The Body, Before by Katie Hoerth

The Body, Before

Notice the geography of freedom–
this open prairie made of flesh, the slow
swoop of the back’s small, curvature of skull,
the belly’s subtle knoll. The mirror shows
this vista of my body and I gaze,
try to commit this scene to memory
like a valley filled with bluebonnets
in April, touch this land of milk and honey
before the fall, my exile from myself.

The cold ink on my skin. The thick black mark.
He draws a border on my body, says:
This is where I’ll cut you.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .But I hear:
separate skin from skin, flesh from flesh,
bone from bone. Even with the bridge
of sutures, healing skin, the growth of vessels
carrying my blood across this border,
this scar defines the woman I am now.

by Katie Hoerth

Editor’s Note: Blank verse gives this poem a subtle rhythm that reinforces the carefully constructed lines.

From the archives – The Miles Before Sleep by Mary Alexandra Agner

The Miles Before Sleep

inspired by the title of a Martin Willitts Jr. poem

Country singers say they go by truck wheels,
rubber tumbling, lost in Patsy Cline,
and poets, with debated metaphor, and rhyme,
get lost in snow and near forget their horse.
The rest of us walk crosswalks, train tracks, asphalt
between the lot and daycare, food store, work.
Unlike the lyrics, sneakers leave no footprint,
except on melting days we’d just as soon forget,
indeed all roads are laid with just that goal:
to go on without notice of the ones
who go on them, whose tread, tires or tired
feet the only thing which keeps the count:
miles to go before I sleep
recorded one by one in bones, in cracks,
invisible—and numberless as breath.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 16, 2017 — by Mary Alexandra Agner

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

…meanwhile by Bill Jansen

…meanwhile

common Welsh flowers caw
from choir loft hedges

the magic dead sleep upright
on tavern tables.

the meanwhile of similarity
seems unique as ever
in the dew

the drama of young women
keeps repeating
anew anew anew.

by Bill Jansen

Editor’s Note: This poem’s nod to Poe offers an unexpected amusement for the mind.

Thaw by Daniel Patrick Sheehan

Thaw

The morning brought snow-mist and the piping
Of chicks in a bower. The eave-drips hit
The roof slates like a typewriter typing –
Sixty words a minute, a thousand words
A page — the manual of spring, as it
Unfolded past the ledge. In all the yards

Along the street, in the yawning houses
Emerging from dreams, passions flared to life.
Marvelous the way the brain unfreezes,
Stutters, thumps, and at last begins to hum,
Off-key, the melody of stem and leaf,
Written, by God, in the delirium

Of sun-glare and pollen. The clotheslines bloomed
In the afternoon, and if a boy dreamed
Of flight he was sure to fly, wings be damned.
Picture his flawless arc across the sky
In the twilight of the day, when it seemed
That every voice of nature joined to cry

Hosannas unending: O Lord, they sang,
O thinker, O author of everything…
What more could they say? When the half-moon rose,
Every weary eye began to close.

by Daniel Patrick Sheehan

Twitter: @LVStories

Editor’s Note: Precise imagery and delightful sonics drive this poem from start to finish.

But Skin Is Different by Rajani Radhakrishnan

But Skin Is Different

There are indentations in the blue
porcelain like impressions on soft
wax where it was held softly, when

the tea was warm, for a while, and it
would not stop raining. We leave marks
on things that least expect it, on a passing

wing, on yellow afternoons, on the serrated
silhouette of leaves against a midnight
moon, on time standing on one leg, back

against the far wall, waiting. Truth is a
collage of careless fingerprints, the rain can
draw your picture from the way your hand

caressed the clouds, but skin is different,
naked skin can be cleansed, memory carries
the deliberate guilt of sieved pain. This tea is

cold, a level certainty in an imperfect cup, it
is only mid-June, the sun flattens like an
unleavened candle, and it will not stop raining.

by Rajani Radhakrishnan

Editor’s Note: The philosophical musing of the narrator in this poem is emphasized by the surreality of the imagery. Some poems are meant to be experienced, not untangled.

The Sounds Water Makes by Martin Willitts Jr.

The Sounds Water Makes

Grandmother hated the rusty click-clack whoosh
metallic sound of the kitchen hand pump,
preferring I’d go out: Fetch a wooden bucket
of water from the well.

I’d creak-creak the pulley rope
until I’d feel the bucket slap-bottom-touch the water,
go slower, sensing it sink-fill, then
tug-yanked up into sunlight, a slushing bucket,
fetched it back.

Water tasted different when from a bucket
or the hand-pump or metal ladle at the well.
I never understood how the texture and flavor changed.

All I knew was grandma hated the fancy hand pump,
choosing the old Amish, sensible ways,
without gadgets and gizmos. She desired a world
waking up to hardness of life, as loose
as water. But the rest of the world was moving
in a blur she’d never understand, leaving her behind,
set in her ways, her bones too old and stubborn
for there to be any other way than plain-spoke,
careful with words, listening before speaking,

She wanted a time when water was water,
and sky clung fiercely to the land.
She declared, “You can keep your ways.”

I was too afraid to ask her what she was going to do
with all that water. I went softly back outside,
floors screech-scratching behind me

like a rope being lowered into the deepest well.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The plain-spoken tone of the narrator mirrors the subject—a grandmother married to ways that feel simple, but are often anything but.

A tiny dance of coming to by Charles Carr

A tiny dance of coming to

The first faded sight of blue,
just enough dark sees
the moon as a big toe
in a torn sock,
seven o’clock traffic is
an agitated ocean,
a tide changing
its mind, wipers sweep
clean where night slept
dew on the windshield,
now the sun is a thumb
pierces the skin
of an orange,
it seems impossible
the sky fits it all in its mouth
at once and suddenly
the taste of light on everything.

by Charles Carr

Twitter: @selfrisinmojo

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem meanders from personification to surrealism, but the emotional undertone remains luminous.