All posts by Sharon Ackerman

SESTINA: SNOW ANGEL by Saramanda Swigart

large snow angel
 

Walking in Queens, I stop, make a snow angel in a quiet lawn, flakes coiling like crystal— Above my head trembles a black bough I start: from the house, an eruption of singing two girls, a mother, a father with a cognac this yard, I see, belongs to a family I’m outside in the dark, concocting a family, in the window two girls dressed up like angels school pageant costumes, mother pouring cognac, a lush amber river, in a snifter of crystal she smiles at the girls in their reverie of singing overhead a snarling … Continue reading SESTINA: SNOW ANGEL by Saramanda Swigart

GOYA, THE EXECUTION OF THE THIRD OF MAY by Michael O’Mara

a giant sitting under the moon
 

“The world is charged with the guilt of god & country,” that from the hanging judge is a quote that skulks into mind with startling regularity. In a moment freed of time, in that moment, how dark must the sky be, how subdued the distant buildings, or real the wall? Oil on a ninety-eight-plus-square-foot canvas stretched over two centuries —carbon dating of the leftmost still bleeding corpse    confirms this— At sixty-eight Goya paints the belated evening news: “Last night in response to local insurrection the soldiers of the Emperor Napoleon in swift and brutal … Continue reading GOYA, THE EXECUTION OF THE THIRD OF MAY by Michael O’Mara

Color by Number by Jennifer Schneider

A prism
 

Teachers said I’d be okay, if I follow the rules. No turnstile jumping. No jaywalking. Perfect change for bus fares. No hoodies. No song. No fights for my name, nor my girl’s. Walk straight. Down the corridor. No crossed lines. Life. A color by number book, with no directions. My life. In scribbles. Teachers said I’d be okay, if I stay in line. Use their sharpened #2’s, Ballpoint BICs, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green Crayola. My box. Full of chips of cracked colored wax. Unfamiliar hues. Burnt orange. Brick red. Deadwood brown. No rules. No straight … Continue reading Color by Number by Jennifer Schneider

Nightcap by Barry Roth

bourbon, pipe, glass, pocket watch
 

The struggle with what they call the mind opens new fronts. Migration, which should drop new birds into my garden, has not yet started, and the residents have made themselves scarce this year. I’m close to giving up my resistance to deity, and to the admission that solitude in age is not the greatest refuge after all. Hanging the hummingbird feeder is a variant of my nightly trek to the corner for the comfort of a sundowner. Barry Roth is a writer, editor, and biologist living in San Francisco, California; his biology practice focuses on … Continue reading Nightcap by Barry Roth

Van Gogh by Elizabeth Dingmann Schneider

old color wheel with large purple center
 

         “The rose is red because it rejects red.” —John O’Donohue, Beauty: An Invisible Embrace Van Gogh’s White Roses were meant to be pink, the faded madder red sold to him by a charlatan peddling adulterated pigments. This false red abandoned his roses, leaving only a chemical trace accessible to the scientists who now analyze what lies within. Undoubtedly, today the roses are white, the pigment rejecting not only the red vibrations but all wavelengths of light, sending them bouncing back at the human eye, as pure white as the light driven through Newton’s second … Continue reading Van Gogh by Elizabeth Dingmann Schneider

After Sunset by Ronald Stottlemyer

Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park
 

Eventually I find the shovel upright in the blackened pile of compost behind the garage. It’s hard to see in this light, but everything looks much as I left it last fall–shriveled ears of orange peel, a few egg shell fingernails, corncobs sticking up like bones in an ancient grave. As I turn the mound over a couple of turns for good measure, the moon breaks out of a heavy cloud and brightens momentarily with a grisly smile. The dark goes on rising up around me, turning everything under like the swell you never hear … Continue reading After Sunset by Ronald Stottlemyer