Goose Talk by John W. Steele

Goose Talk

Cacophonies of geese derail my thoughts.
I stop and turn to look, approach the shoreline,
listen: many voices, intonations,
calls. Some glide together, murmuring.
Can’t make sense of what they’re saying. Others
synchronize their clamor, pick up speed,
flap and splash their way across the pond,
lift off as one, their wings the sound of wind.

I try to join the party, imitate
the chatter of those left behind,
but they ignore me. Suddenly self-conscious
(honking like a goose is not in fashion)
I turn to look. She’s looking at her phone.
I stand between two worlds… alone.

by John W. Steele

Editor’s note: The unconventional enjambment employed throughout this blank verse sonnet puts the reader off-kilter, skillfully foreshadowing the narrator’s emotions in the closing lines.

Australian Crawl by Woody Long (repost)

Australian Crawl

In time out of time, in night of endless night,
she moves through dark waters toward the light
beside the landing far across the lake.

Insistent rhythm, alternating rhyme
of left and right arms driven, beating time
at steady measured metronomic rate,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

In silent running under a sea of stars,
by dead reckoning and distant light she steers
a constant course, her bearing true and straight.

Bright light at the landing, yellow white
incandescent against the night,
black waters cold and long, the hour late,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

by Woody Long

Editor’s note: This poem’s sonics are steady and measured, creating with words the meditative zone that every cardio addict continually strives to achieve.

[This poem has been reposted with the correct formatting. Please accept my apologies for the errors in the previous iteration.]

Australian Crawl by Woody Long

Australian Crawl

In time out of time, in night of endless night,
she moves through dark waters toward the light
beside the landing far across the lake.

Insistent rhythm, alternating rhyme
of left and right arms driven, beating time
at steady measured metronomic rate,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

In silent running under a sea of stars,
by dead reckoning and distant light she steers
a constant course, her bearing true and straight.

Bright light at the landing, yellow white
incandescent against the night,
black waters cold and long, the hour late,
strong Australian crawl, luminescent wake.

by Woody Long

Editor’s note: This poem’s sonics are steady and measured, creating with words the meditative zone that every cardio addict continually strives to achieve.

Overnighter by Phil Huffy

Overnighter

In sleep she opens up her battered case
and finds within that rugged portmanteau
dark recollections years cannot efface,
although the waking mind has let them go.

Behind those dormant eyes her thoughts compete
to artfully assort and so define
conundrums with most answers incomplete
to which she does not consciously incline.

And when she stirs, resurgent as the day
and life resumes with rest obliquely got,
in truth, some things she thinks are packed away
are carried in the heart as much as not.

And so to dream can grant benign surcease,
permitting her to rise and go in peace.

by Phil Huffy, first published in Pangolin

Editor’s Note: The stellar iambic pentameter and rhymes of this sonnet perfectly support the extended metaphor introduced in the first stanza.

Scandal by Barbara Lydecker Crane

Scandal
Madame X, by John Singer Sargent, Paris, 1843-4

At last, when she allowed me to depict her,
this married beauty linked to love affairs,
the critics brayed I’d broken every stricture–
her brazen stance, décolleté, her air
aloof–as if with scorn, her head is turned
aside. She flaunts herself and yet withdraws,
a self-preservation I have learned.
Beyond this daring portrait, did I cause
reproof for what in me I must conceal?
Despite the furor, I did not take this out
of public view. The work is vital, real–
and over time, its scandal gave me clout:
what once made Paris critics blanch and fret
now flaunts its beauty at the New York Met.

by Barbara Lydecker Crane, first published in Think

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet gives voice to the artist and art history simultaneously, with impressively rhymed lines. Also, if you’ve never seen this painting at the Met, I highly recommend it. It’s luminous in person.

From the archives – Transfer of Power by Rick Mullin

Transfer of Power

It’s only natural, our hearts attuned
to reconciliation, that a great divide
would bleed into its center as the wound
reverts to scar on the resilient hide.
There are the massacre and Pentecost.
The fumes of war, the bright tongue of the dove.
Given ample rope, we’d hang ourselves,
but our imagination casts above
the rafters and the heavy attic shelves
on which our bound philosophies are tossed.
There comes a desperate encounter, fraught
with animal ferocity, a hand
extended where a battle has been fought
to one who rises from the bloody sand
already overwhelmed. Already lost.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 21, 2016 — by Rick Mullin

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – A Thanksgiving Anthem, by William Billings by Christine Potter

A Thanksgiving Anthem, by William Billings

Ye dragons, whose contagious breath
People the corridors of death
Change your dire hissings into heavenly song
And praise your maker with your forked tongues
—William Billings, 1794 – (a paraphrase of Psalm 148)

For-ked, with two syllables, and six or eight
sixteenth notes on “for”. Repeatedly. For
measure after measure. Breath control,
says my husband. He reminds me it was

my idea our choir sing this anthem. It’s what
I deserve for having cocktails with him and
a Sacred Harp CD. William Billings, leather
tanner, street sweeper, composer, missing

an eye, one leg shorter than the other, loved
dragons. Hissing dragons, especially, because
he could win even them. So what if they
smelled bad and King James gives them just

one word in Psalm 148? Billings turned his
anthem into dragons, turned his whole choir
into dragons, turned choirs into dragons two
hundred and twenty years into the future.

And because of his love, the dragons were
grateful. They unfolded their napkins and
ate turkey and Indian Pudding. Make sure
you hit the “s” in “hissings”, my husband says:

Hissssingss! Thus instructed, our lizard-like
scales include the whole world, as they were
intended to. See? The dragons are carrying
everyone’s plates to the kitchen sink. Alleluia!

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 26, 2015 — by Christine Potter

Thé Dansant, 1895 by Mitchell Geller

Thé Dansant, 1895

The crisp eroticism of the waltz
is infinitely sexier to me,
(although admittedly inclined to schmaltz)
than tangos from the Argentine could be.
The strong 3/4 of Lehár and of Strauss—
libido under bombazine and lace:
tumescent tunes—unlikely that they’d dowse
the flames that flush décolleté and face.
A final sweep around the ballroom floor—
the swelling horns, the throbbing of the strings.
A dance-card filled: no room for any more,
and febrile words that make a heart grow wings.
Her breathlessness required smelling salts—
I blame the man, the music and the waltz.

2004

by Mitchell Geller

Editor’s Note: As a lifelong reader and writer of romance novels, an amateur ballroom dancer, and a lover of classical music, this sonnet is an absolute delight to read.

Dancing Zuihitsu by Andrena Zawinski

Dancing Zuihitsu

The lone baleen circles and circles, water sprite at home
in the lagoon off the bay, having lost her way North.
So thin, so weak, her knob head rising every minute
to catch a breath.

I stand waiting for her breach, for fins to slap the surface
sheen, for a burst of blowhole spray. I am afraid she may
beach, join other ghosts hugging the breast of the coast,
language of grief upon me even before the loss.

I daydream dancing at water’s edge, feet slippered in sand,
balancing en pointe between sea and sky, ocean spray
joining in on the buoy’s song.

Sun is about to set itself down as day begins to blur, nosy
moon poking its nose through scattering clouds.

A train sounds its horn across the distant square. A car alarm
goes unheeded at the curb. Rippling waves lap the shore,
lick the weathered dock.

The whale rises again and again, slaps, sprays, circles,
circles, and circles yet again.

Butterflies flirt milkweed. Honey bees buzz poppies.
Their wings, their perpetual evanescence, a performance
in pirouettes skittering off stage behind drawn curtains
ballooning in day’s last breath of wind.

by Andrena Zawinski, first appeared in Drifting Sands (Origami Poems Project microchap)

Editor’s Note: Zuihitsu is a Japanese genre that loosely connects imagery and fragments, and this poem holds true to that idea. Each stanza exists on its own, but it isn’t until the reader reaches the end that the resonance of the whole poem sounds.

From the archives – On The Turn by Jerome Betts

On The Turn

Loaded, a sunflower’s head inclines,
Petals like tarnished epaulettes.
Teasels become all curved brown spines;
The beechmast crumples on the setts.
Now leaves display first yellow stains,
The cider-apple crop thumps down
And heaped-up trailers block the lanes
With loads to crush and press in town.

A tractor’s cab shakes drops of dew
From brambles’ blackening red beads;
Flurries of gulls and rooks pursue
The ploughshare slicing under weeds;
Wild strawberries bloom, defying ice,
Death-blow the season still delays,
Though indoors now the feet of mice
Patter the tale of shortening days.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 9, 2015 — by Jerome Betts

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim