Life/Lines - April 23

Submitted poems for April 23, 2020

A daily poetry practice to generate and sustain the Life/Lines among us, for published and novice poets alike

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Prompt

Write a short poem (rhyming not necessary) that includes each of the following 5 words (anywhere and in any order). Poems should not exceed 7 or 8 lines.

     Aspen
     Shadow
     Fever
     Hidden
     Promise

Send us your poem via our Submissions page or post on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #lifelines.

Today’s words were contributed by alumna and poet Melissa Gurley Bancks, who earned master’s degrees in English and teaching from Washington University and an MFA from UMSL. She is former director of WashU’s Howard Nemerov Writing Scholars and former managing editor of River Styx.


 

Poems submitted for April 23
 

Aspen, the not so hidden promised land
Fly down the slopes so fast
Even your shadow will be envious
Missing Ski fever in quarantine

— Braveheart

***

Aspen

Shadow hell
Fever
Promise me next time

We land in hidden
Meadow

Not so many
Closed restaurants

— James Goodman  4.23.20

***

The shadows of the Aspen leaves dancing
in the slight fever of the wind
remind us, the doubting Thomases,
that the force of things is hidden, unseen,
but for the effect, local and ephemeral.
What is pressure but an idea,?
What is God but a promise?
It is the invisible moving a leaf;
it is the invisible moving on a thought.

— Dan Cuddy

***

In Aspen
there's no fever, they say.
Come, come.
Fresh air and fun on the slopes.
But hidden in the shadows of the mountains
lurk a psalm-reader's valleys of death.

— Anonymous

***

Rising fever rails
Promised Aspen trip stolen
Hidden in the Shadows
— CAT

***

During the fever-dream ending of her parent's marriage
my friend drove me to their cabin in the mountains--
two rooms, no heat, hidden in what was once a mining town.
Out the front door, a colony of aspen rise up the rocky hill.
Her father, she tells me, discovered them when they were dying.
Just two thin trunks breaking from the dry earth. Today,
a dozen, two dozen. He tends them like frail children, small things
prone to breaking. It has been thirty years since he met them, since
he and his young wife bought the cabin. That first night he dreamed of an aspen
grove, an ancient quivering forest. All yellow. Now, he walks in their shadows.
So much stronger now, he thinks to himself, and so beautiful.

When the divorce is done, she calls me. Her mother will keep
the house they grew up in; her father, the cabin. Through the static
I can hear her crying. She is relieved, she tells me. He can keep
      his promise.

— Gwyneth Henke

***

23 April

I sat in the shadow of
the aspen tree
hidden from the world.
I made a promise to
Myself.
I will not let the fever of loneliness
engulf me.
Ever again.

— Jey Sushil (PhD candidate in Track for International Writers)

***

The shadow stretched creating a gnarly figure on the ground
Nature was so quite hidden by the mound
A squirrel jumped up the aspen in a fever pitch
The yellow leaves turning and swirling amiss
Wind is spitting crystals slicing at the air
The winter is coming with a cold promise

— Maureen Kleekamp

***

Aspen trip is off!
Fever casts hidden shadow
On promised skiing.
— Basho

***

He wanted souls with a dash of fever.
No pyschopomp rows with a hidden
Oar. His promise a room bereft
Of shadow, lure enough to bring out
Those of us left shrouded in the field
Of aspen, their leaves no longer
Golden but muddy-river brown.

— John Randall

***

Please come close but stay away.
Wash your hands many times a day
and keep Purell as your close companion.
Be wary of your neighbors as the fox
is of the hawk, but take a walk around the block.
Could too little broadband be keeping us apart?
When this is over, when it finally ends
let's be healthy and let's still be friends.

— Mary Ellen Benson

***

In the Words of Others

A rowan (like a lipsticked girl) is no aspen
but a kind of ash, technically a mountain
ash but Celtically the tree of life, the sacred protector
of the dwelling in whose shadow it grows
and the holder of the branch from which the hidden bird sings
(very close to the music of what happens)—no fever-pitched promise
just a moment in the midst of what is.

— Jane Neidhardt

***

A Hymn to an Aspen

In hidden grove of Aspen white my back against your grain
I passed the day in shadow cool, above the distant plain.
A fever in your leaves sends forth a promise to the breeze
You quake and tremble by design, ‘tis yours the day to seize.

Sing out, you Aspen, straight and true
Sing out, in mountains high.
Until at last, your leaves let go
and fall to testify.

— Steve Givens

***

Peered into shadows
promised hidden dappled things
Aspen fever dreams

— Anonymous

***

Good Medicine

The trees always offer welcome;
It is a promise, never hidden.
"Come," they whisper,
"Lie down on the forest floor.
Let aspen shadow calm your fever,
and your heart restore."

— January Kiefer

***

I have just a shadow
of a fever,
a hidden promise
of illness to surely come.
Gazing in the distance
at an aspen
out my window
I wonder…is this how it ends?

— Kelley Lingle

***

Earth Day

The earth’s laugh lines begin to fade.
Her fevered brow crinkles with worry.
Her long lashes are the shadows of aspens
sheltering the hidden promise in her eyes.
Everyday she saves our lives.
When will we return the favor?

— Susan Lively

***

shadows
hidden in a fever
pursue promises
of quaking aspens
help us seek the light

— Terrie Jacks

***

From the shadow of the Aspen to the golden mountain stark
came the journey of our fathers, misters Lewis and then Clark
quaking, trembling with a fever that would spread all through the land
and with the promise of a nation that would stand, like the Aspen, we stand

— T.M.Wilson

***

Fever

I can hardly bear
the fever of hidden promises
in the shadows of aspens

— 2020 04 23                     by Lloyd Klinedinst

***

keeping their promise
hidden germs fever nations
rich and poor
aspens tremble yet refuse
to become shadows too soon

— John J. Han

***

I only knew that I had to get to Aspen.
I was in a kind of fever where
every shadow was the CIA.
There was a hidden promise in the signs:
Some social worker said, Oh,
he's going to go far.

— Matthew Freeman

***

Hidden in the aspen’s long, wavering shadow,
tiny shoots drink rain and promise
to become tall trees themselves—
clones, in fact.
The fever dream of cold science,
ancient reality already.

—Jeannette Cooperman

***

SEARCHING

Near Shadow Mountain Lake
He was feverishly looking
For golden aspen leaves
In the belief that there would be
Hidden promises lying beneath
As they were fall favorites
Of his lost one true love

— Betty Springfield

***

Hope

Watching the death toll climb
Grips me with a white-hot fever of fear,
Black despair
And red-hot rage.
It helps to remember the aspen tree:
Yellow gold shimmering in the sunlight,
Casting a dappled shadow on the green grass
Against the canvas of a cobalt sky.
Its hidden promise:
Seasons change.

— Pam Hughes

***

Lying in the shadow of an aspen
Its trembling leaves a mild reflection
Of my fevered anxiety
What if what if what if

Gradually I become aware
Not one tree but a community
Of trees sheltering me

Their hidden underground connection
Feels like a promise

— Carol Haake    4/23/2020

***

Aspen
The aspen trees were beautiful. So beautiful.
Flowing down the mountain like a river of gold beneath the cloud shadows on the eastern slope.
And then, suddenly, the river spilled into the ocean. Golden leaves, glowing now and flowing in waves
In the sudden gusts of wind and the passing flash of warm and welcomed late autumn sunshine.
We saw a rusted old pickup parked beside an abandoned cabin. A rotted wooden sign with an arrow,
Pointed to the gutted dirt road that curved and narrowed as it climbed to somewhere on higher ground.
I took pictures to remember all that I had seen. But what I remember most, was the aspens’ sound.
The quaking leaves that spoke to the trees and to me of the hidden promise of the seasons to come.

— Kevin Farrell

***

She lies hidden in the shadows of the aspen trees.
Her world changed in a moment.
Suppressing her fear of fever, she shelters in the
solitude of the forest.
The fluctuating weather does not worry her for the green buds
provide hope for a promise of recovery.

— Laurie Jalenak

***

What lies in the shadow of a mountain,
hidden in a crevice, in a canyon,
could, when seasons turn, become an aspen.

Germ, though, has two meanings, seed and virus,
trees and fevers fill the air around us,
planting here a plague, and there a promise.

— K.B.

***

INTERMENT

His promise soon fulfilled,
Her fevered pain muted in arrest.
That her begged death be hidden
In aspen shadows her last request.

— Ted

***

We said our vows
Hidden in the shadow
Of an Aspen tree
During the high heat of summer.

All that's left now
Is our broken fever dream
And the promises
That followed suit.

— Ally Betker

***

Poem for My Shadow

Promise me your fevers,
lost in woozy dreams,
where you stand tall as Aspen
reaching from my feet.
Everything is you in the night
and there, I am hidden.

— Julia Gordon-Bramer

***

Somewhere Out There

Quaking aspen
boasts fever-hot
initials etched
within scarred heart
hidden deep within
the promise of a shadow.

— Linda O'Connell

***

So quiet,

So quiet,

So very quiet,
As I step into the night air.

The current of a buzzing world
missing,
Long shadows of my footsteps,
Once hidden,
Fall onto the pavement,
As the crackle echoes against the Sweet Gums,
Their buds quiver like Aspen leaves in the wind.

Here I am,

The fever of my thoughts
Felt for miles,
My view down the street,
Amplified in darkness,
Punctuated with irregular street lights.

With a surging passion,
I await the promise of
A blooming world to come.

— KFR

***

Summers of the 50’s, we spent in Aspen
Myself, two brothers, and
Dad …playing in the music festival
Mom?…a shadow, in a VA hospital in Topeka
The reason?.... hidden
No promise of when this fever of absence would break

— David Bates

***

Fever dreams keep us all awake
Awake all night
Can you imagine the medicine cabinet of the family?
All hidden hypochondriacs?
If we are in snowy Aspen hills,
Comes a shadow of a snow plume rising
Striking icicle claws through clouds of mountain mornings
cracking the boulder just behind us
Mom is up at 12, Dad at 5, Rachel at 3, and me, at 1.
A promise to think of hot chocolate or any good things
Is like a fairytale in this house.

— Ellery Saluck

***

When the aspen hides in the shadow
And the waves swell to a peak
When the earth presents a fever
And the wind fails to speak
When we are hidden by the rain
And buildings become antiques
Think of the promise we made
To be strong amid the empty streets

— Mason A.

***

an aspen grove shares a single, interconnected root system
which means maybe a grove is technically just one tree
with different trunks, offering tender shadows
and a hidden promise that when their branches quiver
from wind or fear or fever or joy,
they hold each other beneath the soil

are we not just the same?

— Gabriella Martin

***

hidden beneath an aspen, back resting against its trunk,
I take refuge in its shadow and, feverish still from the sun,
find sudden comfort in the promise of how transcendent,
how absolutely transcendent!
Mary Oliver’s orgasms must have been

— Anonymous

***

I've never been to Aspen
My family isn't rich enough to go there and we live in snowy mountains anyhow
                                                                                and we live in the shadow of the Blue Ridge
                 it isn't so stark as the Rockies
                               so there's no promise of that photogenic altitude
                                                                                that prestige fever
                        the rich where I'm from stay hidden behind their gates
we don't see them on the slopes

— Jay Buchanan

***

Anniversary

The Bombay gin bottle, hidden on its side, behind the Crisco and cans of pumpkin
feels smooth and strong beneath her touch. She hasn’t reached for it in years.
Not since those blessed evenings after long days of caring for a man who became the darkest
shadow of himself, pulling her wrists till they bruised, pushing her with crude words, then empty,
mocking stares. Finally, alone, in the benevolent shadows of their home, she’d sip,
willing herself to remember the promise they made long ago.

Their words echoed in the priest’s quarters. Then they hurried away for a honeymoon to
Aspen just days before the man headed into the fever of a war.
She was lucky. He came back more or less the same and their lives were happy, more or less.

She pushes the pumpkin cans aside, forgetting why she opened the cabinet in the first place.
She’s surprised how easily the bottle lid twists off. She pours a drink, a toast to the promise she
made and kept long ago.

— Christine Portell

***

The aspen’s shadow grows
Hidden in sunset fever
The promise of a new day.

— Alexandra Steszewski

***

Hope

Watching the death toll climb
Grips me with a white-hot fever of fear,
Black despair
And red hot rage.
It helps to remember the aspen tree:
Yellow gold shimmering in the sunlight,
Casting a dappled shadow on the green grass
Against the canvas of a cobalt sky.
Its hidden promise:
Seasons change

— Pam Hughes

***

Aspen now hidden.
A promise of fever
Lingers like a shadow.

— James B. Moog

***

(Russian)

Листья осины бросают дрожащие тени на земле.
Лихорадки зимы уезжают.
Весна наступает.
Обещания ее там,
Но спрятаны.

The aspen leaves cast quivering shadows on the ground.
The fevers of winter depart.
Spring comes.
Its promises are there,
But hidden.

— Robert Henke (with thanks to Nicole Svobodny)

***

June will shade our fevers
Beneath budding aspen and oak.
Hidden in leaves and acorns
Grow promises that threats will
Cool in the shadow of summer's short nights.

— Rebecca D.

***

Feverish, she believed his promise.
The shadow of deceit fell upon his face.
Hidden in his jacket pocket, a one-way ticket to Aspen.

— Kim Lehnhoff

***

When Leaves Leave the Aspen

All wild horses inside my chest, leap
screaming into empty space. I
name each tail-streaming one to plunge past, Little Promise
Bone Fever, Hidden Wonders. They're shadows
I've learned how to let go through absence.

— Casey Hampton

***

Spring Fever
(in memory of John Denver)

Spring fever. Far from here,
High in the Rockies, green aspen leaflets
Shake themselves loose from snow.
Born to be fall’s golden promise
They shed their bud’s carapace
Wait for hidden breeze to teach them
How to quiver to quake to shimmer
Foam on the mountain’s ocean
Reflect the sunlight as they wave.

— Jo Schaper

***

On the banks of the Meramec
Missouri’s aspen, the cottonwood
Stirs with the fevered breeze of summer.
Even shadows cannot break the heat,
Do not deliver their hidden promise
Leaves jingling with scurrying cicadas
Leaves shaking in cool night dew,
Insects swarming upward seeking mates.

— Anonymous

***

The Aspen trees populate my beloved mountains.
Their interconnections are hidden from view
Yet are essential to life.
The promise of peace is the shadow
Dancing across the valley.
No cabin fever here.

— Karen Engelkenjohn 4/23/2020

***

Beneath the hillside lit with flaming aspen
I waited, hidden, keeping my promise, time
passing in a fever of anticipation. The shadows
deepened and only the aspen roots, joined
forever beneath the forest floor, eternal, knew
that you would not arrive that day. Or ever.

— Carol Niederlander

***

her mind was so hidden in fever
that no one in the hospital could find her
but on her own she danced in the shadows of the aspens
with childhood promises ringing in her ears

— Anonymous

***

Like escape prey
On a fevered hunt for refuge through a Pando Aspen
The subconscious holds thoughts, shameful and hidden
in the shadows of the mind,
while Consciousness bargains
and pacifies pain with proclaimed promises.

— J. Thomas

***

Aspen shadow’s purpled memories
conjure the spring-fever promise.
From skies of old, of ancient rhymes, and of stories told
where the lyre of Orpheus keeps its place, hidden.
With no music’s haunting, no poem’s heartbeat,
just Calliope’s musings, as night curtain falls.
Vega trembles, her light so bold, so big, so brassy.
Lyrid’s small gathering of stars—stirs! Startles Awake!
A slow shake of her head, a swirl of her dreads,
bright beads spangle their silvery light—then
star showers fall, they fall, and they fall
in a promise kept, scatters of stars
from the skies of old, of ancient rhymes, of stories told.

— Bernie Mossotti

***

a promise fell from the sky
and landed gently at Aspen.

tears fell into its shadow
melting ice like fever dreams.

powder covered the sin
hidden miles below.

— Sabrina Spence

***

 

 

 

Headline image: Marco Marques on Unsplash