From the archives – Adjusting to war coming — David McAleavey

Adjusting to war coming

On the theory that if you tread enough water
the waves won’t close over you,
I did sufficient chores
to get out of the house,
its pretense of interminability –
solid bookcases, solid tables,
objects, objects.

Walked past the World Bank,
people with smudgy crosses on their foreheads,
Ash Wednesday,
past the souvenir stands, t-shirts 5 for $9, talk about cheap,
one of those days so full of signifying
even the veins in a slab of marble
look like figures, see,
that’s a tall person, slacks tight on her buns,
walking away.

Picked a route around puddles, melting snow,
noticed a stubby obelisk beside the Ellipse
put up by the DAC to name men
given the 17th century right
to own this land.

When our lives turn long enough
we realize we’ll never
have anything the way it was,
we set up stones,
asking them to speak,
pretending they will last.

Many more stones coming,
rows and rows, across the river.

We call this adjusting.

by David McAleavey

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 20, January 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

The Art of Freezing by Martin J. Elster

The Art of Freezing

The art of freezing isn’t hard to master.
For tiny frogs as tough as I am, snow
or frost on naked skin is no disaster.

Winter’s icy fingers do not fluster
me in the least. Since I’ve no place to go,
the art freezing isn’t hard to master.

I am a frog-cicle. When blizzards bluster
and icicles’ long fangs begin to grow,
their nudge on naked skin is no disaster.

My ticker, as if made of alabaster,
stops beating. Then when runnels start to flow,
I melt, for melting isn’t hard to master.

While thawing, though I’d love to do it faster,
my heart once more starts ticking. I’m a pro
at freezing and defrosting. No disaster!

And you, by probing me, will come by vaster
knowledge of saving organs. You will know
the art of freezing isn’t hard to master,
that snow on naked skin is no disaster.

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: Anyone fond of Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” will find this villanelle an absolute delight.

The Day by Yvonne Zipter

The Day

Everything delights me today—
the sun’s extravagant light,
the frost spreading across
the window like branches

on a tree, the dog’s tongue
lolling out from the side
of her mouth like a pink
curtain blowing out an open

window, the bass line
in that Lucinda Williams’
cover, the smoke tumbling
from chimneys like troops

of acrobats, my hair’s
independent spirit.
It was a year ago today
that a murderous mob tried

to drive a stake through
the heart of our democracy.
Faith has never been
my strong suit, but

I hang on to a belief
in goodness, as if
to the string of a kite.
And the kite were my heart.

by Yvonne Zipter

Instagram: @yvonnezipter
Twitter: @YvonneZipter

Editor’s Note
: This poem’s emphasis on joy (and hope) is beautifully supported by the similes and metaphors sprinkled throughout. The last line is brilliant. 

When We Learned This Truth by Edward Hack

When We Learned This Truth

It’s odd about the winter sun. Plain light.
No heat. That’s it. A bare bulb glow that’s weak
and white. A Harbor Freight shine barely bright.
Let’s say Ok, just competently bleak.
It doesn’t show what isn’t there, not one
pale shadow on the snow, no subtlety
of autumn’s fire, or spring’s delicious fun
with tones, or summer’s fierce intensities.
Today’s a room with primer on the walls,
one chair, a naked window like an eye
that cannot blink, a room where every flaw’s
an argument that says don’t even try
to wish for more, that’s not what winter’s for.
We learned this truth a long, long time before.

by Edward Hack

Editor’s Note: The opening lines of this sonnet emphasize the subject matter with perfectly short sentences; as if to say: this is the truth. Believe it.

Your Birthday by Ciaran Parkes

Your Birthday

Your birthday in the quiet
days just after Christmas.
The castle you wanted to visit
that no one local had heard of,
and, when we got there
it was early closing day.

We sat in the cafe,
wandered the grounds,
both sick, our various ailments
held at bay like the rain,
always threatening to come
down and fill the trees’ expectant arms.

Or at least I remember it that way
and how we found a weeping willow tree,
a green castle when we stepped inside.
The shadowed light, the rough trunk
just waiting to be caught in your embrace.

by Ciaran Parkes

Editor’s Note: This poem’s careful enjambment and delicately drawn narrative offers the reader a glimpse of how to make the best of something imperfect.

Demeter in the Overworld by Cameron Clark

Demeter in the Overworld

Pray for my daughter:
for Charon’s dipped oars in the obsidian of forgetting:
for a girl’s half-expectant face.

. . . Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: old god, awash
in winter
and diesel smoke
in a high street swarmed
with graystained voices and gray
coats, wearing her waiting buttoned
to the throat,
on the other shore
of the road’s harsh
and catalytic sea.

Some woman’s face, you think,
one more mother
among the press
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that mar
the symmetry of brick.

So you walk
on because the sun
is already shallow
in the sky; you have no
time to stop or help or pray.

Pray, gods. For the mother:
for the trees crouched uselessly above her:
for these last ice-bitten lilies of the valley hanging their heads.

by Cameron Clark

Editor’s Note: In this poem, the juxtaposition of old myth with modern life creates an dichotomy that vibrates between nostalgia and yearning.

Year in Review: 2021 Stats

I would like to thank everyone who reads Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, and all the poets who’ve sent their work to me over the years. I never guessed I would be doing this for so long when I began publishing Autumn Sky Poetry back in March 2006 as a quarterly ezine. There have been several long hiatuses and a few times I thought I might quit publishing altogether, but the quality of work I receive on a daily basis keeps me going. The stats for 2021 are truly impressive and have exceeded every other prior year:

  • Total views: 52,107 (average 4342 per month)
  • Total visitors: 21, 434 (average 1786 per month)
  • Likes: 1781
  • Comments: 359

This year I intend to keep posting poems from the defunct quarterly archives every Sunday. And though I will probably go on a few breaks here and there, rest assured that your spectacular poems and our community of poetry aficionados will keep Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY going for many years to come.

-Christine, editor

Reading our fortune in the patterns of frost by Julia Klatt Singer

Reading our fortune in the patterns of frost

How swirling the sky. How tumbling the stars
frozen in time, in place, angling towards
some soft landing, clear and bright.

Sure the mountains are jagged and tall, tipping
towards the sun. Sure the pines are lonely, perched
there, edging towards abandon. A moment

of sunlight and it’s as if they never existed at all.
But we know. We’ve seen the stars fall.
We’ve been to the mountaintop.

We’ve stood at the edge, gave in
to abandon. And we’d do it
again. And we do it


by Julia Klatt Singer


Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem demands that the reader feel what is seen, because it is both important and human to give in to the bit of vertigo that some beauty demands.

From the archives – Ellen Andreé Comments in a Letter to Her Sister on L’absinthe by Degas — David W. Landrum

Ellen Andreé Comments in a Letter to Her Sister
on L’absinthe by Degas

Of course I look dead drunk. I think that’s what
he aimed for—and, of course, he always got

the effect he wanted. I am staring out,
my eyes unfocused. Marcellin is the lout

beside me, puffing on a pipe, his eyes
scanning the room, as if for his next prize,

his next seduction. He has a soft drink,
I have a green cocktail—green, and I think

it’s called Absinthe. I’m not a connoisseur
of mixed drinks, so I’m not completely sure

that’s right. We both look stupid, but I guess
that’s what Monsieur Degas sought to express.

Painters are strange creatures—men who can look
on your bare form and never feel the hook

of lust snag in their flesh—like doctors they
can see you but not be carried away

with the desire most men feel in their blood
at a woman’s nakedness. I guess that’s good.

He’s never made advances—yet sometimes
I wonder if he even sees my charms

or thinks the parts of me that ravish men
might be a prize he’d go great lengths to win.

I’m getting off the subject. I’ll be down
next Saturday to see you in your town.

I’m glad to hear, thank God, Dafne, your child,
got over smallpox—that the case was mild.

To answer you, I don’t know if I’ll pose
for him in the future. As far as modeling goes,

I doubt if I can do it anymore.
I don’t like being painted as a whore,

and a drunk whore at that. As Crème de Menthe,
is always preferable over Absinthe,

modeling is dull; the stage is so much better.
I prefer acting. Now I’ll post this letter.

by David W. Landrum

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 19, October 2010

Painting by Edgar Degas, “The Absinthe Drinker.” 1876. Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.