So we see more partings than returns. So we are old. So the wrinkles do not make a workman, but a crippling, a reed or weed on lawn. So cattails bend, unbend, at this lean hour. It means nothing but the wind is strong today. I shuffle by marsh- mires: here no reed stand strong to take hold of and lift me, dirty but just- dry against the wind, that which beats me. Clouds cross like ships, fire ammo the sound of thunder and shape of lightning. My clothes swell in the wind and in the rain that shape it into breathings, shapes without shape. I haven’t told of the dream in which a Greek boy hunched beneath the shelter of trees, but he dripped and shivered like me. In the wind, by daybreak, each leaf a grape pulled up by the stem, as from somewhere a force had come, they rustled and bowed like that as the cattails bend, unbend, at this lean hour.
Sometimes, as now, the light’s enough, the sun behind a massive cloud that sweeps like sea across the blue. The birds are still; songs sung, they’re quiet, gone. The tree and stream agree that silence is what’s needed now—as if, for this brief once, the clock has stopped. On hold, the sky, the leaves, white flash of wings—this is the world as poem upon a page, untold. The fan still whirrs, and that is all I hear, like water far away. The books that burst with languages are dumb, and each appears exactly as it is. The world’s been purged of Time. Is this a warning or a gift? I think it’s both, like any granted wish.
by Ed Hack
Editor’s Note: Careful punctuation creates space in this sonnet for the reader to breathe in the imagery and worry woven into the lines.
Editor’s Addendum: Please accept my most humble apologies for the incorrect attribution given to the previous post of this poem. I messed up, and I am very sorry.
She views the world through touch. Faint throbs of thread relay what prey is trapped, what class of mate draws near, what bird has come to satiate its greedy gut. The ring of string has spread like ripples on a pond. Inside her head a tiny brain unravels all the facts. Her spokes have spoken to her. She reacts quick as a wingbeat. Will she be well-fed?
One evening, groping through a grove, you mangle the moonlit sanctuary of some spinner serenely poised to pounce upon her dinner. Face full of filaments, you watch her dangle then disappear. You flee the fangs of night, not knowing she’s too sensible to bite.
by Martin J. Elster
Editor’s Note: This sonnet begins with a mystery (who is this creature?), but soon enough, we realize that a spider is the central character terrifying the speaker.
I bought a shepherd hut, where I could write— Not being buttonholed, nor reached by phone— And parked it in my garden, out of sight, So all the world would leave me well alone. Here I would craft a novel or a play, Entirely undisturbed by daily chores, Protected from distractions night and day … However, once I hid behind its doors, Excruciating writer’s block attacked Relentlessly, until I came to see Distractions served the food for thought I lacked— Hermitic exile fed no muse for me! … Up to my study’s bustle I returned To write—and sell the hut, my lesson learned!
Editor’s Note: Every writer knows that distraction is the enemy of the mind, but sometimes the very thing that we think is going to solve that problem becomes the problem, as this hilarious sonnet demonstrates.
In the end, I don’t need to know what your last words might have been — whether some sly, unassuming wisdom, cry of anguish, or blasphemy — before your body offered up its last and holiest secrets. For you, a man who conserved words as if allotted only a handful in this life, one silence leading into another would seem fitting. The endless books of quotations and insight, the intricate wounds coughed up as speech, we must now leave for others. Even the words I wrote after your death, winding them into a pencil-thin scroll to be fed into cemetery dirt, somehow elude me now. Their mystery is yours, their meaning gone back into darkness. Let it remain so. Let me learn, if anything, the grace of saying nothing at all.
by Greg Watson
Editor’s Note: This prose poem uses imagery very sparsely, but where it does, the impact is all the more startling.
Daybreak and not one sound is heard as was routine of trilling jays that were aflutter as they stirred the air muggy with June heatwave. They’d dart between two trees ablaze
with alpenglow—their choice playground alongside two apartment blocks. Their silent airs today astound. Some social distancing to save plumage against some newfound pox . . .
succumbed at last to this June’s sear . . . or did they just migrate away? Not one hour later, a whirr amongst the trees! How they behave as they’ve been wont, still no one’s prey.
How tardy! Have they now become afflicted with our sleep-in malaise . . . or wearied by the rival hum and thump that made a schoolyard cave in for a close-by condo maze?
A symphony of seesaw trills— the usual morning reveille— clear and rampant as it spills forth now, before it’s time to brave Caterpillars soon to wake and wail.
by Alexander Pepple
Editor’s Note: The form of this poem constructs a framework that denies the awful fragility of bird life (and perhaps our own as well), especially considering the new and terrible avian illness sweeping across the land.