From the archives – The Vase by Bruce Guernsey

The Vase

—For A.L., 1975-1995

May in March: our daughter’s birthday, somehow now twenty
as the crocus uncurl in their black beds, everywhere
yellow, yellow, a whole week of weather
yellow as her hair—

even the bug light on the north porch
where a moth this birthday evening, back too soon,
flaps against the glass flower,
the dust of its wings on the yellow bloom.

In the mild of this scented night, so fragile,
we walk her to her car and back to college:
seat belt on, doors locked, half a carrot cake
in a box beside her and leaning against it the vase

we found and filled with twenty daffodils
to brighten the table tonight, yellow, yellow,
yellow as the petals from its delicate neck
like wishes we’d given light to, gone in a breath.

by Bruce Guernsey

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 10, 2017

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Vultures by Laura Rutland

Vultures

We come—the vultures of old houses—
Circling through grass and knee-high clouds of weed
To stare with eyes jeweled in vulture greed
Upon a corpse of battered rotten wood.
We tear at nails with the talons of our hands
And gorge our pockets with their rusty shapes.
You taste the woodwork, I sample the stairs,
While another simply waits—expectant—stands
Before a half-dead row of cedars that
Mark an already buried path. They will speak,
We say, if wind blows. Reluctant vultures,
Hungry for a trace of wind, the faintest creak
Of wooden voice or moan. And these dead walls,
Oppressed by breathless wind and vulture calls.

by Laura Rutland

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 13, 2017

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Nightfall by Neil Flatman

Nightfall

Up here, it’s easy to imagine:
Gordian knot as slip – solved.
The writhing, somewhere
between gravity and desire
where decisions possess
infinite weight. It’s knowing
you could that draws the eye
to the pool, lights affirming
stillness through the blue.

When Martyn leapt they said
he was high, dancing, tripping,
but I think he’d lost the knack
of himself, balance, how to ride.
I could never have known
he was falling, he seemed so fixed
in place, but the ripples closed
in until they found him.

by Neil Flatman

 

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 22, 2016

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Who are you? by Mary Meriam

Who are you?

I am the unlocked door to the cellar
The cement floor and the flooded washer
The man who said I see everything
The mollusk in the seagull’s beak

The cement floor and the flooded washer
The lost mutt in a ghetto
The mollusk in the seagull’s beak
The wild unweeded garden bed

The lost mutt in a ghetto
The beach towel spread on hot sand
The wild unweeded garden bed
The long fresh nightgown slipping on

The beach towel spread on hot sand
The forest and the fiddlehead fern
The long fresh nightgown slipping on
And though you may not see me

The forest and the fiddlehead fern
Orlando and Paradise Lost
And though you may not see me
I will always wonder who you are

Orlando and Paradise Lost
The man who said I see everything
I will always wonder who you are
I am the unlocked door to the cellar

by Mary Meriam

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 9, 2015

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – February by Jean L. Kreiling

February

From leafless branches etching crooked lines
against the sky—scars coldly cut across
a bloodless cheek—some poets weave designs
of desolation, stories laced with loss.
They find in webs of winter-blackened limbs
the shapes of emptiness and elegies—
but those who see the stuff of requiems
miss what another eye obliquely sees:
the rugged grace of living filigree
that scrawls a promise on the open air,
a craggy silhouette of constancy
that tacitly rebuts boot-deep despair.
Though darkly drawn, these etchings may impart
the vital signs at winter’s still-warm heart.

by Jean L. Kreiling

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 19, 2015

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – The Kiss by Gregory Palmerino

The Kiss

Something is cast in beauty that receives
the mind and won’t let go: it seems as fine
as sunlight dappling beneath the eaves

or yellow jasmine fragrant on the vine,
and you, with florid lips and furtive eyes,
inviting me to cross that whirlwind sign;

it keeps compelling me to recognize
this look of yours, in half a measure’s time,
is only half of splendor’s sacred prize.

For music sought inside this holy rhyme,
the scent of flowers, and the taste of wine
all flee to me from Rodin’s cold sublime—

when last I tempt that spell and cross that line
then take your hand and press your lips to mine.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 21, 2017 — by Gregory Palmerino

Sculpture by Auguste Rodin courtesy of Rodin Museum

From the archives – Beauty and the Beast by Joan Kantor

Beauty and the Beast

Thick with snow
the slope behind my house
rolls its whiteness down
and over a thick sheet of ice
broken only
by shimmering black
long liquid slivers
of river
while out front
cars splash salt and sand
as fluffy drifts morph
into dirt tinged mounds
and careless plows
scrape raw brown scars
into sleeping green.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 24, 2018 — by Joan Kantor

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Prayers for Everywhere by Rachel Dacus

Prayers for Everywhere

Prayers for the volcanoes
that need garlands when they erupt
and prayers for the freeways
you never drive them the same twice,
prayers for the buds
that look like babies’ faces
as they open next week and for the blossoms
opening their soft legs to bees.

Prayers for everything the soul
must reluctantly or passionately kiss:
rain-running gutters,
a pebble in the shoe,
the silt gritty on your ocean-washed lips.

Because what is a prayer
but a laugh that can’t be formed
in letters, but only heard
in that place that, praised, lights up.
So prayers for everywhere
that needs them,

Prayers for the worms washed out
of the grass onto driveways,
prayers to step over as they swim
because you can’t pick them up
without damage. So much
of the heart can only be helped
without direct touching.

Prayers for everyone
in the throngs who need well-wishes
to suck on in their sleep
like giant glowing lollipops.
Prayers going to every restless sleeper
on this earth who needs a cool hand on the brow.
Prayers for their own sake,
prayers as beautiful as dolphins
leaping and twisting, prayers
freed from gravity’s pull
to fly glistening into the air.

By Rachel Dacus

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 6, 2015

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Painting Czeslawa Kwoka by Theresa Senato Edwards

Painting Czeslawa Kwoka

I

In Brasse’s black and white photos,
you are a young girl with a round face
dropped into a flat, gray world,
26947 sewn on a striped wardrobe,
naked beneath these numbers.

What does color bring to you?
In color you move through our minds.

In color you are a movie star: Mia Farrow—
slightly protruding upper lip, swollen bottom
forms a dense shadow to your chin.

In color you are a young woman
bleeding from within: pale skin
filters red to pink. This is the
girl you are at Auschwitz, Czeslawa.

You are not a criminal.

II

Your full color portrait
forces our reaction—
your hair is the warmest
fall in a dead winter, amber
background sparks the short, matted
bristles: adolescent questions
quickly extinguished when a scarf adds
texture, diagonal patterns, another
look of a 14-year-old prisoner.

In color you transform: we can
touch your swollen mouth, feel the
voice beneath the left side of your face,
where grays mix with pinks,
a rash of illness.

The contrast holds us.

III

In a soft color profile,
above and slightly right
of 26947, we see a tear
from your right eye spilling down,
just underneath skin transparent,
thin from a bleak setting.

We follow the contour of your
smeared mouth, slightly opened,
trace from lower lip to the
bottom of your chin:
this part of pinkish-gray flesh
appears as number 7.

This is not intentional.

IV

In color we feel the
blacks of uniformity,
harsh marks of suffering
blacken the scratched
shadows below your nostrils.

The black slit above your
gray lower lip sucks us
empty—your eyes, black
oval platters reflecting
SS soldiers and worse
within deep, gray carvings.

Black is blacker in color.

V

Painted close-up: a bright
yellow backdrop brightens
the scarf’s pattern, your hair
hidden in black and white
becomes strands of sunlight,
movement on still life.

Yellows warm your cheeks,
your forehead clear of dirt,
yellows remove the dark patch
from the tip of your nose we see
in each of Brasse’s photographs.
Yellows plunge orange,
settle on the center left of your chest.

You can breathe them in.

by Theresa Senato Edwards

from Autumn Sky Poetry 15, October 10, 2009, previously published in AdmitTwo

Paintings by Lori Schreiner.

Photo by Wilhem Brasse used with permission from the archival collection of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim.

From the archives – Let Death Come by Martin Willitts Jr.

Let Death Come
—villanelle, starting with a line from Jane Kenyon

Let evening come — I am not afraid of dying
for I have known the kindness of birds and seed.
Let trouble find someone else. I have time

to find the climbing blue flowers, trying
to talk to God. Let winds tear, let rivers recede,
let evening come — I am not afraid of dying.

None of this will succeed in denying
what I know is true: not one will impede.
Let trouble find someone else, I have time

before I die, to search for God, and find
bees hording secrets and worms for bird feed—
let evening come, I am not afraid of dying

in the winter of my life, in everlasting, crying,
searching. Death will have me, even if I plead:
Let trouble find someone else. I have time,

I have time; I can fit more love in my mind
and heart. Let the turtles try to hide in reeds,
let evening come — I am not afraid of dying.
Let trouble find someone else — I have time.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 20, 2016

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim