Its Part by Ed Hack

Its Part

The trees await the wind, the grass the light
and shadows that it brings, the sky, the birds’
swift, acrobatic flights, and we the bright
attention of our love before a word
is said. On coldest days of ice and snow,
the world a hermitage of winter rest,
when trees strip down to bone and rivers slow,
love has made a freezing room a nest.
And here it is, at last, the spring, though sun
is fickle as a doubting mind. Yet blue,
the soul’s sweet cloak, has now at last begun
to show up almost every day, renew
our spirit’s hope, the veteran old heart’s
deep dream that love will always play its part.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: Sonnets come in many flavors, but this poem’s classic ode to both love and the seasons will soothe even the most jaded of readers.

Spring Fires by Hilary Biehl

Spring Fires

I am driving home from the mall with my son in tow.
It’s 3 PM. I’ve turned my headlights on.
Everyone else has, too. Where there should be sun
and clouds moving over a face of abyssal blue

there is only an orange smudge, immense and near,
as if a feverish hand had tried to blot
some indiscretion but managed instead to coat
the sky with an eerie grime of regretful fear.

The smoke is apocalyptic. My son coughs
and I reach for his inhaler. I’m grateful we still
have a home to drive to; I try not to add “until.”
I try not to let my thoughts go to bleaching reefs

and nuclear weapons. Find the apartment key.
Open the door. Put the groceries away. Wash up.
And the molten glitter I wash with leaves the tap
in cool abundance, as if it might never run dry.

by Hilary Biehl

Editor’s Note: The slant rhymes in this poem highlight the juxtaposition of gratitude and disaster felt by the speaker by keeping the reader always slightly off-keel.

Crowded Cambridge Buses by Thomas DeFreitas

Crowded Cambridge Buses

I won’t sing a winsome ballad,
As my strings are all unstrung;
I’ll forsake my merry mischief:
You were taken far too young.

I won’t swim the English Channel;
I won’t climb McKinley’s peak—
Since you died, my hopes are rubble:
I’ve been crying for a week.

I won’t lift a glass of Guinness;
I’ll abstain from Maker’s Mark:
I’ll put down the gin martini
(No more cocktails after dark).

How I’ve searched for you in churches!
But despite my anguished prayer,
All I see are sculpted angels:
I can’t find you anywhere.

August will collapse to autumn
With its nights of killing frost:
Faith would say that God has gained you;
I will weep for what I’ve lost.

Now I stumble through a city
Where the trace and trail of you
Evanesce to cherished memories
In my heart so bruised and blue.

You were sunlight, you were fire,
You were Holy Eucharist:
You were Irish Catholic Boston;
Yours, the blush-bright cheek I kissed.

In the spring, you had a backache,
Then they told you what it was,
And it stole you in the summer:
I ask why; there’s no because.

I can’t rouse you from your coffin;
I can’t raise you from the dust:
I can’t get your stopped pulse beating;
I protest because I must.

Can’t you call me up or text me,
Speak some solace through the phone?
I ride crowded Cambridge buses,
But I’m horribly alone.

by Thomas DeFreitas

Instagram: @thomasdef1969

Editor’s Note: This beautifully written lament emphasizes the bluesy grief of the speaker with its melancholy rhythm (trochaic tetrameter). 

The Optimist by Robert Fillman

The Optimist

My wife’s fuzzy socks might
have freckles. Some are pink
or gray from heel to toe.
Others are striped. When she
peels them off her sweating
feet and tosses them on
the floor beside the bed
in the middle of night
I am always asleep.
But every morning while
I am making the bed
I find them lying there
together, and I smile.
I can hear her downstairs
laughing with the children,
and I’ll pick up the pair,
twirl it limp in my hand,
then rub my thumb across
a ribbed elastic cuff
before dropping them in
the hamper. I never
know if I’m supposed to.
They always smell so fresh.

by Robert Fillman


Editor’s Note: This syllabic poem cracks a window for the reader to peer into an ordinary life, yet the surprising last line and title reminds us that what is ordinary is also often extraordinary.

Interior Lives by Jane Poirier Hart

Interior Lives

All day, wandering through streets of my life as if in someone else’s
old city: brick-bound, blue-sky-capped. Each alley dead ends in foreboding.
Half-toned shadows make a constant companion. But this is better than
night dreams, my car sailing off the bridge, filling up with river water.
Fear of fervor is prickly, like sweat trying to break skin on a bone-
dry day. I flick the feeling off my shoulders, settle them down and back.
Old yoga lessons, when I believed a body could know salvation.
All that I know now is contained, here, in this kitchen: butter, sea salt.
If heat to the skillet results in some mundane miracle, is it
possible that a man and woman—or woman and woman, man, man—
redefining touch, souls resurfacing, shaking off muddy river
weeds, can make a meadow of themselves, shelter in it, unafraid of
insects there, see song in skeptical work bees share? Can any of us
see what lies past outstretched arms, a sizzling pan, coarse salt changing butter?

by Jane Poirier Hart


Editor’s Note: This poem teaches the reader what is important by asking questions, and allowing the imagery to fill in the details.

Poet’s Note: This is a “Seussian” sonnet, after the poet Diane Seuss: 14 lines, 17 syllables per line.

As Spring Greens the Walk by Devon Balwit

As Spring Greens the Walk

Spring greens the walk,
dogwood, rhododendron, cherry.
Crows sip at the clogged gutters.
Our pink youth returns as in an x-ray.

Dogwood and cherry
spread like odalisques on a couch,
pink beckoning.
One presses one’s nose in, shamelessly,

as if into an odalisque, spread on a couch.
Love! Love! Awaken from sleep!
I press my nose in, shamelessly,
wet everywhere—the rain, of course.

Love! love! I awaken from sleep,
vowing not to disappoint such beauty,
wet everywhere—the rain, of course.
No more cowardice, a knight errant,

I dedicate myself to beauty,
no longer voiceless, a dawn robin.
No more evasion, this knight errant
announces her territory—Here! here!

Voice of the voiceless, the dawn robin
drowns out the crows at the gutters,
celebrating its small territory—mine! mine!—
as spring greens the walk.

by Devon Balwit

Editor’s Note: This pantoum’s delightful repetition is never tedious and always interesting, much as Spring tends to surprise us every year, despite the repeating refrain of blossoms and birds.

Abecedarian for Little Brothers at the Border by Theresa Senato Edwards & Lori Schreiner

Abecedarian for Little Brothers at the Border
—in response to Lori Schreiner’s painting “We Have Each Other”

all light, those
brothers, ages 3 and 4,
carry each other
don’t dismiss their bravery
every step is theirs, every
fraction of their stride
gives hope to each refugee they pass
hate is nowhere, yet
it’s everywhere
just like survival
kicking wind
latching onto each other,
momma so far away in the
oh, little boys
pink beneath your small shoes
quiet walking
residents to those awful borders
sunlight gold
traces one elbow, another’s head
unusually bright like a turban
voices magenta
where painting condemns
xenophobe, ignites
young brothers,

by Theresa Senato Edwards. Painting by Lori Schreiner.

Painting in response to Todd Heisler’s NYT’s photo.

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic poem’s spare imagery is just enough to convey both hope and horror.

Spring in the Clearing by Shannon Lodoen

Spring in the Clearing

Beneath a brooding sky, behold:
In the clearing, Spring unfolds!

The mighty clouds send forth their ranks
Overflowing streams and banks

The sapling trees with greening shoots
Sag with waterlogged roots

The curling ferns unfurl their heads
Rising from their earthen beds

The buttercups thrust forth their blooms
Revived again from winter tombs

The rabbits in the dew-dropped grass
Shudder as the foxes pass

The newborn bluebirds spread their wings
Crying while their mother sings

The spider spins its dainty thread
To shroud the bodies of the dead

These living links, this fragile chain:
All signs that Spring has come again.

by Shannon Lodoen

Editor’s Note: Every once in a while we need a sweet, gentle poem to ring in the season.

From the archives – Left Eye — Arthur Leung

Left Eye

Gong strikes, you wait there, East Gate,
Wild wings of moths fall from the pailou.
Your crimson silk, streaming hair lead my way
Through the lotus pond where cold owls gather.

Wild wings of moths fall from the pailou
Blasting open four rows of abandoned lanterns
Through the lotus pond where cold owls gather.
Flash of a second, your right eye meets my left.

Blasting open four rows of abandoned lanterns,
You show me the wide crystal of waking dragon.
Flash of a second, your right eye meets my left,
Across the back gate night wind giggles.

You show me the wide crystal of waking dragon,
Your crimson silk, streaming hair lead my way.
Across the back gate night wind giggles
And the gong strikes, you wait there, East Gate.

by Arthur Leung

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

. . .a distance / not yet thought of by Ed Hack

. . .a distance / not yet thought of
—Norman MacCaig

Inside the light, beyond the wind, far past
a child on a bike whose joy is go
and go and go, are distances that last
as long as hope, the only prayer we know.
No unbelievers in the crowd, logic-
ians in the anteroom. No saints to
sanctify a minute’s grace. No magic fish
to feed a crowd, for everything is new,
and that’s enough. There is no argument
or policy, diplomacy or war.
What’s there is one long road whose sole intent
is what-comes-next, an ocean or a star.
The only mantra is a child’s laugh,
which lasts because it simply cannot last.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s graceful meter and slant rhymes beautifully frame the sentiment within—a child’s joy is both ephemeral and priceless.