Skip down the ladder from the loft
where yesterday’s last feverish kiss
of heat mothered you overnight.
Wrench open the stove door screeching
like an old iron safe, embers banked
in one corner like dreams awaiting
their next breath. You’re here, dead center
of nowhere, Nova Scotia. You came expecting
insight of some kind. You were mistaken.
The molten seethe of pine logs as they snap
latent sap up the black iron pipe
back into these baffling woods
tells you nothing. Dreams of your father
alive again, upstairs, shaving,
have followed you here. Of course
you told him you loved him,
even through purple lesions as he
whispered something about a Jesus
he’d never believed in. Feed brittle bits
of moss to the feeble orange glow, scraped
from the roof so they won’t claim renegade
sparks. Finesse the vents for a sense
of control. Your coffee is barely potable.
Your father was rarely approachable.
Lace up your boots, head out. Your father
was killed because he tried to pound
a square-peg self into this life until
his round-peg 9-to-5 metastasized. You
came here seeking liberation, found
this new routine. Today, maybe hike
to the logging camp where saws
weep dry crocodile tears. Stay available.
Reconcile yourself to this place.
from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 29, 2017 — by Ed Granger
photo by Christine Klocek-Lim
You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.
You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.
Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.
by Steve Deutsch, first published in Weatherings.
Editor’s Note: The title in this poem serves up multiple meanings to the reader, in keeping with the narrative’s surprising imagery.
In a Taxi from de Gaulle
This morning the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
presents to the highway a century’s grime.
It hemorrhages clouds from a cold Sacred Heart
to color the city of Ingres and Descartes
a boulevard gray. In the interest of time
this morning, the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
speaks not of its grand contribution to art,
but more of its neighborhood’s canvas of crime.
The hemorrhage of cloud from its cold Sacred Heart
calls forward the spirit of Camus and Sartre—
the pipe smoke that wanders and couplets that rhyme.
Of mourning, the plaster-white dome of Montmartre,
of man in the city and man set apart.
A neutralized palette of carbon and lime
is hemorrhaging clouds from the cold Sacred Heart
to vistas bequeathed by a third Bonaparte,
on steps of the Commune, the pilgrim, the mime.
This morning the plaster-white dome of Montmartre
bleeds into the clouds from a cold Sacred Heart.
Paris, October 3, 2010
by Rick Mullin
Editor’s Note: This villanelle escapes the usual recursive spiral of repetition with carefully chosen imagery.
Bird Bareback on a Horse, Route 413
Usually slow as February, this one-lane road lets us
clip along today as if it doesn’t want to give any notice
to the soft haze of early May, the scent of newborn grass
as potent as it ever was when school terms wound down,
spring jackets came unstored and adolescence bore
mysterious urgings. A farmer rocks in his high John Deere
as his horses trot from the electric fence and we take turns
at a four-way stop. A young robin lights on a grazing
palamino’s back, rides easy as the horse sways and bows
to a buttercup breakfast; senses it’s safe here
the way once, as we watched the morning sky, a swallow
hopped to the welcoming twig of your index finger,
twitched its feathered head and lingered, scouting for kin,
just as if the laws of Eden were still intact.
by Bernadette McBride
Editor’s Note: For those of us who live in the rolling, verdant farms of Pennsylvania, this poem resonates with its quiet, beautiful imagery.
It is dark…you are unable to see
the cloudy mirror
a troubled lagoon makes it worse.
The lipstick unsteadily applied
in shakes and quivers, smears,
not a description or a noun,
no, this is a verb, all movement
that bleeds tropical,
a pride of Barbados,
a hand-sized hibiscus
across your lips
marking them as reckless
to give kisses, to retort or purse.
You could use some parchment,
a tissue, to blot the hemorrhage,
this glide of paraben and balm
beyond glib that comes from a tube
with its counterclockwise twist
sharing the motion of the next storm.
by Gina Ferrara
Gina on Facebook
Editor’s Note: The grammatical wordplay in this poem sets the scene, but the imagery carries it into disturbing motion.
A Cottage in Sag Harbor
My mother showed me the photo,
the cottage, the sea, the shore
and told me we needed to go—
away from here, and him,
and everything that was going wrong.
It would be best for us all
and, she swore, it would be just a while,
maybe two weeks, a month, or the summer
if we liked. I could call it a vacation,
if my friends should ask, though I knew they would know.
And it’s nice out there and cool with a breeze
and we’d take a bus and bring only what we need.
My kid brother would thrive in the sun, the sand–
and even if not, we’d have each other,
and Dad will be fine,
he knows how to care for himself—
he can open a can of soup and make eggs.
I looked at my father, dead asleep
on the floor, and told her–
till then, the hardest thing I’d ever said–
Looks nice, Mom,
but I’m staying here with him.
by Alan Walowitz
Editor’s Note: The last two lines in this poem carry the entire thing from nostalgia into purpose.
We are past the gestures encouraged
by magazines and morning talk show hosts.
I clean the dirt from your index finger
while we drive silently to a doctor’s appointment
after an argument that neither of us won,
unwinnable. You sigh in pleasure while driving us.
I inhale your sweet garlic breath,
blink my eyes clean, swallow back the remains
of tears I could cry. There is no need.
We separate our clasped hands in order to open
our separate doors. The morning dew reveals
footpaths of others across the grass, hurrying.
We take the sidewalk’s right-angles, turning by heart
in unison, although we have not been exactly here before.
by Katie Kalisz
by Katie Kalisz
Editor’s Note: This poem is perfect.