Monday, January 26, 2004

Two hours after midnight

Your lips,
  pursed and puckered;
a blush on your cheeks
  soft with youth.
The light
  tender and gentle.

Copyright 2003 by Peter A. Stinson.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Jazz and Poetry

Jazz and poetry
hits me like arctic air,
a bite across the calm waters,
breath stolen and cheeks brushed cold.
Shipyard lights reflect in the black shadows,
the dull roar of city life
deadened by winter’s chill;
scent of fireplace smoke
takes the edge off.

I can only imagine,
the warmth of your southern breath,
flame of desire,
a tenuous flickering,
heat seeking heat,
body seeking body,
a goddess watching over me,
eternity still

all cocooned in the melody
of the wind,
jazz and poetry wrapped together,
heat building.

Copyright 2004 by Peter A. Stinson.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Cricket Box

A Southern Christmas Poem

Cool as bunny paws in a winter's snow
old as a horn that missed its cue
the old cricket box sat
kissed by midnight
until its brassy sheen
had grown to a darkened hue.

It sang a song of winters long ago
of innocent young maidens
and their courting beaus.
It sang of cold winter nights
by the kernel spitting hearth
as it soaked the warmth like a sponge.

Oh, for days gone by
for winter nights, for winking eyes
for crescent moons and twinkling stars in the skies,
for frozen ponds and taffy pulls
and laughter in the air.
for days gone by.

For Christmas nights under a harvest moon
and front porch swings and swarm
carolers singing to a cricket's tune.
for city folk that yearn with passion plea...
that again shall come that feeling of
Christmas country,
with mint fresh air
and swirling snowflakes everywhere
as yuletide fall
with cricket call
oh cricket box.

Copyright 2004 by Phyllis Johnson.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

Friday, January 09, 2004


They made me leave
The church too soon
Again this morning.
I left at seven,
Already hungry, wanting to stay a while and pray.
God knows I need to.
"Come back at noon for sandwiches," the man said. Baloney.
"Baloney and cheese," he said.

They give each of the men
Two sandwiches at midday.
So many men shuffling
Reaching up in helplessness and shame
Reaching up to a tiny open window, each for his two baloney sandwiches
With no mayonnaise and no lettuce,
Then trying hard to keep studying what's left of his shoes.

But I'll be too hungry at noon for just two slices of bread -- too hungry
For baloney
With no mayonnaise.

Oh my God it's starting again.
The fear
That makes my hands and feet hurt every time.
My mind a set of wheels that's left the track, now flying,
Going a hundred and forty miles an hour, even more,
Threatening my mind with its own insanity, as I just try to drive the thing
Coming at me with rage and fury I can't hope to control.

My belly an angry, a ravenous, really ugly cat,
Hissing at me furiously, angrier now than before,
Telling me all day and all night that I need to eat need to eat need to eat.

My corduroy dress
Is dirty now,
Shapeless and worn out,
It had a hem once; the dress and I were proud, neat and pretty together.
I loved wearing that dress
That's a now a torn blanket I wear to cover me.

Adhesive tape holds my glasses almost together,
My short hair shaggy and ugly and long,
Loafers worn sideways, now useless,
No wonder children are afraid of me.
Oh my God the children are afraid of me.
Just how does one ever change such a thing as that?
How does one make such a thing no longer so?

Fear becomes terror,
And terror's now anger; now deep down angry rage.
And I myself am the terror. I'm the rage; I'm the terror,
Rage and terror are who I am and they're what I am.
Neither leaves me; I never stop being what or where or who I am.
All that I am, I'm bound here by life and by necessity,
Having no money at all, and no decent way to get money,
I can't just stop being here where I am
And go where life is good.

But now I'll find a way to
Get myself some chili -- or a plate of meatloaf
Or something equally beautiful.
Maybe I can do that; I mean I absolutely have to.
This looks like a spot. This corner will maybe work for something good.
People hurrying by seem happy to be going where they're going.

"Excuse me Sir, excuse me, Ma'am,
Do you have a couple of dollars to spare
That maybe you don't really need?
Something you've maybe sort of tossed into one of your pockets?
A dollar or two you could give me,
So that I'll be able to keep on living, too?
I'm just so absolutely, so totally, really unbearably, hungry"

"But thank you both so much! The world's a better place now,
At least it is for me, and that's all
Because of you two. Blessings on you both forever!"

I wish I could never again get hungry, never have to be humiliated and beg again.
I'd never ever ask for money from strangers, if I could just find a way.
But I'll get hungry again for sure. I'll have to beg again.

I wonder if that church
Will let me in again tonight so I can hope to sleep there again.
I want a home of my own so bad so bad so bad.
I was brought up in a family -- well brought up and truly educated once,
Always, especially, to live and run a well-kept home of my own.

But that can never be -- will never be for me to have a home,
Sleep every night in my own bed.
I'm the woman I've become.
But there must be some sort of reason
My life's now the painful, angry, ugly thing it is.
There just must be some reason. I keep wishing I knew.

Copyright 2004 by Diana Allen Strelow.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

Friday, January 02, 2004

An Ode to Rap

They can't be bothered with grammar or phonics;
ain't nothin' wrong with talkin' ebonics.
They word up a rap, monophonic
to music nowheres near harmonic.
Some play da gangsta, act demonic,
show off a gun and break sardonic.
Their fans won't think that they're moronic
'cuz most of 'em are catatonic.
Most got no talent and it's ironic
that they get rich off their histrionics.

I'm sure the world will never hear
a rap that comes remotely near
to a metered line, crisp and clear,
that holds the English language dear.
A poet elicits a sigh, a tear,
or a thought to cherish and revere.
A lilting verse that brings you cheer
when read aloud to please the ear,
or the little jest that you see here,
a poem is a gift, sincere.

The differences between a rap and a poem?
They're obvious but some don't know 'em.
Rapping is talking with rhyme, not reason,
but words have souls and the poet frees 'em.

First published in Poem Kingdom, 2002.

Copyright 2002 by John Bushore.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.