Featured Poem: The Spell of the Union

 

Joy A. Burki-Watson
Member-at-large

 

I wanted release so I sought it, I worked in the South as a slave,
Freedom took plenty of forethought and more than a fair share of brave.
I’d not be deprived of a free life, all because of my color at birth
And surely, I’d find that my past strife would urge me to work for my worth.

 

My mother, a servant in Beaufort — my father, the slave owner’s son,
All hushed by their need for concealment, where the white of my black was homespun;
I was named Robert Smalls for that reason and slaved in their fields as a youth
Then shipped off to Charleston, unseasoned, to slave on their docks — Gospel truth!

 

Sail maker would soon become rigger and then onward I’d pilot their ships,
Always the slave and the ‘nigger’ [sic] and always kept under their grips.
’twas Charleston, South Carolina that faced the first shots of that war
And I at wheel of a steamer, saw freedom like never before!

 

In the early hours of May13th, the white crew aboard took shore leave
And left me in charge of my own life as well as that ship I’d now thieve.
The C.S.S. Planter was loaded with all of my kinfolk and peers
It served us as liberty’s motive and way to escape our past years.

 

I then donned the captain’s attire and steered out through mine-laden bay,
I’d signal the guards at Fort Sumter and head out the ocean’s seaway
Once out of Confederate gun range, I made a fast dash to be free
Knowing full well that we’d look strange to the blockade and Union navy.

 

With white flag a’waving surrender, I offered up guns and the ship
And all of us joined with those forces to challenge the South’s leadership —
How civil is war of derision when folks are not treated with fair?
It certainly made “split-decision” a term for this nation’s warfare.

 

Ev’ry good war has its heroes and I wanted to fill those big shoes
After the war I returned to the place where now I could alter old views.
I served five terms as a Congressman and constituent’s rep for what’s right
Offering reasons to take a stand when life presented foresight!

 

I also would purchase the mansion where Mother and I were enslaved;
It stands for new eras of fashion and all of the things we once craved.
I wanted release so I sought it, I worked in the South as a slave
Freedom took plenty of forethought and more than a fair share of brave.

 

Special Notes:
Robert Smalls (1839-1916) was a black American statesman who was born a slave and made a daring escape at the beginning of the Civil War. After the war he went on to have a successful political career; first serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate before being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1874. Later in his life he was appointed U.S. Collector of Customs in Beaufort South Carolina serving from 1889 through 1911.

An interesting fact is that he bought and lived in the house in which he had been a slave. He actually allowed his former slave-master’s wife to move back into the house shortly before her death.

Robert Smalls died on February 23rd of 1915, the cause of death was unspecified.

Featured Art: Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night photo

“Queen of the Night,” 6 by 6 photo, by Polly Curran
Sarasota Branch, Florida

pollycurranphotography.zenfolio.com

 

Artist’s statement

The “Queen of the Night” is an extraordinary plant. It is prized for its excellence in bloom, size, fragrance — and the fact that it only blooms for a single night each year. It is also called “night-blooming cereus,” a subtropical cactus.

I have this plant in my garden and enjoy watching the progress from a small bud to the moment it begins to turn its face upward and finally show its full bloom, maybe 6 inches in diameter. I  wrote a haiku for this very special moment:

She makes her appearance hidden in darkness

Behold her radiance for one night only;

This remarkable Queen of the Night

 

Featured Poem: If You Have Ever Loved to Dance

 

Janet Fagal
Central New York Branch

 

You never forget the feeling.
The joy of suppleness and strength,
of spins and twirls, and the appearance of floating.
Perhaps you have danced ballet.
Been the Sugar Plum Fairy at a tender age
in a children’s play,
danced in a Rockettes-style majorette troupe,
performed at a World’s Fair, in parades or on stage.

 

Maybe you have tapped your way to joy. Felt the power
of your toes and heels, calves and thighs,
clicking up and down the stairs,
arms marking the cadence, adding zest to the scene.
Folk-danced for fun with friends from all over the world,
tried modern jazz, ballroom, hip hop.
Delighted in the oneness of music and movement,
whole body in use, on display, speaking from every cell of your being.
Mind counting the beat, remembering the steps.
The exhilaration of the dance, the beauty of classical or modern,
seen in strong, toned bodies, able to stretch and bend as required.
Clothed in vibrant or gossamer costumes,
sending a message about art. Creativity. Life.

 

Dance needs big spaces, time to practice,
dedication to exactness and extension.
The dancer so fit, combining grace, determination, flow, rhythm.
If you have ever loved to dance, it never leaves you,
even though you may leave it.
If you have ever loved to dance and you are old,
replaying it in your mind
is bittersweet tucked in between the joy.

 

This poem was Inspired by Suzanne Beason’s painting “Replaying the Dance, 2017,” which juried into the Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY: 2018 Made in New York show. The NLAPW Central New York Branch participated in an ekphrastic event where our new creations were inspired by the art on display.

Featured Poem: My Monet

Barb Whitmarsh
Bayou City II, Texas

 

(To Dad)

 

He will always be my Monet
My tired-eyed yet dutiful father
All of his paintings
Are emblazoned on my mind
Hanging on the walls of my heart
-I claim them all-
By virtue of my memories
Of every brushstroke
And resistant signature
That defined his uniqueness
Perhaps he thought I
Didn’t take his painting seriously enough
-But I did –
I admired every application of his sable brushes
That transformed paint into life
And if and when we meet again one day
I’ll reassure him with the words
“Dad, you always were and will be
My Monet.”

 

Featured Art: The Potato Chip Wars — Call to Battle

Mara-Levin-The-Potato-Chip-Wars-Call-to-Battle,-oil-on-cradled-birch-panel,-20-x16

The Potato Chip Wars: Call to Battle by Mara E. Levin; Wellesley Branch, Massachusetts 

Oil on cradled birch panel, 20 by 16 inches

www.maralevin.com

 

Mara E. Levin is a fine artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and art educator. She studied with modern masters including Congor Metcalf, Lloyd Lillie, David Aaronson, David Ratner, and Nick Edmunds while earning her bachelor of fine arts degree from Boston University. Her subjects include landscape, cityscape, still life, the figure, and portraiture. She is also deeply interested in studio methods and materials, frequently experimenting with new mediums and techniques, and often constructing and finishing her own painting supports.

Artist statement

This painting is from my series, The Potato Chip Wars, painted from photographs I took at the popular Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts. The bugler calls the avian troops to assemble for the next battle. Or is he issuing a challenge?
This peaceful scene, the first of the series, is marked by the shimmering beauty of nature and the day. It evokes the calm before the stormy fight for chips.

Featured Art: Shawme Pond Swans

Kathryn-Kleekamp-Shawme-Pond-Swans

“Shawme Pond Swans” by Kathryn Kleekamp, Cape Cod Branch

Oil on Canvas, 9 by 12 inches 

www.SandwichArt.com

 

The story behind “Shawme Pond Swans,” in the artist’s own words:

 

 I live on Shawme Pond in Sandwich, Massachusetts. I’ve delighted in the annual event of watching our resident pair of swans build their nest while the air is still cool in early spring. The first sighting of the tiny new cygnets is usually around Mother’s Day.

Two years ago, the swans had a beautiful family of eight babies, right on schedule. Unfortunately, nature is not always kind. Our pond has many predators — snapping turtles, coyotes, raccoons, and owls. One by one, the number of cygnets diminished. However, several weeks later, I was relieved to see the pen (female swan) once again sitting on her nest.

This second nesting time seemed particularly long. I watched the pen, day after day, in rain and wind, patiently sitting on her nest, denying herself feedings and baths. My heart was deeply touched at her unwearied care. Happily, once again she had a clutch — this time, six cygnets.

A week or so later, when she and her mate came to the shore to visit, they were alone. I knew the devoted pair would never leave their little ones and once again, I was heartbroken. I can’t begin to express my agony over this second cruel blow.

As they glided closer to shore, however, the pen opened her wings and I saw a beautiful cluster of tiny, gray heads tucked in together on her back. In an instant, my tears were those of great joy and happy relief. I raced into the house to get my camera. This oil painting is from one of the photos I took that morning, happily catching the last hesitant cygnet still on mom’s back.

—Kathryn Kleekamp

P.S. Out of the six, five cygnets grew to adulthood and were quite breathtaking to see as they flew away to find a new home together.

 

Featured Poem: Re-gifting

Rose Baldwin
Palm Springs Branch, California

 

The book was on a list
of poetry to read
of course I bought a copy
of such a famous screed

 

I gave it to my sister
she gave it to a friend
who gave it to her mother
who gave it back again

 

I gave it to the library
to lend and lend and lend
they sold in a bargain bag
I had it back again

 

I gave it to Goodwill
a bargain hunter there
scooped it off the shelf
then put it out to share

 

Susie picked it up from there
and she gave it to Lee
who gave it to his brother
who gave it back to me

 

Finally, I read it
the words were like a balm
stroking all my soft spots
rhythmic like a song

 

So touched was I, I said,
I have a real fine gift here
I wrapped it in nice paper
and gave it to my sister

 

Call for Art!

Active, associate and allied art professionals, you are invited to submit your work for publication in the Pen Woman and on the NLAPW website!

There is no submission fee, no deadline, and no limit to how often you may submit.

I cannot promise that your work will be published, but all submissions will receive serious consideration. All submissions will also be considered for the cover of the magazine.

We have the following opportunities for art members:

  • Featured Art on the NLAPW website (with or without a short article)
  • “In the Studio” article focusing on your process, accompanied by a few photos of work in progress and completed work.
  • Short article (with photo) about an individual piece of work.
  • Longer article (with photos) about a body of work, or your personal artistic journey or inspiration.

To submit:

Select your best work and email low-resolution digital images to arteditor@nlapw.org.  

I will request larger, high-resolution files if we decide to publish your work, and will provide help with writing articles, if needed.

In your email, please include:

  1.   Your name
  2.   Branch (please note: we can only feature the work of current members)
  3.   Your website URL
  4.   Image title, medium, size
  5.   A very brief statement about yourself and the artwork
  6. An article, if you are submitting one

If you have any questions, please email me at arteditor@nlapw.org. I’ll be glad to help.

By submitting your art to NLAPW, you give us permission to display your published work online at nlapw.org for the purpose of promoting NLAPW and our members.

Best wishes to you,

Lucy Arnold, Golden Gate-Marin Branch
NLAPW Art Editor

Featured Poem: The Making of a Widow

Mimi Paris
Boca Raton

 

The Emergency Room
numbers on the screen
keep on going down.
I head for the nurse.
She’s talking, laughing.

 

I tell her, “Look!”
Her face shows fear.
My heart beats fast
and I run back.

 

Stuff rolls in,
Lots of staff.
Room is packed.

 

Shouts heard:
“Try again!”

 

“Gone.”

 

Featured Art: Backyard Sunrise

"Backyard Sunset" painting by Lisa Rose

“Backyard Sunrise” by Lisa Rose, Vero Beach Branch (Florida)

18 H x 24 W soft pastel

“Backyard Sunrise” was created from an actual sunrise seen from the artist’s backyard in Vero Beach, Florida.

Lisa Rose studied design and environmental analysis at Cornell University and enjoyed a career of over 30 years as a residential interior designer. She gained national attention with features in prestigious publications including House Beautiful, House Beautiful Home Decorating, Florida Design, Interior Design, Maison Française, and Cosmopolitan. 

 

 

She was recently introduced to soft pastels and became inspired by the beauty of the natural landscape. This led to the creation of her first pieces with a delicate blend of representational art and a bit of abstraction.

Lisa Rose’s artwork can be viewed at www.lisaroseart.com.