Saturday book feature – A Passable Man— Ralph Culver

“Fishing with My Father, and the Craft of Poetry”

Hours holding the poles over the water,
hours of catching nothing or not much,
and throwing back what we did catch.
What the hell was that about, anyway?
And yet today I have this patience
for things that drive some people crazy:
standing in line at the supermarket,
waiting for some fool blowhard to stop gabbing,
searching for a coat button in the snow.
The finely honed conviction that beneath
this nothing is a deeper, richer nothing.
Consecrating myself to the silence, and then
to what interrupts the silence.

by Ralph Culver, from A Passable Man, MadHat Press (2021), first appeared in 10×3 plus.

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Year in Review: 2022 Stats


I would like to thank everyone who reads Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, and all the poets who’ve sent their work to me over the years (from the quarterly ezine begun in 2006 to now). I can honestly say that the quality of work I receive on a daily basis is what keeps me going. The stats for 2022 exceeded 2021 (and every other prior year):

  • Total views: 57,447 (average ~5000 per month)
  • Total visitors: 23, 307 (average ~2000 per month)
  • Likes: 2564 (twice as many as 2021)
  • Comments: 414

Right now I am on hiatus from reading submissions until February 1, 2023. During this time, I will be working on a new theme/interface for the site that will hopefully make it easier to maintain. I’ve already upgraded my website plan in order to make room for more photos (for the Saturday book feature) and to automate backups. I’m hoping this process goes smoothly, but you know how much fun “upgrading” tech can be. Wish me luck!

This year I will continue to post poems from the defunct quarterly archives as well as poems from the daily archives every Sunday. Each Saturday will feature a book and poem from a past contributor. I expect to go on hiatus once in a while, but rest assured that your spectacular poems and our community of poetry aficionados will keep Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY going for many years to come.

-Christine, editor

From the archives – New Year’s Eve on the Moon — Ciaran Parkes

New Year’s Eve on the Moon

You’ve got telescopes. You can see more
than the Great Wall of China. You can measure
the moving coastlines like someone on a train

watching the landscape gliding by, imagining
themselves a tireless runner, leaping hedges,
trees and houses, or in your case, oceans,

continents. The night reveals much more,
like turning a light on, like x-ray. You can choose
a city to focus on. It’s almost New Year’s Day

or it’s already been for hours. For one whole day
you can watch the flare of fireworks in the darkness
as cities come alight and, in the distance,

the brighter sway of sunlight sweeping in
over the horizon. On the moon who knows
what time it is, what day or year or month?

What’s to celebrate? What slow tides are moved
by the earth in all those dried up seas?

by Ciaran Parkes

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, December 31, 2020

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Saturday book feature – Unforgetting— Christine Potter

Poem To Myself At 30

I see you change out of your whites
in the cooks’ bathroom where
a florescent tube, almost burnt-out
flickers like Charlie Chaplin. Garlic

stings your cuticles, a clingy musk
under the lavender hand soap
someone else brought in. Take off
your bandana, shake out your flat hair,

and open the door to the sudden
comfort of the wide black sky
overhead: no moon, but stars and
stars and stars. The bread order

is placed, tomorrow’s vegetables
safe in the dill-scented walk-in. Try
not to listen to your mother. It’s fine
to be happy with this. See? Your

old red car still runs smoothly.
Its radio is tuned to a friendly song,
and the drive uphill and home
shorter and kinder than you think.

by Christine Potter, from Unforgetting, Kelsay Books

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Basho’s Gift by Ed Hack

Basho’s Gift

When asked, he’d write a poem. She gave him silk,
a small white piece. Her name was Butterfly,
and what she wanted was her name in ink,
deep black on white, her small life glorified
by Basho’s brush. It was a small tea house
deep in the woods and Towards the end of day.
He writes about the beauty Time allows–
eternities of now that fly away:
a butterfly on orchid’s leaf, its wings
alit with incense burning sweetly in
the sun. That’s all that Basho writes. Black sings
on white, simplicity a perfect hymn.
And that’s the gift that he gave Butterfly,
alive, again, though long ago both died.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet elegantly merges several different forms of art into one 14 line poem—a fitting tribute to Basho’s words and imagery.

Sighting of the Morning by Jane Blanchard

Sighting of the Morning
—on the sixth day of Christmas

Look at that! Not a catbird but a hawk
Atop the steeple of the Baptist church.
Across the street we cannot help but gawk
At such a splendid creature on its perch—
Head turning north to south, then north again—
Eyes taking in the scene including us—
Breast, white though speckled, full, impressive in
Our view. To spot its tail would be a plus
But is impossible. This early on
A Sunday, only people passing by
Can see what stands where some cross could have gone.
Arriving later, worshippers will spy
Each other as they enter, maybe smile,
But miss the hawk which visited awhile.

by Jane Blanchard, first published in The Orchards Poetry Journal

Editor’s Note: Every birding enthusiast will find this ekphrastic sonnet charming (hint: this editor loves birds).

Horoscope by Ciaran Parkes


I photograph your horoscope
from The Irish Independent
with my mobile phone
to send it to you miles away
along the coast in Enniscrone.

Now the stars
might as well be closer
than you are. On a good night
I can see them easily.
But I’m grateful for the magic
that brings me your voice

every day. I remember,
before sending, you don’t
look at the horoscopes
we used to read together
these Covid days, can’t even

bring yourself to look
at the crowded stars, the moon
in its solitary splendour.

by Ciaran Parkes

Editor’s Note: This poem’s stanza breaks (in between sentences) are carefully chosen to mirror the difficult distance between the speaker and their loved one, reinforcing the final image of a solitary moon in a crowded space.

The Modernist Short Story by John Calvin Hughes

The Modernist Short Story

Epiphany is not all it’s zapped up to be.
Not all angels and baby saviors.
On the other hand, if you find yourself
in a short story, pretty quick you’ll find
you’re practically a different person,
Enlightened, open hearted, closer to adult-
hood. In the text is not like out here.
Out here you live in a world where good
people are too ignorant to know
fascism if it stomped on their faces.
But let a writer get ahold of you
and you miss a bazaar, throw out
some board games, quit a job and pow
you’re all fixed up. In the good way.
Kill your father, snatch a quilt outta
your daughter’s greedy hands, drop
a car in a river, and, buddy how,
you’re on the road:
innocence to experience, that’s
what the professors call it,
as if it were a good thing:
change and progress somehow identical.
Sure, okay, but what about that moment
when you hear the squeal of brakes
while you’re in the crosswalk,
when you open the package
you were not expecting from
a cabin somewhere in Montana,
when you see that look on her face
that says this news will not be good.
Oh, you’ll be changed on the other side
of it, all right. And then pitiless finger
of God reaching down through the cloudless,
sunless sky to touch you right on top of your head,
just before that old misfit pulls the trigger.

by John Calvin Hughes

Instagram: @johncalvinhughes
John on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem’s conversational tone disguises the hard truths lurking in the lines—real life is not fiction, and fiction’s facile endings don’t solve real life problems.

CLOSED to Submissions

Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY is on a brief hiatus and is CLOSED to submissions until February 1, 2023 (site upgrade).

Your daily poetry fix will continue this last week of December and on weekends during the month of January.

This site maintenance is needed in order to automate backups, upgrade to a new WordPress theme, and increase storage. This will mean that the yearly cost of maintaining this daily poetry journal will increase from $70 (site plus domain) to around $320. This is possible thanks to the generous purchases of my photography calendars.

This journal is free to submit and free to subscribe, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. I fund it via sales of my photography, art, and writing.

My sincere thanks for following and subscribing.

Christine, editor Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY

The Christmas Journey by Martin Willitts Jr.

The Christmas Journey

The Massacre of the Innocents by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1565-67. Based on the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule (the Eighty Years’ War) and Matthew 2:16-18.

During war, innocence is the first to die.
It could be any country enforcing harsh rules,
casting out immigrants, the unwanted,
even this small Flemish town during a severe winter,
snow-obliterating any and all hope,
icicles hanging like daggers, an iced cover pond.

During war, violence marches and hearts drumbeat.
There is a clamp-down, strictness rules.
A mounted soldier guards a bridge with a lance.
No one will enter or exit. A man hides a child,
but solders are everywhere, checking for immigrants.
One soldier urinates on a wall of a sanctuary house.
Another soldier yanks the last surviving child
from a mother and will kill the child while she watches.
Another soldier forces some women into a house,
and they will never be seen again.
A chorus of four mourners wail about injustice,
and their cries are unheard by us.

A lone woman stands grieving over her dead baby
lying on blood spilled snow. Another couple pleas
to take their daughter, not their son, but bribes fail.
A soldier guards a dead baby making certain
no one can gather the body as a part of the purge.
People try to stop a father from attacking a soldier
killing his son. A seated woman grieves for a dead baby
in her lap. Babies are stabbed. These images will be erased
by government censors. In war and time, truth vanishes.

One soldier has an axe while another has a battering ram,
three are climbing through an open window
while leaders have a meeting. This feels familiar.

Let our lives be a living testimony to who we truly are.

The Census at Bethlehem (also known as The Numbering at Bethlehem), an oil-on-panel by the Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566, based on Luke 2, 1-5.

It could be Bethlehem or Kiev or a southern border
or a Flemish village during winter at sundown.
All stories are really only a handful of stories.

People are gathered to read the warnings
under the Habsburg double-headed eagle.
There are not always warnings.

A man leads a donkey past the notice
indicating immigrants are not welcome.
He knows he needs to keep moving.

A pregnant woman rides on a slow donkey.
She will give birth soon, and on the run
is dangerous for delivering a baby. Can’t stay.

No one notices. The troops are searching.
People are too busy to notice the couple.
An empty barn is the closest shelter.

A man in a small hut rings a bell
to warn about leprosy or smallpox
or influenza or Covid. It doesn’t matter.

The world is going crazy. Troops are nearby.
A woman gives birth in this bitter situation.
Let our lives be a living testimony to who we truly are.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This brilliant ekphrastic poem draws on multiple histories, paintings, and literature in order to remind us that madness is always happening everywhere all at once.