Every month I seek to publish a poem from one of our young poets.
I’m always looking. If your young child, grandchild, nephew, niece,
student, or friend writes or simply says something you think worth
sharing, I’d love to see it.
Email it to me, Phillip X Levine, at [email protected]
Walking At Dusk
Before the sun sets
Or else You’ll go wild
-Genevieve Schmidt (5 years)
Fire Island Oceanfronts
Walking in the water,
Cold ocean salt stings yesterday’s bites.
Leave mind space to notice
Details obscured by yesterday’s heat.
A glinty jet ascends
Under a white moon.
Carcasses of two horseshoe crabs—
Did someone carry them up from the Bay?
Owners used to worry
That a storm like Sandy or Irene
Would take these oceanfronts,
But instead the government has chosen some,
Doors boarded, catwalks opened
So those who want to trespass
They will patriotically revert
To National Seashore.
An old man sits in the surf
Stretching his bones and eating
The energy of the sea.
These old houses are all owned
By old men who don’t care what weather
Is coming ten years anon.
I think of my mother now long gone.
Did her ashes drift all the way to Tahiti
Or are they brushing my feet as I walk?
-Laura Rock Kopczak
in colors that don’t exist
that tinted orange
and purple so bright
just like the sun
Dude, it’s true
what you said
No young boy
or French horn
to meet girls.
-George J. Searles
Love On The Road
We hug and kiss in the fast food parking area
From their SUV my family waves farewell to me
We are on the same road until they slow to approach their exit
For an instant we are side by side
Everyone turns in their seats and throws me an extra kiss
They look like any other family
Except they’re my family
Truthfully it is one alluring scene after the other—whether it be small petals being blown in the wind from some bouncy blossom, or a car pulls up on the street, and a woman steps out, a black dress billowing in the sudden breeze sounding through leaves, branches swaying in an astounding choreography to this mysteriously conducted, yes— symphony.
The Back Door’s Alive
How you turned and pivoted into the
rectangle of light from the open door,
a sliver that made me suddenly you
and your choices. Though I stood in the dark,
your slight stumble as your foot came down on
the side of your decision became my
own as I felt myself drifting toward that
search for clarity and wholeness in a
home where mirrors are appreciated
for reflecting, telling us what we don’t
want to know, confirming what we do. Don’t
get me wrong; I love the night. Give me a
late rising moon and the Milky Way, I’ll
fall in love until dawn, attention drawn
more to the majesty of feeling than
the day to day mediocrity of
consistent scaffolding if you do it
right. I too have slept and stumbled through a
miasma of my own making, confused
the humors rising off the bog with mist,
will o’ the wisps for knowledge. The back door’s
alive. Inside are seven fireplaces,
meaning seven chimneys to escape from,
seven rooms where you might find where you belong.
All Saints Day
In the corner of my kitchen Gabriel and Judas play five card draw
The water faucet is broken, the wine barrel bare
Yesterday’s bread crust, stale on the counter
John decrees there will be no baptisms performed
Mary Magdalene arrives with sangria and saves the day
She sells tickets to the resurrection
three for the price of one
Gabriel blows his horn, Judas pulls an inside straight
I buy a raffle for salvation
I last saw my son,
fourteen years old,
at the New York Public Library.
Arriving at the big city from upstate, while
his classmates spent a scheduled hour shopping
he announced in a new, growly voice,
“I have a much better idea,” and sprinted
through traffic to a magnificent marble building
where a pair of stone lions stand guard.
His father and I milled the ground floor
while our son paced, exasperated
until commandeering our elbows
and we were off
to glide polished floors, skate hallways
and skim past chandeliers that swam in light.
He knew exactly where he was going—
this son of mine with no sense of direction—
and on quick legs (longer than ours)
bounded the stairs two steps at a time
until he stopped, suddenly
underneath an arch:
an architect’s prayer
a mason’s embrace
the curved girder
that keeps weight from crushing space.
Just beyond, blue sky
filled the open throat of a window.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” he breathed, leaning
slender, reverent, toward the opening.
And before my eyes,
my son’s face faded into white walls
his thinly-poured whisper trickling
into creases between stone slabs.
When we turned away, I thought nothing of it,
but he did so reluctantly. I—accustomed
to his brilliant comings and goings—assumed
his triumphant escapes were mine, as well
as if I would never lose vantage of his confidences
as if they belonged to me.
If I had known, I would have shouted, “Wait!
The world will crush you, people will not
love you as they should!” might have wept, even
would have latched onto my husband’s arm
since our son had let go of my own.
I didn’t know
and so, I didn’t.
We retraced our steps,
turning faces from chandeliers
ignoring lions’ scowls and
wading into stalled traffic,
threading our way back
to teenagers with shopping bags
and parents asking wearily, “Where
did the time go?” except for one dad,
who joked, when we boarded the bus,
“Next stop, high school,” and no one laughed.
I have not seen my son since that unforgivable day.
His face in full bloom.
His posture of rapt attention.
Precise fingers; pale hands.
Teachers report regular sightings
in calculus and sculpture classes.
Siblings claim to regret his presence.
Sometimes I hear him laughing with friends—
but by the time I get close, he is already gone.
Tricked by the light under his door, I knock—
but when he opens it, and I scan the room
littered with school uniforms and paint supplies—
he is not there.
I lost him at the New York Public Library
to the inverted runners of a marble cradle
the lintel of an arc through which
a young man might escape
might discover, in plain sight
and just beyond it
the blue shock of freedom.
If anyone sees him—
If anyone sees my beloved son,
Please, please, let me know.
My mother said I came from Adam’s rib,
Heaven and hell, purgatory and penance;
one gluttonous day in paradise
bursting with original sin.
Said I came from temptation,
from eating the wrong apple,
from one celestial serpent, preying on me,
belting blue-black bruises into my holy, hell-bound flesh.
From seven capital sins: pride, envy, anger, sloth, lust,
gluttony, and greed. I come from golden rules, and healing holy sacraments;
Commandments, confessions, and decades of Hail Mary full of grace,
Our Fathers, Acts of Contrition, and a lifetime of penance.
Full of transgressions, now, I lay me down to sleep
and pray the Lord my soul to keep…
what comes from my night dreams,
where I am not born from a miser’s mouth
or Adam’s dust bone cage, his timid ribs.
I have not fallen from Heaven’s grace,
burning in hell’s eternity. Wafer-paper Gods, don’t linger,
rotting on my crippled Sunday tongue.
I come from night dreams, with headwaters deep,
windy epiphanies full of slippery fish,
and whitewater moon beams
roiling in a rutting red sea.
I come from crimson mud and fruit laden,
expectant orchards, bursting ferocious
and furious luscious love.
I come from hot, wet, belly-dreaming,
my own fertile story,
my own pregnant truth.