Poem Written in Early Spring

Submitted by George Freek

(After Tu Fu)

In the clear water I can see
the fish, swimming near
the surface. There’s purpose
in their meanderings,
but I can’t say what it is.
Apple blossoms fall
like grains of rice.
Perhaps spring stirs the hearts
of fish and men alike.
But my hair is now white.
Some things are best
forgotten. I do remember
the fragrance of roses
and their color
against the lowering sky,
like the purest cotton.

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Painting Credit: Louis Aston Knight, “Spring Blossoms along a Meandering River”



EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD: bringing our favorite previously-published poems back to the front page.

A Haibun Submitted by Thom Kerr

The gentle hum of bees fills the air. I sing to them as I slog along the fence guarding Farmer Morton’s trees. I listen, and watch them work. They are tireless. Blossoms perfume the air and each day is a little warmer, a little more fragrant than the day before. Singing is the secret. My mother never sang out here and although her honey was sweet; mine always seems sweeter. I sing with my daughter in anticipation. Where my voice is gruff and low, hers carries the timbre of a violinist; sul tasto: ephemeral, light, airy, delicate and fleeting. Her voice will blend in harmony with the sounds of the workers.

The hives are abuzz
it’s almost time to harvest.
Three frames from a hive
produces about ten pounds
that tastes, as sweet as it looks.

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Painting credit: At the apiary – Marchenko Tatyana Mikhailovna

Love & Myth

Submitted by Anna Cates

Before the Maori venerated Io, Maui pulled up from the sea land dripping in seashells, forging islands, stealing fire from the underworld. He ate the flames like the high priest’s morsel from his servant’s instrument . . .

The priest is untouched. The tapu is unbroken. The fire ever burns.

tropical bird calls
the last mango falls
Hawaiian twilight
at a sunset hula
the final aloha

Vita Brevis accepts poetry submissions year-round. Send us your best work!

Painting Credit: Daryl Millard – “Starry Night Tikis”


Submitted by Gary Glauber

This tenuous flirtation,
the costs of acting coy,
whispering as if volume
could shout denial,
yet nothing cancels out.
This poverty of reason
subverted by emotion
converts thought to fantasy,
to smattering cacophony
of nasty scenario.
He, convinced he has
willed her into existence,
conjured from prior thought
into flesh & hot blood,
believes the impossible,
through mundane messages
read over & over to
yield hidden meanings.
This pitiful desperate
grandeur of delusion
is exercise in modern futility,
sugar-coated by platitudes
& a string of complex emojis.
This ego massage lasts only so long,
then rubs the wrong way,
dead bouquet in graveyard,
strewn by strong winds
& sotto voce goodbye.


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Photo Credit: René Magritte – The Lovers

Poor Players

Submitted by Jane Dougherty

To stop the final turning of the year,
Sunset bringing night, no morning after,
We strut beneath the over-arching sky,
Rant upon this stage and shake our puny fists
At the hapless clouds and retching sea,
As if all are to blame but the players.
This journey almost over, river-run,
We feel the bone-cold rise from misty ground,
Where light seeps into water, dusty pearls,
And nothing is what we hoped; no rounded dreams,
Nothing recalls the tang of unseen seas,
The lush and velvet scent of hot night skin,
The arrogant cry, gold-plumed and sun-struck flight,
Of the tumultuous firebird of youth.



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Photo Credit: Hubert Roestenburg –  s’hertogenbosch

Our Own Flanders Fields

Submitted by Gary Glauber

Even though forecast calls for rain,
another stalled tropical depression,
humble parade continues unabated
as ominous clouds loom gray to the west.

Little girls wearing daisy & brownie smocks
march beside bicyclists decked out in flag colors,
& then community’s staunch veterans
amble forward behind color guard,
uniforms that denote long ago campaigns,
units in service, camouflage, & camaraderie.
Firemen in shiny trucks & boy scouts
complete local ragtag procession.

After following circuitous maze of blocked off roads,
short pageant concludes at village green,
where reverend opens with convocation,
first two verses of “America the Beautiful.”
Soon hired band plays somber bugled “Taps,”
& all join in singing national anthem.

Town supervisor addresses fallen heroes,
& homegrown veteran recants distant memory
for all to reflect upon. This is small-town pride,
tributes to those who never made it out of uniform,
heritage of familiar tradition preserved & celebrated,
unassuming community recognizing
freedoms fought for & maintained
to make this annual event possible.


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Photo Credit: Frederick Hassam – The Avenue in the Rain

Clouds of War

Submitted by Shaun Clamp

Dense nuclear plumes
towered in the dry, hot sky.
Stark expressions: the power of war.

Later by the window, a cracking
The first shell,
then the slew of ammunition
battering the roof, glancing off glass,
dousing the parched white walls; ceramic sheen
reflecting vaguely the sky.

And green trees dripped
And the white carcass of a spider suckled in vain
At a drop that was stuck the other side of the pane,
And harder it rained,
And darker it became.


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Photo credit: Gassed – John Singer Sargent