Clouds are quiet as an older couple
comfortable with the softening of age.
The temperature is low even for this altitude.
We have taken its advice and layered:
thirty-eight years, parka, flannel, fleece.
Two deer raise their heads from the water
where they drink but are not alarmed, game
does not follow hunt this far down river.
A heron shivers like a statue as if to cherish
the instant before it claims a trout a victory
for all herons. We too are still, if we make
a sound it’s a quick gasp of lung to remind us
our biology, the same bald eagle as last
spring, the wind from its wings has smoothed
the sky like a crumpled sheet of paper. Now
it reads us from a list of heights it plans
to reach today.
by Charles Carr
Editor’s Note: The imagery of this poem is astonishingly beautiful, and quite fitting for this day.
The Day Before
We treat it like any other,
pick and peel blood oranges, feast
on their deep red flesh, juices flowing
down our arms like a blessing. We laugh
at the crows’ raucous chorus, bask
in a hummingbird’s iridescence
as he pulls nectar from the feeder.
We change sheets, wash towels
and brush the cats as though the day
will pass into another no more or less
remarkable than this one. While the sun is high
and your body still whole, grief resides
elsewhere, hidden by daylight but waiting
its turn to seep through the cracks
into the deep dark of tomorrow.
by Debbie Hall
Editor’s Note: The title adds levels of meaning to this poem that don’t become clear until the very end.
She Remembers Blue
As she perches in a small cave
carved by wind and rain and time
in the chalky gothic walls of Plaza Blanca,
I tell my blind friend,
who has a type of vision not available to me,
about the Sangre de Cristo mountain range at sunset,
fifty miles distant,
capped with snow the color of blood.
She tells me about how even the sound of raven wings
reverberates off canyon walls,
how her tapping cane and her footsteps
make different sounds on stone or sand,
how those sounds come back to her ears
differently from everything she passes.
She says she remembers the sky
from before her eyes closed.
She remembers blue.
by Larry Schug
Editor’s Note: This poem’s narrative hangs on a particular indescribable image, and the emotional impact resonates long after reading.
Or, The Fish
. . . . . . . .—for Carlos, Camila, Claudia & Ryan at the Neruda house, Valparaiso, Chile
This Pacific could not be bluer
if we waved a wand, or
this snail’s shell more green
or more certain of its greenness.
This stair could not labor so sensibly
up the hill of the poet’s dream
or these windows carry us
farther to paradise.
A minute here passes
like the cargo ships on the bay,
eternally, at ease, like the cat
licking itself in strong sunlight
on the funky garden bench.
I am caught by it, a fish in time,
surprised by the hook, the sharp,
startling wound of happiness.
from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 10, 2017 — by Clark Holtzman.
photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
Another Poem About Fireflies
We say “listen to the wind in the trees”
but that is not the sound. What is the sound
of a leaf moving? How many leaves
in these after-dark silhouettes framed
by highway horizon glow? I came to the porch
because I heard a gentle rainfall
but it was not water mist against leaves.
It was leaves against the movement of air.
We cannot hear air, cannot hear one
two three leaves change position.
But this, sounding of indrawn breath
and tide drawn back across black
volcanic pebbles, this we can hear.
I came to the covered porch to be misted
this July dusk but there was not mist.
There were pulsing tree trunks. There were events
at the edges of my eyesight, and when I looked
they were bugs. Then there were more events
that when I looked again became lights.
I don’t remember when I last saw
fireflies, and I don’t know if I will ever
see them again. So stark, their white-yellow signals
pull from deep in the yard across the street,
and down the street. Each its own light-
point cycle, so many aerial lighthouses.
Flash cycle nebula densing the more
the more I abandon eye focus. This erratic
point cloud beneath tides of treetops,
and me in the fade to black, secure
in my simple irrelevance to all of it.
by David P. Miller
Editor’s Note: This poem seems simple at first, as the narrator details his observations, but as the imagery repeats and twists into itself, the poem spirals into a more astronomical philosophy than is immediately obvious.
On the Way to Perry Park
Is there a man in the moon? he asks.
And I want to say,
There is a man in you.
You will grow into him,
the way the moon has become
a part of me—her pulling,
the way she rides
across a sky, her work
with the sea and in me,
how there is someone
in all of us, a small god.
I want to say,
keep looking up,
trace the pigeon sweeping
over the water feature,
step in a scene,
to gather whatever
lines a basin.
Is the moon following us? he asks.
We move together,
by Sarah Dickenson Snyder
Editor’s Note: This poem’s surrealistic imagery provides a wistful counterpoint to the child’s questions. Parents will understand.
Before we got too smart, the world was flat –
above our heads, the music of the spheres.
What’s going round and round compared to that?
Local gods and demons babysat
our knuckle-dragging mums and dads for years
until we got too smart: the world was flat,
unrolled and supine as a welcome mat
with edges where the unknown disappears.
What’s going round and round compared to that
delightful sense of knowing where one’s at,
even Plato’s Cave? For it appears
that before we got too smart the world was flat,
and cooler till we broke the thermostat,
like hamsters on a wheel who’ve stripped the gears.
For what goes round, comes round, and that is that:
each up becomes a down, and like a gnat
a pesky doubt still buzzes in our ears;
for till we got too smart, the world was flat –
what’s going round and round compared to that?
by Ed Shacklee
Ed on Facebook
Editor’s Note: The villanelle form lends itself to the twisting, recursive philosophy that is the central theme of this poem.