Visit the library April 1-26 to vote for your favorite!
In the Village
Somewhere north of the zaftig Catskills,
there’s a little village sweet as a pastille.
The Victorian houses gather there like
concerned citizens, sturdy and plumb.
At the curve of the road, one house, pale yellow,
trimmed in curlicues, stands in welcome.
The clapboards on its south side peel in the summer glare.
North is a rhubarb patch, a steep hill,
and a ribbon of cloud.
The terraced yard climbs the bank,
braced by a wall of smooth river stones.
Beside the back door, a wheelbarrow,
flecked with rust, cradles rainwater.
Things do happen here. The wash goes up on the line.
Raccoons get in the shed and make a night clatter
of falling rakes and buckets.
Days lengthen, then shorten. The onions unearth themselves,
pearlescent under a dusting of earth.
The mill wheel grows a skin of algae when the river water slows.
When evening summons the porch shadows, the
lavender grays in the dusk. One star becomes many.
My limbs loosen, and sleep comes lightly
up the flagstone walk,
spilling gently through me like mail through the slot.
I drift into a dream of dry grass and insect hum.
The bees sleep too, under the dark dry eaves.
Waking to dawn’s pink cheek, I lay a shingle of toast
on chipped china, coax a curl of sweet butter.
In the dell, the church bell peals, and my soul is sated,
settled as an old grave bedecked with buttercups.
Sailing in the deep
Riding on the waves
I wake up to the waters
I see them far away.
I wake up to the land
With forests and mountains
The beauty of this island
Is beyond my capture.
I wake up to the sunrise
Displaying colors in the sky
A warm and breezy morning
Rocking and rolling the ship so high.
I see the others cruising
Sometimes close sometimes far
Dazzling lights and music
Riding along to the shore.
A little butterfly came by today
and landed on my chest
I told him to fly on, I think
that was best,
A ladybug relaxed on my arm
guess she knew I’d do her no harm.
A black ant passed me by working
hard, that’s no lie.
A fly tickled my leg
then off he flew, zig and a zag.
A little kitten so cute and sweet
played games on my bare feet,
Birds around with cheerful song
the backyard is happy all day long.
I sit in beautiful sun.
Engjoying life and having fun.
I am cloaked in midnight
With diamonds in my hair
I am bathed in sunshine
It is butterflies I wear
I dance among the mushrooms
And float among the trees
My playmates are the dragonflies
Whom I like to tease
My song is that of rivers
And rambling brooks as they go
If you listen carefully
I am the whisper of falling snow
I am the stillness of the meadows
And the shadows of the mist
I am the colors of the rainbows
And in a dew drop’s gentle kiss
I am the hopes of the future
And the dreams of the past
I am the fairies’ magic
And the spells that they cast
Leaves blowing down in a slow winding spiral.
Resisting the fall until it finally rests,
just to be blown around.
On the ground before the slow winter decay.
Some leaves mysteriously beautiful.
Some badly tarnished.
But a collective juxtaposition of ending life.
What are the ages of these leaves?
Falling memories set free.
Captured before a winters snow.
Blown about at natures whim,
controlling fate lost.
And the snow and rain wash little away.
It holds these fallen leaves to the ground,
To suffer or to shine on a new sunny day.
“Speak English!” the bagman barks.
Rivulets of silence cleave the
Chatter of customers, the swish of plastic, the clank of shopping carts
Eyes flick to the self-important smirking sir
To the stony-faced cashier with the spilling dark hair
My hand hovers mushrooms over the conveyor belt
I doubt my hearing,
But a manager’s young face creases into a frown
A woman shakes her head
An almost imperceptible rustle of protest sighs through the crowd
I narrow my eyes and “hmph!” just like
My toddler when she is quietly angry
“What right do you have?!” I want to have yelled,
Days later as I wash dishes, my rage scrubbing
Burnt eggs off a sad little pan
“Who are you to deny anyone the community
And comfort that comes from sharing a common language!”
The words form, seethe and bubble in my brain
My heart, my painfully clear hindsight
They spring from my bones in unexpected moments
“MY RELATIVES WERE SENT TO SIBERIA FOR
SPEAKING THEIR OWN LANGUAGE!”
I slam the mop against the cold tile.
“My great-aunt whispered the national anthem to her grandchildren
In their beds, fearful the soldiers would somehow hear…”
I deflate. I sag. I curse myself. I curse the times.
I should have spoken. I should have. I will. I will.
During a red afternoon I sit
with my grandfather.
In a searing summer kitchen
in a burnt, red, sauce.
from heavy glasses
laced with vodka.
During a red afternoon
at my wistful,
In a stuffy, suffocating
he forces me
to look at
it burns itself
into a fist.
During a red afternoon
he crushes me
with his wet,
He smashes my screams
my eight-year-old body.
my now ageless spirit.
I turn the page in all my books
And every one is blank
I search through every chamber of my soul
And with each look my hope sank
To lose a thing so near and dear
It struck me with a start
Of all the things I’ve lost in life
Now I cannot find my heart
I turned each room upside down
To find that precious jewel
My thoughts my memories were no help
How could fate be so cruel
I searched and searched to my wits’ end
And finally I knew
I calmed by brain and took a breath
And simply thought of you
Your presence being near to me
Was always kind and healing
A quiet place where I could rest
When the world was so unfeeling
Together we could weather
The harshest storm and climb the steepest hill
No matter the years that passed us by
I knew you loved me still
So steady now I slowly take
measure of the room
The chaos that was strewn about
And see dimly through the gloom
A tiny light glinting
in the corner of that space
Your eyes and cheeks and lips and nose
The glory of your face
You hover over protecting
Keeping it from harm
Knowing from experience
how fragile and yet warm
Knowing it can bring
both joy and sorrow to bear
You have always shown my heart
The most delicate of care
As I approach you hold it up
And I see your smiling face
The one who steadies me
And so aptly is named grace
(not eligible for voting)
You once told me our paths were never meant to cross.
With horror I wondered how this could be.
By forging my own line through thick grass
Between my parallel way and yours
Intruding on your path with greened toes,
Did I intercept your true inertia?
Yet we could not deny how one we felt
Traveling down the same path
Seeing the world with similar eyes,
Feeling alike as if a single mind and heart.
From time to time I would return to your path
Walking through my makeshift one again and again,
Through trampled grass, slowly worn over years
Revealing compacted earth underneath,
Syncing with you with darkened toes,
Hand in hand, blissfully tethered by unseen bindings,
Paired and complete.
Yet the path you truly yearned for curved further away from you
And would not welcome you while I besieged it.
And the traveler you became was unknown and unwanted.
How I wish I were those weaknesses you so desire.
How I could make you feel veracious and constant.
But I know not how to fix the intricate workings of the world,
Nor express true musical poetry from my raw nerves.
Ah, how I long to express how you fix my soul.
How exposed and beautiful I know myself to be because of you,
Every day, in this life or that, in ways you may never know.
But now my path has disappeared from me.
All that remains is the one I carved from nothing,
The way connected to yours,
Fashioned only by my impulse, my determination, my love,
Now adorned with polished stones where fresh grass and trodden soil had been,
An obsidian passage reflecting only moonlight.
A path I walk now, royal and proud
To return exultantly to your trail.
But finding you are no longer there.
It lies empty, save for me.
This weary, stray nomad is left wondering: