Stars Fall, Doors Open by Eleanor Lerman

Stars Fall, Doors Open

Spring, summer. Oh come again
Lay wide open the bright new world
then close it up with flowers
if only for one more season
Why not? I have lived long enough to be
sentimental. To be permitted to awaken

in June, rested, ready, alive. Oh come again:
days when the sun lives like a friend and
there is always more. See the door that has

been left open to the house on the path by
the river: yes, there is always more. I remember
it so and I demand that it be returned to me

Though of course, somewhere beyond the sky
a force to be reckoned with clocks in
and reads the notes that were left behind

An eyebrow is raised, a finger is lifted,
which puts into play unimaginable forces
I imagine them anyway. Night falls, stars fall

This is all real now and I know it
Make time stop is not one of the spells
that has been cast upon me but others have

I will open my book now and I
will read them. Stars fall. Doors open
Away, away

by Eleanor Lerman

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Editor’s Note: In this poem, random punctuation and imagery create a sense of stream-of-consciousness—thoughts move into and out of the narrator’s mind, yet still coalesce into a coherent conclusion. Doors open. Stars fall.

Hand-me Down Dress by Whitney Vale

Hand-me Down Dress

My first trip to a second-hand shop
was in Dalton, Massachusetts. I entered its dim interior
feeling like Nancy Drew.
I knew the word antique from a tale about a clock.
Dust covered everything. Light diffused motes became
fairy wings. Shelves coughed out owls, thingamajigs, books.
Given a quarter, I bought a doll sized piece of Indian pottery.

I careened around the neighborhood on my brother’s old bike
long missing a kick-stand. I would swing my legs to one side,
jump, and stick-it strong to ground,
while the bike flopped over like a rusted fish.

My first purse was olive green, worn and empty
‘cept for hope that one day I’d wear the shoes that matched.
Mom let me stumble in them from time to time.

Jean sent a box of hand-me-downs to the Berkshires.
I held my breath when I saw dresses,
my cousin’s—brand-new to me,
I felt something in my gut move, a hunger.
Mom possessed by anger when she opened the box—

Witched-eyed, she blew her Salem mentholated smoke
around the kitchen, paced and swore,
shook her head “we’re not poor.”
I didn’t understand. I would dance
in old lace curtains, collect used stories, and conversations,
I’d stroke the surface of worn
and taste the pleasure of torn pages from a fairy tale.
Life was all a story to me, make-believe—with props.

One dress, grey stripes and white,
Peter Pan collar and red fruit on the pockets
sang softly from the jumble. I fingered the stitches,
maybe marveled out loud at the swell of cherries on the bodice.
It was the one I was allowed to keep.

The grey had faded to the color of a dim shadow,
the cotton soft as pussy willow.
I thought of my cousin when I wore it,
breathed in a little of her flair.
I braided an old velvet ribbon and wore it in my hair.

by Whitney Vale

Editor’s Note: The last three lines of this poem ground the entire story within the narrator’s youthful sensibility. There is no “poor” for her. There is only “cotton soft” and “flair.” The unexpected end rhyme of the last two lines is lovely.

Soft and Worn by Danny Earl Simmons

Soft and Worn

My mother had a heart as soft and worn as the brown leather belt
she used when beating red welts deep into my back and ribs.

It got that way from her father revving the car engine over her
kindergarten pleas and from the fuzzy recollections of the taste

of her grandfather’s very long hugs and cherry-tobacco kisses
while her grandmother donned lace gloves and pretended

grocery shopping had to be done every afternoon. Most of all,
there were my father’s brown eyes, long gone and refusing

to just come home, seen in mine whenever I stared her down.
My mother’s heart was soft and worn and snapped like a whip

across my back and ribs, leaving marks so deep and red
there was nothing left to do but clench my fists and forgive.

by Danny Earl Simmons, first published in Shadow Road Quarterly

Editor’s Note: Two line stanzas carefully control the emotional impact of the narrator’s pain. By the end, however, the reader can’t help but recognize that there is no controlling this trauma.

I Hear The Keys by B. A. Varghese

I Hear The Keys

The mound on which I rest is thick, soft,
strong. I sit inside a box inside a box
inside yet another box of brown. I look over
the top. There in the green the color of green
stretches beyond into the grey. I wait,
for the sound is a hush of the waves.

In grey ripples, green bamboos in a clump
sit halfway submerged. The sea is black beyond
the top. A wind blows over the bamboos, over yellow
stalks with green corners, bending, with leaves
of sharpest green. I smell the crisp wind and hear
the sea with waves inching onto sand, but not crashing.

Waves ease onto shore. A white seagull flaps,
flutters, floats in wind with small white eyes circled
in blackness. The bamboos call, from a distance,
with leaves waving back and forth, inviting,
but I wonder why it is there, yet it sits
in a sea of glass and shimmer.

The bamboos see me.

Turning, it moves away, ripples
in the water, waving away in the wind. It leaves
along the sound of keys. I wave and all
is gone. Now dark clouds rain, waves
crash into shores of sand, where the mound
has lost its look, its load, its laugh.

There are no more in the sea. Darkness
in the distance lights up, flashes jump
from cloud to cloud, whispering where
the bamboos went, to a place we all
must go. Clouds thunder their secret song
of where the waves have taken them to the deep.

This song I sing will note
of all of existence, existing before me.

by B. A. Varghese

Editor’s Note: Repetition and personification imbue this poem with a lyrical narrative voice.

From the archives – Hang Son Doong by O.P.W. Fredericks

Hang Son Doong

And the earth heaved a sigh
when I came into knowing
what is yet to come

. . . . . . . .before time was time

I’ve felt the fall of rain
the warmth of sun
as it lolled across the sky
teased my face
and my shallows with life
tender roots
that plucked at my skin
and tickled my soul

. . . . . . . .and you thought to look

tread gently as you go
there’s much much more
you’re not ready to know

. . . . . . . .I’ve kept secrets

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 30, 2015 —by O.P.W. Fredericks

Video courtesy of Ryan Deboodt

Vintage verse – Fantasy by Gwendolyn Bennett

 

Fantasy

I sailed in my dreams to the Land of Night
Where you were the dusk-eyed queen,
And there in the pallor of moon-veiled light
The loveliest things were seen …

A slim-necked peacock sauntered there
In a garden of lavender hues,
And you were strange with your purple hair
As you sat in your amethyst chair
With your feet in your hyacinth shoes.

Oh, the moon gave a bluish light
Through the trees in the land of dreams and night.
I stood behind a bush of yellow-green
And whistled a song to the dark-haired queen …

by Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-1981)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Something In The Air by Jerome Betts

Something In The Air

How soon it seems the window pales
And curlews bubble round the field.
Fresh out, the cattle lift their tails,
Kick, run and bellow, all spring-heeled;
House-sparrows, building in the eaves,
Trail dead grass left from winter floods;
A bass-broom hedgerow-top receives
Its bristle-softening of buds.

First bulbs poke up their smooth green gapes;
Palm willows thrum with early bees;
By rooks’ wind-ruffled swaying shapes
Half-moons of twigs blotch leafless trees;
The ditches harbour glistening spawn;
Gold lichen spangles roof and rails.
Each day the light returns at dawn
How soon it seems the window pales.

by Jerome Betts

Editor’s Note: Iambic tetrameter displays the change of season from cold to warm in this poem (and is a fitting mirror to On The Turn). The repetition of the first line at the close of the poem neatly reminds the reader of the season’s ephemeral nature.