A beautiful, wintry vignette by Bronwen Griffiths.
She wanders the fields where the elms once stood. Nothing stands there now, only the winter grass and a cold wind barreling down the hill to the broken willow. Close to the edge of the stream, she dives into her coat pocket for the seeds and crumbs she keeps. She will wait for them to arrive; their fluttering wings matching the fluttering in her heart. No one knows she comes down here, day after day. Especially when the snows come, especially then. She won’t worry. Her feet have trodden these paths for eighty years — they belong to her now. Like the fox that passes each evening, they inhabit her dreams.
Originally published in Worthing Flash
Bronwen Griffiths is the author of, A Bird in the House, 2104, Not Here, Not Us – stories of Syria, 2016, and Here Casts No Shadow, 2018. Her flash fiction, short stories and poems have been widely published. When writing this piece, Bird Woman, she was thinking of the walks she did as a child and a teenager growing up in North Worcestershire. She now lives on the East Sussex – Kent border.
My friend Steve Deutsch has a fine new poem in Borfski Press Magazine. Please visit his blog and leave comments for him there.
We found my mother
on the third floor
of a hospital
that should have been shuttered
in the 80’s.
The lights were dim
and the walls and halls
so covered in filth
it seemed they
had absorbed the misery
of the past 30 years
and the anguish would no longer
It wasn’t hard to find mom.
She screamed “Help me”
every couple of minutes.
We heard her from the elevator
above the endless beeping
and the garbled sounds
from the PA system.
The fact that we
were now with her
did not alleviate her need to scream.
Nor did reasoning.
She had fallen again
and broken her tailbone.
She was 95 and failing
and I was the good son—
the one who answered the call
at 2 AM,
booked the 1000 mile trips
and tried to find a place
where she could end her days
It was rewarding in an exhausting way.
I was the one to be counted on.
there is just so much
we can do for one another.
There are limits to prerogatives
We practice love,
in a moment of lucidity
she stared at my face—
a face she had known
my whole life,
I was again
as the infant
she had held
to her breast.
– Steven Deutsch
First published in Borfski Press Magazine
A beautiful villanelle I found today by Michael Flynn Ragland.
But she had told me even stranger things.
I shook my head and gazed off down the shore,
the cirrus twilight filled with seagulls’ wings.
A hallway of insistent mutterings
still echoed with the four-inch heels she wore.
(And she had told me even stranger things.)
A beauty, dressed in black among the strings,
she played such passages as soon would score
our cirrus twilights filled with seagulls’ wings.
A man who once had brought her jewels and rings
had left her sprawled, her head gashed, on the floor.
Yet she had told me even stranger things.
Had I loved her? Another autumn brings
her ghost. In dreams she murmurs from the door.
In cirrus twilights filled with seagulls’ wings
her hand takes mine: “A lonely mermaid sings.”
She kisses me. “Hear, through the breakers’ roar?”
But she had told me even stranger things,
those cirrus twilights filled with seagulls’ wings.
– Michael Flynn Ragland
Bio: As a kid in the Ozarks, I lived in an old, stone house atop a cliff; as a teenager, by a stage road along which had been fought the last major battle won by the Confederacy. After an aimless decade in college and graduate school, I lived on a barrier island. I’ve taught English in high schools and universities, worked as a photographer for an advertising firm, and kept the books at a medical clinic. Writing that appeals to me is introspective and steeped in atmosphere.
A beautiful poem by Kelly Jo Letky. Be sure to visit her site and comment if you like it.
the trees are dying.
okay, only two out of seven
but they’re my favorite two and
when i walk outside
to listen to whispers
i hear the sounds of mourning.
i feel time slipping through bent fingers
i’ve picked a place to bury sun-bleached bones
i’m learning the words
to a song i’d prefer not to sing
that’s not to say
i don’t watch the sunset
that’s not to say
i don’t smile when the moon
knocks on my window
that’s not to say
i don’t sing with the robin at sunrise
it’s just to say
the trees are dying.
– Kelly Jo Letky
A haunting poem today by Carolyn Forché that highlights the refugee crisis. Poetry Foundation published it this week, but I didn’t see a way to reblog, so here it is in its entirety.
We were thirty-one souls all, he said, on the gray-sick of sea
in a cold rubber boat, rising and falling in our filth.
By morning this didn’t matter, no land was in sight,
all were soaked to the bone, living and dead.
We could still float, we said, from war to war.
What lay behind us but ruins of stone piled on ruins of stone?
City called “mother of the poor” surrounded by fields
of cotton and millet, city of jewelers and cloak-makers,
with the oldest church in Christendom and the Sword of Allah.
If anyone remains there now, he assures, they would be utterly alone.
There is a hotel named for it in Rome two hundred meters
from the Piazza di Spagna, where you can have breakfast under
the portraits of film stars. There the staff cannot do enough for you.
But I am talking nonsense again, as I have since that night
we fetched a child, not ours, from the sea, drifting face-
down in a life vest, its eyes taken by fish or the birds above us.
After that, Aleppo went up in smoke, and Raqqa came under a rain
of leaflets warning everyone to go. Leave, yes, but go where?
We lived through the Americans and Russians, through Americans
again, many nights of death from the clouds, mornings surprised
to be waking from the sleep of death, still unburied and alive
but with no safe place. Leave, yes, we obey the leaflets, but go where?
To the sea to be eaten, to the shores of Europe to be caged?
To camp misery and camp remain here. I ask you then, where?
You tell me you are a poet. If so, our destination is the same.
I find myself now the boatman, driving a taxi at the end of the world.
I will see that you arrive safely, my friend, I will get you there.
Poem by Carolyn Forché
of the unspoken …
half a rainbow
– Chen-ou Liu
Photo by MH Ramona Swift
Published in Tiny Words
Don’t miss these two spectacular poems by Sarah Law in Psaltery and Lyre today.
Two Poems for St. Therese of Lisieux
Note: In the photo, St. Therese is holding a laundry paddle.
“Women always turn toward a whistle…”
My friend and fellow State College Poetry Group poet Lisa McMonagle has a dynamite poem this week in Ekphrastic Review. I can’t figure out how to reblog it, so I’ll copy and paste. Enjoy!
No longer First Lady
in Chanel and a pill box hat,
she’s Jackie O. in jeans
and a Henley, striding
the Upper East Side,
wind at her back, still
graced with the good
fortune that carried
the debutante from
a prominent, but
declining family, farther
than anyone dreamed
possible. Windswept tresses
frame her famous face in
a three-quarter art-nouveau
shot as she turns toward a whistle.
Women always turn toward
a whistle, whether they
welcome it, or not.
They want to believe
they warrant a whistle,
inspire a whistle, that men
draw breath for them.
– Lisa McMonagle
First published in Ekphrastic Review
Photo: Windblown Jackie by Ron Galella (USA), 1971.
I am so proud to know Steve Deutsch. He is part of my poetry workshop group and for the second month in a row, one of his poems, this time “Flotilla,” was chosen by Goodreads from more than 300 entries as a finalist in their monthly contest. To read the poems in the contest, click here. And if you agree, as I do, that Steve’s poem is outstanding, please vote.
You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.
You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.
Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.
– Steve Deutsch
First published in Weatherings
photo courtesy of moneycrashers.com