Featured Poem: My Monet

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City II, Texas

 

(To Dad)

 

He will always be my Monet
My tired-eyed yet dutiful father
All of his paintings
Are emblazoned on my mind
Hanging on the walls of my heart
-I claim them all-
By virtue of my memories
Of every brushstroke
And resistant signature
That defined his uniqueness
Perhaps he thought I
Didn’t take his painting seriously enough
-But I did –
I admired every application of his sable brushes
That transformed paint into life
And if and when we meet again one day
I’ll reassure him with the words
“Dad, you always were and will be
My Monet.”

 

Featured Poem: Ancestors

 

Donna Puglisi
Cape Canaveral Branch

 

They came from the shores of foreign lands to a new world, a new life.
Their dreams are our dreams.
These are our ancestors.

 

I stare at the old faded pictures of my ancestors in jagged frames,
wondering who they were in younger years.
Who did you love on a summer day?
Where did you go as a child at play?
Now, your faces are a ghostly hue,
Frozen in time, I don’t know you.

 

Each tiny stitch,
Life’s thoughts, words and deeds,
Through the years you’ve threaded your lives,
with satins, silks and tweeds.

 

Embroidered in rich tapestry, a diary of your life,
How did you meet your loved one,
becoming man and wife?
Finest lace frames grandma’s face,
Rough hewn, her burlap years;
Did you cry on your pillow at night,
then wash away your tears?
Hopes and dreams line the seams with promises yet kept,
Young girl’s loves and broken hearts,
Stained velvet where you wept.
Bright colors blending here and there with laughter, love and friends,
Am I like you in any way? The pattern never ends.

 

We are all a part of them,
They are the blood flowing through our veins;
We blend as one, from those faraway lands,
Our ancestors belong to all of us.

 

Rebellious, rugged, raw,
Beautiful in simplicity.
Faces burned like summer’s grass, craggy and rough as the majestic mountains. Rough temperament, resilient as the boundless hills of wheat.

 

Respect them.
They are our ancestors.

 

A suitcase frayed and soiled,
Hopeful, adventurous heart.
The peddler and the farmer,
Seeking a fresh new start.
Calloused hands of a blacksmith,
Old country’s mud and dirt still clinging to the tattered hem
of a woman’s long black skirt.

 

Ragged suits, scuffed shoes adorn the staunch and sturdy,
Weary travelers in stormy seas,
They are our families.

 

We are all brothers and sisters, sharing the same timeless legacies

 

Of our ancestors.

 

Featured Poem: Re-gifting

Rose Baldwin
Palm Springs Branch, California

 

The book was on a list
of poetry to read
of course I bought a copy
of such a famous screed

 

I gave it to my sister
she gave it to a friend
who gave it to her mother
who gave it back again

 

I gave it to the library
to lend and lend and lend
they sold in a bargain bag
I had it back again

 

I gave it to Goodwill
a bargain hunter there
scooped it off the shelf
then put it out to share

 

Susie picked it up from there
and she gave it to Lee
who gave it to his brother
who gave it back to me

 

Finally, I read it
the words were like a balm
stroking all my soft spots
rhythmic like a song

 

So touched was I, I said,
I have a real fine gift here
I wrapped it in nice paper
and gave it to my sister

 

Featured Poem: The Making of a Widow

Mimi Paris
Boca Raton

 

The Emergency Room
numbers on the screen
keep on going down.
I head for the nurse.
She’s talking, laughing.

 

I tell her, “Look!”
Her face shows fear.
My heart beats fast
and I run back.

 

Stuff rolls in,
Lots of staff.
Room is packed.

 

Shouts heard:
“Try again!”

 

“Gone.”

 

Featured Poem: Plant

Lorraine Walker Williams
Southwest Florida Branch

 

To place, slip seeds into moist soil,
shutter from light, incubate and wait.
To plant is the first lesson in patience.

 

Plant, as a particular phylum and
species, ornamental, cleansing air,
bringing outdoors in. For Feng Shui,
a plant is a lesson in placement.

 

Plant, as in yourself on the couch,
a park bench, or a bumpy bus.
An attempt to be rooted in time and
space, a lesson in belonging.

 

Plant, an implant, something foreign,
a replacement or enhancement,
as in tooth or breast. This teaches
impermanence.

 

Plant includes the word plan—
Making and revising,
following or ignoring a plan,
a lesson in flexibility.

 

Plant words flowing and growing
from the hand of a poet,
the lesson of jasmine and plums.

 

Featured Poem: Broken

Janet Fagal
Central New York Branch

 

She sees his face,
a picture etched
in memory.
Her child’s image.
Eyes dark,
piercing.
Nose strong.
Mouth full,
hints of smile.

 

She hears his voice.
The sounds: low wails,
whimpers.
Her son
frightened by bombs,
watches
through rubble
and smoke.

 

Again and again the
roar of war
sends them running.
New shelter.
Cramped hovel,
temporary.
The necessaries: food, water, hope,
too limited.

 

A hand,
rough, calloused
reaches out.
Safety,
come.
A gesture,
the truck readies.
Room for one.

 

She pushes her son,
up.
A mother’s heart
shatters.

 

Poet’s statement: Written for our branch’s 2018 Painted Sounds event, “Broken” was inspired by National Letters Chair Nancy A. Dafoe’s fable, “Naimah and Ajmal on Newton’s Mountain.” In Painted Sounds, which was created by the Atlanta Branch, Pen Women select another Pen Woman’s work in art, writing, or music in order to create a new piece. In Nancy’s piece, I was deeply moved by the idea of a mother’s long search for her missing child.

 

Featured Poem: Ruby-Throated

 

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City 2 Branch, Texas

 

Someone told me that it was easy
To write a bad poem but
I believe in the magnitude of words
Felt in the heart long
Before they are inscribed on paper
There are no unamazing flowers
Many under-embellished lakes and streams
A cloudless sky is as awe-inspiring
As any cluttered with cumuli
Sunrise and sunset are unfathomable
Beyond our appreciation for color
The sinister spider is by far
The most compelling weaver
The hawk soars effortlessly until the swoop
Snow is not fluffy nor is it white
Stars show in the present the dying of past light
And in green hills dense, their rocks moss-coated
Nest minuscule hummingbirds — ruby-throated

 

Featured Poem: In Turn… In Time

Susan Bassler Pickford
Member-at-large, Portland, Maine

 

Turn: Middle English; partly from Old English tyrnan and turnian to turn, from Medieval Latin tornare, from Latin, to turn on a lathe, from tornus lathe, from Greek tornos; partly from Anglo-French turner, tourner to turn 1100s

 

Fetus turned baby
In time
Baby turned child
In time
Child turned adolescent
In time
Teen turned nun
In time
Nun turned teacher
In time
Teacher turned wife
In time
Wife turned mother
In time
Mother turned grandmother
In time
Wife turned widow
In time
Grandmother turned poetic
In time

 

Featured Poem: The American Dream

Karen L. Kirshner
Long Island Branch, New York

 

We pay for the choices we made in youth,
actions stemming from a presumption of immortality,
which, once played become crimes that haunt us
when future merges with present.

 

Strategic windows open to newly gained control
are skillfully shut by the aggressive current of age
as it slips its claws around youthful fantasies.
Age likened to the many branches of a deceptive rose bush
Winding themselves around a long stake
Seeming to look for guidance,
Upon closer inspection…
the thorns tear through the loving caretaker, as readily
as through a hostile interloper.

 

Age has not befriended me,
Like a blind and hostile rose bush, I may have planted,
Pausing to admire its superficial beauty,
It turned on me and swiped this grown child’s last hopes,
Tearing them from the tapestry of optimism,
Like threads from the clothing of an intruder.

 

While I sit pondering my sad and singular existence,
Debt and hard labor through books takes a shadowy form,
An enigmatic monster bigger than a bad dream, taps me on the shoulder, asking me to turn towards the spectacle.
In horror, I turn to distant symbols I thought were within reach
Move further away, beyond my grasp,
Gradually facing, and sinking, tens of thousands of dollars,
A Mercedes-Benz country house, life partner, and 2.5 children,
All of it previously etched on a promised stake
Labeled “The American Dream” is lodged somewhere at the bottom
Of a mythical abyss, linking this world to another,
A Bermuda Triangle of childhood treasures lost
in the adventure of growing up.

 

I paid dearly to follow the dream.
Now I trespass on the edge of the abyss,
Tearfully grasping the nearest means of support,
The branches of a rose bush,
All thorns tearing into my palms
Wounded and bleeding, relentlessly
I search for the missing symbols.

 

“Kinetic,” (aka “Chaos”), by Karen L. Kirshner, 2017

 

Featured Poem: I Wonder

Scottie E. McDaniell
Member-at-large

 

Today as I walked through a parking lot
    I gazed at the people I passed, but not
one fixed his or her eyes upon me
    for each looked from hand-held technology
only to juggle some keys or a child,
    and I wondered if it’s like this in the wild.
Do bears and tigers and lions socialize
    with their own kind, do they bid “hello” and “good-bye”?
Do lizards and ants and squirrels stop to say
    as they pass hills and trees, “How are you today?”
Do roaches, in all their quick hurry-scurry
    take time to greet, and do all things furry
pause to show interest in one another,
    and do those in flight stop to hover?
Do swinging apes and crawling snakes
    give something equal to our handshakes?
Do those of the underworld and the fish of the sea
    burrow toward, wiggle over, or just let each other be?
Do they act neighborly, friendly if passing by chance
    or divert their attentions without even a glance?
I wanted to share a kind word and a smile
    even hesitate to talk for a while.
But people have times when not open to others,
    forgetting that we’re all sisters and brothers.
We may be annoyed when our thoughts are disturbed
    and our routes or our plans have to be deferred.
Maybe sometimes to be indifferent is human,
    absorbed, oblivious, now and then with no room in
days that are so full of things to do.
    I wonder if all God’s creatures are like that, too.