Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Issue 03 : Oct 2016

Five Poems of Tom Sterner


Tom (WordWulf) Sterner, a native Coloradoan, lives in Denver. His artwork, music, photography and writings have taken place in various online and print magazines, including: Howling Dog Press/Omega, Carpe Articulum Literary Review, Skyline Literary Review, The Storyteller, Flashquake, etc. His published work includes five novels: Momma’s Rain, Spiders ‘n Snakes, Gordian Objective, After Earth and Cranial Loop, and a long epic poem Quodlibet. He is winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2006 & 2008. He resides at 7910- Humboldt Circle, Denver, Colorado 80229 and can also be contacted at: wordwulf@gmail.com.



1.Those Without Graves

 

 

On the drive to work each day
I watch the soldiers' cemetery pass
Everything seems equal there
stone tablets standing attention, the grass
trimmed by wiry brown-skinned men
I see a lady bend down, she kneels
sets a cupful of wild flowers
before two stones, I feel

a hitch in my breath to watch

 

Flags always in evidence
the here & now of this place
& this day each grave is adorned
by a tiny standard, its solemn face
Warm now end of May
I roll my window down
senses immediately assaulted
by a most deep & haunting sound

my legs walk away from the car standing

 

The first time I witnessed his marching
tartan kilt, his regal attire
pipes slung over his shoulder
moaning, set the morning afire
There was certain precision to his gait
distance practiced, known too well
He walked 'mongst the spirits of soldiers
ringing their lives with his mournful bell

my heart was flushed with guilt its watching

 

His lady, with a single flower
came to gather up her man
his pipes and their mournful singing
she took his arm with her hand
I went to the stone of her choosing
where Ian the first was lain
then to the end of the piper's walk
The sky shed a tear of rain

these eyes confused in their seeing

 

A newer stone whose name the same
here lies Ian the third
I followed the voice of the piper
loneliest sound ever heard
& there was Ian the second
standing aside with his wife
a fair compliment of mourners
bidding farewell to a life

what greed mine curiosity shown

 

The pipes trailed away in their singing
a reverend mumbled words to the sky
that Lord, they are brave in their going
these lads to their sweet by and by
A final note owned the moment
to soar with its spirit way up high
the crack of twenty-one rifles
exclamation mark against the sky

what mortal undone was I

 

Ian the second passed by me
his proud pipes bellowed once more
his wife let fall of her flower
on top of that last mortal door
& he paced from Ian to Ian
this man no one could save
whose soldier's sin was still to be living
with father & son in their graves

and the rain hid my face from his eyes.

 

2. A Sense of Sixth

 

I can’t hear the night with the lights on

They blind my ears, destroy my focus

The tiger of fear stalks their shadows

creeping up to capture my spirit

& terrify the little boy me

 

I can’t see her face in the music

where I go to hide away from her

Songs I used to sing to her image

are my new door to freedom

in their legion of sadness

 

I can’t find my ass in the dark

with both hands, invisible arms

a tactile prisoner of light

whose eyes demand proof and purchase

the illusive wall of life

 

Wednesday took the lies of summer

wrote them on a book of leaves

divided amongst the winds

scattered to hither and yon

tablets in stacks and stones beyond.

 

3. The Butterfly Poet

 

It finally arrived

that day words wouldn’t come

The empty feeling refused to go

He tore his hand

from the glove of his mind

watched his imagination

those minute remnants left

dribble onto the notebook

a blot pattern blood ink

He wrote an ode to the butterfly:

 

Whose wings of earth

and feet of sky

an invitation to glory

the likes of which I

 

see sun through each

a fluttering

land

beautiful

mute

you are so much &

 

expect so little

You are at peace while I

envy you heaven

that fair bit of sky.

 

4. Flatfoot

 

We so seek some affirmation of faith

confirmation of existence

as if digging deeper affects

the bottom of the hole

its hollow measurement

vertical disfigurement

 

In a fumbled effort to ascend

man would destroy a mountain

fall down its stand of trees

later scratch his head

and wonder where the hell it went.

 

5. The House in the Wood

 

The children at play in the yard

are attuned to a darker rainbow

They crawl its misty bands

their hands a silhouette ring around

spiders in the moonlit night

 

Its dark eyes and mouth agape

the house watches them

whose bones beneath its boards

matter not to the tiny dancers

murdered past and unperturbed

 

Tree fingers reach for them

They giggle and run to the porch

rise on a ladder mist stair

fall smooth into the gabled embrace

of the house who loves them still

 

A bell in the foreground speaks

and well of the lovers, their parents

ahaunt on a midnight run

while these cubs of ghouls gambol

all safe in the house in the wood.