Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Train Whistles: A Poem Before Change

February 23, 2018

 

The vibrations of trains come up the old wood frame
from the tracks a block north
Trains whistle through the window cracks 

Lying under an old blanket
in the unheated upstairs
The dampness rising from the Kansas River
In the garret strangeness of someone else’s house

How did I arrive among these old flood-washed timbers?

 

First published in Tellus as “Before Completion.”

 

Aroostook Highway - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Aroostook Highway – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

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Second Wife

February 21, 2018

 

The bride greets her husband’s children
at their door

The husband hands each child a lily
He hands the bride hard candy
He folds his arms as they exchange
these gifts

The wife will make dinner
while the children play
The children will wash dishes
while the wife sews

 

First published in Mostly Maine.

 

Fenced Yards - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Fenced Yards – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Her Brother’s Debt

February 19, 2018

 

Owing his widowed foreman a great debt,
the brother brought his sister overseas.
She came mute, her thoughts folded
     in her bags.
At breakfast she listened like a table
     to their sounds. 

She married with his dishes in the sink. 

She has unleashed the foreman’s toddler
     from the line.
She has taught the foreman’s son to sing,
his oldest daughter to braid her hair,

and the foreman to snore gently
through her dreams.

 

First published in Chants.

 

Dreams - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Dreams – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Breathing: A Poem for Saint Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2018

 

An animal sleeps beside me in the dark
Its breathing swells the sheets
It turns and nuzzles the pillow
Then the rhythm resumes
When I take its paw the fingers close
We breathe into the night

 

 First published in Cottonwood (formerly Cottonwood Review).

photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer. Bride & Groom at the Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Suddenly They Appeared – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer. Bride & Groom at the Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

 

 

Hungry Love: Passion & Desire at the Chinese Buffet

February 8, 2018

 

I watch
you
eating
twice cooked
duck 

Your fingers
buckle
its skin 

Your
tongue
curls
a-
way
the thin,
dark
flesh 

returns
to the pile
on the tray
to kiss
the juices 

giving
each
fragile
bone 

its gentle
final
suck 

My hungry love
  

First published in George & Mertie’s Place.

 

"Stream through an Autumn Woods," photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

“Stream through an Autumn Woods,” photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Shadows: A Poem of Lost Love

February 5, 2018

 

Go into the snow
Let the snow drift about your ears
and listen to the stillness at night
Go when the snow is soft and silent
and the stars are behind the clouds
Walk in the silent dark
Feel the cold
the vagueness under foot
the blackness above and beside you
Know you are alone
with my shadow in the dark
as I am alone now
with your shadow
in my heart

 

First published in Kansas Quarterly.

 

Outbuildings of our house in Scarborough - photo by Mike Smetzer

Outbuildings of our house in Scarborough, Maine – photo by Mike Smetzer

Floating Opals: A Poem of Ghosts & Time

February 2, 2018

 

Little flames play against the old lady’s neck,
turning before the darkness of her dress,
as she waits in line for his viewing.

She fingers the white ghosts, which rise
in a slow timeless tumbling, swirling
past each other in their crystal sphere.
They fade into translucence, to turn
and reappear in fire or dead white stone.

Iridescent bursts of pinks and greens and blues.
A universe sealed in her miniature globe,
an eternity at the base of her withered neck.

 

First published in Innisfree Poetry Journal.

 

Light Through Window Panes. Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer. Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Hunger Moon

January 31, 2018

 

Rapids growl under ice.
Warm blood freezes on the snow.
Dry seeds chatter in the trees.

What hunts again tonight?
Stooped back, snout and ears
like a boar,

alone and cold, ravenous.
Living bones crookt
with pain.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Michael B. Smetzer

 

Abandoned Adobe near Taos, New Mexico - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Abandoned Adobe near Taos, New Mexico – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Sunday Morning: A Winter Poem

January 28, 2018

 

Outside the drizzle finds oak rags
        solemn on their limbs,
and sets against the radio hymns
        its own rough-measured drops.

 The toaster pops its little plume
        that lingers as I drip and stop
the honey spout, sweet almost-lips
        I circle with my finger.

 

First published in Mostly Maine.

 

Woods road on the Valparaiso Moraine in Indiana, photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Woods road behind my parents’ house on the Valparaiso Moraine in Indiana. The marsh is seen below and the back woods beyond. Photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer.

Clay: A Memory & a Dream

January 26, 2018

 

When I arrive is always years from now
at the edge of my father’s marsh
and the hole is half filled with water
and choked with grass
where at five
I watched him dig lilies for our yard 

I step barefoot into fetid water
worm the ooze around my feet
scoop black decay with my toes
working through sediment
to yellow clay 

Returning night after night
kneading my feet in that clay

 

First published in Tellus.

 

51 Plymouth in Marsh - photo by Mike Smetzer

Dad cut the top and the back off his 51 Plymouth and took the seats out so we could haul Christmas trees up to the yard for sale. Worked well until Dad took a shortcut and got stuck at the deep end of the marsh. That night it rained. Still there.