Monday, December 1, 2014

Fifties Gal

In high heels and dresses that floated on the waves of her crinoline,
She'd saunter down Manhattan streets
As "fellas" whistled from around her
Because she decorated their views.

In skirts expanded by petticoats
Swirling her colors,
She'd dance the lindy 'cross party floors
As hopeful beaus
Stood in line waiting for a chance to partner her.

Fifties gals in flipped hair styles,
Their hair held back by colored bands—
Her mind remembers as she studies the mirror
For signs of a person left behind.

Still standing straight on her 70th birthday,
Hair blonde as it once was, 
Only a few gray streaks and lines
Telling the world she's no longer fifteen.

© Shelly Sitzer, 2014

"Women's fashion in the 1950s"
from "Fashion Pictures
Vintage fashion galleries from 1955-58"

Monday, November 3, 2014



You clench fists,
gripping us tightly,
dry and cracked,
in need of tlc.
You fling us around
wildly as you speak.
We spend days nurturing others,
nights making meals,
and you have never even dressed us in pretty jewels
(well maybe that occasional ring).
Our tips press letters and numbers
that keep us connected with loved ones 
in places far away.
Our enamel is never polished bright;
you tried it once 
and said it felt as though it were numb.
We feel the pins and needles
when the weight of you
becomes too much to bear
and you fall asleep
with us tucked under your head.
We remember that time in traffic
when you white-knuckled 
the steering wheel
for fear the other cars were too close.
We feel the aches as you hold tight the brush, 
struggling to get the knots 
out of your daughter’s hair.
You rarely thank us.
You hide us in pockets 
standing on sidewalks.
We could have been used
to create masterpieces of music,
years of guitar and piano lessons
stretching us,
but you chose an alternative,
giving the blood that flows to our ends 
to others.
We hold scars 
from moments 
that are too painful to speak of,
and we've never once complained.

© Suzanne Saxon, 2014

"A Woman's Arm," by Adolph Tidemand, Google Art Project
from Wikimedia

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Suddenly Like Light

Time changed without his notice, suddenly more like light
tracing the tops of pines, spectrum of greens finer and more haunting
than tones of an Indian raga, mysteries in a needle's breath--
eyes ached against borders of being human, to know
this shade of a young fascicle at dawn compared to its late afternoon
hue, when the odor of baked pitch and resin presses up
to the canopy, or this night color, tantalizing, back-lit by autumnal half moon--
too delicate for his own receptors--green which forced his kneecaps to earthen debris,
drew out a prayer, lips fervent and wet, to just once see with eyes of an owl or hawk,
to divine from this ebony green how old the needle was, how much life
it contained, how long until a breeze would usher it from the branch
and fold it into the earth.  He began to think that if he watched closely,
the whole future might spread out before him in a ray of light. 
He couldn't remember when the thought first occurred
to him; it seemed now that he'd always believed it.

© Michael Mahoney, 2014

Long-leaf Pine
Photo by Tony Russell

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dream of the Seed-Bird

In my dream our young bodies prowled a warm night, 
a garden-park, vacant besides us.

As we ranged, breathing mist,
we saw a free parakeet with flowing ribbons clipped in his crown feathers. Bright comet descending, he stopped by the fountain, admired his new colors in reflection. 

I crept close. He was slow to react, so I caught him.

I removed his crippling decorations, then saw that his wing feathers were delicate sprays of millet, shedding seeds onto my palm. Surprise loosened my grip, and he flew.

I have failed as his righteous savior. He is too fragile, too delicious to live; he'll be giddily stripped at dawn by a dozen seed-crushing beaks. But that is Nature's way, and I am its student, so I must follow to see.  

We slunk after, feeling our midnight way across well-kept lawns by instinct and by science - 
we are hunters and scholars. Soon we saw him land on a roadside sign; he was not alone. 

Two more parakeets, a budgie, and a red Amazon parrot perched together, greeted and groomed, with beaks and claws gently setting each others' plumage right, tucking in the seed-bird's millet, so his wings showed just sleek feathers. 

They chattered on. Without translation I understood this convention of uncaged birds, sharing stories, commiserating, celebrating free life. I need not save them; I need not observe their bitter endings. 

So I learned. So we learned.

We turned to each other to celebrate free life. We set each other right with fingers and mouths, landed together for a while, then bounded apart into the dawn. 

   © Laura Seale, 2014

Malabar Parakeet
Photo by Suriyahumars
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, October 13, 2014

Insomnia Ghazal

"What was your name again? When did your chair get so close?"
The voice of all tired women in bars with no close. 

His eyes found the checkered tile of the bathroom ceiling.
It's hot enough tonight, he muses, to forego clothes.

God, why did you deign to teach me the tongues of angels
When my weight of sin wouldn't let them dare to go close?

Counting Games: Sabbath is Seven. Victory. Seven.
Freedom. Seven. (She clenches her eyes, sleep is so close).

He traded baseball cards for a new glove, forgetting
The shears. The tangles of briar beyond the fence grow close. 

There is no sleeping here. No sheep to corral tonight. 
What hope is there without counting? The night knows no close. 

"When will you learn?" mother laments, brushing my wild hair. 
Like I'd care for style in treetops where the wind blows close. 

Again: Sin. Three. Hell. Four. Shame. Five. Submit. Six. Slumber.
Seven. Restful. Seven. Sarah. Two away-- so close. 

© Sarah Fletcher, 2014

"Complications of Insomnia"
Mikael Haggstrom from "Medical gallery of Mikael Haggstrom
Wikimedia Commons

Monday, October 6, 2014

Standing Proud

There are times when you drive 
a square peg into a round hole,
as a trunnel fastens
post to beam, but today it’s round into round,
and when I’m done, the pine panel
will hold fast to the frame
for a lifetime or more.

I touch the protruding head 
with a calloused thumb,
finding it stands just a little proud.
With a scrap of sandpaper
I smooth it and touch again,
all the time thinking of Dad’s words
as we sawed and hammered 
at something long-forgotten:
“It’s the proud nail that gets driven down.”

Another lesson from that country poet
that even now shapes what goes upon this page:

words that as I trim and sand these lines
remind me that brilliant phrases are given us, 
that what I leave behind is more debt than gift.

© David Black, 2014

Mid-19th C. post & beam barn with pegged joints
Whidbey Island, Washington
Photo by Anne E. Kidd for the National Park Servise

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Inspired by two young women 
who at less than half my age 
already understand and articulate 
twice as much wisdom and knowledge
of the heart, 
and how we are all connected – 
or not —
to our own pain 
and the pain of others, 
to our goodness 
and the goodness of others, 
to the spirit within 
and to and from and back 
to us. 
Inspired by two young women 
whose words of poetry 
flow like song, 
assuring me, 
and starting somehow 
the continuing process 
of my own healing.
Even at more than twice their age. 
I take still small steps 
and gently peek beyond 
the curtain of my soul, 
once again daring
to look deep 
and connect — with 
and others;
allowing my pain to be expressed, 
knowing the peace that comes
with letting go and opening up
to be 
inspired by God.

© Anne Cressin, 2014

Jona Noelle and Flora Lark
"The Fire Tigers"