Sampling of poems


COFFEE BREAK

Poetry not your thing. 
You don’t say so but I read 
in your eyes the sorry 
that you asked
what I do. 
I hesitate and then confess: 
I write poetry. 

I want to tell you 
in the silence that follows 
poetry’s not my thing either. 
It just flows from my pen 
in spurts — ink spilled before 
I can stop it. 

Poetry lets me off the hook 
no plot lines, no character arcs. 
It peers through beveled windows, overturns 
stones, seeks patterns in coffee grounds. 
It lives in snapshots 
rather than movies. 

I want to tell you 
poetry sipped is poetry 
savored. Espresso with a shot 
of Sambuca at a sidewalk cafe. 
Try it. You may develop 
a taste for it. 

But I gulp my coffee 
usually while reading something 
that’s not poetry. My empty cup 
reminds me to notice.

First place winner in the Nassau County Poet Laureate Society 2021 Poetry Contest; publication pending in 2022

 

Early Warning 

I watched cicadas tumble out of trees yesterday 
wondered at their public death throes 
prayed those hard-back creatures 
would fly to camouflage again 
like film running in reverse 

Summer’s symphony has gone silent 
My mind leaps ahead 
to leaves turning rust, 
stark snow rising to hip height 
my body tenses with the dreaded chill 

I drag myself from this daydream 
return gratefully to August 
however still its nights

Published in The Avocet, Summer 2020 


APRIL SHOWER 

A ribbed fabric sky 
folds the midday light 
into layered stripes, 
yellow and dust 
accenting new-green fuzz 
on old-black branches. 
The sun wanders off to watch the show. 
Clouds take center stage, 
their deep gray pockets filled 
to overflowing. 
The rain they let fall 
clings to newborn leaves. 
Each drop sparkles with delight 
when the sun steps out again 
from the rainbowed shadows.

Published in The Weekly Avocet, April 11, 2020

 

SOMETHING'S NOT RIGHT

Sunshine lights up the bay window, 
coaxes Christmas cactus 
to bloom white again 
halfway to Easter. 
Weeping willows awaken, 
pale green reflected on the village pond 
where mallard pairs swim circles 
around clumsy Canada geese, 
tickle the waters where turtles sleep. 
My brother sends a photo 
of cherry blossoms starting in DC 
in late February. April tourists 
will be disappointed— 
if anyone ventures out by then. 
Their hands will be chapped 
from constant washing. 
They will arm themselves 
with masks and hand sanitizer, 
uneasy at standing up to the virus 
that wears a crown.

Published in Hope, CAW Anthology, Winter 2020;
contest winner in the Poetry category

 

PRIME REAL ESTATE

Before anyone carves up the moon and sells it 
to the highest bidder for condo-ringed golf courses, 

fake palms and wrought iron gates, 

tell me, please, 

will it be the bright one I see poking through the branches 
of the majestic maples in my backyard when I draw 
the shades before turning in for the night? 

Or the huge orange one surprising drivers 
rushing toward the Jericho Turnpike horizon? 
As that moon rises, the contours of a face emerge, 
happy just to be there. Like Humpty, before his famous fall? 

I hope they don’t choose the one lighting up
the Long Island Sound on warm summer nights
when fishing boats sidle up to the dock 
to unload weary passengers clutching their catch of the day, 
poles and tackle boxes perhaps lined with empties 

Or the thin crescent of light that floats
effortlessly in a crisp dark sky 
after the first snowfall, before the plows arrive. 

The moon draws the tides into a dance with life itself, 
so, no, my moons over Long Island are not for sale.


Published in Amethyst Review

 

THE DEATH OF CIVILITY

The glue that binds us 
has hardened and 
cracked in the cold 
war of lies and contempt. 
It no longer adheres. 
You can peel it off with ease, 
roll it between thumb and fingertips 
into a handful of dust. 
Make a wish and blow it away.

Published in Shot Glass Journal

 

BALANCE 

Outdoors, a chorus 
celebrates the morning light. 
Songbirds back from winter havens 
busy with springtime preparations. 

Something normal 
in the silence of halted human activity 
as we wait for the Novel virus 
to peter out and die, 
inflatable dragon punctured 
by some invisible lance, we hope. 

The birds don’t care 
if we are here to notice. 
They fetch grass, twigs and debris, 
weave homes 
tucked in among branches 
that will soon provide cover for their chicks. 

They’ll feed the hatchlings, 
teach them to forage and fly. 
The immatures will build up stamina 
for long journeys ahead 
when daylight dwindles 
and nights grow cold. 

At least that much is predictable.

Published in Trees in a Garden of Ashes (print)

 

(All poems © by Emily-Sue Sloane)