Round Pond by Kelley J. White

Round Pond

Always twilight. I pull the heavy oars
through dark water until we balance,
cool air and water, night stilling, silent,
but for the living web of insect song spun
to our skin. We could hear a fly
settle on the face of the pond, hear the fish
rise to meet it, the still circles of each rise
ringing out until each fish’s hunger met
our wooden boat and quavered back.

Night birds dipped, smooth swallows,
flickering bats; no human sound
but the shipped oars dripping and
the shirr, shirr, shirr as my father gathered
the line in his palm for the cast,
the quick run-out as the trout pulled taut,
the moonlit silver dulling in the dark creel.

My father knew each hatch, which mayflies
lived for only one night’s flight, or two,
or three, or five. He knew the larva
and the nymphs, each swimming, clinging,
crawling stage. He’d catch a chrysalis
on the net’s edge to watch the rough husk split
then dry and enter air. So many white wings.

He’d lean a moment, the lit match quick
against his young face, the cigarette cupped,
match shaken, his hands brisk to tie a leader
or untangle a knot. I wet a finger. No wind.
Moon. I lay on the bottom of the drifting
boat, rocking, palms open to stars, so many
risings, light, sound, circles, whispers of fish,
my father dim in the bow, casting and reeling in,
my whispering breath, the water gentling,
lapping, and he rowed us swiftly home.

by Kelley J. White, from After Frost (CyberWit)

Editor’s Note: The absolute stillness of the imagery in this poem is broken only by the quiet movement of life flowing out of the water and then fading back into the depths, which is a lovely way to remember someone.

From the archives – Beauty by JR Solonche

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Beauty

From my room down the hall,
I can hear the mathematics
professor getting emotional
about an equation, and I ask
myself how someone can get
so worked up about what isn’t real,
an abstraction, nothing but what?
Signs and symbols. A scribble.

Oh, I say to myself. To him
it is a poem, a formal one,
every word in place, every rhyme
perfect, every stanza exact. Poor man.
He, too, must pound the beauty deep in
with his fist. Every time. Every damn time.

by JR Solonche

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 25, 2018

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Steve Jobs, From Beyond the Grave, Pitches the Flag Elevation App by Samuel Prestridge

Steve Jobs, Addressing a Joint Session of Congress from Beyond the Grave, Pitches a Technology that America Most Needs to Address the Aftermath of Mass Shootings, the Universal Flagpole Elevation / Suspension App

The flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up
at the click of an icon. It’s automatic:
no debate, no crafting statements of support,

or prayers, or debating gun laws, no muss,
no fuss. The horrific happens, and with a click
the flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up

after a span for grieving determined by consensus—
or algorithm: say x days per y victims.
With no debate, no crafting statements of support,

we’re greasing the skids. The shooter gets comeuppance—
his ass in jail or dead—but we’re spared the usual shtick:
the flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up

after proclamations, deliberations, air-time to envelope
the tragedy’s minutia, the names of the dead, a mimic
of debate, of crafting statements of support.

No discussing remedies, no blame, or changes to oppose.
User friendly: you can even be a dick,
and still, the flag goes down to half-mast, raises back up
with no debate, no crafting statements of support.

by Samuel Prestridge

Editor’s Note: This villanelle uses the repetition of lines to great effect, emphasizing the absurd, inherent cruelty of death becoming just another talking-head soundbite.

1726 Cantata by Korie Beth Brown

1726 Cantata

I walk down the path to your house, my feet tapping
a 4/4 rhythm. The sound says goodbye.
I don’t want to hear that melody. I want you to heal,
your voice to accompany mine as we grow old together.
I stop at the end of the sidewalk. Like Lot’s wife, I turn. Your window
is dark. You lie inside, all best friend without a working liver
growing quieter and slower. Soon you will leave the orchestra.
I will be alone, my life’s chorus depleted.
It’s hard to keep focused. I want to sing a sad solo.
Others are also affected by your death and life. I hear
the rustling of leaves. The tree next to me will be here
next week, but you probably won’t.
I get in the car. I’ll stay overnight at a friend’s
whose religion tells us rejoice, you’re just shy of heaven.
I can’t mouth that tune. I would ask your opinion
but you are busy with a different threnody.

How will I keep singing by myself?

Your house recedes in the rear-view mirror, its music replaced
by the hum of the car, the swell of traffic
the changing orchestration
of life from here on out.

by Korie Beth Brown

Editor’s Note: This lament threads nostalgia and grief together into one song because letting go of a loved one is neither easy nor simple.

A Purple Poem by Praniti Gulyani

A Purple Poem

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s neck
that my father writes for her
every full moon night
instead, most poets write on paper
but my father writes on mother’s skin
she smiles, she says she doesn’t mind
says, the purple poem is truly
a thing of pride and beauty
yet, she keeps it covered, carefully
with the ends of her dupatta, shielding it
says, she’s scared of it being looked at
by the evil eye

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s hand
that father writes for her
every full-moon night
instead, most poems have words
but its a shape poem, my mother insists
sits me down before the computer
makes me look at some
but does not ask me to write one
I wonder why

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s forehead
that my father writes for her
every full-moon night
instead, it has not been written tenderly
upon the softness of paper
with a gliding quill
it has been pummeled, pushed—
slapped, and smashed
probably the way, mom punches walnuts
into the dough of our winter cake
so that the walnut stays
I think father also wishes
for this purple poem
to permanently stay

there is a purple poem
on my mother’s feet
that my father writes for her
every full-moon night
and tonight, as I reach out,
my fingers measuring the dark
ensuring my steps are silent
I tread with caution
so as to not arise her
I touch this purple poem
which she says, is a treasure—
an honor, a privilege, a boon
and even at times, a wife’s pride
her sleep-crusted eyes flicker open
she winces.

by Praniti Gulyani

Editor’s Note: The repetition of the imagery in this poem gives it an almost sing-song cadence while also emphasizing the emotional difficultly of the narrative.

Dodo by Martin J. Elster

Dodo
(Raphus cucullatus)

Maybe you chuckle at the sound
of my name or weep at hearing a word
that calls to mind the song of a bird
so round, I couldn’t leave the ground.
Yet I matched my patch like comfy clothing.
You came ashore one day and, loathing
my curious countenance, bludgeoned, bashed
and smashed my clan. Our numbers crashed.
(Had the once-lush forests of Mauritius
ever seen a beast so vicious?)
We roosted in the woods, ate fruits,
and shrank from none, not even the boots
striding toward us. We were no beauts—
in your eyes—though our feathered suits
were snazzy as a CEO’s.
Unlike most other birds, the nose
inside our epic bill was keen,
helping us locate our cuisine,
helping us find the bulbs and roots,
seeds, nuts and crabs and other shellfish
we relished. The dodo tree, unselfish,
nourished parrot, bat, and tortoise,
the gifts it gave so darned delightful
we licked our beaks at every bite-full.
Paradise! Yet you abhorred us—
our face, our grace, our trendy style.
Now you hear our name and smile.
I wish, instead, you’d just ignored us.

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: This poem’s inventive rhyme is perfectly suited to its subject, with neither too much levity, nor too little.

I Want to Bring Back by Geraldine Connolly

I Want to Bring Back

My organdy Easter dress and straw hat
with a navy ribbon, tight green blossoms
in April, gravestones among apple trees,
the Virgin’s long blue robe, the startled ringing
of the altar bell like breaking icicles, that moment
when bread changes into the body of God.

Bring back crocuses and Easter chicks, reborn Jesus,
dogwoods and sycamores, who wore their blazing hats
of color. Eggs and lilies, the first moment
the orchard above the farmhouse blossomed
pink above the muddy Pennsylvania creek, a ring
near furrowed fields, of laden apple trees,

pheasants with wings like helicopter blades, trees
that bloomed, lifting their faces toward God,
the whole of the newly ploughed garden bringing
thoughts of hope. We tied on our hats
and to the ribbons fastened dry blossoms
with certainty, and that quiet instant

before we prayed became the moment
we wandered, lost among the trees,
muddied our stockings, crushed blossoms
beneath our shoes, cried out to the old God
to save us from falling. I remember that
once we were innocent, once we wore our ring

of belief like a badge, a feeling of being wrung
clean as we prayed, as if we could begin again.
I call to innocence, to girls in Communion hats
about to ascend the steep rows of church steps
to kneel, to bow and greet their god
as rows of widows and penitents like dark blossoms

light candles in the apse, their flame blossoms
illuminating the faithful, gathered and singing
songs of praise, hymns to the one God,
our faith restored, all of this in the moment
before mystery approached, belief failed, before trees
of new knowledge grew up into the heat

and fervor of the world. Tight green blossoms,
gravestones in the shade of apple trees, I call and
call to them. There is no answer.

by Geraldine Connolly, first appeared in Mezzo Cammin

Editor’s Note: This brilliant sestina contains a wealth of spectacular imagery and a final stanza that perfectly encapsulates the emotional narrative.

From the archives – Stars Fall, Doors Open by Eleanor Lerman

Stars Fall, Doors Open

Spring, summer. Oh come again
Lay wide open the bright new world
then close it up with flowers
if only for one more season
Why not? I have lived long enough to be
sentimental. To be permitted to awaken

in June, rested, ready, alive. Oh come again:
days when the sun lives like a friend and
there is always more. See the door that has

been left open to the house on the path by
the river: yes, there is always more. I remember
it so and I demand that it be returned to me

Though of course, somewhere beyond the sky
a force to be reckoned with clocks in
and reads the notes that were left behind

An eyebrow is raised, a finger is lifted,
which puts into play unimaginable forces
I imagine them anyway. Night falls, stars fall

This is all real now and I know it
Make time stop is not one of the spells
that has been cast upon me but others have

I will open my book now and I
will read them. Stars fall. Doors open
Away, away

by Eleanor Lerman

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, March 17, 2016

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

March Morning by Steven Knepper

March Morning

The maple limbs sprout tight-bound nubs
Of burgundy. Green scissors through
The withered grass. The once-trimmed shrubs
Shag out new licks of growth askew.

Here on the cusp of day and spring
We sit and window-watch a jay
Pick suet seeds, shake loose a wing,
Tuck up and tumble off away.

Bright eager light spills on it all,
An augur of the gilded boom
To come: the buzz, the pollen fall,
The flowering cascades of bloom.

How can we think of work and school
Now that each dewy dab’s a jewel?

by Steven Knepper

Editor’s Note: This sonnet contains a bounty of startling imagery, perfect rhymes, and skillful meter. Such poems are a joy to read.

Waldeinsamkeit: An acrostic sonnet by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Waldeinsamkeit: An acrostic sonnet
When you’re alone and walking through the trees,
Anxieties and worries fade away.
Leaves fluttering in springtime’s gentle breeze
Disturb no creature’s thoughts. And if you stray
Entirely off the beaten path, you know
It’s safe to chill inside your green cocoon.
No city dangers threaten where you go.
Street noises are displaced by nature’s tune.
And when the light grows dim, and you are drawn
Meanderingly to the EXIT word,
KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs by your city lawn
Erupt into your thoughts, and seem absurd! …
Inside the forest, far from city sounds,
Tranquillity in solitude abounds.

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Editor’s Note: The human ability to create a word for every emotion never fails to impress, as this sweet poem demonstrates. (Waldeinsamkeit: (poetic) woodland solitude; the feeling of solitude in the woods)