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May 14 · 349
Intimate tables. White linen coverings. The room, a checkerboard against the mahogany floor. Cozy nooks for two sit poised for the evening crowd, set against the wainscoting of one wall, a length of crystalline windows above.

A place setting removed, she sits alone, the amber light of her wine an imposter for the last shards of daylight that poke from behind a ridge.

She swirls her wine clockwise. Something to do with progress, he said. Or she read that somewhere. She can't remember which.

She finishes and turns the stem of her glass slowly hoping to leave an impression in the cloth, when a voice says, "May I join you?"
Mar 19 · 381
he found the bench where they always sat,
the one near the pond’s edge where the ducks

would swim close to shore, swim almost near
enough for one to reach out a hand to feel the

soft down, the way she always tried to do, and
when the weather turned gray and the skies

opened wide she would laugh and lick the rain
and say this is duck weather and we’re not going

anywhere either, and now that she is gone, and
he stretches a long bony arm across the top of

the bench to embrace an empty space, he hopes
for dark clouds so that he can tilt his head and

feel the drops upon his lips and
open wide for a mouthful of rain
Mar 15 · 477
the battle rages,

terror, death, grief,

the witness immobile, inconsolable

until the bearers of courage and kindness,

their selfless acts the true thieves of breath,

become the grantors of tears,

of sorrow, of joy,

of humanity
Feb 27 · 513

Rise and be heard.

Rise and brandish your resolve.

Rise to fend the jackboot of oppression and

the black hand that seeks to cover the sky.

Rise to keep the warm sun upon your face.

Rise and continue to breathe free.

for Ukraine
Feb 12 · 183
There are times I turn to the river,

when life roils and churns like the rapids,

and I remember what the river has always

known when it heaves and ebbs, and runs

swiftly by, carrying broken branches just

as abraded stones appear as polished gems
Feb 3 · 428
And on their happiest days,

they smiled with a broken heart
Jan 14 · 478
She sat down at the table across from him. She straightened her shoulders and spoke in a clear voice. “What are you reading?”

Startled, he looked up at her. He hesitated, then slowly closed the book, exposing the cover.

Her head down, she said nothing, only fiddled with a pen lying on the table, spinning it slowly.

“Who are you?” he asked.

She raised her gaze to meet his. She smiled. “I’m here to change your life.”
Jul 2021 · 358
Philip Lawrence Jul 2021
I have nightmares, Lisa said. All sorts of nightmares.
They stopped walking. Lisa looked at him deeply.

Can you fall asleep, Ben? Or do you think? Do you just hate and hate to think like me, like I hate to think? Sometimes I just hate and hate to think. So, then I want to sleep. But I can’t sleep. But sleep is good because I don’t think then. But the dreams, the nightmares. I have nightmares. So, I hate to sleep.

What kind of nightmares?

The worst. Aren’t all nightmares the worst?

 He pulled her closer.
May 2021 · 326
Philip Lawrence May 2021
They had been together from dusk. He had taken her through their old haunts and old friends, and others, familiar faces with broad smiles and without names, had greeted them everywhere. And now, on her doorstep in the early morning hours, she slid her hand behind his head and held it still as she enveloped him.

When she tilted away, her eyes were closed. Her lips lingered over his, an infinitesimal separation. The night air was cool. She eased away and turned up her collar. She opened her eyes to the blue-black sky and let her gaze search from star to star. Without a word, she was inside, alone, her hands behind her, her back flush against the door knowing full well that was the last time.
May 2021 · 419
Philip Lawrence May 2021
outside, amid the rubble, stands a mound two
soldiers high, made of bricks and mortar, and

cement and steel twisted up with everyday life,
where tables and chairs and beds and blankets

tumble carelessly, askew in the hot sun that beats
ceaselessly against a refrigerator toppled on its’ head,

and upon on a sewing machine halted mid-stitch,
the needle poised above the hem of a flowered dress
May 2021 · 301
Philip Lawrence May 2021
high above the river, from the edge of the cliff, one can
see the rafters in their inflated crafts, in the blue and
red and yellow ovals, bright and iridescent and suspended
atop the furious strip of gray as they wend below, lifting,

twisting, careening as their vessels sprout sodden arms that
grip scarred paddles, paddles that swing quick and deep  
into the foam only to then be held still and wide to the water,
a thousand rudders to navigate the rocks and avoid the

hard realities that rise in the shallows and are revealed  
without warning, some only to scream haplessly like
funhouse monsters, while the others lie dangerously quiet,  
unseen under the surface, until at river's tail the rafters

lift their oars in triumph amid the mirror-like calm, life’s
vagaries conquered for the moment
May 2021 · 607
Movie Lover
Philip Lawrence May 2021
A crowded café, bustling, boisterous, filled with jocular
talk and the ardent gossip of young men and women,
a salesman’s smarmy sincerity, and the deft, placid
intonations of desire over two cappuccinos with skim milk,

and she is there, in the corner, against the brick wall, sipping
unadorned Earl Grey, and then a zoom focus, her presence
enhanced, the room falls away, and the chatter quiets into a
cushioning white noise, background to the film he has constructed,

and with the leads filled, the location set, the supporting cast in place,
now, the script.
Apr 2021 · 439
Philip Lawrence Apr 2021
In a stairwell, steps below the sidewalk, he huddled over a small flame that licked from a coffee can. He positioned himself to block the light to the street, and every so often he held a hand above the flame and quickly opened and closed his fingers. He stamped his feet in the snow, each time sending out a muffled whoosh when a shoe hit powder. He wiggled his fingers over the heat, and his mittens crackled when brought too close to the fire.
Across the street, a limestone building, a hotel, small, elegant, rose several stories high. Inside, on the ground floor, behind the belted velvet drapes, a cocktail lounge gleamed. A glistening mahogany bar ran the length of the room where guests disappeared into overstuffed chairs that were neatly placed in pairs and set against the arched, crystalline windows.

Inside the coolly lighted room, he watched a young woman with silky hair and sleepy eyes as she ran a finger around the rim of her drink. The woman glanced once at the silent snow falling in the dark. In the stairwell, he listened to the whisper of the fire and the beat of ice crystals as they fell against the steps.
Apr 2021 · 497
In a Way
Philip Lawrence Apr 2021
I just want to say, right from the start, that I loved her.

Not in the neon bright light, two a.m. sparkling pavement, uptown New York City way. No, much more in the ice-cold Dos Equis’ beading in the summer dusk sunlight way, and in the way the sound they made when slid to us across scarred wooden bars.

Or maybe in the way she laughed when her fingers became tangled when she held a pool cue, and the way she didn’t care when she missed the ball completely – and then laughed some more.

But mostly in the way when faced with the poet’s choice of cowardice or courage, how she scratched furiously along the page, her thoughts spilling shamelessly across the white until she rested and read the words she had written, and when she knew she was no closer to immortality, the way she reached for another page.

In that way.
Apr 2021 · 240
Today, Everything
Philip Lawrence Apr 2021
“Synesthesia. I have synesthesia.” She pulled her sunglasses away and leaned forward. “You know, the senses thing?”

“No, not really.”

“It happens to some people. Two senses become interlinked. You know, tangled together. Like hearing sounds when you taste certain foods. For instance, when some people associate a sound or color with objects. Like the sound of a voice might be orange? Some people envision numbers in colors, like me. I guess other people hear Mozart when they eat a banana.”

She giggled, and her coal-black eyes softened. “It’s kind of cool. I like to think it lets me see the inside of things. And there are no rules, not really,” she said. “Except infinity. Infinity has no color, of course.”

Her hair was dark and full except for a crescent scar above her left ear where her hair was clean shaven.

Behind them walked two white-haired women. The women stopped and laughed, and then they snapped selfies and then continued to walk and laugh as they looked at the photos.

“I wonder what I would have been like at their age. Just like them, I should hope.”

“What do you mean, would have been like?”

“Come on. I see you glancing at it when you think I’m not looking.”

“I didn’t.”

“It’s a thing.” Her face brightened as she widened her eyes and tilted her head to one side. “Besides, it isn’t real.”

Her hand made a sweep of the city. “It’s too nice a day. And I love it here. You’re a part of everything here. You know, some people believe that’s what happens. The good, the bad…the ugly, the gorgeous. You become part of all of it.”

She threw back her head and closed her eyes and reached up with both arms and wiggled her fingers at a single white cloud, twisting slowly in a tight circle. “This place is as beautiful as the sound of sky.”
Mar 2021 · 101
Philip Lawrence Mar 2021
the rain beats against the window and I see the

drops amass until each dotted soul swells, then

bursts into a rivulet seeking a path against the glass,

and some will pass through other streams, and I follow

their brief intersects, these capillaric rivers that fail

to merge, while others course boldly, seeking to

join, to find a parallel stream on likeminded journey,

and off to the corner of the pane there are drops

that fill and run, and then halt, and bump, and skitter

about, those carving a solitary course
Feb 2021 · 238
Philip Lawrence Feb 2021
it seemed inconsequential, at first,
an innocent reminder, a party next
week brought a quick turn away,
as if she had spotted someone across
the street, or perhaps jolted by the
thought of an oven left on

of course, it was neither, and
her gaze quickly returned, her visage
now sullen, acquiescent to the moment
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you"
Jan 2021 · 719
Philip Lawrence Jan 2021
some say she was born with a broken heart,
unmendable by word or deed, and now armed
with a quiver full of witticisms and deft vertical
palm, friends, lovers, the world, all held at bay,
lest they discover her sorrow
Dec 2020 · 248
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
I find the river when I am kept awake by thoughts of you, and

at the railing, despite the numbing grip of wrought iron, I can see her

surface ripple in the winter wind, and I watch as the undercurrent

appears to churn and switch back in the twilight, unpredictable,

unknowable, a breadth and impulse powerful, resistant, and when

her path is curbed, finding her own way in a tumult of discovery
Dec 2020 · 259
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
promises unheeded,

fidelity unspared,

deserted, until rumor of another brings

a squeamish smile, a tearful display,

wordless performance for an audience of one
Dec 2020 · 397
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
I knew when your hand brushed my collar,

removing a thread,

and removing all doubt
Dec 2020 · 156
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
her gaze,
a place of verity, uncompromised by
words that seek to betray,
uncorrupted by gesture, a place
where the gritty cannot be smoothed
with a smile, a precise machine, a scale
where each grain of assessment is properly
weighed, the result forged and steeled,
a place unmoved by desire, impervious
to manipulation, a place in which
to find oneself
Dec 2020 · 208
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
they whisper to one another as they lie on the cricket-green

shoots of spring, where delectable images are conjured and

crafted into place, and together they dream of the pale,

white heat of summer, and blue curls of ocean water rushing

sun-bleached grains, and the sudden flash of autumn, always

a surprise, the most radiant leaves to be collected and pressed

between forgettable pages until sheafs of white lay atop

the country cottages, their bejeweled eaves sparkling for holiday

as the snow-laden pines lining the rural lanes frown under the

weight, a seasonal banquet expected, promised…hoped for
Dec 2020 · 305
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
Deep breath, then another. I held my drink steady and began to walk

an awkward walk, a little too deliberate, my steps conspicuous,

almost silly as I feigned nonchalance until a fictional cough as I

neared you. Your attention caught. Was it also feigned? I didn’t want

to do any of this, this wasn’t me. But a promise if I ever saw you

again, a promise to oneself, that must be kept. And so, it was. How

could I have done otherwise, leaving you to chance.
Dec 2020 · 310
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
at the corner, he reached for her elbow

and held it gently as they crossed,

her lips parting in betrayal at the touch
Dec 2020 · 197
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
there was silence after she finished,
she thought he would say something,
expecting that, but she was
unprepared for silence, not now

she waited, just as she had
a thousand times before,
waited for a response, some
recognition of the moment

she closed her eyes and
she waited in the dark,
hoping his words would
call them open

the only sound came from
the noontime chatter of
the cafe, then a waiter
dropped a plate

startled, her eyes flew open,
and when she looked across
the table, his were now closed,
shut tightly, distorting his face

all she could think to do was to
slide her hand gently over his,
a tactile farewell, before she rose
and abandoned the thought of them
Dec 2020 · 278
Reel Dreams
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
some imperious, red-lipped, salty-mouthed,

others drift in gimlet-eyed diffidence,

all gossamer now, clarity only to be

found in the reels of Morpheus
Dec 2020 · 275
Circean Dance
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
Winter is near, and night drapes quickly over the city, a black satin

sheath to be decorated by the early stars. But the skyline is

different, the glass and stone soldiers that elbow for prominence at

the river’s edge don’t shine bright until the river blackens out of

sight, not until the soft whoosh of the final ripples from the ferry

boats lap up against the pier pilings. No, the skyline sleeps late,

then awakens not for the city, for it stretches and smiles brightly,

before an open-mouthed inhale of cold night air, all show, an

opening number, a roaring, leg-kicking first dance for those who

stare and yearn, who pine in nervous indecision on the far shore,

tantalized, pawing at the ground before, perhaps, bridging the

pitch water to join the city splash, for if one stays put, feet planted

at a distance, beyond the parquet floor, well….
Dec 2020 · 507
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
I remember no words,

only the sting of hot coffee,

a hurried gulp,

so not to speak of your leaving
Dec 2020 · 233
Philip Lawrence Dec 2020
muddied shoes neatly paired by the fire,
the leather seat crinkles under my weight
as I inch closer, full mug in hand, the
ceramic feverish to the touch

the flames lick and recede, past faces beseeching me to stay,
swallowing me into the warm past, familiar, my skin,
my bones inseparable, still part of the many departed,
a night’s respite before daylight and the need to move on,

the hearth, broad and crackling, it pulls,
not yet I think, as I struggle with my pack,
not yet, as the morning will be cold but bright,
the path branch-filled yet passable, a journey still,

not yet I think
Nov 2020 · 237
Philip Lawrence Nov 2020
The search for kindness can be difficult.

Ease the journey.

Let it be found at your doorstep.
Nov 2020 · 143
Philip Lawrence Nov 2020
I find the rough-hewn bench where we once met,

where my anticipation led to scribbled notes,

read and reread, each time returned to pocket,

only to be exhumed, unwrinkled, and memorized

once more, and sufficient to cause me to pace about,

to mutter, to rehearse hackneyed platitudes, fumphering

again, and again, until at last you arrived and laughed a

consoling laugh at my ineptness, enveloping me in a warmth

I had never known

And now, as I shift about, a gray spot alone among

the burgeoning reds and yellows and golds of the cool

autumn, I search the faces of passersby, knowing well

you will not be among them, yet wondering if I will

ever see you again
Oct 2020 · 137
Philip Lawrence Oct 2020
The grains fall through corseted glass,
time squandered, regretted,
opportunities irretrievable,
a life whispered, then silent.

Listen – do you hear the music?
It plays on.
Strut, leap, beam wide-eyed,
ignite a soul ablaze to

inhale the aroma of the lush
severed blades of late summer,
grin at the smiling sunflowers,
sway to the music of love,

broad-hearted, full-throated,
spear the brass circle, then cast it into the sea.
“Oh, that. That was nothing.”
A life to see.
Oct 2020 · 153
Philip Lawrence Oct 2020
I exist only in memory now, and as the shoebox lid is lifted

and my photo is raised, the effort brings her a smile, and as

her thoughts turn, the splinters of light flicker as if the start

of an old projector, then rat-a-tat images, the poorly spliced

film sputtering until I appear, a sepia vignette, my face

amorphous, gossamer, voiceless, until I am set down, placed

once again inside the cardboard container, the cards and

photographs, and old key chains and lucky coins and the pack

of loose razor blades gently moved aside by a careful hand,

the box destined not to be opened again until one yet to be born

lifts me to the light, the curious pencil inscription faded, yet

visage familiar, sufficient to return a smile of recognition

before I am lidded once more, a curious forebear, and as the

tenuous threads of connection sever, I suspend over the trash can

until a sentimental hand slides me back upon the shelf, the detritus

blown clear before I reclaim my perch, awaiting my chance to be

raised to the light again.
Sep 2020 · 263
The Price
Philip Lawrence Sep 2020
There, a distant rumble, a wistful tickle of memory,
of lauded youth, expectant and callow, and now,
hubristic dreams long swamped, regretted, he sits alone,
the past unspoken, the opaque night thicker, heavier,
the clock nearly sated, and the sepia promise of a certain
time tattered, irretrievable, he nods and brightens
at lessons well learned.
Aug 2020 · 131
Philip Lawrence Aug 2020
I wait, seated behind the arched letters of the cafe window,
riveted by others who move urgently, soundlessly, beyond the thick
glass, scurrying along glistening sidewalks,
winding between glaring headlamps in the slick night,
to lovers, to friends, to family, to home.
I remember no words, only the sting of hot coffee,
a hurried gulp to stanch the welling pain, and to quiet
the certain quiver of my voice if left to speak.
Yet once into the dampness, standing together for a last time
in the crystalline night, the balance is seared into hard memory
as I watch you lift a speck from my collar,
grooming me, as before, and then a smile, wistful now,
and you rise on tiptoes to brush a wisp of hair from my brow.
Silent, hood now raised in the misting dark,
you find the corner of the red brick building and
Jul 2020 · 171
Philip Lawrence Jul 2020
Elusive, mischievous feline, you confound me,

you are stardust, quicksilver,

a pink-nosed rogue, indifferent to beseeching,  

oblivious to the outstretched palm,

and as I lean near to listen with all attentiveness,

you withhold even the momentary purr,

choosing only a quizzical look and a single blink

before the paw lick and scamper,

and the search to grace elsewhere.
Jun 2020 · 161
Patient Heart
Philip Lawrence Jun 2020
A patient heart never tires,
as it sees all is yet possible,
dare believes all eternally imminent,
as it skillfully contorts the truth,
happily feeding the delusion
until the heart finally beats irregularly,
straining from ages of neglect,
famished from the absence of reciprocity,
the denial unearthed,
rendering the muscle damaged,
no longer capable of the largesse
which had long infused hope,
the brittle harmony broken, leaving
only the memory of what might have been.
Jun 2020 · 219
June Swoon
Philip Lawrence Jun 2020
The chill breeze, long awaited, finds its whisper
in the tall grasses,
tilting the hydrangeas, full and round, pink and purple
as the hewn lawn, more fragrant as dusk nears,
cushions the fawn,
the newborn to again perch precariously
atop unsteady spindles,
to weave through his mother’s legs as she pokes,
then slides through the brush.
And as I raise my brow over the hammock's edge,
the squirrels hunch and chew and hop in unison
as they laugh quietly, my idleness risible,
before a third and final turn of the paragraph
renders me drowsy, the tome now abreast my breast
as a lazy arm falls without the swaying catch in surrender.
May 2020 · 174
Philip Lawrence May 2020
Days once lived in anticipation, anxious for love,
yet ever hopeful for the ever lorn,
now lost to a world wary and frightened,
proximity the new Devil’s door,
the prescribed chasm much more than the height of a man,
as hope for a brush of lock, a goodnight caress, are abandoned,
leaving the embraceless many.
Apr 2020 · 167
Hope Untethered
Philip Lawrence Apr 2020
The breakfast nook brightens,
suffused with impertinent sunlight,
arrogant, intrusive, disrupting dystopian
anticipations to dare yield the repressed,
now untethered from their despondent moorings:
grinning, chubby-faced sunflowers
electing a cadenced dance,
the pump, pump, pump of Hip Hop
thumping behind bodega counters,
the ponies of Assateague,
slick with lather and hope,
denuded thighs shifting in languid heat
atop hillocks of powdered sand,
the Jack Russell hurtling skyward,
disc clenched, her smooth white coat
suspended against nimbus curls
tossed carelessly upon a blue-black canvas,
Aquinnah, hallowed, striated escarpment,
resplendent at the shank of day,
fireflies, ice cream, and the irresistible beckon
of the evening pines that rock to the day’s completion,
whistling, familiar, reassuring.
Apr 2020 · 380
The Quiet Fire
Philip Lawrence Apr 2020
Sirens fill the empty canyons, heralds of a deadly spring,
while the images repeat and repeat and repeat across the screen.
Masked faces telling desperate stories of flooded hallways
and gasping hours, of fear, exhaustion, and despair,
of knocks on nursing home windows, of face-time deaths,
and worse, the prospect of triage roulette.

But outside, many fall silently, alone, as they lived,
remembered only by a neighbor’s tardy knock,
or atop the sidewalk grate, as they lived, and have now passed,
quietly, still forgotten, untallied in the daily count, to fill the trenches
of potter’s field that beckon the unclaimed, to be bagged and sheathed
and to soldier in neat rows, uncounted once last time.
Apr 2020 · 321
Philip Lawrence Apr 2020
The deadbolt turns and we move silently
along the perimeter,
cats marking our territory,
while panes sparkle,
portals into the nothingness below.
We sit and wait.
And wonder.
Mar 2019 · 427
Like Animals in the Rain
Philip Lawrence Mar 2019
I still search for you,
or someone like you.
I am sad we no longer speak,
to love and talk the way we used to,
our thoughts unprotected,
like animals in the rain.
Feb 2019 · 860
Philip Lawrence Feb 2019
I’ll never be happy he told her.
She said it wasn’t true,
that he was young,
that he didn’t know any better,
that things will change someday.
And when they met many years later,
when they were silver-haired and slower afoot,
she said she was sorry,
that she was the one who didn’t understand,
and that he was right all along.
And hearing that, he turned slowly and walked away.
Dec 2018 · 243
December Wind
Philip Lawrence Dec 2018
Brown and brittle and shrunken,
and having slipped through the tines,
or escaped the blower’s roar,
they tumble across the hard earth
carried by the December wind
to settle beneath the boxwoods
and then lay quiet under winter’s blanket
with the hope to see another spring.
Dec 2018 · 2.1k
For the Forgotten
Philip Lawrence Dec 2018
The eulogies resound in stentorian tones for the great,
those of prominence, those who have ascended to the pinnacle,
those who have known power, and who have changed worlds,
whose names fall from the lips of every man, who are offered
unencumbered embrace, a deferential half pace backward.
But what of the good man, without position, sans societal perch,
whose wealth is paltry, accomplishment meager,
yet whose effort is no less herculean, no less courageous,
whose heart is no less pure, the good man doomed to failure
through paucity of talent, or missed opportunity,
or plain bad fortune, yet who resolves to continue, plod foot after foot to anonymous end, and whose name will not be voiced in so much as a whisper for all eternity.
Jun 2018 · 709
Old Man I See You
Philip Lawrence Jun 2018
old man I see you
blue suit and bow tie
and hat placed neatly aside
cradling your coffee
an absentminded gaze
through the tall windows
and beyond
to the young passersby
in a hurry
as you once were
busily home to love
to soothe the withering day
love that you once had
but has passed
old man I see you
your eyes a fluid blue
locked in memory
that plays before you
to touch
a pas de deux of passion
eclipsed by time
old man I see you
and you are not alone
May 2018 · 354
Philip Lawrence May 2018
the people
the tide of people
the swarm hurrying across gargantuan
sun-streamed rooms as
they rush in a glide along golden handrails
before descending through smooth marble stairwells,
the people,
some tense, and cross, and expended,
brows furrowed, forlorn with unrest
while others,
the people
who walk brightly with anticipation,
their comings and goings
each a new adventure,
life not waiting to be lived
May 2018 · 449
Yield Not
Philip Lawrence May 2018
lantern raised
she yields not
to the untamed hand,
the empty heart,
the preening, the predatory,
that find the pure,
the passionate,
and the tempest that swirls about them,
to mark and groom,
their trust wrought for a singular end,
to render truth writhing upon the
calumnies of acolytes,
the hardscrabble earth
where the courage and decency
of the many break and recede  
until wretchedly,
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