Poem of the Week–Backyard at Midnight

Backyard at Midnight

What’s that light out back?
There’s no moon that I know of.

But wait…it is the moon!
I didn’t expect that.

Yard so illumined tonight…
the pool has that milky glow,
ethereal look.

And the deck…it’s lit up like a stage
waiting for performers.

Junipers in the backdrop, husky and dense,
casting shadows over the landscape.

No wind at all, after the torment of
earlier constant blowing.

The stillness of midnight seems made for me
or someone, to notice…this muse, this desire.

Linda Marie Prather
Modesto Branch, CA

Editor’s note:
I am still accepting “moon poems” and welcome submissions of poetry on any subject for both the website and upcoming issues of the Pen Woman Magazine. –Treanor Baring

Poem of the Week–Dimmed by the Dashboard

Dimmed by the Dashboard

Pulling into a Salina truck stop

the dashboard lights dim,

the purring engine ceases,

the rotating eighteen wheels halt.

Your headlights scope out

the open skies of the West: Colorado,

Kansas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Driving is all you know, like your father

and his father before him.

Drowned by miles of prairie dust,

desert heat and mountain snows,

you pause to study the fuel gauge.

Humming along to the drone of the road

I search through crackling stations on late night AM,

dropping in on a hokey call-in show.

“Who do you want to dedicate a song to?”

I say to myself, “A lonely trucker. No, his wife.”

”Please play ‘Living Between the Moon and New York City.’”
I stop the station wagon. The crunch of gravel

underneath four wheels turns to silence.

Waiting outside our Denver home,

I gaze at the odometer, mileage apart,

mileage together; the ledger of years,

coated by iridescent moonlight, swirls

on the dirt-encrusted dashboard.

Looking beyond the dark, the unspoken quiet

bleeds into dawn, and the light between us

remains unchanged, undimmed.

by Nancy Godbout Jurka
Pikes Peak Branch, CO

Moonwatch

MOONWATCH

After Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways
of Looking at a Blackbird”

I.

The moon climbs out of the river.
A firefly stops his flight
beneath blood clouds
trailing for miles.

II.

Once, my belly hung
heavy with an imperfect motion
as though the moon, angry
and rotund, avenged my kind
for the generations behind us.

III.

Why are the Indian women
bowing before a temple light?
Do they know the moon
shrouds a mound, sacred
and well-hidden?

IV.

A man preparing to live
dies this way: climbing
into skies, swearing
the only light worth saving
is a delicate balance
he calls Moon.

V.

Children of Darkness, how long
have your eyes contained
the alterations of ancient moons?

VI.

The waters cover the shores tonight.
There is a Sea of Showers
in the moon’s full light.

VII.

The moon crosses the ocean again.
Huntsmen lower their heads in prayer.

VIII.

When a woman’s blood
darkens with imbalance,
she knows there will be no
moon that night.

IX.

The moon hangs cold
as the Mothers lay their offerings
upon a sacrificial ground.

X.

All night, tribesmen chant their hymns;
the old moon pales in the new moon’s arms.

XI.

Sister, I am here beside the garden path.
I watch your spirit ascending
among the dusk clouds.

XII.

By the sanctuary door, I place twelve
silver jars in an arc of moon color.
Overhead, watchmen turn their lantern
toward the earth.

Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda
Chesapeake Bay Branch, VA

©2001 Greatest Hits, 1982-2000, Pudding House Publications, pp. 18-19

From the author: In the early 1980s, I was inspired by Wallace Stevens’ well-known poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” to write my own rendition of various ways to view the moon. The resulting poem, “Moonwatch,” received First Place in the National League of American Pen Women’s Nationwide Poetry Contest in 1981 and was later published in The Cooke Book: A Seasoning of Poets (1987) and in an invitational chapbook series, Greatest Hits: 1981-2000.

I thought I’d share this poem with you in tribute to this week’s memorable view of the moon.

From the editor:
Thank you for sending in your moon poems. I will keep posting them as long as they last. What a wonderful response. Please continue–if you don’t have a moon poem already, well, maybe this will inspire one. And thank you to Nancy Haskett, whose wonderful poem started this!–Treanor Baring

Poem of the Week, Super Moon III, Changed/Unchanged

CHANGED/UNCHANGED

In the long days of sorrow
The sun still yellows
Over me;

Through nights
Of whispering fears
A round-eyed moon

Parts the trees,
Smiling.

Linda Texter Hall
Diamond State Branch, DE

Super Moon Poems, II

New Moon Sightings

The moon appears
a mere citrus peel
over the red tail-lights of rush hour

Who wouldn’t want to write a poem about the moon

or sing about it
or tap a gentle fingertip on it
in a sweet starry storybook at baby’s bedtime?

I could do with my own
permanent full moon
hanging there all the time

not flitting from one side of the globe to another
like a tutu-clad ballerina
requiring sky-charts to pin down–

no, no, no,
this would be my moon

my storybook life.

All I’ve got
right now is the real moon,

its waxing
waning
shifting
self

the one without
a harlequin in its bow

the one I forgot to notice yesterday

the one I will look for with renewed urgency
from now on

the one we all share

however briefly.

Treanor Wooten Baring
Delta Branch, MS

Editor’s note: As some of you may know, I don’t usually post my own poems unless they have appeared in an NLAPW publication; when Nancy Haskett’s poem came in, it reminded me of this one I had written when my children were first born. And so, watching the skies for the super moon, the idea of a moon theme was hatched. Please, members, send in your moon poems and I’ll keep it going. And everyone, if you have a favorite (famous or not) moon poem, send the link and I’ll include it.–Treanor

Super Moon in Poetry

From the editor:
I hope those of you in North America were able to see the super moon the last few days–spectacular! In honor of this event, I will post as many “moon poems” as I can this week. Some may have appeared here before, or in the Pen Woman magazine, and some are new. All are for you — feel free to share links.

If you have a favorite moon poem (by anyone, member or not) please tell us about it.

If I Have to Write a Poem about the Moon

Recently, I heard someone say
that every poet needs a poem about the moon,
and if that’s true,
surely there can’t be many new thoughts to add
to the thousands of words already written,
to the clichés about cheese, werewolves, lunatics, lovers,
tides, gravity, a Cheshire cat’s smile,
but since my poetic legitimacy is apparently at stake,
I guess I could write about the time
I hiked to Half Dome one October,
sunset coming early, around 6:30,
catching us still above Nevada Falls,
our flashlights feeble in the absolute darkness
until the full moon rose over granite walls
like some kind of spiritual presence,
cast silver light on the trail as we slowly made our way
down to Happy Isles,
grateful for this celestial luminescence;
or I could divulge a secret about
the small window we added
to our second-story bathroom shower,
my favorite place to stand in darkness
unseen by neighbors,
as cool water splashes on tile,
I watch the moon as it glows
and rises over this Central Valley,
waxes and wanes,
sometimes disappearing completely,
other times full and round
like tonight
in mid-summer

Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch, CA

Poem of the Week–I Saw My Sister

I Saw My Sister Today

There she is,
My older sister
I can’t believe it
Yet there she is in my mirror
It’s me,
I look just like her
We never looked alike before
But then I’ve never been this age before
She died a few years ago
I hadn’t seen her for a long time
We never got along
Were never close
She was ten years older than me
We had nothing in common
Except for our parents
We lived in different places,
Led different lives
I’ve thought of her frequently
What a shame we weren’t close
I guess age and genes are changing that
I can’t miss her if I see her all the time
Finally, I’ll smile when I see her

Etta Schaeffer
Boca Raton Branch, FL


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Poem of the Week–Husband

Husband

For Phillip

Low pink light.
Scarf-draped lamp,
you sigh, push sheet,
blanket aside. 3 a.m.

You collect my legs’ fret,
ankles, feet in your lap.
One strong thumb circles
ball of my left foot on
the heart-line…sure enough,
wild flounder starts to slow.

Your other palm cups my heel;
a morsel, delicacy or a baby’s head.
Fingers stroke my arch. Your music
lulls confused tympanies.

“Close your eyes.”

Once you held my heart in your hand.
Once you told me my heart beats for both
when yours fluttered, a captive bird crazed
to escape. We owned each other.

Quiet voice 5 a.m. I sleep.
I dream you are alive again.

Rachael Z. Ikins
Central New York Branch, NY

All rights reserved by the author.

The poetry editor is accepting submissions by members for the Fall and Winter Pen Woman magazine, as well as for the Poem of the Week and blog posts. Members: if you have something to say on art and poetry, feel free to submit it to the nlapw.org blog. This is your space!

A Poem for Jeanne and a note from the editor

Jeanne

El malei rachamim
O G-d, full of compassion.

Intolerable, impossible
Words gush, unstoppable
Assaulting my ears, heart and being
For now, brief sliver of time with you.

We sat like two rocks in the coffeehouse,
Your Jess, precious daughter and I
Hearing, not listening nor believing-
‘I have a little bleeding, and, a mass’,
(My younger cousin, the gynecologist)
The shoemaker and her child.
‘How much? How long?’ we intone-
Whispers, barely audible.

Shochayn ba-m’romim
Who dwells on high,

Our collective sigh
Ascending to the heavens.
‘For a while; the estrogen didn’t really help either!’
The writing was on the wall.

The Diagnosis-different, personal and threatening from this end-
Decades of empathic conversations mocked in moments.
‘I am afraid, angry-not fair!’ (got that right),
‘I will be with you’ (my first responder to her heart).
Our days are long, months short and years too few
Making memories, appointments and yes, lots of chemo.
Loving apologies, amends, fences to mend-
Savoring, tasting moments before the sand runs out.

V’yitz-ror, bitz-ror hachayim-
Bind her soul together with the living.
Sweet, soulful melodies in your ear, final precious hours,
Family, friends’ and patients’ prayers ascend with your light.
Loved in life, loved forever,
Shelter her under the cover of your wings.

by Jill Maura Rabin, M.D.
Long Island Branch, NY
Source: El Maleh Rachamim – Prayer for the Soul of the Departed – Death & Mourning

Jeanne Rabin Kanaan, M.D., of blessed memory, was a compassionate, kind, skilled and empathic physician and urogynecologist. She was also my younger cousin and best friend.
She was taken from us too soon and our grief is beyond measure or words. Our family, friends and her many patients continue to use her shining example and lessons of a life well-lived to improve the lives of others.
Jeanne loved medicine and treated her patients as precious beings who needed and benefitted from her unique brand of healing. She taught and gave me far more than I could ever repay.
It is my hope that this small poem will serve as a reminder of the bond I shared with her, professionally and personally. May her memory be for a blessing.

Jill Rabin M.D.

Click here to visit our Letters Gallery to see info on ordering Dr. Rabin’s book (scroll down) and other new books by members
.

Note from the editor:
You may have noticed that there was no poetry or art posted last week. Apologies–I was on a flight from Sydney to Dallas and then on the road home. One of the side effects of severe jet lag is that I get to listen to the radio at odd hours, and early Sunday morning (or late Saturday night, depending on time zone) I listened to an inteview Texas artist, Dario Robleto (not an NLAPW member). To link to the program, On Being, click here. There is also an interview with Maya Angelou (an NLAPW member) on an earlier episode. As the On Being website puts it, Robleto’s work “joins words and objects in a way that distills meaning at once social, poetic, and scientific.” His sculpture includes everyday objects, poetry, and uses visual and verbal tools to convey meaning. I’m headed to the Menil Collection to see his latest exhibit, The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed, as soon as I can.

The program reminded me of how many of NLAPW’s members produce work that transcends genres. And how our unique communion with sister artists in all disciplines can inform our own work. Visual artists share in the joy of our poetry; writers are inspired by the Art of the Week; we listen to music and revel in our composers’ success. The more exposure we have to creativity, the more our own creativity is enhanced. It’s why branches flourish, and why I do this blog. So, thank you, NLAPW members, and the greater audience, for all the feedback, comments, and encouragement.

And please let me know what you think of posting visual art and poetry together. What are your thoughts on it?

–Treanor Baring
NLAPW website content editor
Delta Branch, MS

Poem of the Week & Art of the Week

Click on the image to see it larger.

Grace at the Golden Hour Wendy Harris Central New York  Branch, NY Soft pastel

Grace at the Golden Hour
Wendy Harris
Central New York Branch, NY
Soft pastel

A Piece of Paradise – Tengo Suerte

Lakes shimmer in the sunlight
Palm trees wave in the tropical breeze
Driving in the gate fills me with peace
I’m home, Gratefully, I’m home
How lucky, tengo suerte
A far cry from an impoverished childhood
A northern city tenement called home
Innocence of the world served all well
Appreciation felt constantly for
A loving family
Food on the table
Clean living conditions
Caring friends
Adulthood and education
Changing everything
Opening doors and opportunities
Moves made to heavenly change
Greenery, trees, and flowers abound
A husband, a son, it can’t get better
A beautiful house, a perfect job
Friends, neighbors a good life
Then disaster, my beloved is deathly ill
He dies, leaving me partner less
My son and I are inconsolable
Slowly existence becomes a new life for each of us
House sold, career ended, move on
Son marries
I try life again
It works, we both smile often
Grandchildren born, smiles widen
My eyes open wide
I realize, this is it
Lakes shimmer in the sunlight
Palm trees wave in the tropical breeze
Driving in the gate fills me with peace
I’m home, gratefully, I’m home
How lucky, tengo suerte

Etta Schaeffer
Boca Raton Branch, FL

Editor’s note:

I usually do not pair the art and poems of the week, letting each stand on their own. These two works and their graceful beauty seem a natural fit. Neither illustrates or speaks the words of the other, and yet they both carry a message of peace and the joy of living. Such is the ability of art, visual and literary, to touch us, and such is the power of women’s voices which these two works reflect. –Treanor (still in Australia but making my way homeward).