Hallelujah This Sky by Victoria Melekian

Hallelujah This Sky

Working downtown today, clouds
in every window of the high rise
across the way: big white ones
vast enough to house God

and sweet baby Jesus, all of heaven’s
angels and saints. I’m telling you,
it’s a miracle sky, sky in a Bible,
sky so gorgeous it can fix anything

that ails you, and it’s reflected
in every single window
on all twenty-four floors of the building
across from me, a colossal glass cloud

there to behold. The attorneys drone:
question, answer, question, answer.
I take down every do you recall, isn’t it true,
pursuant to, but I want to stop

the deposition and applaud this sky.
Hallelujah this sky. Devour this sky.
Stuff myself with pure white fluffiness,
slip clouds into their transcript.

by Victoria Melekian

Editor’s Note: The central image of this poem is perfectly highlighted by the careful enjambment between stanzas which grabs the reader’s attention—not so easy to do with something as ephemeral as how clouds feel.

When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia by Robin Turner

“Picking a favorite dahlia is like going through a button box.”
—from The Old Farmers Almanac

When My Mother Forgets the Word for Dahlia

it is February. It is the last day of her 84th year,
the latest day in this ruthless unspooling of days,
of pandemic lockdown, its cruel isolation
and winter, all the gardens covered over,
all our lives fallow, fallow. When my mother forgets

the word for dahlia, tall flower as familiar to her as a daughter,
its name soft as psalm on the tongue, it is yet another day
of all the distances between us—every long year apart,
every rocky geography, every hurt forgiven and not
forgiven. And in that instant every distance opens wide

its spacious arms as every distance collapses and gathers, as dahlia waits
snug in its button box to be found, tucked just out of memory’s reach until it passes
like miracle into me, blossoming into speech— dahlia, I say through the phone
and into my mother’s frustrated silence, her solitary sorting, sorting, sorting.

I give her back the beloved, the favorite flower, the one
she knows but can no longer name. When my mother forgets
the word for dahlia, I drive in a blinding rain to the wizened women
at the nursery called Blue Moon. They will know. They will
know the flower I have come for.

by Robin Turner

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Editor’s Note: The imagery and repetition in this spectacular poem effortlessly supports the heartrending emotional narrative with dignity and a hint of the desperation felt by the speaker.

Round Pond by Kelley J. White

Round Pond

Always twilight. I pull the heavy oars
through dark water until we balance,
cool air and water, night stilling, silent,
but for the living web of insect song spun
to our skin. We could hear a fly
settle on the face of the pond, hear the fish
rise to meet it, the still circles of each rise
ringing out until each fish’s hunger met
our wooden boat and quavered back.

Night birds dipped, smooth swallows,
flickering bats; no human sound
but the shipped oars dripping and
the shirr, shirr, shirr as my father gathered
the line in his palm for the cast,
the quick run-out as the trout pulled taut,
the moonlit silver dulling in the dark creel.

My father knew each hatch, which mayflies
lived for only one night’s flight, or two,
or three, or five. He knew the larva
and the nymphs, each swimming, clinging,
crawling stage. He’d catch a chrysalis
on the net’s edge to watch the rough husk split
then dry and enter air. So many white wings.

He’d lean a moment, the lit match quick
against his young face, the cigarette cupped,
match shaken, his hands brisk to tie a leader
or untangle a knot. I wet a finger. No wind.
Moon. I lay on the bottom of the drifting
boat, rocking, palms open to stars, so many
risings, light, sound, circles, whispers of fish,
my father dim in the bow, casting and reeling in,
my whispering breath, the water gentling,
lapping, and he rowed us swiftly home.

by Kelley J. White, from After Frost (CyberWit)

Editor’s Note: The absolute stillness of the imagery in this poem is broken only by the quiet movement of life flowing out of the water and then fading back into the depths, which is a lovely way to remember someone.

From the archives – Beauty by JR Solonche

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Beauty

From my room down the hall,
I can hear the mathematics
professor getting emotional
about an equation, and I ask
myself how someone can get
so worked up about what isn’t real,
an abstraction, nothing but what?
Signs and symbols. A scribble.

Oh, I say to myself. To him
it is a poem, a formal one,
every word in place, every rhyme
perfect, every stanza exact. Poor man.
He, too, must pound the beauty deep in
with his fist. Every time. Every damn time.

by JR Solonche

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 25, 2018

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

1726 Cantata by Korie Beth Brown

1726 Cantata

I walk down the path to your house, my feet tapping
a 4/4 rhythm. The sound says goodbye.
I don’t want to hear that melody. I want you to heal,
your voice to accompany mine as we grow old together.
I stop at the end of the sidewalk. Like Lot’s wife, I turn. Your window
is dark. You lie inside, all best friend without a working liver
growing quieter and slower. Soon you will leave the orchestra.
I will be alone, my life’s chorus depleted.
It’s hard to keep focused. I want to sing a sad solo.
Others are also affected by your death and life. I hear
the rustling of leaves. The tree next to me will be here
next week, but you probably won’t.
I get in the car. I’ll stay overnight at a friend’s
whose religion tells us rejoice, you’re just shy of heaven.
I can’t mouth that tune. I would ask your opinion
but you are busy with a different threnody.

How will I keep singing by myself?

Your house recedes in the rear-view mirror, its music replaced
by the hum of the car, the swell of traffic
the changing orchestration
of life from here on out.

by Korie Beth Brown

Editor’s Note: This lament threads nostalgia and grief together into one song because letting go of a loved one is neither easy nor simple.

A Purple Poem by Praniti Gulyani

A Purple Poem

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s neck
that my father writes for her
every full moon night
instead, most poets write on paper
but my father writes on mother’s skin
she smiles, she says she doesn’t mind
says, the purple poem is truly
a thing of pride and beauty
yet, she keeps it covered, carefully
with the ends of her dupatta, shielding it
says, she’s scared of it being looked at
by the evil eye

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s hand
that father writes for her
every full-moon night
instead, most poems have words
but its a shape poem, my mother insists
sits me down before the computer
makes me look at some
but does not ask me to write one
I wonder why

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s forehead
that my father writes for her
every full-moon night
instead, it has not been written tenderly
upon the softness of paper
with a gliding quill
it has been pummeled, pushed—
slapped, and smashed
probably the way, mom punches walnuts
into the dough of our winter cake
so that the walnut stays
I think father also wishes
for this purple poem
to permanently stay

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s feet
that my father writes for her
every full-moon night
and tonight, as I reach out,
my fingers measuring the dark
ensuring my steps are silent
I tread with caution
so as to not arise her
I touch this purple poem
which she says, is a treasure—
an honor, a privilege, a boon
and even at times, a wife’s pride
her sleep-crusted eyes flicker open
she winces.

by Praniti Gulyani

Editor’s Note: The repetition of the imagery in this poem gives it an almost sing-song cadence while also emphasizing the emotional difficultly of the narrative.

From the archives – Stars Fall, Doors Open by Eleanor Lerman

Stars Fall, Doors Open

Spring, summer. Oh come again
Lay wide open the bright new world
then close it up with flowers
if only for one more season
Why not? I have lived long enough to be
sentimental. To be permitted to awaken

in June, rested, ready, alive. Oh come again:
days when the sun lives like a friend and
there is always more. See the door that has

been left open to the house on the path by
the river: yes, there is always more. I remember
it so and I demand that it be returned to me

Though of course, somewhere beyond the sky
a force to be reckoned with clocks in
and reads the notes that were left behind

An eyebrow is raised, a finger is lifted,
which puts into play unimaginable forces
I imagine them anyway. Night falls, stars fall

This is all real now and I know it
Make time stop is not one of the spells
that has been cast upon me but others have

I will open my book now and I
will read them. Stars fall. Doors open
Away, away

by Eleanor Lerman

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 17, 2016

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Whale Constellation by Greg Watson

Whale Constellation

Of all the constellations in the night sky,
my daughter and I like best
the large, benevolent whale which
has emerged from the worn and cracked
galaxy of the ceiling. We imagine
his long nightly travels, out beyond
the reaches of our dreams, where
ocean and sky become indistinguishable,
always bringing him back, calm and
sleepy-eyed in the gray-blue of morning.
We count the small shapes of stars,
still visible beneath thick layers
of paint, the years not yet erasing them.
We follow the crumbling lines
drawn by time, sometimes spotting
the shape of a snake or an old woman
cooking an oversized pot of stew.
Once, we saw a bear standing on two legs;
a bushy-tailed fox slinking through
the trees, its shadow thin as a thread.
But they are mere decoration
surrounding the body of our beloved,
making his long and sacred journey
on our behalf, slow moving and scarred
as love itself, silent in his passing,
knowing just where to find us again.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note: As anyone who loves astronomy knows, the stories of the stars begin in childhood, and this poem’s contemplative imagery illustrates the beginning of what might be a life-long passion.

Trudy and Me on the Tube by Mary MacGowan

Trudy and Me on the Tube

We had a truck tire innertube at the lake
for playing in the water. Trudy and I
were grownups with youngsters of our own,
but we liked to stand on it, or try to, one of us
on each side. We’d paddle out, away
from the dock, pushing or pulling the tube,
and stop just about even with that old dock
across the way, falling apart, half submerged.

Our overly-large feet pressing down, toes
curling under to keep the grip, we held hands
across the open middle keeping each other
steady. We never lasted long, but when
we were up we were up, and hollered about it.
We looked a lot alike, but our feet were identical
twins, veins bulging in the same places,
second toe as tall the big one. Hammer toes
for had none & all the way home.

Trudy had all the trouble though, including
a car accident in college that left her in a coma.
Mom in a panic came to me in the night,
shaking my shoulders, Trudy’s going to die,
Trudy’s going to die! She didn’t die.
She’s fine. But, horrors, it was decided
that I had to wear an ID bracelet just in case
I was in an accident in the middle of nowhere
like Trudy’s and almost died for want of a parent
to say, Yes! Yes she’s our daughter, yes she can have
blood transfusions, yes, heavens yes! It looked like
a shiny silver going-steady bracelet
and I thought I might die of embarrassment.

I was far enough behind my siblings
to be considered an only child by psychologists,
of which I had plenty. How I loved holding
my sister’s hands when we stood on that old tire.
And how reluctantly I let go every time we fell.

by Mary MacGowan

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem describes the complexity of sisterhood when one is much younger than the other, and how the longing for kinship stretches into adulthood.

Ghost Limb by Lane Henson

Ghost Limb

From my chest
there is a hand that extends
a hand that opens into the dark
like an eye led by moonlight
that unfolds the dog-eared maps
unrolls the charts across
the table’s worn top
measures the contour lines
the Lake’s bottom
and the sheer cliffs along the shore
navigates the burr oak leaf’s
waxy curves
thumbs agates
hunts the glistening light of geodes
turns over and over again
the milky green sea-glass,
stretches back to the prairie
to horsehair and dust
clutches at that wide sunset
and returns burnt and blind,
drops memories like pins
along the trail
where the black bear might have crossed
joins wind on a high outcropping
swirls my daughters’ hair
crosses the snowy paths
where human tracks disappear
the tracks where the wolf hesitates
and turns away,
that strokes the shape
within driftwood
brushes along the guitar’s strings
like an echo
holds starlight
in a vastness of pines
holds itself aloft above flame
rises as smoke to the canopy
stirs the raven’s wing
falls as a pinecone from
the golden tamarack branch
falls as a muffled voice
a black feather
back to the forest floor.

by Lane Henson

 

Editor’s Note: This poem’s lush imagery invites the reader to cast aside any preoccupation with grammar and instead let the emotional narrative carry you into the woods.