Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY is CLOSED to submissions until March 1, 2021.
See you soon!
See you soon!
I’m old, but I was glad to move my den.
My humans made my bed next to the fire—
a comfort on these winter mornings when
The South Lawn doesn’t beckon, and the choir
of shutter-clicks and shouted questions wear
me down. These days I run my best in dreams;
let Major ’s woofing end up on the air.
This good boy understands that all regimes
begin and then they end. You humans choose
your dogs and cats and Presidents, and put
them in this house to charm the world—or snooze,
like me, the dog who didn’t break Joe’s foot.
Real wisdom’s seldom something loud and fleet.
An old dog knows the fireside is sweet.
Editor’s Note: Doggie wisdom is always more intelligible than the blather humans tell each other.
Sometimes when you don’t know an answer
It pays to just admit it
This happened to me recently
And I’m so glad I did it
I was taking a communications class
And had an oral exam
The instructor said there was just one question
And I thought to myself “DAMN!”
The question was if I could illustrate communication
And I didn’t know what to say
So I just shrugged my shoulders
And she gave me an ‘A’
by Kevin Ahern
Kevin on Facebook
Editor’s note: The philosophical question of communication is at the heart of poetry, but rarely is it so succinctly demonstrated via narrative verse.
From leafless branches etching crooked lines
against the sky—scars coldly cut across
a bloodless cheek—some poets weave designs
of desolation, stories laced with loss.
They find in webs of winter-blackened limbs
the shapes of emptiness and elegies—
but those who see the stuff of requiems
miss what another eye obliquely sees:
the rugged grace of living filigree
that scrawls a promise on the open air,
a craggy silhouette of constancy
that tacitly rebuts boot-deep despair.
Though darkly drawn, these etchings may impart
the vital signs at winter’s still-warm heart.
by Jean L. Kreiling
Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim
by Greg Watson
Editor’s Note: This poem describes a nearly universal feat of parental skill, but it’s the last few lines that elevate the narrative from an ordinary action to thoughtful delight.
First morning coffee
He came and took me with him
He was wearing a shirt with rolled up sleeves
It was white as the face of a worried woman
We went through the tall grass
Which gnawed at the tips of our fingers
He looked at me without speaking
And I didn’t ask where he was taking me
I just walked next to him
Through the tall green grass
That’s how it is when you are happy
You are silent and walk like a coiled
alarm clock – time is no longer an issue
Until you wake up
Sweaty in your empty bed
And you start coughing your
Heart on warm sheets
He won’t come for you
And take you to the ocean
As the grass grows
He has no legs to walk on
He has no hands to lead you
He has no eyes to dive into
He has no mouth to comfort you
You have nothing left
But to get out of bed
And make your first morning coffee
Hoping that one day everything will pass
by Naida Mujkic
Editor’s Note: This poem’s short, staccato lines and surprising metaphors create suspense and emphasize the tension of the narrative, until the last few lines break the story open.
Dear God, ’tis hard, so awful hard to lose
The one we love, and see him go afar,
With scarce one thought of aching hearts behind,
Nor wistful eyes, nor outstretched yearning hands.
Chide not, dear God, if surging thoughts arise.
And bitter questionings of love and fate,
But rather give my weary heart thy rest,
And turn the sad, dark memories into sweet.
Dear God, I fain my loved one were anear,
But since thou will’st that happy thence he’ll be,
I send him forth, and back I’ll choke the grief
Rebellious rises in my lonely heart.
I pray thee, God, my loved one joy to bring;
I dare not hope that joy will be with me,
But ah, dear God, one boon I crave of thee,
That he shall ne’er forget his hours with me.
by Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar Nelson) (1875–1935)
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
I’ve seen the night beating like a frightened heart.
An apparition appears out of nowhere —
I should have gone slower at that time of night
when objects loom suddenly. A deer zig-zags.
We all should compensate for the unknown.
We never know what lurks in the dark.
Fear stokes more fear, jolting us,
a deer bolting out of the dark —
finding a tuff of brown hairs on a car
or lose a windshield or broken engine block.
On rain-slick roads, when deer lunge
like heart attacks. We pull over after a thud,
find nothing but a small dent we could beat out
with a ball peen hammer. Or, find a deer
pulled to the side like a marker, red glass splinters
from a broken break light like blood splatter.
In a blink, every moment can change direction
and night takes your heart in its hand.
The unknown lurks in either light or dark.
We never see the inevitable coming.
If we could, we’d swerve,
sigh many heart-jerks, many tear-jerks.
Sometimes, we’d survive the deer combat zone.
Sometimes, we make it home in time, undented.
Editor’s Note: The stark two line stanzas in this poem emphasize the sudden jolt of an unexpected trauma, creating an undeniable allegory for life. Also, the first line is truly remarkable.
To the Pileated Woodpecker
Just outside of Moab, after a long night
of navel gazing, I looked up and out
to the tops of the cliffs, red rocks,
where the rising sunlight caught a hard line
and slowly, irreversibly lowered. I walked,
frozen and hungover, down the clay road
not knowing how long I’d have to keep
moving to meet the light, now changing
the rock face’s color, sharing itself.
But I knew I couldn’t remain still
in that tent, ill-prepared for early spring
frost, ill-prepared for the desert, ill-prepared
for ill preparation. I didn’t know
much about hope then, but I knew I hated
being cold. I’m not there now, though,
but I’m cold, running down this road,
on the homestretch, before I wake up
the boys for school, thinking about Moab,
looking up at these fall pin oaks, the sunrise
cutting a hard line across their tops.
Above me, far away, the pileated
woodpecker looks like a buzzard—
red dot, dark body, patient in its rhythm.
The closest I’d come to this biggest
woodpecker was childhood Saturday
mornings jammied in front of the TV.
Now in this new place at this new age
on the woods’ edge, I love its massive head
leading the rest of it from tree top to welcomed
tree top, immersed in sunlight, in all this hope,
yet it’s sad to know that I couldn’t see it
clearly, that I misplaced it for something else.
by Jacob Stratman
Editor’s Note: This poem’s smooth movement from nostalgia to now draws the reader into the narrative with an expectation of realization, and yet the last line deftly upends any simple conclusion.
Something is cast in beauty that receives
the mind and won’t let go: it seems as fine
as sunlight dappling beneath the eaves
or yellow jasmine fragrant on the vine,
and you, with florid lips and furtive eyes,
inviting me to cross that whirlwind sign;
it keeps compelling me to recognize
this look of yours, in half a measure’s time,
is only half of splendor’s sacred prize.
For music sought inside this holy rhyme,
the scent of flowers, and the taste of wine
all flee to me from Rodin’s cold sublime—
when last I tempt that spell and cross that line
then take your hand and press your lips to mine.
from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 21, 2017 — by Gregory Palmerino
Sculpture by Auguste Rodin courtesy of Rodin Museum