From the archives – Picture of a House by Paul Hostovsky

Picture of a House

There are several V’s in my daughter’s drawing.
One is a gable and the rest are birds
flying off into a spiky yellow
sunset she’s coloring in on the kitchen table.

From where I sit across from her, writing
a check to the Hartford Federal Mortgage
Corporation, the birds are houses
and the house is a large bird, a vertical triangle

from eaves to ridge, ready to take off
at the drop of a letter, rooftop flapping
over the treetops to Hartford, Connecticut. . .

I sign the check as she signs the picture
in the bottom right-hand corner, and the birds
migrate softly into my hands as she gives me
the house. For keeps. No strings attached

to the birds which could also be houses,
or the sun which could also be time
running out, going down like a diminishing
crayon stub still eking out, incredibly,
enough yellow to warm a house 30 years.

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 7, December 2007 — by Paul Hostovsky

From the archives – And This Remains by Cynthia Neely

And This Remains

I heard your mother found you
in your bed as if asleep,
your affairs all tidy, neat.
The glass sat in the sink, clothing
folded at your feet.
And this remains

your mother’s final memory of you,
one she has to keep.
You waited until spring,
thought the timing would be right
and planned it just as carefully
as how you threaded skis through
tight white-mantled trees.

Why antifreeze, I wonder?
Wouldn’t sleeping pills suffice?
As your gut disintegrated,
did you think it might keep ice from
forming in your soul,
a man who so loved winter, only snow
could keep him whole?

I have to think I’m lucky;
my last memory of you
is a swirl of snow in vortex
behind a disappearing back,
sweeping, swift down Cowboy Mountain
in the trail of your deep tracks.

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 4, March 2007 — by Cynthia Neely

From the archives — The Prospector by Dennis Greene

The Prospector

A long day I’ve had of it,
and a tiring one,
and little to show
but this loose scree of words
like dinosaurs;
the fossilized remains
of once great moments.

They tell me beauty’s truth,
but still I fail—what use is it to me
that Keats once wrote,
thou still unravished
bride of quietness,
and tore
the language from God’s living
throat. I fossick, find, make space
back of the truck—say virgin girl
lets go. It’s time to fuck.
. .

by Dennis Greene

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 3, December 2006

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives — broken open in history by Brion Berkshire

broken open in history

It was the hinge of a door
when you left me. A door
closing down like a small fire
that has come to know destiny
in its own intricate unraveling,
a fire which is cold and burns
like the infamous past
and what are we made of
but curiously glowing embers
frozen out and locked in place?
Still, there’s that perfect hinge
that says here, here is where
your life swung unhinged
magically, a screen door afloat
on a gyring river, the same one
that escapes twisting through
the sacked and abandoned
landscape, scarred and sacred
as a burned out trailer park
where a fat lady with a cane
and glass eye knows exactly
the price and cost of every
known and necessary thing,
and wouldn’t I care for some
sweet tea?
-as she pirouettes
gracefully for one painfully
useless eternity and opens
just a bit as if I had been
expected all along
to pass through

by Brion Berkshire

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 2, September 2006

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives — So Near by David Ayers

So Near
for M

First love’s best, love.
You, days from the womb, already master
of the long jaw-movement; me,
near thirty, still seeking where I might fit
in every bone of your face.

I watched
over the sterile blue drape—
that first startled breath, before the blue
body’s rest slipped out of her
slit belly. Then, you cried,

but where the cord wrapped
twice around that ox-like neck,
there’s not a mark to show.

As if life hadn’t hung
on a strapped
piece of flesh. As if, floating in the dark,
those eyes hadn’t first
opened and grown wise.

by David Ayers

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 1, June 2006

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives — from The Survivor by Jenn Koiter

from The Survivor

I speed, late as usual,
to the ceremony
thirteen days after your death.
You hated my driving.
Slow is smooth,
you said, again and again,
smooth is fast, but
I never slowed down.

In your brother’s living room,
your white friends sit solemnly,
trained by church, while
your Indian friends relax
and chat quietly, trusting
the ritual will go on
just fine without them.

Marigolds draping
your photo, spot of vermilion
on your forehead, the drone
of the pandit’s chant: the atheist in you
would have hated all of it, but
you left. You don’t get to pick.

The pandit says your journey
to the afterlife takes a day
for you, but a year for us, that finally
you were leaving, having lingered
these thirteen days. Though
I hadn’t felt you there,
or at your house, or your memorial.
Even my dreams, when I dream of you,
are only dreams. Perhaps,
as usual, you left early.
Lord knows you hate to be late.

Couldn’t you linger
just a little longer, just this once?
Slow is smooth,
smooth is fast. Surely
you can make up the time.

by Jenn Koiter

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, July 1, 2021

photo courtesy of Day Eight

From the archives — Dandelions by Marybeth Rua-Larsen

Dandelions

You squat in a sun puddle, tug petals
from star-faced dandelions, sprinkle
their crushed remains, like seeds,
across the ground. I try to teach you

the art of arrangement, pose
limp stems in jelly jars, like I did
for my mother, or to stuff your cheeks
with air and blow

their feathery seed-heads to the wind,
but you prefer your own game, wrestle
your bruised treasures from me and fly,
a hummingbird at twilight. Frantic

before torpor, you dart through the yard,
swipe a fistful of clover, grab
at daffodils on the other side of the fence.
You don’t yet understand

why you can pick dandelions
but not tulips, columbine or love-
in-a-mist. I have not yet found
the heart to explain it.

by Marybeth Rua-Larsen

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 10, June 2008

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives — We Leave the Beaches for the Tourists by Ira Sukrungruang

We Leave the Beaches for the Tourists

Except when the water receded and what lay there
were gape-mouthed fishes, flopping and gasping
on land that had not seen unfiltered sun

for millennia. We watched, at first,
seaweed, like the long, luscious hair of a mermaid
tangling their feet, and coral like polished

bone. We rushed out toward
the extended shore with wicker baskets to catch
the squiggling fishes, writhing in the heat.

And we were like them, those tourists, for a moment,
amazed at the world and oblivious to the hungry strays
dashing far from the beach, surrendering

the food offering of the sea. We were oblivious
to many things, the elephants that ignored
their handlers, as they made toward the highest

part of the island, the coming wave
that would take us all, sweeping us into the gullet
of the planet and into our next lives.

We remain behind, but hide in shadows.
Only the white faces haunt you, tourist-ghosts
lingering on the beach in bikinis and swim trunks

and sunglasses, wandering back and forth, confused
about the direction of the wind, their unheard voices,
the water that can never carry them home.

by Ira Sukrungruang

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 15, October 2009

photo by Ira Sukrungruang

From the archives — The Uninvited Guest by Wendy Babiak

The Uninvited Guest

So Death comes to call; I offer him tea and
take his sickle and hide it in the closet. Its handle
feels rough on my palm. The foyer smell of cedar
chases away the moths from his empty sockets.
His robes flutter with butterfly wings.
He wears a necklace of hummingbird skulls.

In the kitchen the refrigerator’s hum
drowns out his whispered words.
I pretend he isn’t talking while
I sweeten the tea with lavender honey
but birdsong from outside
rolls in bitter on my tongue

“In England, Shakespeare
had no trouble dying.”
Death’s voice rings out
razor sharp. I shiver
as my bare feet on the tile floor
catch February’s chill.

Rummaging in the cupboards, I think
Now that’s just swell. Death comes to call
and I’m all out of cookies
.
That’s what happens
when you forget to go shopping.
I make a note to write a poem later
on the back of a grocery list.

“God, that’s just like an American.”
Death’s disgust at my lack of hospitality
rankles. The overfilled pitcher of nicety
grows too heavy for my weakened hands
and falls, crashing to bits on the floor.

Like my own Lilliputian minutemen
the shards scatter into a circle around him
barring the way against his heavy feet
while I, light with emptiness
levitate over the painted table.
Arms crossed, I address my guest:

“And now Mama-san will tell you
you presumptuous usurper
what’s up: you will take your
rough-handled sickle, fluttering robe
and ominous whispering, and depart.
And you will stay long away.”

Death hangs his bony head, smooth as an egg
(his has no cracks, as ours do, for through which
birth canal did it ever pass?), already missing
the taste of my tea. I tell him I must find out first
what can’t be discovered. He laughs.
The birds outside sing Hoc opus, hic labor est.

The teacups dance to the sound of his leaving.
Pen in my left hand and rolling pin in my right
I hear his voice as he strides, resigned, away:
“Get to work, girl, and the next time I visit
you’ll be glad for the rest.” My refrigerator hums.
His parting words: “By the way, I prefer scones.”

by Wendy Babiak

from Autumn Sky Poetry, Number 2, September 2006

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim