Archives for category: ONE GOOD MEMORY

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Catching Tears
by Dale Lombardi

As a young child,
when I would cry
big blubbering tears

and no amount of hugs
or kisses or cajoling
could make me stop,

my mother would get
a small glass and press it
gently against my cheek

just below one eye.
For each tear I catch,
you’ll get a penny. And a wish.

Try as I would,
I never did earn a cent.
I never could keep on crying

and my mother never did
catch any tears,
fresh or fading.

My tears stopped
straightaway.
The glass stayed empty,

then was wiped clean
of finger and cheek prints
and returned to the cupboard

while I sat calm
and empty-eyed,
my own glass now full.

PAINTING: White Rose in a Glass by Piet Mondrian (1921).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poems usually come from words, phrases or questions that flare forth from my reading or from some source unknown. They percolate quietly on the back burners of my brain until eventually, one by one, each gives rise to a poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dale Lombardi is a poet and conceptual artist who takes her inspiration from old trees, stone walls, and daydreams in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut.  She had a poet’s heart from the beginning, but the poet within lay dormant as she earned degrees from Duke University (BA) and Florida State University (MS), then juggled motherhood and careers as a speech pathologist, communication consultant, and corporate trainer.  Once she left the stress of careers and the vigilance of motherhood behind, she had space enough — and time — for the poet-artist within to emerge. Ever believing in the transformative power of beauty, she now spends her days walking, wondering, and creating. Her collection Cloud and Bone was published in January 2023 by Finishing Line Press.

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Picking Cherries
by Mary Rohrer-Dann

My father lifts me to pick sour
cherries from my grandmother’s tree.
His whiskers scrape against my skin.
Sugar cubes stuffed in our cheeks,
we eat straight from the dinged pail,
spit out yellow pits, bits of twig and leaf.

In this dream he is my young father,
dark-haired, muscled, laughter easy
on his lips. Afternoon slips into blue
twilight with nothing more to do
than pick and eat cherries,
watch shadows purpling green grass.

First published by Vita Brevis Press in July 2020, and included in the author’s collection, Taking the Long Way Home (Kelsay Books, 2021).

Photo by Hans. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father is long gone, but he has visited me in dreams on occasion, for which I am grateful.

PHOTO: The author and her father on the beach in Atlantic City, circa 1954.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Rohrer-Dann, author of Taking the Long Way Home and La Scaffetta: Poems from the Foundling Drawer, also has work in Flash Boulevard, Clackamas Review, Ekphrastic Review, Indiana Review, Potato Soup Journal, Philadelphia Stories, Panoply, and elsewhere. A “graduated” educator, she paints, hikes, and works with several volunteer organizations in central Pennsylvania. She is past writing a sexy bio.

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Because Cell Phones Did Not Exist
by Deirdre Garr Johns

We were strangers at sixteen
when you brought a single rose
to my house.

Only these details remain:

the turning of gravel;

the knocking on the back porch door,
and me, s l o w – w a l k i n g;

my shyness containing my eagerness;

the metal latch unlocking;

the cool air unable to calm
the flush of my face.

Surprises were captured in the moment,
left to be protected by the mind
and later, faded or replaced.

There were no retakes or posing.
And yet, my memory has not failed me.

Instead, it has isolated
a simple gesture:
a boy and a girl–
the beginning of something.

No amount of retakes
could make a more vivid image,
and I am satisfied with my mind’s
own remembering.

Photo by Bronwyn8. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spend a lot of time with my poems. To quote Billy Collins, I “walk inside the poem’s room/and feel the walls for a light switch.” My poems experience multiple revisions until their meaning becomes clear to me. I may want to evoke some particular meaning or message, but the more time I spend with– and away from–a poem, the more I come to realize the meaning. So my process is fairly long from beginning to end, and I think this is what I enjoy the most about writing poetry–the process of exploration and self-realization. This poem is an early poem in a collection I have compiled about the stages of love–young, mature, lost, and self. It is my earliest memory of young love.

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 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deirdre Garr Johns resides in South Carolina with her family. Nature is an inspiration, and poetry is a first love. Much of her work is inspired by memories of people and places. Her poetry has appeared in Sylvia magazine (“The turning of the air is slight”) and South Carolina Bards Poetry Anthology (“Elders of the Earth”). Her nonfiction work has been published by the Surfside Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association (“The Many Lives to Live”) and Sasee Magazine (“The Perfect Age” [August 2021] and “The Great Disconnect” [September 2022]). Her poem “A park in Gloucester City” appeared in Eunoia Magazine.  Her website is amuseofonesown.com.

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Flat Eggs
by Cruz Villarreal

In my kitchen,
I make breakfast for my granddaughter.
A small, wide-eyed girl with long brown braids.
She calls the two bright suns swimming in the frying pan,
flat eggs.
She says, no one makes them better.

I wonder
if she’ll look back
one day,
the same way I look back
and remember a small boy
in an adobe house
where the sound of a rooster
greets the morning,
and gentle rays of sunshine
make their way through
a small earthen window beside my bed
and gently caress my face.

Then
from under the wooden bed
comes the scuffle of tiny hoofs
as a baby goat scurries out to find his mother.

I rise and venture into the courtyard,
noisy chickens scatter beneath my feet,
angry that I’ve disturbed their breakfast.

Across the courtyard
is grandmother’s house
fashioned in the old way
of mud and sticks.

In her kitchen,
she makes me breakfast,
two golden suns swimming in a frying pan,
my flat eggs.
I say, no one made them better.

Photo by Ellesi.

Old_Adobe_House,_Mexico_(NYPL_b12647398-66829) copyNOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem “Flat Eggs” evokes a childhood memory of visits to my grandparents’ small ranch in Santa Apolonia, Mexico, as a boy. The home place was surrounded by adobe houses where aunts’ and uncles lived as they worked the land. We would stay in the big house and the adobe kitchen across the way a bit was where grandmother could be found preparing meals on an adobe stove heated with wood. I would rise early and make my way to her kitchen. There she would give me a hug sit me down and then prepare my breakfast of fried eggs. I can still see her in a colorful dress and long braids cooking over her stove.

PHOTO: Old Adobe House, Mexico (New York Public Library Digital Collection, Detroit Publishing Company postcards).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cruz Villarreal is a local Lansing, Michigan, area poet. A first generation American from Mexican parents, he was born in Carrizo Springs, Texas, and still caries many of the Mexican traditions given him by his parents. He enjoys creative writing, and several of his works have been published locally. More of his work can be read at cruzpoet.openlcc.net. Readers are encouraged to leave comments or suggestions on how to improve his work.

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Mill Creek Hike During Covid-19
by Tina Hacker

A sycamore leaf. One leaf. But large
as a dinner plate, falls
right at my feet in early October
before the wetlands trail
turns into wallpaper patterns
of locust, oak, maple.
I stop, pick it up. This is new to me
or seems new after weeks in lockdown.

Swarms of marsh cattails line the route.
Their tall slender stakes sway
at the whims of autumn winds,
eclipsing smaller scrambles of prairie grass.
Algae spreads over a pond like a ‘50s
poodle skirt, wide swaths of green, smooth as felt
with a blue heron replacing the iconic symbol.

Walking through a tunnel, I am pressed
into a crouch when a train passes overhead.
Fun! I decide to wait for another train
then stroll until late afternoon shadows remind me
of the dark time I am traveling through.
But for a couple of hours on this lowland journey,
nothing more dangerous than a leaf.

First published in the Mockingheart Review (2021). 

PHOTO: Sycamore Leaf by Rich Herrmann,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem reflects true events. My husband helped me identify the sycamore leaf and other plants we encountered throughout our hike. I scribbled down notes from our first steps till our last steps on the trail.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker, a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and named Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Whirlybird Anthology of Kansas City Writers, San Pedro River Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Fib Review, and I-70 Review.  Her two poetry collections, Listening to Night Whistles and Cutting It, have been joined by a new collection titled GOLEMS  (Kelsay Books).

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Brother
by Mary McCarthy

I found you one day
at my kitchen door
holding the wild turkey
you’d shot that morning.
The fall of soft bronze
and brown feathers
all silk and spike
feet gnarled, long neck
hanging down, almost
like the live ones did
when my dog chased them
up into the tulip tree,
flying that creaking clumsy
way they have, to sit
on the high branches
and drop their heads down
to mock the dog’s frantic
fuss-barking up at them
so far out of reach.

You loved all things wild
and hard to find
would go into the woods
alone, just to be there
breathing in the air
trees breathed out
moving so soft and quiet
you almost faded
into the brown green
must of the thick-
leaved forest floor
felt more at home there
than behind walls and windows,
grounded in the silence
listening for every hush and rustle
of the wild lives all around you.

After the admirations
and congratulations
we asked you to stay and eat—
less shy than usual,
in the flush of your success
you stayed, and it was good
to be around that table
warming ourselves
with talk and stories
as though gathered
around a campfire,
our circle a room
without walls or roof
an oasis of comfort
inside the falling dark.

That memory remains
untarnished, a golden hour
before we knew the thief
that would take you
was already there, too deep
to be uprooted, in blood and
lung and bone, stronger
than anything we would beg
or pray or do or bargain for
to save you.

PHOTO: Wild Turkey Feather by Josch 13.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a memory of my younger brother, who did appear on my doorstep, excited and happy to have harvested his first wild turkey, He stayed for supper and it was a good time, one of the last before his diagnosis of widely metastasized lung cancer, the disease that would inexorably take his life over the following 10 months, He was 39, and on the brink of his greatest romantic relationship, had just purchased his first home. He was a remarkable artist, a kind and patient person. He suffered without complaint or losing hope. Even the best memories are shadowed by the knowledge of what was to come.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired R.N. who has always loved words and writing. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, most recently in The Ekphrastic World (edited by Lorette Luzajic), The Plague Papers (edited by Robbi Nester), and in recent issues of Earth’s Daughters, Third Wednesday, Gyroscope, and Verse Virtual. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee.

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Good Memory
by Donna Best

Our days were full of fizz and mint
not hunched over and grizzled.
We poured highballs in summer heat
slipped and slept through it
and desire sighed a lilt, not dull
nor offensively brilliant, until

my love’s arm rounded me from behind
and locked on my waist. His nose had
drunk the pungent sizzle of onion and garlic.
His hand took the chopping knife from mine
and I turned, cajoled by the riff
deep in his spirit’s beat.

The aroma afloat tapped into his feet.
As one, we crossed the kitchen floor.
As one, joy followed along. We shared
a paso moment, embraced the sizzle,
the quick, leaned back, stepped forward,
shifted bodies, twisted torsos,

drove elbows upwards and danced, danced,
danced our summer doble, spiced by
the waft, the tone poem flirting.
His face, his body captured the buzz.
His affinity with onion and garlic roux
always fast paced his emotion’s notes.

I still think about his bounce, acceleration
and high kicks released, not by chocolate,
oysters or figs but switched on by onions and
garlic cooking, sucking him into the kitchen,
whirling us as if Dervishes. Our feet
danced, danced, danced.

Some nights, we circled and circled,
not a question spoken, no reminders called.
Some nights, this is the best part,
our bodies heaved against each other.
We were not rich, not young but old enough
to know even summer can’t last.

Photo by Epitavi. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Good Memory” is based on my real-life experience. The memory of it always brings on a smile in my mind and takes me to a happy place.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Best writes to share how yesterday affects today, aspirations for tomorrow, the bravery of others and what we have in common across the globe. She has published in anthologies, newspapers, journals such as Better Than Starbucks and Woolgathering Review and been broadcast on local radio stations.

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Kodak: Carnival at Veterans’ Park, Ann Arbor, May 1961
by Cheryl Caesar

The ballerina lights
on her partner’s shoulder.
A butterfly. Her arms lift
like the flexing of wings.

Despite the pose and the tutu,
my father and I are nothing like that.

My two-year-old arms lift
like a saguaro with fists.
My father grips my thigh
to his shoulder.

My face is screwed up
like a fist — laughing, I believe.
His is clenched against his smoke,
turned away so as not to scorch my skirts.
But he might have been smiling too.

I think he was proud
to offer this treat to his family,
although I never really cared
for forced vertigo. This shoulder perch
was better than any Ferris wheel
or Tilt-a-Whirl.

All I ever wanted to ask of him
was to give up the cigarettes.
I never could. It seemed as though
they were all that he had.

Within a few years I would disappear
from family pictures, insufficiently
photogenic. My mother would play
ballerina for the lens. But I’m thankful
to have this snapshot. Look closely.
Lend me your eyes.
Wouldn’t you say we were happy?

ART: Cele Carnival by Yaacov Agam.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came out of a writing workshop in which we created poems from a photograph. I also made the above sketch of the photo, in compressed charcoal. The poem and sketch were published in Poetic Sun (October 2021).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Caesar is an ex-expatriate who for 25 years lived in Paris, Tuscany, and Sligo (Republic of Ireland). She earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne, and now teaches writing at Michigan State University. Her chapbook Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era is available from Amazon, although she hopes it will soon be of historical interest only. You can find her poems and artwork in Words Across the Water, published by Fractal Edge Press. She enjoys poetry, painting and drawing, and speculating about nonhuman consciousness. Visit her at caesarc.msu.domains and on Facebook.

Author photo by The Poetry Room. 

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The Importance of Water
by Martin Willitts Jr

I carry water from the well in an old wooden bucket,
swinging loosely from a metal handle,
my face swimming on the water’s surface,
whooshing side to side
like I’m disagreeing with someone.
The slosh-spill water music ripples with light.

I hurry — not shilly-shally —
because grandmother is waiting up for me.

She needs me to fetch this water
to pour into her black kettle pot
from the American Revolution.

She places that huge pot
on the wood-burning Franklin pot-belly stove.

She will pour the near-hot water
on grandfather’s naked body in the wooden bathtub
because he was on the wrong side of a discussion
with a skunk, and stinks so bad,
God complains.

IMAGE: Skunk ceramic tile, available at esty.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Some of my poems could be considered memoirs, but I am also writing about a time period where some people still used well water, large pots in a fireplace, and wooden bath tubes. My Amish and Mennonite grandparents are a great source about that time period, farming the old way with hand plows, nature, sunrises and sunsets, working with animals, and their silent ways. They are also a great source for my more prayerful poems. This is one of my funny memories. I called it “close encounter with a skunk.” It reminds me that no matter how attentive we are to the land, the land has it own rules. Being ambushed by skunks is one of those hard-to-avoid rules.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr edits the Comstock Review. He has been nominated for 17 Pushcart and 14 Best of the Net awards. His awards include: Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016; Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; and Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections, including 2019 Blue Light Award The Temporary World.  His latest release is All Wars Are the Same War (FutureCycle Press, 2022). Find his books at Amazon.com.

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At Six
by Gail Sosinsky

Still the possessor
of two malicious tonsils,
I’d coughed awake,
stumbled to the bathroom,
desperate to clear
my snuffly head.
Returning through the kitchen,
Dad pulled out the hard-backed chair,
closed the enameled lid
on the old gas stove,
centered the hand towel
over the warm pilot light.
I collapsed against the rungs,
mouth breathing already,
when he brought out the Vick’s,
slathered my chest, shoulders, neck
and fitted the warm towel
against my congestion.
As the vapors wormed
their way through the mucus,
he rubbed my shoulders.
“Yeah, feels like hell,” he said,
without drama or lamentation,
standing at my back
until I could breathe,
the first time
among many.

IMAGE: Vintage ad for Vicks Vaporub.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was surprised by how hard it was to come up with a good memory when I first looked at the call for poems in the ONE GOOD MEMORY Series. Then I was surprised by how many good memories there were. It was a relief not to write from the anger, sorrow, and fear that seem to overwhelm me some days. Thank you for the reminder, and the permission, to look for and celebrate the good. I had a hard time deciding which of my memories to submit, but more than anyone else, my father always asked what I had written lately. Whether you use this poem or not, I thank you for prompting me to capture this memory of my dad.

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AB0UT THE AUTHOR: Mild-mannered office worker by day, dedicated writer on her own time, Gail Sosinsky grew up in a northern Wisconsin paper-mill town, which gives her a deep appreciation for nature and quirky characters. She’s held a variety of jobs, including teacher, copy editor, and polka band guitarist. She writes fiction, poetry, and the occasional play and song. Her work tends toward science fiction and fantasy, a side effect of the stacks of books she read as a kid. She has been published in Star*line, Eye to the Telescope, Mindfilights, Pure Slush, America West Airlines Magazine, and Sword and Sorceress XVI, among other venues. She lives with her aged, sweet-tempered mother and her less-predictably sweet-tempered cat, Nefertari.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Sosinsky Road is named for the farm where my dad grew up. It’s a short little two-lane on a ridge between Hillsboro and Wonewoc in southwestern Wisconsin. I still have relatives living there.