Watching the Crows Fly on the first Day of December by Julia Klatt Singer

Watching the Crows Fly on the first Day of December

You think I’d get used to this—
the sun’s leaving—earlier each day
not giving me a second thought.

All my thoughts
turn back on themselves
like this world does, turning its back

to the light.
Is that why they are careening
through what’s left of it?

The soft edge of the world
falls like light at the tip
of their wings.

Even though
Darkness is all any of us have
to look forward to.

Their bodies fill the sky, write
their hunger, fly their desire.
I can only hope

mine is as beautiful, mine
has the strength to burn down
leave you wanting

to be held
like truth, spill
like sun.

by Julia Klatt Singer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julia.k.singer/

Editor’s Note: Sometimes the imagery in a poem holds such energy that the reader lives the poem instead of reading it.

Not in the Photo (1954) by Sydney Lea

Not in the Photo (1954)

day lilies parched by flaking whitewashed walls
pale gourd hung on the porch . . . .drab wrens inside
inside a hiss of cooking in smutted pans
we don’t toss a baseball or wrestle my brothers and I
a far train huffs

my mother . . . .our father . . . .an uncle . . . .our tiny grandma
her setter arthritic . . . .wheezing in August weather
weather-browned fields . . . .a shallow failing well
these things I remember couldn’t be posed together
black steers tear

through pasture wire again to wander and blunder
the uncle does the same old trick with the coins
the coins disappear . . . .none of us brothers cares
lazy vultures aloft on the lookout for ruin
haze-gray air

by Sydney Lea

Editor’s Note: In this poem, the title introduces the reader to the concept of memory with all of its imperfect recall, and the poem’s fragmented imagery finishes the lesson.

The Woman in the Mirror by Doris Watts

The Woman in the Mirror

having finally dispatched
.. . . . . .the fly
that has pestered me
taunting me on my many inaccuracies
with the red fly swatter

sharing my toast in the morning
without invitation
walking the silent circumference lip
of my coffee cup

who rests now wrapped
in a Kleenex in the trash can
.. . . . . .good Lord how
I miss him

by Doris Watts

Editor’s Note: This poem’s central metaphor cleverly shows the reader how much you can miss a thing (or person) that you thought was only an annoyance. Grief is weird like that.

At the Naturalization Ceremony by Greg Watson

At the Naturalization Ceremony

The families begin arriving early, the men in freshly
pressed suits, pocket squares, the women in bold-patterned
dresses and colors that defy the gray drizzling skies,
their faces without exception beaming with light,
young children at their sides looking up,
knowing this day to be something extraordinary.
“There are people who live here who hate this country,”
the young woman from Colombia explains
to a local newscaster, shaking her head, “but to us,
this is still The Promised Land. It’s everything.”
I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, who, too,
arrived with nothing, learned to speak this strange, unruly
language, drive cars, fight this nation’s many wars.
It’s hard to imagine my steely-eyed great-grandfather,
never caught smiling in a photo, wearing a face of
such unabashed joy. But what do I know of another’s heart?
I know only this moment this day, this swell of pride
as these new citizens make their way up Kellogg Boulevard,
their small flags waving in the chilly damp air.
It is as though a hundred or more makeshift boats were
setting out, each on a separate but similar course.
Even when they have all but vanished from view,
their voices can still be heard, singing, laughing,
proclaiming — so many different dialects, different
songs, so many different ways to say Home.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note: This poem’s clear narrative is punctuated by a single metaphor that perfectly describes the idea of what our country could be, and is, in the hearts of many hopeful people.

From the archives – Woman with View of Bridgeport — Robert Bolick

Woman with View of Bridgeport

Cold morning harbor. Its blackened pilings
abut themselves. The water’s bright as steel.

Rain clouds hang in the surface, but nothing’s
come of that. I turn to the brimming sink,

and it’s all the same. My robe falls. I step
outside myself again and, looking down,

see her arms, her breasts, bluing with the light
and hanging towels, her empty knuckled hands

cupped above the water as if to ask …
what? That something happen? Something fall?

The way a leaf might touch the water, loose
the boats in broken rings until the harbor

calms, and there in that magic glass, a chance
that all is changed? … Rain’s breaking up the Sound.

I gather back my hair. Our hands descend,
cup, uncup and touch beneath the water.

by Robert Bolick

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 7, September 2007

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

A short prayer by Drew Pisarra

A short prayer

There must be things to break.
There must be plates.
There must be jelly jars and hearts.
There must be bread.

There must be things to crack.
There must be eggs.
There must be wheat.
There must be knuckles and the mind.

There must be things to punch.
There must be walls of brick and walls of plaster,
clocks and bags and sparring partners.
There must be fucking fists.
There must be more.
There must be movement.

Let there be that as well.
Let there be that as well.

Let there be a full refrigerator,
with its freezer overflowing frozen goods.
Let there be a warm bed,
an occupied bed.
Let there be bodies
to slip into like so many pairs of stockings.
Let there be no runs.
Let there be
in each man’s hand
and every woman’s clutch
an open-dated one-way ticket out.

There must be that as well.
There must be.

by Drew Pisarra, previously published in Untitled & Other Poems

Drew on Facebook

Twitter: @mistermysterio

Editor’s Note: After the punch of the first line, the repetition in this poem can lull the reader into complacency, but this prayer is more complicated than that, as the closing lines demonstrate.

Owls by Christine Potter

Owls

I was talking to the owls again tonight.
It was like scrolling on social media—
hoo-HOO, hoo-HOO—and they liked it.

It was warmer today. The air felt more
like a friend.The creek sounded serious
and steady. I’d been inside until dusk.

I spoke with the owls, which my father
said flew off with unruly children: one
specific owl, actually: The Owl. We both

knew that wasn’t true. His mother (tiny,
superstitious, Irish) used it to scare him.
Except he knew I’d be too smart to fool.

I was. I’m still angry at my father, but
not about that. Sometimes winter lets up
just a little and I miss him: hoo-HOO,

hoo-HOO. I talk to the owls. They answer
me back, outside with night just pulling
itself together, a few stars poking through.

by Christine Potter

Christine on Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Editor’s Note: This poem leads the reader onto a meandering path, and it isn’t until the very end that one realizes that the heart of it is right in the center, but it’s a bit too painful to touch. One can only arrive at grief and joy and anger and memory indirectly.

Daydreaming instead of walking by Christine Klocek-Lim

Daydreaming instead of walking

The tiles feel like smooth stones beneath my feet.
And that old hall carpet has soft reeds so tired
from years of tread they barely speak.
The skin of my heels is old too,
but still somewhat working nonetheless.
It’s over fifty years now
since I learned to walk.

And the trees outside are the same.
The sky and the flowers.
I’ve learned how to feel the earth
through my toes. Sometimes the ground
moves so hard I can barely stand. Sometimes
my body doesn’t remember how to stand upright.
Sometimes I don’t quite understand
that the map won’t always lead home,
but I go out, nonetheless.

The infinite ocean feels cold. Too cold.
And the sand is hot as hell. In the deep woods,
such extremes are impossible, so I prefer
it there. I walk on moss-soft rocks when I can,
whispering to the snakes about waves
and dunes and impossible skies
they’ll never see.

But I’ve broken bones like this. Daydreaming
instead of walking. I’ve gone down into the pain
and back out again, though imperfectly.
Everything about life is like that: the tiles—
cracked and crooked, the fraying reed rug,
the startling chill of the dark forest.
The quiet moss, dew-wet and alive
over stones long dead.

This is how one goes from youth to old age—
one step into another. Repeat.
And then from old age into the next age,
where the world of souls is constructed
of trees and stones. Where the moss
is deep as an ocean and just as impenetrable.
Where the sand is warm as an old reed rug
and we can all lay down together,
give our feet a rest.

by Christine Klocek-Lim.

Editor’s Note: As an editor, I feel it’s important to avoid indiscriminate self-publishing, but on one day a year, perhaps you will forgive me (yes, it’s my birthday).

From the archives – The Ring — Christine Yurick

Borgau

We are staying in that little apartment above the pizzeria
and have been roaming the dry mountains like goats. It did not rain
for almost a month and we are both dark from all of that sun
and high from the fresh air and lazy from all of the beauty.
The waves hit the brown-orange cliff.
The sheer blue curtain billows in the wind
brushing my cheek in the room where we make love.
The waves come in and go out again.

by Christine Yurick

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 27, 2018

At the End of the Day and Other Poems is now available from Kelsay Books

Shower of Sparks by Nicole Michaels

Shower of Sparks

“Emperor Domitian held gladiator bouts at nighttime by torchlight, sometimes pitting women against dwarfs as well as each other.” – Did Women Fight as Gladiators in Ancient Rome? —History.com

The old green Ford is giving us trouble again,
and it’s far too cold to mechanic.

There isn’t a female gladiator or a dwarf in sight,
but I am indeed holding a torch so that you have

enough light to work by. Next year,
we’ll be set up better, get the yard wired.

You are laughing and gripping a wrench
that gleams with the fire in my hand,

fire I have single-handedly wrestled there,
having torn it off the edge of the winter moon

as if the moon were a flint and I alone
had ladder enough to reach its quartz.

Truth be told,

my hand must be the wettest place on earth by now,
and still you burn in it, lighting us both like caves that

have run together,
underground streams with high walls

decorated in primitive paintings,
buffalo running, mock early representations

of our original nature,
before anyone told us it was wrong to be that way.

I sink into you a little more each day.

“She will start,” you say, victorious,

catching the snow
on the rough side of your tongue.

by Nicole Michaels

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem, sharp yet beautiful, skillfully emphasizes the strength of the characters and their joy in existing in this moment.