From the archives – Walking Is Good and Other Things We Tell Ourselves — Luke Evans

Walking Is Good and Other Things We Tell Ourselves

The edge of the asphalt is cracked and crumbling
where he steps on the painted white line, blessing
the wheat and thistle with outstretched palm.

Boys in a car hoot and holler, but he does not
flinch. He envisions leaping onto their trunk, ripping
the door open, and throwing each one into a tree.

A gray finch lies on the roadway. He bumps it
with his shoe. It is like a toy. Its feathers are still soft,
its eyes black with a crystal glint. There is no blood.

He stands in the archway of a mausoleum, presses his ear
to the stone door. A draft whispers secrets of the dead
to the corn spider wrapping a beetle in a silk cocoon.

He sits in the shade of a pine along a cemetery road
thinking about deer ticks and how itchy the grass is
and scrambles away when a car crunches down the lane.

A padlock key lies along the curb. He rolls it
through his fingers, tosses it into the gutter, revels
in the clinks off the grate and the sploosh of the water.

Puffs of clouds court the horizon; he is surrounded.
Unseen space and flighty wisps lord over him
as the sun continues its ceaseless interrogation.

He plucks the head off a wildflower between his knuckles.
It is a giant white ring on his finger, a thousand tiny
blossoms he never could make. He twirls it and twirls it.

A rabbit picks at the gravel before him. It stops as he crunches
closer, perks up. They stare each other down.
It is frozen; he draws closer; its ears twitch; his lips part.

It, too, runs away.

by Luke Evans

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 18, July 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – our lady of perpetual contusions — Nielle Norton Buswell

our lady of perpetual contusions

we couldn’t figure out what she saw in him:
slope-shouldered, slope-hoped,
those hands that hung loose from thick arms,
huge but soft, like loaves of bread but heavy
like something unsaid and sometimes
you’d see them catch and lock in fists
when he looked at her too long, got caught.

and the way he looked at her—
like a man held two inches under
the water’s surface. trouble.

she was maybe lonely, no matter
how busy we kept her, that mind of hers
off fishing, her body sipping coffee
or under a hair dryer or trying on shoes
while her mind floated on hazardous currents
bobbing and drifting downstream.

so they married. a beautiful cake, sugar roses
and ribbons that flowed down the columns.
on top, a bell, a pair of birds.

we watched her reflexes improve.
sometimes her eyes weren’t eyes
but shadows, fast shadows outrunning
what might be a memory. her arms
broke out in fingerprints, every day
she grew more opaque. eight years later
when whatever was in him gave out,

the burial shocked her back to earth, to us.
what was it, what of him was love we had to know.
his hands, her voice sank low, oh, those hands of his.

by Nielle Norton Buswell

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 18, July 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Surgeon Finds Tree Growing in Man’s Lung — Laura Sobbott Ross

Surgeon Finds Tree Growing in Man’s Lung

First there was the cough, then the dream—
a rumbling through his diaphragm, throat dilated,
raw as if scraped with bark, the soft corners
of his mouth splitting like a seed coat.
His sinuses so full of green needles,
his sheets smelled like fir for days.

He began to disdain clouds and blinds,
the pearl colored cave of Russian winter sky.
Here, it was not unusual to lack vitamin D,
but, oh, the craving for sun! How it burned,
as his fingertips tingled and itched for river silt
buried beneath the snow clotted valley.

His cough grew in the humid bog
of his lungs, until he was blotting blood
from his lips, an essence aromatic
as rosemary on the back of his tongue,
despite lozenges of honey and eucalyptus.

Inside his chest, between bruised air sacs,
slashed webs of capillaries, doctors found
a shadow with teeth, a clawing of roots into tissue
lush as peat moss, while he lay at the window,
almost breathless with pain. His eyes transfixed
beyond the amassed evergreen edge, taiga,
tundra, permafrost, whiteness upon whiteness.
Snow clouds heavy with winged seed,
the same air he had once inhaled like a forest.

by Laura Sobbott Ross

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 18, July 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Blessed Are Those Who Hunger — Tania Runyan

Blessed Are Those Who Hunger

On the day that 27,000 children died,
my dishwasher flooded its basin. I cradled a bowl,

running my finger around a yellow shroud of curry.
I mourned the scrubbing I would have to endure,

the salesmen with their litany of buttons,
the snake’s nest of disconnected tubes.

Mothers embalmed their children in wet sand.
Fathers folded skeletal bodies in sheets.

The mosquito nets and vaccinations were still
en route, stalled in cargo holds, legislation, hearts.

I did not remember. I opened the dishwasher again
and felt my blood quicken at the sour soup

of food and water, the marinara-flecked plates,
and—Jesus help me—oatmeal stuck to the whisk like bone.

by Tania Runyan

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 14, July 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Ostinato — Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Ostinato

—(byr a thoddaid)

Where is the air of yesteryear?
Where are the fields, fallow as deer?
They’re gone, gone in a whorl of brine, to burn
until the rain turns alkaline.

Where are the snows of morrowmorn?
There high up on the Matterhorn
they dance, undecided which way to fall,
point and pirouette all the day.

Where are the stars of nevernight?
You cannot know, poor anchorite
who spurn the milk of skybridges unseen
for the glare of your mean fancies.

Hope remains, like a wire-wrapped string
that sends its ground bass pulsating
under the ever-shifting harmonies
drifting on the breeze from afar.

by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 14, July 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Nelly — Robert Ford

Nelly

We buried you on the hottest day for years.
No breeze. The cornstalks were silent,
the air seething in crowded spaces under
a sky wiped duck-egg blue at the edges.

Through the heavy substance of veteran oaks,
sycamores, gasping over the hedgerows,
you could see all the way down the lazy apron
of the river valley to our town, the thumb of

its church steeple gilt-framed by the haze.
It seemed apt. A decade later, it’s still how
I picture you – though I’m no more than an
unopened parcel of memories in your future

—a girl, each thin-ice step you take a question,
leaving behind farm, family, village, home.
A whole lifetime waiting for you down there,
waiting to gather you up into its embrace.

by Robert Ford

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, July 31, 2017

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Magritte Serves Up the Sun — Donna Vorreyer

Magritte Serves Up the Sun
—after René Magritte’s “The Banquet” 1958. Oil on canvas. Art Institute of Chicago®. Chicago, Illinois.

We cannot see the fine linens,
the glasses of wine, the crystal.
We have been called to a feast,

but there is no food. We have
waited for hours. Then the sun
sails toward us through the trees,

a perfect orange wafer of light,
hovering now below the branches,
floating low, a silver tray waiting

to cradle its fire. We applaud.
To call the sun from the evening
sky is no small feat. A bold host

to lay such strokes, to summon
not just light but the source of light
to humble itself, to feed our darkness.

by Donna Vorreyer

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 15, October 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Low Tide at Sundown — Brent A. Fisk

Low Tide at Sundown

Instead of pearls the woman wears
flies, a kelp dress, a fine shade of blue for her eyes.
She needs the sun, the poor pale thing,
as we need a door in the ocean floor, a way back
to yesterday’s buckets and moats, the deflated
floats and the long-tailed kites that snapped their strings.

But the sky drains of light and color
and the moon shines deep in her skin.
If the sun escapes we will be left to see
her body merge with the dark, her flesh settle into the same sand
we’ve buried our feet in all week.
The stinging wind drives away the red
buckets, wears down the castles, and tumbles inadequate
shovels. Naked, she’s swallowed her name. Nothing left
to call her but dead.

by Brent A. Fisk

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 16, January 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Look Out — Cally Conan-Davies

Look Out

I grew up with clouds
full of promise. White cotton.
I always drew them that way,
mouth open. When they didn’t
rain for the longest time
I closed my mouth.

Dead birds on the sand dune have come clean,
the child I loved has gone too far, love
as far as time goes . . . and the lighthouse
clear-eyed through the fog
points out just how bulky the night is
(an eye for an eye-lid)
a star of sorts, winking at the storm
(so a child might laugh), but the child is gone
where boats go out for mackerel in the dark
(but you can’t see the deck lights winking back)

by Cally Conan-Davies

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, July 4, 2016

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – The Body, Before — Katie Hoerth

The Body, Before

Notice the geography of freedom–
this open prairie made of flesh, the slow
swoop of the back’s small, curvature of skull,
the belly’s subtle knoll. The mirror shows
this vista of my body and I gaze,
try to commit this scene to memory
like a valley filled with bluebonnets
in April, touch this land of milk and honey
before the fall, my exile from myself.

The cold ink on my skin. The thick black mark.
He draws a border on my body, says:
This is where I’ll cut you.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .But I hear:
separate skin from skin, flesh from flesh,
bone from bone. Even with the bridge
of sutures, healing skin, the growth of vessels
carrying my blood across this border,
this scar defines the woman I am now.

by Katie Hoerth

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, June 25, 2018

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim