A Very Short Love List by Tim Suermondt

A Very Short Love List

A row of buttons on a dress.

A book next to the roses
On the nightstand.

A bird on the windowsill,
Peeking through
The carelessly drawn blinds.

A man and a woman
Talking fast
But softly as monks.

A very white winter in Harlem,
Many years ago.

by Tim Suermondt

Editor’s Note: Imagery conveys a story fraught with history in this poem. The reader’s experience fills in the gaps (and in doing so, we discover that those gaps are deliberate trails into a narrative rich with meaning).

Like Van Gogh by Laurie Kolp

Like Van Gogh

A listening ear, spongy ear.
Voice of infinity, a spiral
life’s journey to the center
a conch shell whisper
methodic waves, an ear
with strength and fortitude.
Wing-like mystery, a breath
in the wind, tympanic labyrinth.

Not a mallet to drive a point across
or baby artichoke with Orecchiette
to soak up saucy meat like gossip.

An ear auspicious in intentions
your ear compliments my tongue.
A lobe pierced, diamond stud
I clink my teeth on.

Tree trunk, conchoidal bole
with rings, your ear our growing love.
The ear that doesn’t want to hear
those three words. I say them anyway.

by Laurie Kolp, first published as Ear in Poets and Artists.

Twitter: @KolpLaurie

Editor’s Note: This poem uses an extended metaphor to convey one simple image (love) with an incredibly complex emotional narrative.

From the archives – Letter to my father — Stuart Nunn

16between

Letter to my father

Neglect, pure and simple, brought this on,
but age and incompetence put beyond my reach
the means to make our garden gate fit snugly
in its gap—
. . . . . . . . . .until this recent rain swelled,
as it will, the wood, or sprung a joint
and we needed our special doorstop stone
to keep out neighbours’ glances.
. . . . . . . . . .Finally, I’ve cursed it
off its hinges, sawn off (not straight)
the bottom three rotten inches—but
that’s not rot’s end. Overmastered,
I’ve called in Steve from Sunbeam Timber Products
to bail me out.
. . . . . . . . . .Now, waiting
for the gate he’s going to make,
I think of you, and how this
was the last carpentry you did for us,
and that disturbs the sediment of guilt.
Maybe I should have thought of this,
unhinged and stripped and painted while I could—
done this in remembrance of you.
. . . . . . . . . .But that was never your way. Use
and practicality was all. Besides,
your years as master craftsman were long gone,
and I can’t help noticing where your saw missed
or chisel slipped. We’re more alike
than either would confess. I know how
to read Shakespeare with twelve-year-olds,
but couldn’t do it now without slip or mishap.
. . . . . . . . . .So let it go. We’ll have a new gate
by next week. I’ll close it and think of you.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 3 — by Stuart Nunn

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – The child is father to the man by Gerard Manley Hopkins

4contemplation_bw

The child is father to the man

‘The child is father to the man.’
How can he be? The words are wild.
Suck any sense from that who can:
‘The child is father to the man.’
No; what the poet did write ran,
‘The man is father to the child.’
‘The child is father to the man!’
How can he be? The words are wild!

by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim.

The Grapevine by Katie Hoerth

The Grapevine

Every story is the same – there’s life,
there’s death, then life again, and now it’s spring –
the season where my husband tends his grapevine,
runs the newest tendrils through the fingers
of one hand and holds his pruning sheers
within the other. Green is everywhere –
the canopy, the stems, the tiny buds,
but most of all, the leaves, the size of palms
and fingers reaching out in offering.

These rustling limbs are shelter for the weary:
ladybugs that come like beggars, always
hungry, fireflies that need some respite
from the sun and wait for night to dawn,
to cover up their faces, set them free,
and me, who comes in curiosity.

His clippers shush the choir of kisskadees;
the thumping of a branch against the earth
resounds across the yard and takes my breath.

How is it that I only see the death
in this, can’t understand the simple fact
that life must river from dismembered limbs
in order to enjoy the summer’s fruits?
He snaps the branches to a naked trunk,
a lifeless shell of what it used to be.

It’s what you have to do, he says, once done,
and turns the garden hose on when I ask,
If you want this water turned to wine.

by Katie Hoerth, from Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes you read a poem, and for some inexplicable reason, it sounds as smooth as sweet wine. You read it again. Again. Finally, it dawns on you—this poem is blank verse (iambic pentameter: one of my favorite devices.)

Certainly Water by Shebana Coelho

Certainly Water

When I think of water spilling from a green bottle onto a wooden floor and the danger
it poses to a carpet and the Moroccan women I met once, Berber women with kohl
lined eyes and mehndi on their hands, who made carpets from wool they sheared
themselves, and who ululated on request for pictures because outside of Morocco that’s what they were, ululating Berber women—

when I think of water spilling, I think of the green bottle translucent in the evening light
like a summer skirt through which you can see the outline of legs and how, if you were
in India, you’d have to wear a slip or a petticoat because if some aunty saw you on the
street, that’s the first thing she’d say, “wear a petticoat or something,” but you are not
there now and here is a green translucent bottle, emptied of water and a wooden floor
and a rug woven with memories of dark-eyed Berber women and see-through skirts and
petticoat-wearing aunties walking at the edge of the ocean, greeting other aunties and
holding down their scarves when the wind comes to call, and the water spilling as swift
as a hiccup, as swift as the swallow in the mead hall of the venerable Bede, the swallow that comes from the unknown, lingers in light and flies out again.

We are the lit mead hall, this life, and we are also the swallow and we are certainly
water.

by Shebana Coelho, first published in New Mexico Mercury.

Editor’s Note: Run-on sentences are usually impossible to navigate in long works of fiction, but in a poem can be used to great effect. The first part of this poem conveys the rambling nature of internal thinking and sets the tone for the rest of the story.

Our Grotto by David P. Miller

Our Grotto

I remember you as a telephone voice, pealing your name.
Female artist guised as a bat that fifth of July,
re-guised as a woman now sighing in bathtub midwinter.
With gold-plated grapefruit spoons, windowed bonsai.

Wings of Desire and the miles’ walk to your room.
Split grapefruit sugared and squeezed late that July,
then flatmate’s stiff outrage: odd man in the bathroom.
Now cities of bookshelves, childhood piano, pine tree bonsai.

As a woman you surfaced in newsprint, withheld your name.
Female artist sugared my pen, eared like a bat
homed toward new eaves, your bedroom our grotto.
Skittered across arsoned lots for the same

two knocks at your window over the gnome in a dome below stairs.
I remember your fire demon, futon overseer in paint that July.
The eureka girlfriend, my only she: even midwinter
is honeyed with greening like our bonsai.

by David P. Miller

Editor’s Note: The repetition in this poem weaves through the lines like the framework of a house. The narrator’s relationship with his lover is offered through those images that occur again and again: artist, bonsai, midwinter, name, and my favorite, sugared. Without this framework, there would be no poem.