Poem of the Week–Sassafras and Roaming

Sassafras and Roaming

Behind overgrown yews, in that wreck
of a cottage the color of old bones,
there lived my other mother.
Under oaken timbers her tea steeped
in chipped earthenware mugs
and her spinning wheel twisted
flax into owl feathers
and uncommon paths.

After the hearth embers cooled,
she left footprints in the ashes,
rowed me down river,
each dip of oar stirring marsh grass,
spider webs, orange-tip butterflies.

In the shallows, egrets waded.
Here I paddled
round and round.
In the whirling, she sang
as she wove dandelions into river reeds
and crowned me queen.

Diane McDonough
Cape Cod Branch, MA

Art of the Week–Mystical Pond and Poem of the Week–Nocturne

Art of the Week

Click on the image to see it larger.

Mystical Pond at High Lane  Mary Lou Griffin Diamond State Branch, DE Pastel

Mystical Pond at High Lane
Mary Lou Griffin
Diamond State Branch, DE

Poem of the Week


I dip my feet and slowly enter the quiet pool of the river,
breaking its mirror- like face.
Soon algae and leaves come to attach themselves to my skin;
they conspire to camouflage me.
I think of my New York apartment’s bathtub
and my attempt at turning it into a spa.
One cup of epsom salts and five drops of lavender oil poured into it.
Here I am one with nature, part of earth,
like going back to being dust,
but while alive.
There’s a concert of muted murmurs and a harmony of subtle scents.
My arms sway, sending ripples to the weathered stone edge,
and my cupped hands try to scoop up slices of the white moon.
A bull frog pulls its long tongue out.
Is it considering I maybe be something to nibble at?
The river, including all of us in it, is a big eye staring at the sky.

Liliana Luppi Dossola
Alexandria Branch, VA

Editor’s Note:
I have just returned from an all too short spiritual retreat in the hill country of Texas where I swam in natural springs to beat the heat–less than 24 hours after I wintered in the Southern Hemisphere. This poem by Liliana Dossola was waiting in my inbox. Kismet! The pastel by Mary Lou Griffin appeared in a previous website art gallery.

Speaking of travel, if you are in need of restoration and great get-aways (sorry for the cheesy segue), the NLAPW has two incredible travel opportunities coming up: click here to see our News and Events page for details about our “Garden Tour and Pen Arts Stay” and “NLAPW in Italy.”
–Treanor Baring, NLAPW Website Content Editor

Art of the Week (At Repose with Mitsy) and Poem of the Week (Cuba)

Art of the Week

Click on the image to see it larger.

At Repose with Mitsy E. Marie Francis Vero Beach Branch, FL Acrylic

At Repose with Mitsy
E. Marie Francis
Vero Beach Branch, FL

Poem of the Week


Amalia, but we called her Molly
The first and only Cuban I have known
She was orphaned when
Her parents died in a train wreck
She and her brother were raised by the nuns and brothers
The children were not permitted to see each other for a year
Thinking that would allow their unspeakable loss to heal
Like an unpicked scab
Her family name, unknown to me, had stature but no money, she said
Molly married a US navy man and left the island by twenty
Castro’s revolution was on its way
In the United States the soap operas taught her English
An economics course taught her capitalism
Amalia transformed herself into Molly
We met when teachers at a Catholic School
She taught Spanish; I taught English
I was a twenty-seven year old ex-nun fresh from the convent
Molly was a thirty-seven year old with a master’s degree in psychology
She became my counselor ex-officio
Molly transformed me.
She was outgoing and fun
She gave me permission to shake off the habits of my old life
And embrace my new life with gusto
Just as she had done for herself.
We partied with faculty and attended weddings together
We went for dinner and drinks often
One night she let down her guard
Her brother was waiting for his son’s release
He’d been imprisoned for handing out anti-Castro pamphlets on a street corner
They’d cross the Straits when the boat of opportunity sailed
As soon as her words dropped from her lips
Panic set in
Now, she had to trust me with her secret
I never spoke a word; not even to ask the outcome
Molly divorced and I married; our friendship suffered
I moved hundreds of miles away, we lost touch
But thirty years later, I wanted to mend the rift
The internet quickly gave up Amalia’s address
A letter came back
My opportunity had sailed a year too late
In 2003 Molly had died.

Descansa en paz, Amalia. Descansa en paz.

by Susan Bassler Pickford
Member at large

Poem of the Week–Dancer


Under ebony hair and smooth skin
her flashing eyes twinkle
like sun dancing on summer waves.
Graceful hands paint the air
as she punctuates the dance
with tongue clicks and song.
When she walks, she flows
sweeping away the hearts of men.
Yet deep within
there is a bruise
that only her eyes reveal.

from: Song of the Dancer, my second book of poetry
Christina Laurie, Cape Cod Branch, MA

NLAPW Art trip to Italy — discounted price and a wonderful opportunity!! See our news page for more info:

www.nlapw.org news page click here

Poem of the Week–The Flag

To all: a happy and safe Independence Day!

The Flag

When night falls
And lures the moth
Shine a light
On our sacred cloth

The flag sewn
By Betsy Ross
And flown ever since
For our living and lost

A symbol of heroism
Our country of might
So leave our land
If you want to fight

In the wind
She flutters
In the ice she’s frigid
At the Unknowns’ Tomb
Her ceremonies rigid

When day breaks
Look with pride
At the red, white and blue
With stars at her side

Love her –
Keep her flying
Good patriots
Are always complying

The greatest symbol
On Mast and Spar
She’s draped our heroes
Near and far

Barbara Whitmarsh
Bayou City Branch, TX

Art of the Week–new member Ava Cosey

Ava Cosey is a new art member and the first vice president of the recently formed Bayou City Branch (Houston, TX). Active in the visual arts scene in Houston and througout Texas, she was nominated this year for Texas State Artist by the Texas Commission on the Arts. She attended Art Advocacy Day – Texas for the Arts in Austin, Texas and the Texas Commission on the Arts Conference, visited the Capitol during the 84th Legislation and met with State Senators.

Her works are a part of permanent collections and galleries, and can be seen at her website http://www.acoseyart.com/. Scroll down for a few works featured here as the Art of the Week.

In her own words:

In 1997, I experienced an epiphany that catapulted my creative, remarkable talent.

Art rejuvenates the soul. I experience infinite inspiration and I am fascinated by the mystery of visualization and its startling effect. I am dedicated to my gift and my passion is to share my God given talents.

I work in all mediums. I use oil, acrylic, pastels, ink and mixed media. I also work with the process of monoprints, silkscreens, etchings, sculpting and fiber arts. I use vivid colors, majestic characters and universal themes in my work. I love painting meaningful images, places and things.

My goal is to capture the interest of the viewer by creating a visual story that will intrigue and invoke emotions which relates to their experiences.

Abstract Warriors Oil Painting Ava Cosey Bayou City Branch, TX

Abstract Warriors
Oil Painting
Ava Cosey
Bayou City Branch, TX

My Mind Ain't on These Beads Oil Painting Ava Cosey Bayou City Branch, TX

My Mind Ain’t on These Beads
Oil Painting
Ava Cosey
Bayou City Branch, TX

Determined Oil Painting Ava Cosey Bayou City Branch, TX

Oil Painting
Ava Cosey
Bayou City Branch, TX

Her painting, “Ancestor’s Torch” was unveiled at the Houston Community College – San Jacinto Auditorium for the nationally acclaimed Kinsey Collection, and traveled to Mississippi State University this spring as part of the Kinsey Treasures Collection. It can be seen here in the background behind speaker Morgan Freeman.

Ava Cosey's work, Ancestor's Torch with the Kinsey Treasures Collection

Ava Cosey’s work, Ancestor’s Torch with the Kinsey Treasures Collection

Poem of the Week-Crop Duster

Crop Duster

The plane takes over the stage
where last night, constellations starred.
The morning’s blue backdrop
rips. Out pops a yellow machine,
double-storied. Oblong wings

tilt, bank, circle, assail
a sea field of corn stalks
high as a bulldozer’s windshield.
Two months ago, the earth opened.
Shouted under vast electric light.

Kernels danced into soil,
sprouted into floppy leaves—
they wave their tassels
to push away the airplane’s
sticky downward-drifting dust.

A shocking plane to fly so low,
just outside a bedroom window.
It should be in a museum, but
the live shadow sails on grass lawns.
Shakes the ears with alarm.

Jeanne DeLarm-Neri
Greenwich Branch, CT

Poem of the Week–Plant Me in Iowa

Plant Me in Iowa No. 2

When only I say it’s time
dear daughters, plant me
in blue-bearded Iris
where I shall wake
to perfumed nights
of fading petals that shyly
ply my touch.
There, will I rest and sleep
in peaceful quietude, alone
and quite at home with God.

Linda Newman Woito
Iowa City Branch, IA

Editor’s Note: Greetings from chilly Melbourne, Australia, where I am with family. I will diligently find time and internet access to give meaning to the “world” in “world wide web.”

Meanwhile, today is the deadline for submissions to the Pen Woman Magazine’s Summer issue. I will now be processing poetry for the Fall and Winter issues, and as usual for the blog.

Poem of the Week-Three Sisters and The Light Between Us


Up in the moors, under the clouds
Sturdy and wide sits a stone house,
Stretching upward, brown and cold,
Mysteriously enveloped in a gray shroud.

From the valley below, nothing is known,
Except for the icy sinister walls
Which trap ancient stories written by three
Talented sisters wrapped in their shawls.

During the day, there is no sign
Of life. But at night the stone house
Becomes mystically alive
As three shadows parade in the candlelight.

As in a trance, they furiously write
Till the break of dawn all through the night,
Those words that death stole from them
Despite their plight.

Three women living in the sturdy stone house.
Sisters that, unflinching, refuse to die.
They whisper their words to poets alive,
The Brontës, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne.

By Alexandra Goodwin
Boca Raton Branch, FL

click here for a link to the Brontë Society in Great Britain for more info about the Brontës and their groundbreaking works.

Light Between Us: True Stories of Healing Through Creative Expression

The Light Between Us, cover painting by Dorothy Atkins

The Light Between Us, cover painting by Dorothy Atkins

Click here to pre-order this collection of stories by Pen Women now! From the back cover by Marilyn Lewis:

The Light Between Us is the open and honest sharing of renewal. Throughout these pages, creative women bear witness to the healing power of artistic and literary expression. These stories will lift your soul and give inspiration to your own new vision.

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