Featured Poem: Furious, Too

Diane McDonough
Cape Cod Branch

 

(after reading fury by Lucille Clifton)

 

Mama’s hand delivers
rhymed and metered stanzas
natural as blue trumpets
of a morning glory vine
unfolding in an incubating sun.

 

Papa fears the shape of those blues
she wears like a crown, fears her thinking
she’s some star like Billie Holliday —
singing her poems as she pulls
wet clothes from the laundry basket,
pins them to the line,
towels and shirts slapping
in the wind like applause.
So in a 1940s cold spell, like Jack Frost,
he freeze-dried those vines,
said, No. You won’t publish no poems in no book.

 

Mama freaked, her eyes severed connection
with everything but her pages,
and she scooped them up,
cradling them like some precious stillborn.
Dashing to the cellar, she threw them
into the belly of the furnace.

 

Papa fertilized the garden with the ashes,
wins prizes for roses, long-caned Bourbons
with lipstick pink petals, and prickly rugosas
he planted in a hedge ‘round the house
crowding out every last morning glory vine.

 

Featured Poem: Warm Sunday Afternoon, Thanksgiving Weekend

Judy Crystal
Greenwich Branch

 

In Byram Park
West wind whispers, branches dance
Glimpse of sun-burnished water
Through the red and orange leaves
Promise of winter beauty

 

Young man, sweatshirt discarded
Park bench sheltered from the breeze
Eats his brown bag lunch
Unthreatened, summer lingers

 

On the Avenue
Shadows lengthen, dusk approaches
Marking the advancing season
Evergreens in window boxes
Wreaths and roping on the doors

 

Fairy lights glimmer in windows
Stores adorned with Christmas wishes
Coats unbuttoned, couples amble
Turkey dinner afterglow

 

Before the long, cold nights begin

 

Featured Art: Forgotten Treasure

Mary Lou Griffin
Diamond State Branch, Delaware

Forgotten Treasure: Grandma’s Bedroom Chair 
Pastel, 8 x 10

Grandma's-Chair by Mary Lou Griffin

 

I never got to know Leocadia Wielgorecki, my mother’s mother. She died several years before I was born. I only heard stories about her from my mother and my older brother and sister, as my grandmother lived with them. However, I am the one with her bedroom chair sitting in my basement.

Leocadia Wielgorecki

Grandma Leocadia Wielgorecki

That chair has traveled from state to state and house to house with me for many years. It sat tucked away in a basement corner until it was time to move again. I had great intentions of refinishing the wood and recovering the seat and pillow and using it — but that never happened. Even if I had restored it, I have no place to put in my downsized home.  

So here this chair sits, sadly looking at me when I am in my basement studio. Somehow, I cannot just throw it out. It’s one of the very few things I have that belonged to Leocadia. And besides, I grew up with that chair. I have memories of my dad sitting in it and changing his shoes after work each day. I remember my mom picking out that printed fabric to recover the seat and pillow. It’s not a fine piece of furniture. The fabric is faded, and the seat has lost its ruffled skirt. It’s seen better days, but it has history.

So, on a recent weekend, I decided to pay tribute to Leocadia, my parents, and “the chair.” I did this painting of it. It’s not a painting I would expect someone to buy. The chair is tired and worn. But by painting it, I somehow feel I’ve given it a new life just the way it is.

— Mary Lou Griffin

 

Pen Women Artists, Submit Your Art to be Featured!

Active, associate and allied art professionals, you are invited to submit your work for publication in the Pen Woman and on the NLAPW website!

As the new art editor, I do not have a backlog of unused images. Even if you have submitted work in the past, please feel free to submit images and articles now.

Lucy Arnold

Art editor Lucy Arnold

There is no submission fee, no deadline, and no limit to how often you may submit.

I cannot promise that your work will be published, but all submissions will receive serious consideration. All submissions will also be considered for the cover art for the magazine.

We have the following opportunities for art members:
• Short article (with photo) about an individual piece of work.
• Longer article (with photos) about a body of work, or your personal artistic journey or inspiration.
“In the Studio” article focusing on your process, accompanied by a few photos of work in progress and completed work.
Featured Art on the NLAPW website (with or without a short article)

To submit:

Select your best work and email low-resolution digital images to arteditor@nlapw.org. I will request larger, hi-resolution files if we decide to publish your work, and will provide help with writing articles, if needed.

In your email, please include:

a. Your name
b. Branch (please note: we can only feature the work of current members)
c. Your website URL, if applicable
d. Image title, medium, size
e. A brief statement about yourself, the artwork and why you think it should be featured
f. An article, if you are submitting one

If you have any questions, please email me at arteditor@nlapw.org. I’ll be glad to help.

Best wishes to you,

Lucy Arnold, Golden Gate-Marin Branch
NLAPW Art Editor

Featured Poem: Canvas of Life

Barbara Clarke
Atlanta Chapter

 

Life’s journey is played out beginning on the upper part of the canvas

bright colors are intermingled at the entrance of a new soul.

Love between us is heighten with hues of a symphony of emotions

when we welcome a new being into our fold.

 

In times of despair and downtrodden state of affairs

dark cacophony of colors swirl around us and

we strive to live above ordinary circumstances that

drag us down to the bottom of the canvas.

 

It is the Creator that lives within us that provides

the White Spirit to push on through the grey abyss

of troubles and tribulations that plague us in this canvas life.

 

When your soul is bleak and the canvas has you stifled

where your creativity seems to have subsided,

you stumble around not being able to bring forth. . . 

 

a friend calls with yellow enlightenment and words of promise

encouraging you to pick up your brush and paint pushing through,

you then see the rainbow that shines through friendship

propelling you to move higher up the canvas

breathing life into the continuation of your masterpiece.

 

The ups and downs of canvas life are captured in your journal,

it holds your most heartfelt sentiments and feelings

about this journey you’re treading on. You paint in your journal

expressions and impressions, memoirs as you move on down

the canvas of life. You speak in your journal about the

emotional highs and lows that ebb and flow from living.

 

When one looks into your journal after you have moved on

into the other realm; gaining insight and a glimpse of the

picture you painted expressing your innermost secrets

and emotions about the canvas of life. They take your memoirs

and hold them in their hearts and keep you alive forevermore

from the picture you created on your journey collage.

 

It is a way of safekeeping you high up on the canvas

for the picture you painted is held within their view

never forgetting the journey you made

and the love they held for you

 

Featured Poem: Genetically Modified

Cornelia DeDona
Member at Large, New York

 
It was December of 2012. Dad was almost eighty.
Dementia had erased his hunger.
He’d subsisted the last few years on cheap cereal 
made from BT corn and ice cream.
He loved ice cream.
 
I moved back home after Dad died. After my divorce.
Leaving Hawaii felt like I had base jumped from Everest.
Forced to endure the gravity of free-fall.    
I boldly believed my DNA would protect me.
 
But, unwittingly, in the ‘90s, 
I  too had become a guinea pig in an experiment. 
I developed an autoimmune disease by age 35, something new to my family.
 
Brain disease and hypothyroidism,
an autoimmune disease, 
linked to GMOs and excess sugar
were still largely ignored by the family doctor.
 
Like everyone else,
I had rationalized the altered food as safe.
 
My stomach wouldn’t dare explode
like the bugs’ who ate the toxic corn.
 
After all, 
I was genetically strong
like Dad.
 
 
BT corn is a genetically modified food, or GMO. A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not commonly found there. Genetically modified “Bt corn” has been equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which produces the Bt toxin. It’s a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990s, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up. And the problem with Bt crops goes far beyond the creation of Bt-resistant insects. Native to Central America, papaya was the first genetically modified fruit to be grown in commercial production. The genetically modified varieties, known as Rainbow and SunUp or Sunrise, were developed in Hawaii to resist the papaya ringspot virus.
 

Check out the highlights from the 49th Biennial in Des Moines

Did you miss this year’s Biennial in Des Moines? Pensacola, Florida, Pen Woman Anne Baehr captured the best moments in a video. See what you missed!

Featured Poem: The Nature of Waiting

Jenny Santana
Iowa City Branch

 

I sit

on a park bench

quiet and still

watching the ants

scurry hurriedly along the pavement

and above me

the sparrows fly

puncturing the sky

like liberated darts 

while the monarch butterflies

bounce and weave

on circuitous routes

and wistful bees

perch upon

flowers’ buds

trembling in the air

until

a breeze comes by

and lifts them

haphazardly

away.

Beneath the shifting daylight

of a cloud-speckled sky

as the world turns

with ferocious

velocity

 

I sit

motionless

waiting

for you

to love me.  

 

Poem of the Week: Truth

Susan Bassler Pickford
Member-at-large (Maine)

 

Middle English “trewthe,” from Old English “trēowth” — fidelity;

akin to Old English “trēowe” — faithful — before 1100s

 

“You can’t handle the truth,” screams Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men

“Few people can,” I retort in a whisper

The truth is massaged, covered up, dressed down

Like a tired old body

We see it through steely eyes, red eyes and macular distortion

We bend the truth

We torture the truth

And it is

Often camouflaged

Very rarely is the truth

Open, straightforward as a book, or transparent as glass

Because Jack is right

We just can’t handle the bare, unvarnished truth

The faithfulness of facts with reality

The truth that stings, abrades, hurts

The truth that rips the scab off the skin

Exposing the raw tissue of reality

 

Poem of the Week: Mimosas

Thelma A. Giomi
Yucca Branch, NM
 
Yesterday, I walked under a canopy of mimosa trees,
Maybe a dozen,
Who could count the fragrance was so intoxicating,
The shade so soothing.
Then someone pointed out
That mimosas are inherently messy.
Like being in love,
Or acting on what you say you believe—
Beauty and truth will always be messy,
For those who look down.