are overdue

You never see anymore

Your eyes run over everything

Yet taking nothing in

Everyday is just like the last

Nothing new

That's what you think

If you uncovered your wonder again

You could be happy, fulfilled

- Claire Schuerman, 7th grader

"It's alright to cry"

Though my heart is always open

I won't be able to do forever

what I can do now

So it's alright to cry

I've never depended

on making a living

I've just depended

on the things I was making

But it's alright to cry

First you're young

then you're old

First you're hungry

then you eat

You can't fight that tide

But at least you tried

And yes, its alright to cry

  • Jim O’Donnell

“Untitled”

Everything flows upward

the sap in the tree

water wicked from the ground into cloud

blood to the brain

your eye from the floor to the painting

to the ceiling and out the window to the sky

the sky to the edge of sky

and there to the last beacon of blue

and outward into blackness, spinning still

where north becomes south and south

north yet again

past the whirling satellite

past all further beginnings

to the noon of god

-Joey Clark

“Sea City Museum: first return after emigration” 

She thinks our son’s first word

is “Mom”:

I think it’s “Mum,”

the long vowel not nasal but prim.

We dispute it

like it’s Kashmir.

When we left our borders

we made a new thing: my DNA

pioneering in her strange country.

But to him I can’t call her “Mommy.”

Words are coastlines, edges,

for they all

cut something off,

and a nation is a language

with an army.

Petrol for gas, garden for yard,

pennies for cents: mine’s red-coated

and doomed.

So there are no words on the newsreel

where the peasant from Russia waves

the Stars and Stripes like mad

and with the other hand lifts high his baby —

they made it, she is going to be

a country, a language: he can’t speak.

-Brian Evans-Jones

“To Be My Soft Landing”

I set out early this morning in the Jeep, windows

down, air in my face, but fleeced to the chin and

buttoned, the wind across my forehead seemed

almost warm. It was a good ride, spring everywhere

flaunting itself, sun up, day young, and I young, too,

I believed. At Freeze’s Pond a pair of bald eagles nesting

there crossed over the dam to the road and led me

solo all the way to Mr. Mike’s Store, where they veered

right and disappeared to the lands where eagles disappear to.

I would have gone too if they had allowed it, high above

the trees, water dripping along on their draft, and gleaning

all parts of their knowledge. Like how to live on the wing

and not take too much. Like how to sit alone with contentment.

Or how to be young and then older, and then older still and

allowing that sequence to comfort me, to be my soft landing.

-Wilmer Frey

“Wake”

The scuttle and pop of greasy

black crickets scattering

ahead of me, air like soaking

in a hot bath,

I try not to get a blister

this time, the yard is a moon

-scape and I am piloting the rover

I must study every pockmark tuft

and hummock, the grass is

lush and thick under the maple tree

I have to mow it twice,

three times, I am anarchic

with my blades and I laugh

thinking of the bother

I cause, this tendency of mine to

stray from straight lines, to go

straight for what I have missed.

Motorcycles rev heads swivel as they

pass, a toad the size of my thumb tumbles

in front of my machine and I slow

A wooly bear gets caught in the blade

convulses electrically black-brown

I run back and forth over it again

it will not die at first

I step on it, mass enough to feel the

crush beneath the ball of my foot

I know I will always have blood on me

Even after trying to scour smooth what

I have missed and leave

the path behind me wakeless and clean

It makes me consider:

how the ends justify the means

Makes me consider:

how casually I murder

-Elizabeth Robertson

“Succession”

A flash of flax-blond hair

the girl in overalls, laughing

ferries apples from the sun-warm earth

beneath the arms of Seek-No-More,

the elder tree across the road.

Sloe-eyed cows approach

the scent of fruit, ripe, blush-red

held in hands that barely reach across

the boundaries of fence and wall.

She feels the roughness of their tongues,

as apples bounce to earth

beneath their feet.

The child has grown and gone.

Barbed wire coils in rusted tangles

brambles and a crumbling wall where

now dressed in apple-blossom lace,

two earthbound daughters of that autumn

give testament to memory’s gauzy dreams

of afternoon, apple tree and girl.

-Chris Hague

“Samaras in the Sun”

Spring! Spring!

The summer bells soon ring

Another sunny day and everything that it doth bring

Dancing! Down!

Twirling swirling toward the ground

The trees are birthing seeds, see them flutter all around

Fly! Fall!

It’s a race not won by all

The place where they land will determine how tall

Grow! Grow!

Fast before the snow

Make it last, seasons pass quicker than you know

-Kevin Hackett

“April”

April

I’ve known beauty. The gleaning of magnolia,

its pussy willow buds opening to saucers

of fragrant palms of blossoms,

clapping hands with the balm

of warm May air, how a week ago

the ice froze in an arch over the creek

and water flowed beneath it,

sure and freezing, unafraid.

How the daffodils wait to unfurl

their flags, forsythia straggles

its yellow tiny petals to decorate

the gray mornings. And what of

the hawk that chirruped and flew

above my dog Della's and my heads this morning,

circling, looking for a place to land.

Aren’t we all?

-Laura Rodley

“April”

She and I were kite and flyer,

a tension between us,

a line,

and

space.

She, drifting higher and higher,

assailed by unseen gusts,

begged for more line, or

caught by sudden down-drafts,

plunged towards disaster,

and

needed me.

I tried what I might,

standing alone in the field,

running to save her,

letting her go, or pulling her in,

to catch her—to get her head up again

into the wind--

never loving her so much

as when she soared

away from me.

-William Briggeman

“Crawl”

First you have to figure out

That your arms and legs are yours, which takes

Some time.

At first they seem like

Alien appendages, thrashing

Outside of your will.

Then, you find that your hands

can cause Things to Move,

Even to make sounds.

A wave of Your Arm causes

A Bell to ring or,

If the hand is fisted on a Thing,

It might rattle.

After a while, there’s rolling

Over onto your belly, and

picking up your

Head to look about you.

That's when you notice

That there are

Things

out of reach

That you want.

So you strain, reach toward them,

Belly still stuck to carpet, stretching,

Pulling, yearning

To scoot a few inches.

Maybe you flail with your feet

As well as your hands,

Seeking

The wonder of Forward

Momentum, the great

Human privilege of Striving

And Achieving and simply

Going Places.

To the West, or

To the Moon, or

To the Mirror Ball.

It is your longing to be

Somewhere that you are not which

At last

gets your Knees under you,

And you

Go!

-Cherie Konyha Greene

“Content”

Send you a poem?

I doubt it.

I haven't written a poem since high school

and I wasn't great at it then.

Just okay.

I liked it.

But I never really got past okay

and it was decades ago.

Anyway, it's just not one of the things I do.

I mean, we all have things we do.

that we're good enough at to keep doing and have as part of our lives

and I have mine.

And I'm content with them.

There aren't many, but

enough to be content.

I mean, they are what they are at this point.

At a certain point, you can't just

add more things that are your things that you do.

That are part of your life.

At a certain point they're just locked in.

You only get so many.

You get what you did when you were young enough to do it badly and have an excuse.

Period

You can't just add to the list because you want to.

It doesn't work like that. People judge.

People get hurt.

Usually you.

And anyway, what would be the point?

Start writing poetry?

Why not start painting or playing basketball?

At this age? With this gut?

Sure, and when I'm done with those I can start playing piano and learning languages and dating.

Bull.

I'm content.

I mean, no one gets everything--things are complicated.

You can't just pick them up 20 years after everyone else and expect...

Just be content.

Everyone gets what they get.

They get what they got good at when they were young enough to put themselves out there and we all get different stuff and that's okay.

No one gets everything.

And there are so many things I do have.

No reason to get greedy.

I mean,

sometimes

people are perfectly content,

or should be,

and then they think of something that would make them happy

and they try for it

and they screw it up.

We've all seen that.

And then where are they?

Or

they're at least mostly content,

but they spend all their time pissed off about the one thing they don't have

and then they're not happy or content—they're just sad.

Just be content.

You play the game and you're opening yourself up to lose.

Period.

and, yeah, to win, I guess,

but, seriously, not bloody likely

It's expectancy theory

or whatever.

If you're pretty sure it won't work, don't try it.

Just be content.

Send you a poem?

Yeah, I'm pretty damn sure that won't be happening

-Jordan Tankard

“Ripening”

Nothing but time – when it is time –

can make the blueberries ripe, their skins

plush as lips, deeply filled with the colors

of bruise and breath and bliss.

Nothing can rush this, this slow swell

of growth, this lush and lavish splash

of fruit, this bloom and blush and burst.

You can’t feed it anything to speed its time –

nothing generosity or economy, hope or desire can do.

What softens them is all that, too, can soften you:

the length of days spun by the wheel of sun and moon

the same way one continuous thread becomes a cloth.

Like the reviving trees in spring, or astonished flowers

emerging from unfrozen ground, these blueberries

feed on light. Light is their cue and key, the same thing

that feeds me what I know and do not yet know but will.

Because I eat blueberries in midsummer, I like age,

the news it brings of things I’ve known well all along.

I like the questions it poses, and the slow

but sudden way it replies. All the while

I have been too busy to wait, I have been waiting

for this, and this, and this: each successive,

deliberate day. Through the wild plenty of time,

nature’s pace is a walk, a mild ramble

over mountainsides and fields. Who remembers berries

in November? I want to forget nothing, miss nothing,

but then – the trees fall away in windblown, broken strokes

and let in newer light, and there is still more to behold.

Now, all summer, we have been patient and excited,

almost a year since we climbed our home’s hills with our fingers

combing the green for its deep-sea blue. Here, the blueberries

will ripen in the third week of July, no sooner – not even

if cities are built in a day, or swords are beaten

into plowshares. There’s no hurry, no hurrying them.

And when they come, after the solstice, after the fireworks,

after all, I will roll each one in my hands,

name them, and count them each like blessings.

Then with my tongue I will parse and split and swallow them

so they enter the bloodstream all red and blue because now

is the only time.

-Alice B Fogel

“Only girl”

August I would pick blueberries out front. They coined into the plastic cup as heated secrets. The crabapples bloomed in May, thousands of hands catching may be. I sat in their house under chimneys of sun. I loned all day, sometimes, with a book. It was good to be left. The color of it, blue and orange as the Citgo sign I told no one I loved. My room floor was thick and green to my knuckles. The full moon stage-whispered through my window, white as nothing, its trees agape. March, the month rides a fulcrum of cold. The sweater I bought in February smells fallow. You call me girl. If I go back and forth, you are here, but for now I’m plumb, blue and orange. In the mirror, stray hair quotes my face and I read for a moment, tracing the story around my mouth with only one finger.

-Kate Oden

“the catbird also speaks of spring”

dressed warmly against cold April wind

I’ve come to start my garden

but it’s begun without me—

I’m met by an exuberance of green

henbit and sheep sorrel

billow up under woven mulch

pop up through every rip

every crack between strips

even half-rotted logs

left all winter to hold things down

sprout funky green fringes

from under moist bark

and where last year’s deaths

were dumped on the compost

a band of onions has sprung up,

robust tops ready to eat

-Clyde Watson

“unbeliever, what is your north star?”

I calibrate the ticking of my pulse to the chime of the earth ringing

like a bell on winter nights. you believe in holy but I believe in haloed

moons that foretell a glaze of new snow. O, the unbearable beauty

of it all. the surprise of a hexagon is enough to bring me to my knees.

my own mother ebbs, confides that when she goes to sleep she wonders

if she will wake in the morning. I know I can’t keep her pressed between

the pages of this book like one of spring’s first violets. and I, now an eggless

woman, consider each sequential folding and unfolding of that moon,

set my breath to its sensible division of time and pray: ichi-go, ichi-e.

-Liane St. Laurent

“Change”

Change is never gentle.

Snakes work hard to rub that old skin

along the forest floor,

trying to get free of it.

And we non-reptiles

slither cautiously along,

fearing the unknown,

hugging our old skin tight.

How odd we must look

with our ill-fitting past

draped stubbornly over our shoulders.

If only we could shed that self

more gracefully:

release our grip on dreams outgrown

and travel unencumbered

toward the new.

-Joy Downs

“After My Brother’s Funeral”

It doesn’t matter that he did some things

that angered me.

All is Forgiven.

I will remember that he

drove my family every Sunday

to visit mom’s parents.

(we didn’t have a car,

but he did.)

Another brother looks frail,

diminished. I have to forgive him too.

“Just getting dressed is work” he says.

This proud, tough man

being open with me.

I can only love him now.

There is relief

in giving up the grudges,

making room for

tenderness instead.

My friend once said:

“We get softer with age.”

I didn’t know she meant

our hearts.

-Joy Downs

“Letter to Self”

At fifteen, you didn’t know why

you bought him, but you did.

Somehow how the small wooden carving,

cupped in your hand, spoke to you.

His stooped shoulders and back

rounded in shame whispered your name.

Did you recognize his story, feel his pain?

Did you think you could soothe him, save him?

Listen up—Forget the past; better yet, hide it

under a translucent scrim, so its lessons

shine through.

Forget the small statue you bought

at the World’s Fair, forget the lifeless man

pulled in on himself, his nakedness calling.

You don’t need him anymore. I’m telling you,

dark is what brings out your light. Let go

the praise or shame. Honor the mystery

of it all.

Say something, say anything. Stand upright

to your full height.Tell us what elements

burn inside you.

Go ahead, light your own lamp,

lift the lantern high; on second thought,

choose something like a star.

Blow out the sanctuary votive you lit

for forgiveness. Like a nightingale, trill now

about the magic you’re ready to offer the world.

-Barabara Bald

“Camp Numbers”

I’ve been in these woods seven days,

fed our fish twelve shrimp pellets,

filled two hummingbird feeders with red juice,

given our cat ten doses of pink medicine.

I’ve live-trapped twenty-eight field mice

with the Tin Cat trap you bought,

rescued our Brittany’s toy four times from the river,

seen one person, the gas man fixing the frig, in two days.

I’ve written thirteen poems,

five about your untimely death,

cleaned six cabinets to rid rodent remnants,

replaced one roll of toilet paper in the outhouse.

I am still waiting for one of you.

-Barbara Bald

“What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?”

Day after day, month after month I ask,

“Mirror on the wall, who’s tallest of all?”

like a certain famous philosopher,

contemplating it ‘til the cows came home

yet was five feet tall every time he checked,

I, too, no matter how often I look,

always come up short, though taller than him,

a monotonously predictable

five foot six minus my shoes and socks

and any head gear I might choose to wear

to protect me from raw winter weather.

Like the annoying MAD Magazine girl

I ask the same question dozens of ways

every day until days turn into years.

How is it my Dad has been six foot one

and I’ve weighed in at five six since childhood?

Even my mother has been five foot nine

since the time she started at the laundry

more than a decade before she bore me

at about the same age that I am today.

It’s beginning to look like I won’t grow

any taller than I have already.

Time to take the Buddhist Ox by the horns

and ask myself why it’s important

that I become taller than I am now,

become curious about my obsession

instead of always giving in to it

every time it pops up, cultivate it

until it doesn’t have a hold on me

but is merely a curiosity –

maybe then I’ll see I’ve already grown

in wisdom, the only way that matters!

-R. David Drucker

“Untitled”

Silence

Left empty

Gave unsaid permission

Safety

Blind Trust

Turned inside out

My soul revealed

The epitome of vulnerability

Words written

Rather than said

Brush strokes on canvas

Pigments

Swirl and blend

A dollop

On a pallet

Held in a writer's hand

Stand back for perspective

Further back to contemplate

Forward

Brush in hand

Stroke the canvas again

Synchrony

Harmony

A tango dance

Kindness is yellow

Respect every pigment

Dignity preserved

Honor is sky blue

Love is every color in the world

-Cristina Purdum

“Pioneer Woman” 

I’m convinced the crocus has a secret

She doesn’t want to share

Why bother being the first to bloom

When the unforgiving ground

Blankets her still in frost and snow?

Does she ache in every bend

In every turn of her roots

As the bleakness of winter

And deep sediment cover her

In the likeness of comfort?

Does she gasp for breath

As the air and winged things

Whisper of changes to come

Only to realize her emergence

Is met with icy resistance?

I’ll hold her secret

For this vibrant pioneer needn’t be reminded

That in waiting for soft ground

She’d remain un-bloomed

-Stephanie Wirzburger

“The tree remembers what the axe has forgotten”

The tree remembers what the axe self-deceives

It’s the wood that doesn’t ever lie

Washington forced to confess through his teeth

You don’t deserve tops, I’m keeping all the cherries

So throw blood until you meet your Carry, maybe it will be me

Women open doors it’s not a matter of locking

You obliterate bridges, always on the outside knocking

You’d chew your hand off to keep your finger from pointing

Back at yourself upon your ritual of moping

The tree gives, you only take

The tree lives, you only complain

You say a tree is just a tree

The tree has roots so deep you can’t conceive

By your own definition of value, the tree has worth

Your entire being is arbitrary

-Alexis Couture

“Untitled”

How does a feeling resolve?

You act like it’s a pill to be dissolved.

But my mouth is too dry, and that’s the problem.

Not that pill is too big and stupid to be swallowed.

Not that there’s an economic industry built on making the pill as large as possible, but small enough only a inconsequential amount of people choke to death during the attempt. The lawsuits already prepped and weighed against the profit.

No the problem is my palette, apparently…

-Alexis Couture

“Wisdom”

Standing on a blade of grass

and gazing at the moon

I thought I understood my life

but it was way too soon

The wisdom of the universe

was lost on me that night

The things I thought I understood

were really not in sight

And now those years so far removed

are dwelling in my past

And what I knew I understood

has dawned on my at last

-Beth Rayfield

“March”

is bright blue sky

crisp yellow moons

not the passive waiting of advent

or solstice darkness deep

but the skittish soft snowfall

on the lip of Winter

where Faith is realized.

Over the cliff you know

sap has risen

and a bud has had

her first thought of unfurling.

-Christina Felix 

“The Greening of Spring” 

When Winter’s White Season

melts into Mud Season’s

barren brown Intermission,

Nature patiently holds her breath throughout the dormancy,

as She prepares the stage for

"The Next Great Show"

and regales the landscape with:

"The Greening of Spring!"

Every imaginable shade of Green debuts

each growth’s uniqueness.

Plants now peek, poke and pop

covering the ground in Green.

Bushes burgeon, bloom, and burst

forth in a froth of Green.

Tall Trees turn out tender tendrils of Green

The brand-newness of New Green illuminates the landscape

while sister shades

of Dark Evergreens

lend contrast to New Greens

like the Older Dancers

providing backdrop and ballast

for the Baby Ballerinas who

Steal The Show!

Welcome, Spring!

Welcome all you Lovely Lively Greens!

-Alexis Wallace 

“A Lesson”

The snow drops are up

Masks are off

Have we all survived this long winter?

Not just ice and cold and wind and snow

Two winters of worry and sickness and job loss,uncertainty

The weight of it all holding us back

And even here there is growth.

I have found time to pay attention.

I have listened to the wind sing across the mountain

I have spent quiet hours in the deep winter woods

I have watched the blue birds setting up this year’s home

My neighbors have checked in on me

I see heroes now in teachers and nurses

The balance of what matters has changed

I have changed

The snow drops are back with their tiny white hats

and I am grateful to see them.

-Janet Metcalf 

“Life’s a Beach”

You know this stretch of nature demands ankle-down nudity to fully appreciate

the grind.

You expose yourself willingly, knowing you don’t need your chainmail socks here.

The dry piles shift continually as you set your weight. With effort

you move forward despite slipping

backward with every step.

This is the way. This

is what you came for.

You can’t help loving how jagged rocks tumbled for centuries to become

shattered, ground down to tiny pearls somehow more perfect as less.

No one remembers rough edges once they are gone.

The thankless, tedious work of tides.

Fluff the sand like a stone pillow to make room for the moon

and settle in to ponder the endless hellos ––

the flawless grit clinging to your sole.

-Stefanie King 

“Terrains”

Certain terrains of the psyche

are familiar to me—

landscapes I can name—

depression, anxiety, stress, languishing.

As I took my daily walk today,

what was that place inside me

that opened up, that felt illumined?

I think that was joy of purpose.

-Michael Orlando Mancarella 

“A Certain Age”

When I was young the old were all the same

Infallible, remote, with different names.

My best friend’s ancient mom was twenty-five

At 40 what’s the point of life alive --

Life past 18 a brute and fickle flame.

My music teacher with her dusty fame

Was fount and vessel of her own acclaim.

Her mom slacks made me sad for thirty five

When I was young.

All ash and dust return from whence they came

We cycle in the gorgeous mortal game

A mad intoxication we derive

Communing with the sloping graveward dive

Like moths I watched careening to a flame

When I was young.

-Marla Gordon Landers

 

“postrelevant”

it comes of a sudden --

the strange revelation

that (of all people)

you --

(only yesterday, wasn’t it)

18 --

are stunningly

increasingly

too old --

chronologically unfit

for reproduction

olympic domination

all the golden glories

of the promising

the young and up-and-coming

those collagenic jerks

who call you

ma’am.

a tree planted in your childhood

grows moss

-Marla Gordon Landers 

“Who Do What Has to be Done”

the pitcher cries for water to carry

And the person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy, “To Be of Use”

All these stone walls crisscrossing the woods

tell the hours of sweat, breaking earth into real

estate. Each weekend, my father’s shoulder blades shifted

gneiss slabs into earthforms, his banker’s back aching

with caretaking and a call to leave something elegant

in his place.

When my kids enter their twenties,

may they dive into work to salvage a future—

marching or arguing

against pipelines and redlines, fracking and trawling,

whatever threatens people, trees, bees, or seas,

seeding intertidal oyster reefs and mangrove swamps

to sieve the swelling, plasticene seas,

deeding ditches and hedgerows across suburbs

for moose and lynx, monarch and snake,

gleaning fields or boardrooms for food banks,

heaping peels and humanure, bioplastics and dogs***

into urban black vermiculture gold,

retrieving wood, stone and rare earths from abandoned coastal mansions,

water lapping at their calves,

to build shelter for climate refugees on inland hills,

or schools for girls in Sudan,

adopting one kiddo, if that—

reviving hankies so the boreal might respire,

designing pinwheel turbines or sleek solar film for the moonroofs

of electric cars, the headbands of bullet trains,

and the black wells of our phones,

[insert your vision here],

synthesizing a psychedelic exit for those of us willing

to leave before our senescence burdens the next gen

rising each day to do

what our great-grandparents knew to do

and much of what they didn’t,

tending this plot as it turns.

-Allison Cummings 

“Not so Much Out of Any Love”

Not so much out of any love I could name,

only a habit of completion

of meals on trays, pillows puffed,

flannel poultices drenched in castor oil,

bandages applied, reapplied.

Appointments made and cancelled.

Not so much out of any love I noticed,

but the tidy dream of order. Spoons in slots,

placemats replaced. Soiled blankets rinsed

and sunned, medications monitored.

Your wounds healing

in spite of any love I could name. Not so

many, if any, memories of laughter

from simply being, high notes

of affection, desire’s droning undertone.

Not so much out of any understanding I could name,

do I find myself suddenly not so much

available, as suddenly aware

of you needing what suddenly,

I know without naming to give.

-Rebecca Kaiser Gibson 

“Introverted Spirit”

Silent screams of self-criticism

naked and exposed

craving only to become

the melting ice cube

on the sidewalk of life

evaporating into nothingness.

Pain afflicting the mind

unheard voices

I foresee sharp and sinister hearts

contaminated judgments

pursuing to plunge me

into darkness.

I dream

to unleash the chains

of the introverted spirit,

the invisible enemy

striving to spread my wings

thirsting to fly,

glinting eyes

knowing I have arrived.

The once melted water

has seeped through the cracks

nourishing growth.

-Deb Correia

“Eternal Rime”

Where along this winding way

Did I fail and lose my moor’s

Only saving you for my sake

And not serving you for yours?

Why am I so desperate

To delay your dying breath—

When bleary-eyed you’re begging me

Oh, please just let me rest.

If I could train myself to listen

To your wish and not to mine—

If I could trust myself to faithfully

Pursue it line by line—

To help you find your closure

In whichever way you choose

And forge a lasting legacy

From this life you know you’ll lose.

For yourself and for your loved ones

As these precious moments pass

To be a comfort and a refuge

As you find your peace at last.

Or if torn this way by one

Who’s urging you to fight,

And that way by another

Who’s dying in your night,

Or tortured by your children

Estranged and out of sight

And reeling with regret

That you never set things right—

Then I’d help you steer your ship

Though the light-house flickers dim

Over cold and vicious waters

And through gales so grey and grim.

Surely never to abandon you

At this most sacred time

That you voice your verse so personal

Adding to eternal rime.

-William-Bernard Reid-Varley

“Taking Shape”

I am not yet used

to this shape,

to these curves that bend

to fill a seat,

to these fearful elbows, disconnecting

from my sides to claim

a place at the table.

I am not yet used

to taking up space.

I am not yet used to this voice,

only decibels louder than a whisper,

still hesitant but no longer begging,

for things it knows,

it has a right to say.

I’ve been plucking pieces off my heart

to fill the space in others’ chests,

thought I could claim my place that way,

leave my mark, but it only

left my heart lacking, and I learned

to love the feel of shrinking. I think

this was where the starving started.

I came to crave the toxic need of

stunted men and called it love ‘cause

being used for a

girl-toy/stand-in-mother/on-call therapist/sloppy backseat quickie

is still a step up from being useless.

I grounded myself in the use and abuse

and doubled my output of love

all to ensure

that you could never call me “ungrateful” again.

I am f**ing grateful.

I am grateful for the feel of gravel beneath my knees

‘cause at least it's softer than concrete,

I was grateful for the cheating and lying

‘cause at least I wasn’t being raped.

And when I told you, choking on my fear

that I was done being gaslit by that

living embodiment of narcissism you married,

I was so grateful for your half-assed apology

“Well, that hasn’t been my experience

but I’m sorry you feel that way,”

that I broke down crying in relief.

And I was grateful for the safety of knowing,

at least, you can’t threaten me through the phone.

When I flinch you dare to wonder

what kind of a daughter I am.

But what kind of a father are you when

a man I’ve never spoken to before

offers me a hug,

lifts me off the ground,

tells me he’s proud,

and in those thirty seconds makes me feel safer

and more loved than you’ve made me feel

in a lifetime?

At night, headlights come at me

like shooting stars, and I want to follow them,

use them to make the one wish

they are guaranteed to grant if I just…

step a little closer...

There is a softness calling to me

from the darkness behind those stars,

a softness I am surely destined for, someday.

Someday, but not today, it would seem

I’m not done yet.

I’ve been molding myself around

others’ needs for so long I forgot

what my own shape was.

I’ve been living life

as a clenched fist for so long

I forgot I had a whole five fingers,

forgot that I am allowed to take

up more space than a tennis ball,

forgot that I am designed for more than

to beat any feelings of want or need

down.

I forgot that I am equipped to reach,

to want, to hold, to feel, to cherish.

I am built to caress and be caressed, these hands

were made for greater things than

to carry the weight of a trauma you

haven't even begun to confess to yourself.

I may not understand my place in this universe,

I may not yet know who I am meant to become

before the stars take me back.

But I know for sure,

I will never shrink for you again.

Whatever I become in this world

I am going to be okay.

-Mica Rich

“Transformation”

Last night just as the puffy ships

of somber clouds sailed by,

the sun spread razor blades of fire

across the same gray sky.

How is it we can keep our eyes

on transforming scenes

which change so fast and yet so slow

in plain, yet hidden sight

and not see them coming even so?

-Amy Brenner Mitz 

“The Bulb”

I am a tight fist in the frozen earth.

Un-noteworthy. Not as firm as a stone

nor of enduring value like a gem.

I sense muffled footsteps,

feathery breezes, trill of song,

snapping twig, and whisper of rain

from another world

which I dream of entering,

and will enter dreaming.

Now I follow a code to remain

still, quiet, unnoticed.

As the cold soil grows buttery

and smells brown and green,

I will slowly burst, rise and morph.

Press up blind

and grasp down sure,

spidery tendril explorers,

curious in the thick dark dirt.

I stretch, moving to my limits,

to take what I need

and search for what I crave.

And then a bold blade of me

will play red carpet

for my fleeting celebrity.

As the audience, hungry for color

and celebration, awaits,

my face will emerge, innocent,

to reveal my

velvet firework

in modest dazzle.

-Suzanne Dudley 

“Untitled”

Everything flows upward

the sap in the tree

water wicked from the ground into cloud

blood to the brain

your eye from the floor to the painting

to the ceiling and out the window to the sky

the sky to the edge of sky

and there to the last beacon of blue

and outward into blackness, spinning still

where north becomes south and south

north yet again

past the whirling satellite

past all further beginnings

to the noon of god

-Joey Clark 

“The Reveal”

God was revealed to me not when I sought answers,

but when I hid from the truth in a quest for oblivion.

Staring into the void, anticipating annihilation,

the Divine held me in Its gaze and wouldn’t let go.

Invisible in three dimensions but luminous in four,

the Divine secret is evident to anyone with eyes to see.

This world is not opaque, but translucent;

self and Other are not separate, but inseparable.

My prayer today is bound to a promise made long ago,

a promise to remember who I am, a promise to come home.

My prayer is a cry to be heard across the borders of time,

to when the sacred crossed over to the profane.

-Peter Harris 

“It’s All a Blur”

Days were crystal clear.

I could see the edge of each one sharply.

The world unfolded and moved away from me in comforting concentric circles.

Uncluttered.

Tomorrow had not arrived.

Yesterday held only a few important facts to be brought into the present.

(Where exactly was that ant hill I was watching?)

(Where is that blueberry bush?)

(Did the ice cream truck come before or after my sister’s nap?)

Around the age of 10 or 11, a definite haze began to appear around the edge of the days.

It was all still pretty clear in the center where I was.

But sometimes the circles moving outward hit something and bounced part way back.

Other people expected things from me.

I had to do some things on time, homework, set the table, vacuum on Saturday….

Tomorrow started to take up parts of today.

Yesterday now required at least a little bit of acknowledgement.

(So, when is the draft for the story due?)

(When do I have to tell them what I want to do for a science project?)

(Oops ! Did I tell my Mom about Betty’s party on Saturday?)

Sometimes – too often, in fact - the ants, the beads of water on plants in the morning, the

sunset, the butterflies, the moss on the rocks in the brook –

my sister had to chase these things alone now.

It kept changing. I didn’t notice, really. It was expected. I just got used to it.

But by the time I married, When I looked hard at the outside edge,…

I got a little dizzy. I think it was moving.

I’m not sure – you know, kind of the way it feels when you step on an escalator.

By now I was good at making lists.

Tomorrow was all over today.

Yesterday’s leftover list was there too.

In fact, most of the time, it was hard to find today at all.

My sister came to my wedding but our paths diverged.

After awhile there were 2 young children.

I am not sure what the edges of the day look like now.

I no longer peer that far out.

There are so many more sets of circles now. Mine, my husband’s, Marlayna’s and Joe’s.

I am still at the hub. But now, I juggle all these circles at once.

The lists are longer.

Tomorrow reaches much, much farther out as we plan our children’s futures.

Yesterday crowds me all the time with so many things “brought forward.”

But a wonderful gift appears. I find that when I step into a child’s circle – time slows down.

Way down. We color, and there is only right now, this picture, this crayon. Or we read a

book and there is only the lost puppy on the page and will he find his Mommy?

When I leave that warm, safe circle and catch the others I left spinning – it feels like when I

move into the passing lane and they are going just beyond my sense of comfort.

My sister and I talk on the phone about getting our kids to eat right, about birthday parties, and

of family traditions to be passed along.

As the children become pre-teens, my life has a new warning label – Do Not Look At The Edge!

The circles moving outward no longer have any definition.

Instead, I feel like I am inside a kaleidoscope.

I can tell the pace is positively Frenetic.

A daily planner has appeared and is a constant companion to my husband and I.

All the days have become of one type - YesterNowMorrow.

I look back sometimes over a week – and just marvel – to see all that has been accomplished.

To my husband and I, it seems like Divine Intervention is at play, or some would say magic,

or at the very least – the kind of luck that turns every red light green.

I miss the little children’s circles.

I know this cannot go on without recharging somewhere along the line.

And yet, it does.

My Sister and I now run the big family events and cover months of details in a day or two.

The kids become adults – no, I mean really adults –

with their own places to live and kids of their own.

I dare to look at the edge. Strangely, it is much closer in, and there is a kind of fog. But it is spinning.

No question about it. It is spinning real fast!!

But I realize I am not juggling other circles now.

Perhaps because of this, the center feels a little safer.

There are little children’s circles again to be reveled in.

In a very, very, harsh lesson – I have learned that tomorrow is only an illusion.

I let it crowd less and less of toady.

Yesterday still encroaches with reminders that there is a lot left over to do – if one chooses.

And I may, or I may not.

Perhaps I will watch a sunset. And rest assured, I will not look often at the edge.

My Sister and I have become guardians of the yesterdays.

-Sharon Czarnecki

Week Three: Waiting

"Waiting"

This is for us, dreamers!

With the floating clouds

we dream of sailing by,

fluttering our wings like birds

reaching out for a free flight!

like stems of a tree

we grow aimlessly,

soaring up to the sky!

we bleed with our souls,

emotions and feelings pouring out

in a cocktail of pain and happiness,

with a burning desire to dream endlessly!

Oh dreamers, we live life on the edge,

with grit and passion,

we are the fearless ones,

we rise from our ashes and make our dreams come true!

Keep dreaming, oh dreamers,

we seize to exist without them! this is for us, oh dreamers!

  • Upalparna Dey

"Wait"

Waiting,

Waiting is the thing that we all hate.

It's the thing that's hard to learn, whether you're young, old, or in the middle.

It's the thing that will define your trait.

Look around, see how these people slump and drag their feet,

They all just cheat,

They cheat their way through time

But time always wins.

They skipped it

They skipped their wait.

And because they skipped it

they've landed in this pit,

A pit of waiting,

Waiting, waiting, waiting,

Waiting to get out of that pit.

Their wait defined their trait, yes,

But their trait was sad, plain, angry,

They walked around trying to rid of that dead weight,

But they're skipping their wait again,

They're walking 'round,

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

  • Keira Doescher

“How Much More to Wait?”

I’m waiting to survive this night.

I’m waiting just to see the light.

I’m waiting to save someone’s life.

A way out, when will it arrive?

I wait for us to end this fight,

I wonder if I’ll be alright.

I realize things that mean the most

We lived in peace, now peace is lost.

I’m waiting to defeat this beast,

Who came to kill. There’s no more feast.

But how much longer can I wait?

My land is soaked with blood and hate.

I’m waiting, though I’m feeling scared,

For victory to be declared.

I’m waiting for this time to pass

When we’ll no longer hear the blasts,

When Mariupol would be free,

When folks would get a chance to flee.

There is no way to make amends.

I’m waiting for the war to end.

  • Aleksandr Goldberg 

“Dream On”

I am

I am waiting…

I am waiting for…

My baby sister to enter the world

My Dad to come home sober and happy to see us all

My Mum to take a deep breath, drop her cloth and play with us

I am…

I am waiting…

I am waiting for…

It to be safe to tell the truth

It to be safe to breath without a mask

It to be safe to walk in the dark

I am…

I am waiting…

I am waiting for…

Peace in Ukraine and Russia

Peace in my country

Peace in all hearts

I am

I am waiting…

I am waiting for…

Fearful folks to really see differences do not equal threat

Angry folks to feel the love around and in them

Apathetic folks to wake up and join the world

I am

I am waiting…

I am waiting for…

Believers to live their beliefs

Deniers to open their hearts

Defiers to listen and hear

I am …

I am waiting…

I am waiting for….

Equanimity between the haves and have nots

Real change in society where NIMBY’s are non-existent

Everyone to pitch in

I am tired of waiting.

I think I will be that change I am waiting for

I think it is now…

  • Leslie A. Evans 

“Moderate Expectations”

Expecting something

Great? You may get less than sought.

The worst? Likely not.

  • Amanda Merrill

“Surprise!”

There we were

in that ’63 Impala convertible,

five Jersey girls,

tooling down a Virginia highway,

all of us in our early twenties,

heading out for lunch.

Pulling up next to us

at a stop light,

a bunch of boys

whistled and catcalled.

They followed us,

honking and waving.

We young, albeit married girls,

egged them on,

smiling all the way

to the restaurant parking lot.

They parked across from us

as we got out of my car.

Mouths agape, they watched,

incredulous, seeing for the first time

five, very pregnant young ladies!

  • Eunie Guyre 

“Until we reach the spring”

Does the winter steal your breath my love,

does the cold wind steal your breath,

or does the firelight calm you now,

beside our warming hearth?

Does the winter take your eyes my love,

does the darkness take your eyes,

or do the stars that fill the night,

bring wonder to the skies?

Does the winter leave you bare my love,

does the stark land leave you bare,

or do the wings of downy birds,

caress away your cares?

Does the winter call you far my love,

do you long to travel far,

or does our child’s tender laugh,

content you where you are?

Do you look into my heart my love,

does my heart a refuge bring,

and will it keep you comforted,

until we reach the spring?

  • John Lindberg 

“Active Rest”

If I drag my body

And give it to rest

It will feel better

It will feel better

It will feel better

Will it feel better?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When you say my

Name 4 syllables

Demanding teeth

Do you mean it?

Do you mean it?

Do you mean it?

Don’t you feel it?

When I hear u

say my name

I don’t feel it

I don’t feel it

I don’t notice

—No—

I just look around

For the real person

U must be calling

My name out 2 bc

I don’t recognize

My name when u

—No—

My name isn’t mine when you say it

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As I drag my toes

Drawing lines thru

The dirt, I feel my

Knees give out to

The Earth’s calm,

Screaming pull &

Think I feel better

Think I feel better?

Think I feel better?

I think I feel it?

—------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When you hear

My voice move

Does it echo?

Does it echo?

Does it echo?

Does it swallow?

When I hear my voice

And it’s talking to you

I feel it shake

& hear it falter

Feel it stumble

Then let it stop

—No—

Rest

—No—

I let it wait

to be heard

  • Catriona Stewart 

“Waiting With Peace”

As we wait -

for peace, light and love –

to triumph -

and settle over the world -

and all –

let’s rejoice –

in every child’s angelic smile,

in every bird’s joyful song,

in every daffodil’s brilliant beauty –

in every sunray’s golden glow –

until peace, light and love

settle over earth -

and all –

never to disappear.

  • Beverly West Schmidt 

“March Sadness”

‘And this, too, shall pass’

Marking time by fruit

can help diminish

the dark days ahead-

Between now and the end

Of a harsh regime.

Grapefruit in February,

stringent, bracing, clean;

a clementine in March.

An antidote to gloom,

A bright and juicy flow,

A rush of hope

on the tongue

Then a look ahead

to summer berries

black and blue and red,

And,

when August comes

around:

a ripe peach,

so sweet, the juice

runs down your arm.

  • Margaret Gilsenberg 

“In Early April”

A walk down the steep tree-lined driveway,

Arching grey-brown branches my destination.

Surrounded by vast country acreage,

A bountiful veiled forest in slumber.

Between frost and explosions of green,

A respite few days of ambiguous foliage direction.

Greeness imprisoned by winter. Yet to be unveiled.

Tender shoots nudge skyward. Freed by spring.

Red buds, lima bean snippets, coral-faded florets,

Fuzzy fronds of fiddlehead ferns begin their murmurings.

The camouflaged jewel still to be born.

Once at a distance is now within reach.

Cold limbs judiciously cut.

Bundle of boughs hoisted in arms.

Saplings in tow wrapped in wet towels,

Bare wood delivered with a hint of golden.

Released into water. Vessel of clear glass.

Upright with anticipation. Confident of arrival.

My mother awakens to brilliant burst.

Blaze of yellow. Beam of petals proud.

Her annual forsythia.

In early April.

  • Monica Boruch

“Some Things Take Time”

You can't rush it.

Just stand in line.

Don't yell at me, you'll be fine.

Some things take time.

Some things take time, like

Winter to Spring, and a tall, tall Pine tree

Butterfly cocoons and this

One friend of mine

He takes my time

It's been declared that patience is a virtue

And good things come to those who wait

Do you think the meek will want to inherit

What is left from the pickings on the plate

Lean pickin's on the plate

Some things take time

Like the phone to ring saying everyone's alright

Waiting on hair to grow, a loose tooth, a bad flu,

And getting over you

Some things take time

Like vintage cars, and fine wine

Saving up those nickels and dimes

Some things take time

Some things take time

Like leaving all the hurt behind

Bruised egos and this

One friend of mine

He takes my time

It's been declared that patience is a virtue

And good things come to those who wait

Do you think the meek will want to inherit

What is left from the pickings on the plate

Lean pickin's on the plate

  • Cynthia Shelton 

“Untitled, from selected haiku”

Two pairs of mute swans

Floating on a steel gray lake

Curved necks bowing low

  • Byron Petrakis 

“Housecleaning” 

Family portraits track our eyes, like blue

pupils on peacock tails or needy moons

on dark water. What does not rule

itself must be shed.

We auctioned the Puritan line's remains—

apothecary jar of vanished cocaine,

spinning wheel still draped in fleecy vanes,

tintypes of our misshapen descent,

streamlining the nest egg toward a name

disbursed to strangers. Why can’t I pick through

strewn lovers to choose, now wisely, a mate?

I will collect chaff and spindrift

for spinsterhood —dwell a feathered relict,

dreaming in its shell.

  • Allison Cummings

“To Chase The Spring”

That smell! That cool wind with vernal edge!

That chorus of finely-feathered friends returned!

My pores drink all this in again, for the first time.

Old Sol warms differently now, coaxing reborn flora

and fauna and feelings from winter’s vault.

Seasons may seem to move slowly but, I know,

from life’s tutelage, that I must engorge quickly

. . . being offered no second chance

at this place and time.

Too soon, it seems, summer’s prequel has shifted,

and I feel compelled to chase it—

my thirsty senses not yet quenched.

Perhaps, I might catch it slightly later,

as warmer weather reaches the mountains

. . . if I hurry!

  • J. Clayton Schroeder

“Birding the Boreal Forest”

Our target bird, the black-backed woodpecker

hides in the fog-laden woods

just beyond the high tension wires stretched

along Trudeau Road. Like sentinels, we stand

at the edge of the forest,

in silence, listening for the rat-a-tat-tat-tat

of the elusive bird. Snow dusts our shoulders,

our knit toques. Intruders,

we have seen crossbills, red and white

fed gray jays sunflower seeds. I long to be first

to spot the black-backed, keep

my binoculars pressed to my eyes, jump when I hear

the staccato sound of beak on tree, scan right,

left, up and down: nothing,

it was our leader playing the call on his iPhone.

He tricked me, but not the bird, who refuses

to play by our rules,

to reveal himself to this band of birders.

The call plays again, and again I startle.

Snow thickens, almost dark

and I have to concede it’s time to leave

though if I could see the black-backed,

I might stand for one more hour,

one more hour, just one more hour.

  • Kay Morgan

“Sun kissed Limbs”

A solitary tree on the overlook trembles

Below her, the sea shakes in disbelief

A concerto of waves

Sprays her branches

Quarter size hail pounds her trunk

Leafless in this storm

She drops back then careens forward

Holding her footing, she straightens

Pines call out in the distance

Moisture fills her roots

She waits

Caressed by dewdrops

The tree’s red leaves glisten

Below her, the ocean shakes off discontent

Seawater draws back from the shore

Rainwater nourishes her deep roots

With clearing skies, she breathes in warmth

Families dine under her shadow

Seagulls mind the old familiar spot

Where he swayed by her side

Her sun kissed limbs reach up

She waits.

The ocean shakes off discontent

Seawater draws back from the shore

The tree is caressed by dewdrops

Her red leaves glisten

She breathes in warm

Families dine under her shadow

Seagulls mind the spot

Where he swayed by her side

Flocks of birds visit

The tree’s sun kissed limbs reach for the sky

She waits.

  • Brenda Wilbert

“Waiting”

Waiting for so much.

Waiting for the poor to stop being hungry.

Waiting for the left behind to feel brought home.

Waiting for the depressed to taste happiness again.

Waiting for the lonely to feel loved even when alone.

Waiting for cruel people to stop hurting the ones who love them.

Waiting for people to be kinder and more generous to others.

Waiting for someone to always stand up to when they see a wrong.

Waiting for Putin to stop killing Ukrainians.

Waiting for Xi Jinping to stop eyeing Taiwan and crushing Uighurs.

Waiting for Mohammad Bin Salman to be less brutal.

Waiting for the world to start to cool down.

Waiting for poachers to stop killing elephants and rhinos for their tusks.

And I’m just getting started.

My wait list could go on for countless pages.

But I can’t ask you to wait for that.

Waiting for my father to love me.

Waiting for my mother to be grateful.

Waiting to make sure my children will be happy, more than happy enough.

Waiting for all the people I love to know how big that love is.

Waiting for the friends who didn’t show up to show up.

Waiting to find the love I haven’t found.

Waiting to feel like I’ve done the best despite my many errors.

So much I’m waiting for.

My heart tells me it’s okay to wait.

Because waiting is dreaming.

Dreaming is hoping.

And without hope, there’s nothing.

I’ll hardly get anything I’m waiting for.

But I’ll keep dreaming and hoping.

What else to do - swim away into the darkness?

I’m not doing that.

A Ukrainian boy said on CNN last night said “Hope dies last.”

I’d rather wait with him.

  • Allegra Lubrano

“time waits for someone”

the years advance upon me

slow and stealthy

like the night that frames

The setting sun

(i watched its dying splendor

paint the sky till

imperceptibly

the day was done)

who thought this thing called Time which

we all measure

so precisely would

in truth be found

to be illusion drawing

our attention

to this waking dream

that keeps us bound

i free the captive Love i

held imprisoned

like the night that frames

the rising sun

behold its growing splendor

paint the darkness

wake the dreamer now

the day’s begun

  • John Pietroniro 

“An Impatient Walker in April Woods”

Buds, yet unfurled

Lone owl calls, no answers

Wait, whispers the Earth.

  • Amanda Merrill

“April Snow”

Do you know the loons are back

already echoing through sun paths

on the zephyr-riffled lake?

I’m not ready yet to take it in

I’m still with snow—

last night’s surprise by April’s moon

already melting into daffodils.

Later, I’ll cut a few

to bring inside here where it’s warm

where I’m watching snow-lace vanish—

recapturing your face

trying to hold on to how it felt

to touch your shoulders that last time

so thin under your winter sweater.

  • Joan Doran

“Breather”

The furniture was about to explode last night. I watched it try, heard splinters that reached the

curl moon. Then today it breathed. You can see it, too, if your eyes are in love.

There’s no money – there’s even less give. Your street, lava cooled. It was leading here, it did, so straight the crows took note. Now. A raven lands and plucks at an open egg, blue as intent. The raven wants to tell me. There’s still a nest up there.

The farthest nerve of you is still me. The idea of my body changes; I see it planing into yours, a pine smoothed for a whole cabin. The hearth is the width of your chest. I open and feed it. In its light I see the brown of my black dog’s fur. I was afraid of the gaping week but no more. You are here, in the door, wearing blue.

  • Kate Oden

“Grief”

It doesn’t strike you all at once,

especially if you knew it was coming.

Anticipation inoculated you

against the blow.

It’s the after-effect that gets you down,

the thoughts of what you forgot to ask

and what it is you failed to say.

It’s too late today.

Consider feelings that remain.

Here they come, the words retained.

You’d been waiting for the time to talk,

to squawk, to stalk, to pray, complain.

Then grief slid in. It’s here to stay.

You cant push it away.

Like gentle clouds on rainy days

tears arrive in little drops, then floods.

Let them flow until they fill

the empty space around your heart.

Now it’s time for grief and mourning,

together or apart.

  • Martha Solow 

“Migration”

The sign says Don’t Drive off Road.

The salt flats follow the highway

like a land-locked beach.

White sand chases

the open road, the white line,

tempting us to pull over

to find water.

Mocking us the inland seagulls circle overhead;

great white egrets stand in puddles

of salt brine; feasting on

insects and centipedes.

Don’t Park on Sand.

The sign goes unheeded as cars dot the Utah flats,

littered like carcasses of curiosity,

stuck deep in white dung,

abandoned.

My dad is driving,

pointing to the debris. Chuckling.

A deaf man with a hint of wanderlust,

printer’s union card in his pocket,

his focus is on the white line ahead;

he is moving our family from Indiana

to California.

He takes heed of the sign RxR Crossing,

stops the car, signs to us in ASL

that he will wait until it is safe

before we cross.

His concentration is like

the silent warrior

who listens

for the distant hoof beats,

or the vibration of an oncoming train.

  • Sandy Sortwell Makau

“The Yoga Teacher at My Feet”

draws a line between my smallest toe

and my unknown.

Twigs entwine behind thin skin.

She presses my big toe

to trust the earth.

If I lift my ankle, just the inner,

weight my little toe,

let the large take root ––

breath might flutter up my trunk.

  • Rebecca Kaiser Gibson

“Inside” 

Inside the dream a cry shuddered the day all day.

I kept hearing the cry of the day was a horse.

The run of the year was the horse pounding

unhindered, the horse’s mane, triumphant in its wind.

The clamor of hordes, one horse, heaving,

its flanks lathered, its teeth bared.

In wind, even in no wind, the horse whinnying

over the bowed heads, cantering into the humbled world.

The horse, nothing but land and the length

of the seasons flying. I knew the horse meant

the horse I knew, the horse of childhood,

and of death, and of the loping life between them.

  • Rebecca Kaiser Gibson

“Finding Peace”

As a child it was my bedroom:

cuddled up, waiting for sleep

the breeze through my summer screen

a sweet caress.

My teenage heart

Sought One Great Lake,

where wind and waves

were stronger than my

daily dramas.

Running worked like therapy

for many years; breathing hard and

sweating smoothed my brow,

brought back balance,

and a smile.

Eventually the knees rebelled

but breathing didn’t stop.

Combine the breath with sitting:

meditation. Another way to find

that sense of home.

Going “deep within” affirms connection.

It shouldn’t really, yet it does.

Not every time, of course,

but often… Enough to

keep me coming back.

Like the single wave

remembering it’s water,

even as it breaks upon the shore.

I sit alone, and know for sure

that I am held.

And know for sure that

I am held.

  • Joy Downs 

“Ebb Tide”

She lies down, her back end in the road

forepaws in the snowy yard.

Her coat no longer shiny,

her muscled flanks now thin.

her tail hangs low.

I cannot tell if she is grieving or dying.

Of course, both are true.

She is alone, the last dog

of her four-pack. Alpha

without betas. One by one

their food bowls gone,

beds removed,

scents fading.

The retreat of evidence

like melting snow

or ebb tide.

Tumors punctuate her body.

They grow. Multiply. Crowd

out her breath, shrink her walks,

squeeze her heart.

I wait with her on a shore

for the great ocean

to draw her back

like all of us,

until we are only heard

when someone picks up a remnant,

a shell,

and listens for the echoes in the conch.

  • Suzanne Dudley 

“Transformation” 

Transformation is the rest marks in music,

the breath of all sound.

Transformation is a waiting unaware.

It is the opposite of a race.

When we practice a task

over and over and over again

we learn it when it clicks into place

only after we sleep on it.

Rested, we absorb the work

within our wholeness.

Transformation is the range

of everlasting tender care that emerges

when we engage and invest and

stop to rest,

stop to reflect

stop to experience the power of a moment.

The earth bursts forth in flower

as all life breathes within

the glorious glow of change.

  • Amy Brenner Mitz 

“The Internet Has Left Us”

The internet has left us

and my wife is furious.

She can not order our vegetables.

She can not get those emails from her mother

that get under her skin

but still seem to be about love.

She can not, she tells me, do anything.

I am responsible

for fixing the Internet. I do not like

this job, as if we'd run out of air

and I have to blow it all back in,

or rescue us from

the gills and belly of a giant fish

that has landed on our house.

I am quite happy

without the Internet. I like

this new, quiet world.

Hush—can you hear all these mermaids

whispering? They’re saying

how much they like it here,

how much they want to decorate

with shells and sand.

They flit round me, shining.

How does one make love

to a woman with a tail?

I want to swim: to go

where there are no nets and no sea.

Or if there is sea

let there be so much it’s invisible

and holding its breath. Like me.

  • Brian Evans-Jones 

“Key West Solemnis”

The retired surround the pool,

Sit visored and sun-glassed at the bar

Or trip and fall on quaint, uneven sidewalks.

A falcon rides the hot, steel air,

Searching palms for baby iguanas

Or hens with chicks that wander through the crowds.

We live like other animals,

Not weighing what awaits us,

Until at last one fierce disaster strikes:

Too late and unprepared for,

Through doldrums, horse latitudes;

At best just small craft warnings.

At the start of the Caribbean

And the true end of the road,

I sit with the other comedians,

Whose Eucharist is cash and cigarettes,

Who sip rum-punches, dark and strong;

Uneasy, waiting

For the torches to be lit.

  • Kenneth Butler 

“Waiting Haiku”

History rehearsed

Career at intermission

Awaiting the cue.

  • Renée Ashley McIsaac 

“Made of Steel”

Scar tissue tough as steel,

miles walked over ice,

snow crusted walkways,

the Indian pipes of icicles

that heave themselves

up out of the soil, alive

so briefly, the boulders

someone else’s strong hands

lifted into fences,

the pine cones that festoon

the pathway after strong winds—

and there have been so many—

tines of the rake as

I rake straw-like grass,

peony tendrils, raspberry brambles,

comfrey root. Hours and hours

spent cutting back the comfrey

at the root to clear

the garden, hours spent

holding each baby

at my shoulders, crooning,

later, my grandchildren,

shoulders strong enough

to shoulder all the love

I’m still sending to you.

It knows right where to go.

  • Laura Rodley

“Birthing”

It starts in February

with great horned owlets in tree hollows,

the black bear sow suckling her cubs in a rocky den,

red osier buds on stems that poke up through snow.

Crusty drifts melt and spread across

March’s brown fields with ribbons of green,

creating rivulets that run down into ditches,

brooks rushing on to the river below.

Purple violets, spring beauties, bell worts,

Dutchman’s britches, red-dog trillium

push up through last year’s leaves

on April’s south-facing forest slopes.

In swamps, the tight buds of red maple

change to orange-red flowers,

bluets appear in wintered-brown grass,

leaf buds open on backyard lilacs.

Under a hemlock in woods near the farm

a doe lies waiting for the birth of her fawn.

The pent, pent, pent mating calls of woodcock

rise above the old cow pasture.

Now, from the farm below in today’s dawning,

I hear bleating of ewes and their newborn lambs,

I know that the birthing,

the resurrection of life, has truly come.

  • Ann B. Day 

“Waiting”

Out from Rabalais’ window

Joan who burns green

darkens the carnival sky

with orange smoke.

Fat Panza’s eyes itch and water.

He coughs and farts

waddling toward more open air,

singing brotherhood and fertility.

Solomon trudges sadly after

brandishing palm fronds

droning ‘Spring Can Really

Hang You Up The Most.’

Between the mounting dancing pyre

and the sodden beer gardens,

Mobs twist and swerve

like flocks of dark birds.

The hovering sky becomes a mirror

above sprouting fields

shrouded with stubble.

Tomorrow is the Easter rain.

  • Joe Panzica 

“Travel”

Remember the days when all we had to worry about was whether our

luggage was overweight?

Or whether we were at the right gate?

Or whether the plane was late…..?

Remember the days

When a sneeze was a breeze,

And not an encounter with Fate.

Remember the days ,when to hug a friend

Was not the sorry end

But the start of a carefree date.

Before our world was turned upside down?

Quarantine, ANOTHER vaccine….

More is less, and less is more.

Down is up, and up is down

Will we ever get out of town? The days are long, The weeks grow longer. And we must try To get thru stronger, Mankind’s seen worse But not by much, Oh how I long for life’s gentler touch.

Take a break?

Try to escape?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Maybe it will all be fine.

I’ll just sit here and watch the snow,

Too risky to be on the go.

Don’t complain, got lots of food,

Anyway it won’t do any goooood.

Nothing is forever,

Or so the say.

Hope is all we got, for

A better day.

  • Eleanor Coffey 

“Hope” 

Because things didn’t go the other way they couldn’t,

I went on, narrowly freed from having to concede.

All night, every night: peace only dreaming. This way,

looking back, at least I could see it had always been

like mornings used to be, hooded and brimming with bees.

Maybe you’ll decide it was the fault of memory’s

infernal tunnels: someone’s, surely, or all of them. Because

it will probably turn out to have been, also, like the loons,

how they would dip like needles piercing and,

just after I’d give up hope of them ever rising, rise

impossibly far from where my hopes had been.

  • Alice B Fogel 

“Waiting”

They tell me love the snow

now iron-hard on both sides

of the road, love

the desiccated beech leaves

rattled by a breeze, love

the early sunsets, love

the cold.

But the season I prefer

is yet to come

when purple buds unfold

beneath a stronger sun.

  • Christine Hague 

“Wash away dream # 15”

When the waters to low – round the bend you know—that tree in the river, at the washed out bank—It came down with the slide—may have lost it’s roots—but a sand bars stopping it---got turtles on it’s knees—If it rains tomorrow it might go free. Fell down the cliff—got stuck on the lips of the shallows--- didn’t rain enough that time—guess I’m just part of the scene—stuck on the bed with cat tails growing on my head—gonna be an island—I suppose to catch depree—could have been a camp fire—but the old man has fallen on me—we can’t let go—we died to be free.

  • Terry Careins

“Untitled”

Waiting for the love to return,

Waiting for the love to return,

Storm clouds blowing past,

shedding water on grateful earth.

I am only these mountains,

carved from light and shadow.

  • Jean Varda 

“Lost and Found”

If I close my eyes will the wonder still be there If I dream too much

will the magic disappear The bell that I hear, does it toll for me or you Is there any way to know?

Does the thread of life weave a pattern of reason Have I been too long

away or strayed too far to know Is there hidden in this fine design a lighted path to guide me Is there any way to know?

I would like to find a place where no shadows form a shade Where no bell tolls, where real dreams exist and never fade Then, when I close my eyes, will the wonder still be there?

Yes, there is a way to know.

  • Pippa Francq

“Locked-In”

My grandfather, Israel,

Sells Fords.

Ironic.

A man named Israel,

Staking land

On the whistling plains

Of the Missouri River.

The urgency of moving water -

This is where he stops.

My grandfather

Israel

Sells cars made first

By a man named Henry Ford -

My grandfather moves,

Just barely

Seized with cog-wheeled paucity

A pandemic humour sweeps his land

My grandfather still as pallor.

My grandfather stares

Through eyes that cannot blink

The drops (I recall) like tears,

My grandmother surgically placing -

Without which my grandfather

Cannot cry.

Israel, my grandfather, his brain held hostage -

Squeezing my hand on Saturday mornings

With the urgency of a famished tortoise

“Tell him,” I am instructed, my father egging me on.

The punch lines always the same:

Pendulous breasts…

The butcher’s wife…

The Moyle’s three fingers with which to complete his duties…

And my hands, twitching, like fish freshly hooked,

Placed gingerly in sickened palms.

My fingers warm -

His knuckles pleading -

Paper-skin pulled tight over brittle bones.

Like cellophane holding up clouds

My grandfather’s eyes -

Pale blue and tearless,

Ford Mustang Blue

A Convertible

I’m sorry – I know.

No disrespect…

But the car!

That car…

Pale blue, and fast.

It made trees lament their roots.

Forward and back, those trees

Tremors, you see

Branches teased by restless eddies

My grandfather, Israel, sells cars

Made by a “Hater of Jews”

(Or at least that’s what I’m told)

My grandfather, Israel, his ravaged brain

Tickled by Spanish Flu.

Dopamine, decades on

Set in motion to slowly stop

My grandfather,

Still.

His brain perturbed

Angry

(I imagine)

So much to say…

The Mustang humming, its pistons greased,

Pill-rolling motion push wheels

With fire.

My grandfather, quiet

The machines at his bed -

Sing siren songs

Of deathless respirations.

How can this be, I wonder?

This land of bending trees

And rushing rivers

And sunflowers moving to the rhythm

Of rotations…

How can he be so still?

I have held a brain,

That slight-of-hand -

And in doing,

I study my grandfather.

My grandfather, Israel, still as a spider

Does not want his grandson to know

But he is motionless to intervene

Each brain I hold,

I laugh

Each giggling child that looks into the gray and wonders…

I understand

No words

Or mirth

Or even sadness or celebration.

My grandfather, Israel

Sells movement;

Potential!

Squeezes my hand, just barely

On Saturdays after Schul

My grandfather, Israel

Comprehending at last,

The abject absurdity of this fettered and scandalous Joke.

  • Steve Schlozman 

“Pandemic Blues”

I wish I were a turtle,

I would retract my head and stay.

Only to come out and take a peek

Before disappearing for another day.

Perhaps it’s best to take to my bed

And pull the covers over my head!

Gone the fun, gone the warm greetings

Gone the sun, and our special meetings…

January, February, March….do you think there will be hope for May?

Just for now…..I’d rather not say.

  • Eleanor Coffey 

“Metaphors for Waiting”

Dog Grace looks and looks

until I see the empty

water dish near her.

The President asks

for skies clear of bombing planes

but who will give that?

Poor families here

live in cellars, but so too,

bombed families there.

Will we have normal

ever again? asks my doll,

eyes open and shut.

Will they come here too?

Lithuanian cousin

asks, and, not again?

John Kerry shows that

Habsburg chin and with it that

demanding presence.

Justinas reaches

age 93, tells his kids,

I've seen it all, yeah.

Will send e-cards to

J. and E. who live where war

took its toll, human costs.

What did I do? asks

every mother everywhere,

at war's appearance.

No one should think that

history is a done deal,

especially Trump.

Putin wears the same

clothes these days, fearing poison

in the fabric folds.

Waiting, waiting for

E.T.s coming in rescue

mode because we're bad.

  • Lynn Chong 

“What Is To Be Done With This Love Of Ours?”

There’s something I’ve been doing quite a bit

all of my life since I can remember,

although nobody ever notices.

How to describe the restless state I’m in?

An infrequently used verb is the clue

to the cause of the emotions I feel –

often when I think I can ignore them:

. . . for my ship to come in . . . for the main chance . . .

. . . for when good things will come to good people . . .

. . . for the cows to come home . . . for you to speak

those few loving words you let yourself learn,

doling them out to me when you care to.

Not counting my chickens before they’ve hatched,

just sayin’.

I’m always on the lookout

for little signs you’ll turn compassionate

and make up for those times you thwarted our love

while I stood watch at the dock of the bay

feeling more like a cliché than singing.

  • R. David Drucker 

“Opening day- Fenway Park”

Sun, lots of it

That Left Fielder with the long hair your wife loves so much

The one who is built for

Scrubbing doubles clear off of the scoreboard

Erasing the gap in Left-Center like so much sidewalk chalk

Face made for laying in the grass somewhere

a face not made for finishing things he started

The smell of over-priced sausage

Beer on the concrete

Cold

Almost too cold for baseball

But the grass is green so it almost fools you

Second Baseman

Balding and a shade too serious

A newspaper asking for his job

His throws are lifeless

Send him to Toronto for someone

Who reminds us less of our own mortality

But it’s opening day

and his surgically repaired knee feels 21

and it’s itching to put a dent on that green tin wall

Tomorrow he will look ten years older and we will all say

What happened?

Who let this happen?

Today we all have one foot in the batter’s box and one in the past

But today is opening day at Fenway Park

And if you close your eyes Pedro is Pitching

If you close your eyes it’s Luis Tiant

27 cigars lined up in his locker

Whoever is pitching today is toeing the rubber now

As gentle as organ music

Kicking the dust off

Forgetting Christmas

And soon he will be throwing

Throwing to a batter and when ball hits leather it will be summer

And winter won’t have died for nothing

Someone will throw it back and we will do it all again

The curve is flying like its avoiding sniper fire

There are birds near the Triangle by the bullpen

Time isn’t marching anywhere but a World Series now

Fingers searching for red stitches

Fingers hidden in a glove

And time isn’t marching anywhere now

The catcher is crouched

Waiting

  • John McDonough 

“The Gospel according to the First Base Umpire”

A ball is fouled off and up into the sky down the right field line

And everyone in section ten is standing

Arms raised towards a blue sky

Arms raised towards a cold sun

And everyone in section ten is standing

Arms raised

Waiting

  • John McDonough 

“Orchid Boy of Milwaukee”

Last night I had a dream that I was me and that you were Jeffrey Dahmer

You had big thick wire rimmed glasses

And that shirt you took off that boy from Puerto Rico

You were Jeffrey Dahmer and I was falling in love with you

My mother was there and she was crying

She asked why

She told me you smoked

She said I was full of flowers

That I didn’t have any organs at all just flowers

She tried to say that you were gonna cut me open and out they would come

Big thick bouquets of Orchids and Azaleas

Watery things that just then would see sunshine

She said you were going to plant me like a flower box outside your window

And why don't you find a nice boy who looks like Ted Bundy?

No single boy ever looked liked Ted Bundy

They have wedding bands and 401k's because they look like Ted Bundy

I would too if I looked like Ted Bundy

a dog too, and a closet full of shirts with a French collar

But, Mama, guys that look like Ted Bundy never remember birthdays

I asked her to leave

She was only half right anyway

I am all full of Daisies and Kudzu

Cheap things that grow unabated

But

If she was right about you

And right about me spilling onto the floor like the first day in May

Pluck my pedals from the hardwood and save them

Press them in a book

Press them in The Scarlett Letter

Try and remember that once you held their hand

  • John McDonough 

“Cubbie Blue”

Childhood summers, Chicago Cubs,

watching afternoon games from Wrigley,

renowned uniforms of “Cubbie Blue.”

Today, still a devoted fan

replete with abiding love,

“Die-Hard Cubs Fan” my history.

“Loveable Losers” their moniker in history.

Once enticed, the magic of the Cubs

makes you fall in love

with the allure of the ballpark, wonderful Wrigley.

Every game, every seat filled by a fan

expecting them to lose, expecting to feel blue.

The joy of seeing “Cubbie Blue”

take the field, decades of baseball history,

and countless generations of fathers and daughters – now she’s a fan,

dedicated to the Cubs

and their “Temple of Baseball.” In pilgrimages to Wrigley

regardless the score, she’ll cheer with love.

In unapologetic love

I faithfully bleed “Cubbie Blue.”

For naught holds more thrill than a trip to Wrigley!

This team, this Yard, intertwined in my life history.

When young I fantasized playing for the Cubs

but became a pull-hitter, and so remained a fan.

People ask, “How can you be a fan

of such a team?” I reply: “This is the team I love,

they are my Cubs,

win or lose I am never blue.

104 years without a championship? This history

does not matter. I left my heart in Wrigley.”

The legendary ivy-covered walls of Wrigley

are tattooed on the heart of every fan.

Endless rollercoaster seasons, unforgettable history

can’t divorce true fans from their love.

Everything this squad represents when dressed in blue

bonds millions worldwide; lifetimes devoted to the Cubs.

Wrigley’s ingrained in me, as are the Cubs.

Their history, their pinstripes blue,

forever sacred. This fan, far from home, sends her love.

  • Laura Grimshaw 

“Friday Night Ride”

Like Gretel with her Hansel, she stood there in the cold.

The phone call with its story now two plus hours old.

They had spent the day by skiing on the links of Bretton Woods,

Under splendid sky and awesome views where Presidentials stood.

Heading south to Grammy’s house for the cherubs they are rearing,

the car decided otherwise and lost its power steering.

Rolling down the slope to exit safe from 93,

they stopped at Dunks in Woodstock town to have a look and see.

It’s BUSTED, drained, no fluid there— perhaps a broken hose?

More fluid added to the cup flowed to the street below.

“We’re stuck not going anywhere, despite impending night,”

And Dunks was closing at that hour, turning off all warmth and light.

The only fix for the busted car was a tow to a distant shop,

Leaving them standing there waiting for a hop.

So it was I got called last night to fly north on 93,

And rescue from the cold and dark my precious Emily.

And Brian too!

  • James Stratton 

“The Wind”

Middle-aged, she

becomes afraid

of the wind

not the paralyzing fear

from climbing a fire tower,

a nonverbal stewing reaction

to the coal-blackened trees

that swing and lunge when

she takes the dog out at night,

the tunneling sound

amassing strength

on top of the Oyster River.

It bullies

its way up the hill

to push more

now against

the thin wooden planks

of the living room walls.

If the wind symbolizes anything,

it is loneliness

sitting on the couch

immobility of her

very own making

being captured

eternally bound

to that immobility,

a snaring of one’s very self.

  • Christina Felix 

“After Dusk”

For Cheryle St. Onge

Females fireflies hide in tree shadows

while their potential mates

swirl in the darkened air.

They scan their options

for suitable flashes of code,

signifying the very best genomes.

Tonight, a male firefly landed

in the garden, his tail’s cold light

still blinking from the ground.

The life of a firefly is so short

that some adults never eat,

a lifetime complete

with the single purpose

of securing a mate. They

must know death

like this friend’s mother

who repositions chairs

on top of her kitchen table,

is dressed and undressed,

smiles as she offers half of

the sandwich just given to her.

She responds by dismantling a lamp,

a toaster, walks down the driveway in forgetful

circles, yet she concedes to be photographed.

The lenses of her daughter’s camera

persistently and precisely aimed at her

still-blue eyes, her billowing white hair.

Both women waiting

for a click, the shutter,

the light.

  • Christina Felix

“Mission Hospital”

There was intake. And a waiting room. There were x-rays. And a waiting area in the hall where I sat in a wheelchair with my leg propped up, weeping quietly in exquisite self pity. Then there was the reading of the films, the verdict, and another waiting room. Next the temporary bandaging and casting.

I'd known I'd broken my ankle the moment my foot twisted off the edge of the pavement and I hit the ground. I'd struggled to stand up and hobble—half-dragged by the eager Lab—back up the steep hill. In that instant I'd signed on for an hours-long stint in a hospital in North Carolina, far from home.

Finally the last room, a closet of a space where those of us who had been treated waited to be discharged. This place was dark and close. I was at the frayed end of pain and patience.

A young orderly poked his head around the door. I signaled him and he approached. Please get me out of here. I spoke in a half whisper. He looked around. So I looked around, conscious for the first time of my fellow sufferers. Elderly men and overweight women, fidgety children and sullen teenagers slumped in molded plastic chairs. They were, all of them, black.

The orderly nodded. I understand, Ma'am, he said quietly. I'll get you another room.

  • Marie Harris 

“Untitled”

Does the emerging tulip shudder--

at the frosty earth and biting winds?

Does it crave to go back

to the safety of the womb?

Then neither shall I.

May the warming sun

and nourishing rains

raise the hopes of all

who wait to rise again

beyond sorrow and sadness,

and hatred and war.

Rise, oh herald of spring,

And show us the way.

  • Anne Roser 

“Waiting for Results”

I am Jane. I am Ellen. I am Julia. I am

smoke in the throat,

blowing simple rings:

rising, rising, rising.

There she goes.

Then her. And her.

I said I would remember them

but will I?

What if the breast is guilty again.

Or the toe with its dirty cells.

  • Kyle Potvin 

“auction sale”

it happened too fast

no nod to the months of prep

the gavel lowered

the price paid

the last cow

lead from the barn

on to the truck

no hurry to start tomorrow

new mornings might

take the tears away

comfort perhaps

until new questions

send their challenge

  • Adele Sanborn 

“War Report from a Ukraine Basement”

The nurses, holy as the

icons in their churches, have stayed.

The babies are bound like packages,

lost in delivery amidst the bombs,

their souls wait for delivery to

mothers’ eyes, breasts, lullabies,

or to God.

  • Renee Adams 

“Notes from Every Night Now.....”

I lie awake

Wrapped in total silence

Touched by the deepest darkness

Wondering will I wake to the rising sun of heaven

Or (ever so briefly) to the flashing burst of hell?

"Breathe in... quietly through the nose.....hold;

Exhale softly and slowly through the nose."

There should be rage

At the doers of prevailing evil

But then what have I done to prevent what I've known to be wrong?

Rwanda, Sudan, Yemen, Amazon, Afghanistan, and so many other places

where innocent victims of psychopathic power

were erased like chalk from a blackboard

"Breathe in... quietly through the nose.....hold;

Exhale softly and slowly through the nose."

and now Ukraine,

living fury, living fear,

dying for the delusions of one man,

while we are forced to watch.

"Breathe in... quietly through the nose.....hold;

Exhale softly and slowly through the nose."

Still awake

Immersed in total silence

One with deepest darkness

Will I wake to our precious star

Or to a light that spells our end?

  • Jim Whitlock 

“Why Wait?”

Could the best news of the nation

Really sound from a radio station?

Yet with no advertisers for money

Could their future be sunny?

I shouldn’t wait to make a donation.

  •  Peter Tamposi

“Swamp Genuflection” 

It’s not March yet, but I am on alert,

cocking my ear toward frozen swamps,

listening for the call of the peepers.

Spring peepers – Pseudacris crucifer –

armies of them, burrowed in mud all winter,

rise up like the proletariat from the depths

of bogs and marshes. Raucous and jubilant

they carry the cross of spring.

I know, I know, it’s not time for spring yet.

When it comes in its erratic, maddening

fashion, it will come too fast and I’ll miss

that pivotal moment when winter turns

its back because I watch too hard, listen

too intently, want too much.

  • Constance Hooker Koons

“Fickle Curve” 

An insistent northwest wind

has been blowing for two weeks,

lashing the unprotected

lilac bushes, spinning up loose

snow, driving the temperature

below zero. The birds are silent.

Every morning I watch the five-day

forecast, study the fickle curve

of the jet stream, calculate light

gain according to an arcane chart

in the Farmer’s Almanac. Nights

the sky is a billion sharp stars. I stuff

newspaper into cracks in the door, set

the faucet to a slow drip – and wait.

  • Constance Hooker Koons

“Spring Ritual at Lane Valley Farm”

When the sap finished its last dark run

and the frost heaves started to settle

just before black flies,

Oscar French stops by.

My father has just finished his poached eggs.

Oscar was in our doorway blade shears in hand.

I knew then it was time for our sheep

to lose their winter coats.

Once a year he spreads out his denim tarp

and straddles the first ewe with her head between his knees.

He gracefully flips her on her back to shear her underbelly

then frees her to run off into the field

as my father patiently leads the last bleating Dorset to be shorn.

When it’s time for a break he stretches on his back

to rest his sturdy shoulders and neck.

The clouds all look like sheep in the sky.

Oscar scoops the fleece from his tarp and stuffs it in his burlap bags.

My favorite part of this ritual is when he breaks for lunch.

He pulls out a meatloaf sandwich wrapped in wax paper

has a sip of coffee from his thermos and checks his pocket watch.

When lunch is over he pulls out his false teeth,

giving me a toothless grin,

"No nicks and not a speck of blood."

  • Jody Wells

“Waiting” 

I follow the nurse’s back

down one corridor, then another

Behind each door, a patient sits alone.

Some are simply waiting

for the nurse or doctor,

their minds are empty.

Some wait for the Coming

of Christ.

Some wait for forgiveness,

a call from a son or daughter

Some wait for vengeance.

Some cry silently.

Some listen to their breath

go in and out, anxiety building.

Some check their watch.

Some feel claustrophobic

and start to sweat.

Some feel their lump,

to make sure it is still there.

Some listen to the air

banging in the heat ducts.

Some feel uncovered even

wearing their hospital gowns

They avoid the examining table;

the sound of stiff paper creasing

underneath their bodies hurts.

  • Kathleen Fagley 

“Waiting”  

I was waiting all my life for this rain.

A ribbon of light woke me.

Ants’ nests in cracks of concrete multiply,

sand and branches roll underneath my sneakers.

Afternoon rain violent at first,

settled into a steady rhythm

Under my umbrella, I felt complete and

balanced like an oblong stone on a cairn,

the rain misted my face.

Rain poured into the ants’ nests,

scattered the birds seeking seeds.

Even though I was walking I felt

weightless.

I was contained within the umbrella,

it became my chapel.

I saw no one. I didn’t want to stop,

so content, I felt the lovely

loneliness of it all.

  • Kathleen Fagley

“ Through A Glass Darkly”  

Sitting in the car waiting for school to be

let out a steady rain just short of freezing

slides to blur the windshield Moving marks

of wavering colors distorted shapes

Grammy loved that special vase she kept

up high on her piano It had been her mothers'

and maybe her mothers' mothers' too

The pale translucent one the color of coffee

at breakfast with lots of cream It had hundreds

of glass beads crusting it over

We were never to touch it but we did

Looking into and through it the room changed

to a purple edged tan and the beads dimpled everything

into something unknown

  • Mary Spofford French 

“Threshold”

To hear the words “Susana’s coming home”

Was music to shy Antoinette’s young ears.

In Mama’s place she carried on alone

And her relief was evidenced by tears.

The hospital was strange and far away.

No one they knew had ever gone before.

But Mama’d grown more ill each passing day.

The midwife said that she could do no more.

The neighbors came but mainly took up space

While Papa was away at Mama’s side.

And Antoinette put on her bravest face

For she was needed by the younger five.

“Tomorrow she’ll be home,” Ann overheard

As prayers of grateful praise flew from the child.

She diligently scoured and swept and stirred

And kept the little ones from running wild.

“If born,” she thought, “the baby will be small

And my help will be needed more this time.

Life should return to normal by the fall

Then only eighth grade problems will be mine.”

Now in the days when Antoinette was young,

Most children weren’t consulted or informed.

They were allowed “about” but not “among.”

“Do not ask silly questions,” they were warned.

And so the moment comes with Ann awhirl.

She stands with all the neighbors at the door.

An eager heart beats in the little girl.

Excited toes tap on the polished floor…

Through time I view the scene - the stage was set.

The house was scrubbed, the parlor nearly shone.

And all were ready – except Antoinette,

The day they brought Susana’s body home

  • Maria Pacelli

“The Call”

We won’t walk the dirt road to the house

or admire the red barn and fog shrouded hills.

We won’t sit on the porch at sunset

looking upon a sea of green or a new fallen snow.

We won’t warm by the wood stove

or go to bed early and wake up late.

I won’t tell a joke that causes you to laugh

until you forget yourself.

I’ll do my chores. I’ll plant a garden.

I’ll become an empty vessel and feel like a hollow reed.

I’ll be sad, as I am now, until one day

I’ll hear the whisper of life calling me back.

  • Peter Harris
Week Four: Mistakes & Solutions

“Car Trouble”

Driving 93 south past the mills

on our way to the family cemetery

to plant red geraniums, white impatiens, and salvia

you observed, that’s one of three things you can always count on from me

- to leave you one of the Friday sudoku’s.

What’s another thing?

to make stupid remarks.

That’s not a positive thing

I didn’t say they were positive

You implied that

No, you thought it

Let’s put this conversation on hold

so you have more time to come up with three positive things.

I got a text from my sister today.

I’ll dictate your response, ready?

I’ve already answered.

. . . say I’m spending the day with my close and loving family, sign it Mary C., et al.

What? That’s the kind of thing she texts.

I answered - Happy 4th to you also

and added an exclamation mark,

besides, we’re spending our afternoon at the cemetery.

Another positive thing is

you wouldn’t have to deal with your sister

if took my advice.

  • Mary Castelli

“Instead”

I meant to thank you, Mrs Miriam Brown, for allowing me to kiss your tender daughter’s peppery lips.

I meant to thank the one who shoveled me out, drew the sketch to show me home.

I meant to thank you who said I could vault higher with a little more speed.

I meant to thank the man from Conway who taught me to plant in three and fives, forget the rows.

I meant to thank all who have flown me, pulled me aside, drawn the precious out of me.

I meant to thank the chillest nights, the stems, the pond’s bottom

for letting me see.

Still, instead I straighten the fork beside the spoon, tuck the corners where I can, polish all that needs the polish.

  • Gary Robinson

“The Many Things the Bible Doesn’t Mean”

Robert Frost

dead and quiet is with

or without the fence,

a good neighbor.

He traipsed through

these woods we share

on snowy evenings

calculating the figure

for a whole life,

While bobcats and coyotes

feasted on the vulnerable,

who by rights

could

or should

be anyone.

Including poets

Except Robert Frost

whose body contains

just two lovelies,

one indeed

and not a single beautiful

In ink,

he painted business as robbery

and art like murder,

one simple one not

When lost,

out of politeness to trees,

he rounded them to the left

instead of the right

Frost is gone now.

So whose woods are these?

They’re mine Bob,

All mine.

  • Jack McEnany

“Curtain Call”

For the obstacles that torment us

I take my final curtain call

Together

We created US

Nonetheless

I take my final curtain call

In the deepest of humility

For not being all that you had imagined

In the deepest of sadness

For having lost you

In the deepest of gratitude

For having found you

In the deepest of passion

For I have loved you

A moment with you in my heart

Now the time has come to part

I bow my head

To you at last

Though thrust into the unknown

I find myself again

Thus I take my final curtain call

For above all

Our moment has passed

  • Natalia Lazarus

“Lillian, Kidnapped by Illness”

At first Lillian seemed healthier than not,

then she started making lists: who should not come to her wake,

it would be too far for Velma to travel;

where her bachelor son should be buried when it was his time,

he did not agree, not so must the location,

as her making his arrangements; where her service should be held,

not at the church, though she went there almost every Sunday.

Rehabilitation progressed slowly.

The facility had a magnificent entrance with a crystal chandelier.

The aides would only satisfy one request at a time, no more.

One made a crass remark about her chest

flattened by cancer surgery forty years before.

We brought walking-about clothes and nightgowns with matching robes,

moved her from Boston to a kinder skilled nursing facility,

closer to our home. Stood by as the ambulance doors

opened. She was there less than a week.

She just needs a little rest, the doctor reported.

She enjoyed the warm whirlpool baths but ate only individually

wrapped ice creams, red jellos, drank ginger ale

gone flat, palatable to an invalid recuperating.

Her son flew from Nevada to New Hampshire to visit and back.

Two days before she died, she was kidnapped, smuggled

into Canada and concealed inside the cavity of someone’s body.

Investigators harshly interrogated her about the Boston Marathon

bombing; her golf watching habits were not acceptable.

We tracked her down, where have you taken Lillian?

Mary, she said, you would not go away.

You would not take no, you rescued me.

The most bitter sweet compliment I have received -

that as oxygen levels sank,

I would enter Lillian’s waking nightmare

and refuse to leave her side.

  • Mary Castelli

“One Month and More of War”

One week into March

We began hearing

and reading about Russia’s

war on Ukraine.

Days of killing; nights of fears,

Children’s cries and mothers’ tears,

Miles of shattered rubble that once were

hospitals, homes and schools.

Does this trouble us over here?

How shall we provide love and comfort

to those separated, displaced?

When will the world look war in the face

and end the disgrace?

  • Martha Solow

“Lighting A Dark Spring”

We hope Spring rain will wash

the dirty snow all white again;

clean and pure and bright.

Now that it’s in our sight

We see that not all is right.

We can’t hear the cheerful sounds,

And darkness everywhere abounds.

Dark voices speak the sounds

of anger and false pride,

setting love and care aside.

We aim for goodness and repair

to wash the dark away.

We must act with love and kindness

to create a brighter, sharing day.

  • Martha Solow

“I am a Mantra”

The weight of the blanket seems to have no comfort . Not that I am searching for that anyway. I am in that space of vast uncertainty.The unscheduled day, a rarity; usually filled with catching up on the years of the “unattended”,seems to be unraveling, revealing all the emotions I boxed up for "later."

Grief feels foreign to me, and still, an old friend .I can only seem to muster a half hug when I know I need to embrace it like a long lost child. Give it my full attention with consuming devotion and the depth of genuine expression.The half hearted attempt at release only fuels my feeling of inadequacy .I’m not even sure if it's inadequacy. I know it's more than that .” No shame ,no fear”s; my motto .Yet after all these years, fully immersing in the depths of my unexpressed grief feels too large a task .This ocean behind a damn smothers ,yet fuels me. If I let go of the chase will I cease ? Will true freedom be an oppressor ? Will I no longer have a compass ? I know in my heart I’m capable but there seems to be no space,Inside or out for this event. So there it is . I wrestle with the need to survive and find the balance of bridging the past and present .The past and the future..The future and the projection.The dark and the light .The grief and the joy. The commonality that joins us all. The simple complexity of breathe in, breathe out.

“Be kind to yourself,” I say. "Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

“On the Seventh Day, God rested”

“If you don’t take care of yourself,You can’t take care of anyone else.”

If I am anything ,I am a modern mantra. These cleverly collected and placed phrases keep me getting out of bed.

The dramatic declaration of a writer of songs.

Let the ebb and flow be as it were.

Perfection manifests.

Aware of the seed sprout, I remind myself “ You can’t push the river”

I sit down to write . Sense arrives.I feel in the moment again.

Amidst all the chaos I embrace the one constant.

Transformation.

  • Rose Kula

“Untitled”

"Mistakes,

I've had a few

But then,

Too few to mention."

I wish.

How to equate the humanity

Laden in the Major

And the Minor?

The appalling and self willed

Wedding Mistake with

Letting Pipes Get

Frozen in New England

Winter?

Looking back

With grey hair vantage,

Were there ever

Real solutions?

Or years of learning

Seared the hard way,

An extra layer of skin grown

From Embarrassment,

Or Pain,

Or both.

  • Lois Scribner

“Juste Avant”

At the jaw of the grey of the evening,

I bent double on the bottom stair,

shook without crying in a dress and a coat,

then went out the door to be gnawed

by the rain. The sidewalks all

wore gaunt cheeks, my shoulders

would not come undone. What

is wrong? I asked myself, and

métro lines slid over my head, all the

stars got tired and went home.

All day I’d waited for the night

and at night, I waited for the dawn.

  • Mary McColley

“Evidence”

The robin’s nest

I can’t detect

amid disguise

of shade and glare—

But frequent flitting?

Dangling straw?

Insistent chirps?

I swear it’s there.

  • Joan T. Doran

“Campside”

I only loved the horses,

sat quiet beside them, my feet, my fears

deep in the clover and reed.

They buried their noses in the blond pasture,

nostrils flaring

in wide, delicate ellipse,

big puckered lips and carrot-hungry teeth.

They meandered in the afternoon

with hay streaked palomino in their manes,

skin flicking flies away to hover, drone,

land their cello-bent legs

down in endless codas.

Sometimes, I bent my head

to their heads, the whorls beneath the forelocks,

brow to starry brow and

finally I did not cry.

  • Mary McColley

“The Deep”

I move toward you with tentative step,

my eyes not on yours but looking down

into the darkness of my deeds—

a shallow darkness that

drops

into

the deep of all lost things.

I’ll go there if I don’t embrace the trembling,

trusting child that clings to my soul-legs.

I’ll go there if I fail to love

the you in me

and

the me in you.

  • J. Clayton Schroeder

“Under a Forever Rock”

Cold ground presses against my cheek.

Damp, soft, pungent earth -

almost alive, almost dead.

A stick pricks my exhausted arm, flung out beside me.

I raised my voice

I said too much

I asked for more

Than I deserve.

The dripping granite slab hovers over then arcs away.

Hiding me here, for a moment.

Mocking me.

Me who cares.

Me who asks for life to be a certain way

when it doesn’t matter.

It just is.

Goes on. Goes by.

  • Lucy Hodder

“After The Fall”

I feel naked as an earthworm above soil,

my heart exposed, betrayed.

I like that earthworms have five hearts.

It might be useful for these times.

I’m relinquishing my self-portrait as a traitor.

I like that earthworms are hermaphrodites

It would be convenient for abandoning Adam and his progeny

but I am not a worm.

I think about garden slugs, their trail of silver and slime

luminescent under a hunter’s moon.

They have no shells and conceal themselves under leaves and in rocky hollows.

It’s a predatory world.

I hide by the water hole and consider my options.

By night, deer come to drink

The tips of their noses break the water’s surface

and scatter their reflections.

The owl soars on wings of silence.

In perfect camouflage by day, it’s tucked into a tree cavity,

body frontwards, round face rearward.

Below its roost, pellets are scattered. They encase

soft mousy fur, bits of paws and spines.

Like the owl, I choose my time.

In the daylight of the orchard, we come to eat:

deer consume fallen apples

turkeys peck at fruit past ripe

bees drowse among stickiness.

In late spring, I expect returning song birds will relish

those that still cling to the branch.

With an armful of apples

I set forth, ready to travel into my own life.

  • Mary Castelli

“Faerie Faith”

Knowing the luck of the people

Keeps me walking down the line

Maybe a blue-eyed condition

Or an Irish superstition

Like seven magpies dropping knives on my floor

The four-leaf clover I found in the new-shoes on my bed

My palms itching from picking the circled mushrooms

I smashed the glass when the bird passed on my head

All these contradictions would stay my hand

Is that a penny or a comb found on the ground?

Good thing my ancestors left for new lands

So I don’t need to worry about running out of salt

Except on the rim of my drink

Even if my life is full of mistakes

I’m full of solutions

I’ll just call them miss takes

And have another sip of solution

  • Kevin Hackett

“That’s Not Me”

History is often steeped in ignorance and falsehoods.

Blaming, theorizing is a cheap escape

That easily settles our qualms.

Vile death comes with millions of excruciating seconds

Captured in an 8 minute 46 second video.

I/We say it can't be true

But the video is a rewind of our failures to understand,

Maybe comprehend reality.

Growing up it was clear who was right, who was wrong.

I/We payed 25 cents to feel good about ourselves

And go see....

The lone ranger, on a white horse

Always saving the day

With Tonto bringing up the rear.

The masked man handing Tonto the tools of righteous oppression.

We hide our innocence in years of wanderlust privilege and

Don't I/We hate to be bothered by details.

So ...

Lost details about a French, dark skinned classmate

Who's yearbooks nick name was [expletive].

Wasn't it fun calling him "[expletive] P......." without a thought.

Reality sheds a truthful light on hollow innocence.

I/We try to flush away our innocence every day

Into a septic system of racist memories,

That resurrect themselves in putrid smells we can't escape from.

In moments of privacy do we question

What we have consumed that day, albeit a life time?

A 50 cent tabloid's rhetoric or a politicians handshake, spewing simple thoughts,

Comes with a guarantee to make one sleep better at night

And ....

With promises in blazoned, marginalized, fanciful truths and lily white words,

They make clear who is the victim, who is to blame.

A shade of brown/black for the criminal

Shining white is the color of the victim.

I/we would be hiding falsehoods, avoiding reality

When defiantly shouting, "I'm not racist!"

  • Tom Keegan

“Mistakes”

Every time I catch myself

Making a mistake,

I wonder,

How often have I made

The same one

Before

Without catching myself?

I worry about this.

A rich, successful woman named Dyson

(Described by Wikipedia as,

Among other things,

“An investor

focused on

Health care, open government…, and outer space,”)

Once said,

“Always make new

Mistakes.”

Wikipedia says this is the tagline

On her email signature.

I like this.

I have it on a magnet on my desk drawer.

Because I know

I will make mistakes.

I try to live by Ms. Dyson’s motto, but

How do I know

If the mistake I just made

Is new

Or if it has been repeated

Over and over,

Only now to reach my awareness?

There could be countless identical

Errors

In my imperceptible past, faults

Unknown,

Marring my

Permanent Record.

I can’t erase them.

They just stay out there,

Invisibly haunting

My faith

In the accuracy

of anything

I do.

Perhaps Ms. Dyson has

More self-confidence. Maybe

She feels certain

That all her mistakes are new.

Are anyone’s?

What if we are all

Reiterating

The same flaws

All the time?

We are, aren’t we?

  • Cherie Konyha Greene

“Proclamation For The Living.” 

Shrunken and sorrowful

Citizens Of The Year Of The Gasp,

the season of suffering

has yielded to a season

of singular moments,

not merely decay

playing solitaire,

but also,

nourishment.

Boil the sap of happenstance.

Uproot trees and fill the holes with blood.

Name the streets after them.

Awake at dawn, muddle your tears

with the colorless bile

of the billion blades of grass

that never cut you

in revenge.

Feed the earth with your shed cells.

Molt. Mutate. Evolve.

Be not afraid to grow up.

Be not afraid to grow down.

Growth moves in all directions,

And that means more than we admit.

Dig your toes into crumbling millennia

and feel the coolness of what doesn’t

get graced by the sun.

Let’s not play nice.

We’re groundward bound

in too many ways

To be treacle-sweet.

Speak love in anger.

Whisper joy through fear’s teeth.

Scream until your lungs collapse,

until your voice

becomes a symphony

of shrapnel,

letting the blood

of a forgotten god.

  • Gregory Smith

“The Solution”

Mistakes mold minds into memories.

Still, I rose above my fears and failures.

Solutions can come out of our destiny.

My solution is taking the first step.

Being a writer and freedom fighter

are my passion.

Now, I have the satisfaction

of knowing dreams are possible.

Your mistakes are not your end.

Find the solution.

Never allow the pollution in others

To become your dividend.

  • Traci Neal

“The Futility Of Haystack Searching”

A tribute to Vincent Van Gogh

With A Nod to Buddhist Spiritual Practice

Have I mentioned my search for a needle

has a history going back decades

and has been unsuccessful until now?

I’ve glued my ear to the ground for a clue

to what I do and why I’m doing it,

and all I’ve got for my Herculean

efforts is a lack of satisfaction

and the loss of a sorely needed ear

which might have been better employed listening

to perfectly good advice from experts

suggesting I keep my wits about me

and adopt a less passive attitude

if I am looking for the solution

to a non-imaginary problem.

I wake up after an afternoon nap

to find my thoughts completely turned around –

never mind how – so now I can clearly

see what my mistake has been all along.

My obsession with finding the needle

has been the sole source of what has gone wrong

all of this time I’ve been searching for it.

A person of a certain age – like me

always has the chance to be as self-duped

as any other human alive does.

Questioning myself provides the answer

to a question I never should have asked –

the source of my mistake in the first place.

I’ve found knowing myself is the best way -

the only way - to maintain a straight path.

Awake and vigilant, I will prosper

not having to search for needles again.

  • R. David Drucker

“Bella the Dog” 

Way down, her brain's deep insides

search out memory of how-to-do.

Dog Bella rolls around

the beachside find - a coconut, fibrous

'til she finds a hold

can wrap her strong jaws

around the nearly ball

and carry it, carry it -- proud

of her conquering, her trophy, be it food or toy.

  • Lynn Chong

“Backyard Up North”

Coming home I see the grass

turned green with April's pulling sun.

My eyes scan side to side.

Edges out there seem my green edges too.

I'll go out and stand,

plant my human feet

on this post-winter wonder

and love it, love it -- miracle

showing Persephone is back, a mother's joy.

  • Lynn Chong

“For Fiona Broyles”

This gone-by girl lost her life to

internal roller-coaster rides.

We only surmise her pain.

She thought to put on her going-out earrings.

She went out and walked.

California's sun

shown on her the whole way

'til she found her place -- her peace,

becoming red roses planted in her grandma's yard.

  • Lynn Chong

“Seven Months into Nineteen”

There’s something seriously hopeless about adulthood

But sometimes I lose my lack of hope too

It depends on if I think people are inherently bad or good

As you sit beside me I could

Not know if I’m having a breakthrough or a breakdown

There’s something seriously jarring about the latter’s likelihood

There’s something seriously bleak about completing childhood

But only if I agree that I’ve accomplished it too

It depends on if I think people are inherently in adulthood

As I sit beside you I should

Tell you to tell me what my thoughts are to you

There’s something seriously adult about wanting to be understood

There’s something seriously inherent about confusing womanhood

With an act that I do for others’ judicial review

It depends on if I think doing for others is inherently bad or good

As you sit beside me I would

Start crying if I told you

How seriously hopeless I can be about anything good

Though it depends on if I think hopelessness is bad or adulthood

  • Catriona Stewart

“Just Another Stage Adaptation”

Text:

“A Rose for Emily”

Playwright:

William Faulkner

Director:

I’ll do it

Cast:

I’ll be Homer Barron and you can be Miss Emily

Stage Directions:

We’re both in bed → you can take the right side and I’ll take what’s left

Act I Synopsis:

You lay with me

as I decompose

into our bed

You lay with me

as I curl

into my print of putrid deterioration

into the fabric of our bed

You hold me until

the hand you hold

is bare

is bone

is smooth

is skinless

and the eyes you look into

are raw

are rot

are sockets

are sightless

And you think that this is better

than laying without me

Intermission:

Please stay seated.

Act II Synopsis:

Please. Stay.

Still

I wish you

let me choose

Director’s Notes:

1. I’ll take the right side and you can take what’s left

2. You’ll take the right side and you’ll take what’s left

3. Get out of bed, Homer

  • Catriona Stewart

“Arguments” 

I am baffled by

your behavior.

It's iffy at best

truly baffling,

insufferable.

You puff yourself up

with lots of fluff n stuff.

I'm ruffled

and cannot muffle,

nor tolerate

your insufferable bluffing

huffing and puffing

and waffling.

Enuff!!

It's all I can do

to resist kerfuffles with you

followed by scuffles and fisticuffs

It's ruff and tuff not to!

But alas with a gasp

how fast these flow past....

After all....

Shall we crash and trash

all those smashing years of good stuff?

Why not cut the gruff

and be through,

kiss and make up-be done

with insufferable me and insufferable you.

  • Amy Brenner Mitz

“Narcissist's Divorce”

I took you to a restaurant so you wouldn't make a scene

and ask me where I'm going or, worse yet, where I've been.

Expensive wine was ordered to soften coming blows.

Yet, something about your demeanor made me think, "She knows."

So after talk of Red Sox and weather and the like

I tried to put it gently that it's time you take a hike.

Our relationship is over, finis, all done, kaput.

You bore me to the core, from your head down to your foot.

It's been a lousy marriage and one without much merit.

Now how was I to know that you'd react in such hysterics?

As I bit into chateaubriand, you turned all blue and green,

and didn't touch your pricey meal, you ungrateful little fiend.

So, I'm writing you this poem to acknowledge my disdain

for how you spoiled our evening and blasphemed my good name.

And, I'm putting you on notice as well as she who follows

That all my future breakups will take place at a McDonald's.

  • Alexis Wallace

“The Lucky Ones”

Flying

Moving swiftly through the air

This feeling unlike any known to man

I crave this feeling, and I had it

But it was lost

Down I fell,

I fell for two eternities it felt like

All these images rushing through my mind

The why,

how,

and when

I moved down with the speed of a meteor

Then the ground

I could see it coming from so far away

I hit and my mind went to a million different places

Wondering how I ended up in this predicament

Once that shock was gone,

the pain

Agonizing in all ways,

But the pain is not the worst part

As I lay there on my side,

leg in one hundred pieces

I just think about the future

What will I miss

What must I endure

This is when the depression kicks in

I wallow in self pity

Wondering

Why me?

I lay in my bed

Thinking about my misfortune

I feel as if nothing worse could happen

To me

Or to anyone

Then I look at my phone,

and on the screen I see his name

Nagle2

Scotty Lapp

Just as quickly as the ground came to my feet everything changed

  • Ryan Nagle, 10th grader

“Above A Mended Yankee Wall”

Three forsythia in a row

Each planted in a shallow hole

Dug early one Fall by me

Their leaves once green then golden brown

Now blow across a well kept lawn

And escape my rake till spring

I wonder as I pass them by

How they managed to survive

Every test of time to date

Carelessly I tossed them in

Where they faced some drought and wind

Then turned them over to fate

What gift of grace makes them grow tall

Above a mended Yankee wall

Where yellow bells ring in spring

These woody plants on grafted stock

Protected by a glacier rock

Did bloom in spite of me

  • Donna Tartaglia

“The Letter”

The envelope came in the mail this morning

post-marked Montgomery, Alabama,

the palest scent of the sweet South

the words break the seal of my memory,

I will leave the desert forever.

The car knows the open road - my concrete hope,

tongues of heatwaves distort the sagebrush

along the highway, I head towards

the future I left long ago.

  • Sandy Makau

“Ode to Teeth Brushing”

Brushing my teeth

sink and suds bubble forth

penance for past mistakes,

paths not taken, regrets,

memories roam

like hopping toads, leaping from

lily pad to lily pad,

mundane to the profound

in my private confessional.

  • Sandy Makau

“Persis”

White linen on the breakfast table

tea-cart in the afternoon

born into gentility

She outlived daughter, son, husband,

two world wars, and a lifestyle -

sold the baby grand piano

and the house of many rooms

but kept her optimism

kept the jaunty angle of her hats

silver bracelets, always earrings

tailored dresses, wavy auburn hair

and her belief that life would give

as much as she put into it.

And it did.

  • Chris Hague

“Wisdom of the Ages”

From getting older

You’d think also we’d get wiser.

Learn from past mistakes

and let them lie.

Instead of having struggles

much like those we’ve had before,

Our previous experience

we’d apply.

Yet I find, at thirty one

that’s not what happens.

My mistakes were much the same

at twenty four.

The only consolation

(and perhaps this makes me wise)

I forgive myself more quickly

than before.

  • Joy Downs

“TWO KINDS OF ANGER” 

One is the anger of hate

Trash talk gone viral

Whipped up words that

Wreck and Divide

The other is the anger of injustice

Clarion calls centered

In hearts and souls that

Build and Connect.

For every whipped up word

May we answer

with the breath

of a Clarion Call.

  •  Amy Brenner Mitz

“The Drumbeat of Justice”

"The arc of the moral universe"

will not end here

with senatorial fear

of retribution.

The moral arc toward justice

may be too slow

lacking a solid flow

of fair solutions.

But the moral arc toward justice

cannot let cynics take hold,

steal the stories of bold warriors

whose truths must be told.

The moral arc toward justice

is a drumbeat

a conversation

without cessation

about freedom

with responsibility

about civil rights

with accountability.

Our democracy is torn apart

and the drumbeat for justice

is fighting for its pulsating heart.

But it's not too late to do our part

if we halt the flow of hate

encourage and promote

the value of

each and every good vote

and each and every note

of the unstoppable chorus of the damned and the free:

Do not do unto others

what I do not want done to me.

The drumbeat for justice

doesn't bully or harm

the neighbor or stranger

with guns or strong arm

the public with lies

and false hopes

or diminish the other

with words or stolen gropes.

The drumbeat for justice

is not one nation divisible

under one king's reign

with sole power unrestrained.

The drumbeat for justice

will accelerate faster

divert our whole world

from impending disaster

if we clarify Wisdom

and Knowledge and Truth

no false interference

in the lone voting booth.

We are destined to fail

risk gross mass defeat

if we grab as we go,

stampede to compete.

We have capital, social

and other great isms

that give us our freedoms.

Let's reframe all the schisms.

We will build better schools

better life-long learning tools

fight corruption without brash

interruption from fools.

We are hard driving builders,

teachers and scholars,

farm workers and cleaners

in white and blue collars,

addressing the climate

improving our health

tuning in to good choices

redefining our wealth.

We CAN have an economy

based on free enterprise

that also implies

one of humanity and good,

taking care of others

and our own neighborhood.

No corrupt entity

made of power and greed

but one that will address the needs

and choices of women,

people of color, who are transgender or gay,

those who have means, and those who can't pay,

attend to our children, the poor,

the old and the sick,

mend fences, open doors,

for more equitable ways

and as Reverend Darryl Gray reminds us

of what MLK had to say:

"There are no menial jobs,

just menial pay."

Let us respect the jobs which serve us-

Let us respect the extraordinary grace

of an ordinary day.

Let us respect each and every person

along the way.

  •  Amy Brenner Mitz

“From Dawn to Dust”

I marched across the cold hard Earth

And stood upon the plain,

My eyes the verdant garden touched

Upon Adam’s hominid mane.

For eons I roamed with leathered feet,

A skillful slayer thus,

And rose upon the distant shores,

By wind and sail and trust.

There were no lands I could not yield,

To hand or axe or plow,

And decimate the native tongue,

Since ‘God’ had showed me how.

I soon forgot the maternity,

Of living in this world,

And brought into modernity

Greed and hate and war.

Long have I lost the vision of Old,

Once gained upon that plain,

Instead I crawl through deep despair

Seeking to be whole again.

Yet my children’s laughter,

Like a shaft of light,

Resounding upon the stage,

Has given me hope to regain the truth

Of living like a Sage.

  • Rick Van de Poll

“Girl as Birch”

pretending

compliance pliant,

ancient lenience

according to a (faulty) credo:

any agile gesture

equals allure.

Then, when wind abates

stature regained, a realignment

silent-limbed liminal,

resilient as a branch

pushed from the path

and springing back.

  • Rebecca Kaiser Gibson

“Trumpet Vine”

Waiting outside the village grocery store

until it was emptier, holding only the required amount of people,

my attendant waiting was supervised by a woman sweeping

the fallen orange trumpets from the trumpet vine, dozens of them.

She looked up when I said, “Look, there’s a butterfly,”

hanging out on the door screen, a brown spotted orange sulphur.

“Maybe it’s a sign,” I said. “Yes, it’s a sign, maybe from my brother,”

she surmised. “I’ve been missing him so much,” her pale blue eyes

above her midnight blue mask watering.

“I dreamed last night that I smelled my brother,

and he was big and strong,” holding her hands out to twice

her size, broom handle still in hand. “He died of kidney

disease: he had a kidney transplant, and he never

should have had it. It killed him.”

“What did he smell like, in your dream, sandalwood,

aftershave?” I asked. “No, just clean, pure, like

an angel. He was big, and white, glowing. Then he was skinny

and shriveled like when he died. My mother, my father,

my brother, all gone.” “I know,” I said, “I’ve lost my

parents too, and others. All the people who passed are closer now,

checking in on us, asking what the hell is going on.”

  • Laura Rodley

“Bird Lessons”

It is when we pray that we really are.

Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Birds must pray all the time.

That’s why they sing as they

build nests, spread wings,

tend their young

and teach them to fly--

an ultimate act of faith.

I watch a robin probe my lawn,

turn its head this way and that,

as if to listen

for worms moving

in the grass or dirt below--

answer to its prayers.

Straining, frantic to hear,

I copy the robin, cock my head,

wanting the shift of angle

to allow answers

to slide in more easily

like a baseball player

rounding third and coming home.

With my head turned,

perhaps like some version of kneeling,

I find the world in a thistle,

the rug of earth before a mountain,

and how the answers live

on the other side of an echo.

  • Suzanne Dudley

“Daffodil Lesson”

Even the daffodils understand.

When their heads get too big,

they bow them.

  • Suzanne Dudley

“Unplanned Legacy”

You jumped from our boat into another,

cranked the throttle,

and the motor churned the water.

A plume of froth

belched from the depths,

bubbles sizzling

an acrid air

infused with gasoline.

As you motored off,

we stood on the deck

watching the wake widen like straddling legs.

You glanced over a shoulder

before growing smaller and smaller,

snuffing yourself out.

We slipped and slid, feet unsteady

atop our heaving vessel,

its belly groaning.

With the snapping sound of a bullwhip,

wind pounced into the sails--

the last white flick

of canvas, of wave, of loss,

stinging like salt

bitter on our tongues,

burning our eyes,

leaching us.

We learn to cup our hands,

drink brine and rain.

Each drop a prism

that transmutes our mewling grief

into banks of red tulips, orange poppies, daffodils,

crowned with indigo blue and violet skies.

So that from our tatters

we cast colored confetti, light, and love

as we parade through days,

still riding our haunted ship.

  • Suzanne Dudley

“Under The Bridge, A River”

Late February: the whole of one winter

white on the rocks, and between runs

black water. Gray snow beneath

is translucent, a breath.

In the shallows, black stones

shed ripples. One quivers,

dips, then

raises its head, opens its wings.

  • Brian Evans-Jones

“Arrested Momentum”

Word comes my teacher has died.

Too raw to be among people,

I seek refuge at the recovery center,

where I brush off a young man

so he won’t ask questions.

Making my way to a darkened room,

I sit in silence as long dormant tears

usher memories of wooden pews

in churches open all night,

providing shelter for lost souls.

Being found takes time.

“I’ve been waiting for you,”

my teacher said when we met,

presaging years of coaxing

and prodding toward freedom.

On the reservation,

looking for validation,

hoping for salvation,

born anew of an earthen womb

I finally saw my soul sickness.

But boundaries became barriers

and guidance turned to abuse,

so I left. Now, a timely

and gratifying chance to say

“I’m sorry” and “Goodbye.”

Driving home,

a stoplight turns red.

Usually impatient,

I welcome the gift

of arrested momentum.

  • Peter Harris

“Remedy”

It is a Tuesday, and I am buzzed

in the afternoon, blue October sky,

enough warmth to warrant

watering the perennials we trans-

planted; the dog stands at the mouth

of the yellowjacket hive, snapping

his own mouth, unflinching.

It is I who takes the stinger,

First my thumb, then my thigh.

I am an initiate, and this is a new

pain, free from panic.

I crush the insect against my

thumb and drop it into

your hand, unknowing.

You drag me from the swarm,

crashing through rows of kale.

I hunt in the yard for plantain

but yarrow finds me first—pick

a palmful to mouth and chew,

spit the bitter green onto my

swelling flesh, watch as it retracts

wait until only the red welts

remain, cooling.

There is always some kind of

intervention I can take to

find the pleasure in my pain,

I drink myself dumb while you

praise the flowers tucked

in my cheek.

  • Elizabeth Robertson

“Lottery Tickets”

You play your birthday

I’ll play mine

What about your cousins?

No

Not my cousin’s birthday

It’s carries bad juju

Ever since he scratched the babysitter’s car

With the handlebar of his bicycle

Not forgetting that time

He flug a birthday card of mine

Across the room like a neighborhood paper

Boy

How about Uncle Gary?

Ok

  • Richard Dixon

“Letter to Self”

At fifteen, you didn’t know why

you bought him, but you did.

Somehow how the small wooden carving,

cupped in your hand, spoke to you.

His stooped shoulders and back

rounded in shame whispered your name.

Did you recognize his story, feel his pain?

Did you think you could soothe him, save him?

Listen up—Forget the past; better yet, hide it

under a translucent scrim, so its lessons

shine through.

Forget the small statue you bought

at the World’s Fair, forget the lifeless man

pulled in on himself, his nakedness calling.

You don’t need him anymore. I’m telling you,

dark is what brings out your light. Let go

the praise or shame. Honor the mystery

of it all.

Say something, say anything. Stand upright

to your full height.Tell us what elements

burn inside you.

Go ahead, light your own lamp,

lift the lantern high; on second thought,

choose something like a star.

Blow out the sanctuary votive you lit

for forgiveness. Like a nightingale, trill now

about the magic you’re ready to offer the world.

  • Barbara Bald

“Prayer”

All of existence in the air

The humming birds, the bees

The bats

The darting dragon flies

May you be blessed.

All of existence in the waters

The orcas, the whales

The watercress

and coral reefs

may you be blessed.

All of existence in the soil

The roots of every tree

The microbes

The earthworms and the voles

May you be blessed.

All of existence on the earth

The elephants and tigers

The moose

The snails and stones

May you be blessed.

By warmth of sun

May you be blessed.

By light of moon

May you be blessed

By fire, by rain, by death

May you be blessed.

Oh Mother of all,

As grass before wind

Would that we bow

Forehead to the earth.

Know our place.

Repent.

  • Kesaya E. Noda

“Untitled”

Thee who rejects the olive branch,

Will never dawn the wreath.

Of course you need the Gods to weave the crown,

And a boy not of a broken family, with golden scissors, to collect the leaves.

Find me a family not broken,

And I'll show you a thread

Before it's severed by The Fates.

All the souls, steps from championship

Brandishing a shield, marvelous as it is vital.

Craftsmanship shining as beads of sweat on strong thighs.

Then Luck strikes the tendon!

Soft from where your mother anchored you,

Now you will never surmount her grief

All the lost souls with the weight of their mothers' hopes;

A kingdom to behold.

Even Achilles would still rather be a slave Than king of the dead.

  • Alexis Couture

“Multiverse”

1

The hot pink hollyhocks have halted.

The moon swells. Last winter

she saw the white moon and waited.

This year, she searches the sky

for the star that could be love

or a flicker, a jet en route to Vancouver,

the gold temples of Sri Lanka.

2

Farther out

she falls into wonderland

eternally inflated

the white glare off the lake

is blinding breathtaking

connected to the Sturgeon Moon,

and a man who sails his boat

writing poems to her sky,

with a voice to soothe the waves.

3

Below that star

ancient pines stand

in a base of glacier soil, pink granite.

In a Maine cottage this same potential

Being sits behind a bottle expanding bourbon.

An unfinished manuscript is scattered

on a table, a black lab

sleeps on a dark red rug.

4

Leaving a black sky streaked with white exhaust

within an infinite universe

every single possible configuration of particles

is possible.

  • Christina Felix

“Enough”

Enough waffling.

Just go.

If the beach is gone it’s gone.

If it is dark, it’s dark.

Go.

Enough worry has washed up and about.

About decisions made.

About choices missed.

It’s getting dark.

Take any path to the beach.

The lighthouse ensures you're never lost.

The sand's always shifty.

The waves always rogue.

Conditions impossible.

Don’t wait.

Run into the dark.

Find what you want.

Make your own light.

  • Robert Minicucci

“Poetry Month in New Hampshire”

First day after ice-out

on the local pond,

I stand

sand-shod,

familiar scratch and slide

beneath my feet,

then icy thrill

of water newly loosed

from winter’s fist.

It’s warm for April

and even though

the forest’s dark

and sun-starved heart,

rough-patched still

with scraps of snow

is a truth I’m not

forgetting quite . . .

For now, for a bit

the sun is a kiss

and I tip my face

to the light.

  • Joanne Tulonen

“The War Criminal”

When the tyrant causes years of it, pain

much beckons. The tyrant wants more, only

tyranny diminishes all by sucking away.

The tyrant empties himself of soul

while having more of something else.

The tyrant can't begin to see his future tyrannical

end when the tyrant forgets lament and its worth.

The tyrant's task is too ingrained.

When the tyrant's ears burn, worthy friends

have disappeared, overtaken by tyranny.

What the tyrant can only choose,

is the bigger tyranny of war.

Best for war is that the tyrant will choose

war's domination over the tyrant.

  • Lynn Chong

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