The Buoy by Siham Karami

The Buoy

Lost, fluorescing with the ferry’s glow
across the pleasure sea from San Francisco,
tripping lightly into Sausalito,
I found myself inside a stranger’s yacht
and joined him waxing floorboards. Then his smile
burst like sun through dangling seaweed—our eyes,
deep underwater lips, entangling, blurred.

The gravity of ties now in my hold,
I think of consequence, the darkening wake
where love has sunk—how to care so deep
and yet retain what hums, what radiates
a raw blue edge on every passing thing
as neon burns above the ocean freight,
to buzz the midnight air like wasps in heat.

by Siham Karami

Twitter: @SihamKarami

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s imagery is almost surreal, leading one to believe that the story told is a dream, but the final lines are all too real.

The Prince of Egypt and the Sphinx by Marly Youmans

The Prince of Egypt and the Sphinx

On the northern and the southern roads,
He reveled, shooting at a bronze target,
Pursuing lions and vast herds of beasts
Until his chariot was a gold blur
And horses changed to coursers of the wind.
At noon, the young prince napped between the paws
Of Horus-in-the-horizon, the Sphinx
Who guards the sun and gates to the beyond.
And there he dreamed the carved stone spoke to him
And promised him the kingship of the earth,
Both the White and Red Crowns of the Two Lands,
If he would only, grain by grain, remove
The sands that choked the limbs of the Great Sphinx.

And though he wasn’t next in Pharoah’s line,
These things promised in dream did come to pass.
Some say this was the first recorded dream
In all our wayward human history,
Some say this is the way ambitious men
Have always spoken of themselves as dream:
The chosen of the race, the mystery.

by Marly Youmans

Marly on Facebook
Twitter: @marlyyoumans

Editor’s Note: The iambic meter in this poem is just consistent enough to establish a rhythm, but not enough to lull the reader into a false sense of security.

From the archives – We found an unexploded mine that day by Deirdre Parkes

We found an unexploded mine that day

We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away.

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn’t ours to keep?
We found an unexploded mine that day.

There was no one there to warn us, to say
how cold the water was, how deep.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep.
We found an unexploded mine that day.

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.
We found an unexploded mine that day
and wet our feet before we ran away.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 28, 2017 — by Deirdre Parkes

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Ekphrastic (I) by Andrew Szilvasy

Ekphrastic (I)

Sarcophagus Depicting a Battle between Soldiers and Amazons

The broken, headless warriors fight, of course,
for love: the men, to glorify their names
(and Rome), beat back the force of spear and horse
and roam the marble coffin, numb now and tamed;
the Amazons, as Herodotus tells us,
must kill a man if they’re to marry one,
and so they battle, by life and love impelled
to fell a Roman, or else live alone.

Need they present the bloody witness of a man?
The limbless, or the beheaded on this tomb—
was it for future husbands they remain
frustulent?
. . . . . . . . . .Think on this, and think too on
the man who, missing and missed, waits instead
at home, longingly, for a severed head.

by Andrew Szilvasy, first published in Shot Glass Journal.

Poet’s Note: The original piece is a sarcophagus at the Houston MFA.

Editor’s Note: The mythological speculation of this poem culminates with a surprising emotional impact in the final three lines.

From the archives – Song: Go And Do It by Aaron Poochigian

Song: Go And Do It

Leap Niagara, ask a Mountie
where they keep the joie de vivre,
then cruise down to Orange County,
surf the curl and smoke some reefer.
Ride class fives in the Cascades,
water-ski the Everglades,
. . . .go, go, go
. . . .until you know
precisely where the Good Times flow.

Hitchhike through the heartland, travel
wide, acquire a taste for tillage.
Where the asphalt turns to gravel
settle down in some quaint village—
cloudy, clear or partly sunny,
your new Land of Milk and Honey
. . . .will appear
. . . .much like here
but less suburban, more sincere.

Search through endless desert places
for the perfect little spot.
When at last some plush oasis
tallies with the spa you sought,
think of me and write a letter
gloating over how much better
. . . .life is there—
. . . .I’ll still swear
we could be happy anywhere.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 17, 2017 — by Aaron Poochigian

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

The Fourth Nor’easter of March by Robert Wexelblatt

The Fourth Nor’easter of March

Indignant neighbors all complain
that snow’s still falling and not rain
or sunshine flecking pale green hills
with pools of yellow daffodils.
They whine that winter won’t let go.
Weighed down with wet, belated snow
snapped branches mar the noiseless night.
Though dawn serves up a dazzling light
all value springs from scarcity;
snow’s pretty when a rarity.
No matter if the statue’s Greek
or if the storm’s a thrilling freak,
they’ve wearied of the ceaseless sight
of beauty that’s become antique.

by Robert Wexelblatt

Editor’s Note: This sonnet is a delightful lesson on the futility of complaints about the weather.

From the archives – Vultures by by Laura Rutland

Vultures

We come—the vultures of old houses—
Circling through grass and knee-high clouds of weed
To stare with eyes jeweled in vulture greed
Upon a corpse of battered rotten wood.
We tear at nails with the talons of our hands
And gorge our pockets with their rusty shapes.
You taste the woodwork, I sample the stairs,
While another simply waits—expectant—stands
Before a half-dead row of cedars that
Mark an already buried path. They will speak,
We say, if wind blows. Reluctant vultures,
Hungry for a trace of wind, the faintest creak
Of wooden voice or moan. And these dead walls,
Oppressed by breathless wind and vulture calls.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 13, 2017 — by Laura Rutland

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Hot Yoga Chaff by Peg Duthie

Hot Yoga Chaff

Within the heat that some call infernal,
the wishful teachings make me grind my teeth:
“You’ll burn a thousand calories, sweat out toxins”—
I strive to press the blather away
the way a chef distills what’s worth preserving

from what was both the source and in the way
of succulence and essence. Trivia, tocsins—
I press it all to and through the floor, seeking beneath
my soles and palms true knowing: that kernel
of self that weighs not who’s deserving.

by Peg Duthie

Twitter: @zirconium

Editor’s Note: Clever rhymes, meter, and a startlingly apt homophone elevate this poem from floor to enlightenment.

Life in the Second Circle by Michael Cantor

Life in the Second Circle

I live on a beach with a woman who hates pigeons.
This is not the piazza di
popoli she yells, pegging salt-swept stones

at them: I share a house with Anna Magnani – she
emerged sad-eyed, years back, from an out-of-date
old film cassette, talking too much, absurdly

big red mouth bursting with kisses: all that first night
we loved and laughed and spoke of life, and she devoured
my grilled squab putanesca with a whore’s bold appetite.

We live in cinematic garlic-spatteredness, my hard-
life love and I, with recondite Fellini dreams
and black-and-white De Sica screens – the outside world

can’t reach this beach. They all are pigeons, Anna screams
Their asses spread, they flap their wings, their shit is everywhere.
We tumble to the kitchen floor; make love amidst tomato streams.

by Michael Cantor

Editor’s Note: This poem’s voice is dominated not by the narrator, but by the narrator’s lover. The drama is a shocking delight.

Ballad Of Nigel No Mates by Jerome Betts

Ballad Of Nigel No Mates

“New Zealand conservationists mourn loss of
celebrated bird that was lured by replica gannets
in the hope of establishing a breeding colony.”
— Guardian

Mana Island’s last rats had been banished
And now it was time to restore
The gannets who’d long ago vanished
From the cliffs overlooking the shore.

Concrete replicas fostered illusion,
(And solar-powered sound effects too)
But they led to a different conclusion
From the one it was hoped would ensue.

A wandering male made a landing
On the fake-dotted rocks of the isle
And the subsequent misunderstanding
Saw him named, and the world crack a smile.

For some years Nigel fruitlessly courted,
The hard-hearted hen he found there
Though the paint-job his paramour sported
Reminds us of you-know-who’s hair.

He stuck to the one he’d elected;
No others could quite break her spell −
Not just those human hands had erected
But three real arrivals as well.

Then he died, but his life was not wasted,
His tryst had ensured others came
And if Mana’s once more guano-pasted
He’ll deserve, as the founder, his fame,

Still, the scale of the sadness is planetary
That he’ll not see some chicks fledge for roles
In a throng flying far from his gannetry
To plunge-fish the New Zealand shoals.

by Jerome Betts

Editor’s Note: The juxtaposition of a rollicking meter and rhyme with the inherent doom of a resident species complicates this poem (but that is what ballads do).