When I told Truth to go away,
we were both girls –
skipping rope with life.
“I can’t be your friend,” I told her.
“You know my secret.”
Truth shrugged. “OK.
I’ll be here if you need me.”
She waved goodbye, and went
to live high in the hills
with hummingbirds and foxes.
I stayed behind, secure in my choice,
though joy was hard to find, I never
trusted love, and I reacted oddly
to the seemingly mundane –
lilies made me nauseous, Black Beauty
gave me nightmares, a breeze against my neck
could make me cry.
After fifty years, I looked for Truth again.
She hadn’t changed – still young,
sweet, smiling, glad to see me.
But I’d become Wilde’s portrait in the attic –
haggard, bitter, burden-stooped.
I asked what would have happened
if I’d let her have her way.
“You’d have suffered,” she said. “People
would have shamed you. They’d say
you made it up.
But you’d be free.”
– Sarah Russell
First published in the anthology Secrets and Lies
For Real Toads quote by Dickinson
Painting: “Two Little Girls” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
“They mate for life, she’d say.”
My thanks to Dayna Patterson and the crew at Psaltery and Lyre for publishing my poem this morning. Check out their beautiful website.
She wasn’t sure about heaven,
but she believed in birds.
On walks she’d stop to watch
a skein of geese, wondered
where they came from,
where they were heading.
They mate for life, she’d say.
Crows do too. And swans
and storks. She must have said that
a hundred times, with a kind of wonder
at the impossibility.
She kept five feeders on the deck,
had a book of backyard birds
to identify newcomers at the feast.
She cried when a neighbor’s cat
killed a mourning dove. They mate
for life too, she said. Listen,
her mate is sad. That’s just their call,
I told her. No, it’s different, she said.
You can tell when birds are sad.
She died a month ago.
I keep the feeders filled.
– Sarah Russell
Picture courtesy of The Spruce
The finches are courting
outside our window, a warbled
discussion of real estate and love.
Like last year and the year before,
they want to lease the flower wreath
on our front door. It’s always a dilemma:
discourage their rapture or detour
through the garage?
The finches always win. So
for a month we’ll wake to overtures
at dawn – so cheerful, so loud –
show pictures of pin-feathered babies
to friends, recall demands
and pleasures of our own brood,
the bittersweet fledging.
– Sarah Russell
First published by Your Daily Poem
The photo is of their nest last year.
Thought this was apropos since Mr. and Mrs. Finch are back and are quite excited about our new wreath this year. They were both tucked into a niche behind the blossoms, discussing the furnishings when I opened the door this morning. The nest was almost complete this afternoon. Can’t deny true love.
Those dream-filled summer nights,
a wail, anguished as a banshee,
pierced the rusty screen.
Then the rhythmic clatter grew
until the bed and I would tremble.
Let me come too, I whispered,
but it never heard,
or didn’t understand,
or didn’t care about a little girl
and a gallant torn-eared bear.
The rumbling, shaking wraith
moved on, its cry waning to an echo,
my heartbeat clinging to the cadence
of away from here, away from
– Sarah Russell
First published in Black Poppy Review
Photo courtesy of Awsom Wallpapers
“. . .the sky’s wide and blue and bare. . .”
Another ekphrastic poem today, based on a photograph by Tom Klassy.
He squints from under a John Deere cap
even when there is no sun. It’s late fall now,
the hay — enough this year — baled
for January feeding if the pickup makes it
to the herd — huddled, wooly, steamy breath
to match his own, pitch fork separating clouds
of gold, strewing it like loaves and fishes —
that kind of pride, though pride’s a wobbly perch
when drought and blight’s the norm, when the pickup
needs a fuel pump, barn needs shingles.
But this morning, the sky’s wide and blue
and bare, and Waylon’s singing Ramblin’ Man
while he hums along. Bernice’ll have coffee
scalding hot at the cafe, and prices were up
on the farm report this morning. Folks and steers
ain’t so different, he reckons, herd gathering,
keeping with their kind.
– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review
“You must let me go, Tomás…”
OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic, and Will Pennington’s series of poems and fiction about Susanna captures lost love so poignantly that I asked if I could reblog his latest poem. To read more of the Susanna series, please visit Will’s site, and let him know your thoughts.
Is she the one, Susanna?
I do not know, Tomás.
You must know, Susanna.
She makes me think of you.
She is not me.
I want you back, Susanna.
I’m dead, Tomás.
You died too soon.
Why? Why? Tell me.
I do not know why, Tomás. It was my time to die.
It isn’t fair.
Life is not always fair.
Sasi makes me feel the way you did.
Then you must be with her.
What if I forget you?
You must forget me to be happy with Sasi.
I lost half of my heart when you died.
Then Sasi must replace that part of your heart.
No, Susanna. I can’t.
Yes, Tomás. You must.
I don’t want to forget you. You have the piece of my heart that makes me whole.
You must let me go, Tomás, so you can find love and happiness again.
If Sasi is the one, she will hold the piece of your heart that makes you whole.
Yes. Love makes the heart whole, not the person, Tomás.
Do you love Sasi?
I’m falling in love with her, Susanna.
You must be fair to her, Tomás, and let her love you.
You must forget me to love her, Tomás, or you won’t be happy.
Then I won’t be happy, Susanna.
I love you, Susanna.
I love you, Tomás.
– Will Pennington
To end April’s National Poetry Month, here’s a wonderful portrait written by award winning poet Joan Colby. Joan’s latest poetry collection is The Seven Heavenly Virtues. Learn more about Joan and her poetry here.
Five daughters, every one with hair
To her hips. Cumbersome dresses
Meant for Sundays. No one is smiling.
The mother’s hair skinned into a thick bun.
The smallest child on her lap. The father
Gallant with sideburns, chin whiskers,
A wave over one eye. Cravat and
Polished boots. That they lived, all of them,
In a one-room log cabin in the Uinta Mountains
Is not apparent, dressed in their finest, hair
Freshly washed and brushed so that
Every girl could be Rapunzel.
Two infant sons already buried.
The father will die by gunfire
At the age of 40. The mother will be nursing
Her last child: my father
Who will be photographed later
In a white lace baptismal gown.
– Joan Colby
First published in Poppy Road Review
P.S. New prompts are up on the Prompts page.
“. . .keeping the company of ghosts. . .”
Matt Borczon says he didn’t fight during the war in Afghanistan, but he’s fighting in its aftermath. You can read more about this fine poet and his chapbook A Clock of Human Bones here.
in an iso
I did not
the holes in
to eat with
I was in
or secondary PTSD
so I came home
me soak my
or how I
– Matt Borczon
First published in Fried Chicken and Coffee
D. E. Green is right. Everything does sound better in French. See if you don’t agree. You can learn more about Doug Green, and read more of his poetry here.
for Diamonique Walker
Why does everything sound better in French?
Wittier? More pointed? More apt and apropos?
You know, with savoir faire and all that merde.
A woman I know from Cote d’Ivoire
likes to say how much she hates things,
but she does it with panache. Sometimes
she even says, je vous déteste. Sure, she’s saying
she hates me, but, god, doesn’t it sound
great? I mean I could be hated all day
by everybody as long as they said, je vous
déteste. And I want to do some je déteste-ing
of my own. Je déteste le sandwich de pain rassis.
It’s just stale bread, but it sounds like something
you’d hear at the United Nations, even the Louvre.
Wouldn’t it change the whole sorry dining
experience to walk into a MacDonald’s
and say, je déteste votre Big Mac? To tell
a bombastic politician, Assez, monsieur! Assez!
D. E. Green