Tag Archives: poem

Born into Legend – by KB Ballentine

We come to the coast – broken,
bruised – we reach the edge
of our world. Waves stretch, winds
shift – freedom in the West.

Waked, we want a different,
new beginning. Instead, death clings
like barnacles on our ships.
Anchored in murky holds, this damp womb
chokes us.

              We’re birthed
through narrow stalls. We knot
in cages, pens – stench and sickness
dock at the harbor.

                        Finally permitted
into cities, towns, we’re strangers
among strangers. Kerchiefs swapped
for aprons, brogues swallowed in shame,
even God is different here.

What do we keep, what to abandon?
Tied to our past, memory beckons.
Nightmares from the Old Country blur
into dream. Ancient enemies –
hunger, poverty – they’re here, too.

Orphans from that old world, our families
become rooted, grow in this one.
How many tides have turned since our fathers,
our mothers crossed the sea,

leaving behind an ocean of graves?

Editor’s Note: See http://www1.assumption.edu/ahc/irish/overview.html about the Irish immigration and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholera_outbreaks_and_pandemics about the cholera outbreaks.

Image credit: Irish emigrants on shipboard in the River Mersey in Liverpool, England, about to embark for America, c. 1846 (Assumption College, ‘The E Pluribus Unum Project’.)

I have always loved – by Patricia Hope

Long summer evenings
Weekend mornings
The blue of the sky unmarred by a single cloud
Blooming pear trees
Pink dogwoods
Easter sunrise
The second snowfall of the year, when you’d collect bowlfuls to make snow cream
Peach cobbler
Strawberry shortcake
Vanilla fudge
Rice pudding
Making mashed potatoes
Robin Williams and Harrison Ford movies
Captain James T. Kirk guiding the Enterprise through space
Etta James and Sam Cook
Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”
The Carpenters
“Unchained Melody”
Seventies music
Musicals
Singing Christmas carols for shut-ins
Reading Taps for Private Tussie and Watch for a Tall White Sail
Taking nature photographs
Shooting pool
Bangle bracelets
Porcelain plates
Hand-stitched quilt squares
Purple sweatshirts
White wedding gowns
My brother’s humor
My mother’s skin
A baby’s giggles
Walks with my dog Roxie
Sharing poems with wonderful friends

Image credit: Photography of a coneflower with a bee is by Patricia Hope.

Disembodied – by Jonel Abellanosa

After The Night Cafe, by Vincent Van Gogh

Night is our only refuge, when bigotry,
racism and intolerance are asleep.
Hate has been stalking us who aren’t
like most people – by birth or by choice.
We find sanctuary in a place where there’s
no need to speak out.

The doctor would stand next
to the billiard table, one hand in his
lab coat’s pocket, reminding us to be
unhesitant in returning for refills.

First time I see the couple
near the doorway – lady with brown
shawl looking stunned by the spoon
she’s bending without touch,
gentleman with a hat and Anton
LaVey’s eyes. The schizoid is
here, nuns disguised as men staring
at the doll on their table. I’m both
in my room and here to dry up
and cry, invisible.

Image credit: Vincent van Gogh painted ‘The Night Café’ (original French title: Le Café de nuit) in Arles in September 1888), courtesy of https://www.vincentvangogh.org/

May – by Shloka Shankar

May

India’s hottest month,
table and ceiling fans work overtime,

never catching breath
as they drown out conversation.

I grow shadows, push
amorphous shapes down my mouth.

Children pitch tents in my uvula,
teach me how to be alive again.

May arrives each year
granting me permission to
slink away from the past,

finds me
gathering up skeletons
of discarded seconds.

Citation: Mumbai skyline (Rinsol.com) is superimposed on abstract art of Steve Johnson (Unsplash.com)

Turn over the morning – by Shloka Shankar

morning

hour
and a thousand

others on the side.
Tell us something [inspired]
in the darker,

gloomier corners—
the way you drown
in secrets,

pulling and stretching
a dim shadow of

nothing, nothing, nothing
in blackness.

_______________________________________________________________________
A cut-up/remixed poem composed from several chapters of Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews.

Image credit: black abstract wallpaper (hdblackwallpaper.com)

Prayer on a Friday Morning – Poem by L.R. Harvey

 

A wispy one gets tangled up
beneath the lampshade, sets off
the smoke alarm when it flares up
in purple flame.

Another grows a pair of arms
and legs. It sprouts a healthy beard,
goes off to art school, starts living on
its own. I hear it’s opened up a studio
out on the coast of California.

A sticky one is spinning
on the ceiling fan. I try to peel him off,
to take him back, with spit,
with WD40, with lemon wipes,
but somehow still he orbits above
my head on quiet afternoons,
just watching, listening.

But how I love it when
one slips between my pores,
the kind that just evaporates,
floats past the fan
and out into the February sky,
where pigeons pluck it up like breadcrumbs.

Image credit: Dimples & Tangles Abstract Art, Abstract 2 by Jennifer Griffin

I do not ask for much – Poem by L.R. Harvey

 

To live like bicycle bells,
and grease the build-up of
a life-thick heart as I pass
on the left. The chance
to tell a porch-front cardinal
about his art, to watch him
splash a print of red on sky-
-blue canvas. To learn to see.

To spread wild the love
of clay mugs, of clocks
that tick a minute off,
of granddad’s leather shoes
toe-scuffed and sole-worn,
of children’s books.
To lose myself. To be aware.
I do not ask for Much at all,
but All.

Image Credit: vintage tea cups, photography by Martin Vorel (Libreshot.com)

Ursa Major – Poem by John C. Mannone

The Big Dipper is really Santa’s sled
freewheeling around the North Pole
through frosty stars and a red nosed
bear taking pointers from Rudolf as
his reins arc to a super giant red-eye
star, coursing through the circumpolar
tinsel of stars, a garland of firelights,
but avoiding the unwinding glittering
coil of that dragon, Draco, whose cold
aspic heart, Thuban, thumps the night,

but it’s a certain Santa & his Bears
who bring all those stardust wishes
full of hope sifted from a special star
that’s twinkling in the silent night.

[First published in Abyss & Apex (Jan 2017)]

Image credit: John C. Mannone (image design) and Camille Alvey (image production in Pixlr)

Author’s Commentary: For this American sonnet, it occurred to me that Santa’s sled and reindeer could fit the outline of the Big Dipper. To the best of my knowledge, this is an original concept.

The Big Dipper is known as the constellation Ursa majoris, the Bear, but in the Nordic tradition, it is a wagon. So in that spirit, a large sled is consistent with that image. And with Santa being in the North Pole, it is fitting that the sled points to the North Star, Polaris. [The two pointer stars—Dubhe (Arabic for bear) and Merak (Arabic for loins of the bear)—are aligned with the back of the sled.] Polaris is actually a variable star, so I imaginatively speculate that this pulsating variable could have undergone a catastrophic perturbation which caused it to suddenly shine brightly, as if the Star of Bethlehem. (I am well informed about stellar dynamics, so this conjecture is pure science fiction.) The Big Dipper is a circumpolar constellation, which means it revolves around the pole star, so it is visible throughout the night. I love the symbolism of making the pole star the Star of Bethlehem. Santa Claus, that benevolent gift-giver to children, travels all around the world while always pointing to that bright and shining star.

In star-hopping lingo, stargazers follow the stars in bend of the handle of the Big Dipper to locate a red supergiant star, Arc to Arcturus, which I find as a convenient proxy for the guiding red light (like Rudolf’s nose in the popular legend). In the image, I use poetic license with respect to scale because Arcturus would not be that close to the Big Dipper, nor would it be glowing that big and that bright!

Not shown in the image is another circumpolar constellation, Draco, whose brightest star, Thuban, is the serpentine dragon’s heart. It is in contradistinction to the goodness implied by the Star of Bethlehem. Of course, the allusion at the end of the poem to that wonderful German hymn, “Silent Night,” has special seasonal significance for some that transcends a peaceful gift-giving Santa.