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

Monday, May 30, 2016


You wind and unwind the day on spools of restlessness.
Sleep, that old dog you love, whimpers outside, nose fogging cold glass.
When you let him in, he shivers off flakes of moonlight and shadow,
snuggles next to you as you lie down again.

You are outside alone,
lifted from your bed by dark wings.
Around you trees conspire to reclaim what has been stolen.
They call out, a sound like feathers drawn across harp strings.
Your oak door pops from its hinges, 
roots and sprouts branches in response.
Your cherry tables and chairs do the same,
then wait for dawn to bring birds.

The trees ask you to take off your shoes,
dig your toes deep into the earth,
shred the sky into streamers of light with your leafy fingers.

© Jean Sampson

Trees reflected in water
Photo by Tony Russell

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rivanna River South of Town

Upstream the surface begins flat, mirror shine. 
Cool current flows under two kayaks 
glowing red and green. 

Noise of trains, trucks, cars gone.  Hands 
grip the paddle pole, arms stretch, drop, pull, 
blade rises falls, left, right. Trickle of drops.

Sun falls warm on the shoulders. Blue blossoms 
of figworts float by the hundreds like babies 
asleep in baskets on this June afternoon.  

Dark ovals dot the length of a log until 
claws and legs poke out, push, and 
drop into the stream.  

Ahead the river whispers, speaks, then shouts 
its rushing tones. Earth falls, river follows 
making eddies, bubbles, splash, flash -- which way to go? 

We are carried -- rising, falling, dashing, daring, 
rounding rocks, scraping rocks, tipping, untamed, 
sliding through foam, arriving to calm.  

High above, wing sweep, flashes of white, 
two Bald Eagles ride rivers of air, one wheels up, 
looks down and spots the colors we ride. 

Steering under Ironwoods, I climb out into water, 
give my body to its movement.  Head, feet, arms, 
hair gathered up in the river’s peace.

© Marti Snell, 2016

Rocks in the Rivanna
Photo by Tony Russell

Monday, May 16, 2016

For the King of Candy Land: My Son Kai, May 2016

“Candy Land, Life, Monopoly,” my son replied 
when I asked “Do you remember us playing marathon tournaments
of board games when you were a kid?”
This, on the way to the airport
where he will fly to California,
back to his home  and his work.

He is vexed by my asking such a trivial question 
while his thoughts swirl around his travel plans, the work that awaits him,
the transition from his visit with me to his life on the West Coast....
Yet, on his face, I see the boy who loved to play, 
who kept his Monopoly money in neat piles, color-coded 
and at the ready to buy another house or hotel; who outwitted
me at Checkers, making kings that jumped up and over 
and trapped me in the back row; and I, the Queen of Ping Pong,
falling in defeat to the child who outwitted me with speed and stamina.

Later that night, after he called to tell me he’d arrived safely,
I thought about all the years I read to him, lying on the bed
with Babar the Elephant and Conan the Barbarian.  
After he learned to read, I remember thinking, “I’ve lost my job,” 
but no, he brought home “The Hound of the Baskervilles,
and we took turns reading to each  other.

We know our children for so long as children
that when they grow up, we relate to what we know best 
about them. It seems unfair to them, yet inevitable to us.
We look for some overlap, something familiar to connect
the past to the present.  What in the man is still like the boy?
And I remember:  whenever he visits, we talk about books
and he reads to me.  And, though he doesn’t call to me from the next room, 
he calls.

© Evie Safran, 2016

Mother and her child reading scripture
Photo by Dr. Avishai Teiher
Pikiwiki Israel
from Wikimedia Commons