Sample Poems

From The Body's Fire

James Baldwin at the Station

                                                J’ai laissé des ames dont

                                                                              la peine s’accroîtra de mon départ!

                                                                              —Rimbaud, “Mauvais Sang”

 

Uptown was the hard part,

getting over the look

of it, the over-flowered feel

of windblown places.

And the bus

 

struggled so, exasperating

dark clouds,

as if its organs had gone

hard stuffed

inside the ribs, finally gasping

up the backs

of the avenues.

I want to imagine his

 

last evening, how a woman smiled

at him in the station,

lounging against the wall, her curved

back springing

when he drew near

like a statue set

free, a skirt

tight as bronze, Rodin

holding linen down to sketch

a figure, an artist.

 

Here is Baldwin at last

on his way, a beret

in his bag, a gentleman on his arm

in Paris. He sees it

that way watching bus-darkened

faces cross before him

while he waits for the transfer,

imagines flying before he goes, and

the French—memoire,

joyeux, larme—

his language spoken

in the city of light.

Toward the Skin

                                      for J.S.

 

My friend stops his father
in the doorway, asks him
to show me the numbers burned
to his wrist like small white

 

promises. He asks this so easily
it surprises

 

me, as his father lifts
a hairy forearm to the hall
light and holds stiff
as sculpture

 

while we watch
and wait for history

 

to move past us. This is the same friend
I lie with in a tent
near the highway,
something desperate in our awkward

moves toward the skin,
some inevitable ride

 

we must take
away from each other. He tastes like salt,
as if he were made of it,
more like salt

 

than anything
I've ever known. And if after this
 

my landscape turns strange
and I run from the burnt field
of my desires
as if I could get around it

 

and my world seems
to collapse

 

from within, I ask what dark passage
was I called to, what rage
was I used, like so many others,
to answer?

Caesura

 

 

At four in the morning the streets in Cleveland

 break up and roll themselves away

 

only to be planted again by the front wheels

 of cars rolling downtown at daybreak. No one

 

sees it, but I know it happens that way.

 There are people I used to work with

 

who would call thoughts like that crazy. Maybe

 they are. But I need to explain

 

the prostitutes on Carnegie, the gun in every

 other locker at the factory where my friend works,

 

the body face down in the lot where I saw it

 first. I knew a black man, fifty and

 

strong as an ox, who tore down his painting

 from our locker at Christmas. It was

 

beautiful and someone made him take it down. He tore

 it from the wall in pieces. Some answers

 

are hard to get: Places don’t mean much anymore and

 the smaller pains in a lifetime—

 

small because they weren’t yours or they happened

 long ago— fade away. But I know

 

there is something wild beating in our hearts and

 sometimes it gets out—you can almost hear it.

Interviews

Click here for my Amazon Author's Page where most of my books may be purchased.

Follow this link to Scott's interview with Rachel Cruz on The Blood-jet radio Hour.

Follow this link to Scott's interview with

Angela Pilson about his work as Consulting Editor for Poetry Translations at Crazyhorse. 

Sample Poems

From Cymbalism

Insidious at the Big K

 

                       

Kafka was Insidious’ favorite author.

He loved the wicked parables,

the inflated zebra references.

Sometimes he wished for dull oratory

instead. When he was young

his grandmother took him to Sunday School

for drawing. He made a universe

on his paper—stars, clouds, a train.

The teacher looked at him despairingly.

But his shell was already up.

He wandered among the cedars,

lindens, hawthorns.

 

His heart he knew now

was not in it. He looked up to the sky

where his chariot waited.

The boy falling out of it

he didn’t see. If you’re starting a revolution,

he knew, it was best to do it

with one eye closed.

Intimate Confessions

 

                                          . . . he writes letters to the President of the Solar System

                                                                     full of intimate confessions.

                                                                    — Zbigniew Herbert, trans. Alissa Valles

 

Dear Mister President,

There are moths inside

the stars. We heard

fluttering in midwinter against

our hearts. Two swans

live in the jet stream,

a kind of music

beneath the windy silence.

 

Last night we ate the river

with the stars inside.

The water drags

the sky along its surface.

Insidious’ Dream

 

                       

At dawn, I. is descending

like a gull, not falling—an arrow always

in flight.  His father molds his arms

with wax, hopes for clouds and wind.

Later, watching starfish, he thinks,

You weave cities of illusion inside yourself.

At the tips of his pinioned fingers,

he feels a sudden stirring weave through.

 

Impossibly, without warning, he falls

asleep in the air—arm kites tearing.

Daedalus never saw how his cheek

brushed the water just as claws gripped

his back, and real wings—the only thing

borne—either grew then and there

or the noise drowned all else,

thousands of feathers erupting.

He couldn’t say where.

Poems Online

Follow this link to see and hear

my poems at Terrain.org.

Follow these links to my poems 

online at Verse Daily.

Follow this link to see more of my poems on

poemhunter.com.

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