Ephemera

I sit at the water’s edge,
draw circles in the sand.

It was almost too civil. Last night
we walked down the beach
to the crab shack,
tied bibs around our necks,
and over a bucket of clams and corn
decided who got what.

Circles, short-lived in the tide,
my wedding ring in the dresser drawer.

 

Sarah Russell
First published in  Red Eft Review
Image source

Mornings after breakfast

This poem was just published in Red Eft Review. My thanks to editor Corey D. Cook for taking three of my poems for publication!

Mother hangs her tea bags on the door,
winds the strings around the knob. Drips,
like paw prints, stain the old wood floor.
I don’t know why she does it. She never
uses them again. After her tea she gets
the big pot and scrubs vegetables for soup.
Her knife is rhythmic against the cutting board,
her felt slippers scuffing from counter to stove
and back again. I see her mouth move sometimes
as she sways, mincing, mincing her life.

Sarah Russell
First published in Red Eft Review
Painting by Dmitri Matkovski
For Poetry Pantry

Mary Oliver

I just learned that Mary Oliver has died. She is one of my favorite poets, and one who inspired me with her plain language and sensitive observations. The world is lonelier without her.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like a hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom; taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

– Mary Oliver
From New and Selected Poems
Photo source

Poet

My friend and fellow State College Poetry Workshop colleague Steve Deutsch received a 2018 Pushcart nomination for this incredible poem recalling a friend and the Vietnam War. Please visit Steve’s blog Stevieslaw to leave a comment.

Poet

I found your first book today
in a second hand store at the Harrisburg Station.
Dingy and age-tanned,
it retained its dustcover,
with a photo of you at 22,
wearing a threadbare corduroy coat
I’m sure is still in your closet,
and what might pass for a smile.
It’s a rare first print from ‘69.

My war.
Your deferment.
You kept to your poetry
like you kept to the old neighborhood,
both mired in bottonless poverty—
an endless scraping by.
Yet, just last year, The Times called you
the Bashful Bard of Brooklyn.

We will lay you out tomorrow
in a sandy plot
in one of those many cemeteries
that dot the flat, emptiness of the mid-island plains.
Bury you next to Mary
your common-law wife of fifty three years
and your only treasure.

Old friend,
I never told you what I felt
when I first held a copy of your book.
I was outside my tent,
less than a mile from the wreckage of Ben Tre.
The package had been waiting for me
while we took that city down.
Not even the rats and the roaches
could have survived our fury.
”That should be me,” I thought,
and tossed that splendid book
on the residue of war.

Steven Deutsch
First published in Eclectica
Photo Source

Tōrō Nagashi

Congratulations to my friend Ryan Stone, who recently received a Pushcart nomination from Poetry Nook for this beautiful poem of sorrow. Please send comments to Ryan at his blog, Days of Stone.

Your flame flickers briefly—
a parting whisper.
Some trick of the river
mimics your laughter.

We stand apart at sunset
lost in natsukashii,
come together in darkness
to watch the dead pass on.

Your light has fallen now
to shadow
beneath the bridge.

By Ryan Stone
First published by Napalm and Novocain
Republished by PoetryNook
photo source

little tree

One of my favorite Christmas poems. Happy Holidays, Everyone!

little tree
by e.e. Cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look     the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

Image source

Birdman, Colombian

In response to a challenge at Ekphrastic Review. Here are all the poems generated by this photo of a Colombian Breastplate. Thanks, Lorette, for including my poem with the others!

A golden, first century breastplate —
mythic protection in battle. Mortals
have sought aegis from the gods
since time began, it seems.

When my youngest was three,
he wore an Incredible Hulk T-shirt
every day for a year, certain his kinship
with the angry green goliath
could transmogrify a toddler
to a Titan older kids would fear. 

I hope the Columbian warrior
with a flying deity on his chest
found more success than my guileless,
doomed boy, whose brother and sister
held him down and made him smell
the lint in their belly buttons.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review
For Poets United Poetry Pantry
Photo source: Breastplate
Photo source: Hulk Kid

F7EB442C-3E72-458C-8F8B-8676FB36BA81

When ’50s Socialization Butts Up Against 2018

My Drabble is up at The Drabble. Thank you’s go to Tom Haynes, editor!

vintage-1319058_1280

By Sarah Russell

I’m teaching my granddaughters to iron shirts—collar, sleeves, right front, back, left front. I almost say, “You’ll impress some guy in college knowing this.”

Whoa!

Maybe that’s why my marriage (to that guy I impressed) ended after I read Friedan. Now women say, “Press your own damn shirt,” and men do. No wonder my granddaughters aren’t impressed with counting hangers of starched perfection.

End of lesson: “Always turn the iron off and unplug it to make sure,” I say.

“It turns itself off, Grandma.”

“But you can’t be too careful,” I say, and shit, I sound old.

        
Sarah Russell’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Kentucky Review, Misfit Magazine, Psaltery and Lyre, Rusty Truck, and many other journals and anthologies. She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee.

View original post

Bird Woman

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
Photo source

 

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.

Somewhere in her Breath

In this beautiful poem by Rajani Radhakrishnan, a city becomes a woman.
photo source

THOTPURGE

From this height, the city has the ugly visage of failed
possibilities, scraps of dystopia sequinned on her

colourless blouse, an aging matron who still walks the
streets in her high heels, her lips the desperate pink

of what might have been. I stand at the edge, counting
all the reasons to live. Below, the city murmurs even in

her sleep. Trying to fit her frame to the warm undulations
of the morning sky. Somewhere in her breath is the

poetry of those nights. Somewhere in her embrace is
the smell of heated passion, the taste of your skin on her

tongue, the beat of your heart in her urgent rhythm, the
shadow of your gaze in her underbelly. Somewhere in the

line of her upturned chin is the path we never dared to
take. Somewhere in her soft lap is everything we were.

Everything we lost. Have you watched…

View original post 32 more words