Poem of the Week–April


April is a thieving bitch.
April is the cowbird who kicked
sparrow eggs to a snake below.
Laid her own, abandoned them.

April stole my father.
April is a greedy bitch,
hungers for more. You ‘d
think warmth, waxing day
light would lift her mood,

but no, even clumps of pewter-
bottomed clouds bounce their round,
white bellies north, toward the lake,
sky so blue it looks fake. Fear.

I face that direction. Song sparrow’s
liquid serenade pierces my heart. I know
what is happening on that shore, right now.
I stand vigil.
April is kidnapping my friend
another fight lost to death.

April should display only forsythia froth,
daffodils’ band as they trumpet,
crocuses’ creeping purple, orange,
heads to the ground filled with sleep-drunk
honeybees warmed enough
to gather saffron.

Don’t die in winter.
The cold, the snow, heartlessness.
Come home in spring, some April
afternoon by an ice melted lake.
Don’t leave me to receive
your suitcase, your glasses smudged
as if just shoved in breast pocket.

One eyelash on their frame shatters
left-over shards of my heart.
My knees root me to the earth. Face north,
scattered tatters, fingers sift
a life remembered spread
before me on the asphalt.
I smear my face with mud and I weep.

Rachael Ikins
Central New York Branch, NY

Poem of the Week–Restorative & a call for bloggers


For Lorraine

A hand of spring lies gentle
on this wounded land.
Golden fingers of sunlight stretch
across my bed while winter sinks into the Earth.

Or winter raises up from the Earth.
Stands on her hind legs to walk away.
Melted ice mounds crackle and mutter.

A betrayal to their cold minds. Winter stands
on her sculpted hind legs. Water rivulets
flow the length of her calves, dribble from her heels.

She trails pooling footprints’ necklace.
Divots, dead grass, mud, tangle with potential green.
Oh. We know she bowed our heads
those many months of darkness.

Water returns to ground, to river, to lake, to sea.
It flings fingerfuls upon the beaches, silver reaches,
Stretches to call her back to the depths. No.

Winter walks on. Wordless. Away.
Sinks into the brown. Flies into the blue,
shades of blue streaming, spring’s sunlit skies.
Scent of her breath.

Rachael Z. Ikins
Central New York Branch, NY

Interested in writing blog posts for the www.nlapw.org blog? Contact webeditor@nlapw.org for details. Writers Get Together is also seeking blog writers. Click here for more info or submit a blog post by email to writersgettogether@outlook.com in .doc or .rtf format.

Poem of the Week–The Gordian Knot

The Gordian Knot

Who love each other
But blur the lines, blur the boundaries
Borrow money, borrow trust
From each other
Slip the ropes around the heart
And begin to pull
Until love dies slowly
No one knows why
No one knows
How to untangle the Gordian knot
Where does it begin?
Where does it end?
The puzzle remains unsolved
People remain tangled even as
Hope strains for a solution.

Susan Bassler Pickford
Member at large

New Member Profile of the Month–Calder Lowe

From the editor: As you know, I’m big on experimenting with ways to get the word out about our members, our mission, our benefits–anything that lets people know what Pen Women are all about. Current NLAPW National President Candace Long has talked about the importance of bringing in new members. Word is from the credentials officers that many new member applications are arriving regularly in their mailboxes. (Big shout out to those credentials officers: Nancy Jurka, Letters, Linda Spencer, Art, and Nancy Deussen, Music, for all your hard work!!)

I’m particularly interested in bringing youth into our fold. I joined in my twenties and have benefited ever since from the knowledge and wisdom of our elder Pen Women.

Young women artists, for all the progress that’s been made since 1897, still face hurdles in many arts professions, especially the traditional male domains in music, broadcasting and film, journalism, even fine arts.

Hey, glass ceiling, we’re armed with brushes, pens and batons to break through! Long-time members have paid it forward; new members are our future.

Treanor Baring
Website Editor, Poetry Editor

So why not take advantage of this blog to get to know some of our new members and a (smidgen) of their work? Here, the inaugural profile of California poet and Modesto Branch member, Calder Lowe (scroll down for a new poem).

Calder Lowe Letters Modesto Branch, CA

Calder Lowe
Modesto Branch, CA

In her own words:

I was first introduced to NLAPW by my longtime friend, Mary Lou Taylor who belongs to the Santa Clara County Branch of NLAPW. I joined the Modesto Branch of NLAPW at the invitation of Sally Ruddy. As a writer, initially I composed poetry to support fellow survivors of childhood abuse and poverty. While still bearing witness to the suffering of those our society has marginalized, my writing also addresses other complex issues all poets grapple with in our respective journeys. We seek light and discernment in times of loss and yearn for authenticity and connectedness. We inhabit the Sacred and our offerings hang as prayers on a planet desperate for healing. Holding fast to our highest intentions, may we continue to collectively provide a voice for the disenfranchised, a voice characterized by its passion, urgency and particularity.

My dream is that my work will ignite and capture that epiphanic spark that illuminates the path home where mindfulness ennobles our hearts and awe refashions the very way in which we relate to the world around us. It is my sincerest hope my readers will find within my poems and short stories, a compassionate hand extended, a perception tweaked, a reality reinvented.


This is not who I am,
this decrepit 67-year-old
who finds herself more overburdened
pack mule than vibrant, creative goddess
hardwired by sparks & sass & overweening
passion for the yet unspooled recording of the word.

I look at the parking lot pavement
& see a child’s goldfish cracker, a single
miracle of orange afloat on gray concrete
reminiscent of when I was six, lazily pumping
my legs on a swing set when my whole world
jolted to a standstill at the sight of an infinitesimally

small shred of white paper glowing on a vast expanse
of lawn, when my heart stopped at the sheer wonder
of it all — the solitary shining of the white, the lushness
of the green, the silence of a swing no longer in motion,
merely sedentary molecules of metal. In a nanosecond,
a goldfish & a particle of paper reignited a life.

Calder Lowe
Modesto Branch, CA

Click here to see Calder’s books on Amazon.com

Poem of the Week–Sanxay Roman Picnic

Sanxay Roman Picnic

Druid rocks dot an outline
viewed by a low-flying airplane;
a cross lies in quiet grass.

I kneel, hands clasped,
pray to Apollo in his ruins,
his chapel stones and hard remains.

The sweet pea twines my finger,
soft and living, pliable; and the white
daisy snaps its tiny yellow eye.

Jeanne DeLarm-Neri
Greenwich Branch, CT

Members, don’t forget to apply for the Vinnie Ream Award competition, see guidelines by clicking here.

See newly posted writing competitions open to all by clicking here.

Poem of the Week–World Song

World Song

Why would you ask me to write a world song
When my world sings of itself already?

This world’s songs rise in volcanic furioso and zephyrs’ pianissimo
They resound in basso profundo as mountains shift the Earth and raise the lands
They rumble amid the mighty currents that move among the ocean’s secret depths
Rhythms weave the treble chitters of restless atoms, golden lion tamarinds
And the world web’s digital ticks that shape time and space

Songs in sotto voce ride the ceaseless winds at play
And dance in arpeggios of cascade sprays tumbling over waterfalls
Staccatos of stinging sands zing across the scorch of deserts
And trills of sunbeams rain upon the valley lands and prairie seas below

Mark the sounds of wildebeest and buffalo across the ancient homelands
As they migrate back and forth and back and forth and back again
Mark the courtly songs of swans and cranes
And their echoing calls across the trackless skyways
North to south and north to south and back again
Year by year by year

Listen to the frenzied scherzos of bustling crowds and 5:00 traffic
Hear the cities hum, hear the children play
My world dances to butterfly sambas, sunflower salsas and the beat of nations
It frolics in the fitful waltz of hummingbirds and bees and the frenzies of silvered fish
It weaves among the serenades of nightingales’ evensongs, choirs at vespers
And in the haunting howls of wolves

On it rings in the sonata, dirge, and celebration of life, death and resurrection
Each creature a welcomed note in a glorious symphony
Ten hundred billion hearts resound in the rhythm of life
And in the dreams of this small blue green planet we call home

What would you have me write when it is already written
For those who would listen
For those who can see
For those who will sing
And let it be

Sandy Hartman
Jacksonville Branch, FL

Poem of the Week–Sunny, Today, and Frigid

Sunny, Today, and Frigid

Last night late,
Spring’s horned moon
hooked my eyes heavenward.
Gold crown between silhouettes,
spruces, where they bundle like sentries
against houses behind us.

Snow dusted earth while we slept.
Yet morning sunlight’s fingers
tickle the foot of my bed. Shoo us
outside to see: ground glows,
strewn, pink, blue, lavender,
and white shinings. I wonder can I capture
them with camera? Should I?

I did not try. Stood inside my boots, squinting.
After-images stamp my retinas, a frozen
tattoo; one mortal in momentary truth,
unbarricaded behind layers of technology
and excuses.

Rachael Z. Ikins
Central New York Branch, NY

Visit our bookstore for our Pen Women Press poetry anthologies.

The Pen Woman magazine Spring 2015 with poetry, art, branch news and book reviews will be arriving in members’ mailboxes soon. Not yet a member? Visit our Pen Woman Magazine page to subscribe, buy the current issue or browse past issues.

Poem of the Week–Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box

It’s time
To find a box
And pack away the past
Stuff it full of every hurtful word, look, or omission
By those who should have loved you
By those who almost loved you
By those who loved you poorly
Leave no room for regrets, what-ifs, why-nots
Jam injustices
Into every crevice and corner
Quick, shut it tight
Tape it closed
Drop it in the deepest sea
Drown the pain and loss forever
Let Pandora’s box be gone
Move on
It’s Time.

Susan Bassler Pickford
Member at Large

Poem of the Week–Year of the Sheep, San Francisco 1967 and Latest News

Year of the Sheep, San Francisco 1967

Born out of fear and myth the advent
of Chinese New Year’s celebration
protects against Nian – wild beast
of the old year – from attacking villages,
eating people, destroying crops.
Red lanterns cast light into darkness,
firecrackers pop like gunfire,
rockets shower their sparkle
into velvet night sky
to frighten Nian.

In San Francisco’s China Town,
dancers, costumed in red and gold, parade –
drums pound, symbols crash – electrify
the jostling throng, until
a cherry bomb, tossed by someone,
lands into the unsuspecting crowd
exploding shoulder pad contents
of a man’s suit near us.
We all wince in pain,
ears ringing.

People panic, scream, push
stumble, some fall as we realize
that the tradition of good luck
following the dragon’s signature dance
or the glowing lantern armada floating
up from the festival provides
no protection
from our Nian.

Lynn M. Hansen
Modesto Branch, CA

Latest News

As usual, the NLAPW has a lot going on in support of the arts: competitions, publications, webinars and even a special art trip to Italy! Visit our website to get in on the act:

Competitions, click here.
Pen Women OnLine, click here.
News and Events, including the Italian trip, click here.
To visit our NLAPW Pen Women Press bookstore, click here.

Thanks to all of you who pre-ordered Poems of the Super Moon–it is now on its way to the printer and the costs of this printing will be covered by pre-sales. I have grown to love all the poems in the anthology more and more, and can’t wait to see them on paper and not on a screen. I’m proud to be a Pen Woman in the company of so many talented and thoughtful poets.

Do share the link to our bookstore with your contacts, and the Publications committee will continue to get the word out on social media. Shout out to Rachael Ikins of the Central New York branch who has joined the committee as Social Media “Diva!”

From the preface to Poems of the Super Moon:

As you make your way through this collection, you will encounter poems on love, hope, death, loss, family, faith, mothering, nature, the seasons, creativity, and what it means to be a woman. In short, these poems are not only about the moon; they are about life itself. … The moon has inspired these poems, but it is the inspiration that comes from within that we celebrate with this anthology.

Treanor Wooten Baring
Poetry Editor
National League of American Pen Women, Inc.

Moon News, Poem of the Week

Tonight’s moon is a “micro-moon”– the smallest full moon of the year. See the EarthSky website for more details by clicking here. 2015 will have six “super moon” events, three of which will be “near-perigee” full moons: August 29, September 28 and October 27. Again, the EarthSky website is the place to go (click here) to get more info.

The Pen Women Press collection Poems of the Super Moon is in the final stages of formatting and will be headed to the printer and shipped to pre-orders soon. If you haven’t ordered your copies yet, pre-order now to be assured of getting in on the first printing. Click here to visit our bookstore to order on line.

In honor of tonight’s moon, the Poem of the Week today comes from Nelly Zamora Jones of the Coral Gables Branch, along with her painting, La Luna Y Mi Aguila.

mi luna y mi aguila  Nelly Zamora Jones Coral Gables Branch, FL

mi luna y mi aguila
Nelly Zamora Jones
Coral Gables Branch, FL

The Moon and My Eagle

Once a distant past
Now an ever-present
Reminder by the voice of
My four-year-old grandson!

“It’s so very far away,
I can’t reach it,
How beautiful!”

No longer are you Moon
Darkened by the forces of Nature,
For you still shine in the origins
Of the creative mind!

Through voyages of years gone by and
History books overflowing with your secrets,
You continue to be first in
Whimsical flights to the poet’s song!

Counting, remembering, and
Even forgetting a few moons,
I touch your reflection
While becoming one with you!

Hence no matter where you go
Through reverie of dreams,
I follow your path on the wings of
The Eagle’s wind!

Nelly Zamora Jones
Coral Gables Branch, FL

Inspired by her oil painting, The Moon and My Eagle, Nelly Zamora Jones

all rights reserved by the artist and author