Tag Archives: poetry

Autumn’s Song

Everything is gold.

The trees above my head are bright as the sunlight,

Which filters down through the gaps in the leaves.

The ground under my feet is completely covered by the fallen,

And with every step a crisp rustle-crunch rings out.

 

The winter birds are calling,

The branches whisper-creak in the breeze,

And the music of autumn flows throughout nature.

It’s a soft song,

Whispers and creaks and rustles.

Nature’s very own lullaby.

 

It’s time for sleep,

For hibernating and migrating and settling in to wait.

For curling up somewhere warm

And letting nature sing you to sleep.

Whisper rustle creak.

 

It’s cold beneath the tree tops,

But so beautiful.

The wind blows again and loose leaves fall.

Fluttering to the ground as golden rain.

Drifting and spinning and falling down to the earth.

 

Over the winter they’ll turn to dirt,

And come spring those leaves will fuel the world’s rebirth.

But for now they sit, bright and gold and crisp,

Sitting quiet for now, until someone like me comes along;

Then it’s rustle-crunch, rustle-crunch,

Marking my path with Autumn’s music.

A Brown Thumb

All the grass around me dies,

For two miles as the crow flies.

And you should never think to doubt

That the seeds I plant will die as they sprout.

It’s been years since I saw a flower bloom;

When they meet me they meet their doom.

And you will not see a living tree

Within fifteen miles of me.

I don’t know why, just that I can’t

Prevent the death of any plant.

In fact, I kill them with greater ease

Than any insect, animal, vine, or disease.

At first, I thought it might be something in the dirt,

But I now know it’s me who causes their hurt.

I once hoped bad water might be the cause,

But truthfully the fault lies in my own flaws.

I cannot keep a plant alive,

No matter what amenities I contrive.

A good life I cannot provide,

For a potted plant kept inside.

And outside there is only death,

For any plant the feels my breath.

Not even a cactus will manage to thrive,

Not so long as I survive.

I may never see a flower bud,

For every seed I plant becomes a dud.

I’ve now given up on growing a garden,

And soon I think the ground will harden.

I know now that I’d have to be dumb,

Not to realize that I have a brown thumb.

Cloud Gazing

The dawn creeps up from beyond the trees,

Cutting sharp silhouettes out of indistinct shadows.

The horizon is a blur of pink and gold, which fades into pale blue

And then into a still dark purple.


There’s beauty in the sunrise, but magic in the clouds.

They cast dark shapes above the horizon,

Painting pictures in the early morning light.

A killer whale breaches waves of water vapor,

While a pirate ship bursts forth from fog.

A manta ray is flying across the horizon,

And a swordfish leaps into the air to strike a pose.

There’s a pelican sitting above the treeline,

And the ship’s captain is calling for a toast.

 

An ocean outlined by the dawn won’t last forever,

Or even for an hour,

But it will always be remembered.

Remember Fall

The air is crisp and fresh after rain

It’s chilly outside but not yet cold

And while the sky is filled with dark grey clouds

The trees are turning yellow and orange and red

And when the leaves drift off on the breeze

The ground gains the colors of fall too.

 

The clouds tell of storms to come

But they don’t yet cover the sky entirely

And the gaps they leave are bright blue

And when the sun peeks out you can feel it

Bright and warm against your skin

A reminder of the summer that’s now passed.

 

It won’t last forever.

 

The sun will pass again behind the clouds

The trees will be left barren

And their fallen leaves swept away

And the wind will grow harsh and biting

As the temperature drops below zero

And the ground begins to freeze.

 

Fall is a transitory season

But there’s beauty in its liminality

Because nothing will last

Everything is precious

Pictures won’t do it justice

So instead we must remember

 

Remember wind.

Remember color.

Remember sun.

Remember fall.

The First Week of November

The phony cobwebs are swept away,

But the carved pumpkins have yet to rot

And still sit on the steps in front of many houses.

The leftover candy, marked down after Halloween,

Has been cleared from the stores,

Their festive designs gone for another year,

But the children who spent their night walking

From door to door now have their own hoards

And like dragons they stand guard over their goodies

Waiting for their parents to turn their backs,

So that they can grab another piece of chocolate,

And keep their sugar high going strong.

 

Meanwhile, families make plans for Thanksgiving,

Searching for recipes to flaunt in front of friends and families,

Or thinking up excuses to avoid visiting in-laws.

There are still pumpkin spice variations of every product that could manage it,

Including those that should never have tried such a crossover.

The trees are still mostly covered in red and gold,

Though more leaves fall with every breeze,

And the ground is in desperate need of a rake.

Football season is in full swing,

And every sports bar is playing at least three games on any given night.

Charlie Brown will be making his way onto the small screen once again,

Forever famous for falling while trying to kick a ball.

 

Fall is heavy in the air.

Halloween has barely faded,

And Thanksgiving looms on the horizon.

And yet as I listen to the radio I can already hear them,

Christmas carols, playing through the first week of November.

Moonrise

The setting sun leaks colors of pink, orange, and yellow.

Diffusing through the sky, spreading into blues which fade,

First to purple, and then to black.

The moon rises in the East as the sun falls West;

Oranges and yellows blink out of sight,

Leaving a pink glow within the clouds.

Stars wink into existence

And purple overtakes the sun’s rosy glow.

Darkness sweeps over the day’s final rays,

The lights of night the only guide that remains,

As the moon reigns over the sky.

Flames

It started small;

Just sparks and a match.

The flame barely flickered,

Barely lived, and any breeze,

No matter how slight,

Would have been enough

To end the matter.

 

But fire’s nature is to grow,

And it was so sheltered,

So well fed and protected

That the flame grew steady,

Melting wax and burning through

The wick that played its nursemaid.

 

Fire is warmth and fire is life,

But with any life, it must not be left

Alone and unattended.

Just as a child grows unruly,

Running through the house

With no sense of order,

Growing wicked and wild,

So does a flame.

 

It may have burned itself out

When it reached the wick’s end,

But this flame, that had started so small,

So unassuming and frail,

Was determined to live,

To grow, to spread.

 

It sparked, just as Mother Match

Had done and it jumped,

From candlestick to parchment,

Just a little spark, but the ember caught.

Slowly burning a ring into its prey,

Until ember turned to flame

And spread once more.

 

No page was left untouched,

And as records and letters and clutter

Were cleared away a flame became a fire.

And the flames dripped off the mahogany,

Which only minutes ago was a beautiful desk,

And spread to a rug with swirling patterns.

Geometric shapes that brought to mind nature,

Flowered paths and tall oak trees and bird songs.

 

But the fabric forest turned to black,

Smothered by the intensity of fire’s passion,

Eroded away to reveal the polished wood below.

And fire takes that too, feeds and grows,

Running from desk to rug to floor to curtains,

And then up a wall and onto the ceiling.

The fire branches out, growing faster now than

Any match or candle may ever dream of doing.

 

Flames spiral around the room now,

Blazing through the walls and ceiling,

Just as embers blazed through parchment.

They dance through the air as they surge onward,

Moving from room to room, devouring all they can.

Feasting on kitchen and servants’ quarters and hallways,

On dining room and bedroom, parlor and nursery.

Never satisfied. Never sated. Never stopping.

 

The fire is ablaze, engulfing all it touches.

Glass windows shatter under the heat’s pressure,

And smoke swirls out into the sky, free at last to flee the flames,

Though fire’s tendrils rise to follow the ashen air,

Dreaming to touch the sky and know the feel of flying or floating or falling.

But fire takes too much too quickly, and the house it used to grow,

To feed and spread and rise and soar, can take no more of fire’s roar.

The wood is weakened, and the roof is sagging, and still the flames

Grow higher and higher. Until there can be no more.

 

The wood bends and breaks, and the roof falls.

Fire drops down once more and sparks fly—

But flames die.

To Drown

The ship rocks and the waves crash over the deck.

Lightning splits the sky and thunder roars.

The world creaks and moans.

And then it shifts—

Sliding screaming silence sinking—

The water churns and spins him around

Until he doesn’t know which way is up.

The world is dark except for a few seconds of lightning,

Or is that glint something shiny that was lost long ago?

It’s impossible to tell, and there isn’t time to think about it now;

The cold seeps into his bones even as his lungs start to burn.

They say it’s a peaceful way to go, to drown,

But the sea knows no peace,

No calm in the center of the storm.

The world is dark, except the spots in his vision are darker,

And his lungs are still burning, even as he opens his mouth,

And the cold rushes in but offers no relief.

The salt stings but he can hardly feel it now.

He can hardly feel anything now.

They say that it’s a pleasant way to go,

To drown.

They’re wrong.

Requiem

We offer sympathies to those who’ve lost someone.

We have to stay strong in the wake of this tragedy,

This one, singular, unpreventable event.

We lower the flag for a day, then return to our lives.

Everything will be fine.

It keeps on happening though, doesn’t it?

More and more often.

And again and again,

We offer sympathies to those who’ve lost someone.

We have to stay strong in the wake of this tragedy,

This latest, recurring, preventable event.

And nothing changes.

And the victims shout for change

For help

To just be heard

Over the finger pointing and the blame

Over the lies and the insults

Over the constant redirection of our attention.

11 dead in Pittsburgh.

That makes 294 shootings in 2018.

2017 had 346.

And what have we done about it?

We offer sympathies to those who’ve lost someone.

We have to stay strong in the wake of this tragedy,

This far from the last, cyclical, starting to be expected event.

We pledge to never forget,

But when do we remember?

Because no matter what pretty words we say,

We always fail to enact any real change.

And there are so many things we could be doing.

We don’t, but we could.

No more sympathies.

No more sorries.

They do nothing, change nothing, and are nothing.

It’s time to remember the dead,

And it’s time to do justice to their memories.

It’s time to stop those numbers.

Time for these people to be more than statistics to be ignored.

There are too many who have been lost already.

Summer’s End

Held within the tender palm

Of her sister, seldom seen

Did the brightest of them all

Feel the strength within her ween

 

Shudder, shiver, glow within

Shining bright against Autumn’s slow dance

The doe and the fawn found solace in last

Of warm days to come, and meadows to prance

 

A smile did cross Sister Summer at last

As meek Sister Autumn found strength to then stand

Her time had now come to lead the year’s cycle

The seasons together, to dance hand in hand

 

As Summer closed her eyes, so too did the sun

Its warm rays cooling as sky fled to night

Autumn turned away, but gave final glance

To the land stretched before her; a sister’s last light

Six Poets Recite Original Work for Nan Lacy Poetry Competition

Six of Radford’s best poets recited their original work to a crowded room during the annual Nan Lacy Poetry Competition. The readings were held in Heth Hall on April 18, and the readers included the top three undergraduate students and top three graduate scholars chosen from an undisclosed number of submissions. Each winning poet was awarded a cash prize of $100, $50, and $25 for their achievement. Hosting the ceremony was Dr. Louis Gallo of the English Department who informed the crowd that Dr. Justin Askins, who in the past has co-hosted the ceremony with Dr. Gallo, would not be able to make it to the readings due to serious illness. Dr. Askins’s ill health was not the only bad news that night, however.

“I am sad to say that the Thomas Coleman Writing Competition, which has been held alongside the Nan Lacy for decades, was cancelled due to the low number of submissions,” said Dr. Gallo during his opening statements.

According to Dr. Gallo, whom I spoke to before the competition, the deadline for the Nan Lacy competition was extended in hopes that it would not meet the same fate as the Coleman. Dr. Gallo also expressed his concern for the state of the arts in today’s society as well his hope that the Nan Lacy would continue to be held for more years to come.

During the ceremony, each of the six winners read five original poems from the 10-page chapbooks submitted for the competition. The undergraduate poets included first place winner Ryan Alcorn, second place winner Austin Morgan, and honorable mention Ashley Dawson. The graduate poets included first place winner Kelly Nickell, second place winner Phelan Tinsley, and honorable mention Jessica Mattox. All contestants were met with applause from the audience, which included friends, family, peers, and several professors from varying departments. After the reading had begun, Dr. Askins finally arrived to listen to the majority of the poets and was met with warm regards by those around him. The annual Nan Lacy Poetry competition came to a close with a group photo of the winners taken by Dr. Gallo.

 

The Pulpit at Izzy’s Speedy Station

In a gas station with a faded sign on the other side of

Burned Pine Avenue, across the street from

Our Father’s, Will Parish,

I shambled into the restroom where my legs collapsed.

My kneecaps cracked on the browned tiles,

Forehead nestled in narrow trenches,

Clear streams digging estuaries into the murk

Beneath the lightning of a flickering bulb.

I studied the scriptures scratched on the stall:

pulpit
“I bowed before the throne once more, Confessed in holy catharsis.” Photo from: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mriEwIDY9OU/U8s7T9iAC_I/AAAAAAAAAPY/ENNC65jTpZY/s1600/pulpit.jpg

The Epistles of Kilroy, the Little Black Book of Numbers,

I bowed before the throne once more,

Confessed in holy catharsis.

Bells from the parish sidestepped the station.

Izzy placed his hand on my back,

Pulled me to my feet and smiled

As the flock left for their townhomes.

Little White Snowflake

snowflakes
“Little white snowflakes falling on the pale white skin.” Photo from: https://writinginnorthnorfolk.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/snowflake-tears.jpg

Little white snowflake falling from the sky,
Little white sparkles falling on the curls.
White flakes hanging from the lashes,
Light blue eyes watching the gray clouds go by.
Watching the little white snowflakes falling all around,
One, Two, Three, time to fall down.
All the little white snowflakes acting as a bed,
Nice, soft, and very cold.
Little white snowflakes falling on the pale white skin.

Rising Song

If I told you once
I loved you–
I don’t think I foresaw
A life held back
Against a cold hard wall.
You suffocated me
With sparkling chains of words
I tried in vain to embrace.
I was grasping at an empty vessel
Of half-meant hopes and dreams,
And ‘almost like a dream’ meant
Nothing
If I could not catch my breath
From running aimlessly to escape.

A young woman’s escape–
I leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind
As I run out of the monster’s howling lair.
You carried me away
From the truth of a thousand lies
And wounded me with blows.
The skin is thick on the scars
You dug into the mental flesh
Of my blood-stained heart.
The places you struck me
Will heal with the falling snow.

Ring off finger
And flung away.
My finger can bend again–
I was numbed to the bone
From hypothermic waste.
Screeching,
I flung open the bars
Of the prison in which
You held me.

Your heart’s key–
I never meant to unlock
That door.
I threw the key away
Somewhere in the garden,
As drifts of white
Danced in the solemn breeze.

You denied me life
And pushed me inch by inch
Into a living grave.
I was a foot deep in mud
Before I hitched myself up
And braced my feet against the wall.
I won’t say it was easy–
The grips at the bottom
Were hard to cling to
And you were there holding me down.
I made it anyway
And overcame.
Your smug face shuddered
And collapsed into itself
Before the smoke cleared.

That smile was a dream
I attempted foolishly to keep.
As the flames of your fire
Scorched the meat
You had me cook for you,
The bonds of female servility
Were already crumbling
At our feet.

running in woods
“I was numbed to the bone From hypothermic waste.” Photo from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

As you held me down sweating
Against tear-streaked sheets,
I watched the window open
A crack to let the wind in.
As you pulled away and stood
At the door beckoning me to follow
Down the hall of portraits
Of faces smiling in false confidence,
I leaped at the chance
To fly out the window
And baptize myself in
Melting banks of snow.

You can swing at me again–
Your broken dagger was
Never too sharp anyway.
I won’t be hurt again
By untended wounds.

When spring comes,
I will run barefoot
Through the woods
With the sun beating down
And the wind following
My movements
There
And never back again.

Free and Fierce

fire
“In the dead of the night, the brilliant flames were alive with a seemingly insatiable hunger for fuel and fodder.” Photo from: http://forest.ambient-mixer.com/images_template/7/a/5/7a5f2da770d424198f5fe0e88b573b10_full.jpg

The night was alive with crackling light and shifting shadows. In the dead of the night, the brilliant flames were alive with a seemingly insatiable hunger for fuel and fodder, eating through the wood and the walls. The people outside on the ground stood in silent awe of the gold and orange flames that danced in the windows of what was once their home. They could do little else. They had been roused from the depths of sleep by the heat and the smoke, going from groggy to completely awake and alert in a second, only to have the adrenaline disappear from their bodies as they made it to the safety of the street. No one had seemed to be hurt much, and the fire had only just begun to roar in full force. As if it had waited for the last resident to leave before it feasted.

Free of any human chains to slow it down, the fire seemed to start anew, growing and blazing with a strange ferocity. It burned brightly and quickly, tearing and clawing its way through the apartment building. The entire building would be gone in seconds, but for the residents on the street, it seemed to take an eternity. Every flame slowed to a crawl, creeping up through the windows and along the walls. The flames seemed to gently brush against their prey before slipping into the wood to consume it from the inside out. Black spots of destruction blossomed forward, spreading out in a slow wave like a drop of ink in water. It would spread and spread, becoming wider and greater while it weakened itself, until it began to crumble away from its center to its very edge, the ash falling through the air like snowflakes and dancing in front of the viewer on the street.

Sunny Day

I am hiding outside

In the sun.

 

My black flats are worn –

The heels torn to the sole.

I am wearing the shirt

Your mother bought me –

The blue floral print

That falls off the shoulders

And exposes my bare back

Beneath crisscross strips of thin fabric.

 

I don’t like it –

It reveals the freckled maps

On each shoulder –

My essence.

 

girl
“It reveals the freckled maps On each shoulder.” Photo from: thenletitbe.tumblr.com

 

People glance at me

As they pass on the sidewalk.

 

I could be an Armadillo

Or a Turtle

Or poke my head out

Of this hardened shell.

I can choose to be an Emu

Or a Donkey

Or keep my mouth shut firm

In solitary silence.

 

You would be angry –

I did not wear my jacket.

My back is ice

And I don’t care.

I am a rebel without

A flag to wave –

All eyes on me

And mine on them.