From the archives – Poem for our Anniversary by Johanna Ely

Poem for our Anniversary

I ask you if you still want me
the way the shore wants
the ocean to lap
against its edges,
if you still feel the strong desire
of tides that pull and push
against a moon that is
slivered forever into my skin.
I ask if you remember me,
how I was before you really
knew me,
before you pulled me
to shore, breathing life
into my collapsed lungs
with your slow blues
and blackbird calls.
I want to love you
the way the shore delights
in choppy waves hitting
the seawall at high tide,
or longs for the silent calm
of receding water caressing sand.
You answer yes to everything,
even when I ask you if you imagined
my poems flying across your lips
the first time I kissed you.
I tell you I am the swallow
who will always return home
because you follow me there,
carrying marsh grasses in your beak,
the setting sun blossoming
like a bloodshot rose in your wings,
the ebb and flow of who we are inhaled,
how the love we have smells like the sea.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 30, 2016 — by Johanna Ely.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

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From the archives – Destiny of the Lone Hunter by Carol A. Amato

Destiny of the Lone Hunter

What I didn’t see was the vast length
of wing-spread and the slow deep
wing-beats planing down in a wide circle
legs outstretched, descending to the pond’s
edge accordion-folded wings against its
muted blue-gray plumage

but now
ankle deep in the silt of last fall’s leaf litter
and instantly statue-still without perceptible
movement
spear-beak poised
dark pin-prick eyes able to discern the slightest
sign of life disturbing its own reflection and the
sky’s along whose borders this fall’s wild rage of
colors will soon become air-borne confetti.

Unfazed by useless beauty, the heron,
one stilt-leg lifted, bends its sinuous neck
then lightning-strikes the stalked-for prey
it swallows whole.
All that matters in the scheme of things:
the rewards of forbearance and efficiency.

It will return here until all but the oak leaves
have fallen and a transparent film of ice
forms around its patient legs.
It may stay the winter
unknown by us mere mortals why
but respecting choices we admire:
pluck and persistence and perhaps
faith in open water

or instead lift off graceful and strong fading soon
into the layered clouds and pushed by southerly
winds those beneficent purveyors of unpredictable
destinies.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 13, 2016 — by Carol A. Amato

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Passers-by by Carl Sandburg

Passers-by

Passers-by,
Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

Passers-by,
I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
. . . .Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

. . . .Yes,
Written on
Your mouths

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Fragmented Childhood by George Longenecker

Fragmented Childhood

I watched Laurel and Hardy say goodbye
again and again in A Perfect Day,
waving and waving in black and white,
never able to get on the road.

Nights I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid
of huge, black birds lurking outside my window.
At school we hunched under our desks for air raid drills.
In an atomic blast, we were told,
our classroom windows would blow inward.

I couldn’t finish my spelling book;
after the drill all I saw was fire and glass.
My parents fed me, but I needed somebody
to take me—somewhere, anywhere—
I don’t know why I wanted to leave,
but walking away seemed safer.

Oh, I wanted to say goodbye.
I escaped into my stamp collection, Montenegro,
Angola with its elephants and giraffes,
San Marino with its castles and turrets.
I wandered with wolves and bears
as I read Nomads of the North.

Then I ran away—in my pockets two books,
fifty cents, my six favorite marbles.
I walked and walked until it snowed,
wet flakes on pines where I hid
under drooping boughs, so cold
that I finally gave up and walked home.

Maybe I didn’t want to say goodbye,
maybe I only wanted someone to look for me.
I returned to my stamps and Superman comics,
content to fly off to Metropolis or San Marino.
Maybe I was just looking for a little light or warmth—
one day the next spring, I lit a grassy field afire.

by George Longenecker

Editor’s Note: The last two lines of this poem highlight the narrator’s trauma. Some things can’t be fixed.

Hurricane Irene by Alan Walowitz

Hurricane Irene

Next time we’ll try and do what’s right:
tie the lawn chair to the deck,
stow in the shed what’s apt to fly,
listen close to those who know by heart
what breaks in times like these
and what might keep.

This is no age that holds bad news at bay:
the big storm brewing in the night,
and written daily in the skies.
The umbrella we forgot outside
gets called to duty in the reckless wind–
all we can do is hunker down and wait.

We find out middle of the night
more of what we might have known–
a tree comes down with whoosh and crack–
the circus sound of whip in air,
not the earth-shaking thud
we’d dreamed and feared.

We stumble out at dawn to gasp and behold
this streetscape we wished we’d memorized—
now downed trees, smashed cars, life’s debris,
chainsaws gearing up to go. All subject to change
at the whim of winds—we thought was ours
was not ours to keep.

by Alan Walowitz

Editor’s Note: This poem’s impressive rhythm breaks down in the last stanza, mirroring the destruction the narrator realizes could not be helped.

Men without dreams by Alejandro Perez

Men without dreams

Dreams like a white Christmas.

Beautiful to think about but difficult to live through.
The streets are closed. The family is not coming.
Friends are locked inside their homes.
You can take pictures but it is too cold to go outside.

It is too cold to build snowmen or go out on the sleigh.
It is better to stay inside and speak of what could have been.
It is always better to speak of what could have been.

Dreams like chocolate. Hot chocolate. Dreams like liquid chocolate.
Sweet dreams which pass in front of you with no notice.
They are almost intangible, almost in another dimension.
They are worthy of finding, but too hard to find.

Dreams like a ruler. Noble at first and then a disgrace.
Brave at first and then cowardly.
Always changing.

Let us take a moment of silence for dreams. For empty dreams,
Like an envelope with no letter. For fluffy dreams like cotton candy.
For those dreams worth nothing. And even so,
Let us mourn for men without dreams.

by Alejandro Perez

Editor’s Note: The sentence fragments in this poem highlight the narrator’s haunted thoughts. Some dreams are too difficult to approach directly. Some dreams don’t exist without the dreamer.