On the Way to Perry Park
Is there a man in the moon? he asks.
And I want to say,
There is a man in you.
You will grow into him,
the way the moon has become
a part of me—her pulling,
the way she rides
across a sky, her work
with the sea and in me,
how there is someone
in all of us, a small god.
I want to say,
keep looking up,
trace the pigeon sweeping
over the water feature,
step in a scene,
to gather whatever
lines a basin.
Is the moon following us? he asks.
We move together,
by Sarah Dickenson Snyder
Editor’s Note: This poem’s surrealistic imagery provides a wistful counterpoint to the child’s questions. Parents will understand.
I don’t sleep at night. I count the hours until morning.
I wait for my bride to carry me off into the sky.
The hours of night are as useless to me as the inside of a paper bag.
I count the minutes until sunrise. I doze a bit by early light.
I do nothing all morning. I need to wake. I need an alarm.
I am alarmed that I do nothing. Even a dead dog does something.
I want to do no harm. So I wait
For as long as I can hold a single breath.
I count my breaths. I run out of air. I am filled with shame.
Shame displaces the wind in my lungs. I wheeze and gasp
For breath. The ticking seconds rebuke me.
I am ashamed of things I should or should not have done.
I take blame for your mistakes.
Isn’t this the way it always is? Low hanging fruit?
I count seconds of daylight, by light of day.
All day, I cannot stop eating. I am never full.
At night, I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t dream.
At nightfall, I wash my face. I brush my teeth.
I brush my hair while counting one, two, three, four … 100.
I count the 18 stairs to my bedroom.
The bed upstairs is where I don’t sleep.
The bedroom door is warped and magnifies the light,
The windy nightfall, the hard-falling rain, the storms without thunder.
I count the dark hours, flooded with panic.
I am alone. I am almost old.
My books and my cat try to comfort me.
I lie awake, ready to greet the Sabbath queen,
her fragrant spices commanding me to rest.
I know death. She will come to me at night.
by Risa Denenberg
Editor’s note: This poem’s surreal and disjointed imagery is held together with repetition, giving the reader a glimpse into not just hours, but an entire life.
At the House of Blues
In a prayer,
I close my eyes, wishing on your low
voice that the stage lights will forget
their names and douse us with a religious
high in the mosh pit. That the broken
wings of the rafter beams above us will turn
into many blue heavens. But I can only listen
to your words: This tiny voice in my head starts
to say, you’re safe, child, you are safe. Suddenly,
this venue turns into little dots of stars asking
for your tales of heartache. And you pine
after your words, tripping over them until they spill
all over the audience. I pick them up, drown them
in beer until the glitter on our tongues dies
and I don’t remember why I’m here. I don’t know
anything but my name. I wish on the dimming,
dusky lights right as the guitar purrs its final note.
by Taylor Gianfrancisco
Editor’s Note: Anyone who’s ever sat in the dark audience of a blues club will recognize the surreal narrative that drive this poem towards the final line.
The old man at my door
hands me the bag of Chinese food,
quietly wishes me good luck.
I eat my egg roll, then
open the cashew chicken.
Where are the cashews,
I mutter darkly, as I push
fat pieces of pepper around.
I find exactly eight nuts.
They’re big but I want more.
Afterwards, I crack my cookie,
study the fortune inside. You will
find what you are looking for
it says. Ha I say. My cat stares
with his cryptic white face.
Later that evening I sleep
deeply. I don’t see the moon
curved like a cashew in the sky,
smiling down at me; I don’t
see my cat dancing dreamily
in its pale light before coming to
sit beside me, how he raises his paw
like those little statues, whispers
good luck. . .
by Tricia Marcella Cimera
Editor’s Note: This poem’s narrative voice is a delight because it is so real, right up until the dreamlike conclusion.
When the hidden rip sucks out
beyond the blue swell
uncurling noisily upon the sand,
out beyond the raucous sea-birds
circling, soaring and dipping
above the white topped crests,
out into dark, trackless waste
where the moving water mountain
towers glass smooth and sheer
and over its vast plateau top
waves foam and rumble
in irresistible chaos,
then only surrender remains,
letting the mighty surge
sweep where it will,
holding in a few tiny cells
the longing for a gentler swell
to wash slowly back
into some sheltered cove
where the patterned ripples
kiss the yellow sand,
where hope fills the clear blue sky
and the whole glorious world
shines again bright and new.
by Neil Creighton
Editor’s Note: This poem requires careful reading to puzzle the long, slow, unending imagery into a single, whole picture.
Appalachian Come Inside
like a last bite
but who’s counting,
January and coffee
strong enough to hold
my own turns sixty-one,
I would click my heels
if not for their knees.
A tall hickory pitches
a bird at the sky,
noon is a high fly ball,
The New River is quiet
the air so clean it splashes
the city from my face
and I want to say thank you
but the sun is already
an arm of you’re welcome
around my shoulder.
by Charles Carr
Editor’s Note: Stellar imagery imbues this poem with narrative force, until the last line sighs gently into place.
Waiting for You
Just like a good steady rain,
handwritten by the blue jay’s flight,
the edges of the world need you.
I am aware of the heartbreak
behind the rain’s curtain.
The river banks swell, the ground
is saturated, run-offs follow
a downward slope like arpeggios.
The clouds are squeezed tight.
Rain crunches on roofs, abundantly;
but like love or pain, it cannot last forever.
There is no sound inside the rain
that is not you. A heart is breakable,
but the door is unlatched, waiting for you.
by Martin Willitts Jr.
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Editor’s Note: This poet’s exploration of the limits of the sonnet form continue in this poem. Emotional imagery is highlighted within the form’s fourteen short lines and octave/sestet relationship.