Living Room by Jean L. Kreiling

Living Room
—after the painting by Alex Colville

His wife asked him to listen, so he does—
his straight-backed chair encouraging attention
as she plays Brahms. He can’t say when it was
she last made this request; they hardly mention
their private interests to each other now,
so he’s a little baffled. But he sits
respectfully, while marveling at how
the dog naps right through all the noisy bits,
snout pointed at the baby grand. Is this
the “living” called for by this room—this hour
of patient joylessness, this fear he’ll miss
something that he should love? Brahms has no power
to move him. Though his wife plays earnestly,
the notes only confound him. So does she.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet depicts a relationship of resignation delicately paired with love that has grown comfortable, even if the chair in which the speaker sits is not. Please click through to see the painting via the link.

From the archives – February by Jean L. Kreiling

February

From leafless branches etching crooked lines
against the sky—scars coldly cut across
a bloodless cheek—some poets weave designs
of desolation, stories laced with loss.
They find in webs of winter-blackened limbs
the shapes of emptiness and elegies—
but those who see the stuff of requiems
miss what another eye obliquely sees:
the rugged grace of living filigree
that scrawls a promise on the open air,
a craggy silhouette of constancy
that tacitly rebuts boot-deep despair.
Though darkly drawn, these etchings may impart
the vital signs at winter’s still-warm heart.

by Jean L. Kreiling

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 19, 2015

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – December by Jean L. Kreiling

December

Arriving modestly, without a sound,
the first snow of the season fills the night
with tiny flakes of other-worldly light
that settles in pale patches on the ground.
The stone-cold air turns flannel-soft, transformed
by small wet stars that fall and thereby lift
the eye and heart—a fragile, frozen gift
that leaves our spirits fortified and warmed.
Another silent night may come to mind,
another star, another gift, but He
need not be sought as heaven falls to earth
in icy, cloud-spun pieces that will find
the pious and the pagan, equally
anointing all who see the season’s birth.

by Jean L. Kreiling

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, December 2, 2015

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

The View from Shore by Jean L. Kreiling

The View from Shore

Not too far out, two paddlers carved their bit
of bay into a pliant stream that held
the solitary kayak they propelled
in perfect synchrony. Their intimate
accord was clear: they’d worked out how to fit
their bodies in the narrow space and meld
their muscled strokes. But my next glance dispelled
illusion; this romance was counterfeit.
What I saw was not one kayak, but two,
joined only by a trick of light and tide
for seconds, not a lifetime. As they drew
apart, each craft distinct, I modified
my story. They were strangers; one breeze blew
them close, the next one parted them and sighed.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: The alliteration in line one of this sonnet immediately captured my attention, and happily the rest of the poem does not disappoint: sonics, meter, and metaphor draw the reader in before letting go in the last line.

Finn’s Acres by Jean L. Kreiling

Finn’s Acres
for Suzanne and Ed

A flash of black and white across the green
of six a.m. Maine meadow—flying fur,
a mighty heart, a nose for prey unseen,
an eye for playthings tossed—Finn’s always sure
to catch the disc that sails across his lawn,
to catch the sunlight in his glossy coat,
to catch and so to share whatever dawn
might promise, in his flight the antidote
to vague human complaints. He runs a race
he always wins, past drifts of Russian sage,
beyond the trellised grapes; he owns the place,
and us as well, demanding we engage
with earth and atmosphere and things that fly.
Our hearts rise with his, happy to comply.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: As always, this poet’s easy grasp of the sonnet form supports the central theme—Finn. This poem explains why we love our pets.

Not on Her Original To-Do List by Jean L. Kreiling

Not on Her Original To-Do List
for Sarah

These chores so nearly weren’t hers—this drill
of clean up, pick up, cheer up, save the day,
read Dr. Seuss although she’s had her fill,
make chocolate milk, make monsters go away,
sing bunny songs, play hide-and-seek, explain
why everything, learn how to fix toy trucks
and choo-choo trains and how to toilet-train,
teach that a cow moos and a chicken clucks,
and kiss skinned knees. So when she has a few
free moments to converse with grownups, read
a grownup book, and eat as grownups do—
from toddler’s tyranny fleetingly freed—
she’s startled by her dread as it occurs
to her: this life so nearly wasn’t hers.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: This sonnet describes the tediousness of parenting, yet by the end, the joy of it is much more strongly felt than the frustration.

San Diego Sky by Jean L. Kreiling

San Diego Sky

At first you doubt the San Diego sky—
you think such perfect blue is bound to fail—
but there’s no limit to the vast supply
of azure backdrop for white sand and sail.
It seems the palms stand tall just to be near
that crisp cerulean consistency,
where sunshine polishes the atmosphere
with warmly steadfast luminosity.
Blue graciously recedes at close of day,
and for a passing shower now and then,
but at Balboa Park or on the bay
or by the piers, blue soon prevails again.
There’s not a lot on which you can rely.
but you can trust the San Diego sky.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet slips the reader seamlessly into San Diego with imagery that is clear and descriptive, but not melodramatic. The scene is restful, as is the poem.

Photo by Jean L. Kreiling

From the archives – Beach Breathing by Jean L. Kreiling

Beach Breathing

I breathe the damp and dizzy ocean breeze,
inhaling salt into my blood and bones;
the air that bears the gull’s careening moans
fills up my lungs with fresh infinities.
I breathe the rousing ocean rhapsody,
my nerves and tissues widening to collect
the well-tuned blue that lilting waves reflect
in shiny, shifting swells of harmony.
I breathe the sea-struck sun, and like the sky,
my cells and sinews brighten and expand;
I breathe the world along this stretch of sand,
and feel its vast resilience amplify
my own. It seems I hardly breathe at all
until I see salt water rise and fall.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 6, 2016 — by Jean L. Kreiling

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Beach Breathing by Jean L. Kreiling

Beach Breathing

I breathe the damp and dizzy ocean breeze,
inhaling salt into my blood and bones;
the air that bears the gull’s careening moans
fills up my lungs with fresh infinities.
I breathe the rousing ocean rhapsody,
my nerves and tissues widening to collect
the well-tuned blue that lilting waves reflect
in shiny, shifting swells of harmony.
I breathe the sea-struck sun, and like the sky,
my cells and sinews brighten and expand;
I breathe the world along this stretch of sand,
and feel its vast resilience amplify
my own. It seems I hardly breathe at all
until I see salt water rise and fall.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: Some poems are able to capture a singular moment, with all of its myriad images, as though infinity were easy.

December by Jean L. Kreiling

December

Arriving modestly, without a sound,
the first snow of the season fills the night
with tiny flakes of other-worldly light
that settles in pale patches on the ground.
The stone-cold air turns flannel-soft, transformed
by small wet stars that fall and thereby lift
the eye and heart—a fragile, frozen gift
that leaves our spirits fortified and warmed.
Another silent night may come to mind,
another star, another gift, but He
need not be sought as heaven falls to earth
in icy, cloud-spun pieces that will find
the pious and the pagan, equally
anointing all who see the season’s birth.

by Jean L. Kreiling, first published in The Tower Journal 5/2 (Winter 2013).

Editor’s Note: I’m waiting with bated breath for the first quiet snow of December, and I hope that it arrives as softly as this poem tiptoes into the mind.