No I in Team by Ed Shacklee

No I in Team

Inside of every hen there is an egg.
Inside of many hovels there’s a house.
In each and every beggar there’s a beg,
and soon, inside of kittens, there’s a mouse.

Within the vilest hater is a hat.
Perversions always have a bit of verse.
A man will grow inhuman, fate more fat,
by chopping her to bits inside a hearse.

There is no I in team, two eyes in I,
the devil is more evil than you know;
so hide a cask in casket when I die,
we’ll drink to death if God is short an O.

by Ed Shacklee

Ed on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem is both amusing and disturbing (which is quite an accomplishment for twelve lines).

From the archives – Our Scars by Cynthia Neely

7wood

Our Scars

The long line along my spine,
the new ligament in your knee,
the gash the chainsaw slashed

as you ordered our unruly woods, a wound
so deep you could see right down
to the blanched heart of it. So pristine it didn’t bleed.

The slice above my breast to take the snake
of tubing to my own rebellious heart, a portal for all things
chemical and mean to clean the cancer from my cells.

And that deep seam from pubis to navel
like the cleft of an over-ripe peach,
muscles un-repaired in the haste of need,

the speed of my life gathered in, now
a reminder, each mirror glance, of that chance,
that child, unborn.

The love-tap from a bobcat on your chin,
a boy’s first lesson about all things wild
that can’t be tamed.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 16, 2015 — by Cynthia Neely

Vintage verse -I think I should have loved you presently (Sonnet IX) by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I think I should have loved you presently (Sonnet IX)

I think I should have loved you presently,
And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
And caught your hand against my cheek and breast;
And all my pretty follies flung aside
That won you to me, and beneath your gaze,
Naked of reticence and shorn of pride,
Spread like a chart my little wicked ways.
I, that had been to you, had you remained,
But one more waking from a recurrent dream,
Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained,
And walk your memory’s halls, austere, supreme,
A ghost in marble of a girl you knew
Who would have loved you in a day or two.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Why I Swim in the Rain by Joan Kantor

Why I Swim in the Rain

Everyone else has left

but immersed in the water
I gaze
from lake to wooded shoreline

longingly waiting
as lush green branches
gently bend and sway
against heavy grey clouds

that finally let go
of taut liquid threads,
tapping leaves
that shimmer and shake,
as the deep scent of soil
fills the air

I embrace the delicate rhythm
of plinks and plunks,
the bubbles
that suddenly surface,
then almost as suddenly burst

and the plunging drops
whose splash-back spurts
retreat into circular ripples

as slowly swimming,
I stir myself
into the sweetness
of solitude

by Joan Kantor

Editor’s Note: The careful line breaks (especially the first) create a sense of rippling calm that perfectly support the narrator’s meditative stubbornness.

Age of Steam by Neil Flatman

Age of Steam

Fingers in the gaps
of the chain link fence, we pull back
the lips of the tunnel’s mouth, still believing

we see magic in the world
beyond. Down the embankment
the bramble

bracken sides a slide of thorns
our grazed legs go
unnoticed, in the way of boys.

On the bridge, a dull-blue Anglia
putters its way to school, or maybe
church, and a stiff-legged crow hops

on the stone arch, calling out
an unheard warning. We are Indians
without axes, our ears against the rail

the resistance, planting bombs
beneath the ties, astronauts measuring a journey
through space and time by echo’s reach.

And deep back, in the dark throat
the place we stand, pressed hard against the wall
against the unrelenting

brick, waiting for the steel horse
steaming hard, the iron gallop
imagining

we’re someone, in the days before
we became so much
less than imagined.

by Neil Flatman

Editor’s Note: Unexpected imagery draws the reader into the boys’ world, where a tunnel and train create a childhood from mythological history. The last three lines are a punch to the gut for every grownup.

Midway Upon the Journey of My Life by Frank Mundo

Midway Upon the Journey of My Life
a villanelle

Although my life is only halfway through,
And age, with stealing steps, has shown its claws,
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

Friends and family, those I look up to,
So many lost to universal laws,
Although my life is only halfway through.

Since life’s spent waiting, wasting in the queue
And no one can escape death’s dropping jaws
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

Each year I outlive someone else I knew,
While more get dipped in blue and wrapped in gauze
Although my life is only halfway through.

If Time’s a bloody nightmare coming true,
And growing old’s a bloodbath without pause
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

Another year, another dropping shoe,
Reminds me that I need to live because,
Although my life is only halfway through,
There’s still a lot of dying left to do.

by Frank Mundo

Editor’s Note: The villanelle form can easily twist itself into nonsense, but this poem uses the repeated lines and theme to emphasize the narrator’s ruminations with flair.

Epistle to F. D. by Marly Youmans

Epistle to F. D.

This morning when I turned from sleep, I found
You in my thoughts, a boy with other boys
On Philpott St., where you swapped bread for words,
Though I was only there as in a dream.
Settled by my mother on the matting,
I learned from her to spell my words and read,
Syllables flashing in my mind like sails,
Like royals and moonrakers snatching light,
The letters gleaming in a mystery
Of change, as if in contra dance where hands
Are joining in new patterns, make new shapes
Like stars that waltz to music of the spheres.
How could it help but be all metaphor?
The joy of it, each clutch of letters joined
To stone or branch or water’s glittering
Has left some smear of brightness in my mind.
“Dear little boys” near Bailey’s shipyard served
As teachers—hungry boys who wolfed your bread
And gave you words and freeborn sympathy
When every thing that lived, the roadway stone
Or branch of apple blossoms, glitterings
Of distant waves beyond the mallet strokes
Of dockyard men who joined the ribs to keel
All shone and spoke one silver word to you,
The curled, triumphant horn of liberty:
A name to trumpet news, a spiral whorl
That whispered skysail freedoms to your ear.
So many years ago, sea captains steered
Their wind-borne ships to Africa and swapped
A coin for flesh. Time flees and stalls at once,
So somewhere is a girl whose flesh is free
To loveless men, who dreams of liberty,
Though she is caught in coilings of a net.
The sails beyond the harbor snagged the light,
Ships wandering at will of wind and wave:
Your dream grew silvery and metals-strong.
At night the starlight flittered on the sea,
Flicking here and there, as free as sparrows
Who flit and fly and gather table crumbs,
Then sleep like flowers, thoughtless and at peace.
But you were restless on your narrow bed
And anxious in the watches of the night,
The North Star like a bonfire in your mind.

by Marly Youmans

Marly on Facebook
Twitter: @marlyyoumans

Editor’s Note: Blank verse shows off its grace in this poem to stunning effect. The repetition of “liberty” and “light” adds to the cascade of imagery, supporting the narrator’s voice as the poem’s form spirals into itself.

Confronting St. Joseph In My Yard by Diane Elayne Dees

Confronting St. Joseph In My Yard

Hurricane lilies are known to mark abandoned
homesites. Mine burst into bloom today.
This sudden storm of crimson is so random,
a pool of blood where there should be decay.
I had no nurture left to give to gardens
or to myself. You left my landscape dry,
my heart infertile, my bones bereft of carbon,
a blossom unattended, bound to die.
When you lived here with me, you never gave
a thought to the fragility of lilies.
Now a rush of crimson leaps out from a grave,
the sky is dark, the nights are growing chilly.
The blood-red blooms foretell the violent weather,
while ice still forms from when we were together.

by Diane Elayne Dees

Twitter: @WomenWhoServe

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this sonnet weaves flowers into bad weather—an unusually appropriate metaphor for a failed relationship.

From the archives – Gulf by Claire Zoghb

IMG_5849

Gulf
For Fouad

As heat prevented you from keeping doves
you loved a cat instead. She claimed you at
your office door at closing, rubbed her bones
against your pants. You walked on streets that float

on top of sand, your loafers sinking deep
into the day contained within cement.
To whom did she belong, if not to you?
Khamsin about your ankles. Devil of dust.

Translucent as kamarudin, the desert sky
now gentles towards evening while—their sands
already cooling—dunes will slide across
the roads to reassemble themselves there.

Dubai

khamsin: a dry, hot, sandy local wind, blowing from the south, in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
kamarudin: sun-dried apricot paste

by

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 25, 2015 — by Claire Zoghb

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Prairie Spring by Willa Cather

Prairie Spring

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

by Willa Cather (1873-1947)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim