Fresh Words

I use this page to post a variety of pieces, both those just out of the sluice, and older pieces that feel fresh to me at the moment. I generally keep them up for a month, or a few at the most.

Look for new poems (and more) at the start of each month (though this Spring of 2017 I’m lagging a bit, since I’ve been working on the novel again and most short form scribblin’ has been devoted to flash prose – check those out on the ol’ Home Page).

Written to Chopin’s Nocturne in F Minor, Op. 55, #1   (new in May)
Concerto   (new in May)
Commit    (new in February)
A Dollop of Always   (new in February)


This and the following poem were written during a classical piano concert by Steve Arntson on May 6, 2017.



Night and the trees do settle,
leaves float but do not flutter in the dark,
a skiff drifts slowly down the stream nearby
barely visible in starlight alone,
rustling a reed here and there, but that is all,
earth alone stirs and quietly at that
in the vast well of space that there is no one,
no one left to sing about, except of course
the trees, leaves, stream, reeds, stars, everything.

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And this.



We come together, flecks of glass
in a kaleidoscope, starlings in a murmuration,
notes from a piano blown by the wind
until they’re nothing more than wind,
we are wind, we are all wind teeming over hills,
whorled in a valley, settling to quiet air
at the edge of a meadow full of bluets.
Come over here and sit down a while
or don’t, there’s always grass to lie on somewhere
alone or with others, whatever others may be,
with yourselves, with light and the unsettling
dominance of mass, of flesh, of the dalliance
of limbs beyond comfort, beyond necessary breath.
I’m sure that you will follow your force,
discover your poles and drift heart first
toward the magnolia bush you have seen, have dreamed,
or trample forward through reeds and avenues
till you light on a doorstep, a window, a hand
in which you find family and a fecund face,
at least I hope that will be the case.



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A poem written while back home taking care of Dad over the holidays.



Straining to remain alive,
skin gauzy and taut over organs,
bunched and sagging in the absence,
collarbone twiglike, sternum transparent,
every vertebra crowned, the scoliosis
of all worlds laid bare, the mammal
pulled by his sex slowly earthward.

His profuse mutterings of night
stalk us out of sleep, we who wait
in the golden ring, trying to twist
our own bones into comfort.

                  What lives we have
stretched, fraught, laved in lies,
give us just enough room to cry,
            Grace be with us
through a balcony of trees.

We pace old corridors barefoot,
familiar carpet soothes our soles
stung by a stray piece of kibble
from a cat long gone.

No lies there, except perhaps
in the vignette of composition
also forgotten.
Erasure comes upon us
with a seductive beat
and a feline mid-paw, crooning
its way through our bodies
like a chess game played countless times,
tissuing flesh in the meantime
almost as an afterthought, a coda.

O ye beauty-youth, no wonder
you’re ageist, horrified by the mouse’s foot
broken under spring, by the hangtail snarl,
by the tattering gossamer too long in air.

Commit, commit and live, I say
to the sternum in any foray
and the bruised heart within,
to the raw throat in full shout,
to the unpainted face and the firey eyes
dragging the banker into traffic,
bereft of skin, of din, of ideology
by the precise and decisive act.

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A little poem about something, from, I think, December.



Grey and bent under a silver moon,
walking across chiaroscuro fields
as in some impressionist oil,
you stop to give your back a rest
from the long basket, sturdy and
unyielding. You stretch long and slow,
exhale long and slow, then pause
to soak in the night. You smell
old hay, dry soil, cool late
breeze, hear a distant night bird,
the rustle of reeds, your own breath,
and then, for a long moment, it all
stops, and there you stand.



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