Featured Poem: O Pandora

 

By Monita Soni

Huntsville Branch, Alabama

 

When Zeus created you, “O Gifted One,”

Athena clad your innocence in a silver gown,

Taught your hands to weave and stitch

And cast on your shoulders a glittery veil,

Charites encrusted your garlands with jewels,

Horae molded your silver crown.

 

Aphrodite herself touched your face

And limbs with a languorous longing

That seethes like an intractable poison

In hearts and souls of mortal men,

Hermes the trickster gave you a deceitful

Tongue and placed in your hands a pithos.

 

You, “All Giving,” did not once doubt that

The contents in your hands were not gifts

From mighty Olympians but writhing in the

Box were anger, betrayal and revenge

Of Zeus upon Prometheus who gave fire

to the stealing denizens of earth.

 

Burdensome toil and sickness, plagues

and poisons to bring death and misery

To the human race escaped your box

When Epimitheus ignored his brother’s

Warning, accepted you for himself

And brought upon this earth all evils.

 

O Pandora, we mortals have borne

The burden of wars, plunder, slavery

Spanish Inquisition, pox and plague.

We have lied and cheated, depriving

Millions of children of food and water.

Now Corona is spreading like wildfire,

 

Casting us down like houseflies.

We are in lockdown and paralyzed

with fear, the money we hoarded

Will soon be worthless, our innate

Nature of greed will not leave us.

But if you see a ray of innocence

In the midst of our gloom,

 

Please open your box one

Last time and shake out the

Contents of your jar.

Clinging to the lip you might

Find something that could

Be a cure, our last “elpis.”

 

If Zeus “the Cloud Gatherer” wills it,

So be it, but don’t deprive us of this

Final sliver of hope. Perhaps another

Woman like you will invent a powerful

Vaccine that will heal ailing humanity.

 

And you, Pandora, will be forever

free of your curse.

 

 

Featured Poem: Clouds

 

By Anne-Marie Derouault

Cape Canaveral Branch, Florida

 

Today I watched the clouds.

Which particular set of circumstances

Found me lying down in this precise place

In the middle of a lawn?

Heart filled by the trees’ deep green

All technological and social temptations

Put aside

My gaze fell into the sky

And got lost.

A few clouds follow their course

Very slow, very light and very sure

 

I watched them move

Like never before.

I thought that Le Clezio was right

To point out the beauty of clouds

Fascinated by the slowness

Forever tranquil and strong

Of their journey

Their infinite nuances of white

Of velvety grey

Their unraveling delicate edges.

 

They glide into the summer air

They glide destined and peaceful

And I wished to absorb

This suspended peace, this floating peace

This liquid freedom

This weightless mass

To reflect the light like them

To float in the space of the sky

In the space of consciousness.

 

 

Featured Poem: The Covering

By Lois Batchelor Howard

Palm Springs Branch, California

 

Over its frame

my skin alligators

downward and outward

long unstopping skinny lines

so close to each other

drooping, sagging into air

shaking, moving, wobbling

vying to make a new fabric

much like corduroy

loosely wrapping and wrinkling

the back and front of arms.

Were I to wear a sleeveless dress

and perform playing a violin

listeners could not concentrate

on the beauty of the music

for they would be too immersed

in watching a sack of skin

sashaying forth into space.

I know; when young

I was audience to this

never thinking

I would be changing places

 

I crocodile myself

away from the mirror

wear long sleeves

and with no recourse

laugh. 

 

 

Featured poem and musical composition: Daunting is the Woman

Greenwich Branch member Ida Angland has created this original poem and musical composition, titled “Daunting is the Woman,” to honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the unveiling of the first statue of real women in Central Park by the group Monumental Women today, August 26.

Originally invited to perform the piece at the unveiling of the monument, due to COVID-19, Angland will now present it virtually by Gateway Classical Music Society. A Zoom sing-along will be offered to the Greenwich Pen Women as well.

Inspired by a lecture given to the Greenwich Pen Women in December 2019 by Coline Jenkins — the great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a Greenwich resident, and Monumental Women vice president — Angland was deeply moved by the “absurd reality” that there were no monuments to real women in Central Park, only fictional ones like Mother Goose. “Women’s Rights Pioneers,” by sculptor Meredith Bergmann, features Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth.

Angland wrote, “I thought about the powerful feelings that reality stirred in me, and I decided to use the poem’s message as the lyrics to a marching hymn, which I have dedicated to the movement.”

 

Daunting is the Woman - music and lyrics by Ida Angland-page-001

 

Daunting is the Woman

By Ida Angland
Greenwich Branch

 

Daunting is the woman

Whose statue stands divine

A monument to eternity

Her bearing proud sublime

Standing tall and beautiful

Belies her suff’ring and tears

For living seen tho invisible

In time to marching years

Truth revealed her compromised

Dismissed, forgotten and small

But now the trends are turning

As gallant she stands tall

A change is now approaching

Remembered times unfold

In monuments to woman

Preserve her story told

Rising far revealing

So high above the stone

Her light forever glist’ning

Immortal strides are sewnPo

Daunting is the woman

Her worth at last be known

Her light forever glist’ning

So high above the stone

 

Featured Poem: The Grand Dames

 

By Donna Puglisi
Cape Canaveral Branch

 

Towering ladies with withered arms stretch toward the sky,

wearing tattered remnants of summer and fall.

 

Long outstretched fingers dangle feathered moss, like boas

adorning old veined necks.

 

These are the old ones,

  the regal ladies,

Grand Dames, revered trees of the South.

 

Bending to reach each other in windy conversations,

embracing across dusty roads,

they ache with weariness of ages, still dressed in mossy glory,

flaunting feathered hats of leaves;

proudly standing for show,

speaking to those who will look and listen

to stories of years past,

 

Our beautiful Grand Dames of the South!

 

                                                                                                           

 

Featured Poem: The Waltz, the Hammer

 

By Sarah Collins Honenberger 
Chesapeake Bay Branch, Virginia

 

It should be easy. Concede, comply,

and still the enemy

advances without concern

for anyone or anything, a killer on an Easter egg hunt.

Like a scout with orders,

it creeps ahead,

surveys the field,

infects the front line,

and retreats to wait it out.

It knows the odds, counts on the unwary,

embraces the outliers and insiders alike.

We wallflowers, blithely eager, batting eyelids at the cadets,

have never been so bold.

We rush forward, refusing to believe

the reputation that precedes.

When the waltz begins, we step three and three,

sway and dip awkwardly

as if instruction comes at a price

we aren’t willing to pay, and yet

we pay.

In the end we hold back,

No momentary kiss of gratitude on cheek.

Our fingertips held loosely in the air

to let the poison drift on a breeze

of danger, unrecognizable

from the receding days of teeming elbow to elbow

and high fives

and southern hugs,

drawled out in exaggerated welcome.

Truth arrives without shame,

and announces itself in bold outline,

no cautionary tales of warning,

just unvarnished and painful.

Days and days

and still the human heart

hopes.

The miracle, at last.

 

 

Featured Poem: Duffy and Me

 

By Ellen Morritt
Sarasota Branch, Florida

 

I walk my dog on naked feet,
The sidewalk still retains the heat.
We walk along, my Duff and I
While fluffy clouds float over the sky,
The smell of jasmine always there
With you alongside, I won’t despair.

 

We stroll the pathway, just we two
Showed up here to start anew.
We walk and walk and breathe the night,
Moonlight makes it feel all right.
You sniff the ground, I sniff the air,
Whoever said that life was fair?

 

My best friend, you’re loved a lot,
You are faithful, he was not.
We’re here alone, just me and you
So we can start a life that’s new.
Things will brighten, you will see
Because you came along with me.

 

Featured Poem: Pandemic 2020 (with apologies to T. S. Eliot)   

 

By Barbara Sillery 
Cape Cod Branch, Massachusetts

 

Masks
eyes
  peer
    warily.

Space
scan
  circumference
    six feet.

 

Caution
fever,
  cough,
    labored breath.

 

Outcome
ventilator,
  isolation,
    fear.

 

Reports 
hundreds,
  thousands,
    millions—dead.

 

Survivors
Hollow Men
  Hollow Women
   circle round the prickly pear.

 

Days Ahead
Let neither bang
  or whimper be
    the end game.

 

 

Featured Poem: Living Fossil

 

By Carol Anne Dunn
Cape Canaveral Branch, Florida

 

From the safe harbor of my lanai

I see the opportunistic crocodilian lying in the sun,

Soaking up the rays before the day is done.

An ectothermic cousin to the dinosaurs of old,

Dark and grey, wet and slimy, and covered with duckweed mold.

Beware, my reptilian brain scolds,

This monolithic beast is dangerous and bold,

Soon before the murky waters, he will dive,

Perfect environmental adaptation, this living fossil thrives.

 

The moonbeams dance upon the pond,

Illuminating the sinister waters with a silvery song.

Where ancient crocodilian sleeps,

Within his hollow nice and deep.

But come the morning, he will rise,

To surface on the bank, his monolithic size.

In the ancient rhythm of existence,

His ancestors call with increasing and relentless persistence

He starts his calls to tempt a mate,

By sucking air, his lungs inflate

He bellows loudly to warn off male intruders,

His mating call could not be cruder.

 

He moves across the pond with stealth-like glide,

His body submerged; he moves with ease to the other side.

His awesome power contained in torpedo design,

He likes freshwater, not so much brine.

A cunning, resourceful stalker, he hunts,

And doesn’t have to eat for a month!

An Apex hunter, adaptable and on the prowl,

An ancient killer, you do not want to run afoul!

 

 

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