From the archives – The Year of the Dragon — Siham Karami

The Year of the Dragon

My parents’ fire spent, time seems to drag on
until the cosmos, smoking, spawns the dragon.

All my waters burning. Every look a flare.
Every boy I love turns me to dragon.

Stretch your wingspan’s luck between two rivers.
One, an ancient stream. One, a pipe to drag on.

Stalactites stab me, living in this cave—
to leave or enter in, pass through the dragon.

The marrow of all living things is soft.
The marrow of the universe is dragon.

Einstein, stumped. The Theory, elusive.
Beneath their grand equations skulks a dragon.

The daily drip-drip-drip of tedium
feeds the growing fires of the dragon.

I sit alone each night and dream escape.
Then wake each dawn to stroke the seething dragon.

We’re at each other’s throats. Why stay together?
Old friends walk off and shudder. It’s the dragon.

You smile and whisper in my ear, Siham, I promise.
O garish words! You made me kiss the dragon.

by Siham Karami

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 28, 2016

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

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.

buy link: https://madhat-press.com/products/a-passable-man-by-ralph-culver

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).

A Dog is Doable by Cameron McCaskill

A Dog is Doable

A dog is one of the puzzle pieces that complete me.
And by the way, he won’t have a flea.

I will feed him in the morning, and I’ll walk him at a park.
Also, I will train him how not to bark.

He will chase predators up hills and hills.
And I promise to always pay his vet bills.

Finally, I’ll teach him tricks, like sit.
Now would you at least consider it?

by Cameron McCaskill, age 9, (Note from mom Kimberly McCaskill: My son Cameron asking for a dog as a pet.)

Editor’s Note: Any child who asks for a dog using rhyme and alliteration deserves a moment of consideration on the night before the night before Christmas.

Green Thumb by Vitalia Strait

Green Thumb

Little sapling, if I save your seed,
If I weed the wilts and water your leaves,
I am fearful your future might fall and wither.

It happens whene’er I hold close to hope —
The bud is born in beautiful splendor,
It sturdily stays standing tall,

Yet the blossom’s hues all blanch to black.
I cradle the crocus in my elbow’s crook,
But it is destined to die at dawn’s aubade.

I can try trimming the troubled branches,
I can lay you down in lavish light
Until you drown, yet dreadfully dry.

So I’ll bury your corpse back in your bed.
And I’ll keep wand’ring, wailing all the while,
Green molds my thumb with growing grief.

by Vitalia Strait

Editor’s Note: This poem’s alliteration and imagery hearkens back to an earlier time and an earlier form of verse that most Dickinson poetry lovers will appreciate.

Insomnia by Brian McAllister

Insomnia

Now all your world seems so terribly clear,
the dripping faucet’s metronomic tick,
the settling wall’s creak. You seem to hear
the slow sagging complaint of every brick
and know how all these things you have are quick
to tell you of their solid hold on you
and what you can and can’t afford to do.

Tossing, sleepless your brain can wander back
to fret how life has reached this circumstance
and ponder what has put you on this track—
the deals you could have made but wouldn’t chance,
that girl you were too shy to ask to dance,
this job, your days at school, each hope and fear,
each small step that contrived to put you here.

You’d like to think your life was neatly planned,
but you know that the choices you have made
were mostly those that simply lay at hand.
So when you’ve unraveled that tangled braid
of what could have been, you are left afraid
that you watched life happen without a fight
and it is far too late to set it right.

by Brian McAllister

Editor’s Note: This poem uses rhyme royal to brilliant effect—rhyme, meter, and repetition all serve to emphasize the mental torture of insomnia.

Philosophers of the Dump Run by Tad Tuleja

Philosophers of the Dump Run
—For my daughter India

Remember those Saturday mornings when
We drove the week’s garbage to the landfill
In the clunker you called Funky Chicken,
Big old Pontiac, valiant stench-mobile,

Perfume of rotting fruit and coffee grinds
Hanging in the air throughout the day?
And how the odor barely crossed our minds
As we puzzled out, laughing all the way,

What if the sky was green instead of blue?
Why can’t a rhinoceros blow its horn?
Wouldn’t you like to swim in a drop of dew?
Can a pantheist find God in a can of corn?

Oh to be back in that stinky car again
When all the world was magic and you were ten.

by Tad Tuleja

Editor’s Note: Any sonnet that rhymes “landfill” with “mobile” and uses the term “Funky Chicken” deserves airtime.

Saturday book feature – Orbital Paths — Richard Meyer

Marooned

The universe is vast and bare—
a vacuum—mostly empty space
with matter scattered here and there
around a stranded human race.

Kept quarantined by time and place,
we languish in the light-year sea
and scan horizons for a trace
of life, or mind, or deity.

Stars slowly transit overhead,
distant cousins of the sun.
I roll onto my side in bed,
a bed too cold and wide for one.

by Richard Meyer, from Orbital Paths, Science Thrillers Media

buy link: http://www.sciencethrillersmedia.com/publish/orbital-paths-by-richard-meyer/

The Glassmakers by Jean L. Kreiling

The Glassmakers
—Simon Pearce Glass, Quechee, Vermont

for Jane, Kate, Maureen, and Sally

Five women watched as one man’s breath inflated
the molten glass, one man spun it in flame,
one trimmed and shaped it. Expertly translated
by patient craftsmen, ash and sand became
a useful vessel and a work of art,
exhaled and fired and molded into being.
Each piece required each man to do his part,
a deft alliance nurturing and freeing
both elegance and strength. Each woman bought
a finished bowl that caught the autumn light
and scattered it—a slow-baked prize, well-wrought,
like their decades-long bond. With eyes as bright
as autumn sun and just as sure to fade,
they savored all that breath and warmth had made.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: Every artist knows that the act of creation is a work of hope, and this sonnet’s narrative breathes life into what happens after the work has found its way home.