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.


Poem of the Week: That Kind of Friends

Rachael Ikins Central NY Branch

Only you showed up 3 days in a row last September a year ago.
The heat, the 3 flights of stairs, weight,
furniture we lifted imprinted on our backs
arms, legs, my heart.

You unpacked the contents for my kitchen.
Lined spice bottles and glasses and a cupboard rowed with mugs, plates for sandwiches and dinners.
You are that kind of friend.
Who used topless Tupperware containers to catalogue the cocoa, teas and baking supplies, filed in easy-to-find groups.

A friend whose sentences I can finish
because, you explain, you’re “an artist, not good with words,” but my paint is language. You tell me I “always know
just the right thing to say.”

Almost a year after that September weekend when I ended up  in the emergency room with a-fib, my heart fluttering like a sparrow that battered itself against garage windows blind to the open door, we head east on the freeway in your Jeep.  Today I email you,

“Where do you think my egg cups are?”
I don’t expect you to remember–
many months, your own life. I eat eggs for the protein to help with my meds,
forgot I had cups until this morning. Painted Easter-egg style with legs and big floppy shoes.

“They aren’t on the shelves with the mugs,” your reply. “Look on a shelf for oddities, lid to the juicer, leaf-shaped nut bowls, a single Russian tea glass– use your step stool.” After supper I climb up.

There they are, the only two that remain
from a 20 year old
set. That kind of friends.

Poem of the Week: Can We Regain What Has Been Lost?

Linda K. Bridges, Pikes Peak, Colorado Branch


Unsuspecting, a quarrel hits without warning!

Angry words fly—well-aimed missiles—hitting their mark.

The shards and debris of broken relationships land here and there.

Slivers of misunderstandings pierce hearts and minds—wounds not easily healed.


We scatter, in times like these—each seeking safe places

Where we can replay in our heads what went wrong.

In shock and pain, we wait . . . stunned . . . silent.

How quiet it is after the battle.


We bind our wounds. They seem to gloat in victory of this ruin.

We count our losses. We shift the blame.

‘Now what?’

‘All I said was. . .’

“He said. . .she said. . .”

And so it goes, a circle without end.


We grieve.

Some of us harden our hearts.

The Enemy of our souls wins more than a skirmish—

Can we regain what has been lost?

Dare we try?


“Help your relatives and they will protect you like a strong city wall, but if you quarrel with them, they will close their doors to you.” (Proverbs 18:19 GNT)


Author’s Note: It is no secret that strife and discord lay close beneath the surface of nearly any serious relationship. When contentions erupt, we are forced us to deal with them—or not! This poem was born after such an eruptive moment in our family. I have tried to capture the timeless query going on in the heart of one caught in the cross-fire of a family battle. I also attest, yes! We can regain what has been lost—but it comes with time, perseverance, healing and forgiveness. Yes! We must dare to try—it is worth the effort.


Poem of the Week: I Just Kissed My Husband Goodbye

M. J. Putnik, Boca Raton, Florida Branch


I just kissed my husband goodbye.

I watch him walk toward his marked police car and get inside.

I stand at the window and pray…

Keep him alert.

Keep him safe.

I just kissed my husband goodbye.

A lover.

A Father.

A son.

I just kissed my husband goodbye.

Wondering what would happen to him today.

Would he be spit on? Would he be attacked?

Would he be shot?

I just kissed my husband goodbye.

I imagine the next 10 hours of his day.

Filling out a missing child report.

Comforting a battered wife.

Arresting a twelve year old drug dealer.

I just kissed my husband goodbye.

I stand looking out the window feeling —




I just kissed my husband goodbye.

He’s yours now.

You have his full attention.

He will protect your freedom and rights.

He stands between you and evil.

Please don’t take him for granted.

Let him come home to me.


Poem of the Week: Scylla and Charybdis

Susan Bassler Pickford, Member-at-Large in Lyman, Maine


Navigating the dangerous passage of old age

Between rocks and eddies

One side covered with indifferent, defeatist attitudes

Devil- may- care, rock hard, reckless neglect of common sense

That leads to early shipwreck and ruin

The other siren calling women to excessive concern about their looks

Compulsive swirling attention to the body

The scale and mirror cruel arbiters of reality

How to find the middle way

How to steer oneself to the best case scenario

How to propel oneself reasonably

Through the narrow straits


Growing Old


Online now: 2016 Biennial Highlights

See photos and news about all the celebration! Start here: 2016 National Pen Women Biennial Convention

2016 Biennial Installation of Officers


The new Board of Directors. Photo by Judy Bingman

The new national board members, left to right, Jane Maclean, fifth vice president; Sheila Byrnes, second vice president; Ronnie Miller, fourth vice president; Virginia Franklin Campbell, president; Lorna Jean Hagstrom, first vice president; Maureen Sappéy, third vice president; Evelyn Wofford, treasurer.

The NLAPW business meeting took place Friday morning. The U.S. Army Military District of Washington Armed Forces Color Guard presented and retired the colors at the beginning of the event.

Color Guard formation_BI4A0358

Color Guard at attention_BI4A0354












Poem of the Week: Green Vase

Brenda Layman, Central Ohio Branch


Bright morning balcony sun

Me, arranging flowers in the old green vase

That was my mother’s

Kept in a cabinet over the refrigerator

Where curious child hands

(mine) could not reach

Once filled with roses, an ardent tribute

Conquest token treasured

Beauty remembered

Lipstick-red as roses

Faded into something soft,

Nearly forgotten, out of focus and wrinkled

Like linen dresses in summer long ago

I fill the green vase with bright blossoms

Freesia, carnations, daisy mums and

Wildflowers from my garden

Red, purple, white, golden yellow

A bit of lavender for scent

I place into the vase which was a gift

From a long-forgotten man who

Had he more than roses to offer

Might have been

Father to some other daughter

Who may have had something of me in her soul

Would she have been standing here this morning

With fresh-cut flowers in her hands?