John Grey

THE MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION

I’d rather it wasn’t the clock
that drinks with me.
I revile its stories, its jokes.
What do I care about the billions of years
it can go back
and the billions forward.
And it’s such a smarmy accent,
that “tick, tick, tick.”

But the clock it is,
on the wall, dresser,
cable box, shiny numbers
peering out of stove and microwave.

If I had my way,
my drinking companions would be
the youth turned twenty-one,
proudly showing everyone his license.
The young gun of thirty,
money in his pocket,
vice presidency in the bag.
Even the beer-gutted forty-year-old,
discussing big plans over imported ale.

It’s almost midnight,
the flat froth of another deadly day.
One bottle is finished,
another stakes out my thirst.
This isn’t the party I had planned.
I invited the times of my life
but time of year showed up instead.

WORK OUT

Hamper overflowing.
More clothes piled up at the end of the bed.
I’m in the cellar on the elliptical,
walking a mile or so in one place,

Dishes piled up in the sink,
the house is on its own.
But the man must trim those abs,
shrink that gut,
or everything falls apart.
When was the last time
the carpet saw a vacuum cleaner?
Dust lasts longer around here than calories.
My fitness machine squeaks
like tortured mice.

Windows, mirrors, lack for
a good arm wrestle with a wet cloth.
But I see myself in the bathroom scales.
I look out through how healthy I feel.
The roof is leaking.
I could be up there fixing it.
But if I’m to avoid hard work,
I first must have the strength.

ANATOMY OF A HUG

The wave’s motion.
We are moving.
Through the door in the morning.
These floors, so different from at night.
Sway with light like sown fields.
Gradually goes the soot-discharging fishing boat.
Your body leans on me for comfort.
With a mysterious whisper, I lean on you.

Today, when we clench hands,
tides roll in, those hands open up,
love is crystallized sand and grafted together. 
Almost dull but blood flows freely.

Dreaming is easy.
Crossing over into vision is not.
A daybreak frontier
when it pays to hold our breath.
Knowing is anticipation.
Acting, a risky plunge.
A naked coastline
reinforces our dependence.

When love and sea
share the tumult inside us,
a single surge
nudges our way forward.
This startling landscape.
This water. Our fear.
This earth. Our support.
Here in the harbor, I hold you inside me.
Clean anchor
where all else pulls away.

BOY

September,
a slow drift from light and heat,
apples peaking,
trees giving up the green.
your boy turns 21.

lie’s a man
just as the planet
turns its back
on its own manhood,
no longer robust and clear
but reflective,
warm when the sun’s upon it,
but chilly come dark.

He’s out with his friends.
in a bar, ordering his first legal beer.
He’ll slay out later than the moon.
There’ll be women with
more claim on him than you.

Luckily, there’s always winter.
You’ll see more of him then,
his freedom not quite warm enough
as the usual bitter winds,
blinding drifts,
driving him indoors.

For a time, an old dead planet
can’t compete with your contemporaneous fire.
Poor mother flame –
he’ll be yours again
but seasonal.  

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT

Let us walk forty years in the desert,
heat-struck, devastated,
forgetting to bring water.
forgetting who we are,
stumbling about
like coked-up porn queen
and impotent actor.

It gets no emptier –
just you and me,
a rattlesnake,
rat, lizard, nothing cute –
a cheap motel of a landscape,
a greasy fast-food meal
pecked apart by vultures.

We’re either bored or arguing.
So let’s reroute our lives.

Civilization just doesn’t go with our obsessions.
Too much to drink. To flush.
To rinse away dirt sins.
We need to be where it’s barren and defeating,
deadly in its indifference.
Occasionally, we’ll come across a bullock skull
from a rancher’s dream inverted.
That bone could be the two of us –
crumbling and healing.

A LESSON IN BIOLOGY

This velvet plant
venerates its stalk, its flowers,
casts off a spore to spread the word –

children skim its seed
from the fishpond –

wind thrashes it this way, that way,
from willow to mimosa –

it’s a mast with lantern
driving through November
to the unfriendly house –

faster, faster, ever more desperate,
stringing together moment and lives and fears –

a drop of dew on green apple
of breath on almonds and cheese –

then the picnic where
the ancient diva
adorns herself
with the succulent triple choker,
girdling her fleshy throne
more beautiful
for the cracks in her skin –

oh the sun – it is a jewel
she can almost wear on her finger –

meanwhile, a dream
frets itself to ruin –
too brittle for these atmospheres,
while the past she hordes like a delicate jade –

this scene suggests a dying light,
and a woman preciously inlaid.

~~~

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, Leaves On Pages is available through Amazon. This is John’s second feature on The Short of It.

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Arthur Rosch

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Dewdrops on spiderwebs:
sit lightly with life.

~~

The tree limb
from which the bird has flown
rocks in early morning light. 

~~

A solitary raindrop
at the beginning of a shower
loses itself in the pond. 

~~

The world spins like a riddle
through the space of its answer. 

~~

The beast of the cosmos staggers,
wounded by the weapon of its own life.

~~

Eclipse:  the silhouette of a leaf
surrounded by the sun’s rays.

~~~

Arthur Rosch is a writer, musician and photographer. His photography was recognized by the United Nations and his first novel, Confessions of an Honest Man, received an award by Writer’s Digest. You can find it on Amazon and his Photography at 500px Free e-book at Smashwords, The Road Has Eyes, a travel memoir. You can read Write Out Of My Head, the Blog: http://www.artrosch.com

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Joan McNerney

Poet Statement – These are all free verse short poems about my favorite season.
I call them Autumn Notes.

Four sparkling maples
sashay in autumn winds.
dressed in yellow lace.
Half moon hiding in old
oak tree on top of hillside.

~~

Children kicking up leaves
shouting while jumping
over mounds of foliage. 

~~

Bright leaves gleaming
in sunshine tumbling
through an Alice blue sky.

~~

Carpets of red, yellow, brown
foliage unfurls before us.

~~

Walking through trails of trees
becoming spellbound by
leafy giants towering over us.

~~~

Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Spectrum Publications have accepted her work. She has four Best of the Net nominations. This is her second feature on The Short of It.

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Joni Caggiano

Nature Changes 

Hearts of love hang by spider silk, painting the rust-colored leaves,
shedding old clothes as dying flowers bid goodbye to bees.
Impatient is the fall wind, causing green to intermingle with the color brown.
We are watching the movement of the last squirrels digging holes in the ground.
Kisses fall from the sky from migrating birds as they say their goodbyes.
My soul spins restless, as I imagine nature, cutting so many gorgeous ties.
Yearning as I watch this from inside our bedroom, my love, this silent picture show
Seasons together have been our treasure, our love, continuing to change and grow.
Passion like a blanket of red starlings covers us inside, as we see the shadows chill.
God is painting his earth for another season; how blessings come with his will.
Your mouth is warm, and your smile inviting, oh darling, like a flute you play me.
Blue tears fall down my cheeks, my spirit is alive, so thankful, it is I, you see.

Lost Love 

How can I begin to soothe the covers of the bed with my sad tears?
I thought we would pave a path of red stone throughout the years.

Can’t you hold me, my love, just one more time so I can see white?
Please breathe me in like you can, just for one more delicious night.

Half a person when you are not with me, I am lost in a sea of sorrow.
I cannot bear the dream or the truth of such a loveless tomorrow.

The weight of my burdens without you are just too much to bear.
Music no longer plays its notes for me, but you no longer care.

Did I forsake the waves of the sea or the love that I gave to thee?
I shall turn to liquid, for without you love, I just no longer wish to be.

When you find the puddle of orange on the floor, don’t be sad,
You gave me a glimpse of what love is like and what I have had.

If you return, place me in a jar and my light will be your beacon.
My heart will shine bright and for you, my light will never weaken.

The Lighthouse 

your song plays and tiptoes inside my loving head
erasing any static in the air, with your pleasing voice
your sound stills my watch’s long blue arms, stopping time
four months have gone since you left on a fishing boat
now only the brooding sea life is here to cry tears for me
darling, in the lighthouse, I still await for your return as
waves crash and melt upon the rocks, and icicles hang
a white bird dies as he hits the thick wall of lighthouse glass
I plant red water lilies in our tub and hum your song
inside the warmth of the water, with your voice within my heart
waiting until I become a purple lily in this garden, for I shall grow
my eyes will be still, but you will join me, and you will know
we are your song, my love,
 and in this lighthouse,
 it was always so

~~~

Joni’s blog is the-inner-child, where she has published poetry, photography, and short stories. Take a look at Joni’s work in Spillwords Press NYC, Vita Brevis Press, and The Finest Example. Her blog – The Inner Child – is an effort to give back – she is a surviving Adult Child of Alcoholics. Joni is a retired nurse and paralegal.

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Carl Scharwath

SILENT WORDS

Imprisoned by my own poem
Plain-speech slang
Circled Barbed wires
Contain pools of grammar

Poetry is a constructed conversation
On the frontier
Of word dreaming and
silence on paper

Speechless in a world
Of riotous birdsong
A sense  of being caught
In a future temporal myth.

Obdurate

Proscribed from consciousness
Will oblivion remain
In the porous life streaming?

Unmoved by persuasion,
Pity and tender feelings
Resistant to moral influence.

As the frequency
Of the sameness
Becomes abstract in old age.

The truth haunts
In the  freedoms of doubt
Growing dimmer in faith.

HIS LIFE REMEMBERED

An evening walk, lights reflecting off the raindrops
Of a city in desperation.
Our eyes meet- his face mirrors both freedom and sadness.

His world is hopeless, a never-ending search for life and
Subsisting.
Mine in kinship with my nameless brother, a loneliness
No one sees.

Is he on this pilgrimage because family love has deserted him?
Did his career end, or was his dying path ordained to drugs and
alcohol?

Grass grows through the cracks of a decaying city.
The hardest path is living, the freedom is what draws
Life.

Before we pass, I want his knowledge, for he has tasted
Failure.
Afraid of my own destiny- we gaze for one second in passing.

The dark lonely figure disappears into the youthfulness of our
Own past.
Has anyone thought of him the way my reflection relinquished
Purpose?

~~~

Carl Scharwath has appeared globally with 150+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, plays or art photography. His photography was featured on the cover of 6 journals. Two poetry books ‘Journey To Become Forgotten’ (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and ‘Abandoned’ (ScarsTv). This is Carl’s second feature on The Short of It.

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Lorraine Lewis

SOOTHING THE CHAOS

In between the cracks
Love and eternity peep
Soothing the chaos

NOW I SEE CLEARLY

Soft words deceived  me
Until I saw through the mask
Now I see clearly

ALL NOW IS DYING

Leaves crunch beneath feet
As  stones cry out in anguish
All now is dying

NATURE HOLDS HER OWN

Nature holds her own
Gulls are shrieking overhead
Echoing our pain  

I TRAVEL ALONE

Journeying in death
I had to let go of you
I travel alone

HEAVING  EARTH

Heaving the earth threw
Its dark embers into play
Until shoots peeked through

~~~

My name is Lorraine Lewis. I have always written poetry but began to write more in earnest following having serious advanced blood cancer and going blind and becoming wheelchair-bound. I greatly enjoy experimenting with different forms of poetry, preferring the shorter forms. Editor’s note – This is Lorraine’s second feature on The Short of It.

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Smitha Vishwanath

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I feel you

In the breeze that blows
I feel thee, caressing me
Tender and gentle

The thing about death

Death
Dealing
is easy
So I believed
When you have seen it
behaving callously
taking remorselessly
I lost my mother at fifty
A friend at thirty, then another
You were ninety when you died; I still cried

Lessons from my grandma

You
were a
strong woman
who spoke little
You said, “A woman’s voice must not be heard.”
“To be strong you do not have to be loud.”
is what you said
to me too
I think
now

Butterfly

Flitting
bright, beautiful
speckled wings, deep blue; white tips
in the blink of an eye, flies
away

10 word story

You did not even say, ‘Goodbye,’ to me before leaving.

~~~

Smitha Vishwanath likes to call herself an accidental writer. Having worked for 20 years in banking she began writing through her blog in 2016. Her poetry has been published by SpillWords Press, Rebelle Society, Silverbirch Press, Borderless Journal among others. Her first book of poetry – Roads – A Journey with Verses was published in 2019.

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Duane L. Herrmann

NEW “NORMAL”

Zoom here,
Zoom there,
Going nowhere, and yet anywhere!

UP AND…

Little spider climbing
up the air
on invisible string.

SPECIAL FRIEND

Gentle purring indicates
it is awake
soon
will need to be fed.
I care for its needs,
it can then help me –
we are a team:
my friend,
my chainsaw.

FOREST ENCHANTMENT

The man has a place in the country, a few acres. Part of it is meadow, but part is hillside with trees. The meadow is a nice open space, but it is the trees that enchant him. Their shade and the breeze particularly attract him. They are his refuge from a life of stress. A friend posted a photo she had found of someone who also had trees, and in their roots had placed tiny elfin doors, windows and even walkways, handmade but exquisite. He would do that too!! They would add a magical touch to his magical place.

SO MUCH UPSIDE DOWN

He sits at home imprisoned by disease, yet his world has expanded more than he ever imagined. Technology connects him to people and places in the world where he could never otherwise have gone. The curse and blessings are mixed. He can see and speak with people who had moved far away, yet cannot hug his grandbabies. It has become a strange world. Among his pastimes has become a search for himself. Not an inner, existential search, but a search for evidence of physical accomplishments. With the internet, he can search for his published work he would otherwise never have known about. It still puzzles him that writings of his have been posted from one site to another after their initial acceptance. He doesn’t mind – he is surprised. As a child, his mother refused him any identity of his own. Now, he finds he exists all over the world. Amazing!!!

A NAME IS…

“English was good enough for Jesus, it’s all I need, and you’d better stay away from that foreign stuff too!” Cecilia’s Father was vehement in his pronouncement.

“It rhymes with Hawaii,” Cecilia sighed and finished. She had just mentioned to her father the names of Bahá‘u’lláh and Bahá’í, that the first meant ‘the Glory of God’ and the second, ‘Follower of the Glory.’

“English names don’t have meanings,” he refuted.

“Armstrong, who had a strong arm? Boatright, who built boats? Smith, the village blacksmith? Most names have meanings, we just don’t know them.”

“Still, that’s foreign stuff.”

“Granpa was born in Germany. That’s foreign!”

“Well, that’s diff….”

“And Jesus wasn’t born in Kansas.”

At that, her father had to grin. He couldn’t argue there.

“Every religion is new some time. People living in the Roman Empire thought the name of Jesus was strange and new.”

“You win,” he grinned lovingly.

~~~

Herrmann aspires to be a hermit, but would miss his children, grandchildren and a few friends.  He is known to carry baby kittens in his mouth, pet snakes, and converse with owls, but is careful not to anger them! A traumatic, abusive childhood embellished with dyslexia, ADHD, cyclothymia, now, PTSD. This is Duane’s second feature on The Short of It.

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Stephen W. Buchanan

Mixed Emotions

I thought you could,
I don’t know why,
but there you stood
watching me cry.
Not wanting to,
I wanted you
to see in me.

Sweet Little Lies

The lies you tell
smell oh, so sweet
That’s just as well
since I’m no treat
Unhappy pair
going nowhere
We made our shade

Seeing the Void

Palpitations
upon my soul
Deviations
left from the toll
of losing you
Or seeming to
in screams of dreams

~~~

Stephen W. Buchanan enjoys writing poetry, especially in the ha’sonnet form. He publishes his ha’sonnets at “If You Haven’t Got A Sonnet” and occasionally elsewhere, often with a cat on his lap. You can read his first feature on The Short of It here.

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Carolyn Crossley

Divinity

You live in me, so
deep I neither hear nor see,
but know – you are there.
You have been there from the start.
In the gaps I feel your pulse.

Silence

I hear you in the
deepest silence, you are the
heart of my spirit.

Love

Universal love
links us all together like
hearts beat together.

The Witch Within

We are by Goddess
blesséd, she who lives within;
wakes the witch in us.
Reconnecting us to our
roots, chakras and ancestors.

~~~

Carolyn Crossley©TheVixenOfVerse has been a poet since 2002. She originally used poetry as therapy after losing her younger son to heroin. She now concentrates on her blog: backfromdarknesstolight.com and will publish her first anthology in 2021.

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