Zombie Apocalypse by Christine Klocek-Lim

Zombie Apocalypse
—after “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Even the angels fled when Death triumphed.
Humanity died in boxes and oceans while the skies burned—
so long ago now, but still strangely familiar.
Only the birds enjoyed the view,
fluttering eagerly above the suffering.

Contemplating lunch.

The old masters were never wrong—
Auden knew this. Bruegel, too, understood
our worry: that all wars are plagues.
That plagues are endemic to the human condition.
And when the dead rise, there are those
who don’t even notice. Sometimes the music plays
while fools and false gods pretend nothing is wrong.
The emperor’s clothes are invisible.
His closets contain skeletons.
The apocalypse has already come:
armies of the dead set our battleships aflame,
and we think it’s normal—
seasonal wildfires. To be expected.
Like Hawaii’s Kilauea or autumn in Los Angeles.
New York seventeen years ago.

Someday our children will pray
for us, thinking that’s all that’s needed.
Someday our skeletons will be all that’s left.
And perhaps the world is better off
with bones. Perhaps the bones
are better off with no mind
to confuse the issue—

The zombies are coming.

No, the zombies have already come.
The zombies have eaten the world
while we stare at paintings and websites,
marveling at the worst of times.

The future is theirs.

by Christine Klocek-Lim.

Editor’s Note: As an editor, I feel it’s important to avoid indiscriminate self-publishing, but on one day a year, perhaps you will forgive me (yes, it’s my birthday). Interestingly, I wrote this in May of 2018.

No Whiners by Martin J. Elster

No Whiners

Gratitude is a leaf that laughs
. . . .and falls up toward the sun
and glides and soars like a red-tailed hawk
. . . .whose heart won’t be undone

by clouds as inky as the jaws
. . . .of a giant carnivore.
It never wants to land on earth,
. . . .in oak or sycamore,

but keeps ascending, drifting, wheeling
. . . .over the hills and fields
and thinks a cyclone sounds as fine
. . . .as a thousand glockenspiels.

It laughs with the glee of a major key,
. . . .though the world’s so full of minor,
and goes on hovering and gliding
. . . .beyond the last airliner.

Gratitude is not a whiner.
. . . .Gratitude will not moan.
While awestruck by the universe,
. . . .how can it feel alone?

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: This poem seemed rather apropros for the day after Thanksgiving.

Autumn Leaves by Jenevieve Carlyn

Autumn Leaves

Remember the year a fox
came through the neighborhood
every afternoon—leaving hungry

tracks through the snow, as sunlight
glinted low against the old oak tree?

We imagined its den near the place
where we all went sledding as children
when it snowed, in the chestnut caves

Of Pine Orchard’s glacial hills.
Even now, I can hear your echo
in the restless wolf tones of the cello
as the bow draws near the bridge

I asked you once your favorite sound
—mine was the melodious lapping of
our dog at her water in the kitchen

Yours was the fizz of a wave
each time as it left the shore
kissing the sand before parting

Coming & going was simply your way
Somewhere, a honey jar holds your laughter
like a bee in resin.

This year, cedar waxwings are nesting
in the thicket where we walked in autumn
At this tangle of sun-gold & winterberry

we’ve arrived again. How did we reach
this place? I recall collecting acorns in
a hearth-box & wild apples for baking

Sun-dried leaves. A flurry of feathers
crashed into the window one day—
Stunned & silent,

Warm hands
placed gently on the hearth
so that beating wings could rest

by Jenevieve Carlyn

Instagram: @sea_thistle

Editor’s Note: The opening question of this poem invites the reader into a world made of nostalgia, where each image traces the emotional checkpoints of a life.

Goose Talk by John W. Steele

Goose Talk

Cacophonies of geese derail my thoughts.
I stop and turn to look, approach the shoreline,
listen: many voices, intonations,
calls. Some glide together, murmuring.
Can’t make sense of what they’re saying. Others
synchronize their clamor, pick up speed,
flap and splash their way across the pond,
lift off as one, their wings the sound of wind.

I try to join the party, imitate
the chatter of those left behind,
but they ignore me. Suddenly self-conscious
(honking like a goose is not in fashion)
I turn to look. She’s looking at her phone.
I stand between two worlds… alone.

by John W. Steele

Editor’s note: The unconventional enjambment employed throughout this blank verse sonnet puts the reader off-kilter, skillfully foreshadowing the narrator’s emotions in the closing lines.

Enjoying Nature During a Pandemic While the World Burns by Katie Manning

Enjoying Nature During a Pandemic While the World Burns

Grass twitches on the screen. A beat-up
box fan blows a gentle breeze at my bare
feet. To the right of my laptop: a painting
of tulips in pinks, oranges, and reds, mailed
to me last month by a former student turned
friend. A car whirrs past the grass, or did
whenever this video of grass was recorded.
A plane sighs somewhere far above my condo.
Sometimes now, I go days without stepping
outside. On mornings when our family does
get out to walk, my youngest oo-woo-oo-oo-oos
in response to both mourning doves and displays
his fistful of roly polies, declaring that he cares
for bugs. I tell him I’m glad, but roly polies
aren’t bugs; they’re crustaceans like shrimp.
He still cares. He builds a nest of leaves
on the sidewalk and asks if they will be happy
there. I can’t say no. For the last few weeks,
the Eurasian collared dove on the roof has called
constantly and more loudly than the aircraft.
Is it protecting its home? Does it long
for company? If I weren’t so exhausted,
I might also spend all my time screaming.

by Katie Manning

Katie on Facebook

Instagram: @katiemanningpoet

Twitter: @iamkatmann

Editor’s Note: The explicitly descriptive title of this poem fools the reader into thinking this poem will be rather straightforward, and so it is, right up until the killer last line.

Stone by Greg Watson

Stone

My mother tells me the story of her mother,
the gray, hard-edged world from which
she emerged; how denial became
the common language, silence a bridge
between angry shouts at God
and anyone else who might listen;
tells how her mother’s parents refused her
pleading for a doll to call her own,
and how one day she wandered
past the fields until she found a stone,
round-shouldered and smooth,
wrapped the stone in discarded cloth,
cradling it, calling it her baby.
She tells me also of standing as a child
on the cold train platform,
the long journey north ahead,
shaking with tears while her father —
a cruel man on the best of days —
told her that her beloved ragdoll would
not be allowed on board.
That decision, he spat, was final.
My daughter will know none of this.
The floors here are strewn with
plush toys, action figures,
plastic Lego waiting for the most tender
part of the foot to find them.
We stroll our quiet neighborhood,
collecting twigs, autumn leaves
of burnt sienna and gold,
stones that she assures me have
fallen from the moon, or have been
thrown from angry volcanoes,
stones that still contain the images
of animals from long ago,
imprint of a hand or a small face turning,
grateful to be held so gently,
to whisper their stories once again.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note: The narrative of this poem defines its shape and length, and ultimately, the imagery that makes the last several lines so precious.

From the archives – Hope by Neil Creighton

Hope

When the hidden rip sucks out
beyond the blue swell
uncurling noisily upon the sand,

out beyond the raucous sea-birds
circling, soaring and dipping
above the white topped crests,

out into dark, trackless waste
where the moving water mountain
towers glass smooth and sheer

and over its vast plateau top
waves foam and rumble
in irresistible chaos,

then only surrender remains,
letting the mighty surge
sweep where it will,

holding in a few tiny cells
the longing for a gentler swell
to wash slowly back

into some sheltered cove
where the patterned ripples
kiss the yellow sand,

where hope fills the clear blue sky
and the whole glorious world
shines again bright and new.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 30, 2018 — by Neil Creighton

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

Australian Crawl by Woody Long (repost)

Australian Crawl

In time out of time, in night of endless night,
she moves through dark waters toward the light
beside the landing far across the lake.

Insistent rhythm, alternating rhyme
of left and right arms driven, beating time
at steady measured metronomic rate,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

In silent running under a sea of stars,
by dead reckoning and distant light she steers
a constant course, her bearing true and straight.

Bright light at the landing, yellow white
incandescent against the night,
black waters cold and long, the hour late,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

by Woody Long

Editor’s note: This poem’s sonics are steady and measured, creating with words the meditative zone that every cardio addict continually strives to achieve.

[This poem has been reposted with the correct formatting. Please accept my apologies for the errors in the previous iteration.]

Australian Crawl by Woody Long

Australian Crawl

In time out of time, in night of endless night,
she moves through dark waters toward the light
beside the landing far across the lake.

Insistent rhythm, alternating rhyme
of left and right arms driven, beating time
at steady measured metronomic rate,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

In silent running under a sea of stars,
by dead reckoning and distant light she steers
a constant course, her bearing true and straight.

Bright light at the landing, yellow white
incandescent against the night,
black waters cold and long, the hour late,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

by Woody Long

Editor’s note: This poem’s sonics are steady and measured, creating with words the meditative zone that every cardio addict continually strives to achieve.

elegy for her by Theresa Senato Edwards

elegy for her

how is it we mourn for someone whom we didn’t know?
to see three photos and wish her eyes transform?

to think about gender and how it shifts in each camera shot
her profile: a boy in a dress
hair jagged, chin cut as if there’d been a brawl,
empty fight with men gone very wrong.

her portrait: young girl,
eyes bent with sadness
stress around nostrils,
anger carved silent like glass.

her look beneath kerchief when asked
to shift her head right: young woman.
how is it her features soften against the force of chair
when dark cloth swaddles her hope of flowers,
river mist, laughter?

how is it that five numbers are all we have to find only three photos?
a “Z,” Zigeuner (German for Gypsy), to create a category
in which they’ll haul her out,
bludgeon any smiles she might have saved for someone
worth loving?

from Autumn Sky Poetry 19, October 24, 2010 — by Theresa Senato Edwards. Painting by Lori Schreiner.

Photo by Wilhem Brasse used with permission from the archival collection of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim.