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 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 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 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.

 

 

Featured Poem: Ireland

By Carolynn J. Scully
Member-at-large

 

The ancients winked and
smiled at the mystery
and magic of the wee
island of green, a crock
of shamrocks hiding
Leprechaun gold for
hunters to find at
the end of rainbow
rivers. Finders dance jigs
in party with friends
unaware of the owner
nearby, smoking a pipe,
stroking an orange beard,
wearing a buckled hat and
velveteen knickers.

 

Carved stone crosses dot
the land to rule the myths.
Old manuscripts
illuminate truth, and
the three-leafed clover
is lifted up by a holy man
to teach about the Lord
who is the maker
of the dance. The people
of the green isle play and
kneel with fervor.

 

 

Featured Poem: Slants and Rants — Observations for Writers

By Mary L. Gardner
CNY Branch

 

Being Clear

There’s not a follicle of truth

in a colleague’s chronicled memoir

that observing a tropical botanical

requires a monocle.

 

Footnotes for Thesis Writers

Straight from a reputable source

comes a cautionary corollary:   

* Use one’s trove of melancholia with caution. 

* Make time for sheer bacchanalia.  

* Be not deterred

 by the weight of scholarly tomes and texts

 in the pursuit of intent, color and cadence,

 and the laying down of lyrical lines.

 

Reasoning

Though the elegant Narcissus spurned

the maiden Echo’s love  

(herself denied the gift of speech)

and was consigned forever

to a watery view of himself,

it does not follow that midday narcolepsy

in the pursuit of artful prosody

is the result of narcissistic obsession

nor the folly of spinning meter & rhyme

in the middle of the night,

though upon waking,

it seems the intent of these lines

has gone awry in this

overwrought writ.

 

 

Featured Poem: Oakland Giraffes

Patricia Doyne
Diablo-Alameda Branch, California

 

 

(Based on Giraphics by muralist Dan Fontes)

 

Whoosh!

The freeway overpass

pulses with cars, pick-ups, buses, big-rigs, motorcycles.

All day they speed up, change lanes,

weave in, out, and on.

 

 

Underneath the overpass,

drivers pass the huge support pillars emblazoned with—

giraffes?

A giraffe stretching to feed,

a giraffe bending to drink,

two giraffes angling their necks to check out the neighborhood.

Comic surrealism peeks out

amid the apartments, small stores and ever-moving traffic.

 

 

“When the freeway fell down in ’89,”

says the artist, “these pillars

had to be enlarged. An old giraffe is still inside.

Can you hear him?”

The child puts her ear to the pillar.

Her face brightens.

“Yes,” she burbles, “He’s saying,

‘Mmm, mmuh-uh-uh, mmmuh.”

 

 

So now there’s a new spirit

haunting the Oakland street scene.

Not political. Not gang-related. Not religious.

This spirit makes you smile as you pass by,

shaking your head.

A giraffe poses photo-realistically on the pillar,

leaving homeland camouflage behind.

But his very presence echoes the Serengeti

in this unlikely cement place:

Mmm, mmuh-uh-uh, mmmuh.”

Or perhaps,

We came, unwilling, from Africa.

Now Africa leaves a keepsake in our midst.

 

Featured Poem: One Moment

Mary Joan Meagher
Minnesota Branch

 

The present tense is tricky

When the one you love

No longer is

But has become a was.

Existence is measured in moments.

Moments are long when

Is no longer describes

The one who was immediacy,

The one who was forever.

Now a moment shocks,

Now a moment stretches,

Now a moment is eternity.

An eternity without,

An eternity bereft,

An eternity of empty.

One’s sight is blurred,

One’s hearing is gone,

One’s touch is numbed,

One’s moment is bloated

With grief.

Existence depends on the gyroscope

Of time and space

Returning to is,

Not was.

One’s moment becomes a merry-go-round of

Never.