Fact is, I've never considered myself much of a poet. Reactions from my readers suggest, however, that I'm too hard on myself. Be that as it may, I've not written a lot of poetry.
And I'll be honest. You're not going to read much of it here.
This is not because I don't want it to be read. On the contrary!
I will not be posting entire poems here (except, maybe, those I write after this date) because I have gathered them into Acoustic Words, my collection of short stories and poems. What I will do, below, is describe each poem in the collection and give you the first couple of lines or stanzas.
Anything beyond that, you'll have to buy the book. The links are below.
All That's Left to Say
One of my few overtly spiritual pieces (and one of my few rhyming, metrical poems), this looks at the frustration of not being able to put into words what you feel during worship. This is actually a set of lyrics.
Sometimes words of praise are the hardest words to find;
They disappear before they can be spoken.
And all my good intentions to glorify my God
Come to nothing, and the silence is unbroken.
This sardonic poem looks at the painful breakup of a relationship in terms of a visit to a carnival midway.
I'll take two scoops of
in a sugar cone
Children's Park, South Bronx
A four-part tribute to finding hope in the midst of hopelessness. Because I love you and don't want to leave you hanging in the middle of a sentence, I'm giving you the entire first part here.
There is a city,
where the tenements,
dominate the land and
claw at heaven, and
where the streets,
run black brown yellow and
swirl with life and death and
where the children,
float on shy wings and
then falter or lie crushed and broken and
There is a valley,
where the tenement
loom dark and angry and
shoulder aside the poisonous sky and
where the street
gather in a backwater eddy and
deposit their burdens of trash and treasure and
where the children
struggle for light and warmth
at the feet of beasts and monsters.
A Conversation With the Muse
A light-hearted look at the sometimes frustrating creative process.
smacked me upside the head
"Write a poem".
Is This Love?
....or is it just abuse? This poem was written to accompany the illustration that serves as the background to this page.
Your hand scythes
up and down, up and down,
flickering in the redbluegreen of
the TV screen.
It's All In How You Look At It
Sometimes that odd perspective on life is not what it seems....
melts and swirls in
swashes of blue and salmon and violet -
Lullaby for a Savior
My other overtly spiritual poem, also a set of lyrics, is a bittersweet cradle song for the infant Jesus. You can hear the music in The Music Room.
Sleep, little babe, go to sleep;
dream while you may, pure and deep.
There's a road up ahead where you'll not find a bed,
So sleep, little babe, go to sleep.
The relationship between two people, as expressed through the metaphor of a bicycle ride on an autumn day.
We set out on our journey with
a rattle of chains and
clatter of gears;
You on your new, twenty-one speed Italian racer,
me on my beat up, assembled-in-Ohio
A sonnet exploring the spirit of independence in the face of oppression.
Two feathers, gray and pale as autumn haze,
surrender to a listless late spring breeze
and cower in a hot, hard concrete nook.
A brief celebration of some of the sights and sounds of winter.
Breathe deep of air
snapping against the throat;
Feel tiny needles
numbing, burning the skin;
Taste cream turned ice -
iron on the lips.
I was 11 years old – about 2½ months shy of my twelfth birthday. I was sitting in my 5th grade classroom. I don’t remember what subject we were studying; that would all become moot when the principal of Arbor View School came on the intercom to announce that, just a little earlier that day, the President of the United States had been shot and killed.
Up until November 23, 1963, the most notable assassination in American history had been that of Abraham Lincoln. Thus, perhaps, my confusion was understandable, even excusable: I wondered for a moment if the principal were initiating some school-wide memorial to Lincoln’s death (the fact that Lincoln had been killed in April, not November, was a detail that never occurred to me). Then, as he continued to speak, realization and shock set in simultaneously. He was referring, not to someone from the distant past, but to a contemporary figure. President John F. Kennedy had, just that morning, in Dallas, Texas, been killed by an assassin’s bullet.
I don’t remember the rest of the day – if we were sent home early or if we carried on pretending nothing untoward had happened but with the undercurrent of this horrific historical event a constant distraction. Nor do I really remember the rest of the week. My parents were staunch Republicans (I remember, just one year later, pulling a wagon through the streets of our suburban subdivision, campaigning for Barry Goldwater with a sign reading “AuH2O” – the scientific symbols for “gold” and “water”, respectively), but this was far bigger than politics. I know we watched a lot of television in the next few days. Whatever else, this was History, with a capital “H”. I remember feeling a certain surrealism during those days, a feeling that was only accentuated when, almost on the heels of the first shock, we watched as Jack Ruby murdered accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in full view of the Dallas police force and the entire nation.
Fast forward a bit. I’ve been given an assignment in one of my classes. I don’t recall the precise nature of the assignment, or even which class it’s for, although English seems likely. I don’t even remember what year it is, precisely. It’s certainly after November, 1963, but before I’m to start high school in September, 1966. I’m either 12 or 13 years old by now, and the Kennedy assassination is still fresh in my mind. Whatever the motivating assignment, I decide to write a memorial ode to Kennedy. It will be my first extended, completed poem. And while I would subsequently lose the original manuscript (although I have a sneaking suspicion that it resides in a scrapbook somewhere in my mom’s condo), I have never forgotten the poem.
He Lived No More
The morning had dawned warm in our largest state that day.
The crowd came forth upon the streets, to him their honor pay.
To gaze upon that great man, forward they did pour.
They saw him sit, the saw him wave,
And suddenly, he lived no more.
From high above the street that day, from where, no one could see,
A shot rang out. The people froze, like a suddenly calmed sea.
The wave surged back, they stood aghast, he slumped down to the floor –
A sudden gasp, a sudden shout,
And suddenly, he lived no more.
The tombs stand cold and stark and still against the leaden sky;
The beat of restless horse hoofs; the caissons rolling by;
The drums’ salute, the bugle’s call; our hearts are saddened to the core.
In this cold grave a man does lie,
When, suddenly, he lived no more.