Love Poem No. 54
I wish I knew how you create ceramics. Do you start with clay?
There. I show how ignorant I am when it comes to raw materials to shape
and heat to art; smooth, bright colored discs both square and circular,
bearing little semblance to their first consistency. You like your women
strong of body, pliable as clumps of dough under your rugged hands as you
sometimes seem to want to shape them into stone statues.
I’m neither clay nor rock. Though made of earth, my flesh is flesh.
But not my mind. There lies my strength, where you can never place
your hands, and yet you’ve shaped it into something kindlier as it absorbs
new sights and feelings. What’s lacking in my love: you won’t say love,
but the more that you stand firm in your denial,
the more I love.
by Rosemary Cappello
photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
Acquainted with the Night
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right
I have been one acquainted with the night.
by Robert Frost (1874–1963)
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
The Absent Place
Her husband rests
in the slanting Adirondack chair,
centered on the lawn he’s just cut,
for the first time this summer—
the one they know is her last,
though she’s not yet sixty.
He savors the fragrant spice
of shorn grass and blooming lavender,
forgetting, for a moment,
her countless tumors,
the malignant blooming.
She heats water in a copper pot,
stirs in sugar, simmers a new batch
of hummingbird nectar,
as the tiny whirring birds arrive:
one, then two, then one again,
hovering in the absent place
where the feeder once hung.
by Laura Foley, first published in Valparaiso Poetry Review.
Editor’s Note: Sometimes the sorrow happens before the death.
When my father came home from the war
two years after I was born
I couldn’t match his voice with his picture
and cried each time he came near.
Learning to talk, I called him “Doug,”
the way my mother did,
this strange man always trying to hold me—
how could he be my dad?
My father was there, right there in black and white
over my bed every morning
where I could see him with his uniform on,
boarding a train, waving good-by and smiling,
not that deep voice down the hall,
not those footsteps outside my door.
No, my dad’s a soldier who’ll be home soon,
so watch out you, whoever you are.
Then Doug went away like him,
leaving for work before dawn,
the knocker on the front door always tapping
as he closed it behind him in the dark,
the big brass knocker that brought me running
to peer through the mail slot
for him who never knocked, who never came,
only Doug, home late
each night from work, this man Doug
marching up the stairs, the hall light
fierce behind him in my doorway,
a blanket in his hand.
Editor’s Note: The spare narrative style and dramatic ending of this poem clearly illustrate the disconnect that comes from families that must endure separation.
escaping currents ready to
swallow her body
she pulls a lineage of forgotten
sacrifices in a single breath
through her slender bones
she arranges herself to a map of sea stars
against her palm, the air
heavy with the weight of driftwood
traveling through time
shadows swaying to an electric rhythm
she falls into someone’s lap, unknotting
her hair, gives away near-extinct
youthful hope like shell bracelets
watches herself in the mirror
inside a stuck elevator toward sky
sandwiched between concrete
the distant gypsy blue dissolves to fire
waves intervene in her spine
and she dresses up her body
with breezy space, detonates
elegies for the broken sea
outside, a light bug casting a glint
his nowhere too seems forfeited
by Ana Prundaru
Editor’s Note: The personification of a city within many images is creative and dizzying.
I rest on jagged pillows, rock beds by a dirty river.
I’m inclined to sleep through footsteps from the floor below.
A canary beats its wings bloody on a ribbed cage.
Still half awake, your fingers fall like crazy rain.
A telephone pole gets struck so hard it screams.
Light splits and crackles underneath my eyes.
Your spider-lashes crawl up my neck, catching freckle-flies.
A whisper climbs from your mouth and tiptoes in my ear
Latching to left and right hemispheres,
Laying eggs that won’t hatch for days.
I get caught in your undertow, a slave to the current.
I melt into the ocean and get thrashed against the shore,
somehow more solid than before.
You are sand in my teeth.
You are sand in my eyes.
your face is tired and fair.
Out of your throat, a sigh.
I settle into your crooked stick of a body.
Like moss or mold, I grow there.
And they’re beautiful,
These idiot hearts.
by Emily Laubham
Editor’s Note: In this poem, gritty imagery firmly sets the concept of love in reality, even as surrealism takes hold within the lines, much like the current in a river.