From the archives – Heading Towards Home by Martin Willitts Jr.

Heading Towards Home

The distance heads towards a small village
of post card, white clapboard houses,
where pale-green pastures level off
before another hill begins. The sky is waiting
for the rain to arrive, and dampness enters
the bones. A bird is nowhere, wherever wind is.

Heading this way is a van, pulled over,
its engine ticked off, cooling. A family is eating
lunch, while a man checks the map to see
the answer to every child’s question:
are we there yet? He’s not sure where they are.
Perhaps, they missed the turn. His wife is angry.
They should have turned right long time ago
but he was too lazy to ask questions, or
he said too many times he trusted his instincts.
The wind did not bring them here.

The town ahead is too small to be looking for.
Their two boys know it is time to play in mud,
while adults settle their scores. The houses
are turning on their suppertime lights.
Sheep are heard ringing in the fields, nearing,
like child’s questions. Everyone wants to know
where they are in relation to home, and crave
a familiar sight; no one wants to be in the lost.

No map tells you where you are,
but only your relationship to somewhere
if you have a familiar landscape.
And you are lost in anger, no map gets you out.

The dampness moves in. The doors of the village
open and call out to children. The sky greys
and triangle sheets of rain open like maps.
The van turns on headlights, breaks through mist
hoping someone knows where somewhere is,
while all the time the village knew where home is.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 27, 2017 — by Martin Willitts Jr.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

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From the archives – Singing My First Funeral by Christine Potter

Singing My First Funeral

I think his last name was Messerich. His first…Charlie?
Probably. I hear my father’s voice saying it with

that friendly lilt men use to mean a good guy: Charlie
Messerich, church sexton during those few years Dad

tried believing what the rest of us did. Charlie’s funeral.
Everyone else was still alive. Sextons cleaned, fixed things—

but clearly not everything. Like having to die. Zion Church
looked embalmed as ever: dim, airless, polished, Victorian—

even with Sputnik twinkling in circles over our heads.
Someone else must have cleaned, I thought, and wondered

why I couldn’t cry. I knew you were supposed to. One girl
whose name I’ve also lost crayoned a picture: a man labeled

Charlie Messerich leading the Junior Choir skywards, all
our arms out straight before us like movie monsters, all

our kimono-sleeved choir robes dragging behind us on
pink and orange clouds. Melissa, maybe. I’d watched her

roll Italian bread into little balls and swallow handfuls
of them at the Spaghetti Dinner. Kids said her parents had

to call the ambulance and get her stomach pumped. Would
she have died? She cried at the funeral, and I could not.

Hymns. An anthem. It was just more church, and not
even Good Friday. I never asked her about her stomach.

Afterwards, I took off my starchy collar and freed my hair
and bobby pins from my choir beanie for The Reception

in the Parish Hall. Everyone’s mother smiled through
a haze of heated-over ham and pineapple slices too dense

for me to want any. I don’t think I ever cried, even later,
back home. I scuffed the soles of my patent leather shoes

all the way to my parents’ car. All afternoon, everything
was too bright, like staring at a bare light bulb. Like Heaven.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 24, 2017 — by Christine Potter

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

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

From the archives – Another vessel, as seemed good — James S. Wilk

Another vessel, as seemed good

The pounding in your studio
is house-shakingly violent.

Dishes rattle and tumblers
quake in their cupboards.

You are angry and punishing
the clay tonight.

The chthonic aroma of powdered
earth and water tickles

my nostrils as I descend
the stairs to watch you work.

It’s astonishing how deliberate you are
as you remove air from the clay,

your fists swinging the way
a mason’s sledge strikes the chisel,

how you and the art are at once
elemental and humorous,

how blood and melancholia,
earth and water are transformed

in the alchemy of kiln and glaze,
how proportion means more

than the ratio of height to width,
how perfect comes from imperfect,

and how a cracked pot may
make the ideal vessel.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 5, 2016 — by James Wilk

Video thanks to All Satisfying

From the archives – In the Garden Shed by Doris Watts

In the Garden Shed

The morning sunlight has come angling in
where the door hangs open on one rusted hinge.
I suppose it worked free in last night’s wind.

In here, all scattered, are those discarded things
that, careless, we’ve left to grow dirty and dim.
To tell the truth, we’d forgotten them.

And there at the back, the roof’s broken through,
but until this morning nobody knew
how this has let sunlight come streaming in

to nurture a clever green-weedy vine
that has found a safe wall inside to climb –
the gardener’s hoe no longer a threat.

I’ll prop the door closed. Some secrets, I find,
are much better off when they have been kept.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 9, 2016 — by Doris Watts

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – From an Empty Nest by Gregory Palmerino

From an Empty Nest

He watches each leaf
drop painfully slow,
parting the way two
hands shaking let go

after a final embrace:
one remains
outstretched, silent, and bare;
the other strains

and falls away
by sailing outwardly
through seas
of dubious air quality.

He knows this leaving
is natural: leaves
must fall for newer vistas
just to tease

the hairy sky; and he
must trust the bole
that memories of spring
will fill the hole.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 29, 2016 — by Gregory Palmerino

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim