poems

TAVERN HOURS

Christmas subsides into January slush.

The season’s fluids and carols commence

their downhill journey: elsewhere.

The tale got told. Its body departed.

A pestering silence takes its place, not a bad thing.

 

Cue the late-night piano, noble snare, upright bass,

with tavern drinks poured for fellow travelers,

neighbors every one, under soft filaments.

Despite the solstice fatigue, everyone keeps

a sidelong alertness: something about something

 

strange they heard last month, something skyward

and moving, deny it all you want. It’s hard to shake:

a warmth toward everything, a fondness, something,

not a bad thing. Everyone’s agreed, the bar scene

has a different feel now, deny it all you want.

© copyright 2019 Ray Waddle

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MAKING A LIST

I let the word slip in, talking to a church group

about the latest politics and what we ought to do.

I said we need “wisdom.”

 

But it’s no good – I sounded dutiful, glum,

gone soft using an old word like that,

no longer speaking from inside the action.

 

It’s like other words on the list –

solidarity, restraint, modesty, beauty.

A splintering noise shouts them down.

 

Today’s talk is outfitted with so many sharpened edges –

sharpened because there’s so much power to defend,

to deny. The old words weren’t prepared.

 

The secret hope is they’ll find strength again one day.

No one admits to this. It would look like weakness,

especially if it’s true. Truth – another one for the list.

© copyright 2019 Ray Waddle

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SOUL SURVIVING

On the curbside slagheap I saw

a book, Chicken Soup for the Soul,

moldy and blurred, a popular title

discarded (apparently) after several perusals

by blameless reader, who’s just trying

to get from A to B, looking for a little help,

but keeps finding gruel in the title, which

always makes me hungry for a ladle of broth,

not a book about the soul, the soul not needing

a marketing campaign or price point analysis,

the soul surviving easily the slag stink,

getting from A to B on very little,

on less than gruel, as long as it gets

some acknowledgement, some signal

that we know it’s there, a creation

at the ready, the strongest thing

in a human body, hands down.

© copyright 2019 Ray Waddle