Ken Gierke

Milestone

Well worn,
our path together,
though not

well-traveled.
Our destination
nowhere near

the one we chose.
Where we parted,
all that remains

is a milestone
of what once was
our life together.

Reading Between the Lines

Expression

Fine lines, creases
Framing the lips
Corners of the eyes

Within those eyes
A gleam of enthusiasm
The dull shade of weariness

Regarding those lips
The glimmer of teeth
A solemn line of doubt

Impression

A gleam in the eyes
Taken for joy
Or is it anger?

Teeth shown in anger
Or is that a hint of laughter?
The lips might say

Or is it all weariness?
The answer lies in both
Behind the mask

Shorter Still

Far from brief, the time left
when viewed in the past.
A lifetime to shape a future,
with no end in sight.

Shorter now, it seems.
The slideshow of bygone images
little more than a time-lapse,
details fewer each day.

Shorter still, ahead.
The end on the horizon,
while goals slip beyond,
their time misspent, gone.

Beneath the Waves

Nearly whispering, I say,
“Every wave that ever passed over
this shell is held inside for you to hear.”

Eyes wide, you ask, “When I get bigger,
can I dive with you and hear the shells in the water?”
And so your thirst for knowledge was born.

Yours is now a world of numbers,
but you have known wizards and knights,
poetry and prose, music and art.

And, from time to time,
you still hear the waves
washing over that shell.

In the Dark

What transpires in a week? In a month?
You show a different face, revealing more, yet less.

There is a cloud hanging over you. Below,
around you. Are there secrets you would share

under different circumstances? The greater the light,
the less I know of you. Are you more open to another,

while I am left in the dark? You make no promise
I’ll see you this evening. We play this game,

you keeping your distance as I try to read you, each day
the window ever smaller, till you fade from sight, again.

Passing Madness

There’s a madness to it
this rush to color

From a blanket of green
to red
yellow

blazing orange

and, finally,
to brown

We are seasoned in this experience

And so we wait
for the return of green

Until, once again,
the madness of color
that marks the passing of the seasons

Path to Winter

golden leaves
warm light on cold day
honeyed tea

maple leaf
on path to winter
will not wait

fallen leaves
carried by river
memories

bare branches
seen in fading light
shorter days

single leaf
clinging stubbornly
winter wind

~~~

Ken Gierke has been published in The Short of It, Vita Brevis Press, Silver Birch Press, and Amethyst Review, as well as in The Moons of Autumn from Word Weaving and easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles, from D Ellis Phelps.  His poetry blog: https://rivrvlogr.wordpress.com/ Ken also had pieces selected for the first anthology – The Sound of Brilliance.

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Lisa Tomey

Memories Sweet Taste

Taste the memories
Harvests after sweat and spade
Earth has its own soul

This Thing About Trees

leaves tangle in her hair
from aging trees
roots locked
in shared vibrations

spring brings growth
rings stretch the girth
age is crowned with colors
changing in time

sangria scented lips
tease in her shade
youth finds folly
yet, the wisdom
of the sage
overseer
prevails

there is no way for youth
to escape the elder court
its shadows and arms
hold all there is to know
about the beating
of the drum
of the heart

There Was A Night in Raleigh

Twinkling little lights
captured my attention
stars about the night

A celebration
clinking glasses
over charcuterie

I walked to the window
once formalities are done
I gaze downward

My eyes are drawn
to the thrift shop
on the corner

Bright lights spill
to the sidewalk
an elder struts his girth

Another day of gratitude
to make a scuff and repast
to take the flavors in

And we haven’t had dessert
but the man wrapped
in the blue blanket
sleeping on the bench
warmed to a cotton-filled dream
which was just enough to forget
the planets did not align
for him or his kind

Sprinkle, twinkle
make a fire in the barrel
warm the hearts
of humanity

Dessert is best served
to those who deserve
the sweetness
let him have mine

An Uncertain Life

he cuts through the night
with the sharpest knife he finds
from his busy mind

fast pacing his life
he stumbled over leaf piles
not noting the signs

waiting for the train
a kitten rubs against him
he shoos her away

coffee and bagel
riding the speed track subway
ready to get off

panhandler plays harp
he calls his job to check-in
stops dead in his tracks

what he heard is how
this day ends all his ventures
now he’s on his own

he sits on a bench
full of angst stares at his cell
not sure what to do

he stands up and looks
at all that surrounds him now
could he be the man

with harmonica
maybe the bagel schmear guy
how about those leaves

blowing, floating, gone
they’re no longer in his path
lost at the turning

~~~

Lisa Tomey is a poet, writer, & publisher from Raleigh, NC. She is an editor for Fine Lines and manager of the poetry circle of the Garden of Neuro Institute. Follow her on ProlificPulse.blog & ProlificPulse.com. Lisa was featured twice on The Short of It – May 2020 and October 2020. Her piece, Silence, featured in the first anthology – The Sound of Brilliance, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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Chanah Wizenberg

The Demise of Mr. Smith

He was an evil man, bullying, belligerent.
Then, he hit her.

On his phone coming down the stairs, 
I screamed,
he startled and tumbled down,
landing in a grotesque arabesque.

I sniffed his nose, satisfied,
returned to my place in the sun,
purring, with my tail neatly tucked in.

Wake Up!

There is nothing like
loving pets
a dog and cat
both rescues
both quirky sweet
and comical

They are my alarm clock
punctual proud and prompt
they wake me each morning

Marmalade first
head butts and purring songs
pouncing on my back and
springing off again

Asha’s turn
her specialty
a wet willy
with that
cold nose

If that doesn’t work
nibbles to my neck

The Call and Response of Spring

The trees stand tall and proud
their branches dip and bend
with the wind’s gentle push
the Kelly-green leaves
sway and dance their
call and response

The squirrels chase each other
spiraling up and down the great oaks
and slim pines across the ground
and back up again chattering their
call and response

The birds glide and soar
and sweep around and past
each other until they take a
timeout on a branch high
or low to the ground singing their
call and response

Birthday Discovery

For twelve years
my birthday
was celebrated
on April 7th

And then
Searching for a vet record
I came upon my birth record

A truth was revealed
my birthday is
April 9th

Birthday, Oy

61 Oy, I don’t relate.
Feel like thirty-eight.

Looking in the mirror
I hear my father say,
“Who the hell is that?”

I contemplate,
who is that?

Salt and pepper hair,
double chin,
turkey neck,
Oy.

Don’t look!
Go for a swim instead.
Revel in the compliments.

Ambiguous Sunrise

Exhaustion permeates our beings
autopilot kicked in last Tuesday
or was it this Tuesday?

None of us know
it’s the holiday season
you know

the time of year chefs
bakers and candy makers
are in full steam production mode

the time when sunrise can be
sunset and sunset can be sunrise

the lights the same
the fatigues the same

Whether it’s sunrise or sunset
we’re on automatic
cranking out the croissant

Rolling out the pie dough
knotting up the bread dough
and shaping the marzipan

Circumference

Expanding circumferences abound
pandemic bellies world around

Baking bread loaves perfectly round
with mounds of butter
to wash it down

Circle back around
bound for seconds
even thirds

No wonder rounder bodies abound

Martini Heaven

Chilled glass
four parts gin
one part vermouth
extra olives

Ice cold and breezy
smooth and piney
notes of evergreen

And the olives
salty effervescence

It’s heaven

~~~

Chanah Wizenberg received her BA from Hunter College in English and Creative Writing. Her poetry has appeared in several magazines and anthologies. Chanah has been a professional ballerina, a pastry chef, and an English teacher. She resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her dog, Asha, and her cat, Marmalade. This is Chanah’s first feature on The Short of It.

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Duane L. Herrmann

MIRACLE FLAMES

Steady candle flames
did not dance
but bent horizontal
in unison,
then stood upright again,
then bent opposite
and stood again
with no wind
in closed room.

GRANPA’S HANDS

My Granpa’s hands
were always old
as I am now.
I watched him age
as I am now,
and now, too,
a grandfather
with wrinkled hands.

BIRTH WELCOME

Purple streaks across the sky,
oranges and reds,
set the autumn sun
over prairie grasses,
tan and yellow blowing,
waving under wind.
Any wonder why
I love this world
which welcomed me?

SCULPTURES OF A FORMER TIME

Tractors, mowers, rakes,
even manure spreaders,
find new homes
in retirement
by grandsons
of the farmers who
had worked them,
now resting
in the front yard!

PASSED LITTLE BRIDGE

Bridge by the side of the road
in the ditch
where road once was,
bridge remains
making the way
to small cemetery
new road goes around,
as I do too.

FINDING EARTH

We thought we
were going to the moon
but found the earth instead:
blue-white ball
suspended, alone and single
in expanse of empty space:
one home
for one mankind,
we are one together.

~~~

The work of Duane L. Herrmann has been published in print and online, in over a hundred journals, more than fifty anthologies, plus seven volumes of poetry, more chapbooks, a history, and a sci-fi novel; all despite a traumatic, abusive childhood embellished with dyslexia, ADHD, cyclothymia, an anxiety disorder, and PTSD. Duane was first featured on June 19, 2020, and again on December 4, 2020. Some of his thoughts were also selected and published in The Sound of Brilliance.

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Joe Wells

I’VE SAVED ENOUGH FOR SHADY PALMS

I’ve saved enough to go in Shady Palms,
assuming I die at the end of the week.
If I reach old age, or get dementia,
then I’m surely up shit creek.

I find it hard to understand the system,
which pays if it’s your leg that’s broke.
You pay though if it’s your head that’s ill,
and to me that’s not a joke.

I have no desire to go in Shady Palms,
to find I’m fading and walking toward the light.
I want to stay home, then one day on waking,
find I’ve gone and died in the night.

GINGER ROGERS, BACKWARDS AND IN HEELS

Hard dancing Fred Astaire,
with Ginger Rogers made a pair.
Her fancy footwork always appeals,
amazing, as it’s backwards and in heels.

Hard dancing Fred Astaire,
did tap with Ginger with such flair.
Moving fast as light with flashing feet,
man oh man dig that rhythm, dig that beat.

Hard dancing Fred Astaire,
rehearsed for hours with no care,
No thought for Ginger her feet so sore,
taking off her shoes and the blood would pour.

Hard dancing Fred Astaire,
hit the top in the floodlights glare.
Asked the secret of his success to explain,
he thought for a while then said, no pain no gain.

Hard dancing Fred Astaire,
then Ginger’s thoughts did share.
My feet bleeding until dances he perfects,
I am proving women really are the stronger sex.

Hard dancing Fred Astaire,
with Ginger Rogers made a pair.
Her fancy footwork always appeals,
amazing, as it’s backwards and in heels.

JRR TOLKIEN AND THE NOBEL PRIZE

JRR Tolkien, author of great repute
was nominated for a Nobel Prize
by C S Lewis, a writer and his friend,
then suddenly came a surprise.

His Lord of the Rings books were rejected
the jury called them second rate,
poor storytelling was also cited
as the reason they met this fate.

I wonder if the author JRR Tolkien,
these comments cut him in half                                                          
but as a bestselling author,
he certainly had the last laugh.

WOKE IN THE UK

As an older fellow, I would like to reach out to the younger members of society in a vain attempt to retain my sanity going forward for there are certain expressions and phrases which are used by the youth of today which are causing me anxiety and are interfering with my mental health, some of which I have placed in bold type.

For example, starting a sentence with So punctuating it with Like talking with a Multicultural London accent emphasising any word ending with ility and now I find I’m having to contend with Woke.

I’m getting a little sick and tired of it all and would like to go back to English as a language and for modern Woke people to stop taking offence on behalf of others who are probably more capable of dealing with the situation themselves.

That’s the end of my minor rant for now but I am certain I have missed a multitude of things and will no doubt think of more going forward, sorry I mean in the future.

BACK BENCH MP’S

In Great Britain, we have numerous traditions and peculiar habits which I personally love, especially the ones that make no sense at all, an example being The House of Commons.

A person can stand for Parliament and when elected become a Minister of Parliament and assuming they continue their way up the greasy pole of Politics can become a Member of the Cabinet, an example of which is the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, or slightly stranger the post of Minister Without Portfolio, which is a post for a Cabinet Minister with no specific responsibilities.

I’m sure all this makes perfect sense to all those of you who may not live in our rather wonderful country but just to throw a spanner into the works, should one of these Ministers cause a bit of a hoo-ha by having an affair and groping his secretary and breaking the current Covid restrictions he or she will lose their Ministerial position and be banished to the back benches of Parliament, this is rather like becoming one of the naughty children on a school trip who sits at the back of the bus and causes a commotion, although smoking is not permitted in the Chamber.

There you are, the British Parliament in a nutshell, I hope it all makes sense to you!

~~~

Joe is a retired actor, author, and blogger. thediaryofacountrybumpkin.com is an amusing take on the more quirky aspects of modern life. His books are available on Amazon, the latest of which is a murder mystery set in 1947 and is called The Case of the Grease Monkey’s Uncle. Joe was first featured on The Short of It on March 6, 2020, and then published in our first anthology – The Sound of Brilliance.

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Another Year

Inspired by Sadje’s What do you see #133

the date of my birth
will soon come again

as lines on my face
etch deeper

my whole body achier
skin is drier and gravity pulls me down

the will to thrive
still exists

but with each passing celebration
the inevitable draws near

i will falter
eventually

My Bucket List

Inspired by Sadje’s What do you see #120

items on lists are meant to be checked off
yet life has its own agenda

our youth is filled with dreams
while reality wants to bend us into conformity

experience taught us to balance
as best as we could

so now…

our wants exceed the time we have left
and our needs take precedence as we age

Missed Opportunities

Xresch – Pixabay

Inspired by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Saturday Mix & Sadje’s What do you see #102

in my youthful mind
before responsibility aged me
dreams of rich discovery carried me over mountain tops
in the direction of promising golden rays of fortune
the thrill of adventure hastening all my steps
but with a scowl i realized i was out of steam
leaving me motionless and stranded
in the middle of life

Reblog – Solitaire by VJ Knutson

How does one traverse the loss of love, aging, and loneliness? VJ may not present the answer but she certainly gives us a glimpse of how real it can get.

One Woman's Quest

Past love’s deadline
wolves no longer prowl
vultures, smelling rot,
circle overhead, plot

My essence is solitary
feather fallen between
wide-eyed expectancy
and maturity’s abyss

Abandonment or neglect
I truly cannot say…

(Tuesdays I borrow from Twitter @Vjknutson. Image my own.)

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