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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
by the steam heat
of fresh love.
by the power of
In spite of
shadows of the past
pressed on our backs
matching gold bands.
Then Mom said, Marry
in haste; repent
in leisure. And
so we did.
she tipped a few tonight
got picked up by five
chopper champs and
never went home with a
gold-plated lightning bolts
dangle from her lobes like
the real thing
“nothin’ ever strikes
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
Biking Outstate, Sunday Morning
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.
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.
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?
The house I am living in
Has no watch
Chickadee banter and
A holiday from work
These days the house has time
The way the Mad Hatter
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
We chat up the chipmunks
Engage the squirrels
On topics of philosophy.
Debate metaphor and simile
With the crows.
Perhaps we nap
And in the late afternoon
We snack on cakes and tea
Ruining our dinner.
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
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.
who wants to write poems
when there’s watermelon in the big yellow bowl
and fireflies go tumbling in the moonlight?