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.

   

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.

Featured Poem: Skin

Lois Batchelor Howard
Palm Springs Branch, California

 

I just read that the African spiny mouse
has the thinnest skin in the world.
That’s interesting.
I thought I did.
And this mouse can regenerate
missing body parts, much like the snake.
The snake can change its skin
several times a year…and why am I
suddenly interested in these creatures?
Well, because I am looking at my arms.
The skin here is a battlefield of ridges or,
kinder, if pulled very tight, it might pass
as crumpled corduroy or a flesh maze
with no escape route. Actually, much
like the mouse and snake, my skin
moves both warily and slitheringly,
as if it might just slide right off…but, no,
even though it cannot be regenerated
my skin continues to keep my insides in!
Granted, it’s a different wrapping from
when I first came, the same but older…
I must be bolder in appreciating what
I have, not only skin, but
clothes with long sleeves!

 

 

Featured Poem: Morning Prayer

Dorothy Kamm
Vero Beach, Florida

 

 

Most mornings I pray

when I drink coffee

but today I’m watching

seven grackles at the edge

of a neighbor’s roof

puff up their chests

and lift their wings

as they call out

a dawn chorus;

suddenly a few take flight

followed by their flock

synchronized in twisting patterns

resembling a Mobius strip;

and then the neighborhood bully –
a red-shouldered hawk –

lands on the peak

of a neighbor’s roof

perfectly perched, looking for prey;

hopefully, an alarm has been sounded.

Featured Poem: Legacy of Love

Anne Bonner
Cape Canaveral Branch

as the old lady stares into space
slender twig bent and broken
I remember Mama
a beautiful young blossom
role model in days past
admonishing sister and me
pretty is as pretty does

remember those not as fortunate
urging us to become good citizens
using our minds and creative abilities
a kaleidoscope of dreams
patchwork of portraits
assurance of self-worth

mothers  grandmothers  great
grandmothers second class
citizens in days long ago
surrounded by barriers of barbs
visible and invisible boundaries
never forget your roots

unsightly deeds covered by
apologetic men as women today
take their rightful place in the world
sympathy for the downtrodden
providing sustenance to husbands
children and to themselves
to thine own self be true

thank you, Mama
and those ladies before you
legacy’s tapestry is woven
into my heart
golden threads of love



Featured Poem: Pictures of Me

Val Weaver
Des Moines Branch, Iowa

Pictures of me…

taken in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s
show me always with a cigarette in my hand

held between
the fore and middle fingers
the epitome of
sophisticated style.

I turn the pages
of the photo albums
and crave the comfort of
that mentholated burn.

Bob Pace plays something funky in the background…

I inhale.

Pick up the glass of Jack and seven,
hold it to the candle
and gaze into its
soft amber
glow…

I exhale.

And take a sip.
Love the sound of ice
against the glass.

I inhale…
    
My lover says something strangely funny and
I laugh
smoke drifts across the table into his eyes.

I cross my legs, lean forward
and say, “Sorry.”

I take another puff

and I am the star

of my own

1940s

Bette Davis

movie.



Featured Poem: Legacy of Love

Anne Bonner
Cape Canaveral Branch

 

as the old lady stares into space
slender twig bent and broken
I remember Mama
a beautiful young blossom
role model in days past
admonishing sister and me
pretty is as pretty does

 

remember those not as fortunate
urging us to become good citizens
using our minds and creative abilities
a kaleidoscope of dreams
patchwork of portraits
assurance of self-worth

 

mothers  grandmothers  great
grandmothers second class
citizens in days long ago
surrounded by barriers of barbs
visible and invisible boundaries
never forget your roots

 

unsightly deeds covered by
apologetic men as women today
take their rightful place in the world
sympathy for the downtrodden
providing sustenance to husbands
children and to themselves
to thine own self be true

 

thank you, Mama
and those ladies before you
legacy’s tapestry is woven
into my heart
golden threads of love

 

 

Featured Poem: Ancient Roads

Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch

 

At Brú na Bóinne,
Neolithic people walked on ancient roads
through sacred Irish land
toward prehistoric passage graves
and ceremonial temples like Newgrange,
where grass grows atop a rounded mound,
over white quartz walls layered with earth and stone,
carved circles, spirals, chevrons, arcs;
created by a people older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge
who feared the loss of light in autumn’s abbreviated days,
this holy place keeps a secret all year long
until dawn of Winter Solstice
when the rising sun peeks in through a roofbox
aligned to capture the rays,
sends them to the inner chamber,
flooding the floor with light —
an annual miracle providing reassurance that the days,
once again,
will begin to lengthen