Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some recent poems

Back in May, I posted a poem by the superb Bosnian Serb poet Goran Simic. Here is a poem I wrote, in a sense, in response. I sometimes feel that my poems, given the relative serenity and ease of my life, may lack gravity; but, as "No Consequence" makes clear, it would be utterly idiotic to wish I had had the sorts of experience that Goran and others suffered during the awful recent years in Sarajevo– just so I could write more powerful material.

No Consequence

An eagle shot from nowhere and killed

One of two black ducklings

Without the least effort as I canoed

A mirror lake at dawn.

When the small bird disappeared, the hen

Rushed to shield the last of her brood,

Urgent as my own mind, which rushed

By habit to metaphor

And by dint of will alone stopped shy

Of the poetaster’s O–

For all the sad creatures.  I paddled on.

So did the two that survived.

They fossicked again for surface insects,

The mother settled her feathers,

The world went ahead with its usual business,

And I thought of my Bosnian friend,

How he opts for a sturdy manner.  He tells

Good jokes in the bastard English

He learned from American comic books

And talk behind the translation

Of television sitcom soundtracks.

He moves on.  In spite of all.

That poor doomed duckling’s wisps of down

Floated in air like snowflakes,

Diaphanous, after the raptor snatched it,

Beautiful, backlit by sun.

I recall the eagle as a totem of splendor

While it managed its own savage business,

Even as the pitiable rasps and squalls

Of the grown duck likewise linger,

Indelible, in the brain.  And so

I may just write of them soon,

Though I think how my friend beheld the brain

Of his brother splayed against

A wall in a town so picturesque

It all but beggars the mind.


O, I’m a poet of no consequence.

The sniper picked one of a pair

Who walked a quaint old street together.

I feel guilt not envy.  Indeed,

I’m otherwise content to be

So wanting in subject matter. 

This next effort is one of many lately that I'm coming to look upon as "geezer poems," occasioned as they are by my now being –with the arrival of Ruthie Mae last summer–  a grandfather five times over:

To a Granddaughter in My Arms

I can’t play Duck-Duck-Goose anymore,

I tell you– barely four years old,

And feather-light in my arms. I might

Try joining you in the family’s game,

But it takes me so long now to stand from sitting

I’d lose every round. Might you like that?
Victory’s still all harmless delight

For you, not an urge for arrogant triumph,

Not lust for another’s humiliation.

Why can’t you do it, Grandpa? you ask.

I shrug and say, I’m old.  Outside,

Late March: the hills still showing snow,

Though out the south window as I stand here and hold you,

I behold green hinting itself in the grass,

The dun stubble fading, and downhill, the pines

Flaring with incandescent candles:

Spring’s growth. Yes, dear, I’m just too old

For your harmless play, and you can’t see

What I see all over– the sweet and the other.

One day you will. There’s no hurry, Lord knows.

Things make their rounds. So do we all.

I wish you a happy holiday season, one and all!


  1. Syd, I enjoyed No Consequence immensely, particularly the way reads like a straight-up story, no esoteric abstraction we often see these days. The imagery is enough. As for consequence, I prefer to enjoy a poem, not for the gravity of its theme, but rather the artistry of the telling. In this you are consequential indeed. Happy Holidays!
    Ed W.

  2. Thank you, as always, Ed. Your good opinion means a lot to me, truly.

    All best,