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April 17, 2014
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Poems

Summer came and she danced to the music
of live bands at county fairs,
and the Delaware River spoke to her of romance
and childhood dreams,
her youth melting like ice cream
on a hot August day.

Autumn came and its leaves spoke to her of all she had lost,
things she had to let go of,
they spoke of her past loves and friendships,
so many lost in the wind,
a few who returned with new beauty and color.

Winter came and recited its poetry to her in its white language,
and spoke to her of the cleansing and purifying of time,
the loneliness of having lived a long life,

Whispers on the Western Front

I have never been good with words

they hang heavy on my tongue like clothing lines through tenement windows

but my scars are excellent story tellers and I could talk

to the crinkles around your eyes for centuries

we kiss each other like amulets, use our bodies in place of prophets

I’ve never been good at reading between the lines

but I read your palms and came to the conclusion

that you are every word I could never find

you tell me the freckles across my shoulder blades are like Braille and only the best people can decipher my story  Read more

The Language of All Things

Impatient for the day to begin
I emerge from my dark bedroom and head outside
To hurry it along
I clutch the old pilled sweater firmly against the early day
The edges of my nightgown wipe the dew from the grey green grass
I stand rooted
The morning greets me
A pine scented soft breeze washes away yesterday
As it glides gently through the family of trees
That have been here since long before me
Tall and friendly, watchful
Their voice
An orchestra of leaves
fluttering and swaying
performing nature’s sweet melodies
A relentless chorus of large crows, caw magnificently  Read more

Mother

Have you seen your brother lately?

A question rising out of
a mind confused
so clearly came the message

Have you seen your brother lately?

So focused
these words in the midst of
her confusion
her loss
of all things present

Have you seen your brother lately?

Her purpose in life
more visible as she disappeared
inside her memories

Tortured by an inability
to reconcile
inner and outer worlds,
yet
always the shepherd
worried about her flock

from that muddled mind
like a soldiers battle cry

Have you seen your brother lately?  Read more

Poetry Is

the unusual in the usual
the nugget in the cliché
the dot on the i
the cross on the t
the picture worth a thousand words
the tree you can’t see
for the forest
the black sheep
the little red hen
the falling sky
the peach pit
the grain of mustard seed
the twenty-fourth psalm
the third line of the Rubaiyat
the forty-eighth page of
On The Road
the nth degree
the bottom line
the last laugh
the best of the best
the constellation you can name
the me in me
the you in you
the love in love
the still in
be still and know that I am
the quiet between the words  Read more

Pop Poetry

I

Cross Walk

Push button to cross Tappan Road
People push my buttons
Cross me
Just try it!

II

Money Machine

Green light flashes,
on off
on off,

Green light beckons
Come on,
come on
come ON . . .

FEED ME, FEED ME
Tease me, tease me

COME ON!

Card in
Enter pin
Transact
Choose yes
Press no
Spits out
N E X T !

Unnecessary Words

Their hands touch
across the white blanket,
words unnecessary.

The doctor says,
“It’s best not to see him like this.”
She says, “Mind your business.”

The doctor adds,
“He’s going to die soon,”
as if she didn’t know.

She holds the hands that
held hers for sixty-eight years.
His eyes open to hers.

She took him home
without interference and
unnecessary words.

Lastword: Perspectives

The horses stand at the gate.
“Where have you been?” ask their eyes and ears.
“I’ve been writing.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s my art of arranging words — the sounds you hear me think to express the ramblings of my mind — so many other humans may know them.”
“Primitive!” they say with a twist of lips and narrowed eyes.
“Humans aren’t horses,” I remind. “We’re a relatively new species, still trying to figure things out.”
The thought “too much figuring” takes form within, as I catch my mare’s mischievous grin and glint of eye.  Read more

Sentences

The word-seeds that seed our sleepless nights
with consonants and vowels, left alone unsyntaxed

never hear the light of day‑
unfurl and stretch in banks of clouds

or along long streams before they disappear
into sentences never spoken.

I lie as silent as a snake and never speak another cloud,
like St.Vincent-Millay’s candle burning both ends,

stretch and dissolve into liquid wax, all
inclinations from the depth’s images remain unlit.

There is a hole in the wall of the city-scape
where I can enter without pick-axe or hands,

Anaconda gliding through the scene,  Read more

Where the Dead Live

I have a black and white photograph taken in 1909 of my father Sol, who was four years old, his older sister Miriam, a younger brother Joe, his mother Leah, who looks pregnant and angry, his father Jonah, uncle Benny and his sister Rose.

The adults look solemn; the children frightened.

The men are in dark suits, the women in gowns, I wouldn’t be surprised if the clothes were supplied by the photographer. Only the children seem to be wearing their own clothes. It’s a formal, posed studio photograph taken to record a significant moment, perhaps their arrival in the United States.  Read more

The Bamboo in the Garden

One evening during my mother’s last stay at the hospital, after we told her good night, my aunt and I walked uptown. On our way, we encountered a man standing outside an ethnic deli. He held out a smudged Styrofoam coffee cup. And I reached in my purse for money. Don’t do that, my aunt whispered.  Read more

The validity of winter

April opens my tight-fisted heart
and rattles away all bias
and judgment
against the winter I fought
yet needed so perfectly.
Today the heavy blanket
I stitched feverishly
with chaotic weave
in fierce, breathless resistance
to early darkness,
death, cold, solitude
and change,
I will cast into the rising Delaware
as my wrong accounting…
seeing finally,
in this blessed armistice
conveyed by troupes of daffodils
and robins,
that not one thing can hold firm,
and no one season
holds more wonder
or validity
than another.

Why I Live Where I Live

Meet me on Old Mine Road
near Bevans Church and
I will tell you about
that snowy February day
on the gravel trail
near Van Campen’s Inn,
air, ice fresh,
rock-strewn fields
like whipped cream swirls,
the sounds of foraging
mice, snow crystals
shifting in afternoon sun,
the click of a Nikon
as we pushed knee-deep
through drifts
shooting crumbling
barns and shadows
cast by barren limbs
in late day light.

I will tell you about
the lone house near
the river’s edge
warm with yellow light,
how wisps of smoke
like wind-blown kite tails  Read more