From the archives – Sonnenizio on a Line from Yeats by Catherine Rogers

Sonnenizio on a Line from Yeats

An aged man is but a paltry thing.
An aged woman, on the other hand,
Has no time to be paltry like her man.
She’s coaxing fire to make the kettle sing.

She fries the sausages and sets the forks.
He sighs his own obituary, then dozes,
Dreaming of imperishable roses.
Real roses must be pruned. She gets to work.

The old man has his legacy to tend;
He mourns his fading powers with aching heart.
Her hands ache with arthritis, but she’s smart
And takes an aspirin; she has socks to mend.

Byzantine sage, enough of fiery gold!
The real trick’s being too busy to get old.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 27, 2015 — by Catherine Rogers

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

Directions for Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts by Lauren WB Vermette

Directions for Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts

Pick up a shaker; no, not that one.
The one filled with salt. Retrieve it

from the kitchen, your dining table,
a tv-tray. Hold it to your ear and tip

it back and forth— notice the pulse
against your ear drum, a brief sigh

and a thump, sigh and thump.
Feel the weight of the grains

as they drop from top to bottom.
Count each one as it descends.

This moment is the present,
and you are shaking salt

to remind yourself
that you are still here.

by Lauren WB Vermette

Editor’s note: Allegory is a most useful technique, and this poem makes excellent use of it.

Sirens by Greg Watson

Sirens

All summer long we have heard
the sirens rising, falling,
blazing down our tree-lined streets—
fire trucks and ambulances
parting the seas of traffic,
stopping time at the ticking
lights of intersections.
We have heard the dogs howl
in response, the shrieks of crows,
heard the silence that follows,
the sudden stillness of sky.
We are weary with this
small but constant mourning,
as we are guilty of occasionally
forgetting where these sirens lead,
the story at the other end,
the life unspooling into daylight.
Yet we are admittedly grateful
as the blare and lights fade,
our ears still ringing in shock;
we are grateful that today
we stand quietly observing,
with barely our shadows
to weigh us down,
just off to the side of it all.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s note: This poem is so smoothly written that the imagery slips into the mind’s quiet chamber with ease, yet the echo of the words lingers. This poem reminds me of something Ted Kooser said about writing a poem: “Enjoying a well-written poem can be like going for a ride in a glass-bottomed boat.”

Enough by Judy A. Johnson

Enough

After months of wearing green,
the trees have had enough,
lusting after bursts of red, yellow, orange, brown
against bright blue October skies
until their leaves have also had enough,
and drift down into piles that crunch underfoot.
The tomato and pepper plants—
of more use to the deer than me—
have cried enough,
their spindly stems now moved to the brush pile.
My flowers too have declared enough, enough
. . . . . . .except for the impatiens
. . . . . . .losing leaves but still flaunting petals
. . . . . . .like the balding woman in chemo
. . . . . . .dyeing her few remaining strands of hair bright pink.

by Judy A. Johnson

Judy on Facebook

Editor’s note: This poem seems simple, with lovely imagery and personification, and then the last four lines leap up like a shout.

3 AM in the Time of Covid-19 by Laura Rutland

3 AM in the Time of Covid-19

Sleep is the silent nest of hope,
but the spirit cannot stop chirping.
The spirit cannot stop fluttering.
It lifts its head and shrieks at emptiness.
It hops up and down on the branch,
flaps its wings, fluffs its feathers.
Frantic, it counts invisible hawks.
After hours of lonely thrashing, it watches,
drunk with fatigue. When first light hatches
on the edge of the sky, vision darkens
just as daylight demands begin.

by Laura Rutland

Laura on Facebook

Editor’s note: A dramatic first line immediately draws the reader into this poem, where metaphor and allegory speak of sleeplessness and frustration.

Nunc Dimittis by Rebekah Curry

Nunc Dimittis
In memory of Geoffrey Hill

Lord, now lettest Thou. Leaf-fires
smoke in pale rain. A hawk circles.
All that is given, I have: the dark
of pines, the tooth of the fox,
the slow blood, breath through the mist.
What must be enough is enough. Mine eyes
have seen Thy salvation, my death
lies in the sodden roots.
In peace so let me. I hide
under the shadow of these wings.

by Rebekah Curry

Twitter: @rebekah_curry

Editor’s Note: Abbreviated sentences and careful enjambment frame this lament with weary grief, and while the nod to classical prayer is evident, the imagery reminds the reader that death is more visceral than cerebral.

From the archives – Seamstress by Ralph Culver

Seamstress

Belief in the thread consoles, redeems. The warm
ease of your ceaseless hands draws down
the twill-flecked light. Beyond the windowpane,
stars shred themselves and drift across silk, seams for
your later eyes to follow. Now,

deft in work, the blue irises feed through
each pass of the needle, riddle the
carcass of the cotton-flower. There is
always work, and always another hour. Your
spare form, clothed in a loose blouse and
the sweating air: stale and harried, yet
rising, constellated with the remnant sparks. You,
only sewing. Something else is joined together.

“Seamstress” is an acrostic poem dedicated to its subject, whose name is
spelled by the first letter of each line.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, October 9, 2015 — by Ralph Culver

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

Night Sky by Chris O’Carroll

Night Sky

I live on the Moon in a comfortable house,
I sleep in a comfortable bed.
But one thing I never find comfy one bit
Is a cow jumping over my head.

The Moon is the cheerfulest place you could live,
And the friendliest place you could visit.
But mooing and swooping a path through our sky
Every night isn’t courteous, is it?

I totally get it – the party got wild,
The spoon and the dish ran away.
Natural enough that a frisky young calf
Should be up for a new way to play.

But let’s all agree it’s gone on long enough –
Night after night the same leap,
The same horns and hooves flying by overhead,
Disturbing a Moon-dweller’s sleep.

If the cow wants to jump now and then, that’s OK,
Every creature deserves a good lark.
But spare us some nights with our sky undisturbed,
Just earthglow, the stars and the dark.

So, please, if your family has a pet cow,
Or you plan to acquire one soon,
No matter what else you may train it to do,
Teach it not to jump over the Moon.

by Chris O’Carroll, first published in Light

Editor’s Note: This poem is delightful. The only thing that would make it better would be some artwork. Anyone? It is Inktober, after all.

The Bottom of the Mountain by Jennifer Shneiderman

The Bottom of the Mountain

Exhilarating sting of snow
light dusting of powdered sugar lashes
you flew in the night
skis whispering
catch up
catch up
the frozen surface crunches
and chatter-chants
sister, brother
wait, wait
wait for me
at the bottom of the mountain.
The siren trees bend and speak
plant your pole
bend your knees
catch up
catch up
the wind and stars call to you
at the fork
you are swallowed
whole.
We will remember you
forever
at the bottom of the mountain.

by Jennifer Shneiderman

Twitter: @JenniferShneid3

Editor’s Note: Repetition and short lines create speed in this poem, calling to mind the motion of skiing and the pounding of one’s heart as the bottom of the mountain rushes up to you.

What I’ve Been Trying to Tell You About Dancing by Peg Duthie

What I’ve Been Trying to Tell You About Dancing

This business of bodies too often makes
a woman shrivel up and shrink
instead of claiming all of the space,
all of the stage, all of her life.
I didn’t learn to unclench until I fled
the slippers of glass, invisible but ever
present, pinching, shredding the curves
of my feet into raw, reddened wounds.
I’ve heard of tunnels that aren’t haunted
by trains or wrecks or absent light.
I’ve heard of traipsing toward a happy ending.
Last night you spoke to me of a princess
who not only slept on top of the pea
but skipped it across the moat, and married
not the prince—who’d want such a queen
as one’s mother-in-law—but the fish who’d gobbled
up the tiny globe, which somehow broke the spell
that had him swimming around a castle
instead of standing on its parapets. That happens, I know,
in ballads and ballets: limbs leaning into
whatever the story needs, however unnatural
its shape or color or trails. It’s often unearthly
and sometimes gorgeous and glorious
but what I crave at the end of the night
is a welcoming bed, sans litmus-test-by-legume:
to close my eyes and rest within steady
arms, or fins, or wings—we both spreading out
as safety and stillness slide us into sleep.

by Peg Duthie

Twitter: @zirconium
Instagram: @zrpeg

Editor’s Note: The conversational tone of this poem is the perfect foil for its fairy tale imagery, at once making it feel mythological and dreamy, yet also grounding the reading in what is real and true.