’Tis the season for celebration, anticipation, inebriation, hibernation… and remembering. Local poets submitted a treasure trove of wonders — angels and eggs and ice houses, coffee and convertibles, birds and cats and dogs — oh my! — and (as always) love. All of it awaits your pleasure: for the holidays and those long, cold months that follow. May your spirits be bright and your New Year happy!
— Doug Wilhide is the Poet Laureate of Linden Hills and poetry editor for the Southwest Journal
Melissa S. Anderson
Angels are forever going around
saying the same thing – “Do not be afraid” –
but they don’t always sound the same.
Some are tender and reassuring,
like a mother bending over a toddler’s bed in the night.
Others are jocular and upbeat,
like a leader summoning courage from his motley band,
undaunted by the odds.
Some are calm and steady,
like an instructor at your back,
who knows you can do what you think you can’t.
One angelic being shows up in heavy boots and a work coat,
driving a big truck down the snow-packed freeway.
He slows to a stop on the shoulder and backs the rig up.
Before you realize what’s actually going on,
he has wrapped a chain around your trailer hitch,
and his vehicle is heaving you and your sorry car
out of the snowbank where you were trapped.
Before he drives off, he leans out the cab window
and yells, “Hey! It’s OK. Yer gonna be fine.”
Carolyn Light Bell
You smelled like roses.
I chewed on your ear
How do we do it screen-time?
Love is now instant—
Cell phones, ipads, GPS
Glass breaks, plastic melts—
Hold me in your ear.
I dial you in.
There’s still room in my contacts.
You look funny in FaceTime.
Instagram for days
before our flesh met.
We touch, we kiss—wow!
I own an imaginary garage, a large building
housing my collection of transportation,
archived until we perfect teleportation.
Here you will find my MGB —
the British Racing Green convertible
with freedom dreams of my youth still intact
and seats so tight I can no longer get in or out of it.
Here are my Jaguars —
gorgeous styling, crappy engineering.
One has a double exhaust and two gas tanks:
You throw a switch on the dash to change them…
but knowing when requires a mystical connection to mileage.
Here is my Bentley and my Silver Shadow —
built for kings and pashas and for me
as I’m chauffeured through my movie-star, estate-owning 1920s.
Here is my Ford Woody station wagon —
that carried my big board to beaches and breakers
I never actually saw or surfed.
My right-off-the-production-line Model-T is over there, never driven,
and my shiny 1950s beauties —
the Corvette and the T-bird convertible.
The Duesenberg rarely goes out — an F. Scott mirage.
The Morgan roadster, with suitcase strapped to the back,
is reserved for driving on weekends down to the country house.
My garage sits next to my hangar
which houses my Spads and Spitfires —
all in mint condition, never shot down —
and the Pan Am Clipper ready for its run to Hawaii:
flights of fancy for another poem.
Pour the half-and-half in the coffee,
And a little small voice, hasty and shrill,
Says “Stir it! Stir it quickly!
Those roiling clouds are unacceptable!”
It isn’t the coffee talking —
This is before the first cup.
You sit there listening.
Eventually, it shuts up.
And then a Zen voice says, quite quietly,
That maybe haste is not so good.
It speaks in favor of serenity.
It says that some things work out as they should.
No matter what you think or what you’ve heard,
Sometimes you just leave everything unstirred.
James P. Lenfestey
These kind little brown people visit
from the grocery store where they live
alone in a rack far from the moist worries
of the greens and the desert of dry cereals.
We keep them in the best bedroom
in the refrigerator, though like all good guests
they are pleased to lie at ease on the couch
of the counter at the temperature of the day.
They are neither orbs nor ovals
but light bulbs lighting up the morning,
gentle bullets bent on healing the world.
They hide inside cakes,
live with lemons in the soup.
Eggs reveal themselves one at a time
in the form of a human child,
or several gathered warm in the hand
under the hard pecks of annoyed mothers.
From the pan two yellow eyes stare
up at us, sunny-side up indeed,
despite the spray of sea salt and black
cinders of pepper rained down upon them.
Every egg awakens wide-eyed and
innocent, even on a frying dawn
portending storm, or at sunset
dropped in the boiling sea.
Two sips into a 6-oz cappuccino
desert flower on the heels of a shower.
I seize my cell
in a blur of fingers, fashion
passionate text, embellish
with an emoticon, hit send
can slam on the brakes.
Remorse is a heartbeat behind.
I tremble like a thief
who hears a floorboard creak overhead.
I slowly scour the message for relief
a drunk replaying the revels
of last night’s binge,
beg history for a reprieve
Samsung for malfunction.
That wild, unedited declaration —
lion’s roar, naked soul —
is loose in the world.
Bruce David Peck
As a child I found winter enchanting.
The sound made as boots crunch in snow
Was a very different kind of alive.
With a child’s enthusiasm
And a child’s metabolism
Nothing would keep me indoors.
Hard water fishing is what they called it.
Sitting in shacks on frozen lakes
They farmed ice in the winter,
Teams of horses and wagons on lakes.
They would drill large holes with augers,
And cut precise blocks of frozen lake water.
Piled onto wagons, stacked in ice houses,
Covered over with saw dust
They lasted all through the summer.
On hot steamy days people came
To buy ice for ice boxes and coolers,
To keep food and bait cooled.
It was marvelous.
Now I harvest frozen memories
Cover them in moon dust
And keep them for summer.
Soon we will reach Winter Solstice –
The shortest day of the year, then
The days will be getting taller.
Harvest your ice.
The leaves are shed…
well, almost anyway.
Winter with his icy voice
clearly is on his way.
I linger by the window
taking in the view:
a woodpecker, a squirrel
both collecting winter fuel.
For me a change of oil,
a shot against the flu,
and checking all my outerwear
another time or two.
My scarf could use a washing;
my mitten needs a mate.
Each year at this time I find
there’s less to celebrate.
Like the bears that once lived here,
I’d prefer to hibernate.
I sat and thought
about rain and
living in a cloud
and I thought about
Detroit and how
you called it home even
though your heart
was never there
but your heart was
My eyes hold yours.
We weave raindrops
into a blanket for two,
for me and for you.
You played hearts
and I played spades.
You called me flighty
and it reminded me
The cats have left notes all over the house
that say they are tired of moonbeams
They have grieved, apparently,
and are also grieving
the loss of summer.
I have offered the crispy skin of my dinner,
a shot glass of whole milk,
a white bath towel folded in the sun
and barely got a sniff or testing paw.
This malaise maligns our weekends
leads to blank stares, more napping,
which leads to dreaming.
I ask them to please remember tuna,
the dazzling, dangling glint of December,
the buffet of aromas on guests shoes,
open windows, open doors,
flies, bugs, birds, boxes, the darting squirrel
and yes — the calm muggy grass of July
as it will all come again
very very soon.
We lay twined like vines in deep spring
Crawling up each other’s hearts
No parapets or horns sounding war
Just you and me and our quandaries.
There was no need for jargon
My brown soaked legs wrapped around your olive tone
Our limbs spoke of love far below the surface
Far beyond the ticks and tocks
Far beyond the holidays celebrated in the name of…
Your lips slight and slender
I watched as you dreamed —
How one smiles while so still is a beautiful trick!
The birds began their call and response.
Our three-year-old boxer hates poems
But loves waking us up with kisses.
Your eyes opened and said “beautiful morning”
And I fell in love all over again.