Memorial Day Poem

Rest Peacefully

Once they floated in mothers’ wombs
Now interred
In well aligned tombs
Though much life
Meant still to live
Their lives
For our country
They did give
They lie beneath
Our sacred soil
Because man can’t live
Minus knife and foil
Now cannons and rifles
Rattle the calm
And horrific bombs

Rest peacefully
Under flowers
And flags
And long after
Due to the weather sags
They who died
For their blessed land
Are held tightly
By the good Lord’s hands
Happy Memorial Day
For all those who died for the USA
Barb Whitmarsh

Editor’s note: This poem was due to go up on Monday, May 25, but as many of you may know, I live in Houston and Monday and Tuesday were not ordinary days here. Prayers for all those affected by the storms and floods. We are fine and our hearts go out to those still recovering from losses.–Treanor Baring

Click here to visit our competitions page to learn more about our Vinnie Ream Medal competition, postmark deadline June 1, 2015!

Poem of the Week–Armistice


I pass the long train
as it waits, unmoving,
each flat car carrying military vehicles —
armored tanks with caterpillar tracks,
long gun noses extend into air —
the kind of transport we only see on the news
rolling down the streets of Baghdad,
Helmand province,
Tiananmen Square,
right here in Ceres, California,
and for a minute it jolts me,
all the more ironic
since it is Memorial Day weekend
and this looks like an invasion,
tank after tank after tank,
gray green gigantic Tonka toys
that have played for real
in the game of war,
not raw recruits
but old war horses,
hopefully on their way
to some kind of resting place
where they will be honored
for their service,
never used again

Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch, CA

Poem of the Week–Between Times

Between Times

During hard, empty-hearted years
I fled to your place, wherever it was,
to get my breath, my footing,
to talk over cups of French-pressed coffee
about parents who drank too much
and men who loved too little.
After you went to work, I padded around your home,
savoring the cool tiles of your kitchen beneath my bare feet,
and the coarse thick yellow-green grass outdoors in your yard
before settling into a comfortable chair with my diary to consider
it all, mostly love and work.
When you came home, we talked and talked,
two friends weaving the fine silken threads
of their lives into handiworks
with which to wrap truth
and hold it
for a moment.

Christie Palmer Lowrance
Cape Cod Branch, MA

Poem of the Week–My Child Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman, whether your child is grown, still with you minute-by-minute, or is your art!

My Child

My love for you, my child,
is warm and tender,
yet it is fierce and strong

My love for you, my child,
is full of wonder; delighted with your victories,
yet wants to shield you from the world beyond

My love for you, my child,
is knowing love,
it’s wary of the time to come,
when you will leave for distant shores

Now spread your wings, my child,
and fly away, though do remember:
my home and heart are always open

Come back and lick your wounds,
then fly away again
to new adventures

Ute Buehler
Minnesota Branch

Editor’s note on the apostrophe in Mother’s Day:

Oh, the details! To put an apostrophe in the word “Mother” and if so, before or after the “s”? Here’s why I chose to put make it Mother’s Day, singular possessive, from After all, we as Pen Women, honor the legacy of creators, so let’s honor the creator of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, and each our own (individual) mother.

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 blog? Contact for details. Writers Get Together is also seeking blog writers. Click here for more info or submit a blog post by email to 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

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