From the archives – Losing the Art of Love (2017) by Ralph La Rosa

Losing the Art of Love (2017)

There was a time when poets sang of love
without embarrassment, when versifiers
happy at their trade were gracious liars
in measured sonnets. They’d imitate a dove,
an owl, perhaps a dawn-drawn bird above,
who sighting human beauty soon desires
to mate his heavenly might with earthly fires
of passion: begets a paradox of love.

But tapping keys that text or tweet romantic
notes is so archaic, old-school, stilted
that songs of love, once tender or ecstatic,
are elegies about the lost or jilted.
Raving in rhyme about a love that’s new?
Postmodern ironies evaded you.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 24, 2017 — by Ralph La Rosa

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Lucy Bakewell Audubon Takes Her Grandson on a Late-Night Walk to Find Her Husband by Myrna Stone

Lucy Bakewell Audubon Takes Her Grandson
on a Late-Night Walk to Find Her Husband

Minniesland, Manhattan, July, 1848

There has not been, nor shall not be
birdsong as beguiling as John James
mocking a mocker in our chokecherry

tree. Most birds, boy, both tame
and wild, are drawn to him as if by
magic, though I spy well his game.

His mind may ail but he is handy
still at palming seeds from his pocket.
Mockers thrive on weed seeds, Willie,

as you do on potatoes. Such thickets
as these are habitations for all sorts
of fliers—chats, thrashers, kinglets,

crows—yet only a mocker will resort
to song beneath the moon’s whey-
faced light. What kind of true report

shall we make for John James’s sake,
child, when he asks why we are out?
Yes, of course, what’s apt: to take

him an oil lantern with nary a pout
at his absence again from the supper
table—his two most fervently devout

followers up and about to buffer
him, at least for one brief hour, from
his own befuddlement. Let us suffer

his load of midnight hubris and shun
nothing he will ask us to hear or see:
bird on the wing, the mocker’s tune

neat and naive, a quixotic spree
of mimicry until he alights, perfectly
pat and plumb, on John James’s knee.

by Myrna Stone, from Luz Bones

Editor’s Note: This beautifully constructed poem is a masterpiece of formal dramatic monologue. The careful enjambment and clean rhymes support the voice of Ms. Audubon.

A couple of old prose by Charles Carr

A couple of old prose

Metabolic function, universal law,
type B follows A, she the latter,
he the former, the day is a wholesale
club, televisions with pictures the size
to replace windows altogether, samples
of flavors not meant to gather at the same
time, the produce section and they are
obvious, blemished as though finished,
ready to be replaced by the firm and not quite
purple feel of youth. She is comfortable
and vindicated personalizing a package
of blueberries, he contemplates what
it means, the flurries of people, the sounds
they make, no two the same, not snowflakes
necessarily, more like notes in a Dizzy
Gillespie horn of plenty. She jerks his
stupor with proud display of her completed
masterwork, a container well beyond
its capacity to hold which is approximately
when they scatter to the floor like children
rushing from the open doors of a bus,
like harder to handle pieces of a world
gets smaller and easier to fall off the face
of it all, the unraveled emergency in her voice,
his reaction, the practiced precision, the way
he captures and returns all but one berry
just out of reach in a corner where it spins
like a finger to the lips, like the unteetered
hush of a delicate balance.

by Charles Carr

Twitter: @selfrisinmojo

Editor’s Note: Punny word play delights the ear in this poem (clearly meant to be read aloud).

Outback by Paul Ilechko

Outback

Lean, vulture, wing-flexing.
The buttery grease of goat
stinking beneath your tendril
flight. Encirclement gathering.
The torn darkness of yurts and thorns.
The empty miles of salmon
and lavender, the murky
infinite plain. Spiders’ webs
at sunset, glittering crimson.
Lean, vulture. The barking
of coyote, the steady tramp
of civilization, the impossible
absence of water. A salt-stricken
world of houses shaped from mud.
The rendering of the gum tree.
Lean, vulture.

by Paul Ilechko

Paul on Facebook

Editor’s Note: Startling imagery belies the cliché that a picture is worth a thousands words—in this poem, the opposite is true.

Sister by Jane K. Kretschmann

Sister

After twenty-two years
she stands here
on this Carolina beach,
barefoot, and says
a second time, “I will.”

Grass widow for so long
she has forgotten how
to please a man—
not in bed, that she has
kept in practice—

but by keeping quiet
when he screws up,
compromising,
making space for his
increasing accumulations.

For an hour the cold beach
sand pumices her soles,
wearing off the tough
skin, leaving her brown
feet pink and raw.

By Jane K. Kretschmann

Editor’s Note: The closing stanza of this poem is a metaphor for the difficulty the “grass widow” faces after so many years alone. Relationships are not for the weak.

The Bird Girl by Sarah White

The Bird Girl

A bird distinct from her father
or mother before her, I thought.
Fate had drawn us together
but as she grew she flew with others
of her feather. They ran into weather,
and scattered.

Maybe she wasn’t a bird, I told her.
She might be an apple. And apple she was
for a while, seeming to bloom
in a mountain orchard. I told her
my hopes: that she
wouldn’t fall too far from the tree.

When I said that, I wished I had not.
She gave me a look and changed
on the spot from an apple into a stone, plunged
to the ground, and began to roll

further and further through moss and grass—
gathering God knows what—away from the place
I’d seen her last.

But I have the address—oh yes. I send
bad poems and sage advice.
to which I get no replies
as if our bond was broken
never to mend
or, from the beginning, imagined.

by Sarah White

Editor’s Note: This poem’s extended metaphor morphs from bird to fruit to stone, but still seamlessly portrays the narrator’s emotional dismay, right up to the uncertain last line.

From the archives – Bone-Chilled by Martin Willitts Jr.

Bone-Chilled

These mountains were not high enough to have snowcaps
but a toddler tugged on his mother’s sleeve
as a silent plea for safety. The pond was frozen over,
although spring was coming out of its cabin,
carrying a berry-picking tin pail. The boy shivered
in his parka, back-glancing at the junipers
where the all-day bird was singing, knowing weather
was purposely fickle. His mother had pushed off
the latest attempt by another no-account guy
who had stared once too intently at his eight
year old sister. Bone-chills emanated from that man,
like a kind of mean wind blasting them in the face.
He went with his mother, searching with a group
for his sister who had run off into this direction,
into the folds of the mountains. The boy called out
in his small voice, loudly for the lost,
already dreading what he knew must be true and too late.
His mother, biting at her cold sore, seemed serene
at this same awful conclusion, holding one boot
belonging to his sister, strangely smaller,
like hope, like one blue flower in the snow-melt.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 27, 2017 — by Martin Willitts Jr.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim