National Poetry Month, Day 23–Tunnelers

Tunnelers

I
The geese have come with glaciers
on their feet,
slick wings and winter eyes
artful in early sun and cold debris.

Come April, life is easily their cry
trumpeting worlds up-close
and worlds that bolt out of my reach.
A curve repeats.

II
Town on a cliff; lives in a cave;
wheat in the mill; babies to save…

III
They bear my heart’s ambivalence,
these men, whose arms
are road and mountain—brown and
bare—each rock, a common

Adam’s rib, each bruise, the providence
of wills. The tunnel’s open now
for young and worn,
a railing holds the ribbon of this race.

IV
Children on wheels; vines up the fence,
on mornings when our mourning ends.

V
Come April, I am nothing,
nothing like the birds—
I need a face, an urgency up close:
I dare not fly: the sky’s alive with geese.

by Sofia M. Starnes
Member at Large

Sofia M. Starnes is the Poet Laureate of Virginia. She will give the keynote Commencement address at the University of Virginia College at Wise on May 10. For more information, click here. She has recently published The Nearest Poem Anthology, a project she initiated as Poet Laureate which explores through poetry and essays, the “multiple lives of poetry”. Click here to visit the publisher’s website for more info.

National Poetry Month, Day 22–Day Before Storm

Day before Storm

Webbed white
hands,
fingers flutter high,
ribs against blue chest
& exhalation,
susurrus, wind.
Promises.

Sun warms my skin.
Shed parka, empty
green cocoon
rattles asphalt.
Puddles reflect
seagull wings
scoop air.
Their voices
creak, cry,
“why, why,”

& “when?”

Rachael Ikins
Central New York Branch, NY

National Poetry Month, Day 21–Sweet Persephone

Sweet Persephone

Like Persephone,    I wait
for Spring,      to burst.
Can one exchange    one’s cloth,
or clay heart
rewind to,        once was
get a do over
flower,
or
stop falling.

Cornelia DeDona
Member at Large

National Poetry Month, Day 20–Pen of Passion

PEN of PASSION

The creative pen flows
with concepts of romantic beauty,
capturing thoughts and intangible feelings
in rhythmic, melodious tones
of expressive symphonies no one dares to play.

The eloquent pen rummages
through reference-filled drawers
searching, sifting, and re-arranging
until an exact utterance is extracted
and purposefully placed in its proper alignment.

The gifted pen paints
portraits and explodes patterns,
drawing out jeweled memories
and muted bittersweet spectrums of
past heart-filled secrets we’ve locked inside.

But no one’s pen can fashion
such scenes of song-like stanzas
treasured texts, or succinct symbols
in measured meters of systolic prose
without the deep poetic command of one’s PASSION

by Patricia Wilson
Boca Raton Branch, FL

$500 Grand Prize Winner
Modern Poetry Society,
“Mirrors of the Soul” publication

National Poetry Month, Day 19–Psalm

Psalm

How did I end up here,
Without my mouth,
With this singing in my ears?
You marked ashes on my forehead
Lit the fire
Then buried it in concrete
If I could open my mouth
You would see this tired skin
Was formed around
Your breath

You will be, laughing
Destroying the concrete
And calling me a daughter of David

Sue Kunitz
Minnesota Branch, MN

Art of the Week, National Poetry Month, Day 18–Meditation

Click on the image to see it larger.

photo

This is one in a series of three illuminations by Pen Woman E. Helene Sherman of Sudbury, Massachusetts that were left to the NLAPW by Loryne Koebele who passed away in 2012.

MEDITATION

Seldom do I quietly sit.
There are those who would say
“Meditate!” Perhaps a quiet
Shutting out of outside for a
Journey inside would serve to
Solace sore heart or soothe
Unquiet nerves, but
In empty moments, my mind
Spills out its overflow
Gleaned from life’s noise.
Perhaps for me the hand and pen
Form my lotus position.

Mary Joan Meagher
Minnesota Branch

In accordance with our governing documents and by resolution of the National Board of Directors, The National League of America Pen Women, Inc. seeks a diverse membership and leadership with no barriers to full participation on the basis of age, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or class.

National Poetry Month, Day 17–Semana de Santos and Salud de Paz

Semana de Santos and Salud de Paz

I
Robed in passion purple, the chosen
travel from distant Guatemalan villages
to walk on alfombras (floral carpets) –
        roses, chrysanthemums
        leaves, rice, beans, quinoa,
        colored sawdust –
offering of humility before Easter,
bear the burdens of saints,
brass band plays funeral march.

II
They wear scrubs –
        green, purple, blue, calico
        patterned or plain –
doctors, nurses, dentists
walk all day on shiny tile floors
made of green polished stone.
They come to Salud de Paz before Easter,
repair hernias, cleft lips, tired wombs
rotten teeth, itching skin
relive burden of tumor, bleeding,
listen to music from I-pods and marimbas.

III
They wear colorful wool cloth topped
with woven Huipils of batz’I luch (true design)
mothers, sisters carry babies on hips
wrapped in bright blankets, arrive
at Salud de Paz clinic in Toyota pickup beds,
by colorful local bus or walk in broken sandals
up steep ridges bearing the soil of poverty –
a parade of proud Mayan ancestry –
hold cell phones to their ears
purchase calling cards by the minute.

Lynn M. Hansen
Modesto Branch, CA

National Poetry Month, Day 16–Journey from the East

JOURNEY FROM THE EAST

THE OCEAN

ocean’s
    dark-toned depths:
        silent, heavy; dense as sumo-wrestlers:
             a muscular giant embryo
             its epidermis lying loose like pie-crust not yet pinched down
the
   surface lies
        pearled, smooth as a child’s shooting-marbles,
             but rocked gently by the tail of Namazo, the giant cat-fish,
             asleep now in ocean’s belly

THE WIND

comes
   god of wind,
        sly-eyed Fujin, hurling himself from the soul-shore of mystical Japan;
             unleashing his feared bags of demon scream-pitched gales –
             howling, angry, water-shattering forces
that
    slam the top
        of the water-sheath…like a jet plane crash landing, as it skims…
             a skipping stone across the rough sea-surface coupled
             with sounds of giant pressure cookers exploding

THE WAVES

waves
    bounding off:
        rolling, surging, roiling, twisting…frisky
             as juvenile huskies in Fuji’s fresh snow: yapping,
             snarling warm-up tones of Tokoyo’s symphony orchestra
then
    bewitching
        fingers of the mysterious yokai knead the water into jiki, fine white porcelain,
             and toss them high into the air in sprays like corn stalks
             that land shattered into chards to grind into foam for the caps, then defiantly

THE JOURNEY

turn
    in eastward
        flight; hearlded by brass bands, twisting, surging,
             thrashing-passion of irrational, unsatisfied manic lovers:
             Disneyland’s wild ride, bounding for somewhere unmapped

hell
    perhaps not:
        mad trajectory, with overloaded chords, playing unformed leap-frog and
             disappearing with each towering masterpiece — churling on the shoreless deep
             as the borderless mass moves away from the Rising Sun

THE CRASH

the
    wind is gone
        Fujin has retreated
             many days the waves have ridden the ocean surface, rudderless –
             under the sun, under the moon — in round, deep knolls, pushing onward

then
CRASH against
    rocks unseen beneath the top
             pop! a hail of champagne corks, up and up, then falling back but not to regroup;
             a shudder: death is here, alone, unheralded

THE LANDING

peace
    the small wave,
        a mere suggestion of its once all-power,
             is carried by an invisible force, across starfish and floating seaweed it does not see
             toward shore

quiet
    as the now-dead
        wave lands softly on the shallows and sinks into the warm sand
             letting go of its life with a small sigh
             as it returns to Amaterasu Ō Mi Kami, the Great Spirit of life and death…

…where it all begins and where it all ends…

Mary Halverson Schofield
Minnesota Branch

National Poetry Month, Day 15–Orange Moon

Orange Moon

Somewhere up there
there’s an orange moon.

Once in a blue moon
there’s an orange moon.

There’s a cloud cover
like a down comfort
thrown over the earth.

I am on the earth side
so I will not see that
there’s an orange moon.

I have seen such a moon.
In an unobstructed view
from the dock on the New River
a lusterware platter
held me transfixed.

I will not see this orange moon
but I can imagine
a giant luminous lusterware platter
above the fresh green
of the oaks and willows of the delta.

I will remember, when it is said
“there’s an orange moon,”
and know that
blue moons are a measure of time:
orange moons are a measure of faith.

by Bet Wooten
Delta Branch, MS

National Poetry Month, Day 11–sometimes…

Sometimes I mourn the loss of fog

which hung like a curtain
outside winter windows;
not transparent sheers,
but thick gray-white drapes
that obstructed views,
closed us in,
muffled sounds,
hid the nearby orchards and vineyards
transformed, now,
into neighborhoods
which cover the soil,
hold on to sunlight and heat,
suck up moisture,
repel vapor.
In its way,
that fog was reassuring,
whispering the message
that, although we lived
with the usual creature comforts,
we were still close to the earth
somehow,
not just one more subdivision
amid suburban sprawl

by Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch, CA

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