Pandora’s Moon

Let’s forget the echoes of my thirtieth year for there’s refuge in the night and the moon. Moonlit night where imagination stretches starward. Moonlit night where my name falls off like an autumn leaf. Moonlit night where I’m a sapling attune to winter wind. Moonlit night where my past hibernates, ant-sized.

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Left of Gandhi

Sittin’ to the left of Gandhi Peaceful intentions and all Honolulu Zoo behind me Girls playing volleyball Beautiful ocean Yet, the world burns in more ways than one My wife in the water, with beautiful fish I love it here Yet, the world burns The cardinal I just fed bread is thankful

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Day Job

After a night of therapeutic bottle and blunt passing He wakes on earth at 5AM In a lumpy bed He goes to the airport in his overalls Brandishing a handkerchief He scrubs the thick plastic windows With long handles bruises He watches the jets take off They move hot through the endless sky With purpose

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February

We only say it correctly when we’re learning to spell it, a hint of brew, this month more soft-spoken than the last, and short – though Valentine roses’ petals fall before ice melts. Oh, some whisper it as a synonym for claustrophobia, closing down or slamming doors so fast that cold lurks abandoned out there where invisibles moan and something smelly hides under the front steps.

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Mother

this humo ludens collaborans has many plans renewing vows supporting plants saving bees down on my knees with every breath we take in oxygen gifts from forests, meadows, mosses & ferns

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The Red Gate

Can you see us through the gate? the Tutelo ask. I sprayed it apple red last winter, aerosol in my lungs. Must be more careful in the time of masks. But the red. The red! You can see it a quarter mile away, walking up the lane. Crooked door opening to a wide mossy bed of poplar and walnut. Shadows bend into each other. Locust limbs rest on the lazy fence. An old wooden coop, emptied years back by the fox, sits where the home place was.

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Without, Within

Tiny round-faced vaquita porpoises, dark-eyed mountain gorillas, intricately striped Sumatran tigers, so many species disappearing under greed’s heavy boots although the loss seems abstract as we stop at Costco for groceries, fill up the car before heading home.

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Last Chance Road

A light rain washes clean the leaves, the green melody of freedom from the city’s nightmares. Time rolls past, fast or slow, no one knows, like the mists that rise up and settle down upon the Smoky Mountains. Days lose their distinctions, their names. Dust, thick and heavy in the sun, embraces the rain like new love refusing to let go and calms the road down, clearing the air, the sky, the pathway love must travel to embrace a new rain.

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Flight

Now all I hear is my own hum so turn again to the window where a broken line of parked cars dots the whitening sidewalk, as the sun englobes the street in crisp detail and vivifies the skeletal oaks that scratch against the sky, implying the chimes of birds about to arrive. I lean against my window, note the dust motes pillowed on the glass like a moleculed yawn, so grab a rag and spot, on the ledge, two piebald pigeons strutting and pulsing back and forth as they peck along the sill in sync.

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Red Chimney

I wonder who lives in the house With the bright red chimney, someone must For on cold winter mornings Smoke bellows from the stack And the smell of freshly baked bread Stops me in the thaw and snap So, I linger for a moment And stare at this dreamy abode Lit by the soft edges of snow clouds And the sun a pale embroidered gold ‘All is well with the world’ then I say to myself All is well in the house with the red chimney

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The Furies

Blast! over the last ridge before pasture. The great white sycamore shatters the oriole’s net-nest. An autumn olive catches the fledgling, embraces its beating heart. Singed by relentless summer, hills west waver/duck at the gale.

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For Sylvia

Fixed and firm you pull out frames slice wax caps and dip into combs of liquid gold. You tug red cashmere over platinum waves then smooth a tight, white skirt.

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Redemption

Life, the iredeemer. No wonder there’s a God, not unlike there’s hate and always a dollar in St. Anthony’s change for a cigarette from the Pakistani or Indian bodega kept up by a family who kneels just the same to different names, and praises the canonized coin in their jars writ with wishes that God won’t stop depositing dimes or spare quarters for some beatific order: smoke, family, like love. What cans to be had.

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Upgrade

Hand held eyes head unencumbered telepathic, no need for speech hovering instead of walking how many babies? How many pets? photosynthetic? Photovoltaic?

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The Demon Bean

Coffee Unctuous First sip, last drip, scrumptious No drink can comfort, the parched dry mouth Recover from mornings, the sentient self Quite like the demon bean Devilishly moreish, whoreish even as I sip her wares With cinnamon toast for company Not love, nor utopia compares Arabica, I shout, the cavernous yawn expectant Smells the roast, hears the china cup And like magic the corpse is resurrectant Then with a thank you God and a splash of cream I do baptize the demon bean

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Papilio

Lemon-brushed, she has one last trip to make across pastureland to the wild cherry tree. Last meal on a frivolous zinnia, torn chiffon at her wing’s end amber and black turn to bisque on grey appalachiensis.

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Impossible Sunrise

As if this city, composed of skeletal pink coral, arose from the basin of a dried-out ocean swept by desert-spanning wind and now echoes through my sleeplessness again, a speechlessness ripped apart by joyriding motorcycles.

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Enterprise

Heavy blooms expose their fleshy bodies in such enterprise among the dunes—as mine to yours. Such immeasurable delight: the pale lips of the iris curling to the listless sky.

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Lights

I cradle an ornament that holds infinity in my hand a small blue angel carved out of wood meticulously painted in a life lived long ago. Scents of Bavarian pine, black forests that are silent, darkly deep with the residue of Rosstal.

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Mockingbird

As it often does moving by memory, your body finds mine, fits puzzled into angles and curves in those hushed hours—were it not for the mockingbird screaming into the moonlit, slate-grey sky.

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Learning from Asiatic Lily

As red lick of sunrise brightens the air you stand near sheets of greenery pause beside pillows of hosta / moss witness / where love lands to kiss lilium lips. Slick with dew / petals glow as tongued bowls greet wasp answer beetle / respond in kind. You / too / were once kissed warmed in morning light.

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Morning

On the street behind barriers squealing kids follow mum and dad along the boardwalk joggers jostle walkers among handholding couples. Shore spume sprints to the tideline. Sand shifts and settles unhindered by human feet and towels

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Pig Farm

Nine years ago swine flu kissed the farm, Obliging Virginia Hambone to stand firm Against the public use of mucky troughs Which was causing the trots and coughs.

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small hands

We were frozen stumbling and bumbling your hand on my thigh my leg on yours holding tight as we hurled down that hillside on a rustic red slide not knowing we would have this moment to savor for so many walks to come before full time work and grad school one, two, then three bundles of infinite intensity.

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My Pumpkin Pie Recipe

The singing ingredient (two parts aria) is for the pumpkins, the gratitude moment when the seeds go in, the months cajoling vines up the pyramid of lath, celebrating bees in the fluted yellow flower, waiting for slow golding of the green

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North

For a moment in the calm, between gusts of wind: the faint push of air beneath wing. The northern harrier drifts above a flowering field of yellow mustard. Bobbing among the eddies, the murre learn centuries of the waterwork and currents, driven unthinking by what we cannot know.

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Muskrat

Muskrat She walks past the pond, up the road,toward illuminated shape—sunshineorbits its body, an auburn luster. Behind oak, near maple, she cloaksits remains with autumn’s leavings,honors its life. At bedtime, she smooths her grandmother’scoat, the mink repurposed into coverlet.Its plushness weeps with needless death. Animals have covered us long enough. Jeannie E. Roberts has authored four […]

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Little Town

Little Town Money almost enough.Sanity but not quite.Mellow mostly.Bowel movements plentiful.Hunger at times.Pain where expected.Growls and groans,grins and laughter,in proportion.Lambs and lions,about 50-50.Much more copperthan gold.Sex and sickness.Holiness and one barber’s pole.Hardware store.Movie house.Tractors – second hand.But much machineryin general.More than booksand places for a band to play.Scant art.Little style.A lot of unmarried virgins.A few […]

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Meteor Shower

Meteor Shower Canvas blackthe eternal oil spill galacticdark matterspeckled waves of crystaldiamond skyruby, emerald, sapphirelightspeedsilent night brightterminal velocityeyes focusstraining in the dark timeas seconds, minutes, eonsstretch galaxiesinto small handsthat even rain cannotfeelfor in feelingwe begin to fallheadlong into nightriding the meteorsof our pastknowing the showersof our futurewill smotherthose small handssomeday Mark Hammerschick writes poetry and […]

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Along the Seine

Not doing much but composing a poem in my head—which might be somethingif the poem is consummated,turning out to be good. Sunlight steps easy on the waterall the way to Quay Bercyand a new first line—that’s better.Lush, green leaves on the trees, a cat chases plump birds,a couple on the roof of a houseboatkiss and […]

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Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off

Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off Checkout behind befuddled womanwho places one can Turkey & Giblets Cat Foodon counter, watches the scan,selects a Price Chopper couponthumbing through a stack in her fist.Cashier shakes her head: “Coupon’s forthe small size, honey, you’ve got the large,”tosses the can in a reject bag white plasticwhile Ms. Befuddle lifts a […]

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Bill of Delights

Bill of Delights …bosun wharf.  That corduroy anorak  molded you…       *  …al dente.  Gash eggplant.  Trickle…       *  …kite-flying matinee idol.  The accessory…       *  …gravel rash.  We zigzagged  in fairyground…  Christmas 2001, The Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored Christopher Barnes to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North.  […]

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Ocean City

Ocean City I’m on a fifth-storyhotel balconyat the crack of dawn staring past a row of rental propertiestoward vast waters beyond, as I wonderwhat ghosts lieon the hungover streets below. What sort of jukebox jiveor inebriated highdid that last breeze carry through? It’s a mid-summer den,a damn hotbed,of debauchery and sin on this morning after […]

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Grasping at Straws

Grasping at Straws “The thing is, unless you change, nothing changes.”— Jose Mujica Cordano “It’s easy,” you tell your niece, showing her how to managethe simplest task, baby steps and all that, perhaps how to formher first question, her first double-u, perhaps how to maintainthe fire in the grate, perhaps later to count out her […]

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