At 3 a.m.

This poem is a departure for me. I found myself channeling Hemingway after reading for the third or fourth time A Moveable Feast — perhaps the best and least known guidebook for Paris. My thanks to Scot at Rusty Truck for publishing it this week.

At 3 a.m.
after one more day
without words, Paris
takes you in like a whore,
not surprised you’re back
for another fuck in the dark.
November. Brittle rain
scrapes the bone.
You walk the sheen of cobbles
to the Seine, where bodies,
freshly guillotined, once floated,
heads left behind in baskets,
past the great cathedral, gargoyled,
buttressed, to the boîte
on St. Louis where absinthe
and jazz make love, and a girl
comes to rub against you
like she knows your name.

– Sarah Russell
first published in Rusty Truck
Photo by Nicolas Vigier

Near Jack’s Cabin

     “deer… like skeletons.”
                                    —Dorothy Wordsworth

Yes. Like skeletons this winter,
stealing silage meant for cattle
though it starves them.
They look wistful at the forest’s edge.
I want to coax them to my fire
before the wind tonight and snow,
more snow.

Some will fawn in spring if they survive.
We shall shrug off matted coats,
graze among the daffodils.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Eclectica
Photo Source
For dVerse 

Invitation

We found a stream that night
away from everywhere but us –
water voices whispering,
the honey of first times,
wind feathery on urgent skin.

Perhaps a folly, our rush
into together and tomorrow –
forever’s promissory note
before the debt of everyday.

Let’s go back
and lie beside the stream again,
listen for the water voices,
feel the wind’s breath

before we disappear.

– Sarah Russell
First published in The Houseboat
Photo Source
For Poets United

Requital

For fifty years mother’s face reflected
a marriage she endured,
a man she didn’t love.

But when he was blind and frail
in hospice,
she visited him often,

and when he reached out, groping
for her hand,
she would smile and move it
(again and again)

just out of reach.

– Sarah Russell
For Real Toads prompt “power
and for Poets United Poetry Pantry
Drawing by Greuze

Flotilla

I am so proud to know Steve Deutsch.  He is part of my poetry workshop group and for the second month in a row, one of his poems, this time “Flotilla,” was chosen by Goodreads from more than 300 entries as a finalist in their monthly contest.  To read the poems in the contest, click here.  And if you agree, as I do, that Steve’s poem is outstanding, please vote.

 

You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.

You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.

Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.

– Steve Deutsch
First published in Weatherings
photo courtesy of moneycrashers.com

The Secret

When I told Truth to go away,
we were both girls –
blossom-cheeked,
skipping rope with life.

“I can’t be your friend,” I told her.
“You know my secret.”
Truth shrugged. “OK.
I’ll be here if you need me.”
She waved goodbye, and went
to live high in the hills
with hummingbirds and foxes.

I stayed behind, secure in my choice,
though joy was hard to find, I never
trusted love, and I reacted oddly
to the seemingly mundane –
lilies made me nauseous, Black Beauty
gave me nightmares, a breeze against my neck
could make me cry.

After fifty years, I looked for Truth again.
She hadn’t changed – still young,
sweet, smiling, glad to see me.
But I’d become Wilde’s portrait in the attic –
haggard, bitter, burden-stooped.
I asked what would have happened
if I’d let her have her way.
“You’d have suffered,” she said. “People
would have shamed you. They’d say
you made it up.
But you’d be free.”

– Sarah Russell
First published in the anthology Secrets and Lies 
For Real Toads quote by Dickinson
Painting:  “Two Little Girls” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

At the beauty salon

I close my eyes as a young woman
massages in shampoo, gently rubs
my temples, smooths cream rinse —
scented with jasmine — from my brow,
and you are here with me again
that summer day under the waterfall.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Shot Glass Journal
Photo courtesy of waterfall.solaridas.com
For the “suggested narrative” prompt at
Real Toads
Also for Poets United’s Poetry Pantry
.

Everything Becomes a Stranger

“. . . a poem is a silent tree in spate . . .”

This morning I read a new poem by Rajani Radhakrishnan that is a perfect description of how a poem is made and who it becomes as we let it go.  Rajani gave me permission to reblog it, so here it is.  Please visit her site, ThotPurge to thank her, and while you’re there check out her second blog Phantom Road  where she converses with Marcus in a series of haibun poems — equally as evocative.  Rajani, I am so grateful to have discovered your poetry.

Everything Becomes A Stranger

even a word in a sentence,
you hold it there, lock it in and
for a while it makes sense
then it begins to work itself loose
wanting to move
wanting to move on
another appears in its place
an unfamiliar voice,
saying something else;

a poem is a silent tree in spate
one by one its green eyes fall
one by one new eyebrows are raised
only you know it is a different tree
the shadows paint another dark
and whatever is flowering
is not caused by your being;

everything becomes a stranger
once it leaves, once it falls
words, worlds,
people,
even you walking away
carrying a poem
carrying a sentence
cast shapes angled into the sun
as if the light is making love to you
in a different language.

– Rajani Radhakrishnan

 

Nesting

The finches are courting
outside our window, a warbled
discussion of real estate and love.
Like last year and the year before,
they want to lease the flower wreath
on our front door. It’s always a dilemma:
discourage their rapture or detour
through the garage?

The finches always win. So
for a month we’ll wake to overtures
at dawn – so cheerful, so loud –
show pictures of pin-feathered babies
to friends, recall demands
and pleasures of our own brood,
the bittersweet fledging.

– Sarah Russell
First published by Your Daily Poem
The photo is of their nest last year.

Thought this was apropos since Mr. and Mrs. Finch are back and are quite excited about our new wreath this year.  They were both tucked into a niche behind the blossoms, discussing the furnishings when I opened the door this morning.  The nest was almost complete this afternoon.  Can’t deny true love.