Autumn Leaves by Jenevieve Carlyn

Autumn Leaves

Remember the year a fox
came through the neighborhood
every afternoon—leaving hungry

tracks through the snow, as sunlight
glinted low against the old oak tree?

We imagined its den near the place
where we all went sledding as children
when it snowed, in the chestnut caves

Of Pine Orchard’s glacial hills.
Even now, I can hear your echo
in the restless wolf tones of the cello
as the bow draws near the bridge

I asked you once your favorite sound
—mine was the melodious lapping of
our dog at her water in the kitchen

Yours was the fizz of a wave
each time as it left the shore
kissing the sand before parting

Coming & going was simply your way
Somewhere, a honey jar holds your laughter
like a bee in resin.

This year, cedar waxwings are nesting
in the thicket where we walked in autumn
At this tangle of sun-gold & winterberry

we’ve arrived again. How did we reach
this place? I recall collecting acorns in
a hearth-box & wild apples for baking

Sun-dried leaves. A flurry of feathers
crashed into the window one day—
Stunned & silent,

Warm hands
placed gently on the hearth
so that beating wings could rest

by Jenevieve Carlyn

Instagram: @sea_thistle

Editor’s Note: The opening question of this poem invites the reader into a world made of nostalgia, where each image traces the emotional checkpoints of a life.

Enjoying Nature During a Pandemic While the World Burns by Katie Manning

Enjoying Nature During a Pandemic While the World Burns

Grass twitches on the screen. A beat-up
box fan blows a gentle breeze at my bare
feet. To the right of my laptop: a painting
of tulips in pinks, oranges, and reds, mailed
to me last month by a former student turned
friend. A car whirrs past the grass, or did
whenever this video of grass was recorded.
A plane sighs somewhere far above my condo.
Sometimes now, I go days without stepping
outside. On mornings when our family does
get out to walk, my youngest oo-woo-oo-oo-oos
in response to both mourning doves and displays
his fistful of roly polies, declaring that he cares
for bugs. I tell him I’m glad, but roly polies
aren’t bugs; they’re crustaceans like shrimp.
He still cares. He builds a nest of leaves
on the sidewalk and asks if they will be happy
there. I can’t say no. For the last few weeks,
the Eurasian collared dove on the roof has called
constantly and more loudly than the aircraft.
Is it protecting its home? Does it long
for company? If I weren’t so exhausted,
I might also spend all my time screaming.

by Katie Manning

Katie on Facebook

Instagram: @katiemanningpoet

Twitter: @iamkatmann

Editor’s Note: The explicitly descriptive title of this poem fools the reader into thinking this poem will be rather straightforward, and so it is, right up until the killer last line.

Stone by Greg Watson

Stone

My mother tells me the story of her mother,
the gray, hard-edged world from which
she emerged; how denial became
the common language, silence a bridge
between angry shouts at God
and anyone else who might listen;
tells how her mother’s parents refused her
pleading for a doll to call her own,
and how one day she wandered
past the fields until she found a stone,
round-shouldered and smooth,
wrapped the stone in discarded cloth,
cradling it, calling it her baby.
She tells me also of standing as a child
on the cold train platform,
the long journey north ahead,
shaking with tears while her father —
a cruel man on the best of days —
told her that her beloved ragdoll would
not be allowed on board.
That decision, he spat, was final.
My daughter will know none of this.
The floors here are strewn with
plush toys, action figures,
plastic Lego waiting for the most tender
part of the foot to find them.
We stroll our quiet neighborhood,
collecting twigs, autumn leaves
of burnt sienna and gold,
stones that she assures me have
fallen from the moon, or have been
thrown from angry volcanoes,
stones that still contain the images
of animals from long ago,
imprint of a hand or a small face turning,
grateful to be held so gently,
to whisper their stories once again.

by Greg Watson

Editor’s Note: The narrative of this poem defines its shape and length, and ultimately, the imagery that makes the last several lines so precious.

From the archives – Hope by Neil Creighton

Hope

When the hidden rip sucks out
beyond the blue swell
uncurling noisily upon the sand,

out beyond the raucous sea-birds
circling, soaring and dipping
above the white topped crests,

out into dark, trackless waste
where the moving water mountain
towers glass smooth and sheer

and over its vast plateau top
waves foam and rumble
in irresistible chaos,

then only surrender remains,
letting the mighty surge
sweep where it will,

holding in a few tiny cells
the longing for a gentler swell
to wash slowly back

into some sheltered cove
where the patterned ripples
kiss the yellow sand,

where hope fills the clear blue sky
and the whole glorious world
shines again bright and new.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 30, 2018 — by Neil Creighton

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

elegy for her by Theresa Senato Edwards

elegy for her

how is it we mourn for someone whom we didn’t know?
to see three photos and wish her eyes transform?

to think about gender and how it shifts in each camera shot
her profile: a boy in a dress
hair jagged, chin cut as if there’d been a brawl,
empty fight with men gone very wrong.

her portrait: young girl,
eyes bent with sadness
stress around nostrils,
anger carved silent like glass.

her look beneath kerchief when asked
to shift her head right: young woman.
how is it her features soften against the force of chair
when dark cloth swaddles her hope of flowers,
river mist, laughter?

how is it that five numbers are all we have to find only three photos?
a “Z,” Zigeuner (German for Gypsy), to create a category
in which they’ll haul her out,
bludgeon any smiles she might have saved for someone
worth loving?

from Autumn Sky Poetry 19, October 24, 2010 — by Theresa Senato Edwards. Painting by Lori Schreiner.

Photo by Wilhem Brasse used with permission from the archival collection of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim.

Overnighter by Phil Huffy

Overnighter

In sleep she opens up her battered case
and finds within that rugged portmanteau
dark recollections years cannot efface,
although the waking mind has let them go.

Behind those dormant eyes her thoughts compete
to artfully assort and so define
conundrums with most answers incomplete
to which she does not consciously incline.

And when she stirs, resurgent as the day
and life resumes with rest obliquely got,
in truth, some things she thinks are packed away
are carried in the heart as much as not.

And so to dream can grant benign surcease,
permitting her to rise and go in peace.

by Phil Huffy, first published in Pangolin

Editor’s Note: The stellar iambic pentameter and rhymes of this sonnet perfectly support the extended metaphor introduced in the first stanza.

Fashion Sense by Larina Warnock

Fashion Sense

The day wore sequins and rhinestones,
shed her cotton dress for a more daring image,
an image reflected in sun-glints rippling
through the surface of Detroit Lake. There is
something violent about rhinestones,
blinding and heavy, weighting cartilage
and bone, but the day wears what she must
when she must, trusts this glittering newness
to carry her through dusk like sequins
sewn across the night sky.

by Larina Warnock

Larina on Facebook

Editor’s Note: Personification inhabits this poem the way a dress wears its girl—sparkling, but with an undercurrent of armor.

Scandal by Barbara Lydecker Crane

Scandal
Madame X, by John Singer Sargent, Paris, 1843-4

At last, when she allowed me to depict her,
this married beauty linked to love affairs,
the critics brayed I’d broken every stricture–
her brazen stance, décolleté, her air
aloof–as if with scorn, her head is turned
aside. She flaunts herself and yet withdraws,
a self-preservation I have learned.
Beyond this daring portrait, did I cause
reproof for what in me I must conceal?
Despite the furor, I did not take this out
of public view. The work is vital, real–
and over time, its scandal gave me clout:
what once made Paris critics blanch and fret
now flaunts its beauty at the New York Met.

by Barbara Lydecker Crane, first published in Think

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet gives voice to the artist and art history simultaneously, with impressively rhymed lines. Also, if you’ve never seen this painting at the Met, I highly recommend it. It’s luminous in person.

From the archives – Transfer of Power by Rick Mullin

Transfer of Power

It’s only natural, our hearts attuned
to reconciliation, that a great divide
would bleed into its center as the wound
reverts to scar on the resilient hide.
There are the massacre and Pentecost.
The fumes of war, the bright tongue of the dove.
Given ample rope, we’d hang ourselves,
but our imagination casts above
the rafters and the heavy attic shelves
on which our bound philosophies are tossed.
There comes a desperate encounter, fraught
with animal ferocity, a hand
extended where a battle has been fought
to one who rises from the bloody sand
already overwhelmed. Already lost.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 21, 2016 — by Rick Mullin

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim

Before the Hurricane by Diane Elayne Dees

Before the Hurricane

the chill
as tall trees sway
in unhurried warning

the smell
of stormy flint
as the sky turns green

the silence
when the birds and frogs
have fled to hidden places

the urgency
to prepare one cup of tea
before everything goes dark

by Diane Elayne Dees

Twitter: @WomenWhoServe

Editor’s Note: This spare poem demands attention via the imagery, and of course, the killer last line.