Editor’s Note: The human ability to create a word for every emotion never fails to impress, as this sweet poem demonstrates. (Waldeinsamkeit: (poetic) woodland solitude; the feeling of solitude in the woods)
slips from my wet hand,
cracks in two at the bottom
of the empty sink.
No favorite. I have
eleven others like it,
but still my eyes well
good thing broken this season.
Outside, the wind howls.
by Jo Angela Edwins
Editor’s note: The haiku stanzas of this poem blend strict syllable counts with the freedom of imagery. The last line closes the poem by gluing all the broken pieces together.
Untamed, your modest April limbs can lead
to pies and heady ciders, dumplings shaped
to give the blush to Johnny Appleseed.
Your fame proceeds by way of bees who shed
your pollen yard by yard, a profligate
procession as the Fall from Eden tours
midsummer’s eve. When you play hard to get
the future’s caught up in your suckers, whorls,
and water sprouts—your fruit diverted by
ambition. That’s OK, we’ve all been led
astray chasing some sun, some destiny
prolonged that keeps us from the one given
today. Fresh underfoot. That keeps us strange
in our own skin. Wondering if we can change.
by Ed Granger
Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s ode to the apple tree elevates the simplicity of the tree and its fruit from pie to philosophy.
It’s more than just the melting snow,
the woodcocks on the radio,
it’s the sleep lost, the daylight saved,
the potholes waiting to be paved,
the peeping frogs, the courting swans,
hungry squirrels ploughing the lawns,
the crocus bloom, narcissus leaf,
maples oozing sappy grief,
the warming air, the muddy earth,
the messy business of rebirth.
by Martin Rocek
Editor’s Note: Spring is coming in this part of the world, and this delightful poem skillfully details its messy inevitability.
Poet’s Note: Here is a link to the radio show referred to within the poem.
We come—the vultures of old houses—
Circling through grass and knee-high clouds of weed
To stare with eyes jeweled in vulture greed
Upon a corpse of battered rotten wood.
We tear at nails with the talons of our hands
And gorge our pockets with their rusty shapes.
You taste the woodwork, I sample the stairs,
While another simply waits—expectant—stands
Before a half-dead row of cedars that
Mark an already buried path. They will speak,
We say, if wind blows. Reluctant vultures,
Hungry for a trace of wind, the faintest creak
Of wooden voice or moan. And these dead walls,
Oppressed by breathless wind and vulture calls.
by Laura Rutland
Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim
The decades creep, then—suddenly—rush by,
like sand you try to hold, until a storm
blows through and sends it, scattered, toward the sky.
The breeze upon your skin is not as warm,
and the tides approach too fast. You walk the path
you always walked, but it doesn’t feel the same.
You take the one you think might lead to truth,
you search the sand and hope to see your name.
But we are all like waves—-part of the ocean;
we touch the shore, then get pulled back just when
we think we have our footing. Then our passion
to have it make sense drags us back again.
Like all the other waves, we must recede,
and trust the ocean’s wild, capricious speed.
Editor’s Note: This Shakespearean sonnet speaks of the human condition via metaphor because what else could possibly encompass the vagaries of life?
—after the painting by Alex Colville
His wife asked him to listen, so he does—
his straight-backed chair encouraging attention
as she plays Brahms. He can’t say when it was
she last made this request; they hardly mention
their private interests to each other now,
so he’s a little baffled. But he sits
respectfully, while marveling at how
the dog naps right through all the noisy bits,
snout pointed at the baby grand. Is this
the “living” called for by this room—this hour
of patient joylessness, this fear he’ll miss
something that he should love? Brahms has no power
to move him. Though his wife plays earnestly,
the notes only confound him. So does she.
by Jean L. Kreiling
Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet depicts a relationship of resignation delicately paired with love that has grown comfortable, even if the chair in which the speaker sits is not. Please click through to see the painting via the link.
Mid-fifties London, the world outside is spinning
from ration books to free love, rock and roll.
The condemned prisoner, not long out of school,
is listening to a radio show and winning
another game of cards. He never loses,
indulged as some sick child who’ll never mend,
no lost games or angry words offend
his last unraveling days. He chooses
tomorrow’s meal. The chaplain comes to call
and softly talk his sins away. He walks
one final time across the withered stalks
of winter grass, beneath the high stone wall,
hearing the city going by outside. He sleeps
one last time, or tries to sleep, and must
have drifted off somehow because a burst
of voices wake him. The hurried breakfast creeps
with dreadful slowness. Calming words are spoken
by the guards. A door he never knew
about slips open. The hangman and his two
assistants come in on silent feet. He’s taken
by the elbows, half lifted off the ground,
and glided backwards through the waiting door,
a hood pushed on his head, and up the four
steps to the wooden platform. He hears the sound
of birds begin to wake, feels something lop
soft round his neck, then hears a muffled prayer
go speeding past his face, then the rush of air
as breath leaves him behind, the final drop.
by Ciaran Parkes
Editor’s Note: This poem is both shocking and beautifully written. The rhyme and meter unobtrusively hold the narrative together until the ending creeps up and stuns the reader at the very end.
On this tragic night when articles died
Few people noticed and nobody cried,
But as morning slowly got on its way,
Linguistic skies turned depressingly grey.
Words stuck in throats, sentences stumbled,
Grammar growled at syntax, idioms grumbled,
So that by time of evening floss
Mouths got sour with taste of loss.
“Oh, never mind,” polyglots said.
“Who cares if article creatures are dead.
Latin or Russian don’t deal with this scum.
Let’s conjure declensions — it’s gonna be fun.”
They started declining, but linguists prevailed,
“We’ve still got word order. You should be ashamed!”
Yet some shady writers were openly thrilled,
“No articles? Fine — less darlings to kill.”
As tensions grew higher, police intervened.
Declension leftovers were urgently cleaned.
Emergency measures strongly advised
To use “one” and “this” from strategic supplies.
And so life continued, largely unblemished.
Only scientists wondered why articles vanished.
Theories flourished, brilliant and lame,
But somehow nothing was ever quite same.
by Irena Pasvinter, first published in Slink Chunk Press
Editor’s Note: This delightful poem employs personification, meter, and rhyme to convey a clever story about grammar and linguistics. Writers find this sort of thing highly amusing.
I’m old, but I was glad to move my den.
My humans made my bed next to the fire—
a comfort on these winter mornings when
The South Lawn doesn’t beckon, and the choir
of shutter-clicks and shouted questions wear
me down. These days I run my best in dreams;
let Major ’s woofing end up on the air.
This good boy understands that all regimes
begin and then they end. You humans choose
your dogs and cats and Presidents, and put
them in this house to charm the world—or snooze,
like me, the dog who didn’t break Joe’s foot.
Real wisdom’s seldom something loud and fleet.
An old dog knows the fireside is sweet.
Editor’s Note: Doggie wisdom is always more intelligible than the blather humans tell each other.