Poem of the Week: The Summer Party

Lois Batchelor Howard
Palm Springs, CA Branch

 

I look into the corner

of my backyard

and the green and flowering

plants

are huddled together.

They look like a cocktail party

with too many guests.

Whom shall I uninvite?

Shears in my hand I approach

the foxtail lily desert candles

the wall germandus

the fairy bells

the bougainvillea

I know this is rude to say to them,

but I do.  “It is too crowded here.”

They laugh and I hear their thoughts

become audible in the late afternoon sun,

“but none of us wants to leave.”

I look at my shears, put them down,

and return with a cocktail to join them.

 

Poem of the Week: Words

Sandra Seaton Michel
Diamond State Branch

 

The wonder, the plunder, the marvel of words

that snap our attention, cause anger and fear,

joy and elation, laughter and tears

and sometimes,

sometimes

sprinkle fairy dust upon the ordinary.

 

There it was, “apples, sauced.”

Oh, how delightful that sounds,

a delectable dish, undoubtedly served

with swagger and swish.

Not plain old apple sauce,

which children love

and hospitals too

but you won’t find it taught at Cordon Blue.

 

Poem of the Week: Walking on Water

Carolynn J. Scully
Orlando/Winter Park Branch

 

Confidence is momentary, never permanent.

 
Get out of the boat.
Just do it.
Jump!

 
Time for me to walk
on waves that reach out and back,
dip down and rush up.
Self talk builds sea legs, but
one word or look can weaken knees.

 
Fear washes over me and
drenches me in sweat.

 
First steps are always unsure.
Self-assurance, like the sea, cannot be controlled.
No guarantees.
But there is no end without a beginning.

 

Carolynn J. Scully ©2016

 

Poem of the Week: Fear and Want in Revolution (A Russian Pantoum)

by Linda Newman Woito
Iowa City, Iowa Branch

 

It has been a bitter winter.

Russian guards are still outside.

Who will watch the horses dancing?

Priests lead them all in prayer.

 

Russian guards are still outside.

Children of the Village have forgotten how to dance.

Priests lead them all in prayer.

Chickens hide within the barn, emptied of drying hay.

 

Children of the Village have forgotten how to dance.

Today the sunrise comes two hours late.

Chickens hide within the barn, emptied of drying hay.

Water in the cow-barn is freezing now.

 

It has been a bitter winter.

Who will watch the horses dancing?

Today the sunrise comes two hours late.

Water in the cow-barn is freezing now.

 

Russian guards are still outside.

Today the sunrise comes two hours late.

Chickens hide within the barn, emptied of drying hay.

Children of the Village have forgotten how to dance.

 

Water in the cow-barn is freezing now.

Russian guards are still outside.

Who will watch the horses dancing?

Priests lead them all in prayer.

 

Poem of the Week: Gaining Perspective

Rev. Nancy Schluntz
Diablo-Alameda Branch

 

Sunday, Monday, Thursday

It doesn’t matter

It won’t turn off.

 

Part of living and loving

Is getting used to things

That won’t turn off.

 

All trembling and hurting

From laughter and hidden tears

That won’t turn off.

 

A beautiful giving and

Making room to hold things

That won’t turn off.

 

Poem of the Week: Once

Patricia Dennis, Santa Clara Branch

 

We were young girls
holding hands
playing hop scotch
whispering secrets
sneaking into forbidden rooms
trying on the jewels of our mothers
and dressing up in their gowns

With skirts held high above our knees
we would twirl and swirl around
landing only for a brief second
just long enough to strike a saucy pose

With hands on our hips we would wiggle our derrières
Then turn around tilting our heads this way and that
Puckering our lips and blowing silent kisses

We’ll never be old! We would cry
Always young at heart and
meeting adventures head on
We gave nary a thought of what lay beyond

Years later, children grown, husbands gone, I see you again

We cry in unison, Where have you been!

Our minds flicker to when we stopped trying to stay in touch
when other needs and wants filled the space.

A silent prayer of gratitude for here we are again.

No longer youthful, no longer slim. The years have added wisdom to our faces.

Giggling and laughing we take a moment (to) step back in time
pause and remember those years of innocence
It seems just like yesterday
we were those two young girls
prancing unsteadily in mother’s high heels
and playing make believe

A long heartfelt embrace and a vow: to not let time separate
friends of the heart. Distance and time should never tear apart.

 

Poem of the Week: Give me a key to unlock my cage

Marsha J. Perlman
SW Florida Branch

 

I’ve been to court countless times.
Not because I broke the law.
Not because I was arrested or presented with a warrant.
I, an instructor of English as a Second Language.
They, my classes of Central American female and male students.

Yes, crossed the border illegally at night while entire villages
lived marginally to support one of their own to start a new life.
At first they couldn’t read the rules they were expected to observe.

Acquired English by day, but not fast enough to understand that
in this country one doesn’t offer a bribe to a police officer
when pulled over, hand-cuffed or incarcerated.

Jail cell was home until court date.

Result:
Lost wages, hungry families.
Lost English lessons, no jobs.
Lost cars, no transportation.
Lost apartments…homeless.
What _is _our definition of_ JUSTICE?_

Imagine an unbroken world designed for compassion with:
Harmony rather than conflict.
Unity instead of threats.
Defense in place of blame.
Acceptance without prejudice.
Laughter replacing tension.
Let us wage peace and rediscover _JOY._

 
www.marshajperlman.com

 

Poem of the Week: Costumes

Risa Roberts
Fort Lauderdale Branch

 

She stripped down to her underwear

Then

Slowly stripped down

To her bones

Not enough

She reached deep into her being

Found the child

And

Crossed over

 

Poem of the Week: Tales of A Hidden Closet 

Linda Newman Woito
Iowa City, Iowa Branch

 

Prudence opened a narrow door and was surprised

she was walking into a closet thinking it was a women’s

bathroom but since she was already holding her legs

tightly together she decided to pull the door closed

and have at it in a little drain that sat in the corner

of the closet below the handy-dandy pull-chain light

and so she did.  As she began relieving herself

the light dimmed once then twice and everything

went black including the drain itself which she was

straining to see as she aimed with as steady a stream

as she could manage under the circumstances.  Yet

all she could think as she tried to relax was did I lock

the door when I came in, knowing I’d need a moment

of personal privacy.   But before she could answer

to her satisfaction the door opened and in walked

a young janitor with a mop and a glass of champagne

in his hand, and soon he was bending over as she

tried to yank up her too-tight jeans in the most

lady-like manner she knew when suddenly the light

came on and she heard him ask:  Can I help you Lady?

You lose something Lady? To which she replied

No, not at all in fact I’ve found precisely what I’ve 

needed for a long long time and in exactly the right 

time place and manner…indeed in the right order

and so she pulled the pull-chain once then twice

and out went the light in time for the next tale

to begin.

 

Poem of the Week: Black Cat in an Oil Painting

Heather Banks, Member at Large, Rockingham, VA

 

I never owned a real black cat,
though felines of three other shades owned me
for more than 20 years sequentially.
Even longer has this ebony
cat crouched on a table that
might be rectangular or round,
and might be covered or just painted brown
but definitely is very flat
like the depth of all ambiguous spaces
painted on two-dimensional surfaces.

The pot of flowers, painted white, somehow
admits a trace of the room’s vertical orange plane.
The azure sky does not intrude entirely
on primed, bare canvas between cattails
and sunny flowers that sing of daffodils
or gladiolas that cannot open fully.

Light varies the striped décor’s lush tint,
and the sheer, patterned curtain rests, twisted
between breaths from the open window.

A painting—or perhaps mirror’s dark reflection—
almost slides off the wall into the path
of the screen door’s yellow frame.

Through decades now, I see,
the young artist’s energy
coiled in the waiting black cat’s smudge.
Each time I delve into this image,
it’s ready to pounce—perhaps attack
three reproductions of Asian cats
that lurk around the corner in my hall—
originals brushed by watercolor artists
on silk or paper centuries ago.
That trio perches, twitches, too—
and I smile, because _I_ see them all.