Featured Poem: Slammed

Cornelia DeDona
Member-at-large, Kingston, New York

 

I slammed my heart
into love’s door
bloodied and bruised
it swelled
on the other side
of a reckoning
exacted its price
no change
forthcoming.

 

My head
knew
that
our days
would be
fractions
of a time,
our souls
divided.

 

Glad, I knocked
anyway.

 

Featured Poem: A Decision

Elizabeth Diane Martin
Pikes Peak Branch, Colorado

 

In turmoil and distrust
In the midst of fear and confusion
A decision to love
Changed a wandering
Wondering heart
Into one that found
Its roots
And began to grow.

 

It is the flow of love
That causes
New branches
To push out from
Its wizened trunk.

 

Solid and unmoved
Supporting and
Reaching
Toward
Its eventual fruit.

 

What a long, long
Journey
It seems
But, Oh!
The satisfaction
Of reaching
The destination!

 

Then its
Fallen seed
Sinks below,

 

And, if
Good ground
Surrounds it,
A new life begins
Its own journey.
Searching,
Winding,
Reaching,

 

Not knowing
But steadily returning to
Its programmed desire
For the fruit,
So beyond
The thought
Of its daily work.

 

Dear Reader,
Decide also
To love.

 

 

Featured Poem: Circle of Time

Linda Farmer Ames
Columbus Branch, Georgia

 

I, mighty oak, have stood rooted here
for greater than one hundred years,
surrounded by brothers and sisters,
all of Mother Nature’s children.

 

We poked the skies, loomed over heaps of fallen limbs,
leaves and brush, and beneath all that made homes
for living creatures who died and decayed
to create a bounty of nutrients for growth, rebirth.

 

Now I stand alone, no longer part of a forest of kin.
My expanse of roots, gnarled and exposed from years of
wind and water, heat and cold, reach out and around.
I remain to give shade, disperse sun’s rays, cool the ground.

 

The expanse of grasses planted fifty years ago,
groomed faithfully, are fed, managed by
manufactured matter. My limbs have been trimmed
or removed, yet I remain firmly planted among

 

glass, bricks, mortar, cement and asphalt.
I have survived these ravages dispatched by mankind
who has lived strong and mighty, frail and weak,
who has prevailed. All vulnerable, we live and die in a circle of time.

 

 

Featured Poem: English Class

 

Donna DeLeo Bruno
Ft. Lauderdale Branch

 

I stand before my teenage students
    Speaking of Homer’s “Odyssey,”
Of Penelope, Ulysses’ faithful and long-suffering wife
    Who waited twenty years for reunion with her husband.
Before me sit kids who fall in and out of love each week.

 

I laud “The Bard”
    Shakespeare and his masterpieces.
The boys see only the curvaceous “masterpiece”
    Of the svelte but buxom female blond
Who floats across the room.

 

I speak of poets
    Byron, Shelley, Keats.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
    They nod approvingly
As the same female student
    Demonstrates “poetry in motion” in her walk.

 

“Remember John Donne
    who wrote ‘No man is an island unto himself’?”
And with that quote, they recall the hijinks
     Of last week’s boozy island beach party
With bombed-out babes.

 

Do I “cast pearls before swine”? I wonder.
    The bell rings — class ends.
A student approaches and requests that I peruse his poems.
    I take them home; that night I read them.

 

Can it be that this sleepy-eyed, tattooed boy
    Has actually “heard” me?
He writes of “a thing of beauty”–
    The Statue of Liberty that welcomed him from a distant land
Ruled by some “MacBeth-like” tyrant — ruthless and ambitious.

 

And identified with “No man is an island”
    When a church group sheltered his family
And led him to this place
    Where in due time, he plans to “march to his own drummer.”

 

And so my teacher’s “heart leaps up
    when I behold” not Wordsworth’s “rainbow in the sky”
But rather one student
    With whom these works have resonated,
Words that will be woven
    Into the “masterpiece” tapestry of a life.

 

 

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 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 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 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.