From the archives – some fissure in winter — Alexandra Cannon


some fissure in winter

the moon and the drifting clouds
—cosmic flashlight and shadows—
hold the night: silent, intimate.
i feel i shouldn’t see this, the way
they are looking at one another.

(i can’t tell if i choose the best
moments to look up, or if it’s
always this beautiful.)

it was an important evening, but i
couldn’t say why.
the suits and the gowns, oh my god—
and the gold everywhere: such brutal
elegance. i don’t recall the music, any
words whatever, instead i know the way the
light reflected on the polished floor
in muted pools that followed all evening,
that move as one moves.

and the moment that meant the most
was held, paused,

stop looking at the floor.

spring loves breathing at the windows,
sneaking into the room from some fissure
in winter, just when it would ache the most
to thaw.)

from Autumn Sky Poetry 21 — by Alexandra Cannon

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – An Old Man’s Winter Night by Robert Frost

An Old Man’s Winter Night

All out-of-doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him—at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off;—and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon—such as she was,
So late-arising—to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man—one man—can’t keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It’s thus he does it of a winter night.

by Robert Frost (18741963)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – In Praise of Coffee — by David Oestreich

In Praise of Coffee

— after Christopher Smart

For I will exult in the gift of coffee.
For it wakens each human sense with joy.
For firstly, its aroma is deep, with palpable comfort.
For secondly, its percolation speaks promise.
For thirdly, when it is poured or stirred, one may observe its robust body.
For fourthly, it warms the hands of even those unloved.
For fifthly, it tastes of the several elements.
For it refreshes as water.
For it is the fruit of earth.
For it is strengthened by resisting the wind while upon the branch.
For the sun imbues it with fire mistakenly called bitterness.
For without the state of heightened awareness it provides, I might forget to be thankful of a morning.
For it contains a pleasant stimulant.
For caffeine is, perhaps, the only remaining drug unregulated by the government.
For, unbeknownst to them, it has saved the life of many an irritating co-worker.
For my employer maintains a ready supply.
For, despite a sharp and sudden rise some months ago, its price has now stabilized.
For even Wal-Mart offers it in an impressive number of varieties.
For the tins in which it comes, when empty, offer hours of amusement to my children.
For I myself have used them to carry worms when fishing.
For it has given us many a delightful cultural icon.
For who cannot find pleasure in considering Robert Young, Juan Valdez, or Mr. Coffee.
For we will all agree that there are worse things in the world than Starbucks.
For its industry helps to relieve the poverty of small nations abroad.
For without it, life holds too few opportunities to consume cream and sugar.
For it is an excellent excuse to eat cake in the morning.
For it elevates pudding and crackers to tiramisu.
For it may be brewed in simplicity.
For the mere mixture of gleaming crystals with hot water may produce it.
For it may be brewed in startling complexity.
For one may roast and grind the beans oneself.
For time would fail were I to detail the wonders of Galão, frappé, and espresso.
For it is the modern equivalent of the peace pipe.
For it encourages communication.
For it puts one at ease with oneself and the world.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 21 — by David Oestreich

Video courtesy of Brandon Loper –

Vintage verse – Places [III. Winter Sun] by Sara Teasdale


Places [III. Winter Sun]

. . . . . . . .(Lenox)

There was a bush with scarlet berries,
. . . .And there were hemlocks heaped with snow,
With a sound like surf on long sea-beaches
. . . .They took the wind and let it go.

The hills were shining in their samite,
. . . .Fold after fold they flowed away;
“Let come what may,” your eyes were saying,
. . . .“At least we two have had to-day.”

by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Ebony Saguaros — Burgess Needle

Ebony Saguaros

The distant city’s incandescence
blurred a thousand galaxies
from the arroyo that night we made love.
I was confounded by ebony saguaros
that scratched the sky until from behind
the Princess’s silver ball the heavens bled
stars enough to outline your shoulders
against palo verde trees
and calm the nervous field mice.
Love me. . .Love me. . .love me I said
unable to fathom reasons enough
to ever leave that delirium
that place light touches
before it leaves us forever.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 13 — by Burgess Needle

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Picture-books in Winter by Robert Louis Stevenson


Picture-books in Winter

Summer fading, winter comes—
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are,
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks,
In the pictyure story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?

by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim.

Rain by Risa Denenberg


Most days, I no longer long
for you. The rain has become
my welcome mat.

I soak clothes and skin in it,
bleach these personal stains,
staunch my body’s needs.

Nowhere is it fully documented
how terrifying it is to be me.

I dream in haiku
as it taps at my window
in tart syllables.

by Risa Denenberg, from blinded by clouds.

Editor’s note: This poem is not quite a haiku, but it holds the spare simplicity of the form. Emotional impact doesn’t always require a thousand lines.

Confessional Work: Late Advent by Maryann Corbett

Confessional Work: Late Advent

Long lines at this season, everywhere.
I’m used to them: airport security,
checkout, post office queue, holiday movie.
In darkness that falls early, they fold into corners,
hugging the buildings for something like support.

Always the choreography of burden,
balanced against the hip, hugged to the chest,
kicked ahead of me in the snaking line:
the carry-on that I already know
will not fit in the overhead compartment,
the package that can never arrive by Christmas
to buy me an impossible absolution,
the near-despair clutched at for thirty years.
the pointless sin, the life I never fix—
when my arms tire, I will drag it across the floor
through a trail of puddle left by slushy boots
to a counter where a face, with practiced patience,
will ask me, Anything else? and motion me on.

And all this longing for no reason I know,
except that even now, the lumped gray sky—
as if it heard earth sing Rorate coeli
plops down fat flakes, thick with springlike wetness,
and parking lots filled with the scraps of autumn
look cleaner, in the very way we beg for
in the prayer of another season: white as snow.

by Maryann Corbett, first published in Rock and Sling. Appears in the book Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter.

Maryann on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The winter season isn’t always calm and peaceful. Sometimes it’s filled with despair and regrets. This poem illustrates that with impeccable starkness, giving only a glimmer of hope at the very end.

Indwelling by Ralph La Rosa


Inspiring air animates my trees,
informs their crowns and trunks, their leaves and limbs
when rousing Santa Ana winds increase.

The ancient trunks are limber as they sway
and bow; their scions lunge from side to side,
then pause before they pirouette to play.

Each tree’s a dancer and Aeolian lyre
beckoning me to join them and aspire.

by Ralph La Rosa

Editor’s Note: The iambic pentameter and rhyme lend this poem a meditative slant that complements the seasonal scene.