Evening In A Sugar Orchard
From where I lingered in a lull in march
outside the sugar-house one night for choice,
I called the fireman with a careful voice
And bade him leave the pan and stoke the arch:
‘O fireman, give the fire another stoke,
And send more sparks up chimney with the smoke.’
I thought a few might tangle, as they did,
Among bare maple boughs, and in the rare
Hill atmosphere not cease to glow,
And so be added to the moon up there.
The moon, though slight, was moon enough to show
On every tree a bucket with a lid,
And on black ground a bear-skin rug of snow.
The sparks made no attempt to be the moon.
They were content to figure in the trees
As Leo, Orion, and the Pleiades.
And that was what the boughs were full of soon.
by Robert Frost (1874–1963)
He brings me poison
words tormented love separation
a withered bouquet woven
with absinth wormwood
abandonment boredom regret
starry anemones delicate asphodels prickly
burdock the seeming happy amethyst and canary carnations
screaming antipathy and disdain
an untranslatable orange lily
whispering hatred against a pale vase
vain dream-like clusters of hydrangeas
jealous lemon hyacinths lost
in the sorrow of their vivid violet sisters
. . . . . . .and
a forsaken single blood red tulip—the perfect suitor
nestled among fragrant creamy tuberoses
by Laura LeHew
Laura on Facebook
Editor’s Note: Spring usually means joy and celebration, but what if instead it brought poison? Torment? The imagery in this poem is lush and vivid and terrible. Sometimes a bouquet can hide a dangerous obsession.
swans over the house—
his great body in pain
refusing to go
Long with Mr. Berkenshaw in the morning at my musique practice; finishing my song of “Gaze not on Swans,” in two parts, which pleases me well, and I did give him 5l. for this month or five weeks that he hath taught me, which is a great deal of money and troubled me to part with it. Thence to the Paynter’s, and set again for my picture in little, and thence over the water to Southwark to Mr. Berkenshaw’s house,and there sat with him all the afternoon, he showing me his great card of the body of musique, which he cries up for a rare thing, and I do believe it cost much pains, but is not so useful as he would have it. Then we sat down and set “Nulla, nulla sit formido,” and he has set it very finely. So home and to supper, and then called Will up, and chid him before my wife for refusing to go to church with the maids yesterday, and telling his mistress that he would not be made a slave of, which vexes me. So to bed.
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys.
by Dave Bonta, first posted on Via Negativa
Editor’s Note: Haiku is one of the most difficult forms of poetry to write because you have very little time to speak. This poem succeeds with that task, and has the added little delight of originating from within another source of words. Erasure poetry is very cool.
Tenacious winter, like a guest who stays
too long, repeats his tired tales of snow
while spring approaches, like a bride, with slow,
shy footsteps; soon she’ll toss her bright bouquets.
The cold, once crisp and fresh, turns merely trite,
exhausted by the circling of the year
that starts to tilt the sun-starved hemisphere
politely towards its source of heat and light.
As tolerant terrain reciprocates
the sky’s attempt at warmth with the debut
of unripe grass and intermittent mud,
the snow, now powerless, procrastinates—
piled high at curbs and corners, melting too
reluctantly to pose a threat of flood.
by Jean L. Kreiling
Editor’s Note: “intermittent mud”—how well I know the tenacity of it. And the curl of black snow along the edges of the roadways is perfectly described in this lovely sonnet. How interesting to read such pretty sonics about such an annoying time of year!
The Washer at the Ford
—from a Celtic Tale
if you must cross the river,
cross it here, at the shallows,
at the place of clear water.
Your piebald horse agrees.
She steps forward
to gulp and be slaked.
Why do you rein her?
True, I am not pleasing to look at,
my wild hair no longer black,
my gnarled hands raw
with all this laundering.
You are a big handsome fella—
jaw like a sharp crag at Moher,
a goodness about you like honey.
You’ve not been shaving long,
would be my guess,
yet you’re off a’ soldiering.
What war is it this time, then?
On your way, lad.
Don’t bore me.
I’ve no time for questions.
It’s better you don’t know
whose linen it is that wants washing
or why the water around these rocks
runs suddenly red.
by Kate Bernadette Benedict
Editor’s Note: Some poems need context, but since the interwebz lies at our fingertips, it’s the simplest thing in the world to look up that which one does not know. This poem rides on an old story about the bean nighe, and is quite haunting.
It’s pleasing to fill crystal with callas again,
to recall how little they ask to grace ditches,
forgotten plots, a mother’s grave twice a year.
Some pay money for what locals call weeds.
Me, I see women so simply exposed
they can be drawn with one perfect line.
by Patricia Wallace Jones
Patricia on Facebook
Editor’s Note: The last two lines of this delicate poem carry the entire thing. That is all.
Elegy for Eva
It’s true you’ve changed. You are
at the dark end of the street
now. If there is time
I’ll meet with you
not here in fields of gold canola,
not by the old barquero’s boat,
not where the water is wide
at river’s bend,
not under those tall trees.
In Georgia? I’m resigned
to joining you
beyond the cold and tears,
in heaven (if fate will grace us both).
In the early morning,
rain reminds songbirds
that summertime is over.
The rainbow is swept away
with autumn leaves. Every colour wades
into your blue eyes.
Crying in the rain dilutes the drops from cheek to cheek
like words forgotten yesterday,
like vows unkept
or curses in a fever that soon fades.
A red, red rose is all
that may remain.
How can I keep from singing
“Kathy’s Song”? It has the drizzling
rain, the street
I read the letter,
where you wrote that time
is a healer, death a nightbird
at your door, but these two cures
are taking far too long.
At least I can imagine drinks will do,
at last, what can’t be done
by notes and rhyme. Perhaps
it doesn’t matter any more.
from Autumn Sky Poetry 12 — by Colin Ward
Video by Colin Ward
clouds and white rain
in the backyard
untied the drops from
leaves and twigs
with a long singing.
by A.R. Ammons (1926–2001)
Northern Mockingbird at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
A man rounds the corner, zigzag
shadow reaching for the woman
who steps out of it.
He’s a late-comer, can’t catch up
to the lady strolling through dusk
that blazed gold only this morning.
He’d pulled the quilt over his head,
begged the clock for ten more minutes
but she’d already pitched forward
to events no one can plan. Along
straggling streets that will never
connect them, the woman moves on.
Behind her, the man elbows through
the crush, searching all the places
where a door is left ajar. A wedge
of light spills onto steps falling
from the house into the hooded evening.
He’d have followed her the way
she’d always wanted, but night curves
without warning, the stars do not
touch, the road stretches down to the sea.
by Cheryl Snell
Editor’s Note: In this poem, the reader isn’t sure if the woman pursued is real, a shadow, or beam of light. In the end, it doesn’t much matter. The point is the pursuit, not the person.
I built a frame of apricot
wood. This was for you. The clouds float
through it even as I sleep. You wrote
once of wild herbs gathered and brought
to a lovely girl, an offering not
of passion but of some remote
desire to hear a word from the throat
of the Lord Within Clouds. I thought
of this as I chiseled the wood.
Last night it rained. I listened to
it from my bed by the open
window, hoping that the clouds would
not leave. This morning two birds flew
by. It is raining again.
by Robert Okaji, first published in SPSM&H
Editor’s Note: This poem demonstrates what I think of as a “new form” sonnet. The rhyme is embedded within the sentences, leaving the enjambment to function much as it would in a free verse poem. Because of the lack of iambic meter, the form of the poem allows the surreal quality of the narrative to function as it should: dreamlike and scattered.