Icarus, Icarus, Paratrooper by Marly Youmans

Icarus, Icarus, Paratrooper
Homage to Charles Causley

Slung down from heaven, torn silks whipped
By precipitous wind, he tripped

From air and rammed the blasting sea
That seemed a gun, cocked vertically.

Seas stalled in the chute, let him down
More than he’d ever been let down

By men, hurled and harrowed farther.
Glitter strafed the skin of water.

Stars and starfish are just fool’s gold
Where salts turn iron—he burns with cold,

Fingers like candles, a birthday wish
Darting and slipping off like fish.

His throat is streaked with phosphorus,
His May-day eyes are kissed (not by us),

And his arms hold harms like lilies
In the deep green meadows of the seas.

by Marly Youmans

Marly on Facebook
Twitter: @marlyyoumans

Editor’s Note: This poem’s nod to Icarus calls to mind notes of Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts,” as well as Brueghe’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” while also drawing the reader into modern times. The imagery is no less striking, but somewhat more violent (gun, cocked, harrowed).

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Naomi by Christine Klocek-Lim

Naomi

The angel told her not to fall
asleep outside, but Naomi
had never been very good—
always the wild child.
The girl with the bold
words and songs
no one understood.
And anyway, the sunset had given
her ideas on how to pile
stones at the edge
of the field, like a pyramid
or a temple or a shrine,
and then she’d lost
her shoes in the grass.

An owl hooted.
Trees bent down further
than they ought, trying to see
what she’d done.

“This is what happens
when you don’t listen,”
the angel said.

Naomi captured a firefly,
thinking it might show
her secrets.
It had light. It could fly.

The angel fluttered like a broken
leaf above the scene, stern and righteous.

Naomi let the bug go.
She stretched out her feet and hands.
Watched the moon walk over the mountain
like an old wise woman, face turned
toward the past.

The angel tried again.
“This is not your place.”
“This is not your home.”

Naomi closed her ears and eyes,
remembering her lost dog.
Thinking of her dead mother’s cat,
how the creature would stare into the brush
for hours because everyone knew
a mouse lives beneath the world.

The angel swept wind over the field.
Scattered leaves and dust
as if anger had fingers.

Naomi pulled starlight
over her shoulders and elbows.
Tucked her feet into the hill.
“This is my dream,” she said.
“And I am not
afraid.”

by Christine Klocek-Lim.

Editor’s Note: As an editor, I feel it’s important to avoid indiscriminate self-publishing, but on one day a year, perhaps you will forgive me (yes, it’s my birthday).

Caesura by Catherine Chandler

Caesura

Between the last triumphant note of fall,
when maples, marigolds and pumpkins vie
for orange jurisdiction, and the rime-
embellished month of Christmas, there he is,

November. Stark. Severe. Demanding all
imagination can afford: a lie
might do the trick; an epic if there’s time.
Anything to fill that void of his.

by Catherine Chandler, first published in Candelabrum.

Editor’s Note: That quiet pause between seasons is beautifully demonstrated by this poem (form and imagery).

From the archives – Prelude by Ralph Culver

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Prelude

Come winter. Autumn pockets
her colors, pulls up
the once warm roots
and hunches southward: a gray,
drained hand rises. Shadow. Shadow.
It stops the blood. It stops
the brain’s fragile traffic. It stops

a buck, rumping a doe
grazing near fast water. He lifts
a tentative hoof and peers.
Every November that he began
waiting to starve is coming in
on the cold purpose of this wind.

And I count the times
I could not keep from turning
to check, mid-step,
the footprints strung behind
in the climbing snow.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 25, 2015 — by Ralph Culver

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Medusa by Louise Bogan

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Medusa

I had come to the house, in a cave of trees,
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved,—a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.

When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
Formed in the air.

This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this,
Nor the rain blur.

The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.

And I shall stand here like a shadow
Under the great balanced day,
My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind,
And does not drift away.

by Louise Bogan (1897-1970)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Crows by J.K. Durick

Crows

Would they really call it a murder, this gathering of crows
late afternoon in the trees just beyond the Hannaford
parking lot, late autumn now, whole leafless trees full,
regular bare-ruined choirs, squawking, talking, welcoming
the newcomers, late arrivals, from this direction and that,
gathering back from their day of scrounging and scavenging
roadsides aplenty, some discarded fries and flattened squirrels,
their day of watching and patrolling set areas in pairs, teasing
and terrorizing smaller birds, their voices, their stiff strutting,
and dark presence fill their day till this late, then they gather
back again, this murder of crows, the safety of crowding,
the safety of a scene, a noisy dark murder scene, like this.

by J.K. Durick

Editor’s Note: Imagery creates an active picture of crows in all their noisy glory. The closing line packs more of a punch than expected.

A Long Winter’s Tale by Doris Watts

A Long Winter’s Tale

Stopped on a siding, they spied
chokecherries weighing the branches,
clusters of purple-black berries begging
to be picked, inviting as any siren song.
And so with whatever containers
that they could find on the weigh-car,
and with the engineer – who at first said
he would wait but then was suddenly
there running right behind them –
they hightailed it through the tall grasses
and through the dust to the place
where the chokecherry bushes grew.
And they picked berries at top speed,
then scrambled back to where the engine
waited, breathing it’s impatient steam,
having gambled their jobs, for they all knew
that if they had been caught doing this,
they would certainly have been fired.
And all through the long winter months,
we ate that wine-dark jelly on breakfast toast
or fresh buttered biscuits or new-baked bread
hot from the oven, all the time pondering
the risk at which it had been bought.

by Doris Watts

Editor’s Note: Sometimes the risk of a thing sweetens it delightfully.