Every poem I write for my father is called twilight by Kelley J. White

Every poem I write for my father is called twilight

Clouds make shadows on the mountains.
I walk through their green darkness. I want
a wind to silence thought, a storm to drown
out prayer, electric stillness, the promise
of breaking. You can walk three days
into woods and not find a single birch

worth a canoe. I know. I have done it.
I have loved slender saplings peeled white
and mourned for their cracking death
in ice. You never trusted your canvas
to my hands, never taught me the courage

of rapids. But I learned to read cocoons
and the wings of beetles, spider silk
and the veins of fern. I can follow bear
spoor studded with blackberry seed,
walk through thorns and not care if my legs

are bloodied. I have knelt on bruised knees,
mouth to rough water, asked the snake
to rattle your path from his one rock.
I want to remember dawn. I will listen for
the hawk to fold his wings.

by Kelley J. White

Editor’s Note: The intense clarity of the imagery in this poem conveys the weight of myriad emotions that couldn’t otherwise be articulated.

Poet’s Note: This poem has had an interesting life. It appeared many years ago in a now defunct internet publication, Three Candles, and as the title poem for an on-line chapbook (also now defunct). More recently it was included in two museum projects in New Hampshire pairing words and graphic art, one at the Museum of the White Mountains and one at Castle in the Clouds. I was reminded of the piece as we approach Father’s Day.

From the archives — But Skin Is Different by Rajani Radhakrishnan

But Skin Is Different

There are indentations in the blue
porcelain like impressions on soft
wax where it was held softly, when

the tea was warm, for a while, and it
would not stop raining. We leave marks
on things that least expect it, on a passing

wing, on yellow afternoons, on the serrated
silhouette of leaves against a midnight
moon, on time standing on one leg, back

against the far wall, waiting. Truth is a
collage of careless fingerprints, the rain can
draw your picture from the way your hand

caressed the clouds, but skin is different,
naked skin can be cleansed, memory carries
the deliberate guilt of sieved pain. This tea is

cold, a level certainty in an imperfect cup, it
is only mid-June, the sun flattens like an
unleavened candle, and it will not stop raining.

by Rajani Radhakrishnan

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 20, 2018

one on the wall by JB Mulligan

one on the wall
(Lance Corporal John Henry Ferril II, 6/3/46-7/7/67)

I

Your brother and your sisters speak
and sometimes hear the silence take
a familiar shape, and break.

Your shadow moves in shadows on their floors.
Your knock is sunlight on their doors.
Your smile might brush at night against theirs.

Your job. Your eyes. Your time alone.
So many threads undone
that air and light and dark are thinned.

Some essential pulse is lost,
something that dips and soars along the coast,
some egg that tumbled from the nest
and leaves each morning sky unblessed.

II

Stranger in a strange land,
speaking to new acquaintance or friend,
looking frequently around

this vivid lack of home
in shifting shadows of hope and gloom,
aware that what is to come

might be the trickle of a drying well
from which you drank the little that was all
that you could take before you fell.

Your memories are brittle coins
and gems scattered among the jagged stones
of a battlefield in broken designs
worn smooth by the seasons.

III

A man born on the day you died
would be nearing fifty – bellied
and balding, perhaps, laughing loud

as he pokes at the holiday grill,
watches sparks dance up from coal,
the drift and drop and settle of a gull

on the sea: backdrop of waves
frilled and ragged; a boat which leaves
its peeling wake. He loves

(since he is not) invisible children
running on sand, a wife unseen,
unkissed, unmet. You are gone
and he might have been your son.

by JB Mulligan

Editor’s Note: This poem handles potential and loss in three parts, using shadows, a boat’s wake, and other imagery as the backdrop of grief because some things can’t be touched directly. You only know they exist because of their absence.

Running Boy by Daniel Williams

Running Boy

Out the window,
a hollow metal thud and clattering.
I stand startled from my desk and see
a boy running madly up the road.

Spotting nothing ahead
to draw him on,
I trace his trail back.
A bike, one tire spinning,
lies on the pavement,
half beneath my truck
where it docks at the sidewalk,
ticking in sunlight,
invisible to a boy
until it knocks him down.
“So,” I mutter, smiling,
“we had a crash.”

The boy dashes away
for fear’s sake, away
from the shadow of my house,
a place of dangerous potential,
every window
an image of wrath
I remember so well
from a childhood spent trespassing,
hacking at trees I didn’t own,
believing no one owns the woods
or fields or sheds and barns with wide open doors,
running terror-struck from voices
of old men,
chased far away by the echo
of their anger in my head,
those ghosts,
my fear of them.

I watch the boy run for cover,
how his whole life is in it,
this escape, a precious thing,
worth running forever,
and I laugh,

I’m the old man now.

by Daniel Williams

Twitter: @dpwillia2

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem uses thoughtful line breaks and clear imagery to convey how nostalgia can become more joy than trauma.

Some Facts You Should Know About The Love Of Music by Christine Potter

Some Facts You Should Know About The Love Of Music

Johann Sebastian Bach had a street brawl with a student
whose bassoon he’d insulted and who was therefore trying

to brain him with a stick. Tchaikovsky and Saint Saëns liked
impersonating ballerinas together. Bach was carrying a knife.

Tchaikovsky was almost certainly gay, and Saint Saëns, too.
The student’s clothing was shredded before his friends

pulled Bach off him. Tchaikovsky’s wife would never have
comprehended the words describing homosexuality. A 20th

century composer of organ music named Richard Purvis
wrote an arrangement of “Greensleeves” in a fox hole, under

live fire, during World War II. Saint Saëns eventually left
his wife. Tchaikovsky did, too. Richard Purvis led the first

military band through liberated Paris after his rescue from
a German POW camp. His “Greensleeves” sounds like the

whole world’s broken heart, trying to bear up. A grave robber
dug up Haydn’s skull. It was replaced with someone else’s

but later found. Now there are two. The judge let Bach’s
student go and cautioned Bach to be more likable. Music

is the last thing to leave anyone with dementia. Bach and
Handel were blinded by the same inept surgeon. My own

mother, before her diagnosis of terminal kidney disease, sat
in her doctor’s office, singing “Flat Foot Floozy,” out loud.

by Christine Potter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christine.potter.543
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Christine-Potter/e/B001K7URHS/

Editor’s Note: This poem opens with a deceptively simple list of facts about musicians, but soon the repetition begins to press inward, and suddenly the “whole world’s broken heart” appears mid-poem, with such startling clarity, that the emotional refrain echoes long after the last line.

What to Expect: The Teen-Age Years by Cati Porter

What to Expect: The Teen-Age Years

A distant echo, like fruit belched up from breakfast,
I remember how it felt to house your body in my body,
how it knobbed up to meet the palm of my hand,
how every gas bubble even before you could
was a kick. Then, you grew. Plop, you fell out of me
like a menarche clump of red cells except you
were pink and frail and required oxygen.
Then, suddenly, you were pushing up to standing,
then walking, running, playing Matchbox cars,
and now here you are, only a toddler, with your own
car and license and my time is my own again
and I don’t know what to do with it.
There was nothing to prepare me for this.
I read The Baby Book until the spine cracked
and pages leaked out like my nipples oozing milk
whenever you cried. I read What to Expect When…
each stage a fresh new hell, except, once you hit
puberty, there were no guidebooks to tell me
how to teach you to drive, how not wind up in the ER
after a drinking binge, or how to make you love
poetry, or me. That book doesn’t exist, but I imagine
if it did it might begin with a chapter or two on mourning
who you’ll never be, and accepting that.
Forget college. Forget the golf scholarships.
Never mind that homework. I forgive you for giving up
on me not giving up on you. Instead, I give you
the freedom to fail, and my unwavering love
as I watch you clamor at the guardrails,
pulling yourself back up, up, and then off again,
while I sit here barely daring to sip my glass of wine,
phone beside me, volume high, waiting, waiting.

by Cati Porter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cati.porter/
Twitter: @cati_porter
Instagram: @cati_porter

Editor’s Note: The conversational tone of this poem makes it easy to read fast, much like the shocking distance from infancy to teen years, but by the end, the aching worry of parenthood is firmly fixed in the mind.

Welcome to the Natural World by John Grey

Welcome to the Natural World

Shrunken heart, in a tiny kitchen,
you’re long past the season of your youth,
You find your solace only in the obituaries,
or the cold that has everyone bundled up
and not just you and your pacemaker.
Hardened arteries, blotchy skin—
how can this ever be the way forward.
No encouragement from your veins.
It’s all they can do to make it to your surfaces.

Your body struggles to the parlor.
Like it or not, the only action is on the television.
Your senses gravitate to nature programs.
A lioness stalks a herd of zebra.
You sympathize with that black and white striped horse.
But it’s the feline that strikes the jealous note.
If only you could move with such cruel elegance.
But your bones creak like snapping chalk.
And you cough like an old charcoal fire.
Your prey would feel your presence from a mile away.

The camera moves in for a close-up
as the lioness leaps upon the zebra’s back.
It’s an uneven contest.
Of course, in your life, contests always are.
Then there’s scenes of the male and two cubs
feasting on the kill.
You’d look away but your neck muscles forbid.
Up next is the mandatory scene
of that lazy full-maned lout mounting
the one that’s done all the work.
A smile of recognition crosses your lips.

You doze a little as the ad for dish washing liquid
scours out all the blood.
And another for double-ply trash bags
provides room and heft enough to stuff all of the bones.
Next up is a loud blurb on the benefits
of a new wonder pain pill.
What’s the point, you mutter.
You’re with the zebra on this one.

by John Grey

Editor’s Note: Skillful metaphors draw the reader into this poem even as the second person point-of-view mirrors the central image of a documentary program, and we empathize from our distant screen, joints aching.

From the archives — May 30th by Patricia Wallace Jones

May 30th

A year ago I wrote to you
of temple bells, about the silk-tassels,
how they grow like weeds, shimmer
in the wind beneath my window.

After a mild dry winter,
scant spring rain, you sing to me
of homemade tortillas, the sweet
heady taste of vine-ripe tomatoes.

Out of step with your seasons,
these cool windy mornings
my catkins dance early, grey faster,
fall even softer this year than the last.

And to think—
before you came
with this uncommon friendship,
the remarkable beauty
in distant correspondence,
I would have missed this day,
used it for a calendar, a decoration
for my wall if I noted it at all.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 30, 2017

Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY is OPEN to submissions

Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY has reopened to submissions.

Dear Poets: Daily poems will resume when I have poems to post, ideally starting June 1, 2021.

Here are the guidelines:

1. Send ONE poem in the body of an email to autumnskypoetryeditor@gmail.com with SUBMISSION in subject heading (no cover letter).

2. Response time is one week via publication. If your poem doesn’t appear online within one week, consider it rejected.

No formal acceptance or rejection (email, paper airplane, aural hallucination) will be sent. Read Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY for one week from the date of your submission and you will find out if your poem was chosen for publication when it either does or doesn’t appear online.

3. Include links to your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. (please, no bio).

4. Reprints and previously published poems are welcome.

5. Poets retain copyright. Poems remain online indefinitely.

6. Simultaneous submissions are accepted.

7. There is no payment for contributors.

8. If submitting a formal poem, please feel free to include the name of the form (sestina, quatina, prose poem, etc.).

9. I do NOT accept art submissions. Occasionally I will solicit artwork if I’m feeling inspired.

Questions? Try my FAQ page.

Sincerely, Christine

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