Common Grounds by Cathryn Essinger

Common Grounds
Bluffton, Ohio April, 2017

As the barista hands me my coffee,
I read the word REGARDLESS
inked along the inside of her left arm.

After grading way too many freshman
essays, I consider complimenting her
on her grammar, but just tip my head

for a better look. The tattoo seems a bit
pouty, a little punk, but I don’t see that
in her face, where there is only a soft

weariness and a slow smile. Oh, it’s not
finished, she says. I’m saving my money
for two roses, here and here, and maybe

someday a butterfly and a name. And now
I hear it in her voice, an old sadness that
should not have taken hold in one so young–

a loss, an injury, a bruise so deep it remains
unseen? Still, there is a touch of arrogance,
a resilience that I hope will see her through.

She bites her lip, pulls down her sleeve,
hands me my change. I think it best not to ask
and try to imagine the roses, regardless.

by Cathryn Essinger

Editor’s Note: This poem’s quiet narrative belies the understanding that lies at the heart of the story.

The Poem of the Future by JR Solonche

The Poem of the Future

The poem of the future will be smaller.
It will fit in the palm of your hand,
on your wrist, in your ear.

The poem of the future will not need
bulky batteries or cumbersome wires.
It will be powered by moonlight and weed.

The poem of the future will be automatic.
It will go for months without routine maintenance.
It will be faster, smoother, with a digital tick.

The poem of the future will be lighter.
It will be made of plastics and exotic metals.
It will be available in hundreds of shapes and colors.

The poem of the future will make our lives true.
It will perform in a second what it takes
the poem of the present a day to do.

The poem of the future will talk to us.
It will say things like “Buy IBM,” and ” Friend me,”
and “Pulvis et umbra sumus.”

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: This poem’s bold irony begins with the title, and moves through the lines until the grim last line.

From the archives – Go Slow, Leonard Cohen by Tricia Marcella Cimera

Go Slow, Leonard Cohen

I had a dream Leonard Cohen
was my first and I was his last.
Go slow don’t hurt me, I whispered.
Go slow don’t kill me, he warned.
He taught me why the yellow dog
howls when the pink rose blooms
in the dark of night while the rain
runs in rivulets down the window.
He showed me that sometimes I
would be the dog, sometimes I
would be the rose. But both of us
were always the rain. And to
go slow. The end would come
soon enough.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 2, 2017 — by Tricia Marcella Cimera

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim.

A Small Bird by Carol A. Amato

A Small Bird

A small bird’s egg tooth pokes light
into that safe darkness.

She rises wet from the jagged shell
to see the cold awareness of stars,
an imperfect egg moon.

She feels the weight of mother
love above her, transient as
the broken fragments and the swirl
of feathers beneath her.

The nestlings grow quickly
the constancy of protein stuffed
often into their gaping mouths
(unlovely the caterwauling of need)
readying to test the sky.

Except for her.

She watches as they lift from their
boney home to join the flock
jostling for space on the high wire
paralleling the divided highway
dark sentinels facing into the wind.

In a sudden
they rise together conjoined as one
whirling and veering
slanting in and out of clouds
the swarm like a cult of bees
impenetrable and unquestioning.

She feels the pull of a gentle wind
lifting her maiden feathers into
a prophetic V.

Balanced on the nest edge
she leaps into that rarefied air
soaring on her own wings into
the swirling thermals toward the bold
new moon and the intrepid stars
like her
a small brave bird.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem feels like allegory, but even if it isn’t, the narrative of the small brave bird is one many of us need right now.

For the Death of My Ex-Husband by Elise Hempel

For the Death of My Ex-Husband

The first four stages of grief
have been accomplished, in random order,
a few repeated, with no clear border,
denial more like disbelief,

but the fifth – acceptance – almost
there on a sunny day, and then
refusing its place on the list again,
elusive as the five-word ghost

of your voice our daughter now
plays on her cell-phone over and over,
her finger in its endless hover,
passing the stop-square, pressing the arrow.

by Elise Hempel

Editor’s Note: This poem uses enjambment to great effect, highlighting the narrator’s sorrow (over her loss—so complicated, and her daughter’s—so easy to understand).

Winter Landscape With Deer and Stevens by Patricia Wallace Jones

Winter Landscape With Deer and Stevens

I cannot sing today.
The waves are too big and the wind
is crying a high-pitched whine
that makes me restless, unable to paint,
write, even read much more
than a poem or two.

The windows fog, beat to a rain
so iced and slanted that I can barely see
past Pomo Point where women go
to pray their men home on days like this.

With no palette to capture the morning
stretched taut before me, I become the lines
I read—another weeping woman
until I see them composed on the bluff
feeding on a hint of spring in all that grey.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

Patricia on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem’s opening line sets the tone for the narrator’s intensive sadness, but the ending provides a note of hope.