Vintage verse – The Cold Heaven by W. B. Yeats

The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

by W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Valentine’s Day Lover by Doris Watts

Valentine’s Day Lover

Whoa Nellie! Not everybody gets it.
Just what it really is and what it isn’t.
It’s mostly frothy frill and fancy feather
and isn’t meant for any heavy weather.
It’s lighthearted loving that’s in fashion
and not, you can be sure, undying passion.
There’s little candy hearts with silly sayings,
and all the lads and lasses go a-Maying.

In midst of February’s bleakest hours,
it’s not a blizzard, dear. It’s summer showers.
It’s here’s the chocolates.  Now bring the flowers.
“Here’s my heart,” he promises. “You win it.”
Think that he meant it? Not for a minute.
Think that I believed him? Of course I didn’t.

by Doris Watts

Editor’s Note: Sometimes what we need is lighthearted verse to lighten our hearts.

Vintage verse – Color – Caste – Denomination by Emily Dickinson

Color — Caste — Denomination

Color — Caste — Denomination —
These — are Time’s Affair —
Death’s diviner Classifying
Does not know they are —

As in sleep — all Hue forgotten —
Tenets — put behind —
Death’s large — Democratic fingers
Rub away the Brand —

If Circassian — He is careless —
If He put away
Chrysalis of Blonde — or Umber —
Equal Butterfly —

They emerge from His Obscuring —
What Death – knows so well —
Our minuter intuitions —
Deem unplausible

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – (It Could) Have Gone Either Way by Paul Dickey

(It Could) Have Gone Either Way

It could have gone either way. The moon
was dripping alphabets, on the one hand.
On the other, she was saying everything like:
Now we can be friends. I can get married again.
We can put the children in a private school. You
will have all day to do whatever it is you do.
I appreciated the concern, but the truth was
I hadn’t done anything. We didn’t know why
other people get so excited about what are just
daily affairs. Everything now is better for all
concerned. We didn’t mention what we’d do
with the children’s first alphabet, or our old
high school’s moon. If we had, we would not
have known how it all would have turned out.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 25, 2016 — by Paul Dickey

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Alternative LaLaLand by Cally Conan-Davies

Alternative LaLaLand

An Award and a spangly dress, an elegant hairdo and a bow tie
is all well and good unless shit is flying from every fan and hitting every eye.
A false eyelash won’t afford cover nor will a sideways look or dropping your glove.
A red carpet is only an edit away from a river of blood.

The fourth wall crashes down, we’re all Humptys now, on show
with all our colours clashing from clown-wig orange to Indiegogo.
Huxley predicted we’d eventually trade our souls for soft porn;
Orwell feared too many of us would leave well enough alone

until truth became the official word for hate; the news, staged. Easily done
is hard to undo. So do it extremely well. Do it by starlight and the sun
will show the old gods in their tottering style are not gone but gone ahead
and their hearts were never hollow. They meant every word they said.

by Cally Conan-Davies

Editor’s Note: Careful form allows the function of this poem (enlightenment) to slide into the reader’s mind more smoothly than most startling truths ever do.

On Johnson’s Creek: A Sestina by Mindy Watson

On Johnson’s Creek: A Sestina

Mid 80’s, late Wisconsin summer day.
You’re male; just one of many crayfish lured
Innately to this shallow, turbid creek.
July’s sweet warmth assures you that you’ll not
Find only sanctuary, but a mate.
And at a human hand-span’s length from tail

To telsun, you’re a splendid prospect: tail
Aloft and eyestalks staunch, you greet the day.
With fierce claws brandished, you await your mate
In burrow’s dark. And nothing could have lured
You from your would-be breeding quarters –not
Until a stealthy stick from o’er the creek

Despoils your warren’s sanctity. The creek,
Its tacit bounty, spurs your nerve. Your tail
Aflutter, claws outstretched, you’re not
Alarmed –you clamp the twig and seize the day.
But then the surreptitious branch that lured
You wrests you from the stream, reveals its mate

Above—a boy who thwarts your quest for mate.
His form obstructs the sun and dwarfs the creek
Below the wooden pier. It seems he’s lured
You here for idle sport; he grips your tail
And flings you hard against the planks. While day
Retreats, light’s sudden ebb arises not

From cosmic cause. The sneering boy (who’s not
Alone –a girl shrinks near her preening mate)
Uplifts his foot and renders blissful day
Brutality. Impassively, the creek
Laps on. Your once resplendent olive tail
Is tattered, shattered by the boy who lured

You, crushed your stately carapace. Though lured
From neural ruination’s throes, you’re not
Yet blind; you see his female friend turn tail.
And I, the girl that boy deems doting mate,
For whom you’re executed by the creek –
I know what cruel conceit is that day.

From where once lured, you sink, potential mate
Undone. Not waiting, brethren flee the creek,
Tails undulating. Silence veils the day.

by Mindy Watson

Editor’s Note: This sestina handles the required repetition with skillful craft, leading the reader from innocence into grim knowledge by the closing tercet.

From the archives – Negotiation by Robert Ronnow

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Negotiation

Chipmunks, squirrels collecting
bitternut hickory, chirping
against a small owl cruising
low beneath the trees.

Everyone has gone this morning
to school or work. Laundry rolling,
carpets vacuumed, cleaning
in the bathroom on my knees.

I’d like to be Whitman, praising
the pure contralto, Wynton practicing
all day. But like my father dying
I cannot hear what I cannot see.

Locally there’s politics, processing
points of view. Eventually coming
to a decision, building or not building
windmills on the sky, bridges in the sea.

Insignificant and mighty happenings
seem the same from my vantage ageing
gratefully, inexorably, planning
how to die in my own damn way.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 13, 2016 — by Robert Ronnow

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim