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Category: Audio Poems

POEM: Creeley’s Balloon

Listen to this poem by pressing the play button above.

Written on a lazy afternoon while overdosing on the poetry of Robert Creeley.

Creeley’s Balloon

Why can’t we feel the Earth going around the sun?
Why can’t we feel the world spinning?
I tiptoe on squeaky floors so as not to wake my son,
while the cat sleeps on his back under two sheets of paper.
Now I’m in bed, listening to a love song by an old Nazi
and reading Creeley, most of which I don’t understand.
On the cover of the book he’s grinning,
spent cigarette in his lips, hat on the back of his head.
I think he’s in a hot-air balloon, somewhere
over the western desert.
What is lighter than air?
What is heavier than sorrow?
Faded in the background, a mesa,
above it, a cloud,
captured by the lens for just that one moment.
Who snapped the photograph?
Who is the other passenger?
“It was at those times that I carried you.”
I used to find that so comforting
until I realized that “those times”
call for us to plant our own feet in the sand,
on this shifting ground that is spinning, whirling
around a sun in a galaxy
that is itself spinning
in a universe
that is growing into something we cannot explain.

And yet

there is Creeley, now long gone,
in his hot-air balloon, smiling at me,
and I tiptoe to the bathroom, and my son stirs.

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POEM: The Soft Friction Of Sliding Glass

Listen to this poem by pressing the play button above.

A love poem.

The Soft Friction of Sliding Glass

On the living room carpet, after the prom,
she raises her pale arms in the light
coming in through the sliding glass door.

Understanding, amazed, he reaches down,
takes hold of the bottom of her sweatshirt,
and slides it up over her head.

For the first time, there is nothing between them
but air, skin and propriety.
He can’t believe that this diminutive, angelic gift is his.

He leans over to kiss her,
but even more to feel her skin
and the rise and fall of her breath.

They slide to the floor, arms around each other,
mouths and hands and thighs and stomachs
searching for every inch of long-sought completion.

For all that there have been many moments of exploration,
long afternoons desperately quiet in her upstairs bedroom,
it is these few moments that he will remember most.

Sitting quietly on the couch many years later,
accompanied by the gentle rush of a fan in the next room,
he will close his eyes and once more

feel her under him,
his palms remembering the soft friction of her,
his body still responding, even now.

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POEM: Maple Leaf

Listen to this poem by pressing the play button above.

I wrote this over the weekend on the train from Albany, NY, to Rochester, NY.

Photo (c) 2008, Brian Cameron
Photo (c) 2008, Brian Cameron

Maple Leaf

ice flows on the canal
and I flow the opposite way,
bound west on two steel lines
toward my old not-home

now the water is a river
filled with half-wild islands
and on each piece of snowy ground,
a flock of waiting birds

Amsterdam, Utica, Syracuse —
ancient and exotic names
they have turned their backs
on the water and rails

further on now through fields
where sparse grasses and weeds
poke up through the snow
like drowning men’s fingertips

blowing snow, fog-like
makes of the rail line a dream sequence
empty nests wedged in tree limbs
empty factories with no hope of spring

for an instant, beside the tracks,
two men with rifles search the trees for prey
while nearby an empty backyard
where an empty swing set sways

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POEM: bus stop effigy

Listen to this poem by pressing the play button above.

Image (c) John Brodkin
Image (c) John Brodkin

bus stop effigy

bus stop effigy
low-wage lynching
victim waits
to move from one
rat hole to the next
stop on the line
with only ends
no destinations
no cessation
puffy down coat
conceals smoldering
fire in the gut
winter air hides
shamefaced blush

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