Interior Lives by Jane Poirier Hart

Interior Lives

All day, wandering through streets of my life as if in someone else’s
old city: brick-bound, blue-sky-capped. Each alley dead ends in foreboding.
Half-toned shadows make a constant companion. But this is better than
night dreams, my car sailing off the bridge, filling up with river water.
Fear of fervor is prickly, like sweat trying to break skin on a bone-
dry day. I flick the feeling off my shoulders, settle them down and back.
Old yoga lessons, when I believed a body could know salvation.
All that I know now is contained, here, in this kitchen: butter, sea salt.
If heat to the skillet results in some mundane miracle, is it
possible that a man and woman—or woman and woman, man, man—
redefining touch, souls resurfacing, shaking off muddy river
weeds, can make a meadow of themselves, shelter in it, unafraid of
insects there, see song in skeptical work bees share? Can any of us
see what lies past outstretched arms, a sizzling pan, coarse salt changing butter?

by Jane Poirier Hart


Editor’s Note: This poem teaches the reader what is important by asking questions, and allowing the imagery to fill in the details.

Poet’s Note: This is a “Seussian” sonnet, after the poet Diane Seuss: 14 lines, 17 syllables per line.

As Spring Greens the Walk by Devon Balwit

As Spring Greens the Walk

Spring greens the walk,
dogwood, rhododendron, cherry.
Crows sip at the clogged gutters.
Our pink youth returns as in an x-ray.

Dogwood and cherry
spread like odalisques on a couch,
pink beckoning.
One presses one’s nose in, shamelessly,

as if into an odalisque, spread on a couch.
Love! Love! Awaken from sleep!
I press my nose in, shamelessly,
wet everywhere—the rain, of course.

Love! love! I awaken from sleep,
vowing not to disappoint such beauty,
wet everywhere—the rain, of course.
No more cowardice, a knight errant,

I dedicate myself to beauty,
no longer voiceless, a dawn robin.
No more evasion, this knight errant
announces her territory—Here! here!

Voice of the voiceless, the dawn robin
drowns out the crows at the gutters,
celebrating its small territory—mine! mine!—
as spring greens the walk.

by Devon Balwit

Editor’s Note: This pantoum’s delightful repetition is never tedious and always interesting, much as Spring tends to surprise us every year, despite the repeating refrain of blossoms and birds.

Abecedarian for Little Brothers at the Border by Theresa Senato Edwards & Lori Schreiner

Abecedarian for Little Brothers at the Border
—in response to Lori Schreiner’s painting “We Have Each Other”

all light, those
brothers, ages 3 and 4,
carry each other
don’t dismiss their bravery
every step is theirs, every
fraction of their stride
gives hope to each refugee they pass
hate is nowhere, yet
it’s everywhere
just like survival
kicking wind
latching onto each other,
momma so far away in the
oh, little boys
pink beneath your small shoes
quiet walking
residents to those awful borders
sunlight gold
traces one elbow, another’s head
unusually bright like a turban
voices magenta
where painting condemns
xenophobe, ignites
young brothers,

by Theresa Senato Edwards. Painting by Lori Schreiner.

Painting in response to Todd Heisler’s NYT’s photo.

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic poem’s spare imagery is just enough to convey both hope and horror.

Spring in the Clearing by Shannon Lodoen

Spring in the Clearing

Beneath a brooding sky, behold:
In the clearing, Spring unfolds!

The mighty clouds send forth their ranks
Overflowing streams and banks

The sapling trees with greening shoots
Sag with waterlogged roots

The curling ferns unfurl their heads
Rising from their earthen beds

The buttercups thrust forth their blooms
Revived again from winter tombs

The rabbits in the dew-dropped grass
Shudder as the foxes pass

The newborn bluebirds spread their wings
Crying while their mother sings

The spider spins its dainty thread
To shroud the bodies of the dead

These living links, this fragile chain:
All signs that Spring has come again.

by Shannon Lodoen

Editor’s Note: Every once in a while we need a sweet, gentle poem to ring in the season.

From the archives – Left Eye — Arthur Leung

Left Eye

Gong strikes, you wait there, East Gate,
Wild wings of moths fall from the pailou.
Your crimson silk, streaming hair lead my way
Through the lotus pond where cold owls gather.

Wild wings of moths fall from the pailou
Blasting open four rows of abandoned lanterns
Through the lotus pond where cold owls gather.
Flash of a second, your right eye meets my left.

Blasting open four rows of abandoned lanterns,
You show me the wide crystal of waking dragon.
Flash of a second, your right eye meets my left,
Across the back gate night wind giggles.

You show me the wide crystal of waking dragon,
Your crimson silk, streaming hair lead my way.
Across the back gate night wind giggles
And the gong strikes, you wait there, East Gate.

by Arthur Leung

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

. . .a distance / not yet thought of by Ed Hack

. . .a distance / not yet thought of
—Norman MacCaig

Inside the light, beyond the wind, far past
a child on a bike whose joy is go
and go and go, are distances that last
as long as hope, the only prayer we know.
No unbelievers in the crowd, logic-
ians in the anteroom. No saints to
sanctify a minute’s grace. No magic fish
to feed a crowd, for everything is new,
and that’s enough. There is no argument
or policy, diplomacy or war.
What’s there is one long road whose sole intent
is what-comes-next, an ocean or a star.
The only mantra is a child’s laugh,
which lasts because it simply cannot last.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s graceful meter and slant rhymes beautifully frame the sentiment within—a child’s joy is both ephemeral and priceless.

From the archives – Year of the Four Farewells — Faith Watson

Year of the Four Farewells

empty nest
a duck on the pond
counts to six

behind fireflies
her feet will stay
green until morning

leaves drop heavy
through cold mist
pasting walks and windows

ice on the train tracks
surrounded by suits
and no one he loves

by Faith Watson

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Winter In The Soul by Ed Hack

Winter In The Soul

The birds are singing in an afternoon
as green as emeralds from days of rain.
The sun lets go, the light a vast balloon
that lifts the eye, the world become a flame
that quickly dims. An outburst, nothing more,
as silvered-white and gray resume, the spring’s
new palette for a time of bloody war.
And yet, and yet, some birds begin to sing
their sweet, brief songs, two notes or three. They pause.
they start again. And much it grieved my heart
to think / What man has made of man. . . . What cause
but madness, evil playing its old part?
What is this ice within the human soul
that hates, that kills, that does what it is told?

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: Wordsworth said it first, but this poem’s mourning of human folly (even as spring arises) serves to emphasize the everlasting futility of “bloody war.” 

From the archives – Birth Song — Dennis Greene

Birth Song

Somewhere beyond the reach of memory
and wet with life and heat and sweat and sex,
he touched the moon’s dark deep fallopian tubes,
and shaped them with his love and thrusting hips;

and I became and fell through to the womb,
and through the womb into the blood-bright day
a puling mewling puking bloody mess
with Tuesday’s grace, and blood dried on my face.

And all that leaves to talk about is life
the cleaning up, the sending on your way
the going left and right and wrong and straight,
the shapes within the shapes within the shape.

This is the legend of my birth, my life,
I learnt it—and then taught myself belief.

by Dennis Greene

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Abecedarian With Chickadee, With Sharp-Shinned Hawk by Ronda Piszk Broatch

Abecedarian With Chickadee, With Sharp-Shinned Hawk

A chickadee on the trellis
begs into its reflection, knows it
can arouse a body still

drowsy with clouds to fill two feeders
empty of seed. What more might it
find, say the impossible was reversed, that

glass could liquify and our tiny bird
hovering there, might finally fly
inside without colliding,

just glide between the hard particulate,
kaleidoscopic skin of silicate sand, fig
leaves and roses, a moment of magical

motion, secret passage into
new and uncharted time and space, while
on the other side of glass the cat and I,

peaceful in blankets, slowly breathe into the
quietude of a cold clear morning, vapor
rising from my mug, her exhalations

steaming the pane, scent of biscuits
teasing a little hunger to the surface. Set to
upset the status quo, chickadee sees a

vastness she means to penetrate, a
world away from sharp shinned hawk, its
xanthous eyes, to fly into the garden of

yearning, a place where black seed spills by
zillions, where my cat and I simply watch
and abide.

by Ronda Piszk Broatch

Twitter: @RondaBroatch
Instagram: @Ronda.Broatch.Photos

Editor’s Note: This poem isn’t quite narrative, and isn’t quite philosophy, but contains elements of both as the speaker muses on the nature of perspective via expertly applied imagery.