Category Archives: free verse

Lament (a Cento)

Our one forever,

when it stole through the red gates of sunset
left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass
is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song you might have been.

No longer mired in waiting to begin.

They tell us the night means nothing,
and the candles their light the light.

Nothing is hid that once was clear,

then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

What is there to say except to lament.

You live in the wrong place.

There’s no flowering time to come.

The hands fell off my watch in the night

and you counted the time
from this instant.

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This Cento contains lines from the following poets: 

Kenneth Rexroth, John Koethe, Lola Ridge, Brenda Hillman, Martha Collins,  Melissa Kwasny, Katharine Tynan, Esther Louise Ruble, David Yezzi, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Jonathan Galassi, Michael Goldman, Robert Francis, and Lucille Clifton.

 

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Caves

I never said much, but always wished more.

I often walked far, yet attended to less –

following the streams

climbing the hill

breathing the air.

I sometimes planned, yet often moved.

I always embraced, but waited alone –

catching a glimpse

grasping a hand

dancing a waltz.

I cherished the words, then let them sit idle.

I spoke them in caves, and the echoes moved on –

whispered and bluff

incarnate and gangling

encircled and sure.

I never said much, but always wished more.

 

 

Analog

It’s at times like this,
when morning slides across in its straw-yellow light –
that I am slow enticed to rise
and invite the day into my life.

Somehow its poetry comes upon me like I dial
digits on a rotary phone-
awaiting a cyclic return to home position before moving on.

It’s where the music of my choice plays from beginning to end,
with static embellishment reminding me of conclusion.

The ticks and tocks of the clock drive me forward in time,

It’s the moment of morning glory – once asleep in darkness,
then blooming in the day.

Beauty – she sits in moments, but grows in continuum,
and the anticipation at these time-points are like dust in the shifting light,
and my heart wakes in hues of endurance and tomorrow.

Interval: A Cento

I was asking myself:
will I be like this? How will I manage?

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table,
A beggar shivering in silhouette,
with a splash of vinegar:
stoic, bitter,
strangely sweet.

It never stops still for a moment, so
I try to make it internal, and every wave is charmed.

How better to drift toward another world
but with leaves falling. The leaves, a modulation
of the accumulated darkness in which
two hundred million stars have wink and glimmer needles.
Soundless, their gaps in the dark
bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.

All the blessings
for squash, apples, carrots, and potatoes,
the milk, the wine, the honey that night pours out.

The boy who lives inside me still won’t go away.
There was a gap in things and here we are.

**********************
This cento contains lines from the following poets: Andrew Motion, Langston Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Margaret Atwood, Donald Hall, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rosemary Willey, Phillippe Delaveau, Luke Davies, Todd Davis, John Taggart, Bruce Weigl, Ron Padgett, Wendy Videlock, Howard Moss, John Hollander, Dave Lucas.

Layering

First, lay down a crumble of moments in a dish,
childhood memories and first visions evoked –
if you have them – mix them with a butter
sauce of retention.

Smear a layer of simple exuberance – whisked and sweet
over the base. Linger if you must, smoothing and spreading
a zestful meringue until it glistens reflected light.

Next will come chunks of a weightier kind.
Dropped upon the dish,
they will indent the surface.
They will disrupt your coated enthusiasm
with texture, and by themselves, will be unfulfilling.
Do not allow them to cover in total,
but position them throughout – they will later add contour
and context to your beginnings.

Prepare a lime gelatin containing your favorite morsels
of triumph (and defeat)-
One cannot come without the other-
Spoon it over the patina of your past until covered.
Cool and let it set for a time- until solid.

When removed and sliced, savor the different
complexions – the marrow and the substance in between
and within the continuous and smooth.

Add layers.

Veritas

This poem was born of a phrase,
its stem and budding promise
a point, the origin of which
is unknown.
There was growth,
with cooing and a wriggle of cadence.

It crawled and I was proud.

With careful diagramming,
bone to bone, its frame was
constructed – evolved to stand
and as a laggard on legs, walked
from the mirage of composition
to live.

It left behind the chaos
of structure, the wild haikus
and couplets in the dark,
keeping grasp of its intent,
as language that now endures.

Shouting and singing its veritas
to anyone who passes the moment
and lingers.

And when the time for its jaunt
is at an end, it will sit for awhile
and crumble in upon itself, leaving
the predicating letters – its a’s
and u’s – to seed the next generation
from the soil.
 

In wandering and being inspired

I jump over waves in the wind, now thinned-
causing a splash on descent, and the water imbues.
I walk in circles in some well-trodden shoes,
soles that are worn to the heel.
And the crestfallen face of my mind
urged in the gentle spell of her lines-
the brushstrokes of her pastel flowing gown
compel me to write something down.
I frolic amidst the swell and soak in
the flow of her form that rescinds
the aches in my well-trodden soul.
I stand embracing the image and whole.