Aug 2012

My Brother Blew a Horn
Jim Edwards, Composition in Blues

Oh, I am not taking from the strings that free us or deliver,
I am looking at the horn, not from abandoned delight or quiver.
Could have been the blue as it caught me right up front,
Maybe just the simplicity – is this a cardboard stunt?
That little thing we often refer to that lives in you – me,
Way down- tests you to look! Stop! See!
Screaming – take me, take me.
When you play your soul from a piece of brass
You share your heart be it bop or jazz -
When your carriage rises to the blow from you
The victors are shared by all –what is his follow through?
Reflections on curling his sleeves-- just so,
Bucks or saddles “stand your collar”-- You want to go?
Milano’s, a second street jam, a Sunday treat.
He was 15 –He never missed a beat.
As the blues penetrated his being, he got his game.
I recall when I asked him what tunes to blame.
“Want to’ bring some passion to the session,
 What is the vinyl choice, brother?”
Would you imagine Herb Albert or pick another?
He blew his horn and blew it well
The equalizer -- the music, not fear of hell.
He grew with a pucker mark on his lip.
He grew, he become-he left the pip.
My brother blew a horn and blew it well.
His heart never put away that gel,
He quit blowing -- arranged his music surround,
Protecting from his Langley den, underground.

Barbara McDonald

Mary Ellen Strack, Into the Allerton
Into the Cathedral

For the anniversary of your husband’s death we drove
not to a church, but to all the roads we could think of
where trees canopied the pavement like naves. 
Our trek through foliaged tunnels, highlighted by day
glittering through leaves.
We shared a love of nature and treasures hidden
in plain sight, strived not to miss the rapture or roar
of life – a host of 22 Fu dogs lined a garden 
concealed by cornfields and farms; knobby apples,
sculptures hung on an installation of tangled arms.
Now seven years since your spouse suddenly died
I am in mourning for you dear, sweet friend.
A Caledonian forest fills the glades in my head
when in reality, the giants have almost all been slain to ash.
Your porch sits empty where we once journeyed
on rocking chairs across painted planks,
laughter accented our song of conversation.      
You joked that your veranda was a womb, and now
I wonder if we’re always seeking re-entry into sanctuaries such as these.
Death can whittle away even the tallest oak to twig
 disturb steadfast bark off-kilter from its trunk.
Somewhere I heard that trees don’t ache or cry
but here today, returning to our cathedral in the woods,
we are all bent over in the most solemn pain and prayer.

Anita Stienstra

Kathy Pauley, Sunday on La Grande Jatte
1880s Petite Critque

The sullen child must take her mother’s hand,
as shapes and lines are formed from optic dots.
‘Though sport and fun are legal on Grand Jatte,
Madame and child, like paper dolls they stand,
while down the years French freedom would expand.
She says, “Shall I not run and play a lot?”
“Whilst thou release me from this bonnet knot?”
Mais oui, Monsieur, you are the master grand.”

Sundays on the Seine need not be dreary.
At center, in sun, they pose with ease.
“Oh, George, of bonnets I have grown weary.”
“Just loosen up that brush stroke. Ple-e-eze?”
“Your genius trumps Monet’s couleur theory.”
“Unbonnet your mind; Just paint me a breeze.”

Pam Miller 

Emerald Whisper, Tracey Maras
She whispers his name
when no one can hear
wishes he was still here
he has been taken away
She remembers their time
his smell
his touch
his caress
as time passes his voice is fading
Daydreams begin but
are quickly chased
she only wants the memories
She continues with daily life
the garden is planted
house is vacuumed
tasks are completed
list is shortened
Only in the darkness
in the quiet of the night
when no one can hear
does she whisper his name

K.A.T. Corrigan

What We Cannot Ask, Lynn Hotes
What We Cannot Ask

First-year English major,
intimidated by Shakespeare,
I finally raised my hand
to ask why no one waded in
after Ophelia. 
Surely, if the Queen
could catalog crow-flowers,
nettles, daisies, and long purples
even recounting how the girl’s skirts
became saturated and sunk her--
then there was time. 
The Professor, a patient man,
told me, “That is not a question
we can ask of this piece.”
They trained me to parse words,
become intimate with the unknowable,
infinite mirrors reflecting back upon me.
Floating on the tide of post-modern feminism
I allowed those drowned women their symbols,
Ophelia, Edna, even Virginia
as they ordained.
Then a sacred text came to my unlikely hand,
written at the moment of extinction,
in an envelope sealed at every seam
by blood red tape that will never fade to brown
or be scrubbed away.
Insomnia is the worst part of grief
I wanted to drown—
forcing my face under
only to break the surface
worrying the words
I disappoint you.
It hurts too much to care.
another conclusion.
All I have done is brought pain.
Full of questions I cannot ask.

Shawna Mayer

Bird Boy
Bird boy, scared of steel cages
Needs freedom to love life
Robin Girl, Felicia Olin
And to feel the air. He hops
Away again leaving
Her with a bloody beak.
But that’s not what she loves
About him. He’s brief— a
Mystery. She sees
Towers of gold in his eyes,
Towers he’s still discovering,
Upturning soil, digging for
Worms— while Robin girl
Bleeds—waiting for her lover
Man to catch up to her.
But he just might not, and she’ll
Follow eagles, sparrows, and
Be up in the trees. While her
Bird boy digs ditches
And hops from one hole to another,
Dirty, bleeding onto another
Robin girl that will learn to fly
Above him also.

Lindsey Buis

Red Tail, Teri Zucksworth

Along the grassline dark and shifting,
Static for a moment in the crosswind,
Then boldly changing course, but never lifting
His shadow from the heart — the hunter drifting.
The rabbit stiffening in brindled shade
Is warning to the quail to drop their chatter.
In common fear an obeisance is made —
The hunter is alert above the glade.
He passes noiselessly and then
Is gone.  To his passing each small eye is pinned.
They live today and that is all that matters,
For when tomorrow comes, he comes again.

Hugh Moore

The Ledpidopterist, Dennis Morris

The Lepidopterist
Pheromone flakes were dropped from a plane
This week to fool the gypsy moths,
Scattering scent so widely they’ll be confused,
An aromatic birth control.
She says they’re pests, not pollinators
Like her carefully nourished caterpillars.
Waiting for each pupa to break open
In winged glory, she wants to know, why
Do the butterflies get all the good press?
I think of her as she might look
Caught in a photo flash,
Her arm extended like Isadora Duncan
As she reaches up to snatch
A luna moth from the evening sky.
She has a cage on her back porch
Where females call with their scent:
A male sometimes travels miles
Attracted by a single molecule.
These are rare species she’s breeding,
Arranging introductions, Miss Moth, meet
Mr. Moth. She’s even been known to
Take a hand and help matters along
When cobwebbed antennae blinded
A suitor to his ladylove
Now scant inches away.
I tease the Moth Madame about pimping
But the truth is I admire
A woman who sets her clock for 3 a.m.,
To keep the dance of life moving.
Lola Lucas

october sunset
October SunsetRebecca DuPont

a monarch rests her silk wings
preparing to hitch a ride
on a southern current ripe seeds
yield sprinkling yellow fields
of billowing prairie grass
in the center the mother tree
her mahogany bark ignited
by the setting sun clings to clusters
of orange leaves a doe passes
beneath guiding her younglings
south toward warmth
and a remembered salt lick
evening’s long fingers begin
to weave light through thinning
boughs opening the way to
winter’s starlight fierce as scripture

Pat Martin

Stillborn, Mary Tumulty


Trees bleed leaves around me.
A stain marks my shirt.
In pours sunset—
a wash of blood.
The cold catches my breath.
My legs freeze.
It’s the same ole meadow.
It’s the same ole breeze
cut from another year
where I’ve forgotten how to forget.
Lend me your voice.
I want to put it in my mouth—
breathe in light and heat
heal up cracks with kisses.
It is in your lips
that summer lives.
It is in your eyes
where love frees me from the chains of living.
Hold me so yesterday can
spoon tomorrow.
Touch me where things cannot be born and die
in a single push of time.

Anita Stienstra

Remembering Summer, Rebecca DuPont
Remembering Summer

Some things I see clearly about summer,
where I sat by the window with Aunt A.
A Greyhound bus, when you are only eight,
in hours of two, travels all day.
Expanse of farm land stretched before me,
much larger than the park or the Sears Roebuck.
I climbed a fence, topped by barbed wire that scratched,
and beyond the bull, a green apple I plucked.
Add salt to green apples and pucker.
Drink lemonade to lower August heat.
Walk the pail from the barn and make ice cream,
vanilla velvet—eat!
The morning was for mud-pie cookies
with bits of corn left baking in the sun.
Late afternoon I held my nose and ventured
past the pig pen and back ‘fore supper’s done.
Last summer I traveled farther and paid more,
while talking to people I didn’t even know,
and with just a few relatives I hold dear,
I dined on something—I can’t recall as clear.

Pam Miller

Awake at Dawn, Liz Drake

Awake at Dawn
                  after reading Li Ho

once we too were coils
let out
to be rearranged
amid lilacs and petrichor
our young bodies
bared thick the fitful drowse
of twined fingers
cerulean bands on a nightstand
glinting threshold of dawn
so when I leave you
your cool curtains
air a restless billow
half gone toward noon
I won’t wake you
our mirrors
two petal faces
in somnolent sheen
or ask you to drop
your posy of dreams
we each require
such different attentions
heat ascendant to swell
of finch and bunting
how strong our summering
we need no longer speak
of what we grow
toward that final harvest
so well arrayed our clouds
against open sky

Lisa Higgs