From the archives – On The Turn by Jerome Betts

On The Turn

Loaded, a sunflower’s head inclines,
Petals like tarnished epaulettes.
Teasels become all curved brown spines;
The beechmast crumples on the setts.
Now leaves display first yellow stains,
The cider-apple crop thumps down
And heaped-up trailers block the lanes
With loads to crush and press in town.

A tractor’s cab shakes drops of dew
From brambles’ blackening red beads;
Flurries of gulls and rooks pursue
The ploughshare slicing under weeds;
Wild strawberries bloom, defying ice,
Death-blow the season still delays,
Though indoors now the feet of mice
Patter the tale of shortening days.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 9, 2015 — by Jerome Betts

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

Weather Experts: An acrostic sonnet by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Weather Experts: An acrostic sonnet

What makes our weather experts on TV
Express such joy the moment that they learn
A monster storm is forming out at sea?
The damage it might do evades concern!
How many times I’ve watched a coming storm
Extolled for having reached an awesome size!
Rotations are impressive if they form
Enormous whirls of peril in my skies!
X marks the spot of trouble they admire:
Perfection in the sharpness of an eye
Encircled by a vast expanding gyre …
Reporting danger makes them rapt——but why?
The experts who’ve let poets lie unread
See poetry in hurricanes instead!

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Editor’s Note: It seems I’m alternating grim poems with light verse this week, but how can I resist when a gem like this lands in my inbox? I’ve always loved weather and poetry.

Thrice and once, ’tis time, ’tis time by Peg Duthie

Thrice and once, ’tis time, ’tis time

This running out of beds was in the crystal ball
we gazed at in the spring—the numbers spelled it out—
bodies piled in freezer trucks long before the fall

and even then some knew (and said) how things would stall
along the way to safety. People acting out
crowded spring break headlines, but it seemed that fall

was far enough away that we could tame it all—
that science could persuade, that Dr. Fauci’s clout
could outpunch red belligerence, could run the ball

past the fakes and cheating, make the expert call
to zip around the screens and tanks, to carry out
moves planned not on wishfulness but the actual fall

of bodies, how they tilt and spin and bleed. Look, gall
is neither brace nor antiseptic. You can shout
until you—we—are out of air, and still the ball

and prom and coming-home will not be safe at all.
This spike won’t be the last. There’s always room for doubt
but room within the ICUs? No crystal ball
can spin beds out of straw. Will we survive the fall?

by Peg Duthie

Twitter: @zirconium
Instagram: @zrpeg

Editor’s Note: This haunting villanelle proves once again that poetry is not dead. In fact, it is timely, and always time for the type of art that documents humanity’s truth.

A Tale of Two Fishies by Kevin Ahern

A Tale of Two Fishies

Just yesterday I had a wish
To eat a little tunie fish

This dream of tasty albacore
Led me down to my grocery store

Upon arriving on aisle three
I found my Chicken of the Sea

Or so I thought ‘til I got back
And looked inside the grocery sack

Twas then I realized with terror
The grievous nature of my error

Beside the Reynolds cooking foil
Was tunie fish in cans of oil

I’ll feed it to my Siamese
So I don’t plug the arteries

Next time I go to shop I gotta
Buy tunie fish in cans of watta

by Kevin Ahern

Kevin on Facebook

Twitter: @ahernk1

Editor’s note: This is hilarious, and we all need that right now, right?

From the archives – Sonnenizio on a Line from Yeats by Catherine Rogers

Sonnenizio on a Line from Yeats

An aged man is but a paltry thing.
An aged woman, on the other hand,
Has no time to be paltry like her man.
She’s coaxing fire to make the kettle sing.

She fries the sausages and sets the forks.
He sighs his own obituary, then dozes,
Dreaming of imperishable roses.
Real roses must be pruned. She gets to work.

The old man has his legacy to tend;
He mourns his fading powers with aching heart.
Her hands ache with arthritis, but she’s smart
And takes an aspirin; she has socks to mend.

Byzantine sage, enough of fiery gold!
The real trick’s being too busy to get old.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 27, 2015 — by Catherine Rogers

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Seamstress by Ralph Culver

Seamstress

Belief in the thread consoles, redeems. The warm
ease of your ceaseless hands draws down
the twill-flecked light. Beyond the windowpane,
stars shred themselves and drift across silk, seams for
your later eyes to follow. Now,

deft in work, the blue irises feed through
each pass of the needle, riddle the
carcass of the cotton-flower. There is
always work, and always another hour. Your
spare form, clothed in a loose blouse and
the sweating air: stale and harried, yet
rising, constellated with the remnant sparks. You,
only sewing. Something else is joined together.

“Seamstress” is an acrostic poem dedicated to its subject, whose name is
spelled by the first letter of each line.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, October 9, 2015 — by Ralph Culver

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

Night Sky by Chris O’Carroll

Night Sky

I live on the Moon in a comfortable house,
I sleep in a comfortable bed.
But one thing I never find comfy one bit
Is a cow jumping over my head.

The Moon is the cheerfulest place you could live,
And the friendliest place you could visit.
But mooing and swooping a path through our sky
Every night isn’t courteous, is it?

I totally get it – the party got wild,
The spoon and the dish ran away.
Natural enough that a frisky young calf
Should be up for a new way to play.

But let’s all agree it’s gone on long enough –
Night after night the same leap,
The same horns and hooves flying by overhead,
Disturbing a Moon-dweller’s sleep.

If the cow wants to jump now and then, that’s OK,
Every creature deserves a good lark.
But spare us some nights with our sky undisturbed,
Just earthglow, the stars and the dark.

So, please, if your family has a pet cow,
Or you plan to acquire one soon,
No matter what else you may train it to do,
Teach it not to jump over the Moon.

by Chris O’Carroll, first published in Light

Editor’s Note: This poem is delightful. The only thing that would make it better would be some artwork. Anyone? It is Inktober, after all.

Led Zeppelin, LA Forum, 1977 by Ed Granger

Led Zeppelin, LA Forum, 1977
(Van Halen Prelude)

The whole place coruscates with snuck-in
rum, sweat-soaked patchouli, pent-up
veneration for the air-brushed-on
bellbottoms and thousand-watt coifs tipping
last swigs of Moet backstage.
Then a spot Excaliburs the pot smoke,
finds an elvish figure for its nimbus—Page,
right hand raised as left wrings an arpeggio
from his Les Paul’s neck. Two brothers, specks
in a sellout crowd, take every gesture
in, then back to Pasadena. No money for effects
or Marshall stacks, but when Eddie adds one finger
of his right hand to the frets: a stairway sound.
“Alex, come here, man—check this out!”

by Ed Granger

Editor’s Note: Slant-rhyme sonnets feel deceptively free, while beneath the surface a great deal of discipline keeps the music steady, not unlike the riffs of great guitarists. RIP Eddie Van Halen.

Metamorphosis by Leslie Bergner

Metamorphosis
a sestina

On the porch sits Cleopatra the meditating cat,
an uproar of birds in her amber eyes,
poised on her haunches ready to strike,
with no malice or awareness of self.
She pads into the kitchen with her Zen walk,
barely touching the floor, giving away not one secret.

You want to know her secrets.
You’ve been living for years with this cat,
her pink paw pads and noiseless walk.
You look for clues in her reptilian eyes.
What is she thinking? you ask yourself.
How does she know when to strike?

You’re startled by the stealth of her strikes—
they fool the birds and surprise you too. Always a secret.
She makes a fetish of bathing herself
until her coat shines like a seal, not cat.
Riddles hide in her sphinx-like eyes
and no one knows where she’ll next walk.

If you got a leash and took Cleopatra walking,
the neighbors would see how striking
she looks with exquisite sunshine in her eyes.
They would talk about stealing her in secret,
reminded of the statues of Egyptian cats
they saw at the Louvre, craving such beauty for themselves.

You protect Cleopatra and yourself
by watching where you go and how you walk,
never hinting that your house has a silky black cat
who earns her keep by finding small animals to strike.
There is no bottom to the layers of secrets
echoing in her yellow eyes.

At day’s end Cleopatra gets in bed and shuts her eyes.
You join her in the mystery of nocturnal self,
of dreams that hold past lives and other secrets.
In them, you tiptoe and leap and do a slinky feline walk
and have no mercy on the creatures you strike,
waking up feeling part woman but more cat.

by Leslie Bergner

Editor’s Note: Often, a sestina’s repetition can be tedious, but this poem avoids that trap by wisely omitting the three line envoi at the end. And, too, as any adopted human knows, there is no persuading a cat into following the rules.

The Young Wife’s Reply by Marly Youmans

The Young Wife’s Reply
…gif he þin beneah. (…if he has thee.)
—from “The Husband’s Message,” Exeter Book circa 970

Riddle of runes, safe-hedged in my hand,
Writings I cannot read but now hide in heart’s hold…
I am the girl who gleams like an elf,
Glinting in light-shafted glades of the wild lands,
The one who has, often and often, watched from the walls
As nightingales loose their dream-songs, deepening the green of leaves,
The one who is close-clasped by the sibilant cry of the sea,
Bewitched, called by the Christly wave-walking ships and whitecaps,
Who pines, who will listen to no lesser prince,
Who will skim the marine swells like a Manx shearwater,
Angling, aiming in all haste toward your hand.

I’ll dare the salt, the drowned water-world,
For no jeweled hunting-hawk or gem-collared hound,
No horn-hilted seax or serpent-hoard barrow
Could compare with the prize of your presence:
You, rare in renown, mine and monarch among men.

by Marly Youmans

Marly on Facebook
Twitter: @marlyyoumans

Editor’s Note: The alliterative meter in these lines hearkens back to an ancient form of English verse—fitting because the speaker is answering an ancient question.