Abiding Winter by Risa Denenberg

Abiding Winter

How we made it through another winter
is not the question. It’s not even an answer
since one of us was left behind in winter.

In Spring, in buoyancy, you asked a question.
Cups stood their ground between us, tea and coffee.
You wished to be the answer to your question.

If winter comes again and yet another,
a darkling season full of melancholy. The yanking
of my soul back to its gutter, that other

place where questions have no answers,
and answers only placate. It takes rafters
of steadfast faith, or mettle, to seek answers.

Truth is brutal. So much we can’t recover,
years I’ve begged for you to wait for Spring to bloom,
living in despair beside each other, and another

stormy season while we tussle for an answer
that is a coda to the sum of all of life’s bother.
I’ve learned to hold my tongue, to question
nothing. Questions are another sort of winter.

by Risa Denenberg

Guest Editor’s Note: The sonics, especially the consonance, create a pleasing effect when we hear this one.  In no small part to the final line, this may be the best villanelle we’ll see this year.

Please welcome Guest Editor Earl Gray from March 20-March 24, 2017.

Wings of Pain by Arjun Dahal

Wings of Pain

Rooted memories, Slumberless brain
Insomniac hours, profound insanity.
The curse it’s casted in my veins,
Yes, I can bleed till the eternity.

Insomniac hours, profound insanity.
Soberness, bold and strong it reigns.
Yes, I can bleed till the eternity,
For all these years, inked in your name.

Soberness, bold and strong, it reigns.
Surreal day dreams and the hurling rain.
For all these years, inked in your name,
Now at bliss, flying with the wings of pain.

Surreal day dreams, and the hurling rain,
Sorry Angels, I don’t wanna go home.
Now at bliss, flying with the wings of pain
The attempt though vain, but I can’t leave her alone.

Sorry Angels, I don’t wanna go home,
Insomniac hours, profound insanity.
The attempt though vain, but I can’t leave her alone,
Yes, I can bleed till the eternity.

by Arjun Dahal

Guest Editor’s Note: The glose (or “glosa”) is a difficult Spanish form: a “cabeza” or “head” stanza from which a line will be taken in all subsequent (“texte”) stanzas. The abstractions and inversions could be jarring to a modern audience but may be entirely appropriate here.

Please welcome Guest Editor Earl Gray from March 20-March 24, 2017.

March by Richard Meyer


The woods exhale a mist,
hillsides catch the sun.
Beneath its pitted crust
a creek begins to run.

Along a drifted hedge
girdled branches show
where hungry rabbits fed
when it was twelve below.

On top the backyard shed
a ridge of tattered snow
dissolves around its edge
and takes the melting slow.

The brittle sheet of ice
puddled beneath a spout
thaws and freezes twice
before the weekend’s out.

Naked trees cast down
a tracery of shade
across a patchwork yard
mottled white and brown.

The ground is working hard
to come back from the dead
and soften for the spade
that turns a garden bed.

by Richard Meyer, first published in Orbital Paths.

Guest Editor’s Note: It is difficult to manage delicacy in iambic trimeter, but Richard has done so here. The assonance is playful, especially the long “ee” sounds in each line of the fourth stanza.

Please welcome Guest Editor Earl Gray from March 20-March 24, 2017.

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (Sargent) by Susan de Sola

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (Sargent)

What had they caught? As if those Japanese lanterns glowing
pink and teal were full of fireflies or glow worms.

The girls’ black boots and stockings tread on the uncut grasses
and wildflowers and fortuitous lilies.

They stir with sticks, as if whirling fireflies to generate light,
a small buzz of protest ricochets against the paper prison.

Just two girls amid the profusion of fires and flowers,
their four feet, four hands, in white butterfly casings.

A girl myself, I stared long at this painting, trying to gather
its meaning, the mystery of its technology, the alluring toy they had.

Now, if a Sargent, I’d prefer a grande dame, monumental, frontal,
but here are his ladies in the making, making the light

lighting up their faces, heads tilted down, absorbed, not yet inclined
to let their faces take on the painter’s paint.

And very far away, on a Japanese bay, a thousand lanterns rattle,
the celebration unknown in England, where girls toy with souvenirs

hoping to coax fire from paper, heedless of lilies and carnations,
while their black boots stamp down the garden grasses and blooms,

and the white arms of the girls clasp whole globes, spinning out the light.

by Susan de Sola, first published in Ambit.

Guest Editor’s Note: The rhythms here are an intoxicating blend of iambs and occasional cretics with delicate alliteration and assonance throughout. It might not bring down the house as a performance piece but as spoken words the experience is mesmerizing.

Please welcome Guest Editor Earl Gray from March 20-March 24, 2017.

From the archives – Stars Fall, Doors Open by Eleanor Lerman

Stars Fall, Doors Open

Spring, summer. Oh come again
Lay wide open the bright new world
then close it up with flowers
if only for one more season
Why not? I have lived long enough to be
sentimental. To be permitted to awaken

in June, rested, ready, alive. Oh come again:
days when the sun lives like a friend and
there is always more. See the door that has

been left open to the house on the path by
the river: yes, there is always more. I remember
it so and I demand that it be returned to me

Though of course, somewhere beyond the sky
a force to be reckoned with clocks in
and reads the notes that were left behind

An eyebrow is raised, a finger is lifted,
which puts into play unimaginable forces
I imagine them anyway. Night falls, stars fall

This is all real now and I know it
Make time stop is not one of the spells
that has been cast upon me but others have

I will open my book now and I
will read them. Stars fall. Doors open
Away, away

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 17, 2016 — by Eleanor Lerman

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Hysteria by T. S. Eliot



As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: “If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden…” I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

The Miles Before Sleep by Martin Willitts Jr.

The Miles Before Sleep

I did something hard: I stared at my mother
on a ventilator, lungs working overtime.
The end was in her sight, the shortening miles
before she could pull over and rest.

Her eyes were begging, make it end.
I looked into her eyes, trying to pull her back,
until I saw she wanted to drown
in silence. She had provided birth, and now
she craved death like it was a candy bar.

She was evaporating into her skin like a prayer,
fingers on a rosary, her road map
indicating miles to go before arriving.

I didn’t look away from observing death.
There is no shame in dying, no dishonor
in remorse, no journey without someone looking back.
She gazed straight into the nowhere, terrorized
at what was next. Religion had warned her
about heaven and hell, simple sins
leading to confession booths, scabbing the knees.

I began talking to her, mundane to important words,
chattering like a magpie. She was heading into Somewhere
and my voice might reassure her, telling her it was alright,
she could leave, I would be fine.

I have seen the eyes of surrender
as a field medic in Vietnam. It is not explosive
as a minefield, it is not zipped silent in a body bag,
it is not always gory, but always the eyes
are unable to say what they wanted to say.
When they are doped up on morphine, they can’t speak,
can’t name their fear. Sad eyes, seen-it-all eyes,
tired-of-battlefields or common-problems eyes,
the same eyes needing comfort.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The conversational tone of this poem gives the reader the sense that she is listening to a friend describing the indescribable.