Baby’s Breath by Kole Allan Matheson

Baby’s Breath

All day hiking long blue mountains, three
tiny strides to match your mommy’s step,
little ducking flapping upward,
patting along the path,
panting breaths escape your weary face
until the color of a flower leaps onto your lips,
“Look, Da Da!”

All night in the dozing Shenandoah,
the wheezing zees of wind inside the forest,
weaving with your breath,
rhythm in the air,
little nest of baby blankets on your chest
rise and fall, rise and fall.
Silver walls of night light,
shadows in the window,
midnight’s cold and colored voice,

no more to my core
than your breath asleep.

by Kole Allan Matheson

Editor’s Note: Sometimes instead of the parent singing the child to sleep, it happens the other way around. (I particularly liked the second line of the second stanza: “wheezing zees”.)

[Apologies for the double post today: I published the poem with the wrong title in the email/blog post subject.]

June Twenty-First by Bruce Guernsey

June Twenty-First

My mother’s cigarette flares and fades,
the steady pulse of a firefly,
on the patio under the chestnut.

The next door neighbors are over.
My father, still slender, is telling a joke:
laughter jiggles in everyone’s drinks.

On his hour’s reprieve from sleep,
my little brother dances
in the sprinkler’s circle of water.

At fourteen, I’m too old
to run naked with my brother,
too young to laugh with my father.

I stand there with my hands in my pockets.
The sun refuses to set,
bright as a penny in a loafer.

by Bruce Guernsey

Editor’s Note: The subtle tension of family relationships from the point of view of a teen is colorfully drawn in this poem’s imagery.

Endings by Christine Jackson


The past drags across the sky
And snags on treetops;
The air smells of rain.

You stop the car at water’s edge;
A toxic canal flows between two berms,
A grim overlook of what we used to be.
You dared to call this morning,
And I answered;
We wait together
As signatures gather
To seal the end.
So here we sit,
Breeze and bluster,
Filling the car’s front seat
With silent recrimination.
A hubcap standing on edge
Gleams through tea-stained water.

On the far bank,
Palm fronds toss their manes,
Neighing to the wind;
Rain spatters the car hood.
Two ibis march in veiled white formality.
They grub for food on awkward, stalky legs,
Arced beaks scissoring after scraps.
Silver rivulets cross the windshield;
Bubbles pock the brown face of the canal.
Tossed on the wind, the birds flee.

We watch through the storm
As a crane uses its great bill as pincers;
Nuzzling into the grass,
It pulls up a garter snake
And wrangles out the rope.
The snake contracts its muscular line,
Shapes the “s” of a question mark,
Wraps once,
Clamping around the crane’s bill.
The brainless crane head shakes to break the coils,
Ruffles the down of its body.
The snake unwinds,
And the crane dips the dangling strand in the water
To answer the question.
The bird head lurches,
Nibbles and wriggles,
Until snake gut touches vertebral gullet,
All its length.

Under the unclenched sky,
The water’s flat surface shimmers.
Ducks thresh among the prisms,
Feathers mirrored in the green water.
Shadows dissolve into clear lines,
But too late.
On the far bank
A pair of desperate pigeons
Bobs and pecks,
Lost among the errant weeds.

by Christine Jackson

Editor’s Note: Personification enhances the ruthless imagery of this poem. The end of a relationship is always difficult.

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


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.