A short prayer by Drew Pisarra

A short prayer

There must be things to break.
There must be plates.
There must be jelly jars and hearts.
There must be bread.

There must be things to crack.
There must be eggs.
There must be wheat.
There must be knuckles and the mind.

There must be things to punch.
There must be walls of brick and walls of plaster,
clocks and bags and sparring partners.
There must be fucking fists.
There must be more.
There must be movement.

Let there be that as well.
Let there be that as well.

Let there be a full refrigerator,
with its freezer overflowing frozen goods.
Let there be a warm bed,
an occupied bed.
Let there be bodies
to slip into like so many pairs of stockings.
Let there be no runs.
Let there be
in each man’s hand
and every woman’s clutch
an open-dated one-way ticket out.

There must be that as well.
There must be.

by Drew Pisarra, previously published in Untitled & Other Poems

Drew on Facebook

Twitter: @mistermysterio

Editor’s Note: After the punch of the first line, the repetition in this poem can lull the reader into complacency, but this prayer is more complicated than that, as the closing lines demonstrate.

Owls by Christine Potter

Owls

I was talking to the owls again tonight.
It was like scrolling on social media—
hoo-HOO, hoo-HOO—and they liked it.

It was warmer today. The air felt more
like a friend.The creek sounded serious
and steady. I’d been inside until dusk.

I spoke with the owls, which my father
said flew off with unruly children: one
specific owl, actually: The Owl. We both

knew that wasn’t true. His mother (tiny,
superstitious, Irish) used it to scare him.
Except he knew I’d be too smart to fool.

I was. I’m still angry at my father, but
not about that. Sometimes winter lets up
just a little and I miss him: hoo-HOO,

hoo-HOO. I talk to the owls. They answer
me back, outside with night just pulling
itself together, a few stars poking through.

by Christine Potter

Christine on Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Editor’s Note: This poem leads the reader onto a meandering path, and it isn’t until the very end that one realizes that the heart of it is right in the center, but it’s a bit too painful to touch. One can only arrive at grief and joy and anger and memory indirectly.

Daydreaming instead of walking by Christine Klocek-Lim

Daydreaming instead of walking

The tiles feel like smooth stones beneath my feet.
And that old hall carpet has soft reeds so tired
from years of tread they barely speak.
The skin of my heels is old too,
but still somewhat working nonetheless.
It’s over fifty years now
since I learned to walk.

And the trees outside are the same.
The sky and the flowers.
I’ve learned how to feel the earth
through my toes. Sometimes the ground
moves so hard I can barely stand. Sometimes
my body doesn’t remember how to stand upright.
Sometimes I don’t quite understand
that the map won’t always lead home,
but I go out, nonetheless.

The infinite ocean feels cold. Too cold.
And the sand is hot as hell. In the deep woods,
such extremes are impossible, so I prefer
it there. I walk on moss-soft rocks when I can,
whispering to the snakes about waves
and dunes and impossible skies
they’ll never see.

But I’ve broken bones like this. Daydreaming
instead of walking. I’ve gone down into the pain
and back out again, though imperfectly.
Everything about life is like that: the tiles—
cracked and crooked, the fraying reed rug,
the startling chill of the dark forest.
The quiet moss, dew-wet and alive
over stones long dead.

This is how one goes from youth to old age—
one step into another. Repeat.
And then from old age into the next age,
where the world of souls is constructed
of trees and stones. Where the moss
is deep as an ocean and just as impenetrable.
Where the sand is warm as an old reed rug
and we can all lay down together,
give our feet a rest.

by Christine Klocek-Lim.

Editor’s Note: As an editor, I feel it’s important to avoid indiscriminate self-publishing, but on one day a year, perhaps you will forgive me (yes, it’s my birthday).

From the archives – The Ring — Christine Yurick

Borgau

We are staying in that little apartment above the pizzeria
and have been roaming the dry mountains like goats. It did not rain
for almost a month and we are both dark from all of that sun
and high from the fresh air and lazy from all of the beauty.
The waves hit the brown-orange cliff.
The sheer blue curtain billows in the wind
brushing my cheek in the room where we make love.
The waves come in and go out again.

by Christine Yurick

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 27, 2018

At the End of the Day and Other Poems is now available from Kelsay Books

Shower of Sparks by Nicole Michaels

Shower of Sparks

“Emperor Domitian held gladiator bouts at nighttime by torchlight, sometimes pitting women against dwarfs as well as each other.” – Did Women Fight as Gladiators in Ancient Rome? —History.com

The old green Ford is giving us trouble again,
and it’s far too cold to mechanic.

There isn’t a female gladiator or a dwarf in sight,
but I am indeed holding a torch so that you have

enough light to work by. Next year,
we’ll be set up better, get the yard wired.

You are laughing and gripping a wrench
that gleams with the fire in my hand,

fire I have single-handedly wrestled there,
having torn it off the edge of the winter moon

as if the moon were a flint and I alone
had ladder enough to reach its quartz.

Truth be told,

my hand must be the wettest place on earth by now,
and still you burn in it, lighting us both like caves that

have run together,
underground streams with high walls

decorated in primitive paintings,
buffalo running, mock early representations

of our original nature,
before anyone told us it was wrong to be that way.

I sink into you a little more each day.

“She will start,” you say, victorious,

catching the snow
on the rough side of your tongue.

by Nicole Michaels

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem, sharp yet beautiful, skillfully emphasizes the strength of the characters and their joy in existing in this moment.

Also, Always by Emily Laubham

Also, Always

Here, I dig a grave for songbirds
beheaded by a hawk. The hawk
blots out the sun above me –
hello, harbinger of doom.

Elsewhere, my shadow spells misfortune
for those below. On earth, above, or buried;
Known and unknown in known and unknown places,
keeping score.

Step in spectral dog vomit, invent a new omen.
Lose a sock to atmosphere, devise a way to die.
Trip on phantom particles, curse myself Queen
of the Everywhere.

Find a penny in my armpit, create a new religion.
Wake up where I left you, build a statue for the sand.
Land somewhere familiar, crown myself Queen
of the Everywhere

There I am,
the dog, the vomit, and the doom.
A statue, sock, crown, and Queen.
I am pennies. I am particles. I am sand.
I am my own religion, songbirds on their way to Where.
And I am also, always,
the hawk.

by Emily Laubham

Emily on Facebook
Twitter: @Laubham

Editor’s Note: While seemingly chaotic on the surface, the repetition of this poem’s central imagery is the thread that a reader can use to unravel its emotional framework of persistence.

Time Zones by Laura Sobbott Ross

Time Zones

Caretaker, guardian,
.. . . . . .not a label I thought I’d have at this age.
Of a baby, at any rate.
Already two generations apart,
.. . . . . .I’ve flown six time zones away.
You, eight months old,
.. . . . . .and me, on an eleven-day journey.
I can feel you here—
.. . . .your baby cheeks and newly tactile fingers,
.. . . . . .your cloud of black curls.

In Norway, everything is electric.
I mean that in terms of transport,
.. . . . . .but also, as in being in another world—
Viking fjords in ice blue,
.. . . .glacier-cast mountains that thumbed up
.. . . . . .and swallowed portions of the sky.
We leave you video messages from overlooks and trains.

There’s already a chill in the air, but the light is still
long and glowing while we sleep, pale lager in our veins.
.. . . .Leaves on the aspen trees going golden.
.. . . . . .They twirl and sputter like windchimes,

channeling current—
.. . . . . .the onset of autumn. Cyclical,
a word that might be used to describe anything,
little one, my namesake back home.

Since we’ve been gone,
.. . . .two teeth have pebbled up to landmark
.. . . . . .another stage of your infancy,
while metamorphic inclines and brightly painted houses
.. . . .fly by our windows in gasps.
The horizon, kinetic and thrumming us forward.

by Laura Sobbott Ross

Editor’s Note: The metaphor of time and travel is beautifully apt in this poem as the speaker’s yearning for connection weaves through the lines much as time weaves through our lives as we travel from one heart-place to the next.

From the archives – Paris — Leah Browning

Paris

Every day now we wake
in an unexpected hotel room.

Will this be the afternoon
in Paris, with birds singing

in the courtyard
below our window?

Or, more likely, will we find ourselves
somewhere else entirely. Most days,

the room is either too hot
or too cold, or an unsettling

combination of both;
the sun angles in through

ill-fitting curtains, or
we’ve been woken in the night

by loud, frightening noises:
fists pounding on a door, sirens.

It’s too late or too early,
and we’ve traveled too long;

it’s the night I was pregnant
and we were moving cross-country,

or the morning after any sleepless,
swollen night. The headache

won’t go away, or we’re back in
Toronto, in the hotel with the

wedding reception down the hall
from our room, the blaring music

and the fight that went on so long
that someone called the police.

There are so many bad days.
Every morning, though, I wake up

hoping for just one more golden afternoon
(so lovely and heartbreaking),

for sunlight in the courtyard
and birdsong.

by Leah Browning

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 3, 2015
When the Sun Comes Out After Three Days of Rain is now available from Kelsay Books

Flight Path by Laura Rodley

Flight Path

Nothing but pinions holding me
to this earth, the thrill of flight,
swooping, green of leaf and blue of sky,
and, oh, the landing, the taking off.

Nothing but air between each breath,
the timing chain of my heart,
the pistons of aorta chugging,
heard only through amplification;

what of my own anvils that pick up
their insistent incessant necessary thrum,
what of my own heart longing for more.

Nothing but rushing of wind between each feather,
how staying aloft is not a miracle to me
only the two-legged walking below, peering up.
I know where I am going, the longing pulls me.

Snow on my wings I keep flying.
Snow on my wings I left it too late.
Snow on my wings I huddle.
Snow on my wings I wait till morning.

What rafters above me, the bulbous clouds,
what oceans below me, the rivers, lakes,
what plenitude I devour, sumac seeds, rosehips,
what succor I keep seeking, swallowing
my own body weight ten times over.

So hot I stayed too long.
So quick the cold weather, I got confused.
So fast the frost, I spun home, too few of us,
so green the trees, saying, it’s not time yet, but it is.

So generous the wind when I do not know the word.
So swift the currents when I know nothing but flight.
So soft the clouds when I bump into them, keening,
so hard the tree branch where I spend my night.

Echos through my feathers sing me the longest song,
a breeze of chimes I’ve heard since first flight.
I huddled near my nest, looking lost on the ground,
but, in truth, I have never been lost, I can always hear you.

I have never been lost, I can always hear you,
I have never been alone, I can always hear you,
I never ceased flying, the chimes singing to me,
I can never tell you how glorious you are, my beloved.

Soon I will leave you but I don’t know when that will be.
I will take my last flight without knowing its leap.
Like my feathers, I was born with this imprint of leaving.
Like my longing that steers me, my leaving has always been before me.

I’ve been flying towards it all my life,
soaring into and through eternity since I pecked out of the egg.
And back again, I always come back, this imprint of leaving upon me.
Until I leave again, without knowing.

I know nothing of hope, but everything of flight.

by Laura Rodley

Editor’s Note: Repetition carries the reader through this poem on stanzas that feel like air currents filled with emotions. The final line says what this poem feels like, and it is, of course, all about hope. 

Leafing by Kalpita Pathak

Leafing

There is a maple
leaf on my back
step in a neighborhood
without any maple trees.
Red as a setting
sun, edges curling
up, it’s already folding
in on itself. If I try
to preserve it
in a book, it will crumble
and blow away from me.
So I leave it be.
You would love to
see this forlorn
handprint from an unknown
bough, you
with your fondness
for anomalies and nature,
but I don’t get
close to people
anymore. I won’t be
inviting you
over or sending you
a photograph
of this permanent wave
goodbye. I know
our fragile friendship
is destined to disintegrate
into dust (as they all are)
but this time it won’t be
because I pressed too hard.

by Kalpita Pathak

Editor’s Note: The best imagist poems offer concrete details and usher the reader toward clarity of thought. This finely wrought poem is an excellent modern example: it contains both clear imagery and a well-written moment of emotional resolve at the end.