The Sounds Water Makes by Martin Willitts Jr.

The Sounds Water Makes

Grandmother hated the rusty click-clack whoosh
metallic sound of the kitchen hand pump,
preferring I’d go out: Fetch a wooden bucket
of water from the well.

I’d creak-creak the pulley rope
until I’d feel the bucket slap-bottom-touch the water,
go slower, sensing it sink-fill, then
tug-yanked up into sunlight, a slushing bucket,
fetched it back.

Water tasted different when from a bucket
or the hand-pump or metal ladle at the well.
I never understood how the texture and flavor changed.

All I knew was grandma hated the fancy hand pump,
choosing the old Amish, sensible ways,
without gadgets and gizmos. She desired a world
waking up to hardness of life, as loose
as water. But the rest of the world was moving
in a blur she’d never understand, leaving her behind,
set in her ways, her bones too old and stubborn
for there to be any other way than plain-spoke,
careful with words, listening before speaking,

She wanted a time when water was water,
and sky clung fiercely to the land.
She declared, “You can keep your ways.”

I was too afraid to ask her what she was going to do
with all that water. I went softly back outside,
floors screech-scratching behind me

like a rope being lowered into the deepest well.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The plain-spoken tone of the narrator mirrors the subject—a grandmother married to ways that feel simple, but are often anything but.

A tiny dance of coming to by Charles Carr

A tiny dance of coming to

The first faded sight of blue,
just enough dark sees
the moon as a big toe
in a torn sock,
seven o’clock traffic is
an agitated ocean,
a tide changing
its mind, wipers sweep
clean where night slept
dew on the windshield,
now the sun is a thumb
pierces the skin
of an orange,
it seems impossible
the sky fits it all in its mouth
at once and suddenly
the taste of light on everything.

by Charles Carr

Twitter: @selfrisinmojo

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem meanders from personification to surrealism, but the emotional undertone remains luminous.

From the archives – The Cabin by Ed Granger

The Cabin

Skip down the ladder from the loft
where yesterday’s last feverish kiss
of heat mothered you overnight.
Wrench open the stove door screeching
like an old iron safe, embers banked
in one corner like dreams awaiting
their next breath. You’re here, dead center
of nowhere, Nova Scotia. You came expecting
insight of some kind. You were mistaken.
The molten seethe of pine logs as they snap
latent sap up the black iron pipe
back into these baffling woods
tells you nothing. Dreams of your father
alive again, upstairs, shaving,
have followed you here. Of course
you told him you loved him,
even through purple lesions as he
whispered something about a Jesus
he’d never believed in. Feed brittle bits
of moss to the feeble orange glow, scraped
from the roof so they won’t claim renegade
sparks. Finesse the vents for a sense
of control. Your coffee is barely potable.
Your father was rarely approachable.
Lace up your boots, head out. Your father
was killed because he tried to pound
a square-peg self into this life until
his round-peg 9-to-5 metastasized. You
came here seeking liberation, found
this new routine. Today, maybe hike
to the logging camp where saws
weep dry crocodile tears. Stay available.
Reconcile yourself to this place.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 29, 2017 — by Ed Granger

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Flotilla by Steve Deutsch


You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.

You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.

Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.

by Steve Deutsch, first published in Weatherings.

Editor’s Note: The title in this poem serves up multiple meanings to the reader, in keeping with the narrative’s surprising imagery.

Bird Bareback on a Horse, Route 413 by Bernadette McBride

Bird Bareback on a Horse, Route 413

Usually slow as February, this one-lane road lets us
clip along today as if it doesn’t want to give any notice
to the soft haze of early May, the scent of newborn grass

as potent as it ever was when school terms wound down,
spring jackets came unstored and adolescence bore
mysterious urgings. A farmer rocks in his high John Deere

as his horses trot from the electric fence and we take turns
at a four-way stop. A young robin lights on a grazing
palamino’s back, rides easy as the horse sways and bows

to a buttercup breakfast; senses it’s safe here
the way once, as we watched the morning sky, a swallow
hopped to the welcoming twig of your index finger,

twitched its feathered head and lingered, scouting for kin,
just as if the laws of Eden were still intact.

by Bernadette McBride

Editor’s Note: For those of us who live in the rolling, verdant farms of Pennsylvania, this poem resonates with its quiet, beautiful imagery.

Applied by Gina Ferrara


It is dark…you are unable to see
the cloudy mirror
a troubled lagoon makes it worse.
The lipstick unsteadily applied
in shakes and quivers, smears,
not a description or a noun,
no, this is a verb, all movement
that bleeds tropical,
a pride of Barbados,
a hand-sized hibiscus
across your lips
marking them as reckless
to give kisses, to retort or purse.
You could use some parchment,
a tissue, to blot the hemorrhage,
this glide of paraben and balm
beyond glib that comes from a tube
with its counterclockwise twist
sharing the motion of the next storm.

by Gina Ferrara

Gina on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The grammatical wordplay in this poem sets the scene, but the imagery carries it into disturbing motion.

A Cottage in Sag Harbor by Alan Walowitz

A Cottage in Sag Harbor

My mother showed me the photo,
the cottage, the sea, the shore
and told me we needed to go—
away from here, and him,
and everything that was going wrong.
It would be best for us all
and, she swore, it would be just a while,
maybe two weeks, a month, or the summer
if we liked. I could call it a vacation,
if my friends should ask, though I knew they would know.
And it’s nice out there and cool with a breeze
and we’d take a bus and bring only what we need.
My kid brother would thrive in the sun, the sand–
and even if not, we’d have each other,
and Dad will be fine,
he knows how to care for himself—
he can open a can of soup and make eggs.
I looked at my father, dead asleep
on the floor, and told her–
till then, the hardest thing I’d ever said–
Looks nice, Mom,
but I’m staying here with him.

by Alan Walowitz

Editor’s Note: The last two lines in this poem carry the entire thing from nostalgia into purpose.

Love Poem by Katie Kalisz

Love Poem

We are past the gestures encouraged
by magazines and morning talk show hosts.

I clean the dirt from your index finger
while we drive silently to a doctor’s appointment

after an argument that neither of us won,
unwinnable. You sigh in pleasure while driving us.

I inhale your sweet garlic breath,
blink my eyes clean, swallow back the remains

of tears I could cry. There is no need.
We separate our clasped hands in order to open

our separate doors. The morning dew reveals
footpaths of others across the grass, hurrying.

We take the sidewalk’s right-angles, turning by heart
in unison, although we have not been exactly here before.

by Katie Kalisz

by Katie Kalisz

Editor’s Note: This poem is perfect.

From the archives – The Morning of My Madness Waking by Jim Zola

The Morning of My Madness Waking

What’s left? Maybe some trees
on a hillside, the sudden
tufts of seedy grass.
Broadleaf grin, burred twig
dance, maker of saplings,
what’s left? Some trees, a hillside.
No philosophizing, please.
Vodka is given us to be drunk,
sturgeon to be eaten,
women to be visited.
Snow to be walked upon.

For one evening anyway,
I want to forget you are the ring
in my ear, the morning’s cough,
the dense flour of deepest sleep.
I wake and call for you. You
are the new crease in my right palm,
the itch below my knee, the world
turned inside out, my reckless heart.
I pull on socks, shoes. Beneath
each layer is another.
Madness wears the thinnest veil.
Dying. Singing. Some trees.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 22, 2017 — by Jim Zola.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Japanese Peach Blossom Festival by Bob Bradshaw

Japanese Peach Blossom Festival

We wait for your friend
from a small footbridge–
the pond’s koi gazing up
with brightly painted faces.

A 93 year old woman
in a kimono laughs
as I greet her, a kokyu
in her arms.

She wanders with us
past flying windsocks
and pink clouds
of flowering peach and plum,

to a small auditorium
where you lean into a mic
and play a song about winter,
your flute sounds pure
and free in the rich,
fruit scented air,

I stand as the song ends
applauding wildly.
You are the first girl I kissed,
my heart leaping like waves
over a sea wall.
Who knew that fifty years
would pass by like
an overnight

by Bob Bradshaw


Editor’s Note: The beauty of the imagery in this poem seems almost too simple, but sometimes the best verse is quiet and beautiful.