Barbara Lydecker Crane
A fine arts major at Skidmore College,
Barbara Lydecker Crane was a graphic designer and then, for many years, a fabric artist, designing and sewing landscape quilts for wall display. In 1995 she was awarded a New England Foundation for
the Arts Regional Fellowship in Visual Arts. She started writing formal poetry in 2005, finding it a refreshing change from fabric art—yet similar in its slow, collage-like process. She still enjoys
artmaking, and has enough fabric stashed away to last several lifetimes.
Barb has published three chapbooks: Zero Gravitas (White Violet Press, 2012), Alphabetricks (Daffydowndilly Press, 2013) and BackWords Logic (Local Gems Press, 2017). Serious
and light (and sometimes both), her poems have appeared in America, American Arts Quarterly, Atlanta Review, First Things, Light, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Parody, Rattle and Think
Journal, among many other print and online journals, and in several anthologies. Her poetry honors include winning the 2011 Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest and receiving 2016 and
2014 Laureate’s Choice awards and the 2017 Humor Prize from the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. She was
a finalist for the 2017 Rattle Readers’ Choice Award. A resident of the Boston
area, she is a member of the Newburyport, MA workshop Powow River Poets. She and her husband Bill, a retired lawyer turned hospital chaplain, have two daughters and four grandchildren.
Mom banged her hairbrush down in a reprimand of love.
“What an awful question! You don’t understand love.
“Of course Dad loves you. How can you question that?
He doesn’t have to blare it out, like a brass band of love.
“You aren’t a princess to be coddled on a lap or praised
without good reason. That’s a never-never land of love.
“Your father works hard, with a great deal on his mind.
Now don’t go causing trouble, making a demand of love.
“Yes, I know he yells and sends you to your room a lot.
But be glad he never hits you with the backhand of love.
“Once, banished to your room, you drew a picture poem
for him. I watched him beam at you with unplanned love.
“He said he’s proud of you. I’ve heard him tell you twice.”
She brushed my hair, hard. “Barbara, that’s a brand of love.”
—published in Rattle as one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award
Yours in Faith, Aaron Brede
Ann Lee, known as “Mother Ann,” was the founder ofDear Mother Ann,
the 18th and 19th century Shaker religious communities,
which required celibacy.
I'm writing by the light
of a candle end. The snores of the older men
are sounding round me just like saws tonight,
crosscutting ragged scratchings of my pen.
I've done my best at cutting birch and pine,
at smoothing lath for chairs, at hauling stone
for schoolhouse walls. I know the Lord's design
requires my improvement—I must atone,
and so I miss my rest and write to you.
At meals, at meetings, a dozen times a day,
I spy Eliza. Our faces burn, untrue
to rules. We love the Lord. But as we pray,
our eyes are dancing. Must I leave? She'd
follow. I'd choose Eliza over creed.
—published in Poemeleon; also, winner of the 20ll Helen Schaible International
No, I was the slightest in the house
–with apologies to Emily Dickinson
I was a bedbug in that house—
I dwelt in Emily’s eider.
No heaven ever equaled this—
My bliss to sleep beside Her.
So stationed—I could sip Her tears—
Such piquant wine would fall—
And, oh—Her flesh—it was exquisite!
For me, sweet E. was all.
I never moved from that address—
Nor She—how well we matched.
All day I’d listen to Her pen—
And fingers—as they scratched.
I’ve wondered much about Her ways—
What seemed Her lack of sense—
But who am I to cast a slur––
On mite-y Providence?
—published in Parody
Conjuring a Son
Mom asks, “How’s your son?”
each time I visit now, though
I’ve never had one.
She asks it loudly
sweetly crinkling eyes as if
she knows I’ll proudly
tell his latest news:
Timmy learned to stand today—
Tim can tie his shoes—
(or should he be Hugh?)
He’ll have dinner with you, Mom,
soon as soccer’s through—
A bike, a moped—
he grew before we knew it.
He’s thinking pre-med—
(Now I see him—Nick…
he’s shy, tall, wry, and enrapt
He’s up for a Nobel!
Mom, every day Nick’s at work,
he’s wishing you well.
—originally published in Forgetting Home: Poems about Alzheimer’s, edited by
Anna M. Evans
Her doctor telephones and briefly tells
the test results. Thanks, she says, though hope
plummets down a deep and stony well.
She teeters on that brink and seeks a rope
for rescue, to pull herself away…a trip?
Galapagos or Northern lights in Nome?
Her mind is sailing round the world by ship
as her glance flits about her tidy home
and little terrace. Everything she knows
is here. Beyond lies an abyss. Would travel
fray the solid net of status quo?
Tight-meshed routine might not let life unravel.
Holding fast to habit as her goal,
she’ll live with the illusion of control.
—published online by the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest as a Laureate’s Choice winner