Featured Poem: Write in the Night

Bette J Lafferty
Tampa Branch

 

I write in the night
   without a light,
my pad
   on my stomach does lay.

 

With a finger I guide
   my thoughts as they slide,
from my mind to the paper
   like kids play.

 

 In the morning I discover
    I wrote on my cover
 so now my brain
    I must rack.

 

For the deadline has come,
   oh, please quiet that drum,
while I fight for the words
   to come back.

 

No napping today,
   no time to play,
I wish I would start
   on time.

 

But it’s simply my plight,
   as a poet I write,
when the words from my brain
   start to rhyme.

 

Featured Poem: Together, 1955

Janet Fagal
Central New York Branch

 

My grandparents’ summer place,
country kitchen with green cast iron cookstove.
Pantry room to right of sink unit.
A tableau to explore.

 

Plant in the window, metal tea-cart nearby.
We sit. Table topped in white and red enamel holds glasses.
Homemade and icy-sweet lemonade ready this July morning.
The pitcher, earthenware brown with tan bottom, brimming,
blends into a scene I cannot forget.

 

A second pitcher, deep brown ceramic, displayed atop
sink’s counterspace, waits its turn.
My aunts talk, plan the day: a walk to town,
pie-baking soon, before the day’s heat impedes desire.
Afternoon ride to the bay for dinner’s fresh fish.
Maybe some time for clamming, reading on the porch.

 

Happy laughter between sips and stories, as bright as lemons.
Tartness lost in the telling and sharing.
Strong vessels, these women. Essence of family:
the aunts, my grandmother, my mother and me.
Lives simple, but never uncomplicated.
Comfortable in this moment,
pouring out their lives.
Shaping mine without knowing.

 

“Together, 1955” was created for an ekphrastic event at the Auburn, New York’s Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center’s 2018 Made in NY Show. Skaneateles, New York, artist Gary Trento’s painting “Two Pots” brought me back to my grandparents’ kitchen in East Hampton, New York. The ceramic pitchers reminded me of those my family used long ago, leading to a reflection on the ordinary, yet wonderful times of family interaction that can affect a growing child. — Janet Fagal

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.