Tanka by Richard Jordan

tanka

another heart
stretched and weathered
carved in a silver birch
how many vows scar ancient trees
along this slow deep river

by Richard Jordan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richard.jordan.7106/

Editor’s Note: This poem’s central image carries the reader from the past into the future, with each word carefully chosen and placed just so on the line for the reader to contemplate in the present moment.

Flight Path by Laura Rodley

Flight Path

Nothing but pinions holding me
to this earth, the thrill of flight,
swooping, green of leaf and blue of sky,
and, oh, the landing, the taking off.

Nothing but air between each breath,
the timing chain of my heart,
the pistons of aorta chugging,
heard only through amplification;

what of my own anvils that pick up
their insistent incessant necessary thrum,
what of my own heart longing for more.

Nothing but rushing of wind between each feather,
how staying aloft is not a miracle to me
only the two-legged walking below, peering up.
I know where I am going, the longing pulls me.

Snow on my wings I keep flying.
Snow on my wings I left it too late.
Snow on my wings I huddle.
Snow on my wings I wait till morning.

What rafters above me, the bulbous clouds,
what oceans below me, the rivers, lakes,
what plenitude I devour, sumac seeds, rosehips,
what succor I keep seeking, swallowing
my own body weight ten times over.

So hot I stayed too long.
So quick the cold weather, I got confused.
So fast the frost, I spun home, too few of us,
so green the trees, saying, it’s not time yet, but it is.

So generous the wind when I do not know the word.
So swift the currents when I know nothing but flight.
So soft the clouds when I bump into them, keening,
so hard the tree branch where I spend my night.

Echos through my feathers sing me the longest song,
a breeze of chimes I’ve heard since first flight.
I huddled near my nest, looking lost on the ground,
but, in truth, I have never been lost, I can always hear you.

I have never been lost, I can always hear you,
I have never been alone, I can always hear you,
I never ceased flying, the chimes singing to me,
I can never tell you how glorious you are, my beloved.

Soon I will leave you but I don’t know when that will be.
I will take my last flight without knowing its leap.
Like my feathers, I was born with this imprint of leaving.
Like my longing that steers me, my leaving has always been before me.

I’ve been flying towards it all my life,
soaring into and through eternity since I pecked out of the egg.
And back again, I always come back, this imprint of leaving upon me.
Until I leave again, without knowing.

I know nothing of hope, but everything of flight.

by Laura Rodley

Editor’s Note: Repetition carries the reader through this poem on stanzas that feel like air currents filled with emotions. The final line says what this poem feels like, and it is, of course, all about hope. 

Leafing by Kalpita Pathak

Leafing

There is a maple
leaf on my back
step in a neighborhood
without any maple trees.
Red as a setting
sun, edges curling
up, it’s already folding
in on itself. If I try
to preserve it
in a book, it will crumble
and blow away from me.
So I leave it be.
You would love to
see this forlorn
handprint from an unknown
bough, you
with your fondness
for anomalies and nature,
but I don’t get
close to people
anymore. I won’t be
inviting you
over or sending you
a photograph
of this permanent wave
goodbye. I know
our fragile friendship
is destined to disintegrate
into dust (as they all are)
but this time it won’t be
because I pressed too hard.

by Kalpita Pathak

Editor’s Note: The best imagist poems offer concrete details and usher the reader toward clarity of thought. This finely wrought poem is an excellent modern example: it contains both clear imagery and a well-written moment of emotional resolve at the end.

The Red Wheelbarrow by Martha Deed

The Red Wheelbarrow

The old woman on Sweeney Street is shoveling loose soil from a backfilled trench snaking across her yard from the street to a wall of her house that has a white and blue sticker on it. The covered trench covers a spanking new gas line to a future gas furnace, because the 200 gallon oil tank in her basement is past its useful life. She does not wish a new tank that would outlive her and the old oil furnace which probably won’t. The woman is shoveling dirt from the trench to a red wheelbarrow that carries a tag “For Sale $15” which she tied to the barrow when she decided she was too old to use it anymore. But then, a room had to be lifted to replace the failed foundation underneath and her driveway cracked and rose to break a snowplow’s steel blade ‒ This is Buffalo ‒ and so she is using the red wheelbarrow but is leaving the tag in place just in case. She wheels the dirt to the rear of the house near the new foundation where her established raised gardens were scraped bare for new concrete, and she dumps the soil ‒ just so ‒ among rocks strewn under the windows ‒ the rocks once forming a wall ­‒ now tossed across and under the spread earth. Winter is coming. There are no bulbs for Fall planting. The barren rock garden will wait for Spring.

An old house preserved
stripped, restored ‒ an old woman
plans Spring gardens ‒ hopes

by Martha Deed

Martha on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This haibun offers the reader a glimpse into the inevitable disintegration of our space (personal, external, etc.) while also illustrating the persistence of hope.

From the archives – Falling Star — Kimberly L. Becker

Falling Star

I don’t call.
There is the time difference, yes.
The matter of other relationships, granted.
I don’t call.
Instead I make a marinade for supper—
soy sauce, sugar, juice of tangerine,
some garlic. Fresh ginger.
And the star anise.
Scent of licorice.
Delicate like the spines of a starfish.
So lovely.
I stir it in and watch
as the star sinks to the bottom of the bowl
where it lies winking: your life, your life,
what have you done with your life?
I stir it into silence,
into submission,
where it lies steeping, steeping.

by Kimberly L. Becker

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 7, September 2007

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Candy Cigarettes by Greg Watson

Candy Cigarettes

We bought them with the nickels
and pennies of our weekly allowance
at the Little General corner store,
tucked them hastily in small paper sacks
along with the crystal blue and amber jewels
of hard candy, the stale Tootsie Rolls,
Red Hots, and aptly named Jawbreakers.
We practiced looking tough, or just thoughtful,
practiced those mannered turns and gestures
of the wrist, flicking imaginary ashes
upon the ground, or into our open palms,
white sticks of sugar dangling from
the corners of our mouths as we spoke,
blew imaginary smoke rings toward
the blue shimmering sky, tapping one end
of the pack against the soft mounds
below our thumbs, the way we had seen
the grownups do. We learned to squint like
the stars of westerns and war movies,
rolled the crinkling packs into the shoulders
of our thin cotton tees, before setting off
on Big Wheels and bikes, the sand and
broken glass of housing project sidewalks
crunching beneath our wheels, toward a future
already being written for us, up there
amongst the shifting clouds.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note: This poem is richly nostalgic, so much so that even knowing the damage both cigarettes and candy can wreak, the reader can’t help but be catapulted back to the innocence of childhood.

Learning to Snorkel in Lahaina by Ken Hines

Learning to Snorkel in Lahaina

The placid surf slaps our knees. My granddaughter
plucks a clump of hair from my mask—
a mother’s touch from a pre-teen. She tells me
to sniff hard, and the mask clenches my face
like an octopus. Just lie down in the water, I hear
her say, a voice as gentle as the sea.

I push out into the waves, the snorkel reminding
me of intubation. Below, a bed of coral bristles
with Butterfly Fish in their tiny bandito masks.
They flap across the reef like solitary wings,
shower of sunlight bouncing off their scales
as they move in mysterious synchrony.

The ocean floor drops away. It’s colder now. My
breaths shiver through the plastic tube. Masks hide
or disguise, but this one marks me for what I am:
an alien, an intruder. Treading water, I strain to see
past rolling crests sloshing against my face.

But she glides on ahead of me, stroke after
measured stroke like a dancer swaying in rhythm
to her song. No longer the child I remember
she stretches her arms toward some other world,
wondrous and fraught, beyond the one I see.

by Ken Hines

Editor’s Note: This poem’s repetition of the word see (and sea) skillfully illuminates the knowledge gained and lost as we move from youth to maturity.

The Alice-World by Ed Hack

The Alice-World

I’ve come here where the water flows to see—
to see the world flow by, the sky inside
and upside-down, the shadow-world that’s free
of any trace of human mind—denied
in water’s innocence, the mirror that
it is, the Alice-world where things are real
because they are a child’s truth, the facts
imagination sees—the adults’ spiels
revealed in their grotesqueries, the whole
charade of lunatic authority
whose goal is murdering the human soul
so it obeys, yet feels that it is free.
But knows, disguised in its unquiet sleep,
where slithy toves are murdering the sheep.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet immediately upends the reader’s idea of reality, only to find at the end that the truth is possibly more ridiculous than the lies we tell ourselves (hat tip to Carroll’s Jabberwocky in the final line).

The Big Question by Kevin Ahern

The Big Question

“Rain falls down,” she said to me
“That’s very easy to see”
“It guess it’s due to gravity”

I told her she was right as rain
And I admired her little brain
But then she asked me to explain

“If rain comes falling through the air”
“And covers the ground everywhere”
“How did it got there?”

I said, “It’s very simple, lass”
“The clouds contain the liquid mass”
“And then it falls on us, en masse”

“Oh, no,” she said, her face in frown
“I understand how rain gets down”
“To the ground”

“But for it to be up in the sky”
“I do not understand why”
“The rain all got up there so high”

With that I felt a sudden sting
That sometimes comes when answering
A child who thinks you know everything

But my mind was blank, I thought, “uh oh”
I couldn’t lie, but did not know
Change the subject? Perhaps lie low?

Silence revealed my dilemma so
She said to me with eyes aglow
“That’s OK, Daddy. Mom will know”

by Kevin Ahern

Kevin on Facebook

Twitter: @ahernk1

Editor’s note: This poem’s lighthearted dialogue is a fun read right up until the last line when the child’s response wallops the reader upside the head.

Photo Calendar Preorders!

Do you enjoy the photos featured on the From the archives posts? If so, this is your chance to buy a 2023 calendar showcasing some of them. As you know, Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY is completely free to read and free to submit and always will be. However, this daily journal is entirely funded by the editor, Christine Klocek-Lim, via sales of her art and novels.

Christine is accepting preorders for her 2023 floral calendar and 2023 landscape calendar. Preorder by Wednesday, November 9 and they will arrive by xmas. Invoicing will happen once the calendars arrive. Each calendar is $35 USD with free shipping in the USA via USPS.

Each calendar is 11.5 x 8 inches and has a single top spiral. Each calendar comes signed on the cover by the artist/photographer-Christine Klocek-Lim. To view the calendars, visit this link on Christine’s website: https://christinekloceklim.com/art/

To preorder, please comment on this post OR email Christine.Klocek.Lim@gmail.com with quantity and calendar type (e.g. 2 floral and 1 landscape).

Preorders close on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.