Making Art

Painting by Charles White

My art teacher paints these

virtual cloud lessons

speaking with precision

first, prepare your palette

use a rosemary brush

you must start with the white

then add in some Payne’s grey

above this green tree line

blend using gentle strokes

I do just as he says

my amateur eye sees

what my hand can’t get right

the sky is too blue and

I leave out the old barn

he’s painting a landscape

but as hard as I try

I’m painting a dreamscape

an impressionist scene

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Echo

Off you g

Click Clack Click
Mrs. Whalen’s heels
echo 
down the long dark corridor
of my mind
 
she is holding my hand
too tight 
walking too fast
as I slip and slide
beside her
 
earlier, I stood at the end 
of our driveway
nametag pinned on
light green pinafore
sunlight bouncing off ivory buttons
 
my mom pacing 
watching for the bus 
that never came
air draining slowly from 
kindergarten’s first day 
 
long shiny car pulls up
blinding yellow like the sun
nosey neighbor, Mrs. Whalen 
leans out, nails tap-tap on hot waxed metal
rescue words exchanged
 
Don’t worry
I’ll take her
Hurry up
Get in
Wave goodbye

mom frantically waving
two toddlers by her side
as noisy car speeds off
disappearing in a 
dizzying blur
 
my heart is racing
forward lurch and lunge
screeching to a stop
rush rush rush 
through schoolhouse doors
 
Mrs. Whalen’s heels 
echo-roar while I hang on
slip sliding down tile
buffed to a shine
in ink black leather Mary Jane’s
 
rap rap rap 
on heavy door
 
tap tap tap  
her toes count time
 
Sister Bernadette
with her scowl of welcome
lets the door swing wide
rosary and wimple mocking
holy words exchanged
 
Neighbor child
Very late
I don’t know 
Take a seat
Now off you go
 
Mrs. Whalen lets go my hand
shadows fall 'cross silent rows 
quick retreat now echoes soundly
click clack click 
down empty hall
 
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Before We Knew Her

Nanny leans    

against a tree

in 1929

posed in profile

first hints of 

life inside her

ballooning her dress

that falls just below the knee

revealing dancer’s legs,

though she’s not a dancer

those legs

caught papa’s eye

those legs

caught him swooning

still, forty years hence

nylons rolled 

to her ankles

at the end of another long day

singing

oh dear, bread and beer

if I was dead

I wouldn’t be here

In 1929, she stood, in a dancer’s pose

So far from whence she came

So far from where she ended 

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O’Neill

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Solitude

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There is an old trunk room

on the playwright’s estate

where I’m typing these lines

just for you

I’ve wandered the grounds

ambled through the old barn

read my fill in the library, quietly

crammed ceiling to floor

with dusty old tomes

dying to speak

I’ve prayed at a tombstone

beneath an old walnut tree

marking the spot on a hill

where he buried his heart

along with his dog

a very long time ago

I’ve watched a lone hawk

circling slow overhead

a gracefully hypnotic skydance

while lizards sunbathe

and rattlesnakes laze

and the touch of the poet remains

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Avians of Mourning

The Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, said “All poetry is prayer,” and for me that rings very true. After my father passed away in 2015, I began writing poems inspired by our relationship, which resulted in the publication of my poetry chapbook, Avians of Mourning. For me, it is a prayer that honors the past. The writer Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (author of Every Day Birds and Poems Are Teachers) said this book, “holds a daughter’s love in careful hands.” And Paul Corman-Roberts (author of We Shoot Typewriters) said it “is one of the most beautifully thought out and complete elegies I have ever read.” Avians of Mourning will be released September 4th, but is available until July 10th for pre-order. Pre-order sales help determine the size of the pressrun. If you’re interested in a copy, Click here to pre-order.

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The Second Coming

It was the ‘70s

Professor Dumbleton stood

at the front of the classroom

reciting a poem from memory

 

His back to us

chalk dust flying

with passionate intensity

as he spiraled the widening gyre

across the board

 

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold

 

And here we are again

 

In the midst of a pandemic

One man stands at the podium, unmasked

 

In the midst of peaceful protests

One man brandishes a bible, unrepentant

 

In the midst of endless suffering

One man sends a tweet, unhinged

 

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold

 

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold

 

The time has come

Our time has come

 

We are coming together to hold

each other

together

 

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Let There Be

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Nature Doesn’t Seem to Know or Care

The azaleas are in riotous bloom

a profusion of pinks and reds

their wind-driven petals scattered

across the walkway

to our front door

a floral carpet no one will cross

 

Out back the roses are showing off

their first shy buds opening

yellow and peach and red

oblivious to the fact

that there will be

no garden party here this spring

 

Meanwhile, two neighborhood cats

are perched upon the fence

facing each other

tails swishing slowly

shaking loose the wisteria blossoms

onto the playground behind our house

the stage is set for a catfight

that the schoolchildren will not hear

 

Between the press conferences

and the daily news

silently we wait

while the rain falls

the flowers bloom

and the people hide inside

 

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Silent Night, Holy Night

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Sleeping (the family)                                                                      José Clemente Orozco, 1930

“Painting…it persuades the heart.” (Orozco)

My eye is drawn first to the blue,

most radiant hue

robing this woman, a mother,

in warmth, the color of Mary

she is turned toward the father, his face bathed in heavenly light

asleep on the earthen floor of this makeshift shelter

 

Soft folds of blanket envelope them

where they lie together

two exhausted parents

too exhausted to hear the song of their daughter

wide awake now,

lullabying a song she learned from them

as they moved from field to field

carrying pots of clay, red as the earth

 

How did she come to be,

this beautiful child, the color of the earth they work,

the earth they love?

What joy, what migrant passion called her forth

to walk beside them in the light and sing a night song

unafraid

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