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.

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.

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.

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.

I Want to Bring Back by Geraldine Connolly

I Want to Bring Back

My organdy Easter dress and straw hat
with a navy ribbon, tight green blossoms
in April, gravestones among apple trees,
the Virgin’s long blue robe, the startled ringing
of the altar bell like breaking icicles, that moment
when bread changes into the body of God.

Bring back crocuses and Easter chicks, reborn Jesus,
dogwoods and sycamores, who wore their blazing hats
of color. Eggs and lilies, the first moment
the orchard above the farmhouse blossomed
pink above the muddy Pennsylvania creek, a ring
near furrowed fields, of laden apple trees,

pheasants with wings like helicopter blades, trees
that bloomed, lifting their faces toward God,
the whole of the newly ploughed garden bringing
thoughts of hope. We tied on our hats
and to the ribbons fastened dry blossoms
with certainty, and that quiet instant

before we prayed became the moment
we wandered, lost among the trees,
muddied our stockings, crushed blossoms
beneath our shoes, cried out to the old God
to save us from falling. I remember that
once we were innocent, once we wore our ring

of belief like a badge, a feeling of being wrung
clean as we prayed, as if we could begin again.
I call to innocence, to girls in Communion hats
about to ascend the steep rows of church steps
to kneel, to bow and greet their god
as rows of widows and penitents like dark blossoms

light candles in the apse, their flame blossoms
illuminating the faithful, gathered and singing
songs of praise, hymns to the one God,
our faith restored, all of this in the moment
before mystery approached, belief failed, before trees
of new knowledge grew up into the heat

and fervor of the world. Tight green blossoms,
gravestones in the shade of apple trees, I call and
call to them. There is no answer.

by Geraldine Connolly, first appeared in Mezzo Cammin

Editor’s Note: This brilliant sestina contains a wealth of spectacular imagery and a final stanza that perfectly encapsulates the emotional narrative.

March Morning by Steven Knepper

March Morning

The maple limbs sprout tight-bound nubs
Of burgundy. Green scissors through
The withered grass. The once-trimmed shrubs
Shag out new licks of growth askew.

Here on the cusp of day and spring
We sit and window-watch a jay
Pick suet seeds, shake loose a wing,
Tuck up and tumble off away.

Bright eager light spills on it all,
An augur of the gilded boom
To come: the buzz, the pollen fall,
The flowering cascades of bloom.

How can we think of work and school
Now that each dewy dab’s a jewel?

by Steven Knepper

Editor’s Note: This sonnet contains a bounty of startling imagery, perfect rhymes, and skillful meter. Such poems are a joy to read.

Waldeinsamkeit: An acrostic sonnet by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Waldeinsamkeit: An acrostic sonnet
When you’re alone and walking through the trees,
Anxieties and worries fade away.
Leaves fluttering in springtime’s gentle breeze
Disturb no creature’s thoughts. And if you stray
Entirely off the beaten path, you know
It’s safe to chill inside your green cocoon.
No city dangers threaten where you go.
Street noises are displaced by nature’s tune.
And when the light grows dim, and you are drawn
Meanderingly to the EXIT word,
KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs by your city lawn
Erupt into your thoughts, and seem absurd! …
Inside the forest, far from city sounds,
Tranquillity in solitude abounds.

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Editor’s Note: The human ability to create a word for every emotion never fails to impress, as this sweet poem demonstrates. (Waldeinsamkeit: (poetic) woodland solitude; the feeling of solitude in the woods)

The Plate by Jo Angela Edwins

The Plate

slips from my wet hand,
cracks in two at the bottom
of the empty sink.

No favorite. I have
eleven others like it,
but still my eyes well

over another
good thing broken this season.
Outside, the wind howls.

by Jo Angela Edwins

Editor’s note: The haiku stanzas of this poem blend strict syllable counts with the freedom of imagery. The last line closes the poem by gluing all the broken pieces together.

Apple Tree by Ed Granger

Apple Tree

Untamed, your modest April limbs can lead
to pies and heady ciders, dumplings shaped
to give the blush to Johnny Appleseed.
Your fame proceeds by way of bees who shed
your pollen yard by yard, a profligate
procession as the Fall from Eden tours
midsummer’s eve. When you play hard to get
the future’s caught up in your suckers, whorls,
and water sprouts—your fruit diverted by
ambition. That’s OK, we’ve all been led
astray chasing some sun, some destiny
prolonged that keeps us from the one given
today. Fresh underfoot. That keeps us strange
in our own skin. Wondering if we can change.

by Ed Granger

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s ode to the apple tree elevates the simplicity of the tree and its fruit from pie to philosophy.

Muddy Business by Martin Rocek

Muddy Business

It’s more than just the melting snow,
the woodcocks on the radio,
it’s the sleep lost, the daylight saved,
the potholes waiting to be paved,
the peeping frogs, the courting swans,
hungry squirrels ploughing the lawns,
the crocus bloom, narcissus leaf,
maples oozing sappy grief,
the warming air, the muddy earth,
the messy business of rebirth.

by Martin Rocek

Editor’s Note: Spring is coming in this part of the world, and this delightful poem skillfully details its messy inevitability.

Poet’s Note: Here is a link to the radio show referred to within the poem.