Empty Nest Ghazal by Sally Thomas

Empty Nest Ghazal

After lunch, she moves from room to room,
To sidestep the tail-twitching afternoon.

Someone’s left a sock behind the door,
First furtive ambush of the afternoon.

Crusted mascara wand beside the sink:
Dry bones, the dessicated afternoon.

All useless spoor of time she sweeps away.
Still time stalks her through the afternoon.

Always the silent house, and hours till dinner –
Too many simmering hours of afternoon.

She sits to write. Love, Mother. She can sign
An unsent letter every afternoon.

by Sally Thomas

Twitter: @SallyThomasNC


Editor’s Note
: This poem uses the repetition of the ghazal form to great effect, mirroring the endless hours of missing a loved one who has gone away with delicate (but also relentless) sorrow.

radioactive by Sam Rose

radioactive

we take the afternoon off work to visit the nuclear
medicine department at the hospital
and in the evening I try to access some feeling and I ask myself

if I cry, will that help flush the radiation out of my body?
or will it just give the bags under my eyes a buttercup glow
as if my pupils had become suns

stop
I say
stop
It was just a CT scan, just a tiny amount of radiation
and you are just melodramatic
you are just a girl, not spiderman
and nothing is happening

but that’s what burns

by Sam Rose

Twitter: @writersamr

Editor’s Note: The fractured lines and words of this poem perfectly encapsulate the uncertainty inherent in dealing with illness and the medical treatment that can feel more like a machine than healing. 

Brood Parasite by Eira Needham

Brood Parasite

From ivied stage a robin serenades,
while in the meadow grass his broody hen
hops among the boulders and invades
a crevice, moulding lichen for a den

to lay her brood. The parasite’s near call
provokes the bubbling chuckles of his mate;
she spies the moss concealed within the wall
and sneaks an egg inside to incubate.

Her chick emerges, fluttering to prise
all redbreast babies out. Instinctively,
it simulates their empty bellied cries.
Poor surrogate is hoodwinked by its pleas

and forages for worms, to satisfy
that constant gaping beak. Thriving it grows
to thrice the foster’s size. Ready to fly,
behemoth baby quits the crib and crows

cu coo. . . .cu coo. . . .cu coo

by Eira Needham

Editor’s Note: Enjambment and rhyme skillfully illustrate the ruthlessness of the season in this spring poem.

This Is Not My Story by Yvonne Zipter

This Is Not My Story

I am weeping in the kitchen, cutting tomatoes for dinner.
My wife comes into the room and asks what’s made me cry.
They showed a boy, I sob, and then must stop because I am weeping
again. I am weeping for a boy on the news. He is ten and walking
along a caliche road. Alone. He is walking along a gravel road
in La Grulla, Texas, ten and walking in a desert, not another soul
in sight until a border patrol guard sees him. The boy is ten,
and though he wears a Batman t-shirt and hooded jacket
like any ordinary boy, he is not ordinary. Four hours alone
in the desert, a Nicaraguan boy abandoned in the night
by the migrants he was traveling with, and he is sobbing so hard,
his chest heaves beneath the face of a cartoon character. And I
am sobbing with him, crying because he is ten and alone,
and I know that fear, the fear of solitude, the fear of never
being found, though I was never abandoned, let alone in a desert.
And then the pain of knowing his fear asks all of my other pain
to join it, and I am crying for my dead mother, for my cancer,
for the way the world tries to divide me and the boy, me
and his parents in Nicaragua, because of the color of our skins.
But this is not my story. I am not lost. I am in my kitchen,
safe, with someone to hold me while I weep, someone
to kiss away my tears. This is a story of desperation,
of a boy, looking for safety and a kitchen full of light and food
and love, looking for someone to hold him while he weeps.

by Yvonne Zipter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YvonneZipterWrites
Instagram: @yvonnezipter
Twitter: @YvonneZipter


Editor’s Note
: This poem’s conversational tone emphasizes the empathy of the speaker, bringing the trauma of understanding up from the darkness and into the light.

Plans by M.J. Iuppa

Plans

Listen. I can’t explain what we’ve been through.
This year of isolation has made us slightly mad.
All of us wishing we could sleep a hundred days
in the crease of a rugged mountain and wake
somehow stronger than before we were given
this wager—
. . . . . .To survive learning the hard way isn’t a joke.

We look out our windows, full of whatever
weather is happening, and dream of being
swept up by a steady wind that comes from
far away. We think this is a good plan—we
want to be safe but stand ready with our next
move. We’re living behind masks. All anyone
sees is our pupils—those corridors, narrowing
or dilating in response to what we need to do.

Whose plan was that?

Someone who stays up late into the night.
Someone who promises everything will be perfect.
Someone who believes you have what you need.

Listen. We are not ones to say: all bets are off.

by M.J. Iuppa


Editor’s Note
: The speaker’s voice in this poem is strong and direct, drawing the reader into the imagery that describes the unbalance people feel while living through a difficult time in history.

From the archives – Lascaux Horse by Ciaran Parkes

Lascaux Horse

Where are you heading to, Lascaux horse,
rust and bonfire coloured, running
across the eggshell coloured postcard?
Never mind if your legs appear too thin

to bear your weight, they were never meant to.
You were born like this, caught between the earth
and sky, under someone’s moving
fingers clutching clay and charcoal, lit

by uncertain fire light, so you seem
to move in and out of shadows, one
of Plato’s ideal creatures, not needing
anything more than this to be alive

and permanent. On the other side
of the postcard, words of love and greeting
from years ago, in some unknown hand.

by Ciaran Parkes

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 21, 2017

photo is in the public domain

Antipodes by Coleman Glenn

Antipodes

Thick snow fell the November he was born,
before we moved a hemisphere away
and she arrived one January morning,
crying to ignite the summer day.

He’s seven now, and this month she’s still five—
an artificial gap for kids so near
in size, in schemes, in love for things alive;
who hear, “Are you two twins?” more every year.

But she — she sings her world into existence,
narrating every heartbreak, every high;
elaborating stories with insistence
that this is real, that fairies are nearby.

He, too, dreams deep, builds Lego worlds, pretends;
he shouts his news to strangers when he’s proud.
But precious things he shelters and defends;
he often prays but seldom prays aloud.

And still, they live within a single story,
twined threads within a tapestry unfurled
by what they say or hide of grief and glory;
two sides of the same half-illumined world.

by Coleman Glenn

Twitter: @colemanglenn

Editor’s Note: Some poems are so beautifully written that it’s difficult to focus on any one thing that makes them work. This is one of those poems.

Hallelujah This Sky by Victoria Melekian

Hallelujah This Sky

Working downtown today, clouds
in every window of the high rise
across the way: big white ones
vast enough to house God

and sweet baby Jesus, all of heaven’s
angels and saints. I’m telling you,
it’s a miracle sky, sky in a Bible,
sky so gorgeous it can fix anything

that ails you, and it’s reflected
in every single window
on all twenty-four floors of the building
across from me, a colossal glass cloud

there to behold. The attorneys drone:
question, answer, question, answer.
I take down every do you recall, isn’t it true,
pursuant to, but I want to stop

the deposition and applaud this sky.
Hallelujah this sky. Devour this sky.
Stuff myself with pure white fluffiness,
slip clouds into their transcript.

by Victoria Melekian

Editor’s Note: The central image of this poem is perfectly highlighted by the careful enjambment between stanzas which grabs the reader’s attention—not so easy to do with something as ephemeral as how clouds feel.

Arcturus by Martin J. Elster

Arcturus

Arcturus sparks the night
when croci spring from the earth.
Light left its stellar berth
years, years, and years ago.
On seeing its face (the glow
as orange as the fruit),
we know our planet’s flight
has brought the robins to root
for grubs in parks, backyards,
and along those strips of lawn
that split our boulevards.
They trill a tune at dawn,
hunt angleworms at noon,
and slumber when the moon
comes up and greets the Bear,
which bright Arcturus follows
as it glisters through the air
ringing with the swallows
by day and, in the dark,
the singing of the lark
till Vega, overhead,
says, “Time to go to bed!”

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: Skillful rhyming illuminates this poem’s imagery into a tight constellation of nature—star to planet to personification at the end of the story.