Featured Poem: I Wonder

Scottie E. McDaniell
Member-at-large

 

Today as I walked through a parking lot
    I gazed at the people I passed, but not
one fixed his or her eyes upon me
    for each looked from hand-held technology
only to juggle some keys or a child,
    and I wondered if it’s like this in the wild.
Do bears and tigers and lions socialize
    with their own kind, do they bid “hello” and “good-bye”?
Do lizards and ants and squirrels stop to say
    as they pass hills and trees, “How are you today?”
Do roaches, in all their quick hurry-scurry
    take time to greet, and do all things furry
pause to show interest in one another,
    and do those in flight stop to hover?
Do swinging apes and crawling snakes
    give something equal to our handshakes?
Do those of the underworld and the fish of the sea
    burrow toward, wiggle over, or just let each other be?
Do they act neighborly, friendly if passing by chance
    or divert their attentions without even a glance?
I wanted to share a kind word and a smile
    even hesitate to talk for a while.
But people have times when not open to others,
    forgetting that we’re all sisters and brothers.
We may be annoyed when our thoughts are disturbed
    and our routes or our plans have to be deferred.
Maybe sometimes to be indifferent is human,
    absorbed, oblivious, now and then with no room in
days that are so full of things to do.
    I wonder if all God’s creatures are like that, too.

   

            

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 Art: Twin Creek Vineyard

Chella Gonsalves, Modesto Branch, California
Twin Creek Vineyard, oil,  9×12 inches

 

Known mainly as a plein air artist, Chella Gonsalves portrays rural landmarks, rivers, architectural structures, and historical homesteads with oil paints, emphasizing light and dark contrast.

“California’s Central Valley provides many inspiring vistas, including vineyards, orchards, rivers, parks, and mountains. This particular vineyard is located near Lodi, California, at the Robert Mondavi Winery. The composition of the old oak, the colors of the vines, the light and shadow, and the distant scene all attracted me to this location for a plein air painting.” — Chella Gonsalves

 

 

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 Art: Echo #3

 

Susan Crave Rosen, Chesapeake Bay Branch
“Echo #3,” acrylic and collage on paper, 23×27 inches

 

“I have been painting for over 25 years, beginning when my husband and I retired to Virginia. Starting with watercolor, as many artists do, I wanted a more opaque, sturdy medium and moved to acrylic about 15 years ago. I have added collage of my own painted papers to layered acrylic, often embellished with line.” —Susan Crave Rosen

 

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 Art: Billowing In

Doris Mady, Greenwich Branch, Connecticut
“Billowing In,” 20×10 oil

 

Doris Mady considers herself a plein air painter. When asked, “Why plein air?” she answered, “because I feel alive when I’m outside and the world has so many messages to give us.”

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Mady also studied at the School of Visual Arts, Westchester Community and Skidmore Colleges. Following a long, successful advertising career as creative director and graphic designer in some of advertising’s Top Twenty advertising agencies, she decided to pursue her first love: oil painting.

 

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 Art: The Watchkeepers

 

The Watchkeepers photo

“The Watchkeepers,” photograph by Jane E. Allen, Huntstville Branch (Alabama)

 

 

One day, Jane and her husband traveled down a dusty country road in Weumpka, Alabama. As they neared Lake Martin, they discovered an isolated burial site near a church. 

The inscription and poignant epitaph engraved on the granite included the words “A Child of Innocence.” The words “Our Angel” were tucked inside a heart in one corner of the stone. Praying hands and a kneeling angel were in other corners. 

A ceramic Dalmatian, bear, deer, a stonewashed cherub, and a wrought-iron nymph were scatted about the surface of the grave, as if keeping watch over the site. Allen, captivated, photographed the unusual array of compelling objects.

Allen became a letters member in 1984 after winning writing contests sponsored by the Montgomery Branch. She added the art qualification to her membership after several of her photos won awards and were published.

“After retiring in 1994, I finally had the time to enjoy the outside world and its fascinating subjects, she says. “Sometimes, I write a poem and snap a photo; at other times, I capture a subject with my camera and then write the poem.”