Bone-Chilled by Martin Willitts Jr.


These mountains were not high enough to have snowcaps
but a toddler tugged on his mother’s sleeve
as a silent plea for safety. The pond was frozen over,
although spring was coming out of its cabin,
carrying a berry-picking tin pail. The boy shivered
in his parka, back-glancing at the junipers
where the all-day bird was singing, knowing weather
was purposely fickle. His mother had pushed off
the latest attempt by another no-account guy
who had stared once too intently at his eight
year old sister. Bone-chills emanated from that man,
like a kind of mean wind blasting them in the face.
He went with his mother, searching with a group
for his sister who had run off into this direction,
into the folds of the mountains. The boy called out
in his small voice, loudly for the lost,
already dreading what he knew must be true and too late.
His mother, biting at her cold sore, seemed serene
at this same awful conclusion, holding one boot
belonging to his sister, strangely smaller,
like hope, like one blue flower in the snow-melt.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The narrative of this poem moves inexorably forward, as cold, spare imagery fills out the emotional devastation of the narrator, a child too young/old for lies.

On the Movements of Bodies by Rosemary Badcoe

On the Movements of Bodies

About the time that Newton wrote Principia
and every spinning object settled down
to orbit in its newly designated way

the dodo died. Some pig or dog or crab-eating
macaque scoffed the last surviving egg.
The hatchling would have waddled up to watch

had Isaac shown with diagrams and pantomime
how its sternum lacked the strength to let it nest
above the scrub, that gravity would grasp its bones

and dislocate the stubby wings, suck
the last remaining bulbous beak into the swamp
where motion’s laws hold evolution, paused.

by Rosemary Badcoe

Editor’s Note: This poem marries science with art, leading to one of the inescapable truths of life—death (extinction) happens.

Lascaux Horse by Ciaran Parkes

Lascaux Horse

Where are you heading to, Lascaux horse,
rust and bonfire coloured, running
across the eggshell coloured postcard?
Never mind if your legs appear too thin

to bear your weight, they were never meant to.
You were born like this, caught between the earth
and sky, under someone’s moving
fingers clutching clay and charcoal, lit

by uncertain fire light, so you seem
to move in and out of shadows, one
of Plato’s ideal creatures, not needing
anything more than this to be alive

and permanent. On the other side
of the postcard, words of love and greeting
from years ago, in some unknown hand.

by Ciaran Parkes

Editor’s Note: This poem carefully feeds images to the reader, and with each line, the ancient horse becomes more alive. It isn’t until the closing stanza that one realizes that this poem encompasses so much more than a picture of an ancient animal.

Rhinoceros Head by JR Solonche

Rhinoceros Head

He looks as though he hasn’t slept
in weeks, the brown glass eyes softly sad,
the skin beneath folded and sagged.

He wasn’t meant to be seen
from such an unnatural angle,
we down here gazing at him

up there above us on the wall.
We want to reach up and rub his chin.
We want to toss a hat onto his horn.

Sweetness, all sweetness he is,
like a great, wrinkled gray rose,
with a shark’s fin for a thorn.

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: Sometimes looking at a thing from an odd angle inspires insight. This poem’s direction at first seems simple, but the closing two lines contradict the easy first glance.

From the archives – Self Portrait With Fruit & Implement by Sara Balsom

Self Portrait With Fruit & Implement

Some things I have I wish I didn’t,
silver plates, soft oranges, birds inert and patient,
the blue dress that’s too blue, the hot aqua sky.
I used to unwrap grapes one at a time
with my tongue and teeth — that is the ugly kind
of joy I have forgotten. In the mirror, whorls
of flesh. Light appears wanting to cross-hatch
and accidentally illuminates everything.
Today, I chide myself for thinking “flesh.”
If you ask me to undress I will undress,
because what else is there to do? talk about it?
I cross my legs and put one hand in my lap.
In this equation, the other hand could hold anything —
silver, or steel. A girl was killed by the sun in a hot room
because she didn’t move. Here is me going from place to place by bus,
and now by train. In this diagram, I am something like alive.
In the room, by the curtain, I stand with one hand on my silver,
and one against my face. The passion fruit I hold
doesn’t fit this pose. Neither does the knife.
If I cut the fruit, the world comes sliding out.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 14, 2016 — by Sara Balsom

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Night Rain by Ion Corcos

Night Rain

A cat on the wet road
in a small, quiet town,
the last light fading behind mountains,
peaks covered in snow;
it does not see the car coming

like I don’t see the venom
coming from my mother, another letter
full of her old furniture
thrown from the top-floor window,
mouth like a whirlpool.
The car drives through the water, splashes
as it speeds toward the cat.

The cat, right there, is just a cat.

My mother drives, her life
a mess piled in the back.
She’s in a foreign country, no care
for the rain, or the bright mountain snow,
or the last of the winter light.

The car speeds up
on the wet road. The cat in the headlights,
lost in the dark.
The car roars away,
my mother on the wet road,
with all the things she carries.

by Ion Corcos

Twitter: @IonCorcos

Editor’s Note: Allegory drives this poem forward to its inevitable, painful conclusion.