A Small Bird by Carol A. Amato

A Small Bird

A small bird’s egg tooth pokes light
into that safe darkness.

She rises wet from the jagged shell
to see the cold awareness of stars,
an imperfect egg moon.

She feels the weight of mother
love above her, transient as
the broken fragments and the swirl
of feathers beneath her.

The nestlings grow quickly
the constancy of protein stuffed
often into their gaping mouths
(unlovely the caterwauling of need)
readying to test the sky.

Except for her.

She watches as they lift from their
boney home to join the flock
jostling for space on the high wire
paralleling the divided highway
dark sentinels facing into the wind.

In a sudden
they rise together conjoined as one
whirling and veering
slanting in and out of clouds
the swarm like a cult of bees
impenetrable and unquestioning.

She feels the pull of a gentle wind
lifting her maiden feathers into
a prophetic V.

Balanced on the nest edge
she leaps into that rarefied air
soaring on her own wings into
the swirling thermals toward the bold
new moon and the intrepid stars
like her
a small brave bird.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem feels like allegory, but even if it isn’t, the narrative of the small brave bird is one many of us need right now.

For the Death of My Ex-Husband by Elise Hempel

For the Death of My Ex-Husband

The first four stages of grief
have been accomplished, in random order,
a few repeated, with no clear border,
denial more like disbelief,

but the fifth – acceptance – almost
there on a sunny day, and then
refusing its place on the list again,
elusive as the five-word ghost

of your voice our daughter now
plays on her cell-phone over and over,
her finger in its endless hover,
passing the stop-square, pressing the arrow.

by Elise Hempel

Editor’s Note: This poem uses enjambment to great effect, highlighting the narrator’s sorrow (over her loss—so complicated, and her daughter’s—so easy to understand).

Winter Landscape With Deer and Stevens by Patricia Wallace Jones

Winter Landscape With Deer and Stevens

I cannot sing today.
The waves are too big and the wind
is crying a high-pitched whine
that makes me restless, unable to paint,
write, even read much more
than a poem or two.

The windows fog, beat to a rain
so iced and slanted that I can barely see
past Pomo Point where women go
to pray their men home on days like this.

With no palette to capture the morning
stretched taut before me, I become the lines
I read—another weeping woman
until I see them composed on the bluff
feeding on a hint of spring in all that grey.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

Patricia on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem’s opening line sets the tone for the narrator’s intensive sadness, but the ending provides a note of hope.

valentine by Charles Carr

valentine

Clouds are quiet as an older couple
comfortable with the softening of age.
The temperature is low even for this altitude.
We have taken its advice and layered:
thirty-eight years, parka, flannel, fleece.
Two deer raise their heads from the water
where they drink but are not alarmed, game
does not follow hunt this far down river.
A heron shivers like a statue as if to cherish
the instant before it claims a trout a victory
for all herons. We too are still, if we make
a sound it’s a quick gasp of lung to remind us
our biology, the same bald eagle as last
spring, the wind from its wings has smoothed
the sky like a crumpled sheet of paper. Now
it reads us from a list of heights it plans
to reach today.

by Charles Carr

Twitter: @selfrisinmojo

Editor’s Note: The imagery of this poem is astonishingly beautiful, and quite fitting for this day.

The Day Before by Debbie Hall

The Day Before

We treat it like any other,
pick and peel blood oranges, feast
on their deep red flesh, juices flowing
down our arms like a blessing. We laugh
at the crows’ raucous chorus, bask
in a hummingbird’s iridescence
as he pulls nectar from the feeder.
We change sheets, wash towels
and brush the cats as though the day
will pass into another no more or less
remarkable than this one. While the sun is high
and your body still whole, grief resides
elsewhere, hidden by daylight but waiting
its turn to seep through the cracks
into the deep dark of tomorrow.

by Debbie Hall

Editor’s Note: The title adds levels of meaning to this poem that don’t become clear until the very end.

She Remembers Blue by Larry Schug

She Remembers Blue
(for Katelyn)

As she perches in a small cave
carved by wind and rain and time
in the chalky gothic walls of Plaza Blanca,
I tell my blind friend,
who has a type of vision not available to me,
about the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at sunset,
fifty miles distant,
capped with snow the color of blood.
She tells me about how even the sound of raven wings
reverberates off canyon walls,
how her tapping cane and her footsteps
make different sounds on stone or sand,
how those sounds come back to her ears
differently from everything she passes.
She says she remembers the sky
from before her eyes closed.
She remembers blue.

by Larry Schug

Editor’s Note: This poem’s narrative hangs on a particular indescribable image, and the emotional impact resonates long after reading.

From the archives – My Valparaiso by Clark Holtzman

My Valparaiso
Or, The Fish
. . . . . . . .—for Carlos, Camila, Claudia & Ryan at the Neruda house, Valparaiso, Chile

This Pacific could not be bluer
if we waved a wand, or
this snail’s shell more green
or more certain of its greenness.
This stair could not labor so sensibly
up the hill of the poet’s dream
or these windows carry us
farther to paradise.

A minute here passes
like the cargo ships on the bay,
eternally, at ease, like the cat
licking itself in strong sunlight
on the funky garden bench.
I am caught by it, a fish in time,
surprised by the hook, the sharp,
startling wound of happiness.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 10, 2017 — by Clark Holtzman.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim