Claudia Lehman: To Mary, Queen of Scots

I wonder would it comfort you to know,
fair thwarted queen, that I looked through my panes
(when clouds were blowing through the old trees’ hair
and everywhere the scent and sound of rain,
finding my heart warm for a little leaf
that clung so bravely to a dizzy bough,
pushed skyward by an ignorant old vine,
it swung and shivered, wind-whipped, yet somehow
it clung–) and your name came.
Could you have known
how fierce the skies when first you dreamed to climb?
The prism of your love could not redeem
your loves from what they were. Time after time
you wrangled, wept, devised your codes and prayers,
while lives fell red as petals for your cause
about your feet, and England’s haloed crown
caught far off by perhaps unlawful laws
glittered remotely on your cousin’s head.

I cannot say hero or fool, but–friend.
I know the honeyed agony of dreams
disguised as truth until the very end.


claudiaClaudia Lehman lives in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, with lots of books, tea, and her favorite man ever. She loves exploring the world of words and teaching children, and she feels most at home in the woods.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Kenneth Godoy: The Gentle Art of Breaking Sheep

To fall is to understand,
because falling entails death
or worse, severe pain,
dependent, of course, on how far you
have plunged from the grace
of clinging.

Imagine then, climbing a white painted steeple
towards the morning sun.
There, beneath the shadows of the church,
lie the grey sheep, content,
only troubled by tiny silent storms
that break upon their souls as they graze the dew.

And when you have climbed too far and your hand
does not grasp as it should have
or your foot fumbles beneath you,

And thus you fall in a sudden manner,
your hair and limbs screaming
in the fray,
back down to the ground
that bears death
in her bosom of stone.

2

But,
a mere half breath before
the supple earth
should crush your spine
and spirit,

in some providential and oddly
cruel interjection,
you light upon a ewe instead;
and storms shall break upon
her soul no more.

3

Christ is like that sheep.
And you grunt and roll off his crushed and broken body,
surprised that death was not present to understand your falling with you.

So you grunt and dust your hips
and wonder, and understand
the gentle art of breaking sheep.


IMG_20170622_211918Of his writing, Kenneth Godoy says, “Poetry is bound to my soul.”


Videography by Kenneth Godoy

Claudia Martin: A Birthday Poem

There are hands to do what his have always done—
To till rows in the river bottom soil,
To tie a hook onto a grandchild’s line,
To lower shrimp into the pot to boil,
To point a berry picker to his row.
Life does go on.

Those hands aren’t his—sometimes I can’t forgive them
For fumbling at the tasks he did with grace.
My own hands are too slow, too thin, too young
To fill a role that is my father’s place.
His ever present absence taunts us—
We will not find him.

The rows in this year’s garden must be brave.
We planted one more spring with seeds he chose.
How deep? How far apart? We ask each other,
The river soil he loved between our toes.
We learn as he did—wishing we could ask
A father’s grave.


A word from the poet: When he was in his twenties, my dad lost his father to congestive heart failure. A few weeks ago, I lost him to a heart attack. Hence, I “learn as he learned.” I wrote this poem on April 6th, which would have been his sixty-second birthday.


img_9413.jpgClaudia Martin is more often surprised than correct about what the next season of life will bring—and in retrospect, almost always grateful for that.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Gloria Kurtz: In Swaths of Stars

My rest abed is smothering tonight.
I crack the sheets, (I feel the drawing call)
And I escape the stifle; hie me out
Into the night, where stillness falls
In swaths of stars beneath the settled skies.
The constant rings of universe and light
Have swayed awake this sleepy spellbound world,
A quiet ecstasy of dark delight.
It is no wonder, then, the crickets have
Picked up their elbowed legs and danced upon
Their silver wings; cicadas have strung up
Their reeds and tuned this insect music night,
And I take leave of comfort in a bed
To set my restless heart again to right.


IMG_0621 (2)Gloria Kurtz finds joy expressed best in teaching first and second grade, and delights in writing the poetry of life found cupped in the beauty of her Upstate NY home.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Julie Atkinson: We Forget

We forget.
Why we are here.
Who we are.
We forget
how to be amazed.

To see the lace of leaves
against the sky.
The beam of light
falling on a purple mushroom,
which, to the beetle in its shade,
is a giant of a thing.

To smell the green things growing.
To listen to the dancing streams,
and the symphony of
wind and wings
and night creatures.

We forget
because we are too busy
thinking we are living.


DSC_1751 - CopyJulie Atkinson is a wanderer, who likes quiet green things and silent forests carpeted with moss.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Kenneth Godoy: And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness

(the final grit of a dark winter)

1.
They are sweeping it away now:
the tiny specks of stones
the skin broken from the asphalt
and all the dust that fell from
the sky for months now.

I saw a grandmother stooped in the sun
this morning, sweeping,
and two boys
and the old man by the high school;
the one holding the stop sign and the traffic:
he likely will lay down his red sign in the utilities closet
trading it for a broom and a dust pan.

The gristles scrape at the cement. Good-bye, the people say,
speaking and extending through the gristles and their gritted teeth;
they grunt in exertion drawing away the anamnesis:
the eternity of the small days,
the deja-vu of black barren branches,
the fingerprints of the icicles,
the claw marks left by the plows,
and all the unutterable words.
they say good-bye.

2.
And thus, we too, must sweep away the remembrance:
the dispassionate agonies,
the emptiness,
leave dormancy behind,
and the inscape of inclement, brittle spirits,
we too must cleave from our insufficient prayers,
that rose and returned
again and again
finally melting
like the last snow in April.

3.
We must sweep as they sweep.
Not as though at an end, but at a beginning.
For they have escaped the weight of darkness.


kennyOf his writing, Kenneth Godoy says, “Poetry is bound to my soul.”

Kyle Lehman: The Long Winter

And so I give myself to pain.
I give myself to lilies, broken by the rain,
To weariness, to wasted fields of grain.

I face the twilight all alone,
And staring down the emptiness, I dare the sun
To set upon the dreams I choose to own.

And so I give myself to pain.
I wrestle through the darkness with the ropy rain,
And give my strength for tiny ears of grain.

Red blood, beneath a brooding sky,
Flows. Faith peels back the questions with an open “Why?”
And from the rubble, I raise my hands and try

Again. To give myself to pain;
Bathe ancient scars where Heaven’s grief falls down like rain:
Her tears, among these tares, bear precious grain.


kyle_lehmanKyle Lehman is a teacher and poet who loves to watch things grow, like seeds, strange ideas, hay bales, and moon.

 


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Claudia Lehman: Interlude

You dressed in common clothes, and walked
beneath the galaxies You made.
You bore the whispered insults and
you wore a borrowed father’s name.
There was dirt beneath your nails,
and there were blisters on your palms,
and when storms caught you on the road,
you did not speak a Maker’s calm.

For thirty years you wept at tombs
and did not stop the mourners’ cries.
Day after common day, you watched
the rolling rhythm of the skies
within a sunburned little town,
your shoulders bowed beneath the curse—
just smoothing wood and driving nails
and holding up the universe.


claudiaClaudia Lehman lives in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, with lots of books, tea, and her favorite man ever. She loves exploring the world of words and teaching children, and she feels most at home in the woods.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Kyle Lehman: Passion

His shirt came off, and every man fell back
Before the scrawl of skin and bone. His rack
Of ribs we counted one by one, and knew
This man, exposed. He flung His arms from beam
To beam across our sky; those stretched sinews
Of weakness! Antithesis of our dream!
We gape. He welcomes us to enter in
With Him. Shakes from our brains and backs
Our made-up manliness, forgives our sin.
And makes our withered limbs, exposed, attack
The scoffing with a givenness that breaks
And pours out all its aching as bold strakes
Of light. He takes our cross, we climb the slope
To die with Him, and stake ourselves to hope.


A note from the poet: This poem is inspired by Francisco de Zurbarán’s The Crucifixion. There is something hauntingly human about the Christ Zurbarán painted. I noticed especially His weakness and His exposure, two things that most men disdain. Yet perhaps these two things are very close to the center of the power of the Crucifixion and the response Christ asks of men today.


kyle_lehman

Kyle Lehman is a teacher and poet who loves to watch things grow, like seeds, strange ideas, hay bales, and the moon.


Art by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)

Lynn Michael Martin: The Feast

Come, said my Father, and I came,
but as a stranger and a guest,
for he had pledged eternal rest
and the protection of his name.

Yet when I bowed to thank his grace
and praise the honor of his feast,
my eagerness and praise increased
seeing a vision of his face.

My Lord, I said, I praise your name,
I praise this table set with food—
back where we men are poor and crude,
I heard your majesty, and came.

I praise you as a gracious king,
and generous in food and gift,
and thus within my mind I lift
your glory over everything.

Then I was silent, and he said,
I did not ask you for your praise,
nor in your gratitude to raise
my cup to laud my wine and bread.

Why should you come and go as one
who praises me yet knows me not?
Have you not known; have you forgot
that we are kin, and you my son?

You are my blood and so I say
that you must let me raise you up
as one, who drank my bitter cup,
was raised, one yet more bitter day.

For I extend this birthright, one
not sweet in either drink or rest;
yet if you drink, you’ll be no guest,
nor yet a stranger, but a son.


dover castle (2)Lynn Martin loves stories and epiphanies, and believes that good poetry expresses humanity’s deepest longings.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy