Featured Poem: Bird in a Cage

 

By Jennifer Santana
Iowa City Branch

 

a bird in a cage

is a pretty thing to look at

 

fragile and small

fluttering here and there with quick bursts of energy

 

or sometimes sitting very still

gazing out beyond

those

golden

glistening

bars

 

the ones that promise protection

from a big unsafe world

in exchange

for one bird

soul

 

and I think of how the bird will live a while

fed

watered

sheltered

but still and always longing

to do that which she was perfectly designed

to do

 

and I wonder if she spends those still moments

in pain

buried in her feathers

trying with all her might

to pacify the place

where her bird soul

must have been

soaring through the sky

eternally existing

among clouds of white

 

but how

I wonder

can a bird who was born to fly

do anything

but die

 

eventually

 

fed

watered

sheltered

 

forever flightless

 

but still

 

a pretty thing to look at

 

 

Featured Poem: D is for…

 

By Mary Jedlicka Humston
Iowa City Branch

 

Oh, to have the Determination,

the Drive, the Dominant instinct,

the DoggeDness, the Demeanor

of beavers builDing Dams.

 

Witnessing their work

while walking

the Waterworks Trail

filleD me with strength,

stick-to-it-ness and a

never-give-up attituDe.

 

In this time of social isolation,

we neeD examples of what

happens when working for

the gooD of all.

 

Those Darling beavers

are inspirations.

 

Stay strong, my frienDs!

Like the beavers, Dig Deep.

We can Do it!!!

 

 

Featured Art: Mediterranean Mermaids

 

Dianne-Benanti-MEDITERRANEAN-MERMAIDS

 

“Mediterranean Mermaids” by Dianne Lynn Benanti, Palm Springs Branch (California); oil on canvas, 71×51; image embellished with digital art

 

Artist’s Statement

I am a self-taught artist. I started out with traditional portraiture, which lead to large-scale oils in contemporary form.

In January 2020, I was asked to be an art contributor to the the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences for my artwork in the tribute to Elton John at the Oscars. The portrait image and inquiry can be found in the portfolio section of my website, Benanti.com.

I am very honored to be a part of the National League of American Pen Woman. I have a page on my website dedicated to this wonderful organization.

 

Featured Poem: Road Trip to Trail’s End

By Andrea Jones Walker
Pensacola Branch, Florida

 

Something about a road trip frees the soul,

fills the senses like fresh air in the lungs.

The pavement to Atlanta is in my tires,

they’ve made this trip dozens maybe hundreds of times

yet I’m behind the wheel again

farther this time

to the hills of North Carolina,

Maggie Valley, Hornbuckle Mountain

up winding roads

past brilliant fall leaves of golden maple

red Burning Bush,

speeding along the curves, slowing down the hills

to the gravel roads of Plott Balsam,

Field Mouse Lane and

Trail’s End.

 

My friend greets me, hammer in hand,

from within the walls of the cabin

she’s building,

dusts herself off,

offers me tuna salad and coffee.

We take a break on the deck

and listen to the rushing stream below.

 

Two days and nights in the woods

on the mountainside pass quickly.

 

There is a silence before dawn

when the sky is slate gray

before the November sun sets the treetops on fire,

a silence born of solitude

palpable, wrapping itself around me,

the Unmistakable Presence.

 

When I leave, a grouse scurries

across the road in front of me

into the woods.

The silence and solitude follow me

in the hours driving home, still free,

the trees now greener

the air farther south balmier—

home.

 

 

Featured Art: Three’s a Crowd

 

Three's a Crowd by Susie Monzingo
“Three’s a Crowd,” 24×24 mixed media by Susie Monzingo, Fort Worth Branch (Texas)

From the artist:

I gather inspiration from the outdoors and all God’s beautiful creatures. I love to paint birds, animals and flowers. Oil painting is my medium, and often I add gold or silver leaf accents to the backgrounds. I want my paintings to recapture beautiful memories of life, and feelings of inspiration and joy for those who view and collect my work.

Featured Poem: The Day                                                   

By Barbara Castle Hanson
Cape Canaveral Branch, Florida

                           

                                                                        

She awakes with the gradual awareness

that she is awake.

She doesn’t want to be awake.

 

 

She tries to drift back into the soft, lovely dream

that had surrounded her.

 

 

She encuddles herself in the warm quilt,

pulling it snugly up around her shoulders,

 under her chin.

 

 

She turns away from the slivers of sunlight

sneaking through the closed blinds.

 

 

She lies there quietly for a moment

lamenting the loss of the comforting fantasy.

 

 

She arises slowly with stiff joints

 and unsteady gate.

 

 

She glances around her bedroom;

her eyes come to rest on packed suitcases.

 

 

Tears inch their way down

her wrinkled cheeks.

 

 

She dresses slowly

 hoping, praying,

 she will be able to escape to

 soft, lovely dreams

 at Gardenia Court.

.

 

 

Featured Poem: Surprising Benediction

By Janet Fagal
Central New York Branch

 

We always heard the story,

how he rode the train

for four out of five

days of leave.

From San Antonio

to New York

and back.

He wanted to see her.

For even one day.

The train. Changed so much

of history. Rails bringing

the circus or the camper,

the worker or the mail.

Connected by the hum

of the wheels.

Tasting time

in quick breaths

between stations.

The train

as certain as the heart.

How much do so many owe

to a train,

trailing puffs of steam,

screeching toward home?

 

 

Featured Art: Group Therapy

 

Group Therapy by Autry Dye

“Group Therapy,” 26×20 acrylic by Autry Dye, Pensacola Branch (Florida)

 

Autry Dye began experimenting with painting watercolor on canvas in order to eliminate some of the weight and size of traditionally matted and framed paintings. This was especially important when shipping work for competitions.  

Dye sprays her watercolor canvases three times to make them waterproof before framing. She hopes that the image itself is more important than the presentation with mats and glazing, and that more watercolor societies will start accepting this method of watercolor painting.

 

Featured Poem: If I Forget You

By Carmen Meadows
Atlanta Branch

 

 

If I forget you, darling one, as I grow old and frail,

I have a secret treasure chest no moths or rust assail.

 

 

The day I fell in love with you it started filling up.

I keep old pictures of us there, dried rose and buttercup.

Remember when we fished that day you brought our picnic fare?

You won my heart right at that spot, a treasure gathered there.

 

 

You wrote a poem as a gift. It’s framed beside our bed.

I read it every morning; it helps to clear my head.

You’ll find it in my treasure chest.  It sounds just like your voice,

A gentle rumble kind and sweet, it rings as I rejoice.

 

 

As we’ve grown old, we’ve faced some trials.  Together we remain.

Such jewels and gems you’ll wonder at brought forth from deepest pain.

We’ve watched the sun both rise and set, sweet etchings on my heart.

We’ve sat and laughed and sipped our cup creating precious art.

 

 

Your sacrifice and kindness are found in great excess.

You’ve led and loved and served me far beyond my mess.

You’ve loved me with a love both healing and enduring.

You’ve filled my treasure chest to full, no wait–it’s overflowing!

 

 

Faith and Hope are needful here, but Love is everlasting.

You’ve helped me store my treasures with all the pearls you’re casting.

Together we enjoy the precious gifts of living

Looking forward to the future and all its days are giving.

 

 

If I forget you, darling one, as I grow old and frail,

I have a secret treasure chest no moths or rust assail.

 

 

You helped to fill my treasure chest well before I held you.

I keep old pictures from your life of youth and growing stature.

There are happy days of sun and cheer and even some sad tears.

I’ve pondered each event and cherished each new year.

 

 

I am blessed beyond all measure to be your confidant,

To have those deep discussions and watch the girl grow up.

From ponytail to wedding veil I have so many treasures.

I count each moment priceless among my dearest pleasures.

 

 

Faith and Hope are needful here, but Love is everlasting.

You’ve helped me store my treasures with all the pearls you’re casting.

As I have walked with you, one day you’ll walk with me.

I hope to hold your hand and trust what I can’t see.

 

 

If I forget you, precious one, as I grow old and frail,

I have a secret treasure chest no moths or rust assail.

 

 

How’s Your Branch Adapting in the Social Distancing Age?

 

The inability to host meetings due to lockdowns across the country has made it tough for Pen Women to keep in touch. Branches are missing their inspirational get-togethers — but many are getting creative and moving their meetings and other events online instead.

 

Branch Zoom meeting

Diablo-Alameda Pen Women during their first Zoom meeting recently. Photo by Ruey Syrop

 

One of these branches is Diablo-Alameda in California. On April 23, Pen Women Usha Shukla and Julie Cohn led the branch’s first Zoom meeting.

“It was wonderful to finally get to meet so many of you and to put beautiful faces to the names I’ve been reading in all the emails this past year,” returning member Susan Wight wrote to the branch after the meeting. “I’m so glad to be back in the warm embrace of Pen Women again. I look forward to future Zoom get togethers with all of you!”

Indeed, branch President Winnie Thompson says more Zoom meetings are planned. Members are getting the hang of “zooming,” as they call it, and they’re looking forward to more. The branch is also planning online art shows.

Congrats to Diablo-Alameda Branch for adapting successfully in the age of social distancing. Pen Women are a creative bunch — let’s be creative about ways we can stay connected.
 
How’s your branch doing?
Are you hosting meetings via Zoom or another online platform? Share your experience or comments from members about the meetings or other virtual events for potential inclusion in the summer issue of The Pen Woman.
 
Email a paragraph or two (and a photo if you can) to The Pen Woman editor, penwomanmag@nlapw.org. Summer issue deadline is June 3. Happy “zooming”!