Sample poems from my collection of formal and free verse, Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems:
shack, by the train track,
slumped one day deeper in debris.
As day fades, slowly umber shadows swing and taper.
At last, the day star sends a shaft of light from bright decline,
through the shack’s encrusted windows, in rainbow-tinted shine.
The sills are filled with bottle glass, crowded against the panes,
placed there by the resident–discards from passing trains.
No rose-windowed cathedral boasts colors half as fine.
Passengers, in passing, pity his decrepit home.
They can’t see the place’s glory,
nor his vital spark,
nor how he
Dear great-grandmother’s grave, surrounded by
grey beneficiaries of her long
gone bliss, and his, now echoes with the slow
and somber intonation of the psalm.
The witnesses to her mortality,
displaying just enough grief and no more,
uneasy in their uniform of black,
observe with dusty eyes the obsequies.
Except the restless twitch of well-turned wrists
to check the time, they seem absorbed, transfixed.
No stifled sobs; no softly murmured prayer.
No mournful frowns; just anxious bitten lips.
Meanwhile, the heiress plays between the plots
and plucks the buttercups that flower there.
The tot ignores the holy rites. Upon
her face there blooms a Giaconda smile.
The Brink at Logan Pond
On Logan Pond, the rose gold sky in pines’
Embrace between the cedar-shrouded hills,
Now from the stained-glass stone-still surface shines,
Just wrinkling at the emptying of rills.
The heavens condescended on this cruel
And vacant stretch of wet, this verdant sink.
Beneath its jeweled face, this silent pool
Still craves the careless creatures from the brink.
Just pausing there, at water’s edge, I feel
The almost tidal pull of Logan Pond.
It tempts me from the land, to blindly reel
In wanton waves and break my earthly bond.
The gorgeous waste shall not see me descend.
I’ll stand my ground ashore until the end.
In the shimmer light, soft suddenly,
a call floats dimly from the darkling lake,
turning ghastly in the gloaming, groaning
hopelessly, as if a heart could break
from just the twilight’s common fade.
No one embarks at dusk on such
a bleak expanse of iron glassy shine.
No one heeds the pleas of unknown throats
and unseen eyes. Who knows what calls fine
men into the waiting edgeless deep?
They retire to their cots for guilty sleep.
But cabin walls pass through the plaintive wail.
So, dreamless men re-gather on the shore.
Wordlessly, they launch their boat and sail
in search of that which chills them to their core.
What they find, and leave untouched, remains
unnamed in a spot unmarked. They flee the reach
and, breathless aboard their boat, as it strains
against the current back toward the beach,
each vows silently to sail no more by night.
Under deaf and sun-smeared turquoise,
his head high in the blinding gilt-glare,
sunflower-faced, the solitary figure toils,
dead slow, along the whitewashed wall—
mile after mile of cruel adobe spite.
His filthy robe trails weightlessly behind;
the hem, floating on still air, scatters
drifts of pastel confetti, bloody tears.
His long since vacant eyes locked on the sun,
his path brittle-bright and pitiless,
he recounts the names of the dead, keening
the night song to an indifferent star.
By both night and day,
green willows’ glimmer-twins
languorously shimmer off the silent shore
in the lustrous silver sheen that floats,
supple and languid as Spring,
all across the slumbering pond
and, in that supernal shine,
faint ripples rise and lightly pirouette.
At shore’s edge, knee-deep in sighing
sedge, within the timeless grove,
five ghost-white horses doze afoot,
cool and becalmed in pooling shade.
The whisper-breeze lifts tree tresses
and the drifting horses’ manes alike.
As dreaming willow wands sinuously
wave above the darkling shallows,
the moon glides across the pond
and the water’s placid face glows and
swarms with fireflies and stars.
from Sailor in the Rain and Other Poems ©2007 Denis M. Garrison.