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Category: My poems

POEM: It isn’t merely the fashioning

It isn’t merely the fashioning
of new meanings from the threads and whisps,
rather it is the intention, the

unsounded affirmation of a
relationship, woven into each
chosen strand and intricate pattern.

Pearls uncovered in the depths, the craft
rows back to shore, where it is met by
the warm wool and the gathering in.

One must take stock in it, and accept
the gift for what it is, speech rendered,
unspoken, as textile manuscript.

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POEM: Luxury Hotel

Luxury Hotel

Room after room after room with no stopping, no let-up.
How many in a year? Five thousand? Six thousand?
The human body can only take so much.
So many liftings of the mattress, so many bends of the knees.
Then there are the chemicals, the solvents, the cleaners.
Scrubbing with your face right down in the fumes,
breathing deeply from the exertion.
Cracked skin, aching muscles, arms like rubber.
You can’t even lift your baby girl for a kiss.
Other people’s pubic hair, other people’s vomit and blood.
One time there was a man hiding in the closet.
He put one finger to his lips and told you to be quiet,
but how could you be quiet when there was a man in the closet?
So you screamed and ran and they gave you half a day off.
Another time you begged and begged for shoes,
the kind with the special soles so you wouldn’t slip.
After days and weeks and months, they ordered them
on the very day your head hit the tile floor,
the same day they cornered you in the manager’s office
and nobody called for a doctor, the same day
you passed out waiting for the bus and a passerby
took you to the emergency room. A stranger had to do that.
There are seven Dominicans and three women from Jamaica
and five Senegalese and one Vietnamese lady in the laundry
with no English who keeps to herself in the mouth of the furnace.
Eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours if it’s busy.
Then it’s home to cook and do your own laundry and help
Javi and Lisa with their homework. Make the lunches
for the next day. Shrink into the bed and fall asleep
to the throbbing in your joints. The alarm at 4 a.m.
Then it’s room after room after room with no stopping, no let-up.
How many in a year? Five thousand? Six thousand?
The human body can only take so much.

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POEM: Bookshelves

Bookshelves

All our bookshelves were made by our fathers,
crafted by calloused hands from woods
soft or hard, fine-grained or no,
fashioned in damp basements or dusty barns
on Saturday afternoons while Black Magic Woman
or Love Me Do played on what used to be the nice radio.
The bookshelves are, like all fathers’ creations, imperfect,
slightly wider at the front,
fitting some books better than others.
In one, there is a pair of hearts carved,
delicate filigree surprising
from a splitter of logs, a man of the earth.
The bookshelves are a framework, intended
by our fathers to be filled with thoughts
of our own choosing, maybe with a gentle nudge
from a “doctor of books.”
But it is we who must encumber the wood
with our own words, we who must choose
which volumes to stack or lean,
we who receive the hard or soft legacy
cast in simple wood by complex men.

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POEM: Robby Burns’s Hat

Here’s my contribution to the memory of Monday. For more, read Dan Wilcox’s Birthday Poem, 2009 and his write-up of the event.

Robby Burns’s Hat

Crusty snow beneath our boots
as we watch a limber young poet
scamper atop the McPherson Legacy.

Once settled between Robby’s legs,
he takes the beret — the same one
they used last year —

and balances it on top of Robby’s head.
The last time, it was up there a week before
a less young, but no less limber, poet

found the beret at the base of the Legacy
and rescued it from oblivion, restoring
the cap to its place of honor twelve months later.

And so it goes, year after year, in honor
of the man who started it all, and who
made the trail through the snow that we follow.

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POEM: Last Night I Watched

Last Night I Watched
by Jason Crane

Last night I watched an American president-elect on the television and cried. Next to me was my wife Jennifer, tears running down her cheeks.

Last night I watched the awakening of a nation that had all but given up on its principles and ideals.

Last night I watched Jesse Jackson hold one finger to his trembling lips as he wept, the marathon runner finally crossing the finish line.

Last night I watched John Lewis talk about the unbelievable road from “Whites Only” bathrooms to steel truncheons on the Edmund Pettis Bridge to the steps of the Capitol.

Last night I watched an actor from The Color Purple rest her chin on the shoulder of a friend as she watched an African-American man speak about his future presidency.

Last night I watched an ocean of joyful tears give a gentle lift to the ship that is America.

Last night I watched Walt Whitman as he knelt down and pulled a blade of grass from the rich earth, singing.

Last night I watched as Kenyans danced on dusty ground, arms raised toward the glorious sun.

Last night I watched as a crack opened in the wall, and looking through, I could see the glimmering field of stars.

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POEM: My Birthday Poem

HPIM2790.jpg
My sister, mom, dad and friend Kevin at my 2007 birthday shindig.

Here’s a poem I wrote in 2007 after celebrating my birthday with friends and family at Thali, our favorite Indian restaurant in Rochester.

Birthday
by Jason Crane

This is my birthday poem:
Stuffed full of Chicken Makhani,
Squeezing the plastic skull
With its bulging brains.

This is my birthday poem:
Grumpy-faced children
Fight off the smiles
That take over their faces.

This is my birthday poem:
Moving from one end of the
Long table to the other,
A timeline with forks and knives.

This is my birthday poem:
A box of old feelings
Hidden away in the closet,
Buried with new garments.

This is my birthday poem:
Pedaling slowly to Barrington Street,
My young son beside me,
Dodging the potholes.

This is my birthday poem:
Enchiladas and rice
And a dusty courtyard;
Beyond — and old bookstore.

This is my birthday poem:
“Daddy wants jam and bread.”
And knees in my back
Keep me awake in the small hours.

This is my birthday poem:
Tucked in, supine,
Balancing a notebook
On my stuffed belly.

(September 2007)

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