Featured Poem: Love’s Little Park

Bette J. Lafferty
Tampa Branch, Florida

 

It has been years since we first came to this little park,

where young saplings with limbs so strong

reached to the heavens to catch the popcorn clouds.

I remember our visit as if it were yesterday.

There was that hidden swing where love rose up

and gentle hands pushed against the breeze

and caressed my wounded heart.

You offered me a safe place to be free,

to laugh and to be loved again.

How sad to see the potholes riddling the lane

that once led to a lifetime of intoxicating tomorrows,

days filled with mountains climbed,

where sun-drenched beaches continued for miles and

hours of imaginary fantasy thrilled the child within us.

Now, aged with time,

the mighty oak trees hold only our memories

locked in the circles of their trunks.

Covered with blue-green fungus,

weakened branches cling precariously

waiting for the next strong wind

to take them down.

I know this little park was but for a season.

Yet, I’m thankful for it offered us a lifetime of hope and joy.

I linger for a moment longer,

hesitant to say goodbye

to you and to my dear little park.

But time calls for me to seek a new path

where untold memories are waiting to be made.

And who knows, perhaps, a new love.

 

 

Featured Art and Poem: Garden of Ethos

Garden of Ethos painting

Oil on canvas (90 by 50) by Dianne Lynn Benanti, Palm Springs Branch, California

 

Dianne Lynn Benanti is a self-taught artist who creates large scale contemporary works as well as traditional portraits. Besides being an artist, she composes music and has written a children’s book. She highlights NLAPW on her website, and says, “I’m very honored to be a part of such a great organization.” Her art, book, poetry and songs can be viewed at www.benanti.com.

Carol Mann is a poet and author in the Palm Springs Branch. Her poem was inspired by Diana Benanti’s painting of the same name.

 

 

The Garden of Ethos

 Carol Mann, Palm Springs Branch

 

together we gather in the garden

worried, contemplative

stoic, sad

our world view guiding our thoughts

our life experience

bonding us

 

sisters they call us

bearers of the oral story

of man and his tradition

of beliefs in a god   or not

 

teachers they call us

bearers of society’s mores

culture, the written word

 

mothers they call us

bearers of children

nurturers of body, soul

family guide in crisis and joy

 

daughters they call us

our mothers’ students

learning ways to cope

to keep dreams alive

 

wives they call us

joined in ceremony

partners through life’s

trials and uncertainties

 

But mostly they call us women

governors of our own destiny

strong, problem solvers

ever emerging

 

they call us women

finding strength in our sisters

in times of sadness

finding strength in our sisters

in times of great happiness

finding ways to go on…

Always

 

 

Featured Poem: A Friend’s Gift

 

Grady Sue Loftin Saxon
Alabama Birmingham Branch

 

I looked up just as she slipped through the open doorway
of the hospital waiting room that was filled with my friends.
They had come to surround me with their loving care
while my husband was having open heart surgery.
 

She moved closer and then gently handed me
a single red rose in a narrow-necked vase.
“This is for you,” she whispered, “I brought it to brighten
your little corner of the waiting room space.”
 

At the time, I wasn’t very thankful for my friends’ gift.
I even worried about what to do with it during each day
when I left the room to be with my husband in intensive care.
Where would I stash a single rose in water in a narrow-necked vase?
 

Oh, I was polite and I thanked her for her thoughtfulness
but I kept my true thoughts entirely to myself
while I wondered what I was going do with that rose all day
when I had enough to worry about and I didn’t need anything else!
 

But then each time I left the room and returned to my quiet corner,
I’d settle down in my little bit of lonely space,
I would realize she had brought the perfect gift to ease those very long days,
days that were brightened by that single rose in a narrow-necked vase.

 

 

Featured Poem: Naked Bruises

Kim Beardsley-Garrison
Palm Springs  Branch

The naked eye chooses to believe
What the mind chooses to ignore.
Pretend smiles and positive words
Proclaim a happy mood,
But not all bruises can be seen.
Healing a broken heart often is
A solitary dream.

Featured Art: Water, Water, Everywhere

Bonnie J. Smith, Santa Clara Branch; textile, 74 x 63

Over the years, Bonnie J. Smith watched as the California drought lowered the level of the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County. She wondered if she would ever again see green grasses growing around it or water lapping up the sides of its vast bowl.

Finally, rains started and never seemed to stop. Highways, rivers, salt marches and homes flooded. Smith was excited to see how well the reservoir held up under the torrential storms.

It was a glorious sight to see so much water! When the rains let up, she knew the water would eventually make its way through the Santa Clara Tunnel and Conduit, through the Coyote Pumping Station in the Santa Clara Valley, then finally to her home.

The idea for her textile artwork, “Water, Water, Everywhere,” sprang from her being a witness to such an abundance of rain in a land of drought.

Featured Poem: Sea Oats

 

Fern Overvold
Atlanta Branch

 

Tall and slender
the sea oats
bow to one another
without breaking.
Something in their sandy
shoes allows them to
tilt from their toes,
lean West with the wind
at sunrise, and stand
straight again at vespers.

 

Like graceful old ladies
with a crown of seeds
dry at summer’s end,
they drop each kernel
for tomorrow’s purpose—
binding the sand
holding the dunes
saving the shore.

   

Featured Art: Spring


Spring by Anne Yates

Anne Yates, Portland Branch, Oregon

Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas, 8×10

Anne Price Yates is a West Coast neo-impressionist artist working in oil, acrylic, and watercolor. She was drawing people by kindergarten and received encouragement and recognition of her talents from teachers very early on.

She studied at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh from fifth grade. By age 12, she was experimenting with oil, acrylic, and casein paints. At 14, she was among the youngest of 16 students selected to research, design, and paint four large backdrop murals for a Medieval and Renaissance Arms and Armor exhibit at the museum.

As an art major at Florida State University, Yates focused on figure drawing and portraiture.

After painting with a plein-air oil painting group in Provence in 2000 and 2001, her focus shifted to landscapes and her style evolved toward impressionism. Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and Wolf Kahn have influenced her work.

Featured Poem: Blizzard

 

Carolyn Aune
Minnesota Branch

 

 

Ah, the late January malaise.
How about a rip-roaring blizzard
To break the monotony!
How about a blizzard so grand and fierce
That it would shake our world
As though the ruling Norse Gods of the clouds
Were beating their hairy chests, howling in rage,
And tearing to shreds their bright white tunics,
Hurling the bits to earth as a curtain of new snow.

And how about if, the next morning,
The dawning sky would flame hot pink,
With misty streaks of magenta and pumpkin orange,
As if the gods, now calm and spent,
Were coloring outside the lines.

Your Poems Wanted!

By Karen McAferty Morris, Poetry Editor

I’ve been poetry editor since November 2018, and I love to open my email and see poetry submissions. If you’ve been thinking of submitting something for an upcoming issue or online publication, polish it up and send it along to me. 

Karen McAferty Morris

As you know, only a few poems are accepted for the Pen Woman magazine (generally four to five) due to space constraints (maximum line length is 36). The online publication also has a wide audience, and it is an honor for a poem to be accepted for publication here, too — with no maximum line length.

Writing poetry takes effort. Reading and selecting creative work require effort, too, and I will consider each submission carefully.

Some things I look for include:

  • An intriguing title
  • A strong beginning
  • Effective and purposeful line breaks
  • Fresh imagery
  • Polished style (including spelling, grammar, and concise expression)
  • An ending that may surprise or provoke
  • An overall sense of something extraordinary in craft, mood, or enlightenment. 

I appreciate a poet’s effort and dedication, and I look forward to reading your work.

Here’s a little bit about me: I’m a member of the Pensacola Branch of Pen Women, where I serve as secretary and poet laureate. I am the letters competition chair for the 2019 Florida State conference.

My chapbook “Elemental” was awarded second place in last year’s Vinnie Ream Letters competition, and as I say in its preface, I am inspired by nature, by the plight of vulnerable people, and by the emotions that result from loving others.

The deadline for the Spring 2019 magazine is Feb. 15 but if you miss it, don’t hesitate to send me your work now for a future edition. Send your submission in the body of the email or as an attachment, and please include your branch name.

Finally, please visit the NLAPW.org website often, look at the featured poems, and leave comments — all poets like to feel they’re being heard. Or subscribe to receive notice when new entries are posted.

Featured Poem: Skin

Lois Batchelor Howard
Palm Springs Branch, California

 

I just read that the African spiny mouse
has the thinnest skin in the world.
That’s interesting.
I thought I did.
And this mouse can regenerate
missing body parts, much like the snake.
The snake can change its skin
several times a year…and why am I
suddenly interested in these creatures?
Well, because I am looking at my arms.
The skin here is a battlefield of ridges or,
kinder, if pulled very tight, it might pass
as crumpled corduroy or a flesh maze
with no escape route. Actually, much
like the mouse and snake, my skin
moves both warily and slitheringly,
as if it might just slide right off…but, no,
even though it cannot be regenerated
my skin continues to keep my insides in!
Granted, it’s a different wrapping from
when I first came, the same but older…
I must be bolder in appreciating what
I have, not only skin, but
clothes with long sleeves!