A Month for Poetry

April Is the Coolest Month

National Poetry Month has provided a series of revelations for Swarthmorean readers: so much expressed of life in surprising and beautiful ways; much evocation of nature, its processes and promise. April is the perfect time to reawaken curiosity and reaffirm hope. Our poets have helped do that for us, and we thank all of you who submitted your work, including:

• 91-year-old Irene Dodd Davis, whose work we had the honor to first publish, and who has through her life used her poetry to celebrate and connect with those she loved.
• Two generations of Bob Moore, Senior and Junior, for both of whom expression is a perennial way of relating to the world.
• Swarthmore College professors and poets Sibelan Forrester and Nathalie Anderson, whose curatorial wisdom and deep understanding of verse helped us choose among a plethora of poems.
• Other members of the academic community in Swarthmore, which is so rich in craftsmanship and nurturing of others’ talents.
• And a reader who just mailed us a powerful, personal work about loss, love, and aging, which we cannot publish anonymously. Madam, please send us your name so we can print your poetry, and let us know how to reach out to you.

Though the torrent will subside ‘til next April, poetry will continue to flow in our pages. Here’s to spring; here’s to creative expression!

— Chris Reynolds


I walk along the water’s edge
Between the sea and the sand dune’s hedge;
A moving speck of humanity
Without pride and without vanity.
There I weave a song in strands of gold
Whose verses are silver-plaited.
Its mystic melody are from days of old
And its lyrics are decorated
By your splendor, your grace,
And your ardor deep.
O how the allure of your soul
Makes my ancient heart leap.
So when my hands your shoulders hold
Reverently am I blessing you
In mystic melody from days of old
And with words of iridescent hue.
You kindle a candle sparkling with rays of joy
That awakens innocent passion I felt as a boy.

From every human being there rises a light
That reaches straight to heaven.
And when two souls destined to be together
Find each other, their streams of light
Flow together, and a single brighter light Goes forth from their wedded beings.

— Norman Chansky

Norman Chansky, Ph.D., husband to Elissa and father of Swarthmore High School graduates Linda, Keren, Tamar, James, and Matthew, is Professor Emeritus from Temple University. He was a Visiting Professor, Tel Aviv University 1973-1974. He has ten grandchildren and three-plus great grandchildren. Chansky’s books include Essence of the Psalms and Old Testament Lore: A Mosaic Tapestry. His poems have appeared in several collections, and often in the Swarthmorean over the past quarter-century.

The anguish of the world is on my tongue
a villanelle
from a line by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The anguish of the world is on my tongue;
its bitter melody invades my sleep;
I will not whisper words that could be sung.

I hear their murmurings, the wretched young
too weak to wail, too tired to weep;
The anguish of the world is on my tongue.

On blazing mornings when the sun has flung
her glory over creatures born to leap,
I will not whisper words that could be sung.

Tulips tremble when the bee’s been stung;
their petals open and the blood sinks deep.
The anguish of the world is on my tongue.

Rulers small of heart and great of lung
swallow songs of those who sow and reap;
I will not whisper words that could be sung.

When all the horns have sounded, bells been rung,
the prizes will be those we did not keep.
The anguish of the world is on my tongue;
I will not whisper words that could be sung.

— Patricia Brooks

Patricia Brooks, now Eldridge, has been a writer all her life. She has published the Grace mystery series, short fiction, and the first book of her four-book historical series will be published this year. Her poetry has been published in a number of literary magazines and on-line. Brooks Eldridge’s one-act play “That Proclamation” will be performed June 17 in the Chester Library as part of the Juneteenth festival celebrating the end of slavery.

The Wish

Someone’s wish is floating by.
A bit of gossamer lifted by the breeze.
I am tempted to seize it from the air
But there are limits to my greed
And all my wishes
Have already been granted.

— Sydney Pasternack

No Dumping

The large white sign in letters clear
Proclaims to all NO DUMPING HERE.
You cannot leave your sofa worn,
Bed springs, oil cans, clothing torn.
You cannot leave your father’s desk,
Your mother’s smile, your old regrets.
There are some things that stay with you,
despite the pain, your whole life through.

— Sydney Pasternack

Sydney Pasternack has lived in the Swarthmore area for many years. Retired from the Swarthmore College Financial Aid Office, she and husband Bob have become snowbirds, enjoying the Florida sun during the winter months. She loves poetry, but only recently started writing. It seems that walking is a necessary stimulus.

‘outwith’: preposition: outside; beyond. A term unique to Scotland.

Revising my visa essay,
applying for three more years
here, I read my own scribbled words:

Comparable opportunities for critical study
do not exist outwith Scotland.

Outwith: a term unfamiliar, yet
scrawled in my own hand,
doubtlessly mine, and I wonder:

I came here all rude American brass, all
trash can, fanny pack, Where’s the castle?

Then Glasgow rolled itself under my tongue,
a grey marble lolling my mouth open with Os:
Glasgow, Kelvingrove, going to Tesco,

then thistling my speech wi sleekit lisps,
wee packets a crisps,

my lips like the lids
of those glass bottles of sand
I used to collect from every beach:
my mouth a shore holding each grain
that altered the flow of my speech,

my pen flowing ‘s’ into the cursive waves
of ‘socialised,’ ‘civilised,’ ‘acclimatised,’
answering Aye! by accident
then smiling.

I may be from out
but I am now with.

— Katie Ailes

Katie Ailes, a Swarthmore native and 2010 graduate of Strath Haven High School, lives in Edinburgh and is a doctoral student at the University of Strathclyde University. She went to Scotland in 2014 on a UK-US Fulbright Award to research the poetry of the independence movement. “Outwith,” from Glasgow Women Poets, was selected by the Scottish Poetry Library as one of the twenty best poems published in Scotland in 2016 and is reproduced here by permission of the author.

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