A tulip poplar
In my backyard
the sudden terrible crack
covered its beloved trunk
with a spider web of blue flame.
the acrid smell of
began the rot that would consume it.
what chance moment
will come and cover me
with a web of blue flame
and reveal my molding self-
Can what lies rotten
in me flower again?
And what of grac
Once Upon a Time
there was a woman.
and she lived. Prince Charming never thundered
on his mighty steed from a castle
over the hill to bend on one knee
with a glinting ring to place cool
on her work-hardened hand.
But she lived. Hungry birds knew her home
when the snow was deepest.
Coughing invalids held her name
in their hearts.
Lonely travelers found hot meals
and a warm bed.
Crinkled cheeks and cloudy hair
recognized the sound of her steps.
And she lived. Yes
I. Single The futon’s fabric was bare; the stuffing was shot
through with collapse from our sitting lap-stacked
in the center. One hundred feature lengths left us
engaged and rump-touching the floor. We loved
our Gordian tangle of limbs, resisted surrendering
those warm apartment dawns ensconced, squared,
until we grudgingly gave the bed its dumpster death. II. Double French windows greeted the headboard. They overlooked
a cul-de-sac majestic in the Disco Age, now dism
If we still had house churches today,
I’m sure they would be adorned
with family size bags of Cheetos,
air pods, satellite dish hook-ups, K-cups on pantry shelves,
folded maps of public transportation,
a neighbor’s key hanging on a secure nail,
and cat dishes sitting on green mats. And I’m sure the unblinking eyes of a security system
would watch you closely through all the heat and the rain,
looking down on the unmade beds as well,
and the tipsy stack of unread maga
After dinner, the adults chat.
I don’t know what they discuss.
Their children make demands of me—
Bring seven shells down from the shelf
so they can discuss what they see.
Pour water on Petoskey stones
to reveal the honeycomb patterns.
Print pages for them to color—
a unicorn and a dump truck. They find a yoga mat in a dusty corner,
unfurl it to serve as their station.
I leave them on the floor coloring.
The house settles around them,
their room glows with electri
I’ve loved the mourning dove since I was a child—
The soft, suffusing sound that always calmed
Me then as it does now and must calm, too,
All those that hear it: people, grass, the sky.
I think the tone, taken two octaves down,
Would sound like Jesus’ voice when, at the tomb,
John says, he spoke one word, “Mary,” to her
Who wrung her hands, not knowing who stood there. Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on August 17, 2019. #AncientPathspoems #AncientPathsarch
Thick rainbow chard and yellow corn;
We run past the market tents
To where the light hangs over the river
In eternal September. Yesterday the sun adored us
And showed your smiling faces.
Now blue-grey shadows
Stretch into the corners of twilight. I stare at the highest branch
And pray for a sacred ritual;
That wiser words might open us
Softly, back to that which we share. Our produce bags are heavy, yet,
Amid the piles of sweet apples, my finger
Traces the crimson
The raindrops dribble down the shopfront panes
while back behind the counter the barista drips
her own creation in handled earthenware cups.
He's always liked the tables here, the way
they're cut with thick pine tops and sturdy legs
two inches thick, like they were made to last
for longer than a coffee's caffeine buzz,
and sipping his drink he greets the grainy dregs
with sifting teeth, the neural background beat
of study music pulsing in his ears.
She used to sit h
master burpers, sooth sayers, rockers;
go straight up every night
we lose our breath, our pace
goes a little faster -
while sleep deficit is building up every night ends
and daytime brings rest
baby turns back
into a sleeping angel
calmly nursing on a schedule until the next night Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page September 14, 2019 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee #AncientPathspoems #AncientPathsarchive #Pus
(A Clogyrnach) Ripples whisper through fields of grass
At nightfall when no footsteps pass
Over this bare hill
Where I linger still— But I will stay for mass. Nature’s cathedral boasts no wall;
No stained glass windows grace the hall.
No vaulted ceiling,
No bronze bells pealing—
But kneeling, I am tall. Tonight I will not cross the stream
Where darkness splinters heaven’s gleam.
Yet light fills this place;
I see glory’s grace—
The Lord’s face in a dream. ~Meadowlar
Four-year-old David who has Downs
snuggles into three-year-old
Tommy’s chest like a Maine coon cat.
He pets Tommy’s head
flubs his lips on his pale cheek
and laughs with so much heart
at the noise it makes, he warms ours.
Even though he knows Tommy
cannot move nor speak, unlike us
he does not give up hope for him
maybe recalling when he himself
sipped air raggedly through a trach
and could not pedal his trike
but how last night in falling twilight
letters almost as tall as my thumb
the same thumb that drew a Cross
with Holy Water
on an infant’s forehead this morning.
As our Savior wrote that blessing
I was His pen This fine quill
still has every fiber in its
charcoal gray and black hawk feather
although Father Benedict fashioned it
sixty years ago.
Nightly I tuck it into an ash-wood box
softened with wool A silver blade
slices a sliver from the pinion’s end
to form a new nib
There’s a time of day,
just before night
in which I feel
powerful. I could take on the entire world,
during this brief
I feel the presence
in this moment. I never feel the same,
when the dawn
the moment of power
is fleeting. Yet it will come again,
just as the sun and moon
low over the horizon,
it comes. I relish that moment,
when everything is
and I am one
with my source.
Published October 12 on the Ancient Paths
Every year, hundreds of presses nominate poems, short stories, and novel excerpts for the Pushcart Prize. Pushcart Press has been judging and publishing the winning selections in its annual collection, Best of the Small Presses, since 1976. "The Pushcart Prize," writes the editor, "has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60's." Ancient Paths is pleased to announce the nomination of six poems
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