She loved the beach, the chowder, and the snow.
She lived here just one year—an undertow
of age and illness taking her too soon,
her hand in mine that last dark afternoon—
but she loved living here. She watched the waves
at White Horse Beach, saluted pilgrims’ graves,
savored the homemade chips at East Bay Grille,
collected new friends with uncommon skill,
shared with them her delight in books and birds
and music, and learned their way to say words
like “lobstah” and “nor’eastah.” Far from strong,
her gait unsteady, she took walks along
the harbor, where a sunny breeze renewed
her confidence and fed her gratitude
for every step, each season by the water,
each autumn leaf, each tulip. As her daughter,
I loved that year. I was her local guide,
her walking partner, and her pal. The tide
kept rolling, she kept busy, we both found
new rhythms, and it seemed she’d hold her ground.
Before her second winter here, we’d planned
to shop for boots; instead, I held her hand
When winter storms begin to blow,
I love to think of how she loved the snow.
Jean L. Kreiling is a Professor of Music at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts and the author of two collections of poetry: Arts & Letters & Love (2018) and The Truth in Dissonance (2014). She is a past winner of the Able Muse Write Prize, the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Sonnet Contest, a Laureates’ Prize in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, three New England Poetry Club prizes, and the String Poet Prize
A rare day in November culls the strength
of summer’s sun to haunt us like rich wine.
The leaves are gone and grapes torn from the vine,
but one last symbol braves the shadow’s length.
A dandelion with its yellow hue
defies the time of year with purpose sure,
as only weeds can do. Its colors pure
demand our admiration and their due.
If it were spring, we never would repent
but dig it from the ground to toss away.
Yet now we love its boldness and its sway,
tenacity, persistence, and intent.
Priorities are changing with the season
the wintering of age brings forth new reason.
Aline Souls’ work has appeared in such publications as Kenyon Review, Houston Literary Review, Poetry Midwest, and The Galway Review. Her books include Meditation on Woman and Evening Sun: A Widow’s Journey. She is currently working on a novel, which she plans to finish in 2020. She earned her M.A. in English, her M.S.L.S. in Library Science, and her MFA in Creative Writing, and currently teaches creative writing through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute scholar program offered through California State University, East Bay.
With sharpened axe last November
(And since the day was warm and good)
My task sent me into the timber
To build a cache of winter wood;
I claimed a tree well past its prime,
Its surface smoothed and blanched by time.
My work commenced, then arrested,
I thought perhaps by hardened knot.
Another swing, too, contested,
This time a spark declared the spot
Concealed a source of metal made
That flummoxed me and dulled my blade.
Within, a strand of old barbed wire
Stretched 'cross the circle weather rings,
Which told of rain and drought and fire
And myriad forgotten things;
For fifty years the tree had borne
In woody flesh this rusty thorn.
Would physicists or fuzzy math
My theory hear or claim support,
The line that broke the spiral path
Disrupted time and did distort
The very course of history?
This shall remain a mystery.
Landon Porter is a business owner and database developer who writes poetry as an extension of his ability to bring together form (computer code) and function (user interface design). Writing formal verse is a natural outlet for his love of order and beauty. Much of the inspiration for his poetry comes from growing up on a farm in western Kansas, but he now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife and three children.
The 5 a.m. dawn chorus and first light
repudiate my questioning of “use”.
A wavering pragmatist, today I might
unsheathe the Henckels, maybe Google noose,
or, thinking an ambiguous OD
would prove less hurtful—that is, if it works—
I may lay down my new G43
and take the catastrophic plunge with Percs.
But something holds me back—not Virgil’s voice
of reason in the gruesome wood, nor threat
of other hells from other creeds. The choice,
though binary, is unresolved as yet.
I toss my grimy, twisted, sweat-soaked sheet,
pull back the blackout curtains, open wide
my window to the silent, stifling heat
of noon, and take one final look outside.
A waning children’s moon is riding high,
and as I monitor its certain climb,
I am the little boy who scanned the sky
back in a far-off place and distant time,
gazing through his spyglass telescope,
wonderstruck at marvels such as this.
I damn the knife, the gun, the pills, the rope,
and turn away—for good—from the abyss.
Catherine Chandler, an American poet, is the author of The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press); Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press), shortlisted for the Poets’ Prize, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis), and This Sweet Order (White Violet Press). Winner of the 2010 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, the Leslie Mellichamp Prize, The Lyric Quarterly Award, and a recent finalist in the Able Muse Write Prize, Catherine’s complete bio, podcasts, reviews, and other information are available on her poetry blog, The Wonderful Boat, at www.cathychandler.blogspot.ca. an American poet, is the author of The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press); Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press), shortlisted for the Poets’ Prize, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis), and This Sweet Order (White Violet Press). Winner of the 2010 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, the Leslie Mellichamp Prize, The Lyric Quarterly Award, and a recent finalist in the Able Muse Write Prize, Catherine’s complete bio, podcasts, reviews, and other information are available on her poetry blog, The Wonderful Boat, at www.cathychandler.blogspot.ca.
I fear I might mistranslate what you said
And lose the very essence of your words.
May I record you as I do the birds:
The warbler, shrike and wren, red’s wild-combed head
Who can’t fly straight because his wings are strained
By his erratic breaths—the young cock quail
Who only knows four notes, the nightingale?
Perhaps the mockingbird who has profaned
The puerile bluebird to his detriment?
I listen to them all here in the field
Or from the house, the wood, the swimming pond,
The deer-stand in the right-of-way, the tent
I hid in, hunting, while my body healed—
As you well know, from wreckage and its rent.
You are the bird of paradise; I’m fond
Of you beyond compare, despite your squawk
When you were ill with me, the bedroom talk,
Too colorful for feathers to respond.
But when you left, it was the hardest thing,
This separation. Distance has allure,
It surely does. Migration’s not a cure.
These days, your speech has turned to twittering.
I asked if you were lonely; you said, no.
I wondered if I heard you nearly right.
I am the red-winged blackbird’s gulping tone,
The swallow, swift, the collared dove, hoopoe—
No, not the Merlin, hunting late tonight.
I am the loon, I am the loon, alone.
Charles (Charlie) Southerland lives quietly on his 240 acre farm in Arkansas. He manages a heap of critters and is teaching his six-year old grandson how to hunt and fish. Charlie’s been published in some pretty good journals: Trinacria, The Pennsylvania Review, Measure, The Road Not Taken, First Things, The Lyric, Blue Unicorn, The Rotary Dial, Cathexis Northwest, Salmon Creek and others, He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize a few years ago and was a finalist in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet contest. He writes about everything.
Seldom I see her, but she can be heard:
red flamboyant headdress of a bird
banging her beak with quick intensity
against the instrument of a hollow tree.
Silence does not exist. Earth’s made of sound,
her origins rumbling underneath the ground,
her surface an airy dance of blue-green grace
veiled in vibrations as she whirls in space.
Mornings I sit attempting to achieve
one-ness with the silence that I disbelieve
fill with the hum and whir of wind and wings,
woodpeckers, and other transitory things.
Barbara Loots has published poems for fifty years in literary journals, online magazines, textbooks, and anthologies. Her collections, published by Kelsay Books, are Road Trip (2014) and Windshift (2018), a finalist for the 2019 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence. Retired since 2008 from a long career at Hallmark Cards, Barbara volunteers as a docent at the renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, where she resides with her husband, Bill Dickinson, and Bob the Cat in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood.