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

 

 

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?