Poem of the Week: Autumn Dance

Patricia Dennis
Santa Clara, N. California Branch

A gust of wind

The soft swirl of leaves
Autumn red and gold




So gracefully through the air

Thoughts of landing

But knowing not where

Then one special moment

Upon the earth they have fallen

A few seconds of time
And then

A gust of wind

The soft swirl of leaves

Continually floating


Poem of the Week: Thanksgiving

Calder Lowe
Modesto California Branch


Hurling himself against the confines
of the picket fence, the chained dog yelps,
its cry piercing my car windows at the stop light.

The house is in disrepair and I already know
that dog is beaten, that woman slumped
in the chair on the deck is beaten.

The peeling wooden planks on the exterior
are no fortress against the drunken man
stumbling up the rotting stairs to the door,

his lined face long stamped with resignation,
his fists already clenched in rage.
I beseech the incoming fog to blanket them all

with a modicum of grace, a respite from the despair
of circumstance, imminent storms.
Mostly, I want the dog to curl up in front of a fire,

his paws outstretched in thanksgiving
for one day unmarred by kicks to his spine,
one day of a full belly, one day of impenetrable calm.


Poem of the Week: Granite Battalion

Barb Whitmarsh, Bayou City II Texas Branch
(Happy Veterans Day – and God Bless America)


It was late
and there was a nip in the air
when he went down to stand awhile
with the granite battalion.

They had run out of ammo
twenty years ago
but held the high ground
below the knoll.

They welcomed any support
but words were cheap by now
old medals were appreciated
———melted down————
for potential bullets
but hell they’d done without fire power
all these years

He lingered in the sulphuric air
of his own cigarettes
left them the pack
told them he was coming back
and together they’d crush the enemy
so they could all go home at last


Poem of the Week: Mendocino Revisited

Christine Horner
Alameda/Diablo Branch, CA


This place is different
every time we come, new,
wind-washed, sea-beaten.

Old woods are eaten
larger in every pore, the grain
exposed more deeply.

Birds have forgotten the strain
of yesterday’s song in their wings,
the better to ride today’s wind.

The sea slips blithely away with the sand
that would hold her, ensuring each tide
must come to a beach rearranged.

And, the waves, as well, we know
can only appear to be
exactly alike, yet we

return again
and again, each time
thinking ourselves unchanged.


Poem of the Week: Lydia (1761)

Margaret Leis Hanna, Central Ohio Branch
Written after reading the historical novel, Widow’s War, by Sally Gunning


She walks the shore

Stripped of her husband
she searches
solace on sand.

Breathes salt air
Water suffocated him.

Arms across
hollow heart
she suffers the unwanted.

As waves before her
Love and loss
Ebb and flow

As limitless horizons
Anger and grief
Stretch through her

As moonlight on stilled seas
Calmness and acceptance
Cloak her.

Love brings her
Weeping and walking
Where water widowed her.



Poem of the Week: Native

Nancy Haskett, Modesto, CA Branch President


Dakota, Choctaw, Wampanoag, Comanche –

names that echo off canyon walls,

blow in the wind over prairies,

rise fiercely from flames of burned villages

in smoke as ephemeral as government promises

proven false.

Warriors, weavers, hunters, herders,

once their drums were the heartbeat of this nation

they called home

before they lost the land,

sacrificed it in trade for horses, guns,

measles, smallpox,

boundless land exchanged

for desolate reservations,

countless lives lost in vain.

Yet, the names live on

as we speak the places:

Ma-sa-chu-sett, Minnesota, Monongahela,

Tehachapi, Narragansett, Rappahannock –

as we breathe life into the names

every day


the land remembers


Poem of the Week: Suitable Companion

Christina Laurie, West Falmouth, Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod Branch, president


(Genesis 2:18 – on the eve of my 50th birthday)


Seven times seven
I have replaced each cell
and now turn over the leaf
of yet another year –
a new woman once again.

Yet still I am a part
of that primordial Eve
created out of dust and drib—
the Adam split
to form a new wo-man;
creation of the Creator,
“Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.”

I am soil, tissue and muscle
and life-giving breath.
Love me
I am a new creation.


Poem of the Week: The Blanket Lady

Sheryl L. Nelms, Member at Large, Clyde, TX
she unwraps herself
from her stack
of blankets
folds each over
her left arm
and hobbles
into the Fort Worth Federal Building
in fifteen minutes
she shuffles back
out into the cold
standing on the steep steps
she rewraps
a blue one circles her waist
protecting her legs
a green one wraps around her shoulders
and a pink one lops over her arm
for her to sit on


Poem of the Week: Tuesday in New York City

Etta Schaeffer, Boca Raton, Florida


It was a beautiful September morning in The Big Apple
My son, my only child was at work.
He was in a building behind a church
and in the shadow of one of a pair of iconic skyscrapers.

Not yet nine o’clock in the morning
everything was quiet and normal,
then the first plane hit.
Everyone thought it was an accident.


Across the street and thirty stories high
the view was incomprehensible.
Seventy stories higher and across the street
people began to jump to escape.


He makes eye contact with a man falling toward the street below.
He is unable to speak or to move, frozen by what he is seeing.
A second plane attacks the other skyscraper.
He knows it’s time to get everyone out.


At ground level bodies litter the pavement like discarded rag dolls.
Stepping over them and around them is indescribable,
yet they do it, they get away stopping for nothing.
All they think about is surviving.


With time they will go on with life.
They know they will never forget
that beautiful Tuesday morning in
September in New York City.


Poem of the Week: Safely Rest, God is Nigh

Virginia Franklin Campbell, NLAPW President 2016-2018


To stately “old growth,” Douglas Fir,

In a veritable amphitheater,

I returned.

Scout patrol campsites, in clock positions,

eight, eleven, one and three,

I recalled.

Fireplaces my daddy’s scouts had built,

broken down, bricks scattered, ashes remain,

I observed.

Memories of evening campfires, beside my daddy,

Bobby Short’s tenor voice caroling through the trees,

commencing with taps.

“Day is done, Gone the sun,”

I sang.

From a very young girl, I was entranced,

with the Boy Scouts, the music, the solitude, the fire,

I knelt.

On my knees, I prayed,

for all the scouts that my father had touched,

Monday after Monday,

yearly, one week of his two week vacation.

I sobbed.

The emotions I experienced, decades later,

replicated those in years past,

the sense of the accomplishments achieved,

the skills instilled and merit badges earned,

the fire now extinguished,

after the tents had been taken down.