Poem of the Week: When Night Falls

by Barbara Menghini Whitmarsh
Bayou II, Texas Branch

 

When Night Falls

When night falls at the foot of the mountains

Red men from Pueblos

Climb ladders

To mingle in galaxies

Challenge Sagittarius in archery

Feed pieces of the Ram to the Dog Star

Then chase him from camp

His tail a cowering comet

They declaw Ursa Major

To make necklaces for their chiefs

Rub the dust of stars

On the bites of Scorpio

Topple the Northern Cross

Pray again to old gods

Then descend in moonlight

And rise again with the dawn

 


Note from Barb: The painting is by my father who painted it years before I wrote the poem at 16. I was all into astronomy back then. When my father died in 1994 my brother Joe got the painting. I got a few of his other pieces. His hobby was painting but he ran the corporate graphic art department at McGraw Hill for 40 years. My husband surprised me by combining the two. I never even thought of it.

Obviously, dad wasn’t in NLAPW, but when I became a member he was very proud. His name was Leo J. Menghini, a proud and dutiful man.

Barb W.

 

Poem of the Week: Trust

Elizabeth Sharon
Bayou City Branch 2

 

it’s a relationship with a greenish hue

old copper rust through time

a penny awash in the sea of hands

ole miss Liberty in the sun

 

when it was new, shiny, freshly minted

there was trust in what was seen

in what lay beneath the gleam

but sorely still the glimmer fades

 

each broken trust and confidence

an oxidized splotch, a leaking flue

and in the process, sore through life

trust lost a part and fell to rust

 

Poem of the Week: Fifties Girl

by Mary Lou Taylor, Santa Clara County Branch, CA

 

 

Fifties Girl 

How did I miss it? I was there

heard the music  read the papers

watched TV  Elvis James Dean  “Howl”

I missed them all   missed the trends   what was I?

obtuse  dense  dull?  did the twist but only because I was hired

as a movie extra and I pick up on dancing fast.  I stayed innocent

lived free of guile  hard roads?  freedom?  they didn’t concern me

I was vaguely aware of Bob Dylan   I knew the Beach Boys intimately

I was after all a California girl   from the ‘50s I remember Elizabeth Taylor

at my UCLA Junior Prom   Bud Murphy jumping from Royce Hall tower

Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope on campus   Ernie Kovacs   my wedding hat

bottles and diapers  “Mr. Sandman”  Johnny in Carson’s Cellar   when Dylan

went electric I missed it   when everything was up for grabs I missed it

missed rock ‘n roll  “We Shall overcome”  all that underground music

Janis Joplin   Jimi Hendrix   all that pain   where was I?

came to 1970 and the decade was over  I was

a fifties girl   the nearest I came to giving

a thought to what was going on

in the world was when we lived

on Andrews Air Force base

and I could see the Enola Gay

from my upstairs window

Poem of the Week: CAGED

by Jeannie Carlson
Member-At-Large, St. Petersburg, Florida

 

Soullessly a sleek and sinewy

Striped cat stalks

Too small a cage.

She paces proud protuberant paws

The space of her confinement.

Unresigned to a fettered fate,

Felinity is ever ready

To pounce ferociously to freedom.

Clawing a crevice,

Only her whisker

Can claim bristly visit

The incalculable void.

Undaunted, the direct

But stoic semiprecious eyes

Seductively suggest

One dare approach…

Either to set her free

Or be devoured.

 

Poem of the Week: Rain Dance

Shelly Reed Thieman
Letters Member, Treasurer – Des Moines Branch

 

In mud nest threatened

by black conclave of clouds,

a tiny robin opens its throat

for the reception of earth

worm and Juneberry.

 

I rain dance in shallow pond

of lush reeds, massage earth

with bare feet. Sweet thunder

is a kettledrum setting

the cadence of evening.

 

Ponderosa pine prostrate.

A pair of barred owls startle

when their perch snaps

from its trunk like a phantom

femur from its pelvis.

 

Mottled with rust, ancient

wind chimes surrender

their clapper and three silver

rods to horizontal rain.

Lightning swings her sword.

 

Poem of the Week: Nourishing You

Patricia A. Oplinger
Member-at-Large from Cherokee Village, AR

 

I wish I could take language

and pour it into a bowl

of warm, encouraging thoughts

 

I would splash soothing sentences

around its edges

for you to set astir

 

I would adjust the fragrant spice

of self-esteem

for you to inhale

 

I would have you listen

to the plop of paragraphs

saying, “Hush, hush, it’s all right.

 

Then I would spoon you sweet phrases

to heal damages past words

may have caused

 

Poem of the Week: Give Them a Brake

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City II, TX Branch

 

It’s time again
For the Red Neck Sliders
Certainly not known
To be traffic law abiders
They’re on the roadways
Quiet as “mouses”
Always towing their RV houses
It’s hard to believe
If they don’t get struck
They’ll out live us all
With any luck
Please give these terrapins a brake
Not to do it’s a big mistake
They’re trying to survive
And never fought us
Yes, this is what
The turtles tortoise

 

Poem of the Week: The Virtual Crafter

Carolyn Aune
Minnesota Branch

 

My Aunt sits in the well worn wing chair,
Her winter grey braids, thick as a child’s wrist,
Wrap around her noble head.
I’m perched on a low leather hassock,
My thin arms stretched in benediction
Proffering the skein of wool
That my Aunt winds slowly into a ball.
I am five years old.
Later, I watch the needles flash,
Catching the firelight as they tap out a click clack rhythm.
“I can’t teach you how to knit” my aunt murmurs” you’re left handed.”

 

Yet, might I claim that I did learn to knit If only in the virtual sense?
For, I knitted together the nine Disparate souls, snuggled in my womb For their allotted nine months

Before they were flung into the world
Where they were nourished into a cohesive whole.
Knit together, strong bonds that likely will never unravel. We are still, today, above all else, a close-knit family.

 

Now, my mother’s mother was a quilter
I see her nestled on a narrow sofa,
Placing every delicate stitch,
No nonsense black lace up oxfords planted firmly Atop the braided rug.
Every pattern in harmony, Every stitch perfect.

 

Yet might I claim to be a quilter too?
For I have fashioned a crazy quilt of a life, Struck to the core with the dull colors of Grief and Turmoil and tragedy
Blended with flashes of bright colored joy, Recording a kaleidoscope of complexity.

It was in the euphoric months of a first pregnancy, That I tried my hand at weaving. …
A small loom, the strands of wool the soft
Colors of baby pink and blue.
But life intervened, the loom abandoned, accusing me.

 

Yet might I claim that I did learn to weave? For I wove the strands of nine children’s lives Into a cohesive tapestry able to withstand
A world that hasn’t always been kind.

 

So I am, if only in the virtual sense,
A knitter, a patchwork quilter,
And a weaver of lives that now look
Fearlessly ahead to the future.

 

Poem of the Week: Meditation on a Mosquito

Kathleen H. Langan
Greenwich Branch

 

First the tell-tale bzzzzzz, then there it is

walking across my husband’s bare arm

and heading straight to do harm

to me, the Go-To-Girl for mosquitoes,

silent and sinister as it propels its improbable body

on six long skinny legs, jointed in the wrong direction,

its proboscis leading the way to the last meal of the day,

a tasty, warm, bright-red midnight supper.

 

As the fiend inches toward me,

Albert Schweitzer’s theory pops into my head,

the one he calls reverence for life.

It asks each of us never ever to forget that

the two things all living creatures share

are the right and the desire to go on living

and thus we are constrained to refrain

from killing any of them at all, large or small.
 
It’s a praiseworthy philosophy, I agree,

but it certainly strains credulity.

I mean, does the dear Doctor really expect me

to believe he lived in Africa all those years

and never once swatted a mosquito?

This one is just playing its role, I grant you that,

Nevertheless, I smash the damned thing

until it is totally dead and flatter than flat.

 

Poem of the Week: The Summer Party

Lois Batchelor Howard
Palm Springs, CA Branch

 

I look into the corner

of my backyard

and the green and flowering

plants

are huddled together.

They look like a cocktail party

with too many guests.

Whom shall I uninvite?

Shears in my hand I approach

the foxtail lily desert candles

the wall germandus

the fairy bells

the bougainvillea

I know this is rude to say to them,

but I do.  “It is too crowded here.”

They laugh and I hear their thoughts

become audible in the late afternoon sun,

“but none of us wants to leave.”

I look at my shears, put them down,

and return with a cocktail to join them.