2010 Creekwalker Poetry Prize Winner
Tom Schabarum has published poetry in online journals such as pifmagazine and The Breakfast District. He holds an MFA from Bennington College in creative writing and literature. His first novel, The Palisades, is available on Amazon.com and through independent booksellers everywhere. More information can be found at www.thepalisadesnovel.com. He has just completed his third novel.
Tom lives and works in Seattle, Washington.
The workday extols the virtuous to be kind,
Be compassionate, as the lorries go forward.
Elevators lift and fall while the sky marvels at the
Intrusion of workers, the severity of wool,
An aroma of perfume placed at that one spot
Where the neck slopes at the muscle, which
Pulls you forward into the realm of possibility.
All of the sounds: the clicking shoes, blenders,
Cell phones, muffled chattering, peels of laughter,
Echo as Chaucer’s people stream by with stories
Locked in their laptops, vessels of information,
Of rhyme and meter, the sound repeating, enticing
The blind to lead rather than follow, the blessed
Men to lean close to the ground, and listen.
If the weather were not so clear, so warm, and if
Ice encrusted the windows as in winter, say,
When the wind rushes through the turnstile door,
Haphazard, like men and women together, or any
Form of love, then the moment in question, the fire
And falling bodies, the crash, would not intrude
On the day’s beauty about to unfold despite hate.
There is a walk to be taken
Among the brick and brack
Of spring. Colors change
Overnight and gray days heave
Sheaves of rain. Stretch away
From the mind tethering you
To the heart, slave to the couch
You peel yourself from. It’s been
Months, and really, shouldn’t the
Sun that comes one day lift you
Like a phoenix? But a note rings
Out, your body does not move,
And time slips by. A hail of bullets
Brings you to the window, an
Apparition of what might have
Been waves to you. A yellow
Dog saunters by, whispers,
“Follow me. Follow me.”
Improbable, today, to be alive
Lucky too, given tainted cells.
Combative in their nature, virus flings
forward to make them weak.
Ten years of combat. Fatigued soldiers,
muddied, bruised and defeated
Make their way home to whispers,
Loving arms, hard love and long nights.
And yet, Spring colors everything.
Windows lift, heat lingers in water,
Loved ones venture out towards
Independence, the rip-rap and rock.
Is that the heft of Hugo across the river?
The one that thou lovest well, the one
I migrated to? Or is it Whitman, body all
Entwined with danger in his day?
Decades telescope, air swirls over grass
And worries it. My cells coalesce in fury,
When I crave the quiet after a year’s loss.
There is dark at least, dreams, the sea.
Under every light and banner of night, trains thrum, sound rises to
Meet the day, bouncing back and forth from earth to sky until
It reaches an ear trained for something else altogether. Absence makes
The now palpable, unforgiving. Tracks wind into distance; a boy sure of his
Love jumps the car to find it. Sharp pangs drive him toward the one thing
He needs. And every folk song ever written, guitar strum and wailing voice
Reaches back in time through the night. Whistles for loved ones the train’s
Iron knows nothing of. Nothing but steel wheels, locomotion, steam rising
In clouds. Going forward is its own reward. The leap, the air, the heart.
EXPECTING SNOW AT CHRISTMAS
Not known for snow, more for its liquid form,
A pearlescent night street and coalescing hues
Extend Rain City farther into the world beyond.
Expecting snow tonight, every sound is stilled,
Lamp lit flakes float into white shale stair steps,
Concrete and earth not yet gone, lightening just now.
Morning news is snow, schools shut, people stay put,
Wind turns clouds away from the city. Away
From colored houses - every window is Christmas.
Electric are the lights. Your body under its
White glow, glistening like streets I’ve traveled
Long to get here, your breath is winter.
Final words for the good son, the one who
Wiped you, brushed teeth, combed hair, held you up.
Lying forges moments: “You were a good mother.”
Expecting snow at Christmas saddles the heart, winches
Its bonds, burns your last words, a vinyl stuck needle
Scraping at truth: “No. No, I wasn’t,” You said.
© Copyright Tom Schabarum. All rights reserved.