Caged Skylark By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Dorothea Lange migrant farm workers

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells –
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.

Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
Both sing sometimes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sometimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest –
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bones risen.

 

Gerard Manly Hopkins, 1944-1889.

 

Photograph by Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965. 

#ElectionDay: Go Gather Wood by Pablo Cuzco

prague-mural-lennon-3

Go gather wood for your fires boys,
gather wood to burn | don’t pick wood that’s wet or rotten,
or it will not burn ::the cherry trees stand withered,
the orchards bare and dry | the grass parched and dying
by a scourge sent from the sky.

The leaves eaten by the sun,
the water line is clear | the lake is showing rooftops
of a town once disappeared ::it rains and rains for days on end,
so the fires burn out | the sun shines from the sky,
suddenly it’s a drought.

There’s flooding in the valley,
chaos in the hills | the roads washed out by the creek
that once ran deep and still | the river swollen to the banks,
the farmlands turned to swamp | the city center’s four feet deep
of a rage that just won’t stop.

The government is sending troops and sandbags by the score,
but the angry skies won’t listen, tomorrow—
another storm | the national guard stands ready
with its soldiers and their guns | but the thunder’s roll is louder,
the battle has begun.

pennsylvania-primary-election-guide-3

 

Pablo Cuzco is an American writer of poetry and short stories. He spent his early years in France and Germany with his family. In his teens, he traveled across America with guitar in hand, writing songs and jotting memories along the way. Now, living in the Southwest with his wife, he has time to reflect and share those stories. His works can be found at Underfoot Poetry, The Big Windows Review, and on his blog Pablo Cuzco – in My Mind’s Eye.

Tavern by Edna St. Vincent Millay

toulouse-lautrec-

I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.
There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.
There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey’s end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.
Aye, ‘tis a curious fancy—
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.

 

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950.

 

At the Moulin Rouge: The Women Dancing by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1894.

 

Channeling by Martin Willitts, Jr.

The heat is hissing, and the lake is lower.
If rain ever comes to the rescue,
will it be too late? A few murmured sentences,
not offering relief? There’s a weariness to this
silence, just a stone’s throw away, a ghostly,
eerie light — hovering, a damselfly
barely making noise. This is channeling; but what,
we do not know, and we do not like the unknown.

We may not know restraint. We question.
We may not appreciate it if we do not get answers.
The lake is emptying with heat, hissing.
It’s light at its cruelest. It’s a damselfly whisper.
Like a thread unraveling, it’s the soul-light
emerging from a skull at death, I’ve seen it.

 

 

Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian. He has over 20 chapbooks and 10 full-length collections. He has 3 more full-length collections forthcoming including “The Uncertain Lover” (Dos Madres Press), “News From the Slow Country” (Aldrich Press), and “Home Coming Celebration” (FutureCycle Press).

Four Poems for Christmas Sharing

Pressed Pansies by Victoria Crawford

A mother’s gift to make for Christmas day
in the book, Pressed Flowers, from a thrift store.
A Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

My pansies were blooming in bright array.
Cardboard and string press pansies galore,
a mother’s gift to make for Christmas day.

I made backing and frame from an old tray,
gilded for flower picture Mom would adore
a Eureka! savings for teacher’s pay.

Pressed pansies, picture framed, artful bouquet,
glossy glitter made it cleverly shine more
for mother’s gift handmade for Christmas day.

December, the present and I on our way
hit potholes before we reached Mom’s front door
and that Eureka! moment for teacher’s pay?

Bumps, glue, and gravity ruined the display:
ruined pansies and glitter weren’t much, for
a mother’s gift made for Christmas day
or Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

 

 

Winter by Martin Willitts, Jr.

silence and cold expectations
speak thinly
translating
with deep pain
into new fallen snow
through the determined
darkness
among blue hazed trees

wind moves slowly
wearing snowshoes

 

 

Andy Williams by Kenneth Pobo

Aunt Gwen plays his albums while
pushing a splintery mop
over crabby kitchen tiles. Andy
sings that he hears the music
from across the way. Gwen thinks
maybe she hears it too—only oak
leaves against a screen. She wishes

that just once Tree would have taken her
to see him at the Moon River Theater
in Branson. Last Christmas
he promised, but his job got busy
and Delia Anne came home broke.

As Gwen pours gray water down the sink,
Andy sings “Moon River”–
We’re after the same rainbow’s end,
the album turning in endless circles, Gwen

stopping suddenly when a tuxedo’d man
leaps out from worn grooves
to offer her one red rose.

 

 

The Captive Fire by Wren Tuatha

She tosses the yarn
and the kittens roll with it,
hitting the wall at the
propane heater,
its grill a cage for
the captive fire within.

She lets out a smile
but it swings back to her,
on a pendulum,
like a good smile,
contained in quiet play.

In the span of a sigh
the kittens will leave, cats,
echoes of the children
who fell, men and women,
from her breast.
She would give a breast
to be needed
that way again.

She snatches the yarn
and the kittens
settle for her shoelace
as she finishes the fringe
on her fourth grandson’s afghan.
Muted shades of
red, orange and yellow.

 

 

Victoria Crawford. From Monterey, California, Victoria is a poet passionate about connecting nature and the human experience in words to share with readers. She has been published in Peacock Journal, the Ibis Head Review, Wildflowers Muse, the Lyric Review, Eastlit, Penwood Review, and other magazines, as well as having upcoming work in Canary and Pacific Poetry.

Martin Willitts, Jr. is a retired Librarian. He is the winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award and Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June, 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over twenty chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus eleven full-length collections including Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017) and Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of poems out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: The Queer South anthology, Caesura, Colorado Review, Mudfish, and elsewhere.

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at JUMP, the International Journal of Modern Poetry. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

 

 

Painting: Night on the eve of Ivan Kupala (1892) by Henryk Slemiradzki (1843-1902).