Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Three Poems by Roberta Schultz, Leslie Clark and Rita Coleman

Today I offer you three poems with interwoven themes. Roberta Schultz of Wilder, Kentucky is a poet and singer/songwriter (among other fine things) who performs with the trio Raison D’Etre. Leslie Clark is a Clifton poet. It’s a stretch to call Xenia, where Rita Coleman lives, Greater Cincinnati, but she has to be an honorary Cincinnatian by now, as she makes the trek a couple of times a week to write with us at programs I offer. All have chapbooks forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

High Wire (after May Sarton’s “An Observation”)

Some players cannot bear
finger picks between the soft
pluck and the resonating

string. Tips wear blisters, dance
liquid sacrifice over fretboard, caressing
warm bronze, never scraping or buzzing

angel breath from triads. I dodge
the sound man’s slings, duck
thumb picker’s arrows. They would hoist

shields–bright clang of metal
on metal. Wounded digits sense
their way to truth. Daredevils inching

over taut steel.
They feel the way,
never looking down.

Roberta Schultz
Previously published in Still: the Journal 


A Cappella

Morning darkness,
silent world.
A bird calls.

From our beginnings
in the womb
Music is present,
surrounds us,
heartbeats pulsing,
blood rushing.

The body longs to sing,
feeling the rhythms
present in flesh
and bone.

We are born
with a hunger,
ravenous for
the cadences,
the chords,
the close harmonies
that will infuse
our lives.

Leslie Clark, forthcoming in Driving in the Dark.



All birds want to perch on a wire, electric, telephone, cable,
strung between tall crosses of right-sized poles.

When each season’s breezes blow, tiny claws
grip tighter, a subtle movement with each sway of wire.

Wire-perching for the vulnerable and brave is akin
to night walking with a waxing gibbous moon on a rural bike trail,

Alive to contrapuntal calls of cicadas in dark tree tops,
Alert to lumpy shapes along the shoulders, mowed shags of grass.

A flicker of fear, a new one, being muscled from behind
by he-man arms, courses through this woman shadow walker.

The white moon, cool in her simplicity, able to take on all lunacy
draws the walker’s thought up with silver ribbons,

Just as skycurrent draws all birds toward her zenith
toward her circling arms, even those unable to fly.

Like birds on a wire, we winged women must fly higher
than martyr crosses, to escape sacrifice, to soar.

Rita Coleman




Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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