Category Archives: poems

Red LikeYoung Girls’ Cheeks

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Rosy-red crab apples lay
on the ground in front of us
as we walked in the chilled air
near a forested lake.

Fifty years ago
the same red crab apples
were picked up
by a college student
as she strung them
on a string around her neck.

She knew this was a beginning
of the path she would follow,
a path centering herself to the earth.

This also was a period of darkness
where a string of blackness
would catch her in a trap.

But there were people
like the shepherd mother
of the small dorm where she stayed
who taught her
there were good and trustworthy people:

apples that lay at our feet,
red like young girls’ cheeks
in the chilled fall air.

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Song of Our Days

by Thomas Davis

a villanelle

We sing alive the mornings of our days.
We struggle through the storms we face
And glory in the filigree of ways

That dance into the vivid, dark blue blaze
Of chicory inside a field and grace
The moments when we’ve shrugged away malaise

And float upon a river’s passageways
Into the shine of sandbars at a place
Fresh water flows into an ocean’s bays.

There’s nothing new beneath the sun. The haze
Of old age seeps into our thoughts, the pace
Of who we are weighed down by yesterdays;

Yet, as we feel our aching bones, we gaze
Into the morning light and interlace
Into the sky’s celestial cabarets.

I sing this morning of my life and praise
The days I’ve had, the loves I’ve had, the chase
Across a lifetime through the ricochets,
The symphony that’s sung alive my days.

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Blackberry Moon

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Blackberry moon,
moon of the blackberry month,
snags at me,
rips at my skin.

Star-gazers come
and get caught
in her sweet clutches,

but are overtaken
by a storm
with brittle, scratchy fingers
of lightning
that blackens out the moon.

Now we must wait
for the harvest moon
as she ripens
on top of the waters.

Note: This is Ethel’s contribution to the moon-night organized by Francha Barnard and Write-On Door County.

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At Newport Beach Beneath a Harvest Moon

by Thomas Davis

“The storyteller moon,” the old man said.
We sat upon the long-grassed beach and stared
Into a sky now dark, the fiery red
of sunset flung at stars the sky had snared
Into a symphony of silver stained
Into a river of eternal light
Above the song of waves that, lapping, trained,
Like time, into the shores of moon-struck night.

“No, not a storyteller moon.” He sighed.
“That comes just as the winter starts to howl.
That’s when you tell the stories that are tied
Into a tree frog’s peeps or black bear’s growl.”

Moon-struck, star struck, we heard the lullabye
Of waves absorbing us into the sky.

Last night Ethel and I traveled to Newport Beach where the Door peninsula looks out on the wild waters of Death’s Door, Buttes de Mortes. Francha Barnard had invited us to join her and other Door County poets to write poems beneath a full harvest moon.

On Saturday night the moon had been full and orange as it rose over Door County, but, after a summer that has seen the corn shriveled from drought, we drove up the peninsula to the park beneath cloudy skies that rained off and on. By the time we reached Newport Beach it was clear that none of us were going to take lawn chairs in the darkness down to the beach unless we wanted to ruin the tablets we’d all brought with us and got thoroughly soaked.

Instead we went to the ranger’s front office, talked awhile, and then, stymied from our effort to write poems beneath a full moon, listening to waves singing onto beach sand, we sat down and tried to write a poem nevertheless. Both Ethel and I, in the miracle of being with other poets, succeeded.

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Lost

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

“Who were these people?”

“They were people
who overpopulated their planet,
depleting all its natural elements.”

“They were at continuous war
with each other,
never satisfied with their treaties.”

“Eventually they lost their atmosphere.”

“Then nothing stayed on the planet.
Everything blew off.”

“Yes, in just a few thousand years
their life and their planet died.”

“They called themselves Earth, I think.
Earth.”

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Beside the Cottonwood

a villanelle by Thomas Davis

“Beside the cottonwood,” I start to say.
She looks at me. Words fade out of my head.
What now? I think. I focus on the way

She’s standing by the massive tree, the gray
Streaked through her hair a halo that has wed
Her essence to the glinting interplay

Of light and shadow dancing leaves that sway
And flutter in a breeze that seems to tread
Out from the tree into the fields of day.

The sudden silence morphs into dismay,
Confusion, even, maybe, just a hint of dread.
What if, inside a moment, disarray

Has somehow found our lives and cutaway
The passion in our hearts that’s always led
To moments that are glorious and fey.

But then she smiles. The tree’s roots dig through clay
And living sustenance flows to the spread
Of branches reaching to the sky, the play
Of light her spirit as my spirit’s quay.

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Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy Published!

Four Windows Press has just published Ethel Mortenson Davis’s new book, Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Underthewaycover

This is Ethel’s fifth book of poetry and has all of the poems she has written since moving to Wisconsin from New Mexico.

John Looker, one of the world’s finest poets, The Human Hive, wrote from Great Britain that “Here is a harvest of finely-judged lyrical poems that express a joy in the natural world.  Carefully observed and beautifully expressed, they are not just nature poems however.  Ethel Mortenson Davis has a deep reverence for nature, coupled with a sadness at humankind’s frequent indifference.”

Standing Feather, whose book, The Glowing Pink, has recently been published by Four Windows Press, said in his review that “There is something profoundly spiritual and tragically elusive in our understanding of the vast wilderness.  In Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy, Ethel Mortenson Davis shows us how to connect deeply with the sacred spiral and reminds us that compassion is the fragrant essence that draws light into the darkness of human desire and elevates us to the edge of grand possibility.”

We’re hoping that those who love elegant, finely crafted imagistic poetry will pick up a copy at amazon.com or from the Galleria Carnaval in El Morro, New Mexico, www.galleriacarnaval.com.  This is a book that continues the fine tradition of publishing quality poetry and fiction pursued by Four Windows Press.

 

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