Gwen Monohan

Arbor Party
 
High on the grape arbor
a thistle feeder rests
with a platform beneath
to hold the suet cage.
Plus stray puddles of seed
and the feet of many guests.

Watching from our window,
binoculars held level,
we marveled at the
social action of those feeding
at the table and range of
feathers found there.

We hoisted last summer
the sturdy arbor poles
with cross-pieces of trim
also used for floors.
Why make the arch so strong
for just spindly vines to climb?

Yet long curving stems,
not coiling near the ground,
(taking root at every bend),
have found a perching tower
where bunches soon will swell
and our savvy friends gather

 

Gwen is a teacher and caregiver currently residing in the Virginia piedmont near grandchildren and family.
In past years she’s been published in several journals: BLUELINE, COE REVIEW,
and BIG MUDDY, among others.
More recently she’s had success on-line with my poetry at Vox Poetica, Camel
saloon, and now cavalcade of stars.

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Bobbie Troy

Underneath It All
By Bobbie Troy

sometimes I feel
like a suspension bridge
swaying in the air
held up by cables
that my life depends upon
and secretly hoping
that there is something
underneath it allca
to catch me
if I fall

 

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Dr. Ralph Monday

Waking
 
Waking, at times the world seems a trick.
An angel locked in granite.
A yellow jacket sun poured like stone onto
the window.

All these things go by like a drunk searching
memory.

What were we before we became? How do we know
the past fragmented world, Dali’s mad dreams?
Then there are the blue mountains, dusty trails where
we walk with weak hands, think of Picasso’s
ripped geometrics.

History does not exist till read in books,
viewed as entertainment with the evening’s
beer.

We do not exist except as reflected back through
media: glossy covers that tell women how to have
the best sex, men how to rip a sixpack, as though
these are tender mercies needed to fill up days.

How then is truth.
There is always the mist, fog before us but what
else?

How thin is truth.
Not found in greased gears, clacking cogs.
Perhaps the Iroquois song in God-scented
forests,

Lakota love of plains grazing buffalo.

Spring is ambiguous but fall the fullness of
mystery taken as an unrequited lover,
where sometimes a diamond tipped carbide
blade is needed to cut into the core & see
what is hidden, whether there really is a
kingdom of fog, of rain, childhood astonishment,
of a spreading cinematography rolled out through
the mind, of Constantine’s Cross & Mr. Hyde, of
Mara Corday & Marilyn & Mamie, all tossed
together like a restaurant salad, snapshots through
the lens we spy, mere fragments in a fragmented
history.

To know that there is nothing to be
Known—not Ecclesiastes, not women with bare
feet, not the sun before dawn or the moon before
winter or a bird husking the last autumn seed—only
blank loneliness cradling us within its spell.

 

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Douglas Polk Returns

Christmas Errands 

only another day on the calendar,
Christmas much more work,
when the children grown and gone,
the ability to believe,
stretched and stressed a number of degrees,
salvation seems now,
no more than a dream,
peace and good will,
muttered wishes,
under the breath,
the days dark and cold,
Christmas errands almost unbearable,
until eyes lock with a child of five or six,
while at the grocery store,
hope and joy,
beaming brightly from dancing eyes,
young eyes,
full of belief,
and the ability to save.

 

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Nancy Scott-McBride

PORTRAIT

Her face?
Picture a sheet of ivory vellum with
nothing written on it.
Blank and and smooth, her face,
it waits for “experience” and “character”
to mar it, scar it, line and define it.
But impassive as the Buddha,
indifferent as the moon,
it remains calmly embalmed against the elements.

Like the faces of the mad, the saints, the stoned,
hers is a miracle of seeming serenity.

There are ulcers and migraines
and other things going on.
(She’s got a million of ‘em.)

But like a circus sideshow,
you have to go inside to catch the action.

 

FORGIVENESS

They say it’s not about
letting off the hook the one who hurt you,
but dropping a burden you’ve carried too long.
I don’t forgive because it would mean
losing the little I have left of you.

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Dr. Ralph Monday

Leaving

Desire is a thorny endeavor, the steaming of physical
wants borne nude in any number of dark corners.

How can one long keep held secrets?
Is it through living? No, not so much living,
but an airborne purpose without sense.

Flying about wanting to speak to not what
is critical commotion, but to the soft belly
underneath, to leave and say, “I am going
to the mountains.”

There the irregular autumn universe
will descend over one like an erotic,
squatting squaw.

This is the time to say I am parting now
as a wife whose husband has left for a
foreign land.

There among the strange trees and alien
streets, he will not pause to ask why she
weeps as she slices to ribbons his silk
shirts on the bedroom floor.

She will only know the many maddening
November days of broken stones, brittle
leaves, the grief of grass, bits of colored
glass.

Afterwards she will sit at the kitchen table
gossiping with forgotten enemies who
laugh at the ghosts of her lovers.

Little matter: nothing that is done or will be
done, nothing that will be made, outlasts
the rising moon passing from crescent to
bulging pregnancy, the setting, the waxing,
the waning, spinning white, round knuckle,
locked to one night after another

like yellowed leaves of a wild fruit tree
that has survived the rains, the cold ice
turned burgundy by a late sun, a cello
hemorrhaging out autumn’s lament,
blasting seeds not yet pecked away by
winter birds—an old narrative shot through
by an old exposition.

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Holly Day Returns

The Things I Know

I read headlines about cannibals living in
plain sight, drunk driving accidents,
children bringing guns and knives and drugs to school and

I wonder how I’m supposed to send him out there
when five years old seems much too young to see this world.
I read headlines about priests charged with raping boys

daycare providers caught with child pornography
school janitors hiding secret murders for years
trusted neighbors with basement torture chambers, and

I wonder how they can ask me to let him go
when it seems my whole life has been about hiding
from the monsters waiting for us just beyond the door.
 

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, A Brief History of Stillwater Minnesota, and  Ugly Girl.

 

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