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?


Poem of the Week: Control

Cleo Griffith, Modesto, CA Branch


The pest control man came today,

the first encounter,

and I wanted to hug him, cry on his shoulder,

pat his back, say I love you,

not, not for the freedom of spiders and pests,

but because he is a large black man

with a kind demeanor and it is

July 8, 2016 and the week has been

one of horror.

I wanted to say I’m sorry although I am not to blame,

I wanted to say I know you are not to blame,

I wanted to ask how do you bear it

and how can I?

But instead I gave him the check

and said thank you and I’ll see you in three months.


Perhaps the world will have changed for all of us

by then.


Poem of the Week: Pain

Mary Joan Meagher, Minnesota Branch
Once there was a light –
But it was hidden.
Sometimes a gleam showed,
But hardly anyone knew it was there.
The light was in a small dark room.
It was the only light there.
It liked the room, but it felt
there must be more room outside.
Someone had locked it in!
One day the light felt
especially cramped and lonely.
It thought, “I’ll gleam brighter
and give off some heat.
Maybe my owner will let me out.”
So the light pulled its energy together
and concentrated hard and flared up
high and red and burned
the heart it was in.
The heart hurt and broke open
a little.
The owner of the light in the heart
cried and then opened wide
her eyes.
Suddenly there flashed up and out
the Light.
It glowed with joy and sang to its owner,
“Now I am free. Let us speak to each other.
I will return to your heart.
Just leave the door open, please.”


Poem of the Week: Forever By My Side

Anne Marie Vale, Ph. D., Sarasota Branch


My mom, Rita, was born in 1920.

Money was scarce and troubles were plenty.

But her faith was strong and her spirit was stoic.

In fact, I’d say she was heroic.


You’d be hard pressed to find

Someone who loved mankind

More than my beloved mother

Whose motto was “to love one another.”


She was generous and beneficent,

Yet reserved and somewhat reticent.

You’d sense she wanted to express a bit more,

But was rather hesitant to open the door.


The Depression Era left its mark.

Her youthful days were sometimes dark.

But in those days you’d never reveal

Pain or heartache- you learned to conceal.


Mom was very bright and witty

Extremely dignified and really pretty.

Yes, Rita stood so proud and tall,

Possessing a memory that stunned us all!


Around the age of eighty-five

Mom’s spirit was amazingly alive!

But her exceptional memory that was one-of-a-kind

Was showing some traces of lagging behind.


And yet there appeared a silver lining,

Defying description or even defining!

Suddenly, my reserved and often shy mother

Took on the ebullient nature of another!


Rita just lifted her protective mask

And it seemed to be an effortless task!

Her nature was no longer shy and coy.

It transformed overnight into boundless joy!


Though dementia can dissolve into sadness and tears,

And episodes, too, of stress and fear.

I choose to remember how out-going and free

My mom became- free to “be me!”


But Rita’s carefree state would end

When she lost her husband and very best friend.

Yes, George, my beloved dad, was the true love of her life,

And his passing last December caused deep grief and strife.


Mom’s eyes now closed – no facial expression.

The doctor called it a terminal depression.

Those once bright eyes might glimmer for a time,

But they now reflected no reason or rhyme.


For the next  nine weeks, Rita barely spoke a word.

Though her eyes were shut, I’m sure that she heard

The love I’d express and the music I’d play;

But that mask of grief stayed day after day.


Yes, Rita so wanted to be with her George

And I prayed that God would quickly forge

A happy reunion between Mom and Dad.

To see Mom like this was just too sad!


Finally, one dark February night

Mom apparently saw the light!

All of a sudden, her eyes opened wide

While I expressed to her all I felt inside.


The mask had vanished as did her sorrow.

She now anticipated her new tomorrow.

We looked into each other’s eyes ‘til morn.

Rita knew she would soon be reborn.


And sure enough at 3:15,

With eyes wide open and totally serene,

Rita peacefully entered eternity,

Joining George in blissful unity.


Mom and Dad are in the presence of the Lord

With the angels and saints in one accord.

No more earthly mask and nothing left to hide,

And though I miss seeing them, they’re forever by my side.