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Nigel Morgan  Aug 2013
Nigel Morgan Aug 2013
Today we shall have the naming of parts. How the opening of that poem by Henry Reed caught his present thoughts; that banal naming of parts of a soldier’s rifle set against the delicate colours and textures of the gardens outside the lecture room. *Japonica glistening like coral  . . . branches holding their silent eloquent gestures . . . bees fumbling the flowers. It was the wrong season for this so affecting poem – the spring was not being eased as here, in quite a different garden, summer was easing itself out towards autumn, but it caught him, as a poem sometimes would.

He had taken a detour through the gardens to the studio where in half an hour his students would gather. He intended to name the very parts of rhythm and help them become aware of their personal knowledge and relationship with this most fundamental of musical elements, the most connected with the body.

He had arranged to have a percussionist in on the class, a player he admired (he had to admit) for the way this musician had dealt with a once-witnessed on-stage accident that he’d brought it into his poem sequence Lemon on Pewter. They had been in Cambridge to celebrate her birthday and just off the train had hurried their way through the bicycled streets to the college where he had once taught, and to a lunchtime concert in a theatre where he had so often performed himself.

Smash! the percussionist wipes his hands and grabs another bottle before the music escapes checking his fingers for cuts and kicking the broken glass from his feet It was a brilliant though unplanned moment we all agreed and will remember this concert always for that particular accidental smile-inducing sharp intake of breath moment when with a Fanta bottle in each hand there was a joyful hit and scrape guiro-like on the serrated edges a no-holes barred full-on sounding out of glass on glass and you just loved it when he drank the juice and fluting blew across the bottle’s mouth

And having thought himself back to those twenty-four hours in Cambridge the delights of the morning garden aflame with colour and texture were as nothing beside his vivid memory of that so precious time with her. The images and the very physical moments of that interval away and together flooded over him, and he had to stop to close his eyes because the images and moments were so very real and he was trembling . . . what was it about their love that kept doing this to him? Just this morning he had sat on the edge of his bed, and in the still darkness his imagination seemed to bring her to him, the warmth and scent of her as she slept face down into a pillow, the touch of her hair in his face as he would bend over her to kiss her ear and move his hand across the contours of her body, but without touching, a kind of air-lovers movement, a kiss of no-touch. But today, he reminded himself, we have the naming of parts . . .

He was going to tackle not just rhythm but the role of percussion. There was a week’s work here. He had just one day. And the students had one day to create a short ‘poem for percussion’ to be performed and recorded at the end of the afternoon class. In his own music he considered the element of percussion as an ever-present challenge. He had only met it by adopting a very particular strategy. He regarded its presence in a score as a kind of continuo element and thus giving the player some freedom in the choice of instruments and execution. He wanted percussion to be ‘a part’ of equal stature with the rest of the musical texture and not a series of disparate accents, emphases and colours. In other words rhythm itself was his first consideration, and all the rest followed. He thought with amusement of his son playing Vaughan-Williams The Lark Ascending and the single stroke of a triangle that constituted his percussion part. For him, so few composers could ‘do it’ with percussion. He had assembled for today a booklet of extracts of those who could: Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (inevitably), Berio’s Cummings songs, George Perle’s Sextet, Living Toys by Tom Ades, his own Flights for violin and percussionist. He felt diffident about the latter, but he had the video of those gliders and he’d play the second movement What is the Colour of the Wind?

In the studio the percussionist and a group of student helpers were assembling the ‘kits’ they’d agreed on. The loose-limbed movements of such players always fascinated him. It was as though whatever they might be doing they were still playing – driving a car? He suddenly thought he might not take a lift from a percussionist.

On the grand piano there was, thankfully, a large pile of the special manuscript paper he favoured when writing for percussion, an A3 sheet with wider stave lines. Standing at the piano he pulled a sheet from the pile and he got out his pen. He wrote on the shiny black lid with a fluency that surprised him: a toccata-like passage based on the binary rhythms he intended to introduce to his class. He’d thought about making this piece whilst lying in bed the previous night, before sleep had taken him into a series of comforting dreams. He knew he must be careful to avoid any awkward crossings of sticks.

The music was devoid of any accents or dynamics, indeed any performance instructions. It was solely rhythm. He then composed a passage that had no rhythm, only performance instructions, dynamics, articulations such as tremolo and trills and a play of accents, but no rhythmic symbols. He then went to the photocopier in the corridor and made a batch of copies of both scores. As the machine whirred away he thought he might call her before his class began, just to hear her soft voice say ‘hello’ in that dear way she so often said it, the way that seem to melt him, and had been his undoing . . .

When his class had assembled (and the percussionist and his students had disappeared pro tem) he began immediately, and without any formal introduction, to write the first four 4-bit binary rhythms on the chalkboard, and asked them to complete it. This mystified a few but most got the idea (and by now there was a generous sharing between members of the class), so soon each student had the sixteen rhythms in front of them.

‘Label these rhythms with symbols a to p’, he said, ‘and then write out the letters of your full name. If there’s a letter there that goes beyond p create another list from q to z. You can now generate a rhythmic sequence using what mathematicians call a function-machine. Nigel would be:

x x = x     x = = =      = x x =      = x x x      x = x x

Write your rhythm out and then score it for 4 drums – two congas, two bongos.’

His notion was always to keep his class relentlessly occupied. If a student finished a task ahead of others he or she would find further instructions had appeared on the flip chart board.  Audition –in your head - these rhythms at high speed, at a really quick tempo. Now slow them right down. Experiment with shifting tempos, download a metronome app on your smart phone, score the rhythms for three clapping performers, and so on.

And soon it was performance time and the difficulties and awkwardness of the following day were forgotten as nearly everyone made it out front to perform their binary rhythmic pieces, and perform them with much laughter, but with flair and élan also. The room rang with the clapping of hands.

The percussionist appeared and after a brief introduction – in which the Fanta bottle incident was mentioned - composer and performer played together *****’s Clapping Music before a welcome break was taken.
Joyce Apr 2012
I like hearing you talk about Mozart
Because it means you’re listening.
His piano keys are no different from mine.
I like hearing you talk about Mozart.
I used to play his pieces before I sleep.
His arpeggio is my lullaby;
His laughter, a sombre tune to which I tune
My keys.
There’s no denying that you like Mozart;
Never mind his spending habit.
I sometimes think you are Mozart.
I think Beethoven was fad gone true because
He was deaf to his laughter,
And Schubert was too old, too young to remember
How to step on the pedals
While he tried his many operas
On his baby grand piano.
I think of Mozart in my sleep, in my dreams,
On the toilet, while eating.
I think of Mozart and his young son
And the requiem he stood dying to finish.
Mozart became a
One night stand, and I am not proud of that.
I majored in advertising, God knows why, and maybe
Mozart had something to do with that.
I factored one and two equals the sign of what digit,
And maybe Mozart had something to do with that.
I wrote a story once,
About a starving artist;
Maybe he was the force behind that.
I filled my library with fiction,
And fiction became a running schedule for me.
Maybe Mozart had something to do with that.
I’ve grown roots and sprouted horns listening to Bach;
I don’t think Mozart knew that.
But it was the size of the shoe that never fit me in third grade,
And the roots run as deep as a well of Hope grown asunder.
I knew Mozart would not like that.
And it was holy.
We are holy.
He was holy.
Mozart was holy. Mozart was holy.
Mozart was holier than a cow gunned for meat turned to steak
And corned beef on my breakfast sandwich.
Mozart was holier than a dishwashing paste advertisement
That promises oil free, squeaky clean Experience.
Mozart was more than a religious façade played in the sala
Of some affluent geeky teenager’s house
Where no one bothers to eat the garnishing.
Mozart was holier than Bach, Chopin, Stravinsky, Wagner.
His flute promised a princess to remain priceless.
Mozart was holier than Salieri.
Mozart knew better than Salieri.
Mozart played better than Salieri,
And he got the better of Salieri when Antonio himself said,
“**** that Austrian ****** who plays, lives and howls like a show monkey.
**** this court.
**** this Emperor who can hardly keep together his fingers to play.
**** Austria.
**** Vienna.
**** this era of opera played in German that hardly sells a ticket.
**** this requiem and this boy,
This mad man, pint sized and hardly put together like a china doll.
**** this piano, and to hell with his lovers.”

I saw Mozart once. He waved at me.
I turned and looked away because I was listening to you talk about Mozart.
And I like hearing you talk about Mozart
Than Mozart talking about
Nigel Morgan Aug 2017

after a bath
and the window open
I was touched
by an air of autumn
against my body
not quite towelled
hardly dry but ready
nonetheless to feel
something of the season’s
change against my fragile self

(an autumn air)


so very green
and multitudinous shades
holding the late afternoon
in greenness
only the towpath
measured out in sunlight
and the seat of a bench distant
providing a goal
a sensible place to aim for

we set out with her guiding hand
clasping my weakness
when a dragonfly
intricate in full sunlight
moves against a backdrop
of dark-shadowed trees
poising at eye-level
to look us over
and is off away

on our return
(from that distant bench
our goal our aim)
there a kingfisher
flashes past
and into a canal-side bush
we wait and wait hoping
to catch again the trajectory
of its miraculous flight

(canal side)


to whom it may concern

presumptuous I think to wish for anything
beyond one has and holds - anything
in regard to property or possessions
I have no wish to consider further
Who has what of me I disdain
and whatever it might be can only be
in my gift and surely that must be freely given
Should there be the slightest hint of dispute
I hope some Almighty Hand will
remove all and everything
to the very darkest depths

in friendship

(a letter of wishes)


begun as joyous celebrations
of musical art bright and lively
on the page welcome
to the ear as to the eye

so often full of dance gentle
reflections sonorously sounding
out in playfulness
and reasoned movement

(Beethoven’s Op.18 string quartets)


with only the bare essentials
the most limited of means
this music grips and stirs
springing out of unisons
octaves bare chords of the fifth
and a play of rhythms
straight and straight-forward
four-square angular tight
against the beat within the bar
a simple subtlety and space
between two instruments:
the legato violin tempering
the insistent piano - always
movement no repose a constant
unwinding thread
of perilous invention
hardly a breath taken
a pause made

(on hearing Shostakovich’s Sonata for Violin and Piano)


he types:

the post-box is too far way
as I must (e)mail this note today

so with no maker’s mark
this message will forego
the papered page
ink’s curved line and flow
the fold the sticky edge
the stamp well placed
the stroll with the dog
to the box along the lanes
in evening’s light
sounds of roosting birds
and flittering squeaks of bats

(an email from a former student)


aware of my fragility
his gracious manner
moves me to tears
In speaking
he places every word
with infinite care
in practiced deliberation
. . . and I am crying
at his understanding
that he knows my loneliness
in dying and how I wish
to rise above
this momentary upset
to assure him I can
and will cope
that I am in his hands
He just has to say . . .

(visit to the doctor


Daily I curate the contents
of this window sill
a changing exhibition
backdrop to a sedentary life

Today: Japanese wallpaper c.1925.
Mead Cloth by Matthew Harris,
Hokusai – Mount Fuji and six cranes ( two flying)
Post card from the Pyréneées
An earthenware blackbird and thrush in a cherry tree
David Hockney, April 25 from The Arrival of Spring
Un passé plat empiétant tapestry from Madagascar.

(exhibition on a window sill)


being twenty-one
seems no great age
but I remember it dimly
when adrift in my life
it came and went –
a spring and sunny day
a watch from my parents
a few cards . . .

but for you
a family day at Kew
a meal with relatives and friends
altogether a good time to remember
I so hope you will . . .

(at twenty-one)


To members of the London Symphony Orchestra
Ralph Vaughan-Williams is reported to have said:
‘Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the man
who writes my music.’

Unfortunate this, as his copyist Roy Douglas
had the job of deciphering the composer’s appalling
handwriting, the result of a natural
left-handedness being corrected as a child.

For me, the person who has written my music
so faithfully for fourteen years rarely dealt with
illegibility but had instead to cope with conflicts
of musical spelling.
Is this a sharp? Should this be a flat?
Do we need a cautionary accidental here?

Fortunately, he and I were not espoused as Stravinsky and
Elgar were to their long-suffering copyists, who often berated
their husbands for their inability to spell chromatic pitches
correctly. Stravinsky had an excuse: the vagaries of the octatonic scale
he often used and loved. Elgar was just ******-minded! Poor Alice . . .

(saying a warm goodbye to my copyist)


to talk about yourself when
dead and gone How strange!
This need - to put in place
to sort the detail now
and so avoid confusion
What then?

An indeterminate wait
until the moment comes
the eyes won’t open
on a woken world
ears not hear
the sound of traffic
from a nearby road

there will be
an emptiness sublime
a finishing of tasks
and all those earthly
mysteries solved
and deemed complete

So this is what
we recommend
It could be this?
It could be that?

and every which way
it’s yours to choose
for rightness sake

*(the interview)
This collection of poems are to be the final part of Nigel Morgan's poetry available here on Hello Poetry. Nigel was diagnosed was terminal cancer in June 2017 and does not expect to be adding any further poetry to his on-line archive from today (15 August 2017).
i was short the cash needed
for next semesters tuition

i was outta options
so i swallowed my pride
and called my father

i had’nt seen him
for a least eight years
i was busy nursing
sweet regrets
extending a prolonged
illness of resent

Halloween 1977
i borrowed my
girlfriends VW
and drove down
to Union to reunite
with Dad

his secretary
ushered me
into his C Level
office and I was
struck by
the angelic
portrait of
my half sister
adorning the
space above
his head

we shook hands
and i sat on a
chair in front of
his desk. it was
an awkward
moment of
small talk, relieved
by the passing
of a $400 check
into my just

my father suggested
we head to lunch
where we would break
bread together for
the first time in years

it would also present
opportunities to
swallow the misgiven
years with draughts
of gin and tonics

by this time my
father was a
professional drinking
champion, quaffing
down the ***** to
drown his own

as a young
virile turk
meeting with
his father for
the first time
in years, i was
to match his skill
mano a mano

it was a foolhardy
endeavor but my
intrepidness was
unfazed as i matched
round for round
proclaiming my
arrival into

leaving the restaurant
my father suggested
we resume our drinking
at a local dive

there the velocity
of rounds accelerated
the drinking spinning
faster than the
emotions swimming
around my head

but I was determined
to prove my manhood
standing toe to toe
with my lost father
proving i was his
equal in the
of men

don’t remember how many
rounds we downed but
it was a considerable
amount of ***** consumed

next we headed
to his friends
pizza parlor
where he could
present his long
lost son

we spoke of
my wonderful
girlfriend, and
my father suggested
i go get her so we
could all meet

he flipped me the keys
to his company car
a brand new
Ford LTD Wagon

man I was riding high
styling, livin life large
rolling up the GSP
headin to Montvale
to fetch my princess
in a royal carriage

when i got to
her house my
girlfriend and her
mother expressed
concerns about
my condition

i suavely made
the case that i was ok
to make the 40
mile trek to meet
back up with
my father

it was after all a
special occasion
an opportunity
to present my girl
to my newly
found dad

so off we went
back to Union
the drive was going
well best as i can
remember; though my
girlfriend was uneasy
as i swerved down
the parkway

in East Orange
the traffic got heavy
we were in the flow
following a station
wagon filled with

my eyelids were
getting heavy
and I clipped
the railroad tie
median barrier
with the cars rear end

the wagon went into a
wobbling swerve
i fought to control
but could not

i remember my
last words
in my head
“Jesus save us”
and fell onto
the lap of my girl

the crash, the spin
the resounding din
thundered into
my last bit of
like a tragic
Stravinsky lullaby
screaming me
to sleep

my aching head
blinked awake in
a dim lit hospital
in the wee hours of
All Saints Day

unsure where
I was but realizing
why i was there
I ardently questioned
a dismissive nurse
if any children
were hurt
and where my
girlfriend had gone

she adamantly
refused to answer
my urgent fear filled
questions; stating I had
been asking these
same questions all night

thinking about
the children
playing in the back
of the car
and my missing
girlfriend filled
me with a
dread, a
terror of what
my drinking
hath wrought

Halloween 1977
was a night filled
with frightening
realizations of

it would be
another three
decades before
i commenced
a search to
answer these
in earnest

Happy Halloween

Pat Metheny Group:
Are You Going With Me?

First light in the Hudson Valley
Arbor Day of April, 1970.

Adrenaline coursed through our young
bodies, our hearts on fire with purpose.

As we rode our bikes, walked, or jogged miles
to our rural high school, red-winged blackbirds
called out from the misty swamps.

Beautiful but invading, acres of purple loosestrife
were rapidly taking over their wetland habitats.

Harbingers of the forests, blue jays issued
warning cries from deep in the woods,
where blights were killing our trees
with increasing frequency.

Three of us rode together, cycling in relative
silence, until we came to a meadow
selected for our early breakfast picnic.

We feasted on special fruits and cheeses,
hungrily stuffing in rare treats.

One friend began to send iridescent
soap bubbles into the chilly air.

Up they rose, up over the soft, puffy cloud
of her reddish curls, and into the dawning sun.

One bubble landed, unbroken, in the cold, dewy grass.

We stared at it, somehow understanding that here
was a delicate metaphor for our own fragile planet.

Approaching our school now, we breathed deeply the fragrance
of apple blossoms from commercial orchards all around us.

The spraying of pesticides had yet to be banned.*

We were sleepy in our classes that morning;
most of our teachers understanding that we stood
now for something worthwhile, that we believed in,
and they smiled with kindness, some even with approval.

Our principal agreed to an awareness-raising slide show
designed for our fellow students, teachers and parents.
An intelligent man, he was admirably tolerant of the wave
of changes that our generation brought with us.

Smoke stacks, polluted water, and dying wildlife
flashed onto a screen in the darkened auditorium,
accompanied by the vivid symphonic power of
Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring'- a score so revolutionary
that a riot broke out at its premier, in May of 1913.

We had no idea then how much worse things would become.

All these years later, we each do our part, blessing
the efforts of our children and their children,
*hoping fervently that we are not too late.
Written on Earth Day, April 22, 2016. This poem is dedicated, with special, heartfelt love, to my fellow alumni of Highland High School, Highland, NY, USA, and to our supportive parents and families. Special thanks to Gloria Caviglia for her timely, sweet reminder!
Above all, may we be blessed with active, disciplined, purposeful love for our Mother Earth, with tolerance and understanding for each other.
©Elisa Maria Argiro
John F McCullagh Jan 2012
I was taken by surprise
when her Dad handed me the keys..
“I have a meeting in the City,
Could your drive her to school for me”
That day I had not thought to drive,
My own “K” car was in the shop.
I was having the rear brakes replaced
because sometimes I like to stop.
My car was an econobox
but for my purpose fine.
His car was a Red Firebird-
Top down, top of the line.
The day was clear and drenched with sun-
The perfect top down day.
We waved goodbye as Barb and I
pulled out and on our way.
We heard something from Stravinsky
On her father’s Classics station
As we drove across the Bridge
to her college destination.
The Cross Bronx, unexpectedly,
was light of cars that day.
Traffic on the Bronx River
seemed to yield us right of way.
I pulled in near Bathgate Avenue
And gave my girl a kiss.
I would have liked to linger
But that final she couldn’t miss.
The engine gave a gentle purr
on my return trip down.
I met up with her father
And he dropped me off back home.
With both hands in my pockets,
I watched as he drove off.
The car would prove a classic,
The girl proved, alas, aloof.
My lone time driving a brand new 1973 red  Pontiac firebird convertible. I guess I had my midlife crises over earlier than most.
Maggie Emmett Sep 2014
I catch the rapido train from Milano and edge slowly westward through the stops and starts of frozen points and village stations. The heating fails and an offer of warmer seats in another compartment. I decide to stay here. I put on my coat, scarf, hat and gloves and sit alone. In my grieving time, I feel closer to the cold world outside as it moves past me, intermittently. Falling snow in window-framed landscapes.            

Sky gun metal grey
shot through
with sunset ribbons.
Dusk eases into black-cornered night. After Maghera, the train seems to race to the sea. It rumbles onto the Ponte della Ferrovia, stretching out across the Laguna Veneta. Suddenly, a jonquil circle moon pulls the winter clouds back and shines a lemony silver torch across the inky waters. Crazed and cracked sheets of ice lie across the depthless lagoon. The train slows again and slides into Santa Lucia. I walk into the night.                                                                                               
Bleak midwinter      
sea-iced night wind
bites bitter.
No. 2 Diretto winding down the Canal Grande.  The foggy night muffles the guttural throb of the engine and turns mundane sounds into mysteries. Through the window of the vaporetto stop, the lights of Piazza San Marco are an empty auditorium of an opera house. Walking to Corte Barozzi, I hear the doleful tolling of midnight bells; the slapping of water and the *****-***** of the gondolas’ mooring chains. Faraway a busker sings Orfeo lamenting his lost Eurydice, left in Hades.
I wake to La Serenissima, bejewelled.                                                                                                                           
Weak winter sunshine
Istrian stone walls
flushed rosy.
Rooftops glowing. Sun streaming golden between the neck and wings of the masted Lion. Mist has lifted, the sky cloudless; I look across the sparkling Guidecca canal and beyond to the shimmering horizon.          
Molten mud
bittersweetness demi-tasse
Florian’s hot chocolate                    

I walk the maze of streets, squares and bridges; passing marble well-heads and fountains, places of assignation. I walk on stones sculpted by hands, feet and the breath of the sea. Secrets and melancholy are cast in these stones.                                                                  

At Fondamente Nuove, I take Vaporetto no.41 to Cimitero. We chug across the laguna, arriving at  the western wall of San Michele.  I thread through the dead, along pathways and between gravestones. At the furthest end of the Cemetery island, Vera and Igor Stravinsky lie in parallel graves like two single beds in an hotel room. Names at the head, a simple cross at the foot of the white stone slab. Nearby, his flamboyant mentor Serge Diaghalev. His grave, a gothic birdbath for ravens, has a Russian inscription; straggly pink carnations, a red votive candle and a pair of ragged ballet shoes with flounces of black and aquamarine tulle tied to their the ribbons. So many dead in mausoleums; demure plots; curious walled filing cabinets, marble drawer ossuaries.
Bare, whispering Poplars
swaying swirling shadows
graves rest beneath          

I walk to the other end of the island and frame Venezia in the central arch of the Byzantine gateway.  I see that sketchy horizontal strip of rusty brick, with strong verticals of campaniles and domes. It is here, before 4 o’clock closing time, I throw your ashes to the sea and run to catch the last boat.                                                                                          

Beacon light orange
glittering ripples
on the dove grey lagoon.

© M.L.Emmett
First published in New Poets 14: Snatching Time, 2007, Wakefield Press, Kent Town SA.
To view with Images: Poems for Poodles
I wanted to write a Haibun (seasonal journey poem interspersed with haiku). I love Venezia but only in Winter.
Ylzm  May 2019
Ode to Orchids
Ylzm May 2019
alien and other worldly.

bordering the grotesque and bizarre,
strangely exhilarating.

wild and uninhibited,
even orgiastic,
of a mind, as if,
not of this world;
shapes and sizes,
folds and spirals
colours and colourations.

at times,
more animal or insect,
than flower.

if a rose is Mozart,
an orchid, Stravinsky.
Baylie Allison Mar 2015
I wanta write a poem for the ages.
For the George Washingtons
of my generation.
I wanta write a poem for the ages.

For the Thomas Jeffersons
and the
Benjamin Franklins who
aren't afraid to dream of
words that haven't been
and things that have
yet to be
I wanta write a poem for the ages.

For the
Revolutionaries who
have yet to be
For the Paul Reveres
who have yet
to take their midnight
one if by land,
two if by sea.
one if by land,
two if by sea.

I wanta write a poem for the ages.

For the
modern day
Lewis and Clarks who
explored a land beyond
exploration's eye.
For the Sacagawea guides that
guide from a shining sea
to a sea of gold.
For the immigrants who
traversed waters of salty tears
made solely of their own fears.
I wanta write a poem for the ages.

For the slaves held captive
not by their captors,
but by their own fears,
and dreams.
Afraid to pursue a land
just slightly beyond their own
R          e          a          c          h.

I wanta write a poem for the ages.
For the conductors of the railroad
that was unseen.
The one that ran not on
coal and steam,
but the one that
ran on

I wanta write a poem for the ages,
for the Teddy Roosevelt
and the Stravinsky
concert pianists
and the Maya Angelou
and the,

I wanta write a poem for the ages.
For the soldiers battling
for a cause they didn't
even start.
For the lives that gave their
lives for a cause,
because they believed in
The cause.

I wanta write a poem for the ages.
For the Daddy who's still
looking for work,
For the Mommy who has
given up
For the widow and
her orphan,
For the soup kitchens
that can't
stay open long enough.
For the failing

I wanta write a poem for the ages.
For the mustached
man in Germany
rising to a power
ever Grand.
For the nations willing to
ignore it if they can.
For the day that everything
December 7th, 1941
will forever live
in infamy.

I wanta write a poem for the ages.
For the unconquered Jews who
fought back.
For Anne Frank and her

I wanta write a poem for the ages
For the modern day
Martin Luther King
For the ones
Aren't afraid to challenge a
System designed to
fight against them.
For the
modern day
Claudette Colvins.
The ones who
aren't afraid to sit down
to make a stand.

I wanta write poem for the ages
For the modern day
Buzz Aldrins
who are
altogether underrated
because they came in

I wanta write a poem for the ages.
A poem that speaks louder
than words
and goes beyond

So I wrote a poem for the ages.
Sorry for excluding you, FDR. I still love you.

Also, Claudette Colvins was the original Rosa Parks

And a final thanks goes out to Angie, who inspired me not to give up on this poem, and to keep fighting even when I ran out of words. <3 <3
Sam Jan 2017
and the music trickled from his fingers
and transcended / ascended through the ceiling
straight through a cloud
and the stratosphere freeing
I looked at the clock,
ticking, resolute,
like a man nailed to the wall
and glaring
but still only half annoyed

Right on cue, the phone rings
I set down my magazine
dog-earing some page for a mushroom-soup-casserole

Harvey, my son,
it isn't like he's challenged or anything-
to be honest, I bet he could beat me at chess any day-
things just seem to


With Richard
Harvey's father,
my ex husband
Harvey and he would be home alone all day
and **** would say that Harvey would whisper things to him
little things
about his mom
about things he had done as a kid and covered up, things he never, never talked about
silly things
being afraid
of your own son
But still, it shook Richard up

One day, I come home and
God, I just have to say it all at once


No 2 year old, none
was supposed to see this
so innocent, so wonderful
I got the little angel out of there
and then called the ambulance

Richard paid his hospital bills.
He took nothing in the divorce.
I get the feeling he just wanted to get out.

Still, I personally have never had a problem around Harvey
With me, he's the perfect little angel
With most strangers too!
Something about him can just bring out the best in people
That's why I thought he would be okay in daycares.
He should have made so many friends.


It never fails,
within a week of his enrollment
instructors always want Harvey out
Fights just happen around him
they say
Temper tantrum rates are skyrocketing! He can't stay here
they claim
three of our volunteers have committed suicide in the last week
It is unsettling.
Being singled out for being a single mother!
Because that's what it is;
at first, I thought that it was a coincidence
but the pattern
to think! in the 21st century,
that would still be happening!
I was outraged.

But I guess, there might,
be something
So I took precautions.
This last program I signed him up for
it's for high maintenance children
And you know!
He lasted for two whole weeks!

But as I said before, the phone is ringing.

I answer it on the third ring.

And all I hear is screaming.

This isn't about Harvey, there's something very, very wrong.
Maybe a fire.
A break in.
This cannot,
be about Harvey.
I practically throw myself into my Subaru
and almost put my foot to the road, I slam it down so hard
broke about 60 traffic laws
all the way to the day care center.

There were no firetrucks
no ambulances.
No signs that anything was wrong at all.
The children were squealing, almost like
But it wasn't right.
Those were not happy screams.
God forbid, if I'd had the radio on
I would have missed the difference between
And there was something else
notes of adult voices strained in with the chorus of children
they sounded far away
I had to strain to hear them.

And the red peppering the windows.
That had to be finger paint.
It had to be.
Had to be.

The speed that had possessed me before
My footfalls served as a metronome
to a chorus
from a Stravinsky and pizza fueled nightmare

This isn't Harvey
This isn't Harvey

I pushed open the door, and the smell is what hit me first.
Day cares never smell nice, but this was the smell of sewage and of
of pork chops.
of beef steaks.
of uncooked hamburger meat.
Clean, fresh,

Next I saw them.
Ripping off clothing.
Clothing that made sticky, slapping noises as they hit the ground and the floor
pulling apart the same way my old dog
would rip apart a rabbit or a groundhog,
But it was just children pulling of clothes.
And paper cuts.
Bad one,
but paper cuts.

And the teachers...
I can't lie about the teachers.
One was in the process of pulling out her own kidneys
obviously after throwing herself down the stairs
Her high heels laid
at the top
and her legs
raw and ******
were twisted at awkward angles.
Well manicured fingernails cut through her face
and her ears dangled half way down her neck
from pulling

When she looked at me,
all I saw was fear.

I went into the art hall
Harvey's favorite spot
For a six year old,
he was artistic
and more skilled than most adults
paintings of angels
and one
one that I didn't hang on the refrigerator
one of a man in a bathtub

I found Harvey there.
Not a scratch.
He was humming, painting a picture of another angel.
Its wings were spread wide, and the stance was militant
yet his face was serene
like someone finishing a book.
In both hands, he held a spear
and with the left, he drove it into a goat
some poor wretch
howling in pain.


Did you see them?
He asked.
I could not speak.

I'm making them pure.
Written from a terrible nightmare last year. When I found this again, it was hardly more than scribbles and my own drawings of angels. Took a while to adapt.

— The End —