Monday, August 22, 2016

With Friends on the Blue Ridge Many Years Ago

On the mellow mountain my friends and I
Wooed tricky streams and felt up trees.
Each strange leaf honored and many kissed,
We sipped perfect water and pissed in peace.
Insects embroidered music; light was an animal
Little but not weak that played hide-and-seek.
We pretended to argue and were almost sincere
Or more than sincere in bartering praise.
It is unchangeable fact that air adored our lungs—
And awed on a tall but considerate stone
We were instructed by color, the costume of the sky.
Since then our brains like acrobats,
Trained in secret, in gaudy caves
Have sometimes been loyal, have sometimes betrayed;
Our flesh sometimes failed; fear turned expert.
Death or shame is a judge who won’t forget;
Who insists on a decision though we soar from jail
In recklessly innocent, half-honest joy.
Despite the crime of our clumsiness,
We remember the silver,
The purity of delight,
Synesthesia and sinlessness,
The unstained yearning
Of our voices sustained
By undeceived inconceivable
Blessable air.

In the mystical mistiness
Of our blue mellow mountain
We yet track the trickiness
Of streams green as grass.
We still follow the untreacherous
Unfailing glow of air.
Does cruelty rule? Have our hearts changed to ash?
But the tall altar stands! The music remains!

       © Stephen Margulies, 2016

Blue Ridge Mountains
Photo by J├╝rgen Nagel
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

For When You Are Sick In Bed

When you are sick in bed
With an array of wrinkled pillows ’round your head
It’s like “get through another day.”
“Get through another night.”

But nights aren’t really that bad
When you can watch the sunrise 
Lighting your window
Or contemplate the world outside.

You can choose to have visits
From each of your children
As they come to you in multi stages
Of their young lives, laughing or
    skipping rope.

There in the dark their smiles greet you
They may even be up to old antics
But all is fair
As you make it through
    another night.

© Shelly Sitzer, 2016

Mrs. John Webb, being nursed when sick in bed
Engraving by M. Burghers, ca. 1700
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Absently-mindedly Mowing My Lawn

A minor puzzle: that childhood riddle
about the brown cow who eats green grass
and gives white milk, but any farm boy knows
there’s a greater: how, in early spring, 
wild onions begin to flavor
that milk as no grass ever can.

Milk smelled only like itself
until the cows found wild onions,
and then the odor emerged from the teat,
hung heavy over the pail,
the taste sometimes so tainted 
that we fed it to the pigs.

No longer on a farm,
I buy mine from the store
and seldom think about the dairy’s pasture land.
Only rarely—like today, 
riding my mower over four acres
of spring grass with tufts of onions here and yon—
do I wonder where they grow, and why—

how it is that seasons, 
adorned with colors and sounds, 
are likewise rich in tastes and smells,
and think how this clean plastic jug 
I bring home from the store

bears nothing but milk, for which, 
coming from some distant place
and tamed though it is,
thanks must, nevertheless, be said.

            © David Black, 2016

Jersey cow in field
Photo by Jamain from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Passage

In agreement with nature,
children were born in parents’ beds
on the sperm-stained mattresses.
They farmed and hunted,
gathered around the fireplace
during long winter evenings,
looking through a box of old pictures,
reading out Grandpa’s longhand diaries.

They married neighbors,
started families in their twenties.
They took their last breath in the bed
where they took their first.
The Bible, goblins, and furniture
stayed undisturbed for centuries
under the same roof.

Baby boomers introduced a new routine,
being born in hospitals by C-section,
driven to nursing homes
to take their last breath,
emotionally crushed,
confused and upset,
caged in safe hospital beds,
not feeling special anymore
because of their high intelligence.

Their houses and furniture
are sold to young overachievers;
the yellowish pictures and longhand diaries
end up donated to secondhand stores.
The mournful goblins hang themselves in the attic
on rotten shoestrings.

The impassive Blue Ridge Mountains
overlook the young overachievers’ houses.
Lacking talent for idle chattering,
they have nothing to offer.

        © Helen Kanevsky, 2016

A Huntsman and Dogs by Winslow Homer
from the William L. Elkins Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Ancestors Call Me

My ancestors call me to come to the Motherland
And I feel as if I’m drifting on a raft of disappointment
Loaded down with hopes and dreams and expectations
As if I should know the passage to travel

My ancestors call me and I ache to answer the call
Because I feel as if my heart lies on those shores
And I beg to walk as a native of that earth
As if I know every corner of that land

My ancestors call me and I want to bow down and touch that soil
Because I know I belong there as an elder
And my heart cries out like a lonely bird for its mother
Knowing I need my Motherland to console me as I grow

My ancestors call me many times and I want to respond
Because their calls are like a welcome to those who walk the uneven ground
And so I continue to work as if my ride will come tomorrow
So I can be carried across the water like a ship that knows its course

My ancestors call me over and over again
As if they are preparing me for my mission of life
And so I continue to hear the sounds of joy like a sax that draws you close with each note
Because I know those notes are like a signal to come and rest
like a baby needing a lullaby

My ancestors are calling and I hear you!
And I stand up like a young soldier responding to the bugle call
Because I know it is as important as life itself
And so I continue to hear the voices

I hear you Lucinda, Nana, Ida, Uncle Jimmy, Faust:
My ancestors who call me as if you are the bringers of those who came before
And so I will continue to hear you like a serenade humming
in my heart each day
Because I know you want me to come as the carrier of life and love like a servant of all humankind

My ancestors call me and I know you won’t stop
Because the call is like a bow strumming on my heart strings
And I will respond whenever the time is right with my soul
Your call pulls me and propels me and lifts me

My Ancestors, keep calling!
Your call carries me upward like a flight of eagles soaring
To help me to reach the highest heights
I will answer Your call when it is time!
And so it is!

        © Hilda Ward, 2016

A pendant portraying a revered ancestor
from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Photo:Brooklyn Museum
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wonder Unimpeded

No remnants of boundaries
in the laboring hours.
In a fluid garment of
sweat and blood,
I am life-force unimpeded. 
Quietly I flow and churn,
an equinox of consciousness.  
My mind retreats inward;
a muscular twist
wrings it out again.
Withdrawing, emerging.
Adrift, anchored.  
Dark, light,
Change unimpeded,
Until the wringing grip holds fast,
and I am captive in the stark light,
and there is no shadow for relief,
and I regain my senses
and see my nakedness,
and agony crashes in,
and I despair,
but feel my hand being guided
into the blood, 
into the pain, 
to touch the 
downy head
of my son,
and discover
for the first time
wonder unimpeded. 

© Laura Seale, 2016

Photo by Evan-Amos
from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Remain Here (In Memory of Daniel Berrigan)

I remain here as I hear you have left.
I could be sad, but I am still inspired.
My own life can mean more than it has
Though I can never reach all you have done.

© Dennis Wright, 2016

Daniel Kerrigan with his niece Frida
at a Witness Against Torture event in 2008
Photo byThomas Good
from Wikimedia Commons