Featured Poem: Lilacs in My Heart

Mary Patricia Canes
Alexandria Branch

 

Lilacs bloomed full purple
near Grandma’s open window
in her farmhouse kitchen
where she made strong tea
and apple pie.
Her lilting voice, singing, praying,
told of times gone by.

 

One lilac blooming day,
paved way for Grandma’s last.

 

Now lilacs by my window
so many later years
wait to grow and bloom.
Their greening leaves I see.
Memories loom —
of lilacs, love and tea — 
of Grandma.

 

Featured Poem: Wick

Laurel Jean Becker
Denver Branch

 

The burgundy candle supports you.
You run the length of its solid core,
extending out from one end,
dependent and vulnerable.
If you were not burning,
I could break you off
and rub you between my thumb
and index finger.
You would crumble into formless black ash,
soiling my hand, used up and spent.

 

Yet inside the flame you stand erect.
Tiny embers protruding from your stem
glow red with life —
as if they were the fire itself —
while you remain motionless,
bequeathing yourself to the light.
The flame reaches over the candle’s rim.
It speaks to my eyes, ignites my mind.
Wick, you are nothing, burned up, spent.
Yet, you nurture the light that fires
the imagination and settles on the page.

 

Featured Poem: Old Things

Donna Bruno
Ft. Lauderdale Branch

 

The satin sheen
of Great-grandmother’s table
Duncan-Phyffe mahogany
gives testament to
generations before me
who dutifully polished it with elbow-grease
to enhance its lustrous finish
A valued heirloom
treasured through the years
but now unwanted
My children do not
“see” its beauty
nor appreciate its history
They prefer
modern chrome and glass
functional
utilitarian
sleek
geometric
clean lines
Stark representations
of a “newer” age
They need
Lord Byron’s eye
to realize
“A thing of beauty
is a joy forever.”

 

Featured Poem: Writer’s Block

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City Branch, Texas

 

There I sit
Done with trees
Their rugged hide
Their fallen leaves

 

Ended the garden
At mid-lawn
With vibrant roses
And firethorn

 

Through with birds
On twig or in flight
Chirping in mornings
Hooting in nights

 

Finished with stars
Zodiac members
Burned out long ago
All that’s left – embers

 

No more verses
On oceans and waves
Their ships with cargo
And bereft slaves

 

All things come
Eventually to halt
It isn’t the plants’
Or animals’ fault

 

It is the pen
Though often a shock
But will entice again
To end writer’s block

 

 

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.