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.]

Original Poetry: Portobello Market

The silent corner reveals the makeshift booths and carts huddling
             close along the distance of cobbled road.
Old wrinkled clothes practical for a theatrical costume shop and crates
             of shoes which survived their use and mates.
Wire jewelry bent around buffed stones; scarves, some silken,
             some hand-decorated.
Antique wooden stamps; clocks; dishes, chipped and gold-leafed;
             paintings and prints.
Sweaters thick with Welsh wool.
Boxes of clementines, apples, pears, onions, carrots, potatoes, fresh
             breads and biscuits; piles of cockles and fish wafting a fresh odor;
             spicy curried aromas atop the doner and tikka kebabs; greasy chips;
             fresh Ethiopian and Peruvian coffees.
Socialist fliers; anti-Nazi fliers; newspapers; magazines; cabaret
Tobacco—fresh, flavored, rolled/piped; American/Dutch.
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: The Airing Out

Shoes and a boot
conceal the old, odd suitcase.
It is coaxed out
and emptied of wools,
plush wide-waled corduroys,
flannels, and leather. Everything
musky with suede-scent
and desiccants.

I’ve freed my bedside
window from a corpulent A/C
and sealed the panes.
Static electricity bristles the air;
the airing-out is over.
October’s leaves have turned—
an elapsed calendar page
ripped out.

And I return to the weathered
suitcase, refilling it
with folded and hand-smoothed
linens, flimsy silks,
and madras. Under the bed,
my cache is restored
like bulbs split and reburied
before the frost.

[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review.]

[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: A Gathering of Four

This man (curled into
      himself) sits outside
the turnstiles of Washington Street Station
      right at the maw of the vast
subterranean Pedway
      moaning with errant winds.
His cardboard sign faces his lap.
      Dirt and thirst are kneaded
into the fibers of fleece.


Picasso’s old, blue
      guitarist is blocks away,
propped up
      by a cheap guitar.
His face – cadaverous,
      fallen forward;
sunken eyes –
      drawn shut as dry husks.
No warmth radiates
      from cyan skin draped
over gentle bones.
      No music escapes
this blind guitar.


As if trying to bow
her long-forgotten
cello, my grandmother
          full of grace
breaks the prayer circle,
starts to wail
in dissonance with
winds at the window pane
           among women
Rosary beads dangle
as two aunts
regather her hands
           of thy womb
These tendoned talons
           Mother, pray for us
pull and flex
with the banshee cries
           at the hour of our death.
She writhes;
her eyes dart. Her tongue
from her cavernous mouth.


Grandfather’s hands flutter;
      one gently, one not.
He speaks softly, too
      softly and too rapidly.
He rocks to propulse
      from the chair, to beat
those who would push him
      back into its cradle.
They’ll ask, what
      do you want? One
more time. Just say
      that again. Just one
more time.

[This poem was published by The Eunoia Review in mid-April 2015.]
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Night Blossoms

. . . 4-something in the still, birdless morning;

Through glass doors across the room,
a dark outline of a bicycle,
the thin bars of the balcony,
I can see the deep fuchsias
of rhododendron dimly lit by building light
and the more generic urban light pollution.

I imagine that it is the moon’s doing.

Come daybreak, the blossoms
will be a bit less exotic—a bit
less lovely. They are not rhododendron.
For those, too, I left in the little park
clinging to Brynmill village.
[Check out other original poems here.]