Too Smart by Ed Shacklee

Too Smart

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

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Editor’s Note: The villanelle form lends itself to the twisting, recursive philosophy that is the central theme of this poem.

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose by Marissa Glover

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose

The moon and stars that fill the sky
are only there to light the night—
no message for my hopeful eye,
no wish I may or wish I might.

The rainfall is no sign of love;
no hidden meaning in the weather.
It’s not a signal from above
that you and I should be together.

The lilies growing in the lake
are not for us a metaphor.
They had no thought of what’s at stake
and bloomed before we reached the shore.

The world around us yields no clue
should you love me or I love you.
The world is beautiful and yet—
let’s not read too much into it.

by Marissa Glover

Editor’s Note: The lighthearted form of this poem makes it an easy read, but the message is much deeper than is first apparent.

February by Rick Mullin


The Christmas amaryllis keeps on growing,
boxed, neglected into February,
curled against the cardboard in the dark,
a spark in Quasimodo’s brooding cell.
And we move through our shadow-angled house
unconscious of its tendrils in our beds,

its airborne web, the ways that unmade beds
embrace corruption. Silence feeds what’s growing
daily when there’s no one in the house,
and a flower burns through nights in February,
out of sight, a churning carousel
abandoned with its lights on in the dark.

Forgotten visitation, onioned arc,
it aches to show itself… and know our beds.
To mix with us in each dividing cell
that pushes farthest from the fire. It’s growing
spinelessly in love with February
and the hibernations of our house,

the mouthfeel of our eggs and Maxwell House,
and the flavor of our bodies in the dark
while we’re away. The radix Februari
cultivates our absent flower beds.
It’s growing, growing, growing, growing, growing,
microfiber, wind spore, nanocell,

unnaturally active past its sell-
by-date, and wiring our entire house
with febroneural threads. The box is growing
bolder and more desperate, sweet and dark.
Perhaps it means to choke us in our beds
and spend the waning days of February,

with its vampire apex, February,
with its uphill climb and sleeper cell
around the corner, sucking in our beds
and pulling us, digested, to a house
beneath the sideboard where we left it dark
and dying in a box. But it kept growing,

growing like a February virus,
burning in the dark, a fuel cell,
an unmade brain, a house of hunchbacked beds.

by Rick Mullin, first appeared in Measure, from Stignatz & the User of Vicenza.

Editor’s Note: It is February, and this poem is a sestina written in blank verse, which is astonishing.

My Husband Never Buys Me Flowers by Katie Hoerth

My Husband Never Buys Me Flowers

I see them every Saturday, those men
cradling bouquets of fresh-cut flowers
in the grocery check-out line — dyed daisies,
carnations, or a single rose in rouge.

I’m emptying my shopping cart behind
one as he pays. He shifts inside his suit
taps a polished shoe, unsheathes his wallet,
disappears like mist into the night.

It’s enough to make a gal feel jipped
out of romance. Isn’t this what love
ought to look like: Men on tall white horses,
charming men with flowers in pressed suits,

men who slay the dragons, save the day?
I carry my own groceries to the car.
At home, my husband slumbers on the couch,
resting from another day of working

in the garden, trimming back the chaos
of the oak whose shade was suffocating
my marigolds. His open palms are blooming
with blisters like the petals of a rose.

by Katie Hoerth

Editor’s Note: The imagery in the last two lines of this poem pushes the reader out of the narrator’s mind and into a bouquet of emotion.

From the archives – The Kiss by Gregory Palmerino

The Kiss

Something is cast in beauty that receives
the mind and won’t let go: it seems as fine
as sunlight dappling beneath the eaves

or yellow jasmine fragrant on the vine,
and you, with florid lips and furtive eyes,
inviting me to cross that whirlwind sign;

it keeps compelling me to recognize
this look of yours, in half a measure’s time,
is only half of splendor’s sacred prize.

For music sought inside this holy rhyme,
the scent of flowers, and the taste of wine
all flee to me from Rodin’s cold sublime—

when last I tempt that spell and cross that line
then take your hand and press your lips to mine.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 21, 2017 — by Gregory Palmerino

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

One Winter by Richard Meyer

One Winter

Where are the snows of years gone by?
And where’s the one who came this way
beneath a low and chalky sky
and walked with me that winter day

down hillside woods, past limestone walls,
then up a creek bed deep in snow
to see the frozen waterfalls?
The cataract’s arrested flow

shone like a pillared mound of glass,
all plunge and roar solidified
into a looming blue-green mass.
We stood in silence, side by side,

and winter held us, kept us bound
in consonance like ice and stone,
and laced together on the ground
the only tracks were ours alone.

But lives are fluid, mutable,
not fixed tableaux inside a sphere
where worlds are snowy beautiful
and nothing changes year to year.

I saw that winter melt and go
in icy currents down a stream
and all that bright beguiling snow
become a lost dissolving dream.

by Richard Meyer, appears in Orbital Paths.

Editor’s Note: This poems formal structure creates a lovely narrative direction in a poem that might otherwise seem too easy.

The Hours by Risa Denenberg

The Hours

I don’t sleep at night. I count the hours until morning.
I wait for my bride to carry me off into the sky.
The hours of night are as useless to me as the inside of a paper bag.
I count the minutes until sunrise. I doze a bit by early light.
I do nothing all morning. I need to wake. I need an alarm.
I am alarmed that I do nothing. Even a dead dog does something.
I want to do no harm. So I wait
For as long as I can hold a single breath.
I count my breaths. I run out of air. I am filled with shame.
Shame displaces the wind in my lungs. I wheeze and gasp
For breath. The ticking seconds rebuke me.
I am ashamed of things I should or should not have done.
I take blame for your mistakes.
Isn’t this the way it always is? Low hanging fruit?
I count seconds of daylight, by light of day.
All day, I cannot stop eating. I am never full.
At night, I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t dream.
At nightfall, I wash my face. I brush my teeth.
I brush my hair while counting one, two, three, four … 100.
I count the 18 stairs to my bedroom.
The bed upstairs is where I don’t sleep.
The bedroom door is warped and magnifies the light,
The windy nightfall, the hard-falling rain, the storms without thunder.
I count the dark hours, flooded with panic.
I am alone. I am almost old.
My books and my cat try to comfort me.
I lie awake, ready to greet the Sabbath queen,
her fragrant spices commanding me to rest.
I know death. She will come to me at night.

by Risa Denenberg

Editor’s note: This poem’s surreal and disjointed imagery is held together with repetition, giving the reader a glimpse into not just hours, but an entire life.

At the House of Blues by Taylor Gianfrancisco

At the House of Blues

In a prayer,

I close my eyes, wishing on your low
voice that the stage lights will forget
their names and douse us with a religious

high in the mosh pit. That the broken
wings of the rafter beams above us will turn
into many blue heavens. But I can only listen

to your words: This tiny voice in my head starts
to say, you’re safe, child, you are safe.
this venue turns into little dots of stars asking

for your tales of heartache. And you pine
after your words, tripping over them until they spill
all over the audience. I pick them up, drown them

in beer until the glitter on our tongues dies
and I don’t remember why I’m here. I don’t know
anything but my name. I wish on the dimming,

dusky lights right as the guitar purrs its final note.

by Taylor Gianfrancisco

Editor’s Note: Anyone who’s ever sat in the dark audience of a blues club will recognize the surreal narrative that drive this poem towards the final line.