Saturday, June 19, 2021

Two poems that Kathryn Kyker wrote in May


Kathryn Kiker the biker
in orange hat



In the orange hat you hate I sit

on the beach of broken trees bordered


by rubble of a road that drove

too close to the sea. Today’s victims


of water’s whimsy are jellyfish baked

on dry sand. Death: past, present, and


future, as the eyes of so many birds track

my every move. You ask if I am afraid


as you leave me here alone. “Something in

the human psyche loves a ruin.” In the


final poses struck by twisted limbs reaching,

gasping for soil not sand, water not salt, and


in the crumble of man made stones in the

surf, I find strange comfort, and I am not


afraid: “The only thing to come now is the sea.”


(last line from Sylvia Plath’s Blackberrying)

kk, 5/21


Ancestral Flavors                                                                  by kk 5/21


Sing a song of land scent

A pocket full of plant

A people’s crop lament

What fragrance to decant?


Alabama cotton

vast fields of southern snow

brutal crop made rotten

landscape drenched in woe.


Sing a song of land scent

A pocket full of plant

A people’s crop lament

What fragrance to decant?


Nightshade of Tennessee

acres of emerald green

sacred to the Cherokee

pinched for nicotine.


Sing a song of land scent

A pocket full of plant

A people’s crop lament

What fragrance to decant?


Vinegar for old Bert

Thelma’s fresh sprig of mint

A dash and drip can’t hurt

Restore a youthful glint.


Sing a song of land scent

A pocket full of plant

A people’s crop lament

What fragrance to decant?


My ancestors perfume

essence of bitter flaws

digging down I exhume

binding history with gauze.


Sing a song of land scent

A pocket full of plant

A people’s crop lament

What fragrance to decant?

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Remembering Carol for Earth Day

Carol  Waller Youmans
Take down the
Emblems of greed and corruption
Degrading the ridges’ calm
By humans so far removed from nature’s touch,
Perspective, alignment, understanding,
They destroy rather than revere.
They think when God gave them dominion
(as the scriptures say)
She meant exploiters not stewards,
Reverence, honor, humility, not slaughter.
But they will not destroy the earth.
Earth will win when our teeming terms shut down.
When the last of the swarming, brawling, quarrelling race
Asphyxiates or starves or drowns,
The earth will go on serene and free of mange.

Carol Youmans
Barton, August 2017

Carol's sister Adrien writes, "Carol was passionate about theater, painting, and life. Generous with her time and affection, she was a friend and mentor to many colleagues and students throughout her life. She had style, an often wicked sense of humor, and sparkle!"

Some other poems for Earth Day by NEK Wednesday Poets follow.

The Earth Cries Out 

We as citizens of the earth must speak up.
The silent scream is no longer silent.
The earth is being mismanaged into oblivion.
This cannot be allowed to continue.
Our sacred earth is crying out in pain.
Pain that is unbearable.
The earth has been defiled and exploited
Plundered and looted.
It has been left to die.
Doing nothing is not acceptable.
Silence is not the answer.
We need to be mad as hell.
Crying out for justice for our fragile earth.
We as citizens of the earth must take action.
The earth cries out and we must respond to the cry.
Everyday is Earth Day, not just one.

                                                                            George Squires 


Where wildflowers are the woods are waiting. We can see the ridge from our backyard, my sister and I, and the dark greens and the pale, the blues of its distant canopy are waving to us when suddenly our father says, Let’s go for a drive up the mountain. My sister rides shotgun next to our father so I’ve got the backseat all to myself, my six year-old body stretched out full on the warm leather, eyes squinting in the sun, the car weaving its way up the mountain. Telephone wires rise and sink, waltzing outside the open window like they can hear some sweet and secret music. I think I hear it too, and I’m humming to myself when we pull off the main road onto a side spur and the car goes bumping over a narrow cut between tall trees. My father stops and we get out, our usual whooping voices toned down to whispers in this green and quiet place. We follow a well-used deer path into the woods where my sister spots our first wildflower: Trillium, my father says, a word that sounds regal to me, and I squat to look more closely at its three scarlet petals like the hood and high collar of the Red Queen in a picture book I saw once. The next one is a funny word and we giggle when we hear it: Pipsissewa, named by the Indians, my father says. And as soon as he points it out, we see it everywhere, dark green jaggedy leaves peeking out of the black dirt and pine needles, a few with their clusters of pinkish white blossoms. Pipsissewa, pipsisssewa, I chant under my breath, and then I spy something else. Tiny blue bells hanging from their tender stems, and I wonder: who might ring them? Some people call these witches thimbles, my father says but only my pinky finger is small enough to slip inside. Up ahead my sister finds water gushing from the rock face on the high side of our trail. My father pulls some magic rings from his pocket, metal circles that telescope out from one another and rise up to form a cup. He dips it in the rushing water and we each take a long drink, so cold and so sweet. My father keeps us walking long into the afternoon, and my legs are growing tired. He’s looking for something, I can tell, but he doesn’t say what. Finally he motions us over to a small, hidden patch of flowers standing tall on sturdy stems: Lady Slippers, he says, but they look less like Cinderella’s famous shoes and more like fancy ladies dancing, each with outstretched arms and puffy pink dresses. These are a real prize, he tells us, not easy to find. We kneel beside them, our gentle hands reverent with care. Lightly we touch them, as if caressing a slender foot. We know without being told that these, like the others, are not to be picked. We wind our way back up the mountain passing through a clearing of yellow dandelions and tall weeds frosted white with Queen Anne’s lace. Our hands are empty but wildflowers are imprinted now on the bright undersides of our eyelids, and we practice their names on our tongues until my sister breaks into a Girl Scout song, our hushed voices long since lost to the day. We sing all the way back to the car: I love to go a’wandering along the mountain track. After awhile, our father joins in.


                                                                                        Lucette Bernard,  April 14, 2021


Communion                     by Kathryn Kyker

 When we are young, if we are lucky,  

The old ones lead us to Her in places dappled

Streams sing over rocks worn smooth, through patches of light in

Tunnels of green, seeking: lilies, watercress, minari, slow pulse of place

Endless moments saturated with treasure unearned and essential

A secret sacred story

Reverence our only offering


If the moment resonates in you still, the initiation took.


She turns languidly


as we toggle back and

forth in factory-made

lives of  forgetfulness, one

action begets another in

service to a product—sure 

to mean everything-- that

means nothing.


Our memory veiled til we taste her on the air: the sticky sweet

Of hyacinth, the tangy salt of the shore, the petrichor of rain on dirt.


 She unfolds

Onto fingers smelling of marigolds, in sun bleached

Pebbles at a far-from-home beach, in the wind tormented

Tree hugging a hillside, and

When we are old, if we are lucky,

we lead the young ones and She


Is waiting

A secret sacred story shared

Reverence our only offering


If it resonates in you still, the initiation took.


by kk, with thanks to Sylvia, Lucette, Tina, and Lee Isaac Chung

                        Easter Eggs                                    


On Easter, I issue orders to ingredients as Mom

comes with an escort of red tulips. No longer


tight at attention, they flaunt their insides boldly,

at ease. A movie plays, an ancient burial


unearthed, as I crack egg after egg, til one reveals 

a dark curl of limbs, intending to be more


than a quiche at Easter, but there are no miracles

here. I tuck him deep in the mulch bucket under


a garlic skin blanket. Tomorrow he will feed

the groundhog patrolling the field. You  


arrive, reporting for duty on the home front, shields

up. I tell no one that a dead baby chicken tried  


to join our vegetarian feast, but I can barely eat for

seeing that delicate swirl of life in a home that


failed to defend him from his own fragility

                                                                Kathryn Kyker,  4/2021

Winter Light


                        Bold walls

                        Bold roofs and windows

                        Unencumbered spaces.


                        Just the dried stalks

                        by the roadside;


                        The milkweed

                        with its sudden white

                        generosity spilling

                        and being carried

                        mysteriously above

                        the fields.


                        The red barn

                        with the white trim

                        is itself a mute

                        fact in the field.


             Shadows of bare limbed trees

 etched on the faces of houses.


            The dying of the leaves

            gives us a glimpse

            of the bright plastic slide

            in our neighbor’s backyard.


            How along with nature’s

            shorn self

            we become slowly

            one people;

            our flattening privacy



            Coming over the rise

            a sudden pond

            never seen before;

            a green roofed

            viewing cottage

            on its bank.


Without their leaves

the trees are dancers.


Only in the most densely

packed forest

cedar boughs

hug close to the ground.

The spaces dark.


At higher elevation

grass stalks

are the foreground

for blue mountains

and regattas

of clouds.


Maples are muscular

and wild.

The oldest maples


and prophetic.

                                                                  Jed Feffer                                                                                                                             November 6, 2019

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Resurrection, by Ellen Mass

[Our prompt for the April 7 meeting was the theme of Resurrection.  Ellen Mass brought us her poem that follows.  It makes reference to the work of Flannery O'Connor.]  

The entire game plan of salvation hung on atonement and resurrection of the Messiah.





True or not, belief of it changes everything in you

If something isn’t true, like making the dead come alive, says the misfit,

     Do as you please with any time you have left.


Say “no” to the forces of darkness,

   Raise yourself above the fray of violence-

       Your resurrection is then assured, so

       implies teachings of Jesus.


Jesus threw everything off balance by raising the dead,

    said the misfit, as grandmother also questioned this belief, doubting

       like Thomas whether he did or not -

       just before they stopped; murdered Bailey’s family -

              It was the escapee’ from crime.


Staring into the non-believers eyes, grandma

           Saw herself,

            Pleading, You are one of my children, then

                    silence after three shots.


No belief in life after death, Misfit 

          was not there at Christ’s crucifixion, or he’d believe.

          He would be a different person --if he could believe.

          Compassion of grandmother revealed his broken soul.

                            She was also duplicitous and bold


To tell the O’Connor Catholic story, whole

    Grandmother died for his sins and was resurrected - herself and her kin

        For Flannery knew ascension and resurrection as a heavenly win

        Thus, I loved Flannery for her life concern

        That the wretched of the earth shall never burn



Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Bouquet of Triolets


When I’m Not Awake

            Once upon a dream my 
         shadow sat with me.

Do you chat with friends when I’m not awake?

Do you agree with our joint harmony?

Once upon a dream my shadow sat with me

We make no sense, me to you, you to me.

We live in different worlds, make no mistake.

Once upon a dream my shadow sat with me

Do you miss me when I am not awake?

                                        Marguerite Holmes


I Remember

I remember when love was light, seas were deep,

and through the darkness, stars were bright.

Now, as I lay me down to sleep

I remember when love was light, seas were deep.

Alone I lie abed and weep

shrouded in the black of night

I remember when love was light, seas were deep.

and through the darkness, stars were bright.

                                                  Sheila J Sanders 2/2021


Triolet for Covid 19


           I’m sick of isolation,

        Please ‘scuse me while I scream!

        ‘Can’t wait for vaccination,

        I’m sick of isolation.

        Books, you, my consolation,

        Wake me up from this bad dream!

        I’m sick of isolation,

        Hand me back the ice cream!

                                                             Adrien Helm 2/16/2021


Merci, mais oui, ceci tu dis

(un triolet)

It's true that you have seen the snow.

C’est vrai, c’est ça? -- Texas ou Picardy.

It’s not your first, this rodeo.

Of course it’s true you’ve seen the snow

(which means the same, perhaps you know).

J’ai vu la neige, tu as nous dit?

It’s true that you have seen the snow.

C’est vrai, c’est là – Texas ou Picardy.

                                                              Sylvia Manning



Coconut Rose


    I want the Coconut Rose

    Free it from the glass case

    Strike a liberator pose

    I want the Coconut Rose

    Treat for my mouth and nose

    Carried home in all haste

    I want the Coconut Rose

    Free it from the glass case

                                                                  Kathryn Kiker



                         a triolet

 Dance, lions, dance! – and let the new year start!

String up the firecrackers, parade the dragon past our door.

Then hurry home the relatives, too long we’ve been apart.

Dance, lions, dance! – and let the new year start!

We’ve folded all the dumplings, made NaiNai’s custard tarts.

We’ve counted out eight treasures, spring couplets grace our                                                                                                    door.

Dance, lions, dance! – and let the new year start!

String up the firecrackers, watch the dragon leap and roar!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lucette Bernard   
                                                                                                           February 15, 2021

Sunday, January 24, 2021

poem by Marguerite Holmes


Key to the Kingdom                        


There’s no time or space in Eternity, I’m told.

Yet wars have been fought for millennia over

The best way to get there – or not.


Do I want to go where there is No-Thing

 (because there is no “place”

              or space to put things)?


Do I want to go where there is

                             No beginning

                             Or end

But only one infinite Now where all just IS?


How will I know you, or me, or any-thing, in

The kingdom of No-Thing Land?

Do I want to be a No-Thing in No-Thing Land?


“Consider the possibility,” says my beating heart,

“That ALL is vibration right now and forever:

Quantum science pretty much shows that’s true.


“How glorious would be the Eternal Freedom to

Have as a playground ALL-THAT-IS with which to

Co-create with other vibrations a mutual desire?


“In fact, wise ones have said this is so since the first

Wise one spoke. Untapped talents of the human Soul

Live in the quantum kingdom of No-Thing Land.


And Soul is connected to this reality via the Heart.

Eternity comes to Earth when Mind serves Heart

And together they create Heaven on Earth.”

                                                                            --Marguerite Holmes

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Mary Liz


We are sad to learn of the death on December 30 of our friend and group member, Mary Liz Riddle.  Mary Liz is a recognized poet and practitioner of book art in the Northeast Kingdom.  

We will miss her.

Laying My Brother To Rest

My brother died again today,
as he did yesterday, and
as he will all over again tomorrow.

Will it forever and always be this way,
my brother dying daily?

Each day begins afresh in silence
like a grief aborning.

When I awake there he is waiting
for me to be up and about
the endless business of mourning.

I lay me down each night
only to find he's there before me
surrounded by echoes of his last words,

So much to do, so little time

Time to lay my brother to rest
in the convoluted warren of
our shared memories I alone

now carry for us both,
here on my side of the grave,
while a side there is.
my brother dying daily?

We thank Kathryn Kiker for sending this poem that she'd asked Mary Liz to send to her after hearing Mary Liz read it at one of our Wednesday Poets meetings.  Katheryn comments, "What caught my attention, to bring me to ask her to send it, was how she captured the relentlessness of death and mourning, how we wake to face it every day, at least for awhile, if not forever. "like a grief aborning" - have you ever heard it put so well?!