All posts by nancyahenry

Michael Keshigian

 

N. Henry, "Doggie in the window"
N. Henry, “Doggie in the window”

NEW ENGLAND SPRING

Between the yews,

the long face pant of a Doberman

and the chirping dead center of his paw,

a cricket,

while a black-eye cardinal whistles

a yellow beak phrase.

May, and suddenly again, ungodly winter.

Halfway through this house,

painting it, the Spring,

and well passed that point in my life,

I plead to heaven that this afternoon

no longer becomes the seven previous

afternoons bringing,

that wet, muddy brown muck

that doubtless forms a moat

about the foundation

to propagate the mosquitoes

who will fatten upon my skin

and torture the dog’s ears

to blood crusted outlines,

a few might even catch

my lover and me

as we frolic beneath the rumpled oak,

hidden amid saturated leaves,

unless somehow

the sun again peeks in fair blue

with long light,

rejoiced by birds

and the garrulous squirrels

atop their pine perches.

Let the dog lie prostrate

in the soothing rays

and let us all breathe softly

where the lick of warmth radiates.

N. Henry, "Wedding flowers"
N. Henry, “Wedding flowers”

LILAC FLOWERS

Every Spring

he appreciates

all the small things,

including the warm mist

of morning dreams,

the spongy red litter

under tall white pines.

Mid season, the lilacs

pierce the fog

and reach for

a crackling lick of sun

to turn their pointed heads

a lighter shade of mauve.

In their shadows,

he could see the lazy gaze

of time in a drowsy pose,

holding the universe in stasis,

a dark window

within the thickets

slightly open

so he might capture

the prized moment

and observe the blossoms,

how they open

with a breath of light,

how their indigo lungs

swell in the air

to blaze their radiance

amid the fire of the world,

how the pungent fragrance

pierces the wind

as the perfumed sprays

of pale purple haze engulf him.

 

Michael Keshigian’s tenth poetry collection, Beyond, was released May, 2015 by Black Poppy.  He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals most recently including Poesy, The Chiron Review, California Quarterly, and has appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 5 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (michaelkeshigian.com)

Robin Merrill

N. Henry, "fiddleheads"
N. Henry, “fiddleheads”

First time fiddleheading without you,

I tried to stave off tears with one of your songs,

but I couldn’t remember the tune. 

I’ve forgotten most everything you

taught me, the Latin names of mushrooms,

the Bible verses every girl should know,

names of ancestors and all those proverbs.

I don’t remember how to clean a fish

or boil sap. Seeking those elusive

ferns, that manna, paupers’ nutrition, I prayed to you,

please don’t be disappointed, show me like you used to,

I’m sorry I didn’t listen, and I heard your voice,

Go where the water has been but isn’t anymore . . .

look for the skunk cabbage. I walked, surer,

and they appeared, and I knelt with my open empty

plastic grocery bag and began to pluck those

sweet jewels from their stalks, and my tears ran

into the mud, and when I went to wipe my eyes,

I smelled the earth on my fingers and was forgiven.

N. Henry, "Shrine, Franciscan Monastery, Kennebunkport"
N. Henry, “Shrine, Franciscan Monastery, Kennebunkport”

Why I Run Through the Cemetery

I like to imagine there are clouds of witnesses

born and died in times I can only see in sepia still frames.

There are bleachers full of them

on every side and even above, cheering me on

because they understand how much work it takes

to put one foot in front of the other, because they understand

in a way we yet can’t, the grinding of the gears

when spirit and flesh interlock and each tries

to steer the other. They have already run this race

and they know how it ends. When they beat the drums

that pump in my ears, they can already hear

my personal crescendo. Time is a vapor to them.

Where I see dates etched into stone, they see

a child’s crayoned attempts at metaphysics.

But for now, it is all I know, this language,

this pulse, and I nod to them as I pass.

I’ve memorized their names and roles.

I did not know Margaret Libby, but I know

she was mother, teacher, friend, and

she birthed a beloved son she never named.

I do know her neighbors, my grandmother’s

parents; they rest at the top of a hill,

so I haven’t the breath to speak at that point

but it’s not as if they need to hear me

to know me. They know me better than the living can.

The living see me through veils of selves,

they don’t look at me — they look at what I may

mean to them through a dirty windshield

at fifty miles per hour. Here,

there is no speed. No time. No agendas.

Here, there are only markers of a much greater journey.

And there are grandstands full of those who know this.

So each day, one step at a time, I labor through.

Wind at my back, I do not labor alone.

These are where I come from.

And this is where I’ll go.

Pat Butler, "Beachhouse"
Pat Butler, “Beachhouse”

Ant

I am an ant.

I am very small.

I could get stepped on.

But I’m so busy working,

I don’t have time to be afraid.

 

Robin Merrill is a writer/editor/poet from rural Maine. Her most recent book is the novella Grace Space: A Direct Sales Tale. Her first novel Shelter is forthcoming soon. She will represent Portland, Maine at the 2015 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. Visit her at robinmerrill.com.

William Doreski

Patricia Frisella, "Balloon Flowers"
Patricia Frisella, “Balloon Flowers”

One by William Doreski

Beebe Trail

Beside the Beebe Trail gentian

flaunts my favorite blue.  The slope

and wooded boundaries conceal

the lurking view of South Pack,

a bulk too massive to bulldoze

for the benefit of developers

who’ve sworn to re-engineer the town

to suit the right sort of people.

Gentians disregard such people,

who cruise around showing off

antique convertibles reserved

for three-day holiday weekends.

Like the bluff man who crowded me

in the café this morning. He shoved

through the crowd with his bulk

displayed in a tight red shirt

exposing biceps floppy as breasts.

Flowers don’t acknowledge men

like that, huffing aggressive men

whose massive necks have toughened

like those leathery fungi      

that adhere to trees. But then

they don’t notice me, either.

The trail winds into the forest,

glooming over and shutting out

the sun-loving gentian.

I carom down the crooked trail

and emerge at the parking lot.                          

Here a grinning family packs

a picnic basket and ignores

my hearty routine greeting,

my sweaty old skin. They don’t know

that gentian has blessed the landscape

with a shade of blue so powerful

not even factories in China

can reproduce it for the rich—

not even to bless their children

who need color to convince them

that something in nature cares.

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).

Cardinal Flower Journal Issue One

CONTRIBUTORS

Dennis Camire

Praveen Raj, "Wonder Woman"
Praveen Raj, “Wonder Woman”
Praveen Raj, "Happy Hay"
Praveen Raj, “Happy Hay”

Dawn Potter

Robin Merrill

Bruce Spang

Ellen Taylor

Charlie Mitchell

John Grey

Arnold Greenberg

William Doreski

Pat Butler

Judy Williams

Michael Keshigian

Lee Heffner

Karie Friedman

Joan Sidney

Corey Cook

Duane Robert Pierson

Jeanne DeLarm-Neri

Judith Robbins

Arnold Perrin

Nikki Carr

Photo credits: Jack Nessen, Pat Butler, Patricia Frisella, Praveen Raj, Holly King

Arnold Greenberg

 

 "Simmer"
Jack Nessen, “Simmer”

Darkness

In this darkness before dawn,

I cannot see the pond,

or the world,

but my reflection in the window,

hovering

like a ghost,

is all I see

when I look up from this chair

and take another breath

and feel my beating heart

swelling that I am here in this silence,

waking to another dawn

another day,

another chance to love

the light

coming through my window

from far away.

And sitting here,

with a lamp nearby

bringing me the light I need

to write these words,

I take a sip of coffee,

then looking up

see me sitting in the window

hovering above the pond,

smiling at myself

lifting my cup.

Arnold Greenberg
Arnold Greenberg, his cabin.

Thoughts on a Sunny Morning

On this sunny morning,

looking at this pristine pond—

clouds floating on its surface,

the blue sky shining on the water,

the air quiet after yesterday’s wild howling—

and sitting here in my glowing room,

remembering the news I saw last night

of wild fires burning miles of forests,

hundreds of houses swallowed by the flames,

while neighbors stand together

holding in their arms what they can,

their dogs and cats beside them,

and I close my eyes and look away.

I think about this pond, so clean and pure,

not like the dirty rivers or dying lakes

where dead fish float.

I think about the mountains being raped

for coal and smoke stacks

spitting soot and fumes.

I think about the storms and rising seas

and what will happen as the days get hotter

and the land is parched and nothing grows.

I think about my children and theirs

and the billions who will breathe the humid air,

and I remember how it was when I was young,

and could swim in ponds like this

and play without a care.

The party’s over,” someone said last night

before the commercial break

and now,

as I sit here in my chair,

watching the morning move across the pond,

I ache.

Pat Butler, "Between Seasons"
Pat Butler, “Between Seasons”

Thinking of Thoreau

I wonder what Thoreau would say

if he were sitting with me by this pond.

Would he say–

let this be your Walden,

let the silence be sweet madrigals

in the quiet air?

And would he say

travel wide and far

sitting in your chair.

Let each day be another destination.

Love where you are.

And I wonder would he smile at me

when there’s nothing more to say,

then look out at the pond,

remembering,

before he walks away?

 

Arnold Greenberg lives in Blue Hill, Maine in a tiny pentagon shaped cabin in the woods overlooking a trout pond where he writes every day beginning at 4 AM. He has written six novels and three collections of poetry. He has not published widely but hopes to.

Charlie Mitchell

N. Henry, "Field Walk"
N. Henry, “Field Walk”

The Fruits of Our Labor

I listen to Alejandra sing

She sings traditional Colombian folk ballads,

Sun sears my shoulders and old jeans,

My neck bends over seedlings of arugula

Sifting for tiny weeds with the blade of my hoe.

Out here, time is not a number,

Here conversation crawls with the lone strips of clouds

Across the rim of our massive late-afternoon sky

Where silence and solitude, more precious crops than golden beets

Grow higher than sunflowers and spread like pigweed.

My body roots in the earth and my mind sways,

A tomato vine groping skyward to endless nothing

Twined taut and even by the notes of Alej’s song.

Her lyrics melt into the passion of the language,

Something romantic glistens like the sweat on my forearms.

The sun massages our tired skin,

Whispers soft compliments in our ears.

I turn the key in the blue pickup

Wait for the time to show on the dashboard

Her brown eyes wait for my cue

I smile and start the truck.

We’re halfway out of the field

When Alejandra tells me to stop

I’m gonna get a melon,”

Then she’s back with a nice round one in her arms.

My elbow rests on the window frame,

Alej slices with the afternoon’s anticipation,

The taste is miles wide, days long,

Her eyes close. I bite again.

I concentrate on the deep orange and the warm nectar

I can only laugh and say “God damn this is so good”

Hijueputa,” Alejandra echoes through a smile

I thump my palm on the steering wheel,

Throw my head back against the headrest.

She hands me another chunk of melon.

We feast on our afternoon pleasure harvest,

Time suspended,

Silence painted with music,

Sweetness powerful and warm

Like the sun and soil to which we

Give ourselves, never do we feel

More free.

by Patricia Frisella
by Patricia Frisella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Mitchell is a sophomore at Middlbeury College from Beverly, MA. He loves mountains, vegetables, writing and running. He enjoys spending time with his friends and his guitar.

 

 

John Grey

 

Jack Nessen, Locals Only
Jack Nessen, “Locals Only”

THE LAST OF A TRIBE

You’ve been yoked to twenty acres

for fifty years,

twelve hours a day,

seven days a week,

ten years of school

but a lifetime of schooling,

making the rocky soil pay.

In the saddle of the tractor

or down in your dirt,

through drought and blizzard,

floods and cancers

on the back of your hand,

you’ve carved out a living

in the northern New Hampshire wilderness.

Your wife’s dead.

Your kids work in Boston.

You’re the last generation

to plant and harvest,

enlist the hardship in your cause.

When you go, it all goes.

The land provides.

The land buries you.

That’s not a coincidence.

Pat Butler, "In the Camellia House"
Pat Butler, “In the Camellia House”

 

OFF THE LAND

With Spring finally taking hold,

we walk across a field,

silent but for intermittent birdsong,

hair and jacket collars

ruffled gingerly by wind.

For every burst of pink round-lobed hepatica,

there’s a screed of pebbles,

the ultimate confession of the land around us –

sorry but this is all our soil has to offer.

So it’s no surprise to come upon

an old stone wall and, beyond it,

farmhouse remains,

hopes and dreams, a hundred years later

and clearly looking their age.

In the midst of such abandonment,

I recall my own family’s farming roots

how all it takes is one woman with too many

babies for the land to feed,

one man sloth lazy,

and that connection is lost forever.

I run my hands along

a rusty, half-buried tractor blade.

It’s cold.

It draws no blood.

20140513_081122
N. Henry, “Barn Tableau”

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Big Muddy and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.

Nikki Carr

 

Backyard Quarterback

She heard noise
ringing from
shutters pushed
open and shut by
winds driven
from wayward
skies. Peering out from
her single glass pane window
unable to see into
the twilight hour
discerning
movements in her yard.
Until she noticed
his face from the dark shadows
as he stood,
a nocturnal leader with
sensory vision,
a bushy ringed tail,
wearing a black mask,
standing tall,
like a quarterback
poised and guiding
eleven members
onto the next play
to ravage
homes housing
unsuspecting piles
of fiber and carrion
decaying
in 50 gallon
cans in our backyards.

Praveen Raj, "A bountiful and joyful harvest"
Praveen Raj, “A bountiful and joyful harvest”

Life in the Meadow

The kestrel
adapted for
life in a meadow
once found completely underwater
now filled with flora, fauna
and grass
searching for water,
and as the meadow
dries, she remains
still in the olive
stalks of ruby blossoms
among hatching chicks,
insects in high grass
soon to be hammered
by the wind
while dandelions
fly free and
clouds of white flies dance
to a silent sonata.

 

NIKKI CARR is a poet whose work has appeared in Dual Coast Magazine, Jitter Press, 50 Word Stories, and Emerge Literary Journal. Her upcoming chapbook, Paige Inside Out, will be forthcoming in the Fall of 2015.  She is the recipient of a poetry award from the Lilian Osborn Memorial Foundation.

Judy Williams

032411213638

The Common Grackle

O, Quiscalus quiscula, of the family Icteridae,
nothing too cool about you—
big brash blackbird, stiff wingbeater
driver away of Spring’s sweeter crowd—
the not-yet-golden goldfinch, the tuxedoed junco,
furtive nuthatch or tentative titmouse.
No mistaking your arrival, shrieking like a rusty gate,
stuttering your chack, chack chack as the lot of you
descend like a plague, a raucous chattering bunch
swamping the feeders, an SRO crowd on the lawn.
Like a king, you sway at treetop, your golden eyes
sweeping the horizon on the lookout
for unsuspecting beaks to rob or nests to raid,
your iridescent crown in constant motion.
I’d like to admire that glossy head, its purple sheen,
but your coloring’s an April Fool’s joke—as if someone
with a wicked humor dipped you upside down
in indigo wine, but called it quits at your shoulders,
leaving the rest of you shrouded in darkness.
Bully, bad boy of spring’s migration—
What’s to like?

2012-03-09_14-40-02_607

Chance Encounter

Heaven seems a little closer at the beach

Judy Williams lives and writes in Belfast, ME, and is the Writing Center Director and an instructor of English at Unity College. Her poetry celebrates the beauty of the natural world and explores the question of what we each are called to as partakers in the gift of nature.

Pat Butler

Jack Nessen, ” Vulnerable”

 

Incoming Tide

scribbles a scalloped line on the shore
with the blue-black ink of the baby mussel shells,
their bivalved lives cut short
in the sacrifice of art
the tide will soon erase.

 

N. Henry, “Blue Moon, Patton Estate 5 a.m.”

Supermoon

One holy moon rises on the dining room
where Ramero eats his first meal in two days,
having been found in the woods sleeping by Gordon,
who brings him home. Unflappable Tricia feeds them.

Stories over bread and butter-free butter,
salad with watermelon-lime-mint dressing,
stew and soy ice cream, the forgotten plantains…
discovering this diet helps Gordon fight cancer.

Discovering Ramero, discovering the risk
love takes to take the stranger in, pull a dollar
from the heart and purse—not much
but all there is. And down the driveway,

a skunk leaves, under one holy moon.

 

IMG_20131019_160242
N. Henry, “Supermoon”

 

Pat Butler grew up on Long Island, NY, where life revolved around salt marsh, beach, and boats.  Her publishing credits include two chapbooks, Poems from the Boatyard and The Boatmans Daughter, as well as a number of literary journals.  Pat enjoys any activity in, near, or on the ocean.  She contributed several photos to this issue.