LOVING MY ENEMIES (a poem) by Judson Jerome

LOVING MY ENEMIES (a poem) by Judson Jerome

I must love my enemies: I have made

so many of them. Whether I, drowning, flailed

rescuers, or, terrier-nervous, yapped,

defending God knows what from God knows whom,

or thought I was the jester, licensed to wound,

I drove you all away. I wanted room

 

to grow my crooked stem, so sprouted thorns,

or, as self-consuming candle, blindly burned

in guttering isolation, or vacuum-drained–

as a black hole does the sky–all warmth and light.

Emperor of sunny nursery play.

I took all as due, nor wondered how or why.

 

Pursuit of justice was a good excuse

to wear the jackboots of some public cause

and stab a friend for a stranger’s brief applause.

It simplified affection’s murky snarl

to make such clean incisions. I have hurled

babies and bathwater out for a better world.

 

fast too soon, my overwhelming wave

of self too bountiful, too gladly given.

To save yourselves from my self you were driven

if not to anger to politic escape.

I said I love you: you foresaw a rape.

 

You must have loved me, enemies, to have left.

dreading the waste and smother of my gift.

sensing my naked need to be received.

Hard love withholds indulgence; you withheld.

Such closeness both of us would soon have scalded.

You could avoid what could not be repelled.

 

Safer, of course, to love thus at a distance–

a dream of faces gone, but nearly kissed–

blending across the years without resistance.

yin lost in yang, and none knows when or how.

But there is safety even in my bower.

for I love you still–but do not need you now.

 

 

 

ALL THE SORE LOSERS by Judson Jerome

ALL THE SORE LOSERS by Judson Jerome

“You win,” he said, and shrugged. She nodded,

in dark recesses chalking one more score.

(A stave gave way in her corset, but

she thought she would not need it any more.)

 

That night she took a torch, descending

by dripping stairs her endless, echoing halls.

The flame was smoky, oily, but

gleamed on the trophies ranked along the walls.

 

Eight shapes of sweating brass were lovers

frozen in postures of athletic play,

graceful, with swollen muscles, but

corroding here beyond the reach of day.

 

Here were the scalps of ladies who

befriended her, and then revealed their faults.

She bore their smiling manners, but

their stinking pelts now hung here in these vaults.

 

A golden likeness of her daughter

evoked the time she found that trollop wrong.

She had her son in silver, but

did he give up–or merely go along?

 

With her husband she had taken pains

to get him, not at once, but piece by piece.

Thus no one saw him suffer, but

grow daily leaner as she grew obese.

 

Now picking over his bone structure 

she knew where he was fallible, joint by joint,

so durable and pearly, but

he steadily surrendered, point by point.

 

and now, she reckoned, had lost track

of all his losses and the total due.

She cackled, counting. Time would prove

that she and she alone was right. She knew.

 

 

I FEAR THEM–THEY MUST DIE! by James Merritt

I FEAR THEM–THEY MUST DIE! by James Merritt

I fear them for they look different,

I fear them so they must die,

I fear them for they believe different

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I am poor

I fear them so they must die

I fear them for they have different sex

I fear them so they must die

I fear them for I cannot accept myself

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I am told to

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I do not understand

I fear them so they must die

I fear them for lack of education

I fear them so they must die

I fear them because I was raised to

I fear them so they must die

I fear fear

I fear them so they must die!

SINGULAR LIVING (a poem) by Eleanor F. Johansson

SINGULAR LIVING (a poem) by Eleanor F. Johansson

While in a moment of reverie

I began to trace when I’d lived alone.

A couple of times, I lived in a room by myself.

Once was a-way back in early college days.

I wasn’t all alone, though.

There were other girls in the house

Inhabiting their single rooms.

 

Later, where I worked, there was Staff Housing.

But that wasn’t all alone either,

Again, each person had a single room.

Just a place where it was singular living.

So…when have I lived alone?

 

As my reverie continued, I had to ask myself,

“What does ‘living alone’ mean to me?”

Is it when the place you live in

Is not shared with another living thing, or

Another human being in a caring, loving relationship?

Or living with that singular sense of aloneness inside,

Even when other life forms are around you?”

I had to answer, “All of the above.”

 

My times of living alone have to include

Many of the years of my thirty-two year marriage.

Living alone came gradually as the caring,

Loving relationship was disintegrating.

When living together turns into being single together,

There is an aloneness of a singular experience.

 

I began to experience more about living alone

When I “house sat” my brother’s home in another city.

Even having some familiarity with where I was

Did not take care of me as much as I needed.

Finding my way outside of that which I knew,

Having to take care of the details of a car accident,

All contributed to creating a nightmarish experience.

 

Then came that which I call really living alone.

The house in which I lived no longer resounded

With the sounds of family living.

No longer any children’s records’ sounds

From the stereo in the living room.

 

My piano in the cellar was silent.

Since the players had moved away.

The laughter and arguments were gone, too.

But I was still asking,

“Was I living alone now?”

 

The players of the piano would come back now and then.

Wouldn’t they?

And they’d bring their little ones to play

The children’s records on the stereo in the living room.

Wouldn’t they?

They will come for Holiday get-togethers, and

Of course they will come spend Mother’s Day with me.

Wouldn’t they now?

And in between they will telephone

Just to ask how I’m doing

And to tell me their latest news.

Sure, they will, won’t they?

 

After my youngest telephoned in the afternoon,

My question was still with me.

“Hi, Mom. Could you take care of the boys for me while I go—–

You don’t sound too good. Are you alright?

I hate to ask, we haven’t been over for a while.

It will be a chance to spend some time with your grandsons.

We love you. The boys miss you.”

When their visit ended, living alone felt palpable.

 

Next I call the second to be born to me,

Greeting her cheerfully. “Hi, how are you?”

“Tired. I’m working pretty hard at my job.

I don’t have time for anything.

Oh, I went out with the girls last Saturday.

And, Oh ya, I am going on a Benefit walk next Sunday.

Outside of that I don’t have much time for myself.

Have you heard from my sister lately?

I don’t know what her problem is.”

 

Her question hangs in space, unanswered,

While I called another to let him know I’m alive.

“Hello? Is ‘at you? This is me. How you doing?

Haven’t heard from you for an awful long time.

I’m just around the corner,” I reminded him.

“Ya, I know. You just woke me up.

I started work at 5 a. m. this morning

And I didn’t get home until ten last night.

Talk to you some other time.”

 

As I say “Good bye”, I remember,

My first born walked away from his family

Years ago and had not returned.

Longing to have him home again

Floods my heart as time passes on

While my life has answered my question.

 

EMPTY NEST

EMPTY NEST

 

© 1992 Eleanor F.  (nee Johansson) Gamarsh is a mother, crafter, writer and multi-media artist.  She lives with her husband Fred in Gardner, Massachusetts.  She participates in GALA’s Open Mic Poetry Readings, exhibits her art, and has contributed poetry to a published book Inspirations and Expressions 2012.  Her poems have appeared in her local newspaper, the Gardner News, and her essay “On Mother’s Day Gifts” was featured on the front page in May, 2016.

 

UNCLE MORTIMER’S THEORY (a poem) by Judson Jerome

UNCLE MORTIMER’S THEORY (a poem) by Judson Jerome

Uncle Mortimer had a theory there’s nothing sacred

which he set out to prove.

Ate his way like a weevil

through family business law church the Masons and three

wives before I got to know him.

I don’t trust you

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Uncle Mortimer I said and he said I had good reason,

laughing and returning my pewter ashtray from

his pocket to the table.  Don’t turn your back he said

I like you.

Then get your hand out of my crotch I said,

Is nothing sacred?

I suppose that you’re inviolate?

Very nearly I said at least selective.

Values said

Uncle Mortimer philosophically are all

subjective you show me any real reason to

refrain from anything or for that matter to

do anything I’ll show you a game the rules

like fences in your head Blake’s mind-forged manacles

he said blowing his nose on a flag he carried for that

purpose.

I couldn’t live without those fences I told him.

More likely you couldn’t die I have nothing to die for.

People are always making contracts you poets for instance

twist everything you want to say to make it fit

some arbitrary form people are always building

altars to sacrifice their Isaacs on people

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are always organizing clubs to keep other

people out of always drawing boundaries

saying MINE well property is theft if you

really want to end war crime racism injustice

just remember one man’s sacred cow is another’s

beefsteak.

It won’t work I said.

Well you just tell me

What does? You think if we just keep on pulling up

and putting in fences we’ll finally get it right?

Well

what about your theory nothing’s sacred? I

asked him.

What about it?

I mean suppose it’s wrong

suppose I went over to that bureau drawer and pulled

out something sacred and you saw it and knew right then

it really was?

He watched me warily.

Don’t worry

I said I wouldn’t I don’t trust you and besides

the bureau drawer’s not where I keep it but suppose.

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You’re lying! he screamed

and clutched his sacred theory close.

I don’t trust you! he screamed

and fled into the night.

[Judson Jerome was an internationally-renown poet whose work was featured in many literary journals at home and abroad.  For years, he wrote a column on poetry for Writer’s Digest.  In 1973, he retired to live with his family in a rural commune, from which he continued to be involved in free-lance writing, speaking and publishing through Trunk Press.  Jerome died in 1991.  The featured poem in the public domain, is published with Jerome’s permission, May 1977.]

 

A POEM by David C. Williams

A POEM by David C. Williams

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GOODBYE 

 

Anne, how do I miss you?

Let me count the days;

And let me count the ways.

I remember

While you lay sleeping

Within a fog of pain-relieving pills

I walked, at night, the empty streets,

And cried aloud in anguish

To a dark and murky sky.

I tried to drown my sorrow

In misty falling rain.

Yes,

As you lay dying,

Grief beyond my strength to bear

Enmeshed my soul.

I imagined I had died

And gone to Hell,

Unable to conceive of life without you

I could not face the thought of losing you

To death’s eternity,

To dismal solitude.

But now you’ve gone.

Clasping your warm hand in mind

That one last time

I touched my cheek to yours

And told you once again how much I love you,

And softly you replied,

I love you, too.

And then you closed your eyes

To say,

“Goodbye.”

 

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[David C. Williams will celebrate his 95th birthday in January, 2017.  His days are spent enjoying his trips to the YMCA to exercise, meeting friends for lunch, and writing non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and keeping up his diary. He is the author of several books, including Shylock Holmes and the Royal Crown Caper, Northlight, Sumarny River Bridge, Two Old Men–and God and, most recently, The Ashland Story.  His books are available at Amazon.com  Recently, he helped his daughter build a “rocking horse” for one of his great grandchildren, but he no longer does much wood-working.  David is an engineer by profession.]