From the archives – Thinned Larch — Michael Goodfellow

Thinned Larch, or
What If a Body Lost Its Leaves

Needles storm weak,
wind bent, sky turned,

it lost everything
again, barked spire,

stone pinched,
roots a plate

chalky with want.
It nearly wasn’t,

just a rock lip
where the wind caught

part of the world,
thin enough

to hand cut, arm
to trunk. Bone soft,

it broke clean
again and again—

by Michael Goodfellow, from Naturalism, An Annotated Bibliography, Gaspereau Press, 2022

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 5, 2012

From the archives – Undoing — Laura Levesque


The storm burst with summer heat that had been building since noon.
Perched in the treehouse with glass windows high in an ancient
oak, I felt little fear. The only light came in through wavy rain beating
against the panes, placed by the farm’s previous owner, a father
more doting than the ones you and I could claim. The other children
had raced up the hill in time to wait it out in the main house, staining
their tongues day-glo with bright popsicles, riding out the storm
in the cool basement gloom. It was the first time we were alone.

Your shoes scratched across the plywood floor. I looked down at the
dirt on my own shins and feet, skin brown from playing hours and hours
in summer fields. You touched me with no trepidation, fingertips so light
with sweetness, I came to you as fearlessly as the calf whose leg had snapped
in Sully’s field, whose mother had left it for dead. Somehow she knew you
would help her. Somehow I knew the same was true for me. I tasted
your scent when you kissed me, holding on in grey fragmented
light like this was the last moment it would ever come so easily
to either of us, that it would end with the sudden force
of the rain as quickly as it had begun.

by Laura Levesque

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 18, July 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Madison Square Tableau — Joseph Harker

Madison Square Tableau
—(a helix sestina)

And here’s Fifth Avenue on a Friday: hollow,
rings like a church bell of bone. Pumps-and-skirt ladies
weaving with Japanese tourists and boys with stains
on their knees, the drifter calling out, Please, please,
with a cup full of quarters and dreams. Who can tell
one face from another? There isn’t any sun

ringing the towers with light. This tourist, with his son
on his shoulders, lifts his camera, a long hollow
one. He snaps the Flatiron, heads for Gershwin Hotel,
with hipster trainees past his feet, here to lay these
weavings on a quilt and shout, Art For Sale. Their pleas
and craftwork move no one. Passing taxis leave stains

on the sidewalk. The day wears on, trades disdains
with disappointments, the slow fathomless waltz un-
ending, and always the drifter’s calls of Please, please,
weave in the crowd. Nobody stops to say hello.
One drops a dime: fixed-gaze woman, Midtown lady,
ring on her finger. Art For Sale. One could foretell

with certainty her path: recon, business intel,
weaving through the land of Silk and Money. What stains
ring the soul of such a proper face? The lady’s
one of those who crowns herself with the midday sun
and thinks nothing of the moon. Polishes her halo
on her sleeve. Stalks away. She has no time for pleas,

weaving as quickly as that. Art for Sale. Please, please.
One boy passes, pink mohawk, post-punk (you can tell),
on Broadway. Snags some fags: ten bucks and a hallo,
and peels back the cellophane. He’s got nicotine stains
ringing in his teeth: but knows how to catch the sun
with his hands, knows how to reach up, pull down, lay the

one next to the other, quiets the hipster ladies
and shakes the gold Indian-head box. He whispers please
with a lover’s deepness. Cellophane glints with sun
rings, sun pools, sun eddies, breaks the sky: go and tell
on the mountains, hills, penthouse floors, here the cloud stains
weaving the Earth were bleached away. For a hollow

minute, the ladies paused on the pavement, and sun
knew city, stained its weaves against that hallow face,
ringed with one forever light. Tell it true. Please. Please.

by Joseph Harker

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 22, July 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – The Big Bang — Elizabeth H. Barbato

Night sky picture of constellation Orion.

The Big Bang
for Jess, Emma, & Lila—when they were twelve

Before there was Light,
God snapped fingers
and almost without music
muscled the world into being.
Some people call this
the Big Bang.
It’s not much of a name,
when you think about it.
Perhaps the scientists tried
with their scientist brains
to come up with something,
well, perhaps more mellifluous.
Or at least with a more sophisticated
vocabulary. Maybe, after sweating
for hours in the lab, they called up
their poet friends, drunk on knowledge.
Give us a name for the beginning,
they slurred. But the poets,
knowing there can be only One
Logos, carefully hung up.
They changed the messages
on their answering machines—
“Gone Fishing,” or “See you real soon!”
chirped their voices on the scratchy tapes.
And they fled the country that night
as Fritz Lang, the director, had years ago
when Hitler, after having seen
his masterpiece Metropolis,
sent men to his door to haul him
into service for the Fuhrer.
I could call that a Little Bang,
that type of resistance, the artist
leaving his home and all his possessions
behind to chase safety into the outer dark.
But here, in the secret Atlantis
of the poets, Fritz is safe, as is anyone
who wonders what God called the event.

by Elizabeth H. Barbato

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 10, June 2008

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

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

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

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

From the archives – Chiasmatype — Corey Mesler


the process of chiasma formation, which is the basis for crossing over.

I want the bridge, the
crossing over. I want
to live where you live.
I want to wake up in a
place where the color
of the sun is the color
I see inside the simplest
poem. I want to speak
into your hair the words
that deliver me from the
wreckage of my attempt
to travel. And when the
day is done I want to
cross over again, to a
country where the leaders
talk like parrots, like
streams running clear,
like the mouths of caves.
I want to cross over with
you, my lily white. And I want
the crossing to be our final act.

by Corey Mesler

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 13, April 2009

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – When Spring Melts the Ground — Lyn Lifshin

When Spring Melts the Ground

The dead start stretching,
wonder what’s next. All
winter in quilts of white,
colorless as their wrists
and bones are becoming.
They think they ought to
be hungry, ought to feel
around for photographs
of the ones who followed
them this dark bed and
then turned their backs.
The dead wonder if this
is a bad dream where
flashes of their old clothes
are lugged off in boxes,
their names in an address
book crossed out, darkened
over with ink like someone
putting a stone on the
coffin or weighting a body
to throw overboard. When
they feel light move into
the grass they remember
lilacs, white roots of
trillium like upside down
trees in a negative. It’s too
late to change things. Some
times they smell fresh
flowers left on their grave
and feel less lonely. It does
not hurt to know somebody
kneeling in wet grass
is as lonely.

by Lyn Lifshin

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 17, April 2010

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – On What Might Be Any Day — Amy C. Billone

On What Might Be Any Day

I sit in garbage, my bedroom door cracked
ajar by a jump rope tied to a bear
so he’ll drop on top of my small sister,
my floor unseen beneath books, knights, toy logs,
dolls, castles, winged horses, crumpled sheets
of paper. I’m supposed to be cleaning.
Instead I draw pictures of Demon Dad,
Monster Mom, and Nincompoop Nina, all
chastised by Super Benjy, my giant
orange cat who flies in a cape. Dad bursts
in. He shouts Someday the mess in your room
will enter your mind! He hurls the bear at me.
In early evening the room is not clean.
I write a poem for Mom. I say red suns
are goddesses spilling their makeup. I
want her to love me the way she does her
handsome students. My Dad calls them princes.
I hear her laughing with Dylan. He reads
out loud his poem about thighs. I’d give
anything to turn into a boy.
Enraged, my father stomps in the hall.
When my sister opens the door and cries
because of the dropped bear, Dad throws my ink
away. I climb into bed, crawl beneath
my blue blanket full of comets and dive
into the Secret Hole. I am king there.
Nina can’t go or she will fall through space
forever. This makes her sad. I always
leave behind a statue who looks like me.
Some are creatures that attack her, except
tonight she teaches a kind one to walk
and speak. It must come to dinner since I’m
not home. It doesn’t know the way to use
a fork, spoon or knife. It attaches tubes
of macaroni to its fingers, leans
sideways, sighs, rolls its eyes, sticks out its teeth.
My sister slides in and out of her seat.
She gestures wildly, waves both her arms, lifts
her plate and without silverware she eats
so as to protect me but Mom and Dad
take her food from her and this makes me glad.

by Amy C. Billone

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 21, April 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim