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Last updated on Friday, May 12, 2017

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POET'S NICHE . . .

new poems posted every few weeks

NO TURNING BACK
(Based partially on the movie “Sarah’s Key,” about the Vel' d'Hiv[er] Roundup of Parisian Jews in July 1942 by the French police, collaborating with the Nazis[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vel'_
d'Hiv_Roundup])
May 11, 2017

If you turn on your own,
It’s an evil you’ve sown
That you carry alone
Once your crime becomes known.

With the Vel d’Hiver
France conspired to wear
Nazi swastika bare
And promote their despair.

At some traitorous word,
Fellow citizens were
Gathered into a herd
And in squalor interred.

The unlucky survived
To be shipped half-alive
To where “Arbeit Macht Frei,”
There to finally die.

France forgot how in past
They to guillotine cast
Their aristocrat class
Like the Jews Nazis gassed.

They repeated their sin
When to Nazis gave in
With their own citizens.
Shamed themselves once again.

Raymond HV Gallucci
Frederick, MD

A FEW STEPS BEHIND HIM
May 11, 2017

They used to walk as a couple
   hand in hand
   or hand through arm
And sometimes she'd rest her head
on his shoulder as they shared a laugh
   they used to laugh so much
Approaching the ice cream store now
he strides before her
and she tries to keep up
   Big with child --- a frown on her face
   and he is talking
flinging the words back at her                                                              
over his shoulder --
How can she answer ---
   a few steps behind him?
And why are they both frowning?

Amie Ilva Tatem
Staten Island, NY

THE OSEBERG BURIAL SHIP, AD 834
May 11, 2017

Whose women’s bones were these, you wonder.
Which one the cynosure,
which the acolyte? A queen? Asa?

Crushed, scattered beneath centuries
of stoneweight and earthmound, I know
these two, sheltered in my ribs.

 I yielded to carvers’ blades, suffered
slam and hammer of builders who bent
and bound my oaken curves.

 I heard oxen protest, shriek of horse,
whimper of pet dog. I bowed
with the weight of women’s luxury.

 I suffered the rocky drag to earth’s grave,
where robbers pillaged and now
you pick my scattered bones.

 My wooden breast heaves deep
for breath to tell my tale.

Ann Taylor
—Woburn, Mass

 

BLANCHE DANIELS
April 16, 2017

Driving off without her
should have been a warning
but he doubled around
and came back
They laughed togetheryet neither really found it funny
Should I have been driving?
her mind grappled
and from then on -- she did
and he accepted that
and she wept
Then the phone call
and hearing him angrily saying, "Blanche Daniels",
again and again --
"There is no Blanche Daniels here!"
She wept --- and he didn't notice
"Happily ever after...?"
fifty years   two healthy people
       She wept
and wept --- and he didn't notice.

Amie Ilva Tatem
Staten Island, NY

FLOW ©
April 16, 2017

My weakness for sweetness,
I can outgrow,
If, by mutual agreement,
The calories are low.
Carbs and starches
Are a pain in my arches,
But nothing can compete
To the additives in meat.
It seems silly to own a car,
If you don’t go very far.
Walking and jogging to keep fit are
Healthy and wise, and not so bizarre.
Yes, sometimes there is a need to know,
Than simply going with the flow.

Peter LaVilla
–Sunny Isles Beach,  Fl.

DREAM'S LONG RIVER
March 17, 2017

If you want to know if there is love after war,
ask the sea. The sea has no grammar.
The sea is breath.
The sea
does not judge.

Cast a stone beneath its surface.
Think of water as your lover.
You will need to dive to that starless quiet
far beneath waves and their skin
where birth and death embrace.

What is right or wrong?
Ask the sea.
Ask dark, silent rivers of sky.
Ask blood.
Look for the difference between shards
and green glass,
survival and living.

Christina Turczyn
–Midland Park, NJ

 

KILLING PAINS
March 17, 2017

How did I kill him?

It was a pan:
I held tight and as he turned
In the kitchen – wham! -
I panned him and he learned!

No, it was a pen:
The long reach of writing extends
And letters hurt in their furious way -
So RIP, life ends.

Rather, 'twas a pin:
Three inches of stainless steel,
Sharpened to the finest point
Then through the eye and up till…

A 'pon
Killed him – he wandered into one -
Like entering a fairy story -
Time, time, time struck like once upon…

Of course, it was the pun:
Simple and deadly, groaning like a lover,
Wishing he had not heard she would be a nun
As he keeled over.

James Sale
–Queens Park, Bournemouth BH8

 

WHEN IN ROME
February 24, 2017

(The“Five Good Emperors” of the Golden Age of Rome were Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian,Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.  They reigned from 96 to 180 C.E.  Rome fell to the Visigoths in 410 C.E., 120 years after Aurelius died.)

Quite well before it fell, Empire Rome went through a spell
Of five of finest emperors, who brought a Golden Age.
From Nerva to Aurelius, of glories still they tell,
But aftermath of slow decline, what might it ours presage?

The five spanned nearly century when Rome was at its height.
Our country, over twice as old, can claim such a quintet?
Perhaps on four from Rushmore most agree without a fight,
But have we missed the fifth, or are we waiting for him yet?

Though one can argue that we peaked at end of World War II,
Since then we haven’t won a war and watched our strength erode.
With Vietnam, Korea, Middle Eastern bugaboo,
And Presidents inept except the one from Hollywood.

The timing of our slow demise suggests that F.D.R.
May well have been that fifth of ours, so clock’s been ticking since,
Allowing us one hundred seventy till we depart
From strong position we once held to insignificance.

Raymond HV Gallucci
–Frederick, MD

 

CASHING IN
February 24, 2017

Small and slight
a fedora on his head
   in one hand a cane
He shuffles along
   and with the other hand, he pulls
a shopping cart laden
past its capacity --
past the toppling over stage
Small and slight
he shuffles along  
   moving the cane resolutely
   before him
and dragging the cart
full of bottles and cans stuffed into garbage bags --
behind him.
Only two more blocks.

Amie Ilva Tatem
–Staten Island, NY

MEANINGS©
February 8, 2017

She wrote: Love is happiness
He wrote:  Passion is  eternal
She whispered: My knight in shining armor
He whispered:  I’m a lucky guy
She smiled:  “Yes, I  do”
He smiled:    “Yes, I do”
She thought:  I’m no longer afraid
He thought:    I promise to  fulfill my vows
She laughed:  I  traded Mrs. in for Mommy
He laughed:    I have become my father
She reflected:  I am content
He reflected:   I noticed a silver hair in  my beard
She sighed:    Grandma is such a beautiful  word
He sighed:      I caught my first sea bass  today
Afterthought:   I love my husband like it was the first day
Afterthought:   I’m still that lucky guy

Peter LaVilla
–Sunny Isles Beach,  Fl.

BLACK DRESS BLUE
February 8, 2017

Your painting, Black Dress,
on a chair below my swan light.
I study its trim and sway
shared with the man who blames you
for his limp disgust, his dull rot.
But it’s not black, I say. It’s blue. Those butterflies
we saw sun-fluttering the pine prairies,
drinking wild lupine the fire revived.

In Sunday’s scorched afterlight,
you dress quickly and drive home
for his birthday. There, yes, I see the shadow
of arrival, of almost dark when you wear the night
for us. There in the supple strokes of warm oil,
the narrow velvet valley. Deep down,
I imagine all our bright parts look this way.

Henry Hughes
–hughesh@wou.edu

FORSYTHIA
January 15, 2017

Now January,
unassailable ice, snow,
bleakness of winter,
on my usual wont,
I am prepared
for largo, but here
is allegrissimo,
astonishing jubiloso.
The forsythia blooms!
Coveted in spring,
a brilliant, yellow reprieve,
neither mustard nor ochre,
no pigment mimics its hue.
Obviously I’m happy
to discover these petals;
still, I cannot dismiss
my apprehension
of perverse orbits:
the sun moves too close,
the earth tilts too far,
an augury, the skewed
trajectories of men,
arrogance rouses
blossoms from sleep.
I am bewildered,
forsythia confused.
Who contrived these tidings?
Who spread the rumor?
Apple and cherry follow,
then lilacs’ violet,
and certainly crocuses
will push too soon.

David Sapp,
–Berlin Heights, OH  

REFLECTIONS
January 15, 2017

I know about clocks,
words,
scrambling an egg,
driving a car.

I can scan a sonnet,
recognize Beethoven’s Ninth
and for a while, knew God,
then didn’t.

Love was a moment of faith
easily crushed or whispered away
like a smoking field of dandelions
ripened too soon.

Learning all this
was easy or hard
depending on good weather
and a mourning dove’s song.

But none of it matters,
for the crumbling nest
and lilac’s wilt
has told me that spring is gone.

Beth Staas
–La Grange Park IL

FOR THOSE WHO SCREAMED
(Based on the movie “The City of Life and Death,” about the “Rape of Nanking” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Life_&_Death])
December 7, 2016

For you of the bleeding heart
Condemning U.S.’s part
In dropping atomic bomb,
Why think you that we were wrong?

Perhaps it was justified
For all those Chinese who died
When Empire of Japan
Devoured that ancient land.

Because all Nanking they raped
(Atrocities few escaped),
And left less than half to tell
Of horrors they spawned from hell.

It took the United States
(Because of Pearl Harbor’s fate)
To finally retribute
Behavior beneath a brute.

So you with the hearts that bleed,
Whenever next feel the need
To fling on U.S. more mud,
Remember who drew first blood.

Raymond HV Gallucci
Fredrick, MD

CHAIN REACTION
December 23, 2016

The driver behind her
   went into cardiac arrest
   slamming into her rear
   with such force
that his front end crumpled
causing her car to plow intothe car in front
   (considerably smaller than hers)
Seeing the fire
she was able to push open
the door and fall out
leaving her purse behind
and spraining her ankle
   the driver in back was dead
the fire was put out
Four people lived
one sprained ankle
   And so it goes on the stage of life ---
End of the drama for some
   Intermission --- for others.

Amie Ilva Tatem
—Staten Island, NY

 

MOTHER NATURE
December 17, 2016

Hurricane
Thunder        
Lightning
Wind
Tsunami
Tornado
Hail
Sleet
Snow 
Pollen Galore
Too Hot
Too Cold
Too Humid
Storms
Floods
Earthquakes
Mud Slides
Flurries
Rain 

SOME MOTHER!

Maxwell Schwartz
—Freeport NY

THE KING OF KINDERHOOK
November 28, 2016

Toasting to Martin Van Buren,
A robust singer to those who knew him.
His campaigns were strong with sing-a-longs and rallies,
Votes back then, were meticulously tallied.
Intimately he spoke Dutch.
He enjoyed opera and theatre very much.
Always dressed impeccably
Having to turn over two tiger cubs to the zoo, dreadfully.
Retiring to the Lindenwald farm, growing potatoes on his lot,
Passing away before a political comeback he could plot.
A phantom, his story fades, a horse riding away, on a fierce trot

Todd Saukko
—Commerce Twp, MI

 


PROACTIVE LULU
November 24, 2016

Hello, I will introduce myself, my name is Lulu,
Although I am very pleased to meet you,
I do apologize if I seem distracted,
Perhaps you will think I have overreacted.

I am determined not to gain much weight,
To become full-figured I would hate,
If I become corpulent I will be in peril,
Be I domesticated or be I feral.

Although I look cute when I am chubby,
And though it does please my handsome hubby,
I must stay svelte, I must stay scrawny,
I will face danger if I am big, if I am brawny.

If I should eat too much, if I should over-indulge,
If I should develop a wobbly tummy bulge,
I will have no time to scream or cluck,
I will be totally **** out of luck.

They will come for me, I know they will,
They will come for me, and they will kill,
I will no longer be cute, feathery, and perky,
I will just be another Thanksgiving turkey.

By Julie C. Judes
—Glendale, WI

ODE TO A SWAN
Published October 2016

It was only a moment, maybe two or more
That captured me and held me its prisoner
For all that day, and the next and the next.

So slowly, and elegantly I have never been seized.
It was the power in the beauty of a single swan that
Overpowered me, its regal neck a gesture

Of grace and dignity in a roadside pond filled
With common ducks and geese, who could
Never capture one’s attention like the smooth

White feathers of the swan, the sun lighting them
Like a rare treasure, newly found, and who with ease,
Swept its legs backwards and swam the circle of pond.

Shari Morrison
—Santa Fe, NM

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TEDDY, FOR SENTIMENTAL REASONS
August 2016
 
The asthmatic boy, who loved to draw birds and insects,
He once gave a speech with a bullet shot in his chest.
Eyes teared up during world war one,
Omnipotent plane crash that killed Quincy, his beloved son.
Drove out his fires,
Oyster Bay was where he retired.
Rough riding gun, a statesmen admired
Enough to fuel his presidential desires . . .

Todd Saukko
—Commerce Twp, MI

APPROPRIATE WORDS
August 2016

Then what can be said?
He was never late
She was
But what a thing to remember
they're both dead
Something noble
should be said
He loved good wine
She never respected him
How can that be said?
Instead -- Didn't they look well together!
no children
their legacy cannot live on
What legacy?
They died as they lived -- fast driving
him drinking
she berating him
then off the cliff
Something noble should be said at the service ---
But what?

Amie Ilva Tatem
—Staten Island, NY


A LESSON FROM ICARUS Published Summer 2016

…for he did fly,
wings stretching to the sky,
his sinew and strength
matching rhythm and pace
with mallard and goose
on a warm summer day.

And we did love,
our limbs lustrous with sweat
in the fading mist of tomorrow,
knowing that we, like Icarus,
didn’t fail, but simply arrived
at the end of glory.

Beth Staas
—La Grange Park, IL

LUST IN HIS HEART
Published Summer 2016

he hunches
in his
wheelchair
black gloved
hands
propped on
silvered
circles
both ankles
Velcroed
onto black
foot
rests
he watches
a blond
girl
strip off
her
sock
and wiggle
her
toes

Sheryl L. Nelms
—Clyde, TX

KINDNESSES
Published Summer 2016

I was feeding the birds today
reflecting on your kindnesses
how my food helps keep them sustained
yet you do the same everyday
for me you keep me fed with love and attention
keeping my need for adoration contained
It's you who blesses me with crumbs
like the sparrows I see
making sure I'm healthy and well with generosity
A true Angel of Mercy
I never return to my bed
starving for provisions
you are what God provided for me to love
better than I could've ever envisioned
I am your bird
you are my generous hand that feeds
I'll return forever to your kindness
because you're all I'll ever need

Jason Compte
—Cranbury, NJ