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Sep 2014 · 3.0k
Fraction
Bob Sterry Sep 2014
A photographer stands
Shutter cable in hand.
An image is beating
On his camera door
Not demanding entrance
Light, energy is indifferent
But continually present
And changing.
He thinks he saw something
His machine can capture
On a thin reactive pellicule.
But chemistry only keeps
A part of the whole
Pulsing available spectrum,
And the image emerging
Later in a darkened room
Is, of course,
A fraction.
Aug 2014 · 675
Monocular Malevolence
Bob Sterry Aug 2014
In the dark
Driving
Glance up to see
In the mirror
A following bulk
With a single head light
Its cyclopean beam
Is tracking me
Driving alone
On this dark route
And I shiver
In my seat
Sensing a monocular malevolence
Behind
Almost animal
A robo-creature
Stalking me in my tin box
For miles the lone yellow shaft
And its anonymous source
Sweep an unnamed fear into me
And when the road widens
And it passes me
I am genuinely surprised to see
That its driver has a head.
People..! Get your headlights fixed!
Aug 2014 · 1.2k
Message To The Moon
Bob Sterry Aug 2014
Run away my pale sister
Sink safely below the rim
Else my rays will burn your face
As my strength explodes over the earth

But, then savor these minutes
When we share the sky
And your lovely illumination
Yields always to my blaze.

And through the day
As I burn the landscape
I forget you, until,
You appear again, behind me.

Hard and soft, hard and soft
Warm and cool, warm and cool
We soak this planet in our own cycle
Using the same light. Mine!
I am a Leo. No other words necessary
Aug 2014 · 8.7k
I Got This Body
Bob Sterry Aug 2014
I got this body from some people I knew,
For a while, at least,
And all of its shortcomings
Including shortness
Were presaged, previewed and
More than adequately demonstrated
Over the years we lived together.
In the years I ignored that, listening
Rather to their voices
Which illustrated another prophesy less physical
And am now stunned to welcome
Both my Mother and Father
In the shaving mirror everyday.
How far from the tree can an acorn really drop?
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
I saw a little guy being born
I cut the cord that tied him
I held him in my arms
With his dark damp hair
Wetting my hospital gown

And his dark eyes looking up
Looked right through me
And saw something I could not
And perhaps it’s best that way

Even then he was serene
And had the knack of sleep
A skill he has preserved
Lying so neatly in his bed
A lovable length of boy

I saw a little guy grow
Into a lovely boy
Who spoke quietly
And was always gentle.

I saw a lovely boy grow
Into a slender young man
And felt all his wounds
Like my own, once again
Deep and full of rage

I can sense his young anger
And his musical desire
Waiting for an unknown muse
To strike him and lead him
Somewhere….

I see a slender young man
I cut the cord that ties him
And watch his dark hair
Disappear from my view
From my damp eyes.
Of all the pains in the world we have to endure those inflicted unconsciously by our children are some of the hardest to bear.
Jul 2014 · 1.2k
Duct Tape Baby
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
You’re my duct tape baby
I’m just stuck on you
Duct tape Baby
Only cloth and glue.
When my world falls apart
And nothing will hold true
I call my duct tape baby
I’m really stuck; on you
Yup...a workshop product. One minute to write a poem about duct tape.
Jul 2014 · 3.9k
First Kiss
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
It was about six in the evening
Six in the evening when juvenile lust is tumescent
And Anne McKilroy made her lips available
To mine
In the back of the choir outing charabanc
She did not mind the smell of corn beef
Lingering from my lunch time sandwich
At Wordstock in Portland some years ago I stopped by the Oregon Poetry Assoc. booth and was challenged to write a poem containing the words corn and I think it was evening. Here is the result.
Jul 2014 · 1.4k
A Fine Vocabulary
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
He was equipped with a fine vocabulary
Far in excess of his intellectual needs
An entertaining fool
Stocked with dictionaries
Obscure constructions
Medieval verbs
Circumlocutory, verbose
Impenetrable
A simple mind hid amongst
A confusion of entangled phrases
As if using a foreign language
Assembling hopefully meaningful phrases
Where a listener may find coherence
A simple message

Every request
Every Statement
Observation
From his mouth, no matter how mundane
Appeared decorated
Embellished, almost..
Baroque

In this wordy fog
It was hard to know
Hard to find
Traces of a real person
A tangible, relatable identity
Something predictable.
In the swirling wind of
Constantly shifting
Complex expressions
Seeming riddles.

He was a prisoner
A lifer
Doomed to remain
Incarcerated in his usage
Dense, cloying, exaggerated, unyielding
Usage
He could not avoid
Unconscious, reflexive, merciless
He did not struggle,
That ended long ago.
A simple phrase came to me on a bike ride, the first two lines of this poem. It became a short prose piece for my blog. Now it is also a poem.
Jul 2014 · 5.6k
Shucking Peas
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Shucking peas on the back steps
Maureen and I watch her Mum,
My Aunt Grace,
Arguing with Aunt Edna
In the kitchen
The narrow kitchen
Of number 84 Truro Road
As they whip a Sunday lunch into shape
A test match drones on the radio
The aroma of mint on new spuds teases.
It’s a modest roast
Served in the tiny parlor
To nine of us!
Eating elbow to elbow
With yellow handled knives and forks
Down to the bare porcelain
Waiting for the apple pie
with Libby’s.
That crust, with sugar sprinkles
Is a lifetime goal for me!
Inspired by Seamus Heaney's poem about watching his mother peel potatoes, and written for the 90th Birthday of my Aunt Grace, who represents her name so well. Test match means a five day cricket match, probably against Australia. Libby's is a brand of sweetened condensed milk. A treat in the fifties when cream was a luxury.
Jul 2014 · 1.4k
Rhubarb
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
I learned about Oxalic Acid
At seventeen
When less than anxious for yet more information
More notes on a chalkboard
In a malodorous Sulphurous  school room.
Hastily copied in pencil
Scribbled then and required to be transformed
Later, into copperplate, almost textbook pages.
To be judged as adequate; or not.

Oxalic Acid; not as deadly.
But in a close league,
To the clear deadly liquids
Held in the dusty skull marked bottles
Within easy reach of any manic schoolboy.
Dusty bottles in a rack
In a rack on a bench
On a bench where I sat
Where I sat wondering why my mind
My sharp juvenile mind would never grasp
Molecular Valence Theory quite as well
As the taste of a girls lips
The smell of her hair
The ring of her laugh
The answer to a question in her eyes.
Years later
When that girl had gone
I read that Oxalic Acid is found in Rhubarb leaves.
Pie making always brings such fascinating memories from a boyhood half a century ago.
Jul 2014 · 555
Stuffing Removed
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Like an old cushion
Whose stuffing you removed
Excepts its me
Just a few ***** of fluff
Clinging to the inside corners
Comprising my soul
Forced up against the stitching
Very Old Stitching
Ready to break and cast
The remainder of me out
But for the moment
For a long moment
The half empty pillow of me
Still offers a cozy worn velour exterior
To those who like that sort of thing.
Its that empty feeling
Jul 2014 · 1.7k
Love And Sunshine
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
You notice the browning leaves,
Early victims,
In midsummer
Late July and August
And they parallel our love
Crisping stale edges
Edging inward
Inward to where growing used to be
I blame the sun
The sun of truth
Blasting unmercifully on our greenness
And returning us to the soil
Of amorous compost.
The first of a series.
Jul 2014 · 4.0k
A Tale Of Two Picnics
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
The bright sun’s rays
Are dappled as they strike
The manicured greensward.
He, tall, lithe, teeth all aglow
In cream slacks and pastel blouson,
She, fair and fairylike in acres of shimmering gauze,
Alight from the auto
At the site of their ‘manger al fresco’
Let us call them Justin and Jocelyn.
The basket is heavy
No matter.
He lifts it clear to carry
She gasps, he grins.
In minutes the scene is set
The rug, the plates, the glasses
The pate, the cold chicken,
The fruit….the wine.
He deflowers a bottle of Moselle,
Wishing it were her.
Guessing as much she blushes.
Ants retreat to nests
Wasps attack alternate targets
Flies zoom elsewhere to feed.
And all the while the sun
The golden sun continues to dapple.


The rain is not quite horizontal
As Joe and Judy
Run from the bus stop
To the stony beach.
Not quite horizontal
But driven off the sea it tastes salty.
He, ordinary, average, in a dampening grey mackintosh.
She, hair bleached in a sister’s frock and jacket
Holding hands,
And hold each a sandwich
Cellophane wrapped.
Squatting against the seawall
They eat.
Wet eyes flash bright signals.
Joe has a small thermos
Its vegetable soup,
And somehow a hardboiled egg appears,
To share.
The rain continues its attack.
Growing up in England a picnic was one the most optimistic things one could undertake. Hollywood picnics always seemed so unlikely.
Jul 2014 · 821
London Road
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
That short wispy haired lady
Fighting her way against the wind
Up the London Road
Is my Mother.
Lips pursed she is returning
From the hairdressers, the post office
And has yet to pick up steak and kidney
For the pie she will make
For the boy who is coming home
For her son who will soon be there
For the man who loves the pie
For her child who loves her.
Her lips are pursed in determination
Against all the obstacles
Real and imagined that stalk her.
Lately that climb past the church
Made her puff.
Tiredness, her weakened heart
Struggling to keep up.
Perhaps the thought of another winter
Another wet and windy struggle
Up and down the village
Up and down the London Road.
Discretely her body decided
To give up.
No more struggling
No more tiredness
No more puffing and halting
For my shy timid Mother.
No more making tea
No more cleaning
No more washing
No more worrying
For my Mum.
Her three sons
Middle aged and modern
Stand miserably with their Father
Standing in suits in the municipal crematorium.
Rain and wind, my Mothers enemies
Howl and lash outside
Lost without their old victim
Inside aging relatives
Exchange scared glances
Wondering who is next.
Jul 2014 · 1.2k
Nap Time
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Now and then
I take a nap
A nap on the couch
It’s that or pretend I am paying attention.
To accelerate a reluctant somnolence
I return to another house
A house very far away
And in the past
Where my mother is busy in the kitchen.
While I doze off my jet lag in the closet she calls a bedroom
The almost rhythmic sounds of her kitchen are a sleeping draught
A draught so powerful no ****** competes.
I wonder now if she knew.
No explanation needed.
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Soft curdled interior now at its eutectic
Holds a bifurcated square of gluten
Equally carbonized together
In an **** of ill-advised but sensual nutrition
In a poetic city this could be a menu item. Comes with a small green salad?
Jul 2014 · 958
A Day
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
There’s stasis on the freeway
A backup from the bridge
An accident in the tunnel
I left my lunch in the fridge

Grey cars with no lights
Vanish in the mist
A November Oregon morning
I remember that we kissed

The parking lot is crowded
The storm surges blow after blow
Two trucks block my progress
You’ll miss me when I go?

I leave the car in limbo-land
I give a street kid a tip
There’s a long walk to the office
Your taste lingered on my lip

Another dreary screen day
Click once here for madness
Scroll your life to hell
Did we really do our best?

I left my lunch in the fridge
I remember that we kissed
You’ll miss me when I go
Your taste lingered on my lips
Did we really do our best?
No explanation necessary. Just life in the ordinary
Jul 2014 · 1.1k
A Little Taste Of Tarmac
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
A little taste of tarmac, Bobby
Let me spin my wheels
A little taste of the long flat road
I’ve forgotten how it feels

A little taste of tarmac, Bobby
Make my chainwheel hum
A little taste of the up hill grind
Thirty miles and some

A little taste of tarmac, Bobby
Way out among the farms
A little taste of dust on your lips
My metal soul would calm

Climb up onto the saddle, Bobby
Clip into the pedals tight
Feel my frame respond to you
You always crank me right

Stay with me in the saddle, Bobby
Our ride will be as sweet
As the wash of lactic acid
From your shoulders to your feet

It’s good with you on my saddle, Bobby
I know you feel the same
You push my pedals hard now
And laughing call my name

Lean easy in those corners, Bobby
Accelerating the while
My frame is all aglow now
On your face I sense a smile

Flying home with you, Bobby
You get the adrenaline kick
It makes you sprint the last half mile
And smooth out the left hand flick

A little taste of tarmac, Bobby
I am waiting stem unbowed
Come find me soon and ride me
Before my rims corrode

A little taste of tarmac, Bobby
Make me spin my wheels
A little taste of any road
Or forget how good it feels.
If a bicycle could have a soul this is a poem that my favorite bike 'Loretta' would have written to me after a long period of neglect as I recovered from some injury or other.
Jul 2014 · 1.4k
Kerosene Kettles
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
There are four giant kerosene kettles
Tied to the wings
Of the machine
In which I sit.
Voices speak in the air
Confident and bland.
The owner of one of the voices
Sets fire to the kettles
And the whole machine leaps
Into the air
Me with it.
We all pretend it’s OK
And sit quietly
Until the voices speak again
And tell us
The fire is out
And we can leave
Into a strange city
Or home.
Jul 2014 · 488
Live In The Moment
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Yeah right! I was trying to do this the other day, but I got confused about how I was supposed to know in which moment I was going to live. They all speed by so fast. I could not pick out the one in which I was surely ‘meant’ to live. So I tried to envision my moment as a big red London bus which would soon appear around a metaphysical corner with its number and destination board clearly marking it as my bus, my moment, into whose creative interior I could throw my whole existence and for who really knows how long actually LIVE! But fate decided that all the buses are the same, and I hang around the bus stop with my head snapping from one horizon to the other as one conductor after another raises a quizzical eyebrow as he flies by. I want to get on, I want to get on, and obey that wise imperative…

a. …I jumped on the very next bus and found it was already full of passengers wondering how in hell they could get off without paying the fare.
b. …I jumped on the very next bus and at that moment its number and destination board came in to sharp and comforting focus.
Less a poem than a fragment asking to be turned into a poem. Written some years ago, it has failed so far to become one.
Jul 2014 · 2.2k
Unused Wings
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Working under a cloud of sadness
Cleaning a mother’s home
After their death.
All the familiar objects
Are so much heavier
Loaded with emotion
Triggered by every trinket touched.
And the unfamiliar
Items never seen before
Not really secret
But secretive
Shed an unfamiliar light
Or a tragic one
On the lost life.

Add some desire you had
For resolution
Or proof of affection
A letter un-mailed, explaining…
Everything, less,
Or adding further mysteries.
Photos signed with a revealing scrawl
In a curious masculine hand.
And flowing in your mind
As you reduce a life to a list
For disposal, dispersal
A certainty
A knowing
That what you see is not the whole
The whole life


There’s something missing
That might explain
Her wistful expression
Her unexpressed longing,
The aura of regret,
You recall it easily.
A perfume of disappointment
Lingering.

And when you finally
Discover her dark journals
Her writing, but reflecting a stranger
A talent, a power, a presence
Never revealed, never known
But rich and sharp
With bright witty language
You understand this is a set of wings
Dusty with neglect
Heavy with melancholia
Unused wings.
How often do we find another person appears upon their earthly demise?
Jul 2014 · 2.0k
Pinot This And Pinot That
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Pinot this and pinot that
This young Grenache is a trifle flat
Better to try and get along
With a slightly older Sauvignon

I sometimes get a trifle low
When dabbling in a cheap Merlot
And so to scare the blues away
Will sip a spendy Chardonnay

But to avoid real ennui
Drink super Oregon Pinot Gris
And let’s be quite awfully frank
That’s much better than Chenin Blanc

But while you sort out your Pinot
Give a break to Grignolino
It’s good, but not the same as
A bold and cheeky Oz Shiraz

And if you want to go very far
Don’t ignore local Pinot Noir
It always sells well on the block
And I wonder who likes Marechal Foch

As I was supping a cute Barbera
At a certain State affaira
Things got quickly very highbrow
When someone mentioned Muller Thurgau

It is no lack of vinous respect
That makes us scorn the best Malbec
And can you find me a single fan
Of that very odd vine, Carignan?

If one must go to a grapey hell
There’s good company in Zinfandel
But if we really must go
Could we have some Nebbiolo?

In the end we all agree
Any wine is better free
But if not free we’ll surely call
Any wine beats none at all!
There are hundreds of grape varieties. Some make good wine, some do not. A poem including all of them would be too long. This one takes care of the obvious contenders.
Jul 2014 · 1.2k
Going To Cairo
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
I thought it would be more romantic than this.
I thought it would strangle me with its strangeness
Walk up to me with a sword in its oriental mouth
And bump into me,
Jolting me out of my occidental seat into the stinking dust of the gutters.
I thought the Mohammed Ali mosque would wrestle me to the ground with its shocking bare immenseness.
I thought my nostrils would burn with the assault of unnamed spice.
I thought my ears would crumble with the muezzins call at noon,
When all the dogs in Cairo enter a canine Koran reading contest.
I thought the pyramids would crush me with too much history and indifference
I thought the city of the dead would turn my gut over in its emptiness and blank windows
I thought the Nile would bewitch me and turn my blue blazer to Joseph’s coat
I thought Tuten Kamens chariot would run over me
I thought so much and I thought so much
That it brought me here where I would not be except for Cairo
For Cairo was a poetic enema
And purged some foolishness from me.
She lightened my load
And with her sister Bombay
Will always be on my cerebral medicine shelf
To take in case of cabin fever.
When you travel to a new city expectations are nearly always defied.
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Scanning from the ground upward over my torso
Reveals an disturbing inventory of dysfunction
brachymetatarsia, in both feet!
Unequal leg length
Reconditioned knees
Atrophied right quadriceps
Hernia Scar
L4 & L5 Vertebrae way too chummy
Are these *******?
Are these jowls?
Gum recession
Moderate gastro intestinal reflux
Three diopter challenge in both eyes
Dermatochelassis, left and right
Scintillating scotoma
Male pattern baldness – rear solar panel developing.
And yet when asked
I reply, Oh, I’m fine! I’m fine.
And you, and you, still love me.
Jul 2014 · 473
Cricket
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
You think I don’t see the stars
You think I don’t wonder at the sky
As I crouch here
Unseen
Unseen but heard
A small chirruping twig of keratin.
I am come quickly to this world
And leave the same
I have some purpose
Which is not to entertain
Or become a romantic icon of your late summer sentiment
I am here solely to exist for a brief moment of beauty
I dare you to claim more.
Jul 2014 · 1.4k
My Personal Fruit Fly
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
It is September and my personal fruit fly has returned
From his long vacation,
And is happily perched on the rim of my wine glass
Polity hopping off whenever I reach for a sip,
Quietly resuming his place when I set down my glass.

I can hardly resent his microscopic intrusion
Especially when I find that he and a partner have ended
Their wandering keratinous lives
And are now jointly denting the meniscus of my economy class Chardonnay.
There cannot be too many people who have not wondered from where do fruit flies come. And, no house that contains bananas can be free from their presence.

— The End —