From the archives – What Breaks the Human Heart (iv) — Bebe Cook

What Breaks the Human Heart (iv)

The heart is covered by a sheath
of fine fingered threads,
a gauze of nerves. Alternating currents
which work in consort, cusps of skin
that rudder the mechanical—open and close
close and open. Valve merchants
who barter in vigor exchanging old for new.
I lost the boy (the child with arrhythmia)
at the state fair. His mother and I still taste
that metallic hour, we searched frantically,
we prayed fervently. At dusk we found him
standing on the fringe, the out-most edge
of the midway behind the tents of barkers
and carnies. He said he had been listening
to the whispered fables of tattoos. Muscled
arms of naked women, secret codes on numbered
fists and flowers adorning midriffs; natural
soothsayers that spoke Igpay Atinlay.
We did not tell him after —how fearful
we became of the circus and the voices
of inanimate things (unsure of the classification
of drawings on skin). How thankful
we were of the denizens of impulses
that kept him secure—within our gate.

by Bebe Cook

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 15, October 2009

Artwork by Bebe Cook

From the archives – Adjusting to war coming — David McAleavey

Adjusting to war coming

On the theory that if you tread enough water
the waves won’t close over you,
I did sufficient chores
to get out of the house,
its pretense of interminability –
solid bookcases, solid tables,
objects, objects.

Walked past the World Bank,
people with smudgy crosses on their foreheads,
Ash Wednesday,
past the souvenir stands, t-shirts 5 for $9, talk about cheap,
one of those days so full of signifying
even the veins in a slab of marble
look like figures, see,
that’s a tall person, slacks tight on her buns,
walking away.

Picked a route around puddles, melting snow,
noticed a stubby obelisk beside the Ellipse
put up by the DAC to name men
given the 17th century right
to own this land.

When our lives turn long enough
we realize we’ll never
have anything the way it was,
we set up stones,
asking them to speak,
pretending they will last.

Many more stones coming,
rows and rows, across the river.

We call this adjusting.

by David McAleavey

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 20, January 2011

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Year in Review: 2021 Stats

I would like to thank everyone who reads Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, and all the poets who’ve sent their work to me over the years. I never guessed I would be doing this for so long when I began publishing Autumn Sky Poetry back in March 2006 as a quarterly ezine. There have been several long hiatuses and a few times I thought I might quit publishing altogether, but the quality of work I receive on a daily basis keeps me going. The stats for 2021 are truly impressive and have exceeded every other prior year:

  • Total views: 52,107 (average 4342 per month)
  • Total visitors: 21, 434 (average 1786 per month)
  • Likes: 1781
  • Comments: 359

This year I intend to keep posting poems from the defunct quarterly archives every Sunday. And though I will probably go on a few breaks here and there, rest assured that your spectacular poems and our community of poetry aficionados will keep Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY going for many years to come.

-Christine, editor

From the archives – Ellen Andreé Comments in a Letter to Her Sister on L’absinthe by Degas — David W. Landrum

Ellen Andreé Comments in a Letter to Her Sister
on L’absinthe by Degas

Of course I look dead drunk. I think that’s what
he aimed for—and, of course, he always got

the effect he wanted. I am staring out,
my eyes unfocused. Marcellin is the lout

beside me, puffing on a pipe, his eyes
scanning the room, as if for his next prize,

his next seduction. He has a soft drink,
I have a green cocktail—green, and I think

it’s called Absinthe. I’m not a connoisseur
of mixed drinks, so I’m not completely sure

that’s right. We both look stupid, but I guess
that’s what Monsieur Degas sought to express.

Painters are strange creatures—men who can look
on your bare form and never feel the hook

of lust snag in their flesh—like doctors they
can see you but not be carried away

with the desire most men feel in their blood
at a woman’s nakedness. I guess that’s good.

He’s never made advances—yet sometimes
I wonder if he even sees my charms

or thinks the parts of me that ravish men
might be a prize he’d go great lengths to win.

I’m getting off the subject. I’ll be down
next Saturday to see you in your town.

I’m glad to hear, thank God, Dafne, your child,
got over smallpox—that the case was mild.

To answer you, I don’t know if I’ll pose
for him in the future. As far as modeling goes,

I doubt if I can do it anymore.
I don’t like being painted as a whore,

and a drunk whore at that. As Crème de Menthe,
is always preferable over Absinthe,

modeling is dull; the stage is so much better.
I prefer acting. Now I’ll post this letter.

by David W. Landrum

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 19, October 2010

Painting by Edgar Degas, “The Absinthe Drinker.” 1876. Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.

From the archives – Ice Storm by Beret Skorpen-Tifft

Ice Storm

The day you left
ice came in curtains of water
asking the forest for something
nearly impossible.

It looked like God had taken his
anger out first on the white birches,
then on last fall’s queen anne’s lace
and dusky golden rod
still left standing in the meadow.

They weren’t the hardest hit.
That would be us. We remained cold and even colder,
my hand wrapped around his small palm.
Your truck bumped up and down.
We watched for the red tail lights until dawn.

But then came the sun and the moon,
and the sun and moon again.
Hallelujah for that,
for it tracked our days.
When I would reach for your skin,
and come back with nothing,
and even more than nothing,
I would come back with space
small enough for a field mouse to fill
but bigger than everything else on earth,
I whispered to myself amen.

by Beret Skorpen-Tifft

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 9, March 2008

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – People’s Movement 2006 April 4 by Mukul Dahal

People’s Movement 2006 April 4

He bought new, harsh
and fierce boots to
limit the movement
of the sterns strolling about the garden.
He hanged a clumsy ball
of iron in the legs of purple gullinule
to strip it off its nature.
He dangled a bulky nose ring
to fetter the graceful
struts of the Himalayan lophophorus.
He wore the boots
that mimicked death’s
nails and claws.
He sent winter
to love’s courtyard.
He fuelled
the agitation
of his own mind.
But all the things
that he did
turned to him
and began to
pull his root to
wipe him out of
the flower’s home.
Then he kneeled down
and swore he had intruded
into their soul
and their lives.

by Mukul Dahal

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 2, September 2006

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – There Is Always a Way to Stop Falling by Jan Mueller

There Is Always a Way to Stop Falling

Shake yourself, wake up! And you said yes,
it would be simple enough to leave.
But you stayed, to sweep up
your husband’s rage, even as
your footing slipped, and you
decided to finish the nightmare.
What is it like to plummet,
eyes frozen wide, paralyzed,
the earth rising to break you
like a light bulb on the kitchen floor?

What makes you stand, animal-dumb
on the track with the train blinding you?
You chose your witness carefully;
the moon went full twice that December.
A white paper plate tacked on indigo cloth,
it had earned a second chance to watch
over you as you ended the sentence,
and you were clever about it,
parked in a barren field, in neutral gear,
with a full tank of gas. Period.

Three nights later, a freckled moth
flirted with a hot bright bulb
to distract me from my task of writing
a eulogy on behalf of the neighborhood.
Do you know what he told me, earlier
that day? Obituaries must be purchased,
and he would have no part of that.
While you lay refrigerated in a drawer
that is what he said. Oh! You deserved
so much more than this draining of life.

The final judgment your actions begged for—
sainthood? Damnation? never made it
past the questions. We all went spinning
like whining tops for days, and me,
I could never figure why, except
there was some unsettling pain
that I shared with you, and your absence
rendered it acute and intolerable,
as if we were partners in tug-of-war
and you let go. I do not know

where he shook the contents
of the glossy red box they gave him
“like a goddamn Christmas present.”
Haven’t seen him since. We are
still here though rearranged a bit,
painting over your dark green walls, taking up
your office files, hitting the backhands
fast and low over the tennis net, like you used to.
Me, I struggle at that same end of rope
and I miss your hands being there, helping.

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 3, December 2006 — by Jan Mueller

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – No Place Like by Laurel K. Dodge

No Place Like

Don’t say that my heart is the moon;
you aren’t the earth and my love is not a distant

satellite, pulled. My heart isn’t that sharp curve,
a scythe that rises only under cover of darkness.

My heart is not that hole when the moon
is new and its light, absent. My heart is not full;

it does not call to wolves or signal harvest.
My heart is a witch. My heart is a dog

My heart is a brick. My heart is a tornado,
a wind spinning back on itself. My heart can tear

a house apart. Don’t you get it? My love is oil
and straw. My love is a fear-filled roar. My love

is the red field that lulls. My love is heels. My love
is the road. My love is the impossible journey home.

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 4, March 2007— by Laurel K. Dodge

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Details by Ayesha Chatterjee

Details

I have lost you in the clutter
of such ordinary things: bones
picked clean, piled neatly
in the November sun,
pennies recounted like thoughts
on the kitchen counter,
the flutter of electric bulbs
across continents.

I can recall the exact
colour of your eyes, the taste
of your breath, the lope of your stride
and feel my heart
beat whole and strong and separate
as though you never were.

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 2, September 2006— by Ayesha Chatterjee

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – First Aubade by Jeremy Heartberg

First Aubade
Cut through blue and night, a sun
edges against you, a stray
cat or tired warmth. It is
no thin outlined body that
I have felt for in this pause
before the blue blurred light comes.
Tender, tender now, the snaps
of song move, undone, through trees.
Is it a morning thrush? Sleep
gentle, sleep gentle; nothing
is wrong; I swear, my dear, this
is not wrong. A bird of light
pulls me soft upon its string.

from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 3, December 2006 — by Jeremy Heartberg