PoetsWest Selected - a page for poetry and essays
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Volume XVII, No. 2
Poems by J. Glenn Evans, Tomás Gayton, Dawnell Harrison, Charles Portolano, Len Tews, Griffith Williams.
And a special message from John Peterson of Poetic Matrix Press http://www.poeticmatrixpress.com/.
If poets and lovers of poetry don't write, publish,
read, and purchase poetry books then we will have
no say in the quality of our contemporary culture
and no excuse for the abuses of language, ideas,
truth, beauty, and love in our cultural life.
At the Moore Hotel
One time when I was down on my bucks
I took a job at the Moore Hotel
As a night clerk with one meal a day
They told me don’t allow no Mexicans
Why I asked and they replied
Allow one and ten more will come in
Don’t allow no whores they said to me
But how do you know who is a whore
Not fair so I rented to a Hispanic
And he had eight more friends join him
A Black lady and her White friend came in
I rented them a room she smiled
Later she tipped me five dollars
Two days later her man came around
Have you seen that bitch she robbed me
Then one night a young beautiful Black girl
With a sad distressful tale came in
She was from Mississippi
Her brother could not be found
She had no money and no way to get home
A waiter said you can stay in my room
Next day he said get out I want no whores
Warrior the night security man
A Vietnam veteran he was
Took her to the Greyhound bus station
Bought her a ticket to go home
One time a former Alaskan mayor
Came to town and had no money
Wanted to hock his Royal typewriter
For the night’s lodging next day he would pay
He had friends he could borrow money from
Three days passed and he didn’t pay
I was on the hook but he said don’t worry
The fourth day he paid up and said thank you
Sometimes Lady Luck strikes down the high
A former boxing champion lived here
Even a pretty belly dancer
Whose father had to bail her out
Next door there is a stage for actors
To play the wise and to play the fool
But I wouldn’t trade my window on the world
As night clerk at the Moore Hotel
To watch the passing scene of humanity
Where the plight of people pass by
J. Glenn Evans
J. Glenn Evans is founder and managing director of PoetsWest. Has written three books of poetry Window In The Sky, Buffalo Tracks and Seattle Poems and a novel, Broker Jim. Has written several local histories under the name Jack R. Evans, and two local biographies. A former stockbroker-investment banker, he has engaged in mining and co-produced a movie, Christmas Mountain, featuring Slim Pickens. Widely published in magazines and anthologies. Listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. Past president of Seattle Free Lances, Academy of American Poets. On advisory board for the University of Washington Extension Writing Program. He is also producer and host of PoetsWest's weekly syndicated radio program on KSER 90.7 FM.
Melody in Blue
Sitting across from you in juvenile detention
smiling into your scowling rosebud eyes
that scorn men and seek martyrdom
to redeem your shattered life
Your slender body trembles
when the judge looks down & asks
"Are you taking pills?"
and answers his question for you
Melody, so besieged by demons & drugs
what can we do to restore sweet melody
to your suffering body & soul
and a smile in your scowling rosebud eyes
Tomás Gayton, Paz 013
In the papal palace the pope puts on his red slippers,
white cassock, lace cotta and gilded cope & miter
and prepares to pass on the keys to paradise.
As the procession of cardinals adorned in Imperial red
genuflect before His Holiness, kiss his ring and enter
the Sistine Chapel to choose St. Peter's successor,
I wonder would the heirs of the Holy Roman Empire,
the Holy Roman Catholic Church,
welcome into their closeted conclave the carpenter son
of Sephardic Jews with calloused hands,
wearing sandals and a smile on his blood stained face?
Sleeping on the Street
I jump off the trolley and as I walk to the train
I see lying on the ground on a concrete cushion
a black man with a grey beard, sullied shirt
and tattered pants—
Passing pedestrians walk by him in a hurry
to take a train to somewhere
not seeing nor waking my slumbering friend
sleeping on the street of broken dreams
Besides being a poet, Tomás Gayton is also a Civil Rights Attorney, social activist, world traveler, teacher, and lecturer. After graduating from law school, he began attending the verse-writing seminar of Nelson Bentley (1918-1990). He was then "well on my way to a love affair with words." In 1977, he moved to San Diego.
His work has appeared in numerous publications and literary journals. Vientos de Cambio/Winds of Change, a bilingual volume of poetry is Tomás' fifth volume of prose and poetry. His other books are: Yazoo City Blues, Time of the Poet, Dark Symphony in Duet with the late Sarah Fabio, Two Races, One Face with John Peterson.
Loneliness is a knife
At my throat.
Cold stars glare
At me from above.
The silence completely
Shadows the air.
I stand as bare as a
Love has no home here.
The Sunrise Burned
Deep in your soul
The sunrise burned
As the orange leaves
Of autumn twirled
In your heart.
The sweet smell
Of roses bent over
My soul as the sight
Of a white dove
Glimmered in my heart.
The fires of twilight
Tussled in your eyes
As the rain fell
Into the vast horizon
Of your soul.
i am married to a mirage.
the moon rises under
the meat of your tongue.
forty five years now i have
worked to pull the muck
from your mouth.
still it is all exit signs
it is unbearable out here
in the desert having
to endure this intolerable
heat while you dream up
your next big mistake.
the cold moon filters
a stark white light
icy wave after icy wave.
the silent air thins
and thins in this anesthetized
birds have no songs here.
the ice on the lake freezes
the center of my pain.
The Great Taproot
I can see the bottom –
It is like a great taproot.
I have been there before.
I have suffered the brightness
Of the color red –
It moves a great sea
Inside of me and is not
Welcome in my house of sorrows.
Everything is white and as sterile
As a surgeon’s knife.
The sound of the rain comes
In a fantastical downpour
Of astounded souls.
I wish only for silence and blackness-
Especially the silence.
Dawnell Harrison has been published in over 70 magazines and journals including The Endicott Review, Abbey, Iconoclast, Nerve Cowboy, Mobius, and many others, as well as three books of poetry published through reputable publishers titled Voyager, The maverick posse and The fire behind my eyes.
Deepest Recesses of Self
After four tours at war,
Stan lives with
the shadow of death,
even after five years
from the frontlines.
Those black eyes
of his first kill
still haunt his sleep,
dance in his day-dreams.
He thought he had it
under control, but no,
today when that car
cut him off, nearly
forcing him to ram
into the divider,
with his two daughters
in the back seat,
he lost all sight, except
to see those black eyes
laughing, mocking him,
he couldn’t let them win,
so he drives like a madman
after the car, finally
forcing it off the road.
Stan dashes out of his car,
armed with a crowbar,
he smashes the windshield,
then drags the man out
from his front seat.
His girls watch in horror
their loving father
turn into a horrible monster.
Two policemen arrive
on the scene just in time
to wrestle Stan off the man,
they handcuff his hands
behind his back, as he
slumps down to the ground.
Charles lives in Fountain Hills, AZ. He started writing poetry 15 years ago to celebrate the birth of his daring, darling, daughter Valerie. He wanted to preserve all the memories of the first time she walked, talked. Valerie was born with many obstacles to overcome giving him much to write about. Writing soon became his way of saving his sanity. Valerie is doing great now; she is quite the young writer. He has a new collection of poetry out, Storytelling.
The snow-covered fields seemed
serene. Shadows from telephone poles
made precise right triangles from a low sun
even at noon.
Winter's regime appeared to be absolute
although voles, subversive, scurried
along paths under the snow crust, safe
from the surveillance of hawks.
Crocuses had not forgotten - plans
for blooms lay in the DNA
of their underground parts.
Last night, I awoke to hear rain - thunder
claps boomed like canons
lightening flashed like explosions.
Snow banks decayed - water
ran in the streets like blood.
Winter power winced and trembled.
Old attitudes are melting, I thought
there is the smell of mud and spring
in the air.
Len Tews retired in 1996 after teaching biology for thirty-two years at The University of Wisconsin. He moved to Seattle where he took up the writing of poetry, first as a genealogical pursuit, believing the most important memories of people are their stories, then moved on to other subjects -- Buddhism and nature particularly. He was active in the Seattle poetry scene reading at open mikes and publishing. Some of his poetry has been collected into four chapbooks: Family Poems, Dance Steps in Brass, The Moon Is Not Yet and Frayed Ends. His work has also been published in Bellowing Ark, Mid-America Poetry Review, The Wisconsin Review, Fox Cry, HA, Writer's Haven Press's Moons Upside Down, Stars in Rows, Cascade, and other places. His poetry has won prizes from Peninsula Pulse and The National League of Pen Women. He moved back to Oshkosh, Wisconsin where he raised a family.
Missolonghi, April 19, 1824
Perhaps the last to die at Marathon
Some two millennium after the fight;
Too late to get there and then too soon gone;
Still he paid a debt he came to requite!
Bled by the doctor until pale and wan,
Byron died, assured that he would incite
Pan-European help for the Geek cause:
A scoff-law, at the end who honored old laws.
Tardy, but present at Thermopylae,
Reporting to noble Leonidas,
Byron came for honor and for duty
And the cultural ties that unite us;
And the beauty, oh, he honored beauty.
Can you feel his shade right there beside us?
He offered a keen sword of devotion
While the cause of the Greeks gained promotion.
He pulled on an oar in Salamis Bay
To battle the Persians (or maybe Turks)
Protecting his muse from her darkest day
Where e'er the enslaving Potentate lurks.
As the fever burnt through his mortal clay
Lord Byron surveyed his surviving works:
He looked with regret, but also pride,
And knew he had chosen best when he died.
Missolonghi still holds Lord Byron's heart,
For Greece always held onto Byron's soul.
What matter the where or when we depart?
Lord Byron says that is our ultimate goal!
By leaving aright we may at last start
The redemption for which our bell shall toll.
When even their last breath breathes of portents
Lovers and poets may mold great events!
This poem commemorates Lord Byron's death on April 19, 1824.
Griffith H. Williams
Teaches at Northshore and writes poetry. He owns his own printing press, which he has used to publish a chapbook of verse each year for the past ten or more years. His collection Einstein Bound was published in 2005.
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