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Aug 2017 · 283
Prism
Philip Lawrence Aug 2017
One need only tilt life's prism to
Feel the grey muzzle buried into the crook of an arm,
See the faceless sunflowers reach toward the light,
Inhale at tresses swung, and the release of attar,
Smile at papers strewn on a rainy Sunday morning,
Blush at a hand outstretched in anticipation,
And to close one’s eyes at the memory of a friend.
Aug 2017 · 206
The Sound of Sky
Philip Lawrence Aug 2017
A sumptuous lounge,
The deck burnished gold.
Twisted in a youthful tangle,
She awakes to fold a tanned calf
Beneath a taut thigh.
Arms extend upward and inspire
A long languid yawn.
Thick ebon tresses are askew
In a lovely rumpled mess
And beneath the lashes, the hue is one
With the mid-morning sea as
She pauses in a synesthetic trance
To face the white sails
Stark against their cerulean canvas,
And she smiles at the sound of sky.
Aug 2017 · 359
Sidewalk
Philip Lawrence Aug 2017
The form is lithe, familiar,
A silhouette in bold relief
Emerged from the morning crowd,
Muting the surrounding multitudes
Who pass in waves each morning,
Their grey eyes, their grey coats
Moving, like me, in a depressed muddle,
Granted no relief,
Until today, now years hence,
The umbrellas part under the pall of fog
For a brief reveal, a respite from pain,
Momentarily freed from the unknowing,
Granted peace that she is alright,
Beautiful, serene, assured,
Belonging to no one but herself.
Jul 2017 · 158
Years
Philip Lawrence Jul 2017
Seasons whirl.
Thoughts, moments retrieved.
An invisible sweep of the past.
Effortless, expected,
Until no longer so.
Images ephemeral,
Words shimmer beyond tether,
Pawed at, occasionally stilled,
Then, lucent as crystal.
Joy.
A diamond, treasured.
Jul 2017 · 365
Eighth Avenue
Philip Lawrence Jul 2017
Five-thirty p.m., 1985,
A crowded bus.
The passengers generate heat as
The men stand round-shouldered
Reading newspapers, and we all
Sway to the rhythm of the city traffic.
I scan the rows for an empty seat and
I angle past the others, ignoring all
Except for one.
He stoops under a worn gray hat,
An overcoat overwhelms his slight body
And his dark eyes glance from row to row
With urgency as the bus halts.
A seat opens and the little man
Moves toward the vacancy.
I am closer, and I will have it before him.
The man grips the overhead bar for balance.
He is short and his coat sleeve slides
To his elbow and faded blue numbers
Appear on his forearm.
They are clear enough.
I stand motionless as he slides by me.
There is room for him to pass, but
He steps sideways.
He does not look up.
He says nothing.
Jun 2017 · 259
The Day
Philip Lawrence Jun 2017
Evening brings the heft of the day
Tumbling upon me, burdensome and lasting
Until the first thought of you
Renders those troubles
A deliquescent memory.
Jun 2017 · 977
Always
Philip Lawrence Jun 2017
Though I tremble now, and my eyes glass,
And my words wander as they
Search for a final sense of this world,
Dare look beyond, for I remain
Young with joy and foolishness,
And I am stout of heart and limb within,
My passion undiminished, my love unshaken, if unspoken.
And when I am finally gone,
Immerse in the warm breeze between the leaves,
Smile at the robins chirp,
Be mesmerized by children,
For I will be there,
Incorporeal, ubiquitous,
To envelop you as I have in life and will always,
Without limit.
May 2017 · 632
Almost Nightfall
Philip Lawrence May 2017
Two eased from the sedan.
A blanket, a brimming wicker basket.
A pond filled with geese, the birds claiming the embankment.
Water’s edge, he spun the blanket outward and
The geese scattered, and the cloth descended in an almost perfect square.
The valley’s familiar diversions, the white steeple a mile away,
Copses scattered acres apart, poked above the low brush.
Elbows propped in the afternoon heat  
Listening to the rustlings in the bramble
Until the valley’s natural rhythms brought him sleep.
Awakened to the rustling of paper,
He watched her scatter bread crumbs,
Circling the water with goslings in tow as they
Nuzzled at the bits of dough, an odd parade
Until a goose made chase, and the dithered fowl
Marched her brood away
And the woman laughed an undignified laugh in delight.
Alone, glasses descended from his furrowed brow,
An envelope withdrawn,
Elegant script, long luxurious parchment perused and then
Extended to her on her return.
Her lined face turned away, skyward,
The glorious heat warming, much preferred
Above the chilling words.
Together, they sat until the day had cooled
And she wrapped herself in a thick sweater and
Their shadows distorted as they relinquished the day,
He guiding her in the gloaming before the beams of light
Bounced unpredictably in the irregular road.
May 2017 · 376
An Abiding Sense
Philip Lawrence May 2017
Her speech is soft,
And she withdraws without offending.
A need for privacy, a gated soul.
Watchful, assessing all that one does,
yet not judgmental.
The tenuous connection of the wary,
careful with other humans.
But her compassion enormous,
reserved for the most unfortunate, who
through wretched happenstance  
are unable to make their own way.
The sick, the feeble, the troubled,
the emotionally destitute,
somehow find their way to her door,
the unknowable gift by which the needy
intuitively understand human kindness.
A rare generosity,
an uncompromised sense of right and wrong.
A shunned autistic boy befriended,
rescued four-legged friends,
clothing gathered for the poor.
A homeless teen brought to tears by the purchase of a prom dress.
No great wealth, no abundance of resources
waiting to be dispatched at the touch of a screen.
Only a wherewithal borne of an impassioned need to help,
to speak out, maybe to erupt in angry persuasion
to sate an abiding sense that one must do what one can.
Written for a friend.
May 2017 · 442
Reflections in Late Evening
Philip Lawrence May 2017
A glance,
A smile,
A hint of attar.
A word.
A touch.
My heart thumps.
A sidereal excursion
And I cannot wait until tomorrow.
May 2017 · 368
Immigrant Heart
Philip Lawrence May 2017
Do not be saddened by our sullied and blackened shores.
Do not forsake your dream, for the tocsin will always ring
for those unmindful of origin,
who bear convenient constructs, writhen mores,
all weighed by the dunnage of fear.
Or worse.
Strive, persist, and wait and wait and wait
until voices rise and the pendulum descends.
For the lady still shines, clear-eyed and steadfast.
She still wants you, still needs you.
Your soul, your yearning heart.
Apr 2017 · 1.9k
Tick Tock
Philip Lawrence Apr 2017
The long dormant heart need
burst, explode, dance in the fire,
decry the years.
Dare laugh at the black angel,
howl with glee, a jacquerie of one,
for you are a presence, alive.
Astonish, before it is too late,
for the lambent eve wanes.
Apr 2017 · 663
Night Fires
Philip Lawrence Apr 2017
The soft blow of the trumpet or
the strum of guitar strings cajole the uninterested
to see the hand-lettered sign,
the cigar box, the jam jar
as the loyal dog curls in the doorway.
The deaf, the blind, the besotted, the luckless,
all night thieves of blankets,
sellers of wilted roses on a double white line.
Ghosts on street corners who sidle through the rain
in search of some, in search of any
until a last breath among the silhouettes
of the night fires that lick at the black winter sky.
Apr 2017 · 795
A.M.
Philip Lawrence Apr 2017
Amsterdam Avenue, Sunday morning
Stubs of moisture collect across the panes
Then rivulets, thin as capillaries
She lounges on the sofa
And edges her bare feet between cushions
She is wrapped in a thick towel
Bare to mid-thigh
Hair ebon and slick
Pale face aglow
Her freckled shoulders glisten
And she smiles
Mar 2017 · 962
Gray Water
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
Boardwalk beach goers
Strolled in ball caps
And in wide-brimmed hats
And in flip flops
And in cover-ups casually tied over low-slung bikinis
Lining the railing of the weathered pier
Eyes half closed, hands folded, heads atilt
Shoulders squared to a fading sun
A familiar form among the silhouettes
Twenty years hence
A cascade of raven hair
A billowing summer dress
My single breath
Then across rutted planks
To finally slake the thirst for another and
Be free of the malfeased heart
The lilt of perfume
Light, breathless, familiar
Transported back through time
To burn white hot again
Only to blanch at the precipice
Before the gray water
Silent
Mar 2017 · 402
Everything
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
I spoke to an old man on a dewy summer morning
We sat on a park bench under a spreading oak tree and he
Spoke of the space beneath his desk where he waited for the flash
And when Oswald grimaced in pain and
The joy of sniffing freshly printed mimeographs
And the shame of My Lai
How he helped his father pack his things when left as a boy  
And when he wept at his dog’s last three breaths
He recalled the kindest person he’d ever met
And that he once had had faith
He said he remembered everything
And then he moved on.
Mar 2017 · 680
A Narrow Stone
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
I dig into the glass jar and withdraw my hand
I fling my arm and follow the seeds
As they scatter on the crusted snow like pepper specks
Skittering, helpless to stop
I wait for the sparrows and the starlings and the hawkish blue jays
The bright red cardinals all stuffed whole and round
Under a winter coat
Early morning is best
Not garish, like noontime
My steps are high in the deep powder
To the narrow stone posted on end
The earthen mound having sunk since that warm day in May
And I strike the ice and brush the crystals and
His name appears down its length
Black, hand-painted letters
I speak to him, my companion of fourteen years, in an easy tone
There is furious pecking beneath the sunrise
Company of a sort, bribed for the moment
And neither of us is alone
Mar 2017 · 278
Slate
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
The courtyard sits behind her home
Seventeen paces from the door
And inside its iron perimeter
Clusters of daffodils and irises
Hydrangeas and lilies are
All surrounded by large hardy plants
Resilient to harsh northern winters
She posted the fencing
And the pave stones and the
Shrubs and the flowers
She dug the bowls
And made them twice the size of the roots
And in the spring
She fed and nurtured the plantings
And tended them until now
As it is summer
And his marker has disappeared from view
The fullness and well-being of the garden
Enveloping the flat gray slate
A respite warm and lasting
Until the chill of autumn
Again lays bare the past
Mar 2017 · 436
Drops of Lamplight
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
We walked among
Manet and Degas
and Delacroix
Ran Gucci and Hermes
through our fingers
Rode bicycles
On the Champs Elysees
And wore berets  
At rest beneath the Tower
And in a cafe at twilight
We drank too much wine
And we laughed
In the pink glow
Of the city
Until it was dark
And later
Along the Seine
Drops of lamplight
shone on the water
And she spoke of how
Paris was like love
Living only for the night
Its beauty
Vanishing by morning
To return only when day
Again falls into darkness  
To caress only others.
Mar 2017 · 321
Wedged
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
I buff the rear view mirror with my coat sleeve
Crowded steps
Groomsmen
Shivering bridesmaids
A blur of white lace disappears inside
I slide along the back row
Old, familiar, burnished slick
She passes
Me to the aisle
Crisp scent of White Linen
The ***** quiets
I arch and crane
A glimpse
A profile wedged in memory
Then, a kiss to another
Collar up
I sidle away
Mar 2017 · 515
Breath
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
Immobile
Chin tucked
Against the winter cold
I stand as ever
Common as the wind ridge
On the snowfield  
It is late
Evening is near
And my breath shallows
Oh, to be subsumed by the warmth
If only once
To spin dizzily and happily ‘round
In the bright circle
So that I may
At last
Exhale.
Mar 2017 · 729
Immersion Therapy
Philip Lawrence Mar 2017
Hair grown white

brushed straight away

Gnarled spine

Shoulders unsquared

Padded stool

Red leather tome

Pencil scars

Yellowed borders

Crooked finger

Brittle leaves

Blurred mass

Rimless descent

Old friend

Immersion

Comfort alights

— The End —