We found an unexploded mine that day by Deirdre Parkes

We found an unexploded mine that day

We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away.

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn’t ours to keep?
We found an unexploded mine that day.

There was no one there to warn us, to say
how cold the water was, how deep.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep.
We found an unexploded mine that day.

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.
We found an unexploded mine that day
and wet our feet before we ran away.

by Deirdre Parkes

Editor’s Note: This villanelle uses repetition to chilling effect—the unexploded mine feels as if it is about to explode, or has already exploded (emotionally).

Losing the Art of Love (2017) by Ralph La Rosa

Losing the Art of Love (2017)

There was a time when poets sang of love
without embarrassment, when versifiers
happy at their trade were gracious liars
in measured sonnets. They’d imitate a dove,
an owl, perhaps a dawn-drawn bird above,
who sighting human beauty soon desires
to mate his heavenly might with earthly fires
of passion: begets a paradox of love.

But tapping keys that text or tweet romantic
notes is so archaic, old-school, stilted
that songs of love, once tender or ecstatic,
are elegies about the lost or jilted.
Raving in rhyme about a love that’s new?
Postmodern ironies evaded you.

by Ralph La Rosa

Editor’s Note: This delightful sonnet pokes fun at all of us.

From the archives – What Remains by Sally Houtman

What Remains

There is a knocking in the eaves tonight,
an earthly sound that buckles over distance,
echoes through this room of straight-backed
chairs and shadows where I lie atop the blankets,
shoes and glasses on. For I know, outside,
not far beyond the darkened field and sturdy
oaks, the watchman waits, leaning on his spade.
But before he takes me, before the breathing stops
and I lay naked as when mother-born, in the shallow
end of nowhere where nothing blooms or grows
and the water is no longer blue, I tell you I will
have the final say. For these long eighty years of life
rough-cast, what have I now to show? Nothing
but to work and work, to remember what is lost,
the squandered years, the gaps I’ve muscled through.
But I tell you, at this waning hour I would tongue
the devil’s ear to have them back. For here I wait,
night on night, staring at the coal-face
of another hundred midnights, maybe more,
and I am tired. I have seen decay, the way a thing
grows fallow, goes yellow in the margins,
closing in its grief of memory, fingerprints
and breath caught between the pages and yes,
this too shall pass, they say, but what of what remains?
Am I to offer up this body, wings outstretched
and pinned, in hopes that it goes quick? Or
should I wait, and in so waiting thus prolong
the stuttering decay? I ask each sly,
unticking moment just how much more
this life can take from me—this slow
unravelling, the body doing what it will,
beginning with the hands then moving
inward, and what goes next? The eyes,
the hair and teeth and then the heart,
the lungs no longer whistling mighty sleep,
and next the mind, a’slur with words unmoored,
sounds drifting, sliding in the one good ear.
The vision blurs, fingers swell, a damp cloud
settles in the bones until at last the pulse is dimmed,
flesh chewed to pulpy marrow and flayed remains.
What more is there to say? No belligerent madness,
no crying out will stop these hours driving forward
to an elsewhere I can neither cheat nor comprehend.
And so I pour a shot, and then two more, and raise my glass,
a toast to words remembered—The cup unfilled is of no use!
because tonight it is the whiskey chorus that will turn
this grief to gladness, lift rage to exaltation—
what relief it is to slip aside this pain!

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 25, 2016 — by Sally Houtman

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Sonnet 105 by William Shakespeare

Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse to constancy confin’d,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,
Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
Fair, kind, and true, have often liv’d alone,
Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Spring Peepers by Martin J. Elster

Spring Peepers

Spring peepers trill and whistle in between
the avenue (where drivers rush toward shops),
construction site, the woods, the putting green.
No one stops to listen to these drops

of sentience small as buttercups and shrill
as piccolos. They hide amid the stalks
that rise up from a liquid eye as still
as a spyglass pointed at the equinox,

unblinking for eternity. The first
of April. The environs dance and ring
with notes from frogs who, though they’re unrehearsed,
belt out a song precisely tuned to spring.

These lusty soon-to-be inamoratos,
iconic crooning harbingers, will soon
be silent. You who ride inside your autos,
roll down the windows! Do not wait till June!

by Martin J. Elster, first published in The Centrifugal Eye.

Editor’s Note: Every year I await these frogs with great anticipation. Swerving around them on country roads at night can be quite unnerving!

Me, Tarzan by Ed Shacklee

Me, Tarzan

The camera pans from jungle to the plain:
while credits roll, we watch the plane ascend.
Young Weissmuller as Tarzan. Who was Jane?

Our hero scans the skies through clouds of pain
for her he’d fought gorillas to defend;
then, misty-eyed, the jungle from the plain,

his leafy kingdom where with might and main
he’d finally won her heart at story’s end.
He’d told her. He was Tarzan. She was Jane,

his lovely leading lady – he, her swain,
half man, half child, half ape, as Burroughs penned,
yet now he’s in the jungle, not the plane.

We’d searched for signs of intellect, in vain;
in the buff, with Cheetah for a friend,
he’d known two words, “Me, Tarzan.” Still, Jane

hoped secretly some Greystoke might remain
and show up in a sequel round the bend.
In London’s social jungle she’d explain
the finer points of Tarzan dating Jane.

by Ed Shacklee

Ed on Facebook

Editor’s Note: I watched a lot of the Tarzan television show as a girl, and this poem calls to mind the sense of delight I felt about those stories. Also, the iambic lines and rhyme in this villanelle are delicious.

Song: Go And Do It by Aaron Poochigian

Song: Go And Do It

Leap Niagara, ask a Mountie
where they keep the joie de vivre,
then cruise down to Orange County,
surf the curl and smoke some reefer.
Ride class fives in the Cascades,
water-ski the Everglades,
. . . .go, go, go
. . . .until you know
precisely where the Good Times flow.

Hitchhike through the heartland, travel
wide, acquire a taste for tillage.
Where the asphalt turns to gravel
settle down in some quaint village—
cloudy, clear or partly sunny,
your new Land of Milk and Honey
. . . .will appear
. . . .much like here
but less suburban, more sincere.

Search through endless desert places
for the perfect little spot.
When at last some plush oasis
tallies with the spa you sought,
think of me and write a letter
gloating over how much better
. . . .life is there—
. . . .I’ll still swear
we could be happy anywhere.

by Aaron Poochigian

Aaron on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem delights the ear as the rhythm and rhyme drive the reader on down through the lines. The ending is surprisingly insightful.