Monday, December 10, 2018

Palooka

The ex-wife always hated my fights, said that boxing’s a barbaric sport.
And since my only talent was channeling rage, I never had any retort.
While it’s true that my peers had considerable skills, athletes with timing and grace,
Ruled by fierce dedication to their craft, honing technique, precision, and pace,
As opposed to a brawler who just longed for a chance to punch someone else in the face,
Perhaps that’s why I’d spent so much time sprawled out on the mat.

The people would jeer and they’d call me a bum; a mountain of lumbering mass.
I’d fling wild blows at my pugilist foe and he’d promptly knock me on my ass.
It’s hard to say if more practice and grit would have made a difference in the ring.
Every time I passed through those parallel ropes, my mind fixated on one thing—
An image of pop with that damn leather belt.  I swear I could still feel the sting.
Once I was old enough to hit back, he switched to a bat.

A career based on trying to punch my way through time was not favorable to success,
And to treat weekly trauma to body and mind, I began drinking to great excess.
Those last couple bouts I was swatting at air; a display that had grown tired and sad.
Greeting jabs and left hooks with a frenzy of howls, I clutched onto the corner pad.
Then a straight right hit me square in the jaw, thrown by a man with the face of my dad.
With a slow count and loud bell, the farce had come to an end.

Lucky for me there is always a place for the spiteful to bloody their fists.
At mixed martial arts fights on amateur night, I’ve been working my way up the lists.
No exhibitions of fluidic form, here brutality is what earns respect.
Every man who steps onto to that octagonal floor has some wrong they’re trying to correct.
Nothing to gain but a merciless clash with a thug like my dad, I suspect.
And if that’s not exactly true, I can always pretend.

© Ben Siegan, 2018

Roman Hardok knocks out Jakob Jakobi in round 2
Photo by Henning Snater
from Wikimedia Commons











Monday, December 3, 2018

Trombone

Slip and slide, that's how he plays it;
wrist and ride, he really slays it.
Ride and guide that shiny brass trombone.

Lazy notes, like sunset clouds 
drifting high above the crowd, 
a shroud of blues
fills the room 

with sweet sadness,

and they like it that way. 

Play on, shiny brass trombone.


© George Phillips, 2018

Sonny Rollins at the Stockholm Jazz Fest
Photo by Bent Nyman
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Nest

One fell out of the neighbors’ tree across the street, 
landing on the ground below.
Sticks, a bit of fluff, and the long string of plastic 
I had reached to throw away,
the kind that peels back to reveal the wet string cheese 
mothers press into small red hands, 
crumbed with dirt from front yard acrobatics, 
interspersed with 25 cent visits to the lemonade stand 
in the driveway next door.

It survived the winter, 
the plastic flag reminding passing dog walkers 
of the noisy, delight-verging-on-tears afternoons, 
the faithful, stair-sitting mommas 
peeling back the plastic and brushing off scraped knees, 
staving off the witching hour, 
when football tackles give way to bedtime routines, 
Daylight Savings gives way to winter snows, 
and moving men load trucks and drive south.

I left it, 
no longer littering, but christening 
the bare footworn, somersaulted, slip-and-slided, 
homegrown patchwork bit 
of mud and grass.


© Rie Harris, 2018

House sparrow male carrying nest material
Photo by P Jeganathan
on Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I am what I am (Je suis comme je suis)

I am what I am.
This is how I was made.
Yes, I laugh out loud
When I feel like laughing.
I love the one who loves me.
Am I to blame
That it is not the same one
Whom I love each time?
I am what I am.
This is how I was made.
What else do you want,
What is it you want me to be?
I was made to please.
There is nothing I could do.
My heels are too high,
My spine is so arched,
My breasts are so firm,
And my eyes are so rounded.
And then -
What's it all to you?
I am what I am,
I please the one who likes me.
What happened to me -
What's it all to you?
Yes, I loved someone.
Yes, that one loved me.
Like children who love each other,
Just knowing how to love,
Love, love …
Why do you question me?
Here I am to please you,
And there is nothing I could do.

                                      by Jacques Prévert;
                                           translation by Leo Gornik,  © 2018

"Flirtation 2," by Frédéric Soulacroix
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Shape I Have in Mind

Lately my poems 
hide in 
impenetrable 
marble blocks.
I wear out my eyes
and my hands
trying to force
a shape. 

I need a poem made of clay, 
that falls before me in a great lump,
and yields to gentle pressure
into the shape 
I have in mind
without waste
or dust
or blood.

© Laura Seale, 2018

American sculptor Doris Caesar in her studio
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Friday, October 12, 2018

Waiting While Poetry Lurks

Spontaneity reveals nature,
The guide man lets us know.
A figure is born in one stroke,
That’s what painting shows.

I, with my personal traits, 
Look challenge right in the eye.
"Tell us what is right and wrong,"
The song goes, "you won't have to die".

I speak many words with less thought,
Some words fake ones; some are real. 
Here is where I write one more poem,
To tell you precisely how I feel.

Peace is right and war is wrong,
I think love is better than death.
If summer were here all year long,
I would worry not about my breath.

Summers come and summers go,
And I find beauty is but a dream.
Paintings may be all that is left,
And they are covered with steam.

Who is right is better than who is wrong,
Some say they change with every scene,
With money, everything is possible,
I believe that's the American Dream.

So, I put on my clothes every day,
We all go that way to work.
Then I take them off to go to bed,
As I wait while poetry lurks.


© Dennis Wright, 2018

"American Dreams Come True,"
photo of Spc. Nikolaus Stiles taken by Sgt. Uriah Walker,
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Only Consequence of Truth

I’M NAKED ON THE JAMES,
BODY AND SOUL, BUT
CAN I BE AS HONEST AS TRUTH?

CAN I REACH INTO FEELING TIME,
WRITE DOWN AND COMMIT TO INK
WHAT I THINK, WHAT’S REALLY
ON MY MIND AND IN MY HEART?

JUST WHERE DO I START?

A SEPARATION IS SURE
BETWEEN TRUTH AND FANTASY--
BUT WHERE’S THE LINE I MUST DIVINE
TO INVEST ONE WITH REALITY?

THESE SANDED BANKS OF THE RIVERSIDE
MAKE RECORD OF A FLOOD THAT ROSE IN TIME--
BUT EVEN THAT RECORD WILL SUBSIDE
AS TIME AND FLOOD AMORE SLIP BY.

SO WHY IS THE MARK
OF MY FLOODED HEART WITH LOVING
SUCH A MONUMENT?

CANYONS ETCHED BY TIME IN STONE
RESIST THE PASSAGE OF MEMORY,
WITNESS AND MAINTAIN THE TRUTH.

THIS IS NOT TO BE DENIED, YET
MEMORIES CAN’T BE DEIFIED.

THE ONLY CONSEQUENCE OF TRUTH
IS THAT WE ARE, AS WE ARE.
WHAT WE MAY YET BE
REMAINS IN TIME FOR US TO SEE.

WE HUMANS ARE UNIQUE, I GUESS.
FOR WE, OF ALL, ARE ALLOWED TO CHOOSE
A PERSONAL MIX OF REALITY AND MUSE.

LODGED BESIDE THE WATER’S EDGE,
WINDED TEXTURES FILL MY EYES,
COLORS LEAP IN BRIGHTENED HUES,
THE SPIRIT OF CHANGE, ALONE, ABIDES.

EVEN THE TREES
WHICH BY PRIMAL GRIP AND TENACITY
HOLD THE EDGE TODAY,
TOMORROW MIGHT BE SWEPT AWAY--

ONLY IN THE MOMENT CAN WE STAY!

IS THIS WISDOM?
IS THIS LIGHT?
IS THIS SALVATION?
OR IS THIS OUR PLIGHT?

ALL I KNOW, AS I WALK AND STOP
ALONG THE RIVER HERE
IS THAT EVERYTHING IS MORE THAN IT APPEARS.

THE LONG RAYS SHOW
AS THEY RANGE ACROSS THE BOTTOMLAND, 
LEAVES OF GRASS ARE TALLER THAN THEY STAND,

AND SEED PODS LITTERING THE SANDED WAY
ARE ENLIGHTENED IN THEIR DISARRAY.

AS EVENING FLOWS UP TO THE STARS
AND STILLNESS GATHERS IN THE MAW, 
EVEN THE CLACKING OF THE CROWS
SOFTENS INTO AWE.

CRICKETS NOW TAKE UP THE SONG.

HOW THE MOMENT LINGERS ON!


© Gerry Sackett, 2018

James River from Robius Landing Park
by OlWhitey
from Wikimedia Commons