Sixty Years Ago by Jerry Krajnak

Sixty Years Ago

“I often wonder if she would have died by suicide if she’d had a good live-in nanny during the winter of 1963.”Amanda Montei

Time broke in and murdered Sylvia Plath,
grinned as she resisted its Gordian twists.
Demanding a place in two incompatible worlds,
art and family, she was granted neither.
Her Ted was no Alexander, carried no sword,
and she’d had enough of blades already. She chose
the gas that she had breathed into her poems.

Was it to be her personal final solution,
or did she think she’d wake again to curse
the morning light? Whatever her intent,
Time chose once more to smite the brave and strong,
depriving a world she left of her future art,
her children of mother’s love, while it patiently knit
an intractable choice and embroidered Sylvia’s noose.

by Jerry Krajnak

Editor’s Note: This sonnet ponders the “what if” question surrounding Plath’s death with blank verse and startling imagery.

Things Fall by Ed Hack

Things Fall

Things fall. You forgot what they do. The knife
off of the paper plate. The tool from your
cramped hand. And once, foot of the stairs, your wife.
Years later now, you still look at the floor
and wonder what or who is next. You used
to say that’s one thing floors are for. A joke,
an irony, you thought, then got the news
about how life just flies away, and hope,
like crumbs, like fat, like bones is what remains,
the ash of things, the penny that you find.
What’s left of rain is stuck in screens, and pain’s
your new best friend. The second hand’s design
is fall from 12 to 6 then climb from 5
to 12. Things fall, and you are still alive.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This heart-wrenching sonnet begins with deceptive imagery before turning to absolute grief at the end.

Tanka by Richard Jordan


another heart
stretched and weathered
carved in a silver birch
how many vows scar ancient trees
along this slow deep river

by Richard Jordan


Editor’s Note: This poem’s central image carries the reader from the past into the future, with each word carefully chosen and placed just so on the line for the reader to contemplate in the present moment.

The Red Wheelbarrow by Martha Deed

The Red Wheelbarrow

The old woman on Sweeney Street is shoveling loose soil from a backfilled trench snaking across her yard from the street to a wall of her house that has a white and blue sticker on it. The covered trench covers a spanking new gas line to a future gas furnace, because the 200 gallon oil tank in her basement is past its useful life. She does not wish a new tank that would outlive her and the old oil furnace which probably won’t. The woman is shoveling dirt from the trench to a red wheelbarrow that carries a tag “For Sale $15” which she tied to the barrow when she decided she was too old to use it anymore. But then, a room had to be lifted to replace the failed foundation underneath and her driveway cracked and rose to break a snowplow’s steel blade ‒ This is Buffalo ‒ and so she is using the red wheelbarrow but is leaving the tag in place just in case. She wheels the dirt to the rear of the house near the new foundation where her established raised gardens were scraped bare for new concrete, and she dumps the soil ‒ just so ‒ among rocks strewn under the windows ‒ the rocks once forming a wall ­‒ now tossed across and under the spread earth. Winter is coming. There are no bulbs for Fall planting. The barren rock garden will wait for Spring.

An old house preserved
stripped, restored ‒ an old woman
plans Spring gardens ‒ hopes

by Martha Deed

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Editor’s Note: This haibun offers the reader a glimpse into the inevitable disintegration of our space (personal, external, etc.) while also illustrating the persistence of hope.

The Alice-World by Ed Hack

The Alice-World

I’ve come here where the water flows to see—
to see the world flow by, the sky inside
and upside-down, the shadow-world that’s free
of any trace of human mind—denied
in water’s innocence, the mirror that
it is, the Alice-world where things are real
because they are a child’s truth, the facts
imagination sees—the adults’ spiels
revealed in their grotesqueries, the whole
charade of lunatic authority
whose goal is murdering the human soul
so it obeys, yet feels that it is free.
But knows, disguised in its unquiet sleep,
where slithy toves are murdering the sheep.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet immediately upends the reader’s idea of reality, only to find at the end that the truth is possibly more ridiculous than the lies we tell ourselves (hat tip to Carroll’s Jabberwocky in the final line).

The Big Question by Kevin Ahern

The Big Question

“Rain falls down,” she said to me
“That’s very easy to see”
“It guess it’s due to gravity”

I told her she was right as rain
And I admired her little brain
But then she asked me to explain

“If rain comes falling through the air”
“And covers the ground everywhere”
“How did it got there?”

I said, “It’s very simple, lass”
“The clouds contain the liquid mass”
“And then it falls on us, en masse”

“Oh, no,” she said, her face in frown
“I understand how rain gets down”
“To the ground”

“But for it to be up in the sky”
“I do not understand why”
“The rain all got up there so high”

With that I felt a sudden sting
That sometimes comes when answering
A child who thinks you know everything

But my mind was blank, I thought, “uh oh”
I couldn’t lie, but did not know
Change the subject? Perhaps lie low?

Silence revealed my dilemma so
She said to me with eyes aglow
“That’s OK, Daddy. Mom will know”

by Kevin Ahern

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Twitter: @ahernk1

Editor’s note: This poem’s lighthearted dialogue is a fun read right up until the last line when the child’s response wallops the reader upside the head.

The Lumber’s Groan by Daniel Milbo

The Lumber’s Groan

Thrashed and foundering upon the waves,
with taut sail against an ocean gale
Lurching in the ebb of blackened days,
the vessel heeled from its twisted keel.
Torn and bashed on endless brine,
the lumbers groan to the masthead’s moan
Heaving against backstay and line,
thrown astray by thunder’s sway.
All hands grapple, lest the sea’s surge
sweep into the cold deep
the condemned whose conviction quavered
and were lost to the tempest-tossed.
Black and soaked to the wearied bone,
Splintered and crusted; burred and rusted
Old timbers and tar muster the drafty sail,
and defy the starless night to stay.

by Daniel Milbo

Editor’s Note: The deliberate use of rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and consonance remind the reader that sonics as well as sense can be used to great effect, sailing a reader through a poem’s storm.

Take Flight by Carole Greenfield

Take Flight

Late summer sun sifts through a screen of trees
Still dripping from my swim, I see her taking flight
Completely naked, tiny feet tucked up to knees
Her fingers with her father’s locked in tight.

If we could just return to that one place
where we were all their world, our parents’ goal
to keep us safe from harm, and one day face
our restless lives with hearts intact and whole

The scene plays out before my tear-wet eyes
A joyful spirit swung into the air, delighted cries
And as her father steps away from shore
she weeps, “Again. Again. I want some more.”

He gently calms her tears. “No need to cry.
Just tell me. Say the words, ‘I want to fly.’”

by Carole Greenfield

Editor’s Note: This delightful sonnet delivers joy with each rhymed line. Sometimes we need this reminder.

Where we put our mother by Joe Crocker

Where we put our mother

She didn’t understand quite how she got there.
Always now. A service hatch. A home.
It wasn’t home. We knew and we forgot her

longing to be safe with us and not where
helpers meted kindness off the bone.
She couldn’t understand quite how she got there.

Home was what she wanted – not a soft chair,
cloistered in the care of hands unknown.
It wasn’t home. She knew that. So much hot air,

warming her dis-ease. She couldn’t stop there,
she told us, told us, told the answerphone.
We played at understanding. How she got there,

was tidily rehearsed, but it was not fair.
Trusting us, bewildered and alone,
she wasn’t home. She knew. She missed the plot where

she had grown her children. She had lost her
harvest, lost her oozing honeycomb.
She didn’t understand how she had got there
Far from home. Unfastened. We forgot her.

by Joe Crocker

Editor’s Note: This wrenching villanelle illustrates the difficult question of eldercare with a loved one cast adrift in an ocean of love and guilt and choiceless reality.