O Apostrophe by David Oestreich

O Apostrophe

I meant to say thanks
for minding
P’s and Q’s
plurality, for
pulling off
without seeming
needy. Stand in,
as ever, for
the likes of I
and, oh, we’ll
need you less
and less to lose
a beat (for
instance, ever
a-changing times,
these.) Still
hang in they’re
and you’ll,
etc. Be OK.

by David Oestreich

Editor’s Note: Sometimes a poem is funny. Sometimes a poem is punny. An ode to punctuation is the way to an editor’s heart.

On Watch by Neil Flatman

On Watch

Il Paretaio, Tuscany 2004

Felt the hard stone of the window’s lip
against my hand, its age, the permanence
of walls. Night breathed in
the dark and swung a pocket watch
over the hills and winding roads
until they slept and in the olive grove below
fireflies swam in whirlpools in the trees
where a nightingale sang:

For god’s sake hold me or I’ll drown.

by Neil Flatman

Editor’s Note: The plaintive call of the last line echoes the fading notes of the nightingale. Short poems are difficult to write, but when they’re done well, the imagery lingers in a reader’s mind.

Necktie Party by Ed Shacklee

Necktie Party

He seemed to nod my way as the oak limb, bent
to hold the noose’s fruit, bent still lower
from the weight, as leaves along the bough
shook, like heads of serpents.

He seemed to gaze at what the night wind pointed
at, a view out west. The eyes went white,
vision turning sour in his head,
maybe, wanting

some light beyond the bonfire to show a way
past the twisting dance we’d set him to;
but no, there was no other way to go,
though God knows why.

The next day, in town, it was like a dream
scarcely breathed about among the decent folk,
or, Showed ’em, didn’t we, the boys’d say, talking
proud, which now seems

damned nonsense best left buried: except he turns
my way, an old man the night wind points out
to those white eyes, till I wake shouting
what nobody learned.

by Ed Shacklee, first published in Lucid Rhythms.

Ed on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This is suitably creepy for beginning of the autumn season. Dead men tell no tales, except in this case, the narrator’s memory of the hanging speaks forevermore.

From the archives – El Corazon — Julia Klatt Singer

El Corazon

I will not talk about silence
how in the absence of sound
hollows are formed, small graves
to bury each thought,
every desire.

I will not talk about the moon
how she curls up in the night sky
tugs at the oceans within me,
spills light upon dark avenues.

I will not talk about love, how
it is as clear & fragile
as a dragonfly’s wings, that when
it lands, it leaves its mark, dusty
with pollen.

Instead I will tell you
that it looks like it might snow,
and that when I smell smoke
I want to kiss your hands.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 19 — by Julia Klatt Singer

Painting by Julia Klatt Singer

Vintage verse – Scandal by Lola Ridge


Aren’t there bigger things to talk about
Than a window in Greenwich Village
And hyacinths sprouting
Like little puce poems out of a sick soul?
Some cosmic hearsay—
As to whom—it can’t be Mars! put the moon—that way….
Or what winds do to canyons
Under the tall stars…
Or even
How that old roué, Neptune,
Cranes over his bald-head moons
At the twinkling heel of a sky-scraper.

by Lola Ridge (1873–1941)

Video by Alex Parker

To Live in This World Requires by Eleanor Lerman

To Live in This World Requires

To live in this world requires
that you leave your house every morning
and step into the wind
Every morning: with all your memories
on file and the future pinned to some wall
you will have to build and tear down and
build again. If you get there. If. If.

Into the wind: first you walk the dog whose
happy face belies the beast it is built on
Millennia behind you, that beast enters a cave
and decides whether or not to kill a child sleeping
by a fire. It does not kill the child
because it has been surprised by love
Both softened and sharpened by it, inexplicably
Inexplicably, to this day

And on this day, the wind relents
The morning star lifts itself into a changeable sky
and you, carrying extra weight, wearing
last year’s clothes, start walking towards the train
Seeds that grew from ancient science digest in your stomach;
your bones begin to separate because science did not plan
this length of life; your heart slows down and you feel
the pressure of dragging a million, billion years
behind you. A million, billion lie ahead that you
will know nothing about

Thus, harnessed to time, facing the inevitable,
constructed by science and fed on inexplicable events
taking place somewhere in the middle of history,
your day goes by. Miles away, the ocean
murmurs to its own beloved creatures, a mountain
applies pressure to the weaving of a golden seam
And in your house, the dog wonders
if you will make it home again. And each day,
despite or because the performance of this feat
is both a mystery and a triumph,
you will. You do

by Eleanor Lerman

Editor’s Note: Life is difficult. But it is also “a mystery and a triumph,” as this beautiful poem shows.

Dear Halloween Night by Kaitlin McMichael

Dear Halloween Night

Dear Halloween Night, crumbly and soon,
you devil’s handmaiden, you sweet arm of ruin,
I don’t believe a thing you say.
I used to wait up for the owl to give his carol-howl
All is frightful. All is delightful. All is All.
I used to feel so small. The fire-colored trees
would weep for their departing leaves and ancient wind
would come round, his beard stiff as hay,
his corn-cropped corpses of leaves leavening again and again
over the yard. The ground is once again hard.
I could have sworn I saw spiders work magic on their looms.
When it is cold enough, the dead come out of their rooms.
Ghosts are born, saints go sweet and sad to be undone,
Stars hide and seek like magi for the spoken one.
Now the moon is full like a full moon
or like Bethlehem’s star. Everything is like something from afar.
Now I remember when I would pretend
and now I miss you, you livery-faced moon man,
you monsters under my bed, you ghost of a friend.

by Kaitlin McMichael

Twitter: @Kakefin

Editor’s Note: The rhyme, imagery, and alliteration of this poem delight the senses. Each line has something fun to say, yet it never descends into the trite conceit of a nursery rhyme. This is a grown-up’s poem about Halloween.

While Driving in Warwick, New York by S. Thomas Summers

While Driving in Warwick, New York

There is the silence
I covet. A white mare
deep in her meadow,
wading in the shade
gifted by a pair
of stout oaks,
their limbs twisted
together, rising
and rising above
a rail fence.

The mare swishes
her tail, twitches her
ears at the flies
that love her
even more than I love her;
yet, she cares only
for the apple
nestled in the tall grass
that hides her ivory hooves –
only for the apple,
and I envy her.

by S. Thomas Summers

Twitter: @summerspoet

Editor’s Note: The short lines and repetition of imagery lends itself to the haiku-like realization that unfolds at the end of this lovely poem. I, too, envy the mare.

The Mist by Martin J. Elster

The Mist

We danced that day as two who knew the mist.
As evening cooled the meadow drew the mist.

Orion shyly peeked above the ridge.
Cygnus, spread your wings, pursue the mist!

Each evening the red foxes roam the valley.
Like them, there was a time you knew the mist.

One night the moon came up, unrolled its rays.
A screeching raptor woke and slew the mist.

I called your name, called loud a thousand times!
A katydid responded through the mist.

Far-off, the owls tu-whit tu-whoo the mist.
They infiltrate my mind. I rue the mist.

The songbirds have all gone, the leaves have dried.
Only bats that dimly view the mist.

The breeze picked up across the distant hills.
None can remove the breath from you, the mist.

I watched a flock of martins heading south.
Then, clean away, a blizzard blew the mist.

by Martin J. Elster, first published in Lucid Rhythms.

Editor’s Note: The use of mist as a repetitive device in this ghazal emphasizes the emotional yearning of the narrator. The clever use of the bird in the second to last line to meet the ghazal’s name requirement is delightful.

Cats Abroad by Gail White

Cats Abroad

“It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.” -Thoreau

The cats of England at the cottage door
look up expectant, when the milk man comes,
like furry Olivers who beg for more,
beneath a shelter of chrysanthemums.
The cats of Belgium in the baker’s shop
adorn a window — in the bar, a stool.
The cats of Greece, at every culture stop,
are waiting for a tourist to befool.
I judge the nations by the way they treat
these purry gentry just below their knees.
Where cats are loved, I know that strangers meet
a kindly welcome and a will to please.
Why spend so much and haul myself so far
if not to count the cats in Zanzibar?

by Gail White, first published in Sonnets in a Hostile World.

Editor’s note: This made me smile and sometimes that is all that is necessary.