The Letter by Sonia Saikaley

The Letter

We walk together sharing neither language nor culture,
speaking with hands, moving as if sign language.

You pluck blossoms from my hair, blow them from your hands
and embrace me for the first time under those cherry trees.

Back home trees do not weep pink, but fling gold, crimson, and orange
on paved streets. I wanted to gather and stuff them

in an envelope, between a cream-coloured letter.
A monogram stamped on the other side of the world, but my hands
still wrung through the dry fire of the season: My dear, how are you?

by Sonia Saikaley

Twitter: @SaikaleySonia

Editor’s Note: Longing is universal. In this poem, there are layers upon layers of it, delicately balanced within the imagery and the narrative in such a way that the reader is left longing, too.

Swift-Counting by Maryann Corbett

Swift-Counting

High summer. Sunset, leaning. On the lawn,
the knot of curious seekers tightens, drawn
to tease apart the known and the unknown

by squinting at a soot-stained chimney stack.
Around its tower, arcing flecks of black:
the swifts, drawn by the dark, are coming back.

One comet from their reeling galaxy
curves in, approaching asymptotically,
then veers again, away from certainty

till finally, yanked on some uncanny string,
with the barest flicking motion of a wing
it brakes in air above the opening

and drops. And seven voices sing out, “One!”
as, denser by the minute, swifts return
to the black-hole center of this darkened sun,

falling at last so thick no human sight
is certain by itself of being right.
They call out numbers in the failing light

to firm their grip on facts, though it’s unclear
what use these are, or where they go from here
as progress makes the chimneys disappear.

One conjured total settled on the page,
they scatter in goodbyeing badinage.
The moon’s half-measure blurs along its edge.

by Maryann Corbett, from Breath Control

Maryann on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The rhyming tercets of these lines reflect the disorganized organization of birds flocking. Just when you think they’re about to collide, the beauty of their flight coalesces into something stunning. So, too, does this poem coalesce into a moment a still snapshot could not capture properly.

Kings Lynn by Neil Flatman

Kings Lynn

In his ninth decade he speaks
at the funeral of a friend. He says
she wore her red hair loose,
had the open features of the fens,
but behind her eyes lay clouds
that could rain a season in a day.
She loved the rise and fall
of skylarks and the snap
of winter-brittle bracken under foot.
She was mercurial, a crescent
reflected on still water, a ripple
he thought would never wane.
He had imagined she would speak
for him.

by Neil Flatman

Editor’s Note: A poem doesn’t have to be complicated for it to resonate with a reader. The imagery carries this poem, but it’s the last two lines that make it truly memorable.

The World by Martin J. Elster

The World

Unlike the azure that protects the world,
the sky-dome’s plexiglass reflects the world.

A spherical lab experiments for eons.
Slowly, the life it bears perfects the world.

Billions of bits of sparkle whirling, whirling.
Something’s alive among these specks: the world.

A robed astronomer sees a curious glow
light up his globe as he dissects the world.

You shut the greenhouse windows one by one,
then wonder who it is that wrecks the world.

With a writ of attachment in its curved appendage,
the alien says it must annex the world.

Amphibians, mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, insects—
two by two a ship collects the world.

“Farewell,” she said, and fled to a new planet.
He shrugs when queried, “Was your ex the world?”

Tumefied into a scarlet monster:
the sun. Nobody resurrects the world.

The astronaut, though warned she’ll turn to salt,
glances back and recollects the world.

A cosmic magpie spies a blue-white marble,
then, comet-like, swoops down and pecks the world.

by Martin J. Elster, first published in The Chimaera.

Author’s Note: About the makta (poet’s name) in the final sher: “magpie” is “elster” in German.

Editor’s Note: The interweaving of biblical and mythological references within the context of science and science fiction is impressive in this ghazal. Hopefully the author will forgive my video link; it seemed appropriate.

From the archives – Rain bowed — Julie Carter

Rain bowed

I wonder if the water etched a spotted
bull’s-eye on the pane–something to lure
the bullet birds to smash where blinds obscure
the scrabble toeholds in the screen. The knotted
cord plays on my fingers. I can pull
and burst the room with light and glitter eyes,
the beaks like shining corn, the frantic cries
and clack of wings. Do feathers bloom the dull
and piebald grass? Does blood bloom on the sill?
I’ve envied birds, the hollow flit of bone,
but not the skullthunk knocking like a stone
tossed by a lover. I could make them still,
could snap a neck as swiftly as a bean.
Instead I wait. Clean. Unseeing. Unseen.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 3 — by Julie Carter

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Spring Storm by William Carlos Williams

Spring Storm

The sky has given over
its bitterness.
Out of the dark change
all day long
rain falls and falls
as if it would never end.
Still the snow keeps
its hold on the ground.
But water, water
from a thousand runnels!
It collects swiftly,
dappled with black
cuts a way for itself
through green ice in the gutters.
Drop after drop it falls
from the withered grass-stems
of the overhanging embankment.

by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Song by Catherine Rogers

Song

“Marry me,” said the river.
“I never will,” said she,
“For you’d shut me up
in a golden boat
and carry me out to sea.”

“Marry me,” said the salmon
as he climbed his rocky stair.
“Oh, no,” said she,
“For my golden boat
will never sail up there.”

“Marry me,” said the black bear
as he eyed her greedily.
“Oh, no,” said the girl
with the rainbow sides,
“For you shall have none of me.”

So she built her house by the river,
using her witch’s art,
of the water’s song
and the salmon’s flash
and the black bear’s greedy heart.

by Catherine Rogers

Editor’s Note: These lines have the intonation and whimsy of a children’s poem, yet an undertow of a more adult nature pulls the reader below the rhyme and meter and into a more ominous landscape.