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.

November by Jean L. Kreiling

November

In morning’s chill, you watch your own hot breath
with doubt: its pale, ephemeral display
of life will fade fast on this heartless day
when frosted grass and downed leaves hint of death.
You hug yourself against the cold’s intrusion,
as if you could contract into a sphere
of self-perpetuating heat; you fear
that sunrise was a well-rehearsed illusion.
You envy winged escapees as they sail
toward southern skies, their flight propelled by lack
of faith or tolerance; they don’t look back
as solar furnaces appear to fail.
But you can see your breath—the evidence
of your warm-blooded, well-rehearsed defense.

by Jean L. Kreiling, first published in Snakeskin 212.

Editor’s Note: The volta of this sonnet belies the frozen despair of the preceding lines with classic sonnet form.

October by Jean L. Kreiling

October
(The Head of the Charles Regatta, Cambridge, MA)
for Peter

October’s weekend-long ballet of boats
outdoes the Charles itself in fluid grace:
each slender vessel flows as much as floats,
an eight-armed river creature born to race.
One year my teenaged nephew pulled an oar,
his muscle part of the machinery
of limbs and blades, advancing a rapport
that fueled liquid choreography.
Although “regatta” conjures privilege
and wealth, his role had more to do with sweat
and sinew: through each mile, beneath each bridge,
he labored. He still works hard, but he set
the oars aside last year to join the Corps;
our own Marine, he pulls his weight and more.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: If you’ve never seen a regatta, this poem may help you understand the sheer beauty of these boats as they fly along the water. Imagery and affection drive this sonnet much as determination drives an oar into the water again and again.

September by Jean L. Kreiling

September

The jealous maple steals the incandescence
of summer blossoms, which soon disappear,
deferring to the famous luminescence
of fiery trees that light the aging year.
And from warm-weather clouds, fall borrows breezes,
transforming them into a gusty rigor
that forcefully refreshes all it seizes
and soon revives our summer-slackened vigor.
This explication willfully misreads
the facts of chemistry and climate change,
but not the symbiosis of the season:
the metamorphosis of gifts and needs
as summer meets with autumn, to exchange
their wealth in bargains unexplained by reason.

by Jean L. Kreiling, first published in The Lyric 80/4 (Fall 2000): 129.

Editor’s Note: The first line of this sonnet is particularly interesting—personification immediately energizes the imagery of seasonal change.

August by Jean L. Kreiling

August

The downward slope of summer modulates
the angle of our pleasures as it trains
reluctant eyes upon the lower plains,
where imminent nostalgia coolly waits.
Still coddled by a kind and lofty light,
we toast the sunset earlier each day,
like open-faced sunflowers that betray
a naïve over-ripeness in their height.
We’re past peak season for the kind of heat
that met with merciless humidity
in waves that drained our bodies and the land—
but this deliverance is bittersweet:
we clutch our sweating glasses of iced tea
as tightly as we’d grasp a mother’s hand.

by Jean L. Kreiling, first published in 14 by 14Issue 4 (June 2008).

Editor’s Note: After this past week’s heatwave, I find the hope for cooler weather so eloquently expressed in this sonnet appealing. Of course, the pivot at the end belies such easy wishing. It’s still hot and it’s still August here in Pennsylvania.