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: 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: 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.

   

Featured Poem: Blizzard

 

Carolyn Aune
Minnesota Branch

 

 

Ah, the late January malaise.
How about a rip-roaring blizzard
To break the monotony!
How about a blizzard so grand and fierce
That it would shake our world
As though the ruling Norse Gods of the clouds
Were beating their hairy chests, howling in rage,
And tearing to shreds their bright white tunics,
Hurling the bits to earth as a curtain of new snow.

And how about if, the next morning,
The dawning sky would flame hot pink,
With misty streaks of magenta and pumpkin orange,
As if the gods, now calm and spent,
Were coloring outside the lines.

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