From the archives – The Big Bang — Elizabeth H. Barbato

Night sky picture of constellation Orion.

The Big Bang
for Jess, Emma, & Lila—when they were twelve

Before there was Light,
God snapped fingers
and almost without music
muscled the world into being.
Some people call this
the Big Bang.
It’s not much of a name,
when you think about it.
Perhaps the scientists tried
with their scientist brains
to come up with something,
well, perhaps more mellifluous.
Or at least with a more sophisticated
vocabulary. Maybe, after sweating
for hours in the lab, they called up
their poet friends, drunk on knowledge.
Give us a name for the beginning,
they slurred. But the poets,
knowing there can be only One
Logos, carefully hung up.
They changed the messages
on their answering machines—
“Gone Fishing,” or “See you real soon!”
chirped their voices on the scratchy tapes.
And they fled the country that night
as Fritz Lang, the director, had years ago
when Hitler, after having seen
his masterpiece Metropolis,
sent men to his door to haul him
into service for the Fuhrer.
I could call that a Little Bang,
that type of resistance, the artist
leaving his home and all his possessions
behind to chase safety into the outer dark.
But here, in the secret Atlantis
of the poets, Fritz is safe, as is anyone
who wonders what God called the event.

by Elizabeth H. Barbato

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 10, June 2008

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Poetics in the Season of Migration — James Owens

Foggy farm field with barely visible pine tree in the distance.

Poetics in the Season of Migration

After fog, the sun unhitches geese
from the gleaned-over stubble-ground
where they have huddled through the night.

They rise now, clumsy, angling up
to blue, above the planet’s shade,
the mist and morning slurred with calls.

How apologize for poetry?
For how it fails the flock’s long pull
against the heaviness of Earth,

against wind, the mortal shear
of entropy that scatters form?
Their one, blared note sums up a year,

but words falter and trip, waste breath,
lose the smell of dirt or rain,
the wings once more climbing sunlight.

Such a long work, waiting to hear
that hard, scraping honk as song….
No longer clumsy, the geese order

and wheel, squared-off and cutting south,
stars intuited along the way,
written tight into their wedge, and gone.

by James Owens

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 21, July 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – So I Can Feel — Eric Blanchard

So I Can Feel

Do not give me love,
for love is hard to hold on to.
Give me a lover instead,
so I can revel in her touch
and taste her lemon skin.
Give me sweat
dripping from her curves
and the scent.
Give me the tangled limbs
and the screaming.
Give me the gentle—
the butterfly kisses
and the sighs—
so I can feel
like I have had a lover
after the spinning
and the rinsing of linen
in the morning,
when I am alone.

by Eric Blanchard

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 14, July 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Crouching Female Figure: Pompeii — Gail White

Crouching Female Figure: Pompeii

At first they were not much afraid,
but hour by hour the ashes fell,
layer on layer overlaid—
the soft gray snow that falls in hell.

When panic came, her mistress said,
Lucilla, take the child and run.
But when she stumbled, both were dead.
Ashes had eaten up the sun.

Now, in an iron carapace
of ashes, here she crouches still,
shielding in vain her charge’s face
while tourists photograph their fill.

Could God explain in layman’s terms
what vices necrotized Pompeii,
when urban gods and rustic herms
were ashes in a single day?

No law, no logic eases pain
or stops the tidal wave of death.
Sinai and Etna both can rain
ashes that suffocate our breath.

by Gail White

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Left Eye — Arthur Leung

Left Eye

Gong strikes, you wait there, East Gate,
Wild wings of moths fall from the pailou.
Your crimson silk, streaming hair lead my way
Through the lotus pond where cold owls gather.

Wild wings of moths fall from the pailou
Blasting open four rows of abandoned lanterns
Through the lotus pond where cold owls gather.
Flash of a second, your right eye meets my left.

Blasting open four rows of abandoned lanterns,
You show me the wide crystal of waking dragon.
Flash of a second, your right eye meets my left,
Across the back gate night wind giggles.

You show me the wide crystal of waking dragon,
Your crimson silk, streaming hair lead my way.
Across the back gate night wind giggles
And the gong strikes, you wait there, East Gate.

by Arthur Leung

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Year of the Four Farewells — Faith Watson

Year of the Four Farewells

empty nest
a duck on the pond
counts to six

behind fireflies
her feet will stay
green until morning

leaves drop heavy
through cold mist
pasting walks and windows

ice on the train tracks
surrounded by suits
and no one he loves

by Faith Watson

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Birth Song — Dennis Greene

Birth Song

Somewhere beyond the reach of memory
and wet with life and heat and sweat and sex,
he touched the moon’s dark deep fallopian tubes,
and shaped them with his love and thrusting hips;

and I became and fell through to the womb,
and through the womb into the blood-bright day
a puling mewling puking bloody mess
with Tuesday’s grace, and blood dried on my face.

And all that leaves to talk about is life
the cleaning up, the sending on your way
the going left and right and wrong and straight,
the shapes within the shapes within the shape.

This is the legend of my birth, my life,
I learnt it—and then taught myself belief.

by Dennis Greene

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Chiasmatype — Corey Mesler

Chiasmatype

noun—genetics:
the process of chiasma formation, which is the basis for crossing over.

I want the bridge, the
crossing over. I want
to live where you live.
I want to wake up in a
place where the color
of the sun is the color
I see inside the simplest
poem. I want to speak
into your hair the words
that deliver me from the
wreckage of my attempt
to travel. And when the
day is done I want to
cross over again, to a
country where the leaders
talk like parrots, like
streams running clear,
like the mouths of caves.
I want to cross over with
you, my lily white. And I want
the crossing to be our final act.

by Corey Mesler

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – When Spring Melts the Ground — Lyn Lifshin

When Spring Melts the Ground

The dead start stretching,
wonder what’s next. All
winter in quilts of white,
colorless as their wrists
and bones are becoming.
They think they ought to
be hungry, ought to feel
around for photographs
of the ones who followed
them this dark bed and
then turned their backs.
The dead wonder if this
is a bad dream where
flashes of their old clothes
are lugged off in boxes,
their names in an address
book crossed out, darkened
over with ink like someone
putting a stone on the
coffin or weighting a body
to throw overboard. When
they feel light move into
the grass they remember
lilacs, white roots of
trillium like upside down
trees in a negative. It’s too
late to change things. Some
times they smell fresh
flowers left on their grave
and feel less lonely. It does
not hurt to know somebody
kneeling in wet grass
is as lonely.

by Lyn Lifshin

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 17, April 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – On What Might Be Any Day — Amy C. Billone

On What Might Be Any Day

I sit in garbage, my bedroom door cracked
ajar by a jump rope tied to a bear
so he’ll drop on top of my small sister,
my floor unseen beneath books, knights, toy logs,
dolls, castles, winged horses, crumpled sheets
of paper. I’m supposed to be cleaning.
Instead I draw pictures of Demon Dad,
Monster Mom, and Nincompoop Nina, all
chastised by Super Benjy, my giant
orange cat who flies in a cape. Dad bursts
in. He shouts Someday the mess in your room
will enter your mind! He hurls the bear at me.
In early evening the room is not clean.
I write a poem for Mom. I say red suns
are goddesses spilling their makeup. I
want her to love me the way she does her
handsome students. My Dad calls them princes.
I hear her laughing with Dylan. He reads
out loud his poem about thighs. I’d give
anything to turn into a boy.
Enraged, my father stomps in the hall.
When my sister opens the door and cries
because of the dropped bear, Dad throws my ink
away. I climb into bed, crawl beneath
my blue blanket full of comets and dive
into the Secret Hole. I am king there.
Nina can’t go or she will fall through space
forever. This makes her sad. I always
leave behind a statue who looks like me.
Some are creatures that attack her, except
tonight she teaches a kind one to walk
and speak. It must come to dinner since I’m
not home. It doesn’t know the way to use
a fork, spoon or knife. It attaches tubes
of macaroni to its fingers, leans
sideways, sighs, rolls its eyes, sticks out its teeth.
My sister slides in and out of her seat.
She gestures wildly, waves both her arms, lifts
her plate and without silverware she eats
so as to protect me but Mom and Dad
take her food from her and this makes me glad.

by Amy C. Billone

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 21, April 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim