But Skin Is Different by Rajani Radhakrishnan

But Skin Is Different

There are indentations in the blue
porcelain like impressions on soft
wax where it was held softly, when

the tea was warm, for a while, and it
would not stop raining. We leave marks
on things that least expect it, on a passing

wing, on yellow afternoons, on the serrated
silhouette of leaves against a midnight
moon, on time standing on one leg, back

against the far wall, waiting. Truth is a
collage of careless fingerprints, the rain can
draw your picture from the way your hand

caressed the clouds, but skin is different,
naked skin can be cleansed, memory carries
the deliberate guilt of sieved pain. This tea is

cold, a level certainty in an imperfect cup, it
is only mid-June, the sun flattens like an
unleavened candle, and it will not stop raining.

by Rajani Radhakrishnan

Editor’s Note: The philosophical musing of the narrator in this poem is emphasized by the surreality of the imagery. Some poems are meant to be experienced, not untangled.

The Sounds Water Makes by Martin Willitts Jr.

The Sounds Water Makes

Grandmother hated the rusty click-clack whoosh
metallic sound of the kitchen hand pump,
preferring I’d go out: Fetch a wooden bucket
of water from the well.

I’d creak-creak the pulley rope
until I’d feel the bucket slap-bottom-touch the water,
go slower, sensing it sink-fill, then
tug-yanked up into sunlight, a slushing bucket,
fetched it back.

Water tasted different when from a bucket
or the hand-pump or metal ladle at the well.
I never understood how the texture and flavor changed.

All I knew was grandma hated the fancy hand pump,
choosing the old Amish, sensible ways,
without gadgets and gizmos. She desired a world
waking up to hardness of life, as loose
as water. But the rest of the world was moving
in a blur she’d never understand, leaving her behind,
set in her ways, her bones too old and stubborn
for there to be any other way than plain-spoke,
careful with words, listening before speaking,

She wanted a time when water was water,
and sky clung fiercely to the land.
She declared, “You can keep your ways.”

I was too afraid to ask her what she was going to do
with all that water. I went softly back outside,
floors screech-scratching behind me

like a rope being lowered into the deepest well.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The plain-spoken tone of the narrator mirrors the subject—a grandmother married to ways that feel simple, but are often anything but.

A tiny dance of coming to by Charles Carr

A tiny dance of coming to

The first faded sight of blue,
just enough dark sees
the moon as a big toe
in a torn sock,
seven o’clock traffic is
an agitated ocean,
a tide changing
its mind, wipers sweep
clean where night slept
dew on the windshield,
now the sun is a thumb
pierces the skin
of an orange,
it seems impossible
the sky fits it all in its mouth
at once and suddenly
the taste of light on everything.

by Charles Carr

Twitter: @selfrisinmojo

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem meanders from personification to surrealism, but the emotional undertone remains luminous.

From the archives – The Cabin by Ed Granger

The Cabin

Skip down the ladder from the loft
where yesterday’s last feverish kiss
of heat mothered you overnight.
Wrench open the stove door screeching
like an old iron safe, embers banked
in one corner like dreams awaiting
their next breath. You’re here, dead center
of nowhere, Nova Scotia. You came expecting
insight of some kind. You were mistaken.
The molten seethe of pine logs as they snap
latent sap up the black iron pipe
back into these baffling woods
tells you nothing. Dreams of your father
alive again, upstairs, shaving,
have followed you here. Of course
you told him you loved him,
even through purple lesions as he
whispered something about a Jesus
he’d never believed in. Feed brittle bits
of moss to the feeble orange glow, scraped
from the roof so they won’t claim renegade
sparks. Finesse the vents for a sense
of control. Your coffee is barely potable.
Your father was rarely approachable.
Lace up your boots, head out. Your father
was killed because he tried to pound
a square-peg self into this life until
his round-peg 9-to-5 metastasized. You
came here seeking liberation, found
this new routine. Today, maybe hike
to the logging camp where saws
weep dry crocodile tears. Stay available.
Reconcile yourself to this place.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 29, 2017 — by Ed Granger

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Flotilla by Steve Deutsch

Flotilla

You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.

You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.

Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.

by Steve Deutsch, first published in Weatherings.

Editor’s Note: The title in this poem serves up multiple meanings to the reader, in keeping with the narrative’s surprising imagery.

In a Taxi from de Gaulle by Rick Mullin

In a Taxi from de Gaulle

This morning the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
presents to the highway a century’s grime.
It hemorrhages clouds from a cold Sacred Heart

to color the city of Ingres and Descartes
a boulevard gray. In the interest of time
this morning, the plaster-white dome of Montmartre

speaks not of its grand contribution to art,
but more of its neighborhood’s canvas of crime.
The hemorrhage of cloud from its cold Sacred Heart

calls forward the spirit of Camus and Sartre—
the pipe smoke that wanders and couplets that rhyme.
Of mourning, the plaster-white dome of Montmartre,

of man in the city and man set apart.
A neutralized palette of carbon and lime
is hemorrhaging clouds from the cold Sacred Heart

to vistas bequeathed by a third Bonaparte,
on steps of the Commune, the pilgrim, the mime.
This morning the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
bleeds into the clouds from a cold Sacred Heart.

Paris, October 3, 2010

by Rick Mullin

Editor’s Note: This villanelle escapes the usual recursive spiral of repetition with carefully chosen imagery.

Bird Bareback on a Horse, Route 413 by Bernadette McBride

Bird Bareback on a Horse, Route 413

Usually slow as February, this one-lane road lets us
clip along today as if it doesn’t want to give any notice
to the soft haze of early May, the scent of newborn grass

as potent as it ever was when school terms wound down,
spring jackets came unstored and adolescence bore
mysterious urgings. A farmer rocks in his high John Deere

as his horses trot from the electric fence and we take turns
at a four-way stop. A young robin lights on a grazing
palamino’s back, rides easy as the horse sways and bows

to a buttercup breakfast; senses it’s safe here
the way once, as we watched the morning sky, a swallow
hopped to the welcoming twig of your index finger,

twitched its feathered head and lingered, scouting for kin,
just as if the laws of Eden were still intact.

by Bernadette McBride

Editor’s Note: For those of us who live in the rolling, verdant farms of Pennsylvania, this poem resonates with its quiet, beautiful imagery.