The poems of summer

Illustrations by WACSO

Wow! Just when I was beginning to worry that poetry no longer mattered to too many of us, a veritable summer storm of very good verse blew in. Such a pleasure — to discover so many ways of capturing the leisure and imagination and the sights and sounds of the season … often with a finely honed edge. You’ll find familiar voices and some new ones, ranging in age from 9 years to near dotage. If your poem isn’t here, it may show up in later issues. Thanks to everyone who shared their work!

— Doug Wilhide is the poet laureate of Linden Hills and poetry editor of the Southwest Journal.


Summer Spell    

Christine Alfano


out walking with dog this evening–

I scooped Kenneth Patchen poems

from a Free Little Library.


two ice-eyed huskies barked crazily at us

as we trespassed their alley

and the woman straining to quiet them

divulged their secret names: Buddha and Montana.


dog and I accepted these rare gifts–

enchanted. We took our time crossing streets

I let the leash play out.


Queen Kong

John O’Connor


She was quiet a day ago.

Whatever made her fight the city,

We still don’t know.

Something caused civility

To suffer an epic fail.

Maybe it was something male.


Possibly someone walked across

A floor that she just mopped.

Maybe she was body shamed.

Maybe she was blamed

For something Godzilla did.

Maybe she chipped a nail.

But when she lost her temper everyone hid.


No glass ceilings out here.

No double standards.

No uniform of high heels and brassiere

For membership in an army of bastards.


Up in the dazzling Gotham air

There is no boardroom where

The male Kong sits and preens

With his feet up on the table.


Instead the sweet expanse of big blue sky

With Blue Angels and F-16’s

Attacking as they are able,

In a flotilla she swats and hits

Scanning the sky from the building where she sits.


Did someone call her Miss?

She doesn’t miss often, and the planes

Crash into Central Park with screams and flames.

Rambo and Arnold are holding back.

They are cautious in this attack.

She’s not all that nice anymore.

She is woman. Hear her roar.



Laurie Lykken


Golf widow is what I’ve heard women like me called,

but I resist the malaise the phrase implies.


I could be spending money to Frankenstein myself

in hopes of regaining the attention I once commanded:

face lifts, hair dyes and cuts and curls, body sculpting

all the frills.


Yet knowing it will be in vain, I refrain,

too enamored by sunlight to transform myself into

a creature of the night.

Old age will never be polite but

looking other than I am does not feel right.


I will not go gentle into my goodnight.

Using Dylan—Bob as well as Thomas—for my guide,

I find I am a slowly rolling stone and will not hide

that moss I’ve gathered; it’s my pride.



Elizbeth Weir


Sunglasses worn indoors are rude,

power skewed by the one

who hides what eyes provide.


Take a new acquaintance. We shake hands,

and I see my wrap-around double

distorted in his defensive lenses.


“Your new home,” I say, “set in prairie,

is lovely,” and pour him a glass

of Amontillado sherry.


He nods. I watch my image joggle

then correct in dark mirrors.

“You’ll find our wildlife rich,”


I try. “Oh?” he says. “Perhaps,

you like to bird-watch?” “No,” and

my shape slews briefly from side to side.


Maybe, it’s pride, or fear,

a need to control by being remote;

or is it hurt that makes a person expert


at concealment, a practiced knack

at being absent while present,

the cup of life half empty,

looking out from inner darkness?


Rocking Chair              

Miriam Moore-Keish


the rocking chair creaks and argues with me

every time it rolls backwards into cracks

in the termite-ed wood of the porch


every ridge and wave in the wood throws

the chair into a panic, syncopated like rain


and strong like your hand on my rocking chair,

urging it to rock in time with yours, with you


First Marriage   

Eileen Beha



by the steam heat

of fresh love.


by the power of

magical thinking.

In spite of

shadows of the past

pressed on our backs

We bought

matching gold bands.

Then Mom said, Marry

in haste; repent

in leisure. And

so we did.


betty’s bolts     

pam christian



she tipped a few tonight

got picked up by five

chopper champs and

never went home with a

single one

gold-plated lightning bolts

dangle from her lobes like

the real thing

“nothin’ ever strikes


she laughs

something about a

burned spot ain’t worth

the return trip



Lucille Gudmestad  (age 9)



What you do to me

You make me feel like

I’m the most important person




You are rough sometimes

But that doesn’t

Stop me


Loving you


Biking Outstate, Sunday Morning

Doug Wilhide


Nothing much was happening

at the Hoot and Holler Bar

on that Sunday morning

as the sun played tag

with shadows in the trees

and the riders made the most

of a following breeze.


Somewhere between

Ten Strike and Black Duck

an old man in a green shirt

stood staring at a broken lawnmower

as the bikers whirred by:

a neon choreography

of lemon, lime, orange and grape —

soft drinks in a whiskey-hard landscape.


Is there anything quite so holy

as a long, long,





in the cool early morning

with the dew and the sun

and the fog in the distant fields

and the red-winged blackbird

defending his little piece of the earth

among the red wild roses

and the purple jewels of wild iris?


On that cool, perfect, Sunday morning

my bike and my body

were in good working order,

so I didn’t stop to see

the soul of the places

we passed through…

I hope that was OK by God.

It was OK by me.


Summer Crickets

Linda Bergh


Do crickets help tomatoes grow

Their song singing cells into sweetness?


How can I help but wonder

when they make my heart feel fuller?


How can the magic of the summer night

Fill not only my ears but my very breath


And make me forget for a moment

all the suffering?


I saw a cricket once in the bushes

And thought — how can it be true


that two tiny legs rubbing together can make such sound

that the world is changed into music?


And if this is true, how can we doubt

that one small act of kindness —


the touch of a hand  or a smile freely given —

can change the air, the heart, the world into music too?


Summer Time    

Sheryl Erickson


The house I am living in

Has no watch

Chickadee banter and

A holiday from work

Abolished it.


These days the house has time

The way the Mad Hatter

Has time,

Bungeeing crazily

Down that rabbit hole.

Time dissolves to sparkles and driblets

Settling like fairy dust

On inert beings

Like the cat and me.


There are clocks in the house

Muttering on in quiet corners.

But we are not governed by them

The house, the cat

And I.

We chat up the chipmunks

Engage the squirrels

On topics of philosophy.

Debate metaphor and simile

With the crows.


We shrug,

Perhaps we nap

And in the late afternoon

We snack on cakes and tea


Ruining our dinner.



Shannon King


A man on a bench

Beside a lake

Cast his shadow into the air, while

Down the lane

Each leafy light caught fire


Gone with the wind,

His shadow fled, running from desire, when

Invisible hands, swept over the land

Just as the sun

Kissed everyone


Seasonal Poetry

Melissa S. Anderson


There are plenty of autumn poems –

melancholic, wistful, regretful –

and bucketsful of spring verse

expressing the usual surprise at love and jonquils.


We have more than we need

of winter poetry, heavy with contemplation

and barren snowlands

and the self.


But summer:

who wants to write poems

when there’s watermelon in the big yellow bowl

and fireflies go tumbling in the moonlight?