Original Poetry: Thanksgiving Gathering

This table –
      elongated and stretching
to the borders of the room,
      set with heavy silverware
and water goblets and plates
      centered with linen napkins in steel rings,

and circumnavigated
      by my older brother
who’s lost the thread
      of conversation in pursuit
of his son who has left
      two Dr. Seuss books on the butcher’s block

and popped
      each fat black olive
into his mouth as his father did
      30 years ago;
my brother who still
      favors Stovetop Stuffing,

Scrabble after the meal,
      and his left foot ever since last year’s
second round of chemotherapy
      (that Thanksgiving spent
in marrow transplant isolation,

and nervously eyeing dry erase numbers
      that vaunted his T-cell count),
and his wife who’s returned to baking:
      two pecan pies, a blueberry pie
and cheesecake, and who’s inherited
      the gravy station at the stove

from our grandmother –
      whose chair is not filled this year,
whose silent passing muted
      everyone’s focus on cancer,
whose marshmallowed yams
      are not here –

this oaken table gathers
      the candied cranberries and crabapple pickles,
the casseroles edging the vegetables,
      the family that gathers
to pieced and quilted conversations
      and to clasped hands.
[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in April 2015.]
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Columbine Symphony

[Barely 72 hours ago, Garissa University in Kenya became the latest site in a long line of terrorist attacks, with 147 dead. Less than 48 hours ago, Paris joined the list enduring horrific terrorists attacks that will reverberate for years. Ask New York, Madrid, London, vacation spots in Bali and Egypt. It’s always a wake-up call, but I’m left not understanding the motives and intentions, merely the fear and helplessness. I’ve tried to capture those feelings of fear and helplessness in the face of a terrorist attack, as a means of understanding. And, ultimately as a prayer for peace. The attack in the poem is the armed siege of Columbine High School by two teenagers.]

Columbine Symphony

I.   Allegretto marcato
twenty-three minutes
      of disordering. Alone,

this plaintive quaver of alto
      flute succumbs to the dissonant
landscape of Amériques
      Edgard Varèse’s percussive polyphony
of whip and slap-
      stick; castanets.
The lion’s roar emanating
      from horse’s hair.
The pitched continuum of sirens
      in response

to the report of shotguns,
      propane bombs, pipe bombs, fire
bombs. The muted tympani
      of tumbled books hitting their spines and splaying.
The rattle of embedded glass
      in slammed wooden doors. Glass shrapnel
rapping the cinderblocks.

For twenty-three minutes
      in Amériques, thirteen percussionists
are gathered and spent.
II.   Adagio moderato
      My little brig
of cinder-brick shrink-wrapped in reflective
      stark cream, lit with the mosquito-frequency
hum of sputtering fluoro-bulbs.
      Orange-peel plastic chairs at the ready.

Each with a pressed-wood writing board—
      a splinted wing not covering: knees,
restless thighs, hems of shorts.

The heavy airlock door opens to adolescents
      skulking the viewless hallway avoiding
this windowless cul-de-sac. An open eye
      porthole in the door stares out
on the ramped passage; or in.

The pushpin and yellowed paper boast
      posted protocols above
a dozen shelved, corner-curdled texts;
III.   Andantino con dolcezza
loose illegible pages,
      the shed aspen leaves screen
the woven and split chrysalis;
      an emergent Rocky Mountain
Parnassian. Pupil-less eyes-spots
      peer from unfurling grizzled sails

seeking a meadow-breeze bright
      with the wafting essence of the Alpine
Dwarf Columbine. Lavender and white
      leaning from its pedicel—
a pedestal for an apollo
      siphoning the perennial liquor.

This substantiated butterfly,
      with a flutter,
releases two feet at a time;
      crescendos on an updraft
to layers soothed
      by the lion-pawed edelweiss.
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Mermen

The game is to see who can stay submerged
the longest. More than breath-control, it involves
constantly propelling our underdeveloped buoyant
bodies downward. Our arms are outstretched
condor wings pushing upward. Our legs are half-
enfolded and helplessly dangling jellyfish tentacles.
We face each other in the dappled glow of the pool’s
washed-out blue and bait each other as only merman
can. Escaping bubbles leak out; my ears ring
with my breath-deprived heartbeat.
                                                                 I first
zip-sledded the previous summer. The boat circled
far and large with the board skimming behind
while I, bucked off, chattered in the cold, cold,
brown lake water. Feather-limbed lakemen circled
beneath, brushing my legs and fingering my ankles.
Kicking at them made them madder or meaner.
The distant boat didn’t hear me screaming, swallowing
the bitter fishy water.
                                        I know this feeling,
the one that makes me run from the top
of the stairs, down the dark hallway, past five
dark doorways to mine at the end. Whatever
is there is surprised by how quickly I can
turn on my bedroom light and scramble to the far
corner of my bed, nestled in the room’s corner
farthest from the door and closet. I hold my breath
until all is quiet in the house.

                                                  The game is
to stare at each other through the chlorine-
sting. He is two years younger and kicks off
the bottom. Thankful, I surface right behind.
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Verses on a Common Theme


April pas de deux:
blossom-tipped morning glories
entwine the ivy.


           Walls of wet ivy
           ripple, eroding red brick
           with nimble tendrils.


The bees are gathered
and strewn by ivy masking
the kitchen shutters.


           Shade and ivy-robed,
           a brownstone bares one corner
           to an August sun.


Confronted with green
ivy and autumn, maples
blush with gravity.


           Ivy stems spin webs
           in December, collecting
           snow in dark wrinkles.
[Check out other original poems here.]