I Am Sitting on the Edge of a Lake, by Holly Day

I Am Sitting on the Edge of a Lake
by Holly Day

Next to me, toes in the water, my daughter
is writing a poem. She wriggles against the itch
of dry grass pricking her bare legs
tries to focus on the task.

I smile and nod and resist the urge
to launch into lectures on form and process
as she stops after each line
to show me what she’s written.
I want to tell her

how beautiful her voice is,
how beautiful her poem is
but I’m afraid if I do
she’ll stop writing.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big Muddy, The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, Ugly Girl, and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), North Coast Redwoods Writers’ Conference (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.) will be out late 2018.

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The Sequel, by Alan Walowitz

The Sequel
by Alan Walowitz

         They will call him brave.
                  “Penelope”– Dorothy Parker

 
The universe is telling us plenty– and some of it true–
but what to do with all the conflicting information?
These days I lash myself
to practiced habit and established form.
You’d be surprised
who’ll watch a guy muck about in quicksand
when he hardly gives a shit at all.
Sometimes I stop and browse
the cards and letters you fans send.
I like the ones that read like fortunes best:
Don’t seek so hard.  
Settle down.
Feel free to be old. 
 And even more poetic:
Come joyfully to the fruits of home.
What you’ve read or heard
might have once been true:
the glossy smile of native girl on travel brochure
could send me hot and frenzied
in an entirely new direction.  
But I always choose Ithaca now—
hapless suitors, wife gone grey,
son who doesn’t know me.  
Cowardly? I admit, but comfort of a kind
what love and duty will have us do.

Process notes: “The Sequel” has gone through many iterations. It started out being about my postman, who always seemed to me to be a happy man. But who can tell how happy anyone else is, when we can hardly tell about ourselves? The poem ended up being sort of about an Odyssey, a frequent, perhaps too-frequent, subject of poetry, hence my nod to one of the best by Dorothy Parker in the epigraph.

Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web–and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an online journal, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing. For more see alanwalowitz.com.

Saying Goodbye, by Debi Swim

Saying Goodbye
by Debi Swim

And someone will come and do my hair
one final time, make-up my face, clothe
my body in a favorite outfit and fold my
hands one over the other and I’ll repose
as though I’ve just closed my eyes for a
moment. I’ll even wear my glasses which
is ironic but I guess after all this time I
wouldn’t look natural without them.

That’s what the old people say as they
pass by the coffin trying to look like
they’ve just dropped by for a short visit,
Oh, doesn’t she look natural. No, I want
to shout, I look waxy and my smile is
a Mona Lisa smile of let’s get this over
with. A millimeter short of a smirk. Finally,
they close the lid.

I know there is music and the preacher will
say all the right things. You’ll say I was a good
wife and my sister and brother will tell the
funny stories of our childhood. I imagine the
children and grandchildren wiping their eyes
as tears spill but I am alone in this ornate box
smiling my tight little smile, immune to grief,
keeping a stiff upper lip.

Note: Written in response to Prompt 364.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Those Grey Layers, by Marilyn Braendeholm

Those Grey Layers
by Marilyn Braendeholm

The thing about long-term memory, it feels like it just happened. Yesterday. Like when I remember my grandmother who passed-on more than 30-years ago. I can see her now. Grandma sitting in a straight-back wooden spindle chair. She sits where the sun breaks through the window but she still feels icy. And it’s just Grandma now; Grandpa’s recently dead. He went out fishing on the 3rd Tuesday of January last year. He threaded a nightcrawler on his hook, dropped the line over the side of the boat, and then had a heart attack. Out there alone on the lake. He floated around for 3-days in a January mist before anyone questioned why a row boat was out there. He froze board-stiff in that rowboat. Someone said he was the coldest shade of grey they’d ever seen. Greyer than winter, the policeman said. Winter’s a widow-maker, Grandma claimed. She looks out the window, sips her Earl Grey tea, and asks for another lap blanket. Her voice is shallow as lapping water. She’s not long for the next world. Asleep or awake, sometimes we can’t tell which when she closes her eyes. Those soft eyelids that disregard the lines between day and night. Sometimes she pretends to be deaf. I suspect that she hears everything that she can’t see. But as I said, it all seems like yesterday. Plus and or minus those intervening years.

like old grey stone,
that blue-eyed cat on her lap,
alas, there she ends

Marilyn Braendeholm, aka ‘Misky, lives in England surrounded by flowers in the summer, jars of sourdough starter in the winter, and old pots and pans when she’s testing recipes in the kitchen. Her poetry is regularly published by the literary magazine, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream.

There Is A Cleft In Me, by Janet Youngdahl

There Is A Cleft In Me
by Janet Youngdahl

Even filled in with earth
It’s visible.
Clefts do that.
They begin a simple parting,
A tear, a mere rip
Sorting your body into before and after.
And when not finished,
The cleft becomes unbearable
Lack of separation,
Unconsummated parting
Leaving me here,
feet on the grass without you.

I never intended this branched divide,
this obvious wake in my water
marking me as one who was
taken fully by love, candled and glowing
without need for air.

Is the cleft an absence or an opening?
I only know I cannot rid myself of its geometry.
I remain shredded by the exhuming
chisel of devotion, carefully hewn in
symmetrical slices of transparent soul
somehow invisible to others.

I may appear whole. I am not.
I am a thatching
of grief’s beams,
a weak ceiling over the
craggy angles
trying to remember
that my cleft,
like broken honeycomb
given enough sweet rain,
might again inhale
fragrance.

Process note: The poem was inspired by the death of my father.

Janet Youngdahl has published work in The Antigonish Review, The Malahat Review, Light–Journal of Poetry and Photography, and the Friends Journal. She lives in Alberta, Canada within sight of the Rocky Mountains.

Frog in Throat, by Miriam Green

Frog in Throat
by Miriam Green

There’s a frog in my throat,
I tell her. She believes me.
I should have predicted this,
the way she understands literally
or doesn’t understand at all.
I wanted to humor her
but she’s asking how it got there
and do I need her help to get it out.

We sing the song she taught me for Passover,
frogs jumping on Pharaoh’s bed and head,
on his toes and nose.

Then she tells me, I found my nose.
I have noses.
I have husbands with noses.

I clear my throat,
that sound like a revving engine
or a strangled cry for help.
I’m writing a new song
for the two of us
filled with sparkling laughter
and an uncommon love
for the mother as child,
for the daughter she no longer recognizes.

Miriam Green writes a weekly blog at http://www.thelostkichen.org, featuring anecdotes about her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and related recipes. Her book, The Lost Kitchen: Reflections and Recipes from an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, will be published next year by Black Opal Books. Her poetry has appeared in several journals, including Poet Lore, the Prose Poem Project, Ilanot Review, The Barefoot Review, and Poetica Magazine.

Besieged in Winter, by Gershon Ben-Avraham

Besieged in Winter
by Gershon Ben-Avraham

We should have grown old together, you and I,
and seated by a winter fire told over and over yet again
spring and summer tales of a life lived together.

But in autumn, as it sometimes does,
a sudden change in weather took one ill-equipped for it
and left behind the other.

Now, seated alone, besieged in winter by so many unfinished tales
that will not let me rest, I begin again one of them,
then turn to you to sound your part.

Hearing nothing save the soft ticking of an old kitchen clock,
I stammer into silence. I’ve only half the tale and stop where I did start—
yearning for you to tell my ending.

Gershon Ben-Avraham holds an MA in Philosophy (Aesthetics) from Temple University where he studied with the American philosopher Monroe Beardsley. His poetry and short stories have appeared in both online and print journals including Bolts of Silk, Numinous: Spiritual Poetry, Poetica Magazine: Contemporary Jewish Writing, Psaltery & Lyre, and The Jewish Literary Journal. He lives with his wife Beth and Kulfi, the family collie, in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

Two Years On, by Diane Jackman

Two Years On
by Diane Jackman

When I switch off the noise
cross out the lists
abandon the detail
of daily living,
no words come
to take root,
flourish and grow.
Anguish sweeps in,
a spring tide
of memory and pain
spreading, flooding,
ebbing, leaving
sour and stagnant pools
in the jagged runnels.

Would you have been the same?
Robbed of notes?
Or would you have worked out
your loss in healing music?

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in small press magazines and many anthologies, and has won several competitions. Starting out as a children’s writer she now concentrates on poetry. Her writing draws heavily on the past, and often reflects elements of magic realism.

Sudden Death, by Diane Jackman

Sudden Death
by Diane Jackman

Yesterday a faint rumble of thunder,
passed over now, disregarded.
Next, a sudden electrical storm,
a lightning strike from an empty sky.
One heart-stopping moment
and the family is shattered.

Shattered and scattered they lie,
the heart silent, absent,
until the ropes of love
heave and tug them to their feet.
Together they stumble forward
into a different future.

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in small press magazines and many anthologies, and has won several competitions. Starting out as a children’s writer she now concentrates on poetry. Her writing draws heavily on the past, and often reflects elements of magic realism.

Kneeling at the Grave Stone, by Tony Daly

Kneeling at the Grave Stone
by Tony Daly

It’s raining,
Not outside, but inside.
It’s actually quite nice out, if
A person can see that sort of thing,
The world, outside of oneself.
I can’t. I’m clouded and overcast.
Have been for over forty years, today.

There was a time when everyday was shining.
Then the lake effect snow came, buried me.
For years I tried digging out.
Now, many days are bright,
but never this day.
The memory crushes me, every time.

You were light in my arms,
The shining star at the center of my universe,
The tiniest creature I could imagine.
You cooed and gurgled, and just
Absorbed me with those yellow-blue eyes.

I held you tight against exposed skin, and
Will never forget the feel of your warmth,
Your wet tears, your talon-like nails,
Your screams of hunger and agony.
I started crying when the nurse came in with
Empty arms apologetically outstretched
   – and haven’t stopped.

I knew your light for 20 hours, but
only touched you for one.
You’ve held me ever since.

These carnations, are for you.
I bring them every year.
I like to think they would be your favorite, but
Mainly they became a tradition.
Couldn’t afford better the first years, and
I’ve imagined pinning them to your chest at
Proms, graduations, wedding.

Instead, I kneel here, like every year,
Until after the sun goes down,
With your father’s hand on my back, and
Fill you in on your brothers’ lives.
You’d love them, and they you,
If they’d meet you, and you them,

But you didn’t and they didn’t.
They know you through my suffering, and
Are the reasons I’ve not yet joined you.
My three wondrous lights,
Illuminating my darkness.

But clouds return, darkness endures.
How many nights have I smelled your newborn hair,
Felt your loving arms around my neck, only
To be pulled back by those who need me in life?

One of these days, when my work is done,
My storm will finally subside,
I will lay down beside you, my child,
And hold you once more, everyday.
Together, we will illuminate our darkness.

Process notes: My older brother lived for only a day. My mother leaves flowers on his gravestone every year. This poem is my attempt at exploring her emotions, and takes it a few steps further.

Tony Daly is a DC/Metro Area creative writer. His work is forthcoming in anthologies from Wolfsinger Publications and Fantasia Divinity Magazine, as well as online at Pilcrow & Dagger, Boned-A Collection of Skeletal Writing, and The HorrorZine. He serves as an Associate Editor with Military Experience and the Arts. For links to his published work, visit https://aldaly13.wixsite.com/website