Recipe by Paula Bonnell

Recipe

Take the dimmest purple
known to the mind of spring
and infuse it in lilacs, let it
fill the great wisteria on King Cæsar Road.
Meanwhile, let the wash of water run down
where it powered pilgrims’ grist mills
and return to lap beds of mussels
clinging to salty mud. Let the tides
and the purples continue to rise
and fall through the last two weeks of May.

Then take two yellow-shafted flickers
and send them winging diagonally
across the lawn. Take one
shaggy hedgerow and perch it
at the end of the lawn, above
a path dropping quietly to the beach.
Add an æon’s worth of horseshoe crabs
mating in the shallows. Now
let the tide ebb until the eelgrass
glows as green as summer.

Take one large house, insert tubular dormers
in the third floor, and set it
behind the lawn. Make it one
of a pair with its ghostly twin,
the house that used to adjoin it –
or the one that dwells landlocked
yet tideborne, afloat in the winter mind.
Furnish with wicker; garnish
with a screened porch; assault
lightly with Junebugs.

While you let the drafts cool
and the kitchen heat up, listen
to mockingbird radio through the
water-heater vent, or take a walk down
to the site of the Standish place
and think of Myles, killer of
three men, vicarious suitor. Compare
your courage, your folly to his as
you walk back to the house
hearing the slap and slurp of possibly
radioactive water, awaiting the foghorn’s
calm reassurance and a whitefogged
morning as still, blank, and
patient as paper, a day lucid
as sunlight, a week endless and
finite as time.

by Paula Bonnell

Twitter: @paulabonnell1

Editor’s Note: Hints of the narrator’s life are sprinkled within the imagery like unexpected grains of salt—just enough to delicately season the extended metaphor that gives this poem structure.

Salt by Yvonne Zipter

Salt

You’ve seen the pictures:
rows of beds or reclining chairs,
men and women covered in blankets,
some wearing hats, pillows like snow drifts
cushioning their heads, the fresh air
believed to cure lungs
squeezed by disease.

Lying at present in my own lounge chair
in my own yard, I feel a kinship with those invalids,
soaking in the mountain or desert or sea air,
a blanket wrapped around me, feet to chin.
It’s 79 degrees out, but I’m in the shade,
and there’s a breeze, and the incision
under the white pillow of gauze adrift
on my chest is aching, whatever quietive juice
they pumped into my arm floating away.

I have a port now, and imagine weary sailors,
too many days afloat on an ocean,
readying to dock at the jetty jutting
from my rib cage. I smile, warming
to the sense of welcoming I feel,
as if I am someone’s homecoming,
a safe harbor, a whiff of soil, pine,
and home cooking, a chance to wash away
the salt from so long at sea.

by Yvonne Zipter

Twitter: @YvonneZipter
Instagram: YvonneZipter

Editor’s Note: The repetition of images and words in this beautifully constructed poem creates a cohesive emotional landscape for the reader.

Lush Life by Paul Ilechko

Lush Life

The lushness of city living
the darkness. . . .the noisome

stench of summer. . . .the cracks
that scar the boulevards as winter

bites. . . .as halogen erupts. . . .a
secondhand life of voyeuristic

obligation. . . .the jacket torn
the ramshackle shoes of sidewalk

life. . . .a fleshy strength. . . .his
shoulder shrugging nonchalance

the choice of violence. . . .avoiding
TV windows. . . .the dead

eyes of yesterday. . . .a memory
of Kentucky clay. . . .the kernel

of his presence. . . .his forgiveness
his blamelessness. . . .the corner-hugging

saxophone that infiltrates
his dreaming. . . .resplendent

in his filth. . . .he walks in circles
living on the tangent of his line.

by Paul Ilechko

Paul on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem is even more free than most free verse, but the choice of form (spaces, missing punctuation) skillfully emphasizes the fractured mental space of the speaker.

You Are by Risa Denenberg

You Are
–after W.H. Auden

You are my kitchen.
I can’t make my eggplant dish without you.
You dice the onions so I won’t cry.
You strike the match to light the oven.
You are my salon. You serve rosé in cut-glass goblets.
I have no desire to sweep the floors without you here.
You are my critic, my lost amethyst ring, my favorite berry.
You are the knife that scrapes the pith of me, the toothy grin
of the missing boy on the milk carton, my root beer float.
My legs cannot wrap around this emptiness.
You are the postcard of Calliope you airmailed
from Mykonos, that other time you left, vowing
to never return. And then, the present of you.
Gifts of brisket, banter, sidesplitting quarrels.
I make rugelach every year on your birthday.
You are my morning shower, my evening biscuit.

by Risa Denenberg

Editor’s note: This ode’s first line offers a metaphor so unusual that the urge to read on is impossible to ignore. Happily, the rest of the poem lives up to this opening, proving that sentimental poetry is not dead, and never has been.

Ophelia’s Fare Thee Well by Tina Klimas

Ophelia’s Fare Thee Well

Love is not Love after all.
The powerful twist it how they like.
They will call my heart and my grief
madness
while Hamlet is plainly bi-polar
and Claudius—a murderous
narcissistic rapist.
They will wrongly say I am a silly girl
mooning for an important boy.
This will be easier for them.
I have no place in their court
of corruption, in this world
of shifting sand and illusive reality,
of killing behind a curtain
of fabrication and denial.
Where truth is malleable,
and words are bandied about
into endless threads and soliloquies
to phantom audiences.
I am no fighter.
I am flora, I am different.
And different scares them. I long
to be at peace with my family—
my father, my brother.
But that is dead now.
Let them call me crazy.
Let their court destroy itself
until they all lie in their own blood
on cold expensive marble.
I will be free
in the arms of the willow,
in the embrace of Mother Earth.
Washed clean in the river.

by Tina Klimas

Editor’s note: The short, emphatic lines of this poem give Ophelia a strong and remarkably sane voice, and this encourages the reader to view a Hamlet through a modern lens to great effect.

Paddling with Dragonflies by John Fritzell

Paddling with Dragonflies

Who is this restless couple
this twisted pair, this light
iridescent heart
contorted abdomens
unwed confliction of wings
and short antennae,
their pulsing cadences
trying to straighten out
that which cannot be
straightened out,
but scorched instead
by the hard and the hot
deck of my old friend’s
kayak, before she lifts them
with the cool blade of her
paddle and lowers them
down to the lily pad—lit,
to float in their room
not taken?

by John Fritzell

Editor’s note: A single sentence of short lines makes up the entirety of this poem, reflecting the shape of the kayak with short bursts of imagery. The delightful small nod to Frost at the end seats this poem firmly in the realm of nature verse.

From the archives – On Watch by Neil Flatman

On Watch

Il Paretaio, Tuscany 2004

Felt the hard stone of the window’s lip
against my hand, its age, the permanence
of walls. Night breathed in
the dark and swung a pocket watch
over the hills and winding roads
until they slept and in the olive grove below
fireflies swam in whirlpools in the trees
where a nightingale sang:

For god’s sake hold me or I’ll drown.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 29, 2015 — by Neil Flatman

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

The Death Jar by Sara Backer

The Death Jar

My sister’s chore was cleaning; mine was killing.
Each summer morning, my mother sent me to her rose garden.
With a flick of my finger, Japanese beetles slipped off pink petals
into a jelly jar half-filled with turpentine.

The beetles, like lacquerwork miniatures, gleamed iridescent
green; hard wings shone copper. Six barbed legs
ended in tiny hooks lifted in curved gestures, holding kabuki poses
while they ate. When they flew, they whirred and wobbled.

For sport, I slid a slipknot up a beetle’s leg, prodded the beetle to fly,
and delighted in catching the dangling thread, grabbing a life
out of mid-air. My sister called me cruel, and I stopped; but why
it was wrong to play with beetles and right to kill them?

My mother cherished her roses so
she couldn’t see Japanese beetles had their own elegance,
even though they rendered leaves to skeletons
and carved ugly craters through rose buds. I loved roses, too.

I buried my nose in pink and golden vortices, kissed
their petals to feel softness on my lips, to ease the lesson
of summer: that I must destroy beauty to save beauty, while sensing,
in a child’s way, that I was more the beetle than the rose.

by Sara Backer, from Such Luck, first published in Bamboo Ridge.

Editor’s note: This narrative poem’s opening line and title immediately intrigue the reader and the rest of it does not disappoint as we follow the speaker from beetle murderer to self-awareness.

A Moment Grasped and Gone by Thomas Reed Willemain

A Moment Grasped and Gone

It’s like you’re in a speeding car
trying to spot mushrooms lurking
between asphalt and woods
as they rush from sight behind.

It’s like that but it’s not.
You’re not in a car hunting mushrooms.
You’re in a hammock in a
lush and hushed back yard
on a soft July eve.

What you’re sensing is time
dissolving while you try in vain
to freeze its flow,
wishing you could race
backwards on the spinning world
to grasp one more minute of sunset.

What you’re knowing is this time,
this soft quiet green moment,
is only a moment.
Days will inch shorter, forcing
a search for peace in other moments
that have more color, less heat, more edge.

by Thomas Reed Willemain

Editor’s Note: This poem describes the indescribable with metaphor and imagery, because some things can’t really be spoken, only felt.