Champ Speaks by Christine Potter

Champ Speaks

I’m old, but I was glad to move my den.
My humans made my bed next to the fire—
a comfort on these winter mornings when
The South Lawn doesn’t beckon, and the choir

of shutter-clicks and shouted questions wear
me down. These days I run my best in dreams;
let Major ’s woofing end up on the air.
This good boy understands that all regimes

begin and then they end. You humans choose
your dogs and cats and Presidents, and put
them in this house to charm the world—or snooze,
like me, the dog who didn’t break Joe’s foot.

Real wisdom’s seldom something loud and fleet.
An old dog knows the fireside is sweet.

by Christine Potter

Christine on Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Editor’s Note: Doggie wisdom is always more intelligible than the blather humans tell each other.

Communication 101 by Kevin Ahern

Communication 101
Sometimes when you don’t know an answer
It pays to just admit it
This happened to me recently
And I’m so glad I did it
I was taking a communications class
And had an oral exam
The instructor said there was just one question
And I thought to myself “DAMN!”
The question was if I could illustrate communication
And I didn’t know what to say
So I just shrugged my shoulders
And she gave me an ‘A’

Sometimes when you don’t know an answer
It pays to just admit it
This happened to me recently
And I’m so glad I did it

I was taking a communications class
And had an oral exam
The instructor said there was just one question
And I thought to myself “DAMN!”

The question was if I could illustrate communication
And I didn’t know what to say
So I just shrugged my shoulders
And she gave me an ‘A’

by Kevin Ahern

Kevin on Facebook

Twitter: @ahernk1

Editor’s note: The philosophical question of communication is at the heart of poetry, but rarely is it so succinctly demonstrated via narrative verse.

From the archives – February by Jean L. Kreiling


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

The Transfer by Greg Watson

The Transfer

One of the earliest tricks to master
in parenting is what is generally referred to
as the transfer, that most delicate
operation of moving a sleeping child
from car seat, sofa, or lap
to the soft reassurance of the bed,
and somehow not startling them awake.
The wrong creak of the floorboards,
tilt of neck, or simple, dry cough
can induce wails of panic
and agitation, thick droplets of tears,
the whole body in sudden protest.
This is not right, scream the lungs.
This is not the place we started from,
kick the legs in exclamation.
So we learn this sleight of hand,
the language of mime, monk, assassin,
learn to slow our bodies and breath,
and to silence the world that holds them.
We learn to move without moving,
and to let that which we love most alone,
sleeping just out of reach.
Perhaps this is what we all long for
in the end — one tender hand
cradling our sweat-dampened head,
the other lifting us, as though
the entirety of our lives weighed
nothing at all, holding us so very gently
that we hardly notice moving
from one room to the next.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note: This poem describes a nearly universal feat of parental skill, but it’s the last few lines that elevate the narrative from an ordinary action to thoughtful delight.

First morning coffee by Naida Mujkic

First morning coffee

He came and took me with him
He was wearing a shirt with rolled up sleeves
It was white as the face of a worried woman
We went through the tall grass
Which gnawed at the tips of our fingers
He looked at me without speaking
And I didn’t ask where he was taking me
I just walked next to him
Through the tall green grass
That’s how it is when you are happy
You are silent and walk like a coiled
alarm clock – time is no longer an issue
Until you wake up
Sweaty in your empty bed
And you start coughing your
Heart on warm sheets
He won’t come for you
And take you to the ocean
As the grass grows
He has no legs to walk on
He has no hands to lead you
He has no eyes to dive into
He has no mouth to comfort you
You have nothing left
But to get out of bed
And make your first morning coffee
Hoping that one day everything will pass

by Naida Mujkic

Editor’s Note: This poem’s short, staccato lines and surprising metaphors create suspense and emphasize the tension of the narrative, until the last few lines break the story open.

Vintage verse – A Plaint by Alice Ruth Moore

A Plaint

Dear God, ’tis hard, so awful hard to lose
The one we love, and see him go afar,
With scarce one thought of aching hearts behind,
Nor wistful eyes, nor outstretched yearning hands.
Chide not, dear God, if surging thoughts arise.
And bitter questionings of love and fate,
But rather give my weary heart thy rest,
And turn the sad, dark memories into sweet.
Dear God, I fain my loved one were anear,
But since thou will’st that happy thence he’ll be,
I send him forth, and back I’ll choke the grief
Rebellious rises in my lonely heart.
I pray thee, God, my loved one joy to bring;
I dare not hope that joy will be with me,
But ah, dear God, one boon I crave of thee,
That he shall ne’er forget his hours with me.

by Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar Nelson) (18751935)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Deer County by Martin Willitts Jr.

Deer County

I’ve seen the night beating like a frightened heart.
An apparition appears out of nowhere —

I should have gone slower at that time of night
when objects loom suddenly. A deer zig-zags.

We all should compensate for the unknown.
We never know what lurks in the dark.

Fear stokes more fear, jolting us,
a deer bolting out of the dark —

finding a tuff of brown hairs on a car
or lose a windshield or broken engine block.

On rain-slick roads, when deer lunge
like heart attacks. We pull over after a thud,

find nothing but a small dent we could beat out
with a ball peen hammer. Or, find a deer

pulled to the side like a marker, red glass splinters
from a broken break light like blood splatter.

In a blink, every moment can change direction
and night takes your heart in its hand.

The unknown lurks in either light or dark.
We never see the inevitable coming.

If we could, we’d swerve,
sigh many heart-jerks, many tear-jerks.

Sometimes, we’d survive the deer combat zone.
Sometimes, we make it home in time, undented.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The stark two line stanzas in this poem emphasize the sudden jolt of an unexpected trauma, creating an undeniable allegory for life. Also, the first line is truly remarkable.

To the Pileated Woodpecker by Jacob Stratman

To the Pileated Woodpecker

Just outside of Moab, after a long night
of navel gazing, I looked up and out
to the tops of the cliffs, red rocks,
where the rising sunlight caught a hard line

and slowly, irreversibly lowered. I walked,
frozen and hungover, down the clay road
not knowing how long I’d have to keep
moving to meet the light, now changing

the rock face’s color, sharing itself.
But I knew I couldn’t remain still
in that tent, ill-prepared for early spring
frost, ill-prepared for the desert, ill-prepared

for ill preparation. I didn’t know
much about hope then, but I knew I hated
being cold. I’m not there now, though,
but I’m cold, running down this road,
on the homestretch, before I wake up
the boys for school, thinking about Moab,
looking up at these fall pin oaks, the sunrise
cutting a hard line across their tops.

Above me, far away, the pileated
woodpecker looks like a buzzard—
red dot, dark body, patient in its rhythm.
The closest I’d come to this biggest

woodpecker was childhood Saturday
mornings jammied in front of the TV.
Now in this new place at this new age
on the woods’ edge, I love its massive head

leading the rest of it from tree top to welcomed
tree top, immersed in sunlight, in all this hope,
yet it’s sad to know that I couldn’t see it
clearly, that I misplaced it for something else.

by Jacob Stratman

Editor’s Note: This poem’s smooth movement from nostalgia to now draws the reader into the narrative with an expectation of realization, and yet the last line deftly upends any simple conclusion.

From the archives – The Kiss by Gregory Palmerino

The Kiss

Something is cast in beauty that receives
the mind and won’t let go: it seems as fine
as sunlight dappling beneath the eaves

or yellow jasmine fragrant on the vine,
and you, with florid lips and furtive eyes,
inviting me to cross that whirlwind sign;

it keeps compelling me to recognize
this look of yours, in half a measure’s time,
is only half of splendor’s sacred prize.

For music sought inside this holy rhyme,
the scent of flowers, and the taste of wine
all flee to me from Rodin’s cold sublime—

when last I tempt that spell and cross that line
then take your hand and press your lips to mine.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, February 21, 2017 — by Gregory Palmerino

Sculpture by Auguste Rodin courtesy of Rodin Museum

Calcium Deposits by Goddfrey Hammit

Calcium Deposits

The days don’t amount to much anymore:
they get spent on coffee-making and flossing, then work and, at best, sleep,

all those debts owed to the day that leave a person
with only a jangle of change left of evening after dinner,

or that quiet dime’s-worth of time between knotting the shoelaces
and the necessity of standing up and walking out of the house before the sun’s even up.

I’ve taken to skipping the flossing before bed sometimes,
and I’ll even forgo the shower every so often on a Sunday,

just for the coppery daylight it nets me in the late morning,
or the silvery slant of moonlight glinting on the carpet,

not all that different from the mornings I would wake up
on nickel-gray days to find a warm quarter tucked under my pillow.

Back then my grandpa would call and ask for me, and invite me over
for an afternoon to help him roll pennies, fifty at a time, in brown paper tubes,

pennies that he gathered in one of the jars my grandmother would bottle peaches in,
the slow drip from his open palm over that jar, over months, like sap from an old tree.

With my quarters at home in a little cardboard bank,
and with a smile excavated to near-collapse,

it felt pointless to roll those pennies that, even taken together,
wouldn’t amount to much—but I tucked in to the table, and my grandmother let us be.

He set the jar between us, heavy as an anchor,
refracting layers on layers of one-cent scales, shimmering through the clear water of glass,

and at the table with us was the smell of the instant coffee he had had that morning,
and, under the table, the shoes he had laced up just to wear around the house, out of old habit,

plus the rich, rusty smell of not quite ten dollars in pennies
stinking our fingers all afternoon, so much like the smell of a freshly-lost tooth.

by Goddfrey Hammit

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem is rich in imagery that pulls the reader into memory where the relationship between old age and youth is presented with layered intention.