EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

poems

  by
 

  SALLY COOK
 
  ____________


ON A PARK STREET DAY

Two kitchen windows. They look out
Upon a narrow strip of lawn,
And bittersweet. Just after dawn
The air is sweet. The morning gone,
The day’s in flower, sun is out.
Dishes are washed, and drawings done,
And all the bustle and the brawn
Of commerce now has been withdrawn
As afternoon lies, soaking sun.
Lazy, languorous, open to
A blaze of red, the deepening blue --
A window with a larger view.


A LESSON

I watched her fingers flashing in the sun
Over the paper, hovering just where
A letter to an old friend was begun,
Describing work she had before her, where

Some baby chicks behind the coal stove warmed,
And butter made from cream, just pasteurized,
Was setting in thick yellow skins. When formed,
I churned it up till butter turned; surprised

To see her pen still moving. Then, her ring --
One tiny brilliant diamond in green gold --
Reflecting on that pen. A magic thing,
These beams merged to create a compound mold

Of jewel and pen, intriguing me; a call,
Before I could articulate or scrawl.

 

THE GENTLE DENTIST

Pachelbel plays, as my good dentist drills
Decay away and fixes dental ills
That aggravate, but cannot heal the sum
Or even part of my pierced heart, struck dumb.

His soothing room holds light like pear liquor;
Pale amber, making everything a blur.
Each light ray shines; the art-filled walls grow dull
And dim the confines of each cubicle,
To grey the waiting room, fine books, the couch,
Meld them in squares, where coffee tables crouch.

I wish that withered hearts were quickly patched
As teeth can be—as hardwood, badly scratched,
Can soak up soothing oils to heal each burn;
When pain waits for us, everywhere we turn.


 

LANDSCAPE

Water, transparent, green as jade,
Sand, which may someday turn to glass.
Grey lumpy rocks, in lined parade
Framed by some darkened damp sweet grass.

Plunging in waves, the skies invade—
Circuits of pastel; flaming brass.
Opaline rainbows fade to shade
Upon the water, green as glass.

 

 

An Idyll

I muse a lot on what has gone:
Sweet scents, croquet upon the lawn,
Poems read, just at bedtime,
Words forming pictures, gliding rhyme.

A rabbit’s shadow on the wall
Formed by small hands—a pine, so tall
It scratches sound upon the porch—
Moon moths, a citronella torch;
A stretch of time, a quarter chime,
The hope my musings might combine
With hope for that bright future time
When all these things may fuse, align.

  

 

 

Changes

Pianos left her many years ago—
She hasn’t sung in concert for a while,
Or cared to dress with any sense of style.
Her eyes are bad; she doesn’t read a lot.

This year, the snow took much too long to go,
And her heart pondered those in double files
Who, armed with wily smiles, like crocodiles,
Lashed out their words as if they were buckshot.

Of all the many things she tried to know,
A few stood out along life’s bumpy mile.
Like Caesar, as he traversed the great Nile
With Cleo, in a convoluted plot,
It was too much. She turned her eyes to truth
In beauty, which had solaced her from youth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

What a Wit is Worth

  For John Whitworth*, poet

 

Oh,  Whitman was a rhymer who enjoyed to play the part
Of complicating everything. It’s something of an art
To ramble on for pages on the pinprick of a thought,
Which makes word choice irrelevant, and form seem overwrought,
And chokes the flow of meter like a clot within the heart,
And leaves the scansion bumpy as an overladen cart.
Oh, you may paint your wheelbarrows as red as Commie traitors,
Make sure your plums keep cool and bland in sleek refrigerators,
And hope to Heaven you will cause great earthquakes and unease
Disturbing all the critics huddling roosted in the trees,
But Whitworth’s worth more half again than all the free verse clamor
That issued from that country boy whose hyperbolic stammer
Has branded modern poetry these hundred years or so.
So, now along the bottom road, as in arrears we go,
Feel sorry for poor poets blaring pompously, full blast—
And wave the flag for wit and humor—these things truly last.

 

 

 

*English poet John Whitworth passed away in April of 2019.  Among his other accomplishments his last book was Joy in the Morning (Kelsay, 2016). He also wrote a book about writing poetryWriting Poetry (A&C Black, 2001)and was the editor of the anthology Making Love to Marilyn Monroe: The Faber Book of Blue Verse (Faber, 2006). Quoted on thehypertexts.com:  "I write in rhyme and metre because ... because that is what I do. That is the way poetry presents itself to me. I can't write it any other way. I'm not at all sure I would want to, but even if I did want to I couldn't."

  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  To Bury A Poet

   Some poets write, then publish what is written—
  Victorian ladies comment, are half smitten,
  Close followed by those ones who count mistakes—
  And in the end, well… all it ever takes
  Is some old crank know-nothing with a grudge
  To space out paragraphs of narrow sludge;
  Bean-counting lists; more negative the better;
  Word after word, to make one bitter letter.

  Ad hominem, these words are measured by
  The blot upon the page, and all in sight
  Join in the ruckus looking for a fight.
  This fan club—harsh and brash—is on the rise,
  To praise each other’s efforts to the skies.
  The poet? Buried in subservient lies.

 

  Sea Change

  He’s on his speaker; she’s talking on her phone.
  He hears her clearly; she feels left alone
  Beneath the surface of the deepest waves,
  And strains to find the clarity she craves
.

   His sentences lack something at the end,
  Then tidal pull returns them, lest the bend
  Of that deep undertow of thought and sense
  Might rise up and demand some recompense.

  Those other people climbing in his car
  Push him across the waves to take him far
  Beyond the depths where she might care to go—
  She isn’t sure how far, and must go slow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

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