Archives for posts with tag: Maryland

crab pot (1280x851)
Elegy for a Small Island
    for JWP (1913-2006)
by Ann Howells

The blue crab sheds its pinching carapace,
and salty oysters breathe blue-grey water
in the exact spot where, in a one-room school,
you daydreamed waves. Your island,
less than one mile wide, three long, is gnawed,
silt spit into Great Shellfish Bay.

Cicadas drone a one-note dirge, dawn to dusk;
mosquitoes are roiling thunderheads.
Saltmarsh twitches with no-see-ums—ticks
and biting flies. It gulps down wanderers,
digests their bones. Archeologists
will someday find there was an island
beneath their shallow sea; they’ll display
primitive tools: dredge, seine, tongs,
ponder what forgotten deities you worshiped,
how you served them.

Nor’easters and hurricanes rage; waters rise.
You always knew water more powerful
than wind or fire, more powerful than man’s
tiny constructions. Nights are black molasses.
Days are beaded glass. The river is a polished
silver plate. And, this island is sand
that trickles from a flawed hourglass.

SOURCE: Originally published in Surrounded: Living with Islands (Write Wing Publishing, 2012).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The elegy was written for the island near the Chesapeake Bay where my father grew up. All of his children and grandchildren consider it their “ancestral home,” if such an unpretentious place can bear such a title. Our ties to the island are strong. But the tides are strong as well: erosion is stealing the land and environmentalists warn of rising oceans. We all understand that some day the entire island will vanish, and that only makes us cling harder. The poem is dedicated to my father, who lived and died there, who loved the land even more than we do. Though I no longer live there, the island is still my one and only home.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Island seen through crab pot” by Ann Howells.

Ann reads  for DPC 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Howells’s poetry appears in Crannog (Ire), Lunch Ticket, and Spillway, among others. She serves on the board of Dallas Poets Community, 501-c-3 non-profit, and has edited Illya’s Honey, since 1999. Her chapbooks are Black Crow in Flight, (Main Street Rag, 2007) and the Rosebud Diaries (Willet Press, 2012). She has been read on NPR, interviewed on Writers Around Annapolis television, and has four times been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

The Vines of East Rockville
by Marianne Szlyk

According to Celtic astrology, the vine is
indecisive, fickle,
born in the transition to fall
as the air loses its heat
and sunlight disappears
into the dark crimson
and purple of early evenings.

Many vines grow
in my neighborhood
some with flowers,
some with leaves like hearts,
others with tiny needles,
most on chain-link fences.

Even the house with scented roses,
a teacup terrier, and peonies
has its vines.

The family next door plants
vines with purple flowers
and thick-skinned peapods.
These fuse with the fence,
green and silver links together.
Once an Italian family raised grapes,
green leaves and purple fruit twining around
the arbor where an old man now sits.

Up the street a profusion
of leaves tangle with the links.
Purple flowers and red berries
and yellow leaves
show up among the green.
Young trees, too young
to bend the fence,
spring up like vines,
for now, protecting
the abandoned
house until it falls.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Greensilk Journal. At one point, I revised this poem into unrhymed quatrains, but I like this free verse version best. It fits the nature of vines to ramble. Quatrains probably suit poems about roses or boxwood more anyway.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Vines of East Rockville, Maryland” by Marianne Szlyk.

better picture of marianne and front room

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Szlyk recently published her first chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven, at Kind of a Hurricane Press. Her poem “Walking Past Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Winter” was nominated for the 2014 Best of the Net. Individual poems have appeared in print and online, most recently in Poppy Road Review, Black Poppy Review, Carcinogenic Poetry, bird’s thumb, The Flutter Journal, Of/with, Walking Is Still Honest, and Literature Today as well as Kind of a Hurricane’s anthologies, most recently Switch (the Difference).  She edits a poetry blog-zine at and hopes that you will consider submitting a poem there or voting in one of its contests.

by Elizabeth Spires 

Along Ocean Highway, apartments rise up
to ten and twenty stories,
white, hallucinatory, defying the shifting sand,
the storm moving in off the Atlantic
that drives the rain, needlelike,
across the windshield so that we can’t see,
so that we stop in Ocean City to wait the storm out
at the Dutch, the only bar on the boardwalk
open this time of year, all the concessions
boarded up, weather-beaten, closed against the season…

Long, narrow, and dark,
the Dutch, with its shifting clientele—
from summer weekend pickups to Ocean City regulars—
allows for strangers. We order Irish coffee,
then two more, and use our change to play an arcade game.
Aliens, half an inch high, in green armor,
drop out of a glowing sky and quickly multiply.
Our backs to the storm, we play out
old anxieties, losing each game to time and starting over:
we must save what’s being threatened and not ask why.

SOURCE: “Ocean City: Early March” appears in Elizabeth Spires’s collection Swan’s Island (Carnegie Mellon, 1997), available at Read the poem in its entirety at

IMAGE: Ocean City, Maryland, postcard by Curt Teich & Co.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A critically acclaimed poet and children’s book author, Elizabeth Spires lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. Spires won a 1996 Whiting Award for her volume Worldling. Her children’s books include With One White Wing and Riddle Road: Puzzles in Poems and Pictures, and The Mouse of Amherst.