A poem may unfold
Like a life or newspaper
Or a message written
Inside a paper crane
The first line like
Life at the start
The newborn glimpses Mom
Looking at the universe
From the outside
A newspaper headline
Like a poem’s first line
Nudges the reader
To take that first step
Down the garden path
Paper cranes unfold
Most often by
Accident or whim
Or because the maker
Sometimes the message
Awakens the crane
And she takes flight
A symbol of grace
Across the sky
And (alas) so must I
Since poetry editors
In the end always
By last lines
Wishing a fond goodbye to Eye On Life
Poetry Editor 2009 - 2015
In August heat, our lawn is dry like husks of corn.
The only catheter from clouds—a kinking,
winding garden hose that wraps its rope around
a chair and will not reach my sacred green geranium
still eaking out its scarlet buds.
Fires climb the mountainsides
with nimble fingers of their flames.
It’s strange to see the gusting plumes,
the rising gray, just hanging there
like roofs on homes.
Just miles away from where we live,
evacuations take their toll—lines of heaving
pick-up trucks come crawling by.
Have you seen The Grapes of Wrath or read the book?
On our street, a little girl has lost her doll;
it fell in ditches somewhere close and so we search
like FBI hunting for a kidnapped child.
We set up just one simple stand for lemonade—
free to pairs of thirsty lips—reminisce about
our ancient childhoods when skies were different shades
of blue that rarely made us stop and think.
Before it’s 3:00, we comb the nearest grocery stores—
not a single lemon left, 30 lbs. of sugar gone.
We’re down to drinking from the hose.
Out of nowhere comes a single vee of geese,
just below the bombers plowing through the smoke,
the stinging ash—a tarnished girth
of tragedy I’ve ever seen in valleys here.
The little girl is by my side; she walks, I limp—
she asks me why. I make it sound like toes we stub.
I find her doll in piles of rocks,
dusting off the chestnut braids, straightening
pink checkered sleeves, put it in her tired arms.
She grabs my artificial thigh, asks me if it is a tree.
Says out loud to everyone still standing there:
“Planes and birds have come to rescue all of us.”
Then a pause. “I love you”—without reasoning.
GARAGE SALE HERE!
We walked by all the dusty cars,
scanned the junk, too hot to touch
in August heat. Cracked clay pots,
heaps of clothes still wearing mud
from last year’s raining soccer game,
a row of votives, all half-burned,
wicks too small to light again.
I saw a crumpled doily there,
picked it up and asked some girl
tanning in a broken chair: “What’s the price?”
“10 cents,” she said. “Oh never mind,
just take it. I am sick of it.
My grandma’s grandma made it
umpteen years ago. It’s worthless
and it gathers dust.”
I pressed a $50 bill inside her palm.
She quickly stuffed it in her bra.
Her face grew pale, the color of fresh coconut,
as if she’d seen her first gray corpse.
Riding home, I started scratching
out a poem on backs of two deposit slips,
told my husband, “Skip the bumps;
I cannot join my syllables.”
I saw a woman sitting near a crackling fire,
a shawl around her shoulder blades,
hooking threads in perfect ropes,
the neat design of snowflakes
in a winter storm.
I guessed the fabric started white,
like hides on some albino horse.
It turned a shade of ivory,
then neutered stains
from tea that left a china cup,
missed the saucer, landed there
across the finely woven strings.
This doily stood for centuries
once here and not retrievable.
Walk off and on, but mostly off.
I cannot reach to floss my teeth.
My sister’s stopping by today.
I put my head between my legs—
leave it there,
add some color to my face—
a shade of white like sugar cubes.
Life is liver, not dessert,
but what’s the point of showing it.
I crutch into the living room.
Acei Cichlids, purple Discus, Angel Fish
float upside down or right side up
inside a lit aquarium.
Nothing left that moves with grace.
So close—the intimacy of our kiss
is an illusion, an electric echo,
a chemical leap from skin to thought.
We cannot escape this passage, cannot
face the future. You are gone,
a storehouse of presence like a stitch
that cannot be the needle's weave
that pierces cloth. Still our lips meet
with perfect anticipation and brush
a landscape defying delay. We twine
despite our sense's failure. We are
the switch and not the light. We are
the point on the page and not the phrase,
those futile marks our minds design.
Only when we surrender, let
the past propel into the past,
only here, when we forgo
the chance of knowing the other's lips,
that pleasured pressure face to face,
only in that unmeasured moment
do we touch.
-- Bill Trudo
The world is copper
as if a sculptor finely etched these lines
where the waves rise along the lake,
and breakwaters jut, and piers,
their darker shades in this scene of metal.
An avenue blazes, unleashes an elemental fire
that eyes must follow to the horizon,
above which the sun sits,
like a small boy in regal dress,
on a ledge of clouds overlooking.
That child sees all in imagination.
-- Bill Trudo
That’s why we go on listening.
— Susan Blackwell Ramsey,
“The Best Part Of This Story Has Been Left Out”
Fast clouds before your eyes. White lilacs
at the back of my mind. Between,
coffee’s scent dances like the morning flurries.
An ant haphazardly searches the tile, then the sky.
Call it Saturday punk rock. Call it God.
Call it life, the universe, and everything
beyond your thought and feeling, and mine.
I struggle here to bury our ashy allusions,
to rise and not breathe the fallout, but it’s easier
to scatter dry rooftop snow when clouds
rush across the midday sun, leaving us
to embrace the difference.
-- Bill Trudo
Tommy is the only man
for miles around who can knot a tie.
Old farmers come to town on Saturday
and wave from pickups with respect
when they see Tommy on the street
out for a walk in his black suit.
Tommy is the man they know
their families will call to knot
their ties and close their caskets.
It is easier for a camel to pass
through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich
to enter the kingdom of God,
Jesus told his disciples.
Centuries later Warren
an investor in America
heard about this and
asked Fu a manufacturer
in China to make
millions of 12-foot needles.
Then he asked Ahmad
a bedouin in Oman
to breed smaller camels.
Look for the IPO on Wall Street.
Seeing is believing
often tell me but
no one ever told me
believing is seeing
except this blind lady
I help across the street
who taps her cane
and tells me
you’ll find out
when you leave Earth
and whirl among the planets
and soar behind
the sun and moon
on the way to your place
believing is seeing
someone some say
My mummer’s garb,
My troubadour’s clothes,
I wear many masks
Through my life play.
Joy before the audience,
Sadness behind the curtains,
Peace with fellow actors,
Envy for those not in dialogue.
My masks change on the writer’s whim
As she script shifts.
All the world’s a stage,
But what if the veneer falls?
What if I stepped
From the glamor and glow
Beyond the red drapes?
In what realm might I dwell?
Cage me to a point where I get immune to myself
I don't need a camouflage of your bodily paradigm
but, the pinions of your soul to recollect myself for a while
just to devoid myself of everything, be it you or be it me.
Embrace me as a cool breeze;
snuff the scorching hate out of me.
Just be my medium so I can peek through the
small pores of disdain and fool myself once again.
I don't want you to conceal me inside the membrane of your shadow.
I just want you to permit me to silhouette against your soul.
It’s a promise that I won't enter the zones where the
radiant sparks of my inner demons walk
wearing a supercilious attire.
I'll limit myself to the finitude of your body,
won't approach your shroud of self-hood.
But, will you please allow me to peer
at the infra-canopy of yours?
I won't reveal the secrets of you,
The secrets of me which have entwined you
under their arms.
Those secrets which you just didn't share
to justify 'us' in our privy shell.
Ah! Reveal them for once.
I want them to be believed, to be clutched by me.
Don't be so hard on yourself.
Share your 'you(s)' with me and cuddle my 'me(s)'
so that we both can delve ourselves in the
candescent dungeons of our secrets;
Lets hypnotize the blind folds and warm the drizzles of the rain.
Lets blink the sun so it'll not eclipse,
and illuminate the lunar so it'll never reach doom.
Lets replenish the cavities of joys with dews of sensuality.
Lets change the world so our connections will be murmurs
But, first assure me that 'we' will always accompany me.
This 'we' can out pass all the ferocious waves
and gulp up the throbs of heart.
This 'we' is so potent but still, you say that we're impotent.
Stop being so futile, be my ductile.
Let me up thrust you in an ocean of my love
where solitude meets togetherness
and profanity nulls out the dirt of interrogation, reaching spirituality.
Be my divine, my sweetheart, my sunshine.
Make me hold you
and captivate your entity in a lullaby of my arms.
I'm stretching my arms to lock you softly
and reach the immensities of our love.
Comforts of coitus are being enveloped.
Now, lets encapsulate!
-- Fizza Abbas
He remembers loving her
lost in an orchard
peaches, pears, apricots
falling on his head
always out of breath
he never found
then hating her
the night she sent him
whirling into space
dodging stars, planets
no sign of life anywhere
he would ever hear
a songbird welcome spring
or kiss her again.
Within these hollow cities
the pallor of shallow nights
when sleep isn’t enough
The loneliness of those
who were born to sing,
empty acolytes brave enough
to hear a seemingly whispered
presence, to wear a seemingly
invisible robe of gold
Those who have had time for
their mistakes and move on to
a grateful sense of sweetness,
the sweet embrace of the genuine,
because we are, after all, always
somehow someone that is needed.
You’re not normal.
You never were.
Even in kindergarten
the nun had to call
your parents about
the way you ruined
worksheet after worksheet
putting spots on zebras.
You hated stripes.
Now miles into the jungle
of your dotage, why grouse
about family coming to town
wanting to go on a picnic
before the night game.
They're only being normal.
They have no problem with ants
peppering the potato salad.
Why not tell them yesterday
the doctor said you have gout
and you plan to watch the game
on TV in your recliner,
foot propped. Maybe you'll
see them in the stands while
the Cardinals pound the Cubs,
something as certain as
the Second Coming, something
the kids from Chicago already know.
in this bar that we’ve been avoiding for months
there were so many good times
there have been hours lost in the drink
that i don’t mind getting back
on a saturday afternoon that’s too cold for late march
the last two seats at the bar
motown playing like a portent of good things to come
a half block of rubble two blocks away
two dead bodies that they haven’t found yet
but will have by the night
when we’re already home and working on the wine
with seth at the end of the bar pouring pints
for the same people that were sitting statues the last time we left
here is where the pieces fall into place
and years can slip back into common, tangible moments
here is where the storm ends and the sun comes out
another new york city story
another tragedy reaching for the light
two pints of dark beer
and a basket of greasy popcorn
seth now pouring us two chilled vodka shots as payment
for talking our ears off about his ex-girlfriend
just like he did all summer
when we and cancer came in here incognito
to hear his tales of woe and to forget our own
before we forgot here
right fucking here
with the neon reflecting red off the faces
of young women too dumb on their cell phones to notice
that right here
right in this moment
is where we rise
where we all begin again
always in transit
mostly going somewhere i don’t want to go
going back to somewhere
huddled on a subway or a bus
with the other fools
trapped in my own trivial malaise
or being held captive by some annoyance
tonight it is a pack of teenagers
who are screaming and running between trains
they are hitting each other…again
there is no poetry in the art of redundancy
mine or theirs
so do not think of this as a poem
maybe it is a cry for help
or it is life and life only
i have at least three to four people a day tell me
thank god the day is moving fast
or they complain about how slow it is going
and they have the softest march toward death
that i’ve ever seen punch the clock
soft people and their soft problems
most of them have never worked anywhere else
they take their cars and sit in traffic
playing on their cell phones
listening to sports and hate radio
the only victim in the scenario being their time wasted
on a planet that kills millions
offers death sentences to so many others
each and every day
i’ll put that on my bucket list, they say
we are masters at killing the moments that count
the ones that don’t but are still as valuable
in the end that stench you smell
might just be regret
that is to say, maybe i’m happy to be on this train tonight
healthy and blind, stinking sober
somewhat alive though assaulted by teen noise
while trying to read the poetry of nazim hikmet
beethoven’s missa solemnis
playing faintly in my headphones
here and fully vested in this moment
for as long as this life will let me.
the two girls sitting near me
have a loud one-act going on
about how much they love ice cream
ooooooooh, vanilla one of them shouts
oooooooooh, chocolate, the other counters piercingly
before this they’d spent fifteen minutes
shouting back and forth about the apps on their phones
and how much they love doritos
but hate the bright orange powder that gets stuck on their fingers
this is sadly an improvement
i loooovvvveee, strawberry, one of them says
ewwwwwwwwwwwww, the other responds
strawberry is soooooooo gross.
they are giving credence to the old adage
that children should be seen and not heard
they make year-round school seem like the right choice
i stop reading my book and look around
but there is nowhere for me to go
i’m stuck and they are stuck and we are stuck
talking about ice cream in the middle of the afternoon
butter pecan, my mother loves butter pecan
yeah, well, my sister loves cookie dough and coffee flavored
she says it like a challenge
mint chocolate chip! the one girl shouts
they both squeal
we’ve hit the motherload in this conversation
the apex, the big payoff in centuries of verbal communication
mint chocolate chip!
they both scream this time
it’s like a revelation
like being in a room with copernicus
when he figured out that everything
revolved around the sun
i can’t help but laugh
i look over at the two girls and they are beaming
they look as happy as twelve year old girls
with tons of hours to kill
and not an ounce of responsibility in this world
kicking legs too small to reach the concrete
their lives full of ice cream dreams and soda pop ambition
christ, may the world
never force them to change, i think
then i go back to my book
and turn another page.