From the archives – Blessed Are Those Who Hunger — Tania Runyan

Blessed Are Those Who Hunger

On the day that 27,000 children died,
my dishwasher flooded its basin. I cradled a bowl,

running my finger around a yellow shroud of curry.
I mourned the scrubbing I would have to endure,

the salesmen with their litany of buttons,
the snake’s nest of disconnected tubes.

Mothers embalmed their children in wet sand.
Fathers folded skeletal bodies in sheets.

The mosquito nets and vaccinations were still
en route, stalled in cargo holds, legislation, hearts.

I did not remember. I opened the dishwasher again
and felt my blood quicken at the sour soup

of food and water, the marinara-flecked plates,
and—Jesus help me—oatmeal stuck to the whisk like bone.

by Tania Runyan

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 14, July 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Ostinato — Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Ostinato

—(byr a thoddaid)

Where is the air of yesteryear?
Where are the fields, fallow as deer?
They’re gone, gone in a whorl of brine, to burn
until the rain turns alkaline.

Where are the snows of morrowmorn?
There high up on the Matterhorn
they dance, undecided which way to fall,
point and pirouette all the day.

Where are the stars of nevernight?
You cannot know, poor anchorite
who spurn the milk of skybridges unseen
for the glare of your mean fancies.

Hope remains, like a wire-wrapped string
that sends its ground bass pulsating
under the ever-shifting harmonies
drifting on the breeze from afar.

by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 14, July 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Nelly — Robert Ford

Nelly

We buried you on the hottest day for years.
No breeze. The cornstalks were silent,
the air seething in crowded spaces under
a sky wiped duck-egg blue at the edges.

Through the heavy substance of veteran oaks,
sycamores, gasping over the hedgerows,
you could see all the way down the lazy apron
of the river valley to our town, the thumb of

its church steeple gilt-framed by the haze.
It seemed apt. A decade later, it’s still how
I picture you – though I’m no more than an
unopened parcel of memories in your future

—a girl, each thin-ice step you take a question,
leaving behind farm, family, village, home.
A whole lifetime waiting for you down there,
waiting to gather you up into its embrace.

by Robert Ford

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, July 31, 2017

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Magritte Serves Up the Sun — Donna Vorreyer

Magritte Serves Up the Sun
—after René Magritte’s “The Banquet” 1958. Oil on canvas. Art Institute of Chicago®. Chicago, Illinois.

We cannot see the fine linens,
the glasses of wine, the crystal.
We have been called to a feast,

but there is no food. We have
waited for hours. Then the sun
sails toward us through the trees,

a perfect orange wafer of light,
hovering now below the branches,
floating low, a silver tray waiting

to cradle its fire. We applaud.
To call the sun from the evening
sky is no small feat. A bold host

to lay such strokes, to summon
not just light but the source of light
to humble itself, to feed our darkness.

by Donna Vorreyer

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 15, October 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Low Tide at Sundown — Brent A. Fisk

Low Tide at Sundown

Instead of pearls the woman wears
flies, a kelp dress, a fine shade of blue for her eyes.
She needs the sun, the poor pale thing,
as we need a door in the ocean floor, a way back
to yesterday’s buckets and moats, the deflated
floats and the long-tailed kites that snapped their strings.

But the sky drains of light and color
and the moon shines deep in her skin.
If the sun escapes we will be left to see
her body merge with the dark, her flesh settle into the same sand
we’ve buried our feet in all week.
The stinging wind drives away the red
buckets, wears down the castles, and tumbles inadequate
shovels. Naked, she’s swallowed her name. Nothing left
to call her but dead.

by Brent A. Fisk

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 16, January 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Look Out — Cally Conan-Davies

Look Out

I grew up with clouds
full of promise. White cotton.
I always drew them that way,
mouth open. When they didn’t
rain for the longest time
I closed my mouth.

Dead birds on the sand dune have come clean,
the child I loved has gone too far, love
as far as time goes . . . and the lighthouse
clear-eyed through the fog
points out just how bulky the night is
(an eye for an eye-lid)
a star of sorts, winking at the storm
(so a child might laugh), but the child is gone
where boats go out for mackerel in the dark
(but you can’t see the deck lights winking back)

by Cally Conan-Davies

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, July 4, 2016

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – The Body, Before — Katie Hoerth

The Body, Before

Notice the geography of freedom–
this open prairie made of flesh, the slow
swoop of the back’s small, curvature of skull,
the belly’s subtle knoll. The mirror shows
this vista of my body and I gaze,
try to commit this scene to memory
like a valley filled with bluebonnets
in April, touch this land of milk and honey
before the fall, my exile from myself.

The cold ink on my skin. The thick black mark.
He draws a border on my body, says:
This is where I’ll cut you.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .But I hear:
separate skin from skin, flesh from flesh,
bone from bone. Even with the bridge
of sutures, healing skin, the growth of vessels
carrying my blood across this border,
this scar defines the woman I am now.

by Katie Hoerth

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 25, 2018

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Thinned Larch — Michael Goodfellow

Thinned Larch, or
What If a Body Lost Its Leaves

Needles storm weak,
wind bent, sky turned,

it lost everything
again, barked spire,

stone pinched,
roots a plate

chalky with want.
It nearly wasn’t,

just a rock lip
where the wind caught

part of the world,
thin enough

to hand cut, arm
to trunk. Bone soft,

it broke clean
again and again—

by Michael Goodfellow, from Naturalism, An Annotated Bibliography, Gaspereau Press, 2022

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 5, 2012

From the archives – Undoing — Laura Levesque

Undoing

The storm burst with summer heat that had been building since noon.
Perched in the treehouse with glass windows high in an ancient
oak, I felt little fear. The only light came in through wavy rain beating
against the panes, placed by the farm’s previous owner, a father
more doting than the ones you and I could claim. The other children
had raced up the hill in time to wait it out in the main house, staining
their tongues day-glo with bright popsicles, riding out the storm
in the cool basement gloom. It was the first time we were alone.

Your shoes scratched across the plywood floor. I looked down at the
dirt on my own shins and feet, skin brown from playing hours and hours
in summer fields. You touched me with no trepidation, fingertips so light
with sweetness, I came to you as fearlessly as the calf whose leg had snapped
in Sully’s field, whose mother had left it for dead. Somehow she knew you
would help her. Somehow I knew the same was true for me. I tasted
your scent when you kissed me, holding on in grey fragmented
light like this was the last moment it would ever come so easily
to either of us, that it would end with the sudden force
of the rain as quickly as it had begun.

by Laura Levesque

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 18, July 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Madison Square Tableau — Joseph Harker

Madison Square Tableau
—(a helix sestina)

And here’s Fifth Avenue on a Friday: hollow,
rings like a church bell of bone. Pumps-and-skirt ladies
weaving with Japanese tourists and boys with stains
on their knees, the drifter calling out, Please, please,
with a cup full of quarters and dreams. Who can tell
one face from another? There isn’t any sun

ringing the towers with light. This tourist, with his son
on his shoulders, lifts his camera, a long hollow
one. He snaps the Flatiron, heads for Gershwin Hotel,
with hipster trainees past his feet, here to lay these
weavings on a quilt and shout, Art For Sale. Their pleas
and craftwork move no one. Passing taxis leave stains

on the sidewalk. The day wears on, trades disdains
with disappointments, the slow fathomless waltz un-
ending, and always the drifter’s calls of Please, please,
weave in the crowd. Nobody stops to say hello.
One drops a dime: fixed-gaze woman, Midtown lady,
ring on her finger. Art For Sale. One could foretell

with certainty her path: recon, business intel,
weaving through the land of Silk and Money. What stains
ring the soul of such a proper face? The lady’s
one of those who crowns herself with the midday sun
and thinks nothing of the moon. Polishes her halo
on her sleeve. Stalks away. She has no time for pleas,

weaving as quickly as that. Art for Sale. Please, please.
One boy passes, pink mohawk, post-punk (you can tell),
on Broadway. Snags some fags: ten bucks and a hallo,
and peels back the cellophane. He’s got nicotine stains
ringing in his teeth: but knows how to catch the sun
with his hands, knows how to reach up, pull down, lay the

one next to the other, quiets the hipster ladies
and shakes the gold Indian-head box. He whispers please
with a lover’s deepness. Cellophane glints with sun
rings, sun pools, sun eddies, breaks the sky: go and tell
on the mountains, hills, penthouse floors, here the cloud stains
weaving the Earth were bleached away. For a hollow

minute, the ladies paused on the pavement, and sun
knew city, stained its weaves against that hallow face,
ringed with one forever light. Tell it true. Please. Please.

by Joseph Harker

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 22, July 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim