Original Poetry: Café

I tap a new pack and unsheathe a Camel Light.
I fumble with the matches, disposing duds on ice
cubes in my cup. Embarrassed, I avoid your look
until I find a dry match and breathe bitter smoke.
Exhaling, I glance up expecting our eyes to meet.
Your gray eyes rest elsewhere reflecting a misty pool
of thoughts.
                    Our Bailey’s Café just was—no bar, no pool
tables—so we entered escaping rain and street light.
A few loners were scattered. A waitress came to meet
us. “Wheat toast and coffee for both. A glass of ice
water, too, please.” She left and passed through blue-gray smoke
to the kitchen. No one had even moved to sneak a look
in our direction.
                              Now you finally turn and look
at me only to shift and play in the water pool
on the table where the cup had been. “You want a smoke?”
“If it’s no trouble.” I find a dry match to light
my offer.
                    “Here’s your wheat toast, coffee and glass of ice
water. And yes, you may smoke here,” as if to meet
a question posed. She then asked, “Will you be meet-
ing anyone?” “No, it’s just us. Thank you.”
                                                                                “You look
awful.” You attempt a smile and grab a piece of ice
to play with. “If you want to go, we can pool
our money for a cab.” You glance around lightly
and grab my hand, “Let me finish my smoke.
It’s late though,” you shrug, “My father will meet
me at the door any-which-way.” You start to light
another Camel Light and give a desperate look
in my direction. Your saddened eyes pool
with tears.
                    “More coffee or water or even ice?
I’m off duty. The coffee’s there. The sink and ice
are back there. Help yourself. May I—bum a smoke?”

“I hate him.”
                    “Who?” I butt my cigarette in the pool
of water. You glance down, “My father. He’ll meet
me everywhere. He—it’s just that—“ You stop, but your look
tells so much more. “Just forget it.” You feign a light
laugh and blow gray smoke, but you see my look.
You toss the piece of ice and stand. Our hands meet.
“I’ll get you out.” Our pooled shadows block the harsh light.
 
 
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Original Poetry: Baker Street Station, London

Ghostly amber, shafted sunlight
penetrates the subterranean cavern
dimly reflecting from yellowed brick.
Etched, lit, Neo-Victorian arches
shadow inverse arcs and nearly
empty benches. Hollow footsteps
echo from the scuffed cement floor.

Warning grumbles seethe bone-deep.
An errant blast of cool breeze
sends newspaper pigeons flocking
and re-roosting. Vibrations grow
to a clamor while a probing light
emerges from its tunnel followed
by the rushing, screeching, braking
train with all its jolted cars
mocking a quiet escape within
double-paned glass and steel.
 
 
 
 
 
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Original Poetry: Window Seat on a Train

Two platform clocks mock the overcoats.
They’re eight seconds incongruous.
One celebrates raindrops-splattering-across-slick-concrete-&-heated-rails
           the-panicked-retreat-of-pigeons-who-have-learned-nothing-for-centuries
           the-marking-of-seconds-shivers-&-motes.
The other acknowledges flies-that-orbit-too-close-on-sickly-hot-days
           the-clink-of-coins-in-the-trembling-hands-of-vagrants
           the-dots-&-iotas-until-an-approaching-train-whistles.
They are eight seconds incongruous;
neither is correct according to my watch.
The train ignores all three.

Each briefcase settles and resettles into its overpadded seat.
Most face stiffly forward; but I have a window–
a suppressed lurch–the film reluctantly unreels.
The platform sidles off and hazily grows distant.
All too soon, the post-post-post-tree-post-tree-post-barn-gate-
drive-house-barn-post-post-tree-post-tree-post-post-post
of each passing farm marks the sound of the tracks.
From further pastures, knowing cattle note the train,
saddened by the abrupt disturbance.
Beyond, mists shroud still hills.
Hamlets nestle into the valleyed nooks.
Each is a Brigadoon.
A mute flurry-o’-leaves distracts.
Wind!
           whipping-grasses-into-frenzied-swirls-&-cowlicky-whorls
           coaxing even the trees into the tidal pull.
The cold window belies the fresh breezes
trying to penetrate my stagnant capsule.
Factories with immediately dispersing smoke appear.
Terrace houses appear.
A station lazily approaches—minutes behind schedule.
Overcoats are waiting.
The standstill matches the tinted-glass staleness.
 
 
 
 
 
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Original Poetry: Swarm – Benton County, Iowa

Chirping bel canto,
     coffee bean crickets scurry
from desiccated crab grass,
     Kentucky blue and cotton
layers collecting at the dry line.
 
 
Cicadas – fortepiano whirr
     disseminating from the pin oaks.
Some hover, as hummingbirds,
     spewed pumice against a relentless sun.
A cloudless sky
 
 
but for the haze, the yellow wings
     of red-legged grasshoppers
rising in synchrony
     from defoliated acres
of soybeans and alfalfa.
 
 
The horizon dusted by thousands
     of precise leaps, the clatter
of millions of determined flights.
     A mere one caught akimbo
by a mouser’s sure paw.
 
 
 
 
 
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Original Poetry: The Cellist

Mother’s mother lies as a wisp in the crevasse
of pillows on a propped bed amid the flurry
of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” sputtering

from the tinny radio. Her right hand bows
tremolo seemingly. A continuous flutter of motions
seeking its cello now long-lain in velvet

and rusty clasps. The left hand is dystonic
like storm-stripped umbrella ribs, like the dead
spider on the sill. Cyan skin with florets

in hazels and mauves veneers her emergent clavicles.
I can turn away and close my eyes to the open
window. The radio cues a waltz and I can feel

the bed jostle with the bow-bounced spiccato
and the answering long-bowed quivering vibrato
of the left hand. The spider gingerly reanimates

its legs and explores the gap around the window
screen. My grandmother rests her cello
and, floral skirt in hand, twirls to the music

careful not to brush me as she passes.
 
 
 
[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in April, 2015.]
 
 
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Original Poetry: Magritte’s Panels

On the Threshold of Liberty (1937)

i.

On the threshold of war,
      Magritte promised liberty
with a painting compartmentalizing
      an octave of ambiguities held in check
by an appliqué-flat
      black cannon

in the space created
      by angled panels.
Walls of verdancy and altocumulus clouds.
      Tessellated mechanisms.
An anonymous nude tilts
      toward a suggestion of flame.

ii.

July’s uncompromised
      Texas
sun on the collarbones
      glinting rivulets of sweat
purl,

      a sprouting of slightly curled
hair fanning out
      to just beyond the attentive nipples
retracting
      sepia-flow bisecting the abdominals;

slick hands, thumbs shuck
      fine cotton from hip-hooks.
Every inch glistens

      upon a precipice
among the tiered ledges of Hippie Hollow,
      and he
one of many young men
      who plunge
into the dam-made distensions
      and depths of Lake Travis.

iii.

A graded cement path embedded
      with river pebbles
ascends to the threshold
      of a charred pit, a cavity
like December, an emptied swimming pool.

Nobody was hurt last night.

Something smolders.
      Skeletal studs transgress
the retaining wall wet with the elements.
      Drizzled mist obscuring
ravines, then neighbors.

A young woman came home to marry.

Affixed to the metal banister
      a seared veil
(dripping, rustling)
      blossoms like the ohia lehua
on the scorched slopes of Mauna Loa.

She’ll borrow more than planned.

iv.

The Hennepin Canal, a weeping gash
      cleaving corn fields,
slides toward Rock Island.
      Docks. Mississippi River barges.
The railyards that reel in mile-long trains
      more economically
than a gouged waterway

without expediency among the stands
      of cottonwood, catalpa, black
walnut. Mulberries, raspberries
      lower their fruit
to the murky mirror-surface
      to colonize new banks
to see their feral reflection.

Shouldering the northern boundary
      of an historic distribution,
a clutch of red-eared sliders basks
      on the emerging
limbs of a submerged hickory
      skirted
by unretrieved sport fish.

v.

All dials align
      in a confluence of eights.
The Water Cube waits empty, incandescent.
      Its ready lanes maximized
for glorious upon glorious
      achievements in speed.

Tenths of seconds matter
      as eight and two thousand
volunteers from the compulsory Red Army
      Fou drum
the Olympic countdown
      in the bowl of the Bird’s Nest.

The machinations.
      The mechanistic precision
of rachet wheel and return spring.
      The delicate hairspring
tensely wound; the holding back
      of Tai Chi masters

and space between the Gate
      and Hall of Supreme Harmony
near Military Eminence
      in the Forbidden City.
Southward is the stage,
      Tiananmen Square, counting.

vi.

Venice of the Middle East – Basra City.

Canals radiate from the Shatt al Άrab
      until it unfolds into the sea.
Stillness envelops mid-day
      along pockmarked streets.

A sun illuminates
      empty window ledges.
Sheets are drawn
      where there are no curtains.

Armored vehicles define
      areas of influence.
There is a dusty
      matte-sheen to them.

And a torpid response
      to necessary errands.
A dull peace
      derives from their presence.
 
 
 
 
 
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Original Poetry: Jazz Sonnet #2

This clear air crisping the high moon
a fuller shade deep with some blues
that radiates a new distinct hue
downward to neighborhood streets
of a lost town sleeping too soon
for any thriving jazz gliding beats
doubly so sweet when off-time
from high classy dandies stepping out
and dressed out prime—shuffling
that swaggering step to start the dance
about close-like, always pulsing without
known notice of the crooning mic
that surrounds all with a single glance
stands tall over this February night.
 
 
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