EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 
 

poems

by
 

WADE NEWMAN
____________

THE i’s ARE NOT DOTTED

The i’s are not dotted
And t’s are not crossed.
Between start and finish,
You stalled mid-way.

All the sweat, all the tears,
Doubled the cost;
Your lines to posterity,
Somewhere mislaid,

Your babies out with bath-
Water tossed.
The plan you concocted,
Forever delayed

And seeds you planted,
Iced by frost.
Sole master of all
You survey,

Steel vents seal tight
On your self-holocaust.
So lay down your mallet
On this game of croquet

And drift on waves
Of titanic dross,
Ditching meaning and reason
Amid the fray,

The bodies now covered
By soft green moss
Where you’ll soon enough
Sink and stay.

They found you here,
But here you’re lost.
The words to this story
Bleed off the page.

SONG FOR MY FATHER’S EXIT

My father says goodbye today.
Goodbye to his devoted spouse
And the memory of three former wives.
Goodbye to truth, goodbye to lies.

My father sighs so long today.
So long to his white-collar labors
And all desire to acquire wealth.
So long to sickness, so long to health.

My father surrenders himself today.
He gives up his nap
And lounging by a pool of water.
He gives up his son, he gives up his daughter.

My father waves farewell today.
One slow wave to his stepchildren
From the eastern seaboard to the Rio Grande.
Farewell to dumb luck, to all the plans he planned.

My father grins through the fear today.
He shakes a handful of dust
At men who stole what he rightfully earned,
Laughs his last laugh for each time he got burned.

My father finally says no more today.
No more to his irons and putter,
And the black hole beckoning from an island of green.
No more to nightmares, no more to dreams.

My father utters good riddance today.
Good riddance to telephone solicitors
And doctors prescribing a litany of pills.
Good riddance to taxes, good riddance to bills.|

My father blows us all a kiss today --
Who in a wheelchair, then a gurney
Rides out of town, unbeguiled.
He blows a kiss to his sisters and in-laws, a kiss to his only grandchild.

My father’s come to leave it all today,
To drop his regrets and his thanks
In the upturned dirt and grass
As the past and the future divide in a flash.

My father whispers goodbye today.
Goodbye to his smallest possessions,
To an empty, scuffed briefcase of debts,
Goodbye to what we remember, goodbye to what we forget.

 

                                            ___________________________

 

KARINA’S BABY NOT YET BORN

Malena’s body turns and kicks
The walls inside her mother’s womb.
Only inches divide her warm
Dark world from her parents and us
Now gathered in this familiar room
To celebrate the vacant space
Her laughter and cries, pleasures and drama,
Will gradually fill. But tonight she sleeps
Or briefly wakes, cradled beneath
The timeless hill -- near enough to conceive
A beating heart and blood coursed veins,
Her soft brain flickering our sounds
And shadows, yet distant as the unseen
Dance stirring the bones of two small feet.

 

WHEN I TANGO WITH YOU*

When I tango with you, it’s better than sex,
Better than being with my ex or my ex.
Once we start I can’t stop, with each step we undress.

When we move together, life gets complex,
Our legs, eyes, and arms all intersect.
You open, I enter – your space, more or less.

When I embrace you, I only exist
To connect our bodies hinged by our wrists.
You follow my lead in our public tryst,

Surrendering more as each turn and twist
Adds a lick or a stroke, a bite or a kiss –
Though every bone in your body tries to resist.

 

     * from Final Terms (revised edition) 2018 Pivot Press

 


T
HOSE LOST IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER T
OWERS*
             “And he dreamed that there was a ladder
               set up on the earth, and the top of it reached
               to heaven; and behold, the angels of God
               were ascending and descending on it”

                                                        Gen. 28:12

In the great space where the towers rose,
Where flesh, burning with concrete, steel, and glass,
Fused instantly into soft, gray ash,
First an east wind, then a west wind blows.

From the border between sky and heaven,
Step by broken step, a stairwell unfolds
To where we stood, powerless, and now behold
These angels who can’t return nor beckon.

Each footfall deliberate, transfigured by grace,
Adorned in the forms we perceive they once wore,
They ascend and descend, floor by bright floor,
Who one morning with fear and courage raced.

 

 

WHEN MY BABY COMES

Let each throat vowel rise
From the orange-robed monks.
Let the Baptists Alleluia
Before being dunked.
Let the shofars blow and church bells ring in harmony
When my baby comes, when she comes with me.

Let each crypt and coffin
Prematurely open,
Let every heart’s
Seventh seal be broken.
Let the Shakers shake rapturously
As my baby shakes when she comes with me.

Let the desert armies
Kneel and pray
And surrender their ranks
In disarray,
As Rabbis and Imams laugh deep belly-ly.
Let the waters part like they did B.C.

Let angels beat their wings
Against the glass
And the pilgrim
Drop his bloody lash.
Let the minarets whisper “Amen” on the hour
When my baby comes with me in our bower.

Let the prophets prance
Around our bed.
Let Ganesh and the Buddha
Lead and be led
Between all our births and all our deaths,
When my baby comes, when she comes with me.

 

 

TRINITY
       for Natasha

Each family evolves its own religion,
As I am my father’s only born son,
And my mother a ghost these thirty years
Who, before her body became a word,

Made her life our home, its heart her kitchen,
And each meal a foretaste of the Kingdom Come.
What truths were clear then have all been but smeared
Like the fallen body of the baby bird

As it hopped in the street, was crushed by a car.
As someday I’ll cremate my father’s smile,
And kiss my daughter a final goodnight,
All parents become their own sacrifice,

Opening new wounds, uncovering old scars.
My father opened, then closed the drawers of his files,
Balanced his ledgers beneath a dim light.
My mother poured tea. Small blessings sufficed.

Tonight I confess that I cannot remember
Her voice or her words. We mourned for three days,
Then buried her deep in a sun-showered grave,
Shared her last cake’s sliver and sacrament of crumbs.

As my daughter sleeps, these words come dismembered.
When I piece them together, the dead might be raised.
But nothing that lives will ever be saved,
Nor the moments I believe we all are one.

 

 

 

   * from Final Terms (revised edition) 2018 Pivot Press

 

 

 

               

 

 

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