Antipodes by Coleman Glenn

Antipodes

Thick snow fell the November he was born,
before we moved a hemisphere away
and she arrived one January morning,
crying to ignite the summer day.

He’s seven now, and this month she’s still five—
an artificial gap for kids so near
in size, in schemes, in love for things alive;
who hear, “Are you two twins?” more every year.

But she — she sings her world into existence,
narrating every heartbreak, every high;
elaborating stories with insistence
that this is real, that fairies are nearby.

He, too, dreams deep, builds Lego worlds, pretends;
he shouts his news to strangers when he’s proud.
But precious things he shelters and defends;
he often prays but seldom prays aloud.

And still, they live within a single story,
twined threads within a tapestry unfurled
by what they say or hide of grief and glory;
two sides of the same half-illumined world.

by Coleman Glenn

Twitter: @colemanglenn

Editor’s Note: Some poems are so beautifully written that it’s difficult to focus on any one thing that makes them work. This is one of those poems.

Hallelujah This Sky by Victoria Melekian

Hallelujah This Sky

Working downtown today, clouds
in every window of the high rise
across the way: big white ones
vast enough to house God

and sweet baby Jesus, all of heaven’s
angels and saints. I’m telling you,
it’s a miracle sky, sky in a Bible,
sky so gorgeous it can fix anything

that ails you, and it’s reflected
in every single window
on all twenty-four floors of the building
across from me, a colossal glass cloud

there to behold. The attorneys drone:
question, answer, question, answer.
I take down every do you recall, isn’t it true,
pursuant to, but I want to stop

the deposition and applaud this sky.
Hallelujah this sky. Devour this sky.
Stuff myself with pure white fluffiness,
slip clouds into their transcript.

by Victoria Melekian

Editor’s Note: The central image of this poem is perfectly highlighted by the careful enjambment between stanzas which grabs the reader’s attention—not so easy to do with something as ephemeral as how clouds feel.

Arcturus by Martin J. Elster

Arcturus

Arcturus sparks the night
when croci spring from the earth.
Light left its stellar berth
years, years, and years ago.
On seeing its face (the glow
as orange as the fruit),
we know our planet’s flight
has brought the robins to root
for grubs in parks, backyards,
and along those strips of lawn
that split our boulevards.
They trill a tune at dawn,
hunt angleworms at noon,
and slumber when the moon
comes up and greets the Bear,
which bright Arcturus follows
as it glisters through the air
ringing with the swallows
by day and, in the dark,
the singing of the lark
till Vega, overhead,
says, “Time to go to bed!”

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: Skillful rhyming illuminates this poem’s imagery into a tight constellation of nature—star to planet to personification at the end of the story.

When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia by Robin Turner

“Picking a favorite dahlia is like going through a button box.”
—from The Old Farmers Almanac

When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia

it is February. It is the last day of her 84th year,
the latest day in this ruthless unspooling of days,
of pandemic lockdown, its cruel isolation
and winter, all the gardens covered over,
all our lives fallow, fallow. When my mother forgets

the word for dahlia, tall flower as familiar to her as a daughter,
its name soft as psalm on the tongue, it is yet another day
of all the distances between us—every long year apart,
every rocky geography, every hurt forgiven and not
forgiven. And in that instant every distance opens wide

its spacious arms as every distance collapses and gathers, as dahlia waits
snug in its button box to be found, tucked just out of memory’s reach until it passes
like miracle into me, blossoming into speech— dahlia, I say through the phone
and into my mother’s frustrated silence, her solitary sorting, sorting, sorting.

I give her back the beloved, the favorite flower, the one
she knows but can no longer name. When my mother forgets
the word for dahlia, I drive in a blinding rain to the wizened women
at the nursery called Blue Moon. They will know. They will
know the flower I have come for.

by Robin Turner

Robin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The imagery and repetition in this spectacular poem effortlessly supports the heartrending emotional narrative with dignity and a hint of the desperation felt by the speaker.

Round Pond by Kelley J. White

Round Pond

Always twilight. I pull the heavy oars
through dark water until we balance,
cool air and water, night stilling, silent,
but for the living web of insect song spun
to our skin. We could hear a fly
settle on the face of the pond, hear the fish
rise to meet it, the still circles of each rise
ringing out until each fish’s hunger met
our wooden boat and quavered back.

Night birds dipped, smooth swallows,
flickering bats; no human sound
but the shipped oars dripping and
the shirr, shirr, shirr as my father gathered
the line in his palm for the cast,
the quick run-out as the trout pulled taut,
the moonlit silver dulling in the dark creel.

My father knew each hatch, which mayflies
lived for only one night’s flight, or two,
or three, or five. He knew the larva
and the nymphs, each swimming, clinging,
crawling stage. He’d catch a chrysalis
on the net’s edge to watch the rough husk split
then dry and enter air. So many white wings.

He’d lean a moment, the lit match quick
against his young face, the cigarette cupped,
match shaken, his hands brisk to tie a leader
or untangle a knot. I wet a finger. No wind.
Moon. I lay on the bottom of the drifting
boat, rocking, palms open to stars, so many
risings, light, sound, circles, whispers of fish,
my father dim in the bow, casting and reeling in,
my whispering breath, the water gentling,
lapping, and he rowed us swiftly home.

by Kelley J. White, from After Frost (CyberWit)

Editor’s Note: The absolute stillness of the imagery in this poem is broken only by the quiet movement of life flowing out of the water and then fading back into the depths, which is a lovely way to remember someone.

From the archives – Beauty by JR Solonche

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beauty

From my room down the hall,
I can hear the mathematics
professor getting emotional
about an equation, and I ask
myself how someone can get
so worked up about what isn’t real,
an abstraction, nothing but what?
Signs and symbols. A scribble.

Oh, I say to myself. To him
it is a poem, a formal one,
every word in place, every rhyme
perfect, every stanza exact. Poor man.
He, too, must pound the beauty deep in
with his fist. Every time. Every damn time.

by JR Solonche

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 25, 2018

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Steve Jobs, From Beyond the Grave, Pitches the Flag Elevation App by Samuel Prestridge

Steve Jobs, Addressing a Joint Session of Congress from Beyond the Grave, Pitches a Technology that America Most Needs to Address the Aftermath of Mass Shootings, the Universal Flagpole Elevation / Suspension App

The flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up
at the click of an icon. It’s automatic:
no debate, no crafting statements of support,

or prayers, or debating gun laws, no muss,
no fuss. The horrific happens, and with a click
the flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up

after a span for grieving determined by consensus—
or algorithm: say x days per y victims.
With no debate, no crafting statements of support,

we’re greasing the skids. The shooter gets comeuppance—
his ass in jail or dead—but we’re spared the usual shtick:
the flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up

after proclamations, deliberations, air-time to envelope
the tragedy’s minutia, the names of the dead, a mimic
of debate, of crafting statements of support.

No discussing remedies, no blame, or changes to oppose.
User friendly: you can even be a dick,
and still, the flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up
with no debate, no crafting statements of support.

by Samuel Prestridge

Editor’s Note: This villanelle uses the repetition of lines to great effect, emphasizing the absurd, inherent cruelty of death becoming just another talking-head soundbite.

1726 Cantata by Korie Beth Brown

1726 Cantata

I walk down the path to your house, my feet tapping
a 4/4 rhythm. The sound says goodbye.
I don’t want to hear that melody. I want you to heal,
your voice to accompany mine as we grow old together.
I stop at the end of the sidewalk. Like Lot’s wife, I turn. Your window
is dark. You lie inside, all best friend without a working liver
growing quieter and slower. Soon you will leave the orchestra.
I will be alone, my life’s chorus depleted.
It’s hard to keep focused. I want to sing a sad solo.
Others are also affected by your death and life. I hear
the rustling of leaves. The tree next to me will be here
next week, but you probably won’t.
I get in the car. I’ll stay overnight at a friend’s
whose religion tells us rejoice, you’re just shy of heaven.
I can’t mouth that tune. I would ask your opinion
but you are busy with a different threnody.

How will I keep singing by myself?

Your house recedes in the rear-view mirror, its music replaced
by the hum of the car, the swell of traffic
the changing orchestration
of life from here on out.

by Korie Beth Brown

Editor’s Note: This lament threads nostalgia and grief together into one song because letting go of a loved one is neither easy nor simple.

A Purple Poem by Praniti Gulyani

A Purple Poem

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s neck
that my father writes for her
every full moon night
instead, most poets write on paper
but my father writes on mother’s skin
she smiles, she says she doesn’t mind
says, the purple poem is truly
a thing of pride and beauty
yet, she keeps it covered, carefully
with the ends of her dupatta, shielding it
says, she’s scared of it being looked at
by the evil eye

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s hand
that father writes for her
every full-moon night
instead, most poems have words
but its a shape poem, my mother insists
sits me down before the computer
makes me look at some
but does not ask me to write one
I wonder why

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s forehead
that my father writes for her
every full-moon night
instead, it has not been written tenderly
upon the softness of paper
with a gliding quill
it has been pummeled, pushed—
slapped, and smashed
probably the way, mom punches walnuts
into the dough of our winter cake
so that the walnut stays
I think father also wishes
for this purple poem
to permanently stay

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s feet
that my father writes for her
every full-moon night
and tonight, as I reach out,
my fingers measuring the dark
ensuring my steps are silent
I tread with caution
so as to not arise her
I touch this purple poem
which she says, is a treasure—
an honor, a privilege, a boon
and even at times, a wife’s pride
her sleep-crusted eyes flicker open
she winces.

by Praniti Gulyani

Editor’s Note: The repetition of the imagery in this poem gives it an almost sing-song cadence while also emphasizing the emotional difficultly of the narrative.

Dodo by Martin J. Elster

Dodo
(Raphus cucullatus)

Maybe you chuckle at the sound
of my name or weep at hearing a word
that calls to mind the song of a bird
so round, I couldn’t leave the ground.
Yet I matched my patch like comfy clothing.
You came ashore one day and, loathing
my curious countenance, bludgeoned, bashed
and smashed my clan. Our numbers crashed.
(Had the once-lush forests of Mauritius
ever seen a beast so vicious?)
We roosted in the woods, ate fruits,
and shrank from none, not even the boots
striding toward us. We were no beauts—
in your eyes—though our feathered suits
were snazzy as a CEO’s.
Unlike most other birds, the nose
inside our epic bill was keen,
helping us locate our cuisine,
helping us find the bulbs and roots,
seeds, nuts and crabs and other shellfish
we relished. The dodo tree, unselfish,
nourished parrot, bat, and tortoise,
the gifts it gave so darned delightful
we licked our beaks at every bite-full.
Paradise! Yet you abhorred us—
our face, our grace, our trendy style.
Now you hear our name and smile.
I wish, instead, you’d just ignored us.

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: This poem’s inventive rhyme is perfectly suited to its subject, with neither too much levity, nor too little.