Dead Leaves

The trees here in the south,
though half-turned from the season,
are still every shade of green.
Moss sways in the cool sun,
casting black and gray shadows
that move like snakes
on my neighbor’s white roof.
He is unaware of their charm,
but they amuse me so.

My home is silent,
but every now and again
a sound like hailstones startles me
(even though we are frost-proof).
Hard, dead leaves are falling,
but what my neighbor sees
is soft and brown and orange.
It flies past his window
in a sudden gust of winter wind,
silent and secret.

Galilee

The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes.
Among the yawning cracks of rocks, we walk
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

Chowder in our bellies, stomach aches,
we’re locals who will want to stroll and talk.
The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes.

We watch the widowed, white-capped wave that breaks.
At Galilee extends an arm of rock
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

A cloud of witnesses surrounds us now and takes
some photos of the greedy, gathered flock.
The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes.

The bolder the gulls become, the fewer mistakes,
taking possession, eyes like steel and chalk,
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

Crumbs of pity, for orphaned gulls’ sakes,
are tossed by innocent tourists. We locals mock.
The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

{This is my first attempt at a villanelle. It was inspired by a memory of feeding clam cakes to seagulls at Galilee, in Rhode Island, my home state.

It was also inspired by a recent reading of Psalm 73 (which I believe to be a beautiful Psalm, and which is one of my favorites, despite its imprecatory tone).

Finally, it was indirectly inspired by one of my favorite stories from childhood—Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach}

Soft

Must morning devour me,
subdued in my bed, inarticulate,
after God’s sunrise voice
makes my murmured longing
soft, not vast?

My voice sinking soft
like powdered sugar on hot dough,
melting.

Must evening eat
my soft mind too, when
God’s sunset voice declares it?

{the dVerse prompt which inspired this quadrille is the word murmur}

Love and the Poet

Love, as in falling-in-love,
no longer exists for me.
Not fondness, not affection.
Not any of it.

I simply don’t believe in it.

And I see no value in considering it deeply.
I find no meaning in it
of any kind, no usefulness or purpose.

Not curiosity,
Not nostalgia.

No interest in it
as a plot element,
or a conflict,
or a trope,
or a character arc,
or the subject of a poem.

Have I loved?
Yes, and now I renounce it.
For good.

No-love makes it hard to be a writer or a poet. What is left to write about?

Sex?

Death?

Injustice?

I suppose there are still some themes.

You’d never know it by skimming the shelves of bookstores. It’s all love, love, and more love.

It even makes it hard to be a reader.

No Jane Austin.
Shakespeare. Meh.

I’m trying not to be pessimistic.

It’s not as if I can do anything about it—about the fact that no-love
makes half (or more) of all literature incomprehensible and foreign. False.

I guess my job now is to find out what I still do believe in.

Find those poets who understand me, who understand that falling-in-love is just a chemical trip.

There are other kinds of love.
I will write about them.

Smile

Some small creatures, like moths,
are born the color of bark or dead leaves,
so they can eat or avoid being eaten.
How honest is that?

It’s no different
than the way a strategically placed mirror
can make a room seem bigger.
Or how deception and survival align
when I must smile and say I’m fine.

{the dVerse prompt which inspired this poem is the word mirror}

Pay Attention

The voice is ancient and familiar,
belonging to school days,
bouncing off the walls of the gym
like end-of-day announcements
from the principal,
or the bright ping
of a red, rubber four-square ball
entering your zone
when you’re looking the other way.

{Almost a quadrille. I’m counting the hyphenated words as a single word. I knowww …that’s breaking the rules a little, but it’s a poem not algebra, so I hope I’m forgiven. Inspired by a fun prompt from dVerse.}