Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Before we leave this season, I would like to post Rita Marie Recine's "Happy Birthday, Jesus."  Although not every reader is Christian, Rita's sweet poem evokes one of the moods of this holiday season.

Happy Birthday Jesus
Where are your candles?
The family awakens early, it is still dusk, the air is fresh and crisp.
Mom is still in her nightgown, dad is making coffee.
Children are in exaltation.
Beginning their celebration
Happy birthday Jesus

Somewhere across the globe there is Christmas.
 Songs and carollers walk the streets.
Reaching out to people all over town
Our king is born today. In Bethlehem
Offering peace on earth and good will to all of mankind
No mayhem

Emmanuel, God is with us, your given name..
Your sacred name no one can disclaim
Liberator, greatness.
Rescuer of all humanity.

Christmas should be everyday
Time to cheer through out the year
For the spirit of giving should never be taken away
Handle with care …nothing else can compare.
I often ask myself if many are aware.

A moment to celebrate, reflect. 
Memories to recollect with music and dance
A melodious divine tune for the king of angels is born
White cloth embeds Him.
  . Mary and Joseph gaze.
As they adore Him.
Happy Birthday Jesus

Emmanuel, God is with us, your given name..
Your sacred name no one can disclaim
You are worshipped from the heavens and the earth.
The choral is singing a song of praise.

Liberator, greatness.
Rescuer of all humanity.

Happy birthday Jesus
Where are the followers who were once so joyful
Where are the trumpets, the harps and the flutes.
triumphant sounds.
As I ponder upon our   heritage
Ancestors ,roots.

Happy Birthday Jesus
Where are your candles?

Where is the starlight which covers the night with its lustrous beauty so divine 
HE always opens the door, gives us only what we can handle

Happy Birthday Jesus
Where are your candles?

Where is the crowd.......
don’t see anybody around

I love Christmas.....for it is Christ's special day
would not have it any other way…………………
Happy Birthday Jesus
Where are your candles?

Strands of children aligned so fine in a straight line
Two by two…..

By the courtyard , by the sea
Awaiting  Santa’s arrival with happiness and glee.
Don’t you agree?

I believe in Santa too……candies, lollipops, and toys anew
I wish though there was also a line for Jesus ………………………..
Happy Birthday Jesus

Where are the candles, burning lamps which provide light  in  the night 
brightening the paths of  the earth, heavens and the sky.
I will light your candle
Have it flicker throughout the year
Happy Birthday Jesus

I will be your star.
I have the twinkle in my eyes
Happy birthday Jesus.

RitaMarie  Recine

July 4th, 2015

To accompany Rita's poem, I'd like to post some music for you.  Let's start with John Coltrane's "Spiritual":

I was able to find Gary Mann's "Blues for Baby Jesus":

Let's finish with two pieces by Mary Lou Williams.  Her first is "St. Martin de Porres":

The next is "Praise the Lord":

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Halloween, Jazz, and Feliz Navidad!

I've been celebrating Christmas in bits and pieces.  Tonight I'd like to post Donal Mahoney's "Feliz Navidad" -- before it is New Years or Little Christmas or, worse, Candlemas!

Feliz Navidad

Pedro swings a mop all night
on the 30th floor of Castle Towers
just off Michigan Avenue
not far from the foaming Lake.
The floor is his, all his, 
to swab and wax till dawn. 

The sun comes up and Pedro's 
on the subway snoring, 
roaring home to a plate 
of huevos rancheros
six eggs swimming 
in a lake of salsa verde
hot tortillas stacked
beside them. 

After breakfast, 
Pedro writes a poem 
for Esperanza,
the wife who waits 
in Nuevo Leon.
He mails the poem 
that night, going back
to his bucket and mop.

Pedro's proud  
of three small sons,
soccer stars
in the making.
On Christmas Eve 
the boys wait up
in Nuevo Leon
and peek out the window.
Papa's coming home 
for Christmas!

Pedro arrives at midnight
on a neighbor's donkey,  
laughing beneath 
a giant sombrero.
He has a red serape 
over his shoulder,
and he's juggling 
sacks of gifts.

When the donkey stops,
the boys dash out and clap 
and dance in circles.
Esperanza stands 
in the doorway
and sings 
Feliz Navidad.

Donal Mahoney


Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had fiction and poetry published in print and online publications in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among them are The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey).

I seem to be going backwards, but here is Allyson Lima's moving poem about her mother and jazz.  I had intended to publish it during the semester.

House Musicians

She was more absence than presence
Never spoke of her father
Except to say he played piano

I only knew her by the music
Spied on her from behind the door
Pale fingers poised above the ivories
And the black keys—
Hold the low tones then flutter
Down cascading phrases

          “The falling leaves drift by my window
            The autumn leaves of red and gold
            I see your lips, the summer kisses
            The sun-burned hands I used to hold”

She plays Nat King Cole but it’s her song too

           “Since you went away the days grow long
            And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
            But I miss you most of all my darling
            When autumn leaves start to fall”

Who is that guy? I ask when she hangs a portrait
5x7 black and white in the hallway.
Dapper bow-tied entertainer--piano player
His gaze so seductive it could stop you cold
Even a kid knows this guy’s trouble

Her music was no sing along,
No Mitch, no Bing, no bedtime lullaby

Hers were the jazz riffs
Cubist tone fragments
Music undone broken notes smoky
Drifts shifting in air like dark dreams
Reshaped caught on vinyl

Records of survived betrayals
Broken beats of lives revived
In low-lit smoky rooms
Blackhawk, Blue Note, urban clubs
And her glassed-in living room.

LPs in cool jackets leaned against
The blond wood stereo like Sinatra
On the night street album cover
Borsalino angled over baby blues in the boozy
Lamplight and cigarette smoke
In the wee small hours—such well crafted drama
He made grown women cry

Music always playing when I came home
From school always playing in her afternoon
Errol Garner Duke Ellington Oscar Peterson
Louis Armstrong trumpets and Ella Fitzgerald scats
in her unearthly voice how high the moon

Ella Fitzgerald voice of the century
My mother so admired her she once made my father
Go backstage at the Blackhawk just to pay respects.
Ella-- voice for all time couldn’t stay in the same
San Francisco hotel where she sang
Then left out the back door to walk
A dark street to dream elsewhere.

Armstrong and Fitzgerald sit together on
The album cover posed on folding chairs like
Old married folks at the grange hall
His white socks rolled down bebop-style 
She wears a cotton print housedress
(Ella must have hated that cover—
She sang in gowns and pearls in Paris)

MJQ’s suit-and-tie jazz John Lewis hits highbrow notes
Ray Brown plunks the double bass makes it speak like
No one ever heard Miles Davis Coleman Hawkins Art
Tatum, Charlie Parker Les Brown and Wes Montgomery Les Paul
Milt Jackson jivin’ the vibes— those round sounds held her

Django Rheinhart  Stefan Grappeli
Are you kiddin’ me?
You know she felt good then

Even when the pops came along
Stan Getz’s strange meadow lark and
Astrid Gilberto her gorgeous Portuguese
Makes a beachcomber out of anyone
Stuck in suburbia

Cal Tjader’s red hot vinyl beats
Antonio Carlos Jobim’s guitar with
Brazilian accent--Latin’s catching on
Las Vegas nightclubs--Louis Prima Keely Smith
Ahmad Jamal’s Cry Young and

Not one single musical –no post-war feel-good South Pacific
No Oklahoma where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
To blow away the 1950’s suburban housewife blues
But Ray Charles--Ruby and Georgia on My Mind to break your heart

Dad comes home whiskey-breathed
Swings her ‘round the kitchen keepin’ the beat
One hand stuck down the back of
Her French blue stretch pants
No, Jack, No! she protests eyes sparkling
Singing along with Ray hit the road Jack

We didn’t know he would really go.
Never guessed they would take new lovers.
I know because I found the love letter
in her lingerie drawer—musician too

Distant mystery-mother of four
My younger sisters don’t remember her
Ask me what she was like
Died in the hospital age 42
After a routine operation

Some say she died of suicide.

I say it was a slow dance
In the wrong generation
For a woman like her
Who lived in music and
couldn’t get enough of it.

By Allyson Lima  October 19, 2015

Costumes                                                                             By Allyson Lima  October 31. 2015                                             

Bend the pretend wires of time

One day—

Do what you meant to do
What you’re meant to do
Is there a costume for that?

Go ahead
whine a little
at the sun
Give it a little airtime
before you leave

Still here?

Take my hand, take two
I’ll go with you in the dark

Are you still waiting
For the door to open

In your silly costume?

Trick-or treat
Sweets and bellyaches
You’ll get both

                                                                 the  door

What do you seek
In the moonlight?

Don’t forget to ask
Don’t forget to knock
There are no costumes

Next time around.

By Allyson Lima  October 31, 2015

Allyson has given me so many ideas for the music, but let's keep a Christmas theme.  Unlike many of you, I feel deprived of holiday music.

Let's start with Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song":

"O Come All Ye Faithful" is one of my favorite carols:

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performs "We Three Kings":

Here is their "White Christmas":

Oscar Peterson recorded a Christmas album in 1995, and here is his version of "Silent Night":

The album also includes "The Christmas Waltz":

Allyson just sent me a photo of Lincoln Center at night!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Presence

Apologies for the break.  I guess it turned out to be a hiatus after all.  Let's move the deadline for the fall/winter contests to Jan. 30.  

However, the papers are all graded, and Angelee Deodhar & Mary Jo Balistreri will start us off again.

The holidays and the New Year can be a time to break away from old habits.

They can also be a time to look back and return to one's roots.

Ekphrastic Haibun : January

Looking at the subtle flat, overcast lighting filtering in from the left and embers glowing at far right of Frank Weston Benson’s Rainy Day, reminds me of my childhood in the hills. I remember sloshing around in gum boots, the lovely squishy sound of water in and around the boots, paper boats and running downhill from school with my raincoat flapping around me, the hood flung back, books hugged inside close to me.

Later as I grew up I walked in the rain, protected by an umbrella. Now, as a grandmother to be, I look forward to running in the rain with my grandchild.

New Year’s Eve-
meteor showers from
welding works

For more information about Frank Weston Benson's Rainy Day, see below:

Angelee and the Indian-American author Raveesh Varma collaborated on the haibun below.

Collaborative Haibun :  Capriccio
Prose by Raveesh Varma                                   
Haiku by Angelee Deodhar

beyond prayer flags
incense vanishes into
mackerel clouds

I am already dying, when she comes in to visit me carrying chrysanthemums . White curtains, much like her hair while keeping me defenseless under the harsh glare of hospital lights ,protect me from the outside world. Used to such visits, at times I wonder what will she do, after my release from the shackles of this diminishing life of mine.

She chats with me of various things... of life and love (was I ever that young?) and all things in-between; in the kitchen, in the car, over coffee, over tea, or over a flower vase arranging roses ,freshly cut from the garden. She tells me when she dies, I must celebrate with wine, food and music in the manner of an Irish wake, she insists that she does not want me to mourn her .Too much of our lives have gone in mourning and on this one occasion there will only be the purity of us, a transparency untouched by sorrow. She threatens that should I mourn her, she will come back to haunt me forever .I immediately retort that then I will mourn her, mourn her over and over again.

the silence since
the children left

This was when interleaved moments of shock and denial, had not set upon us the brittle scaly patina within which we now carry our reverse metamorphoses from butterflies to amorphous, plain eggs. She tells me of uncharacteristic and strange things in the privacy that exist between her senses and mine.

Though she talks of things in the present, every word carries with it the scented breeze of a million other words reminiscent of open wildflower fields, under an unchained white light, not witnessing an unwanted death at an age when death is still the subject only of poems.

It is this light, which having illuminated the wasteland of my life, will be released into the universe in one infinitesimal spark, when my body finally breaks, flesh crumbles into ashes which will be immersed in the never-ending, stream of my Mother, the Ganges.
sonorous chants-
no crows alight today
for the shradh food

image credit!HalfHD.jpg
Richard Strauss: (1864-1949) Capriccio - Introduction (String Sextet) - Previn & Wiener Philharmoniker
Rimsky Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol Op 34 Berliner Phil Dir Zubin Mehta YouTube
The Halle - Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien Op. 45 Published on Jan 20, 2014

Balkan Capriccio ( Music Video ) by Stevan Jovic

Bio :Raveesh Varma, a structural engineer, of Indian descent, immigrated to the US nineteen years ago. His  achievements in the fields of literature, music and engineering are noteworthy, as  he is a self taught pianist and also writes fiction. He remains grateful to his wife and two children for the unconditional love they bestow upon him.

Bio: Angelee Deodhar, an eye surgeon by profession is a haiku poet, translator, and artist.
She lives and works in Chandigarh, India. Her haiku/haibun/haiga have been published internationally in various books and journals, and her work can be viewed on many websites.

Reviews of Journeys 2015, an anthology of International Haibun edited by Angelee Deodhar can be read here and

Thanksgiving can be any day of the year as Angelee and Mary Jo Balistreri remind us in their collaborative haibun.


All afternoon, the robins come, six, seven at a time to push and shove each other till one, fully immersed in the birdbath splashes all the others. Two wait patiently on the railing for their turn. Nothing like this has ever happened and it is impossible for us to leave our places at the window .

Later, with the sun low in the sky, the water’s almost gone. The birds keep arriving We fill the feeders and refresh the almost empty bath. Forgetting this is their world and we are visitors… we wait… we are still waiting.

campus pond-
late afternoon shadows
departing geese
Collaborative haibun :
Title and haiku Angelee Deodhar
Prose Mary Jo Balistreri

Mary Jo's poem encourages us to remember the beauty of Paris although recent events may still have shaken you.

     Under a Canopy of Golden Chestnut Leaves

Across the Seine, Notre Dame rises flushed
by sunset’s antique brush. My husband pours
Champagne into fluted glasses. Bubbles burst.
We relax, a crusty baguette, wedges of Brie,
apple slices. Our eyes track amber

moving across the water, soft strobes
from houseboats and the Bateau Mouche.
Small liquid lamps that bob in river wakes.
A candle on the table flickers. It’s autumn
and romance lingers on our lips.

A spell’s been cast and we are wordless.
Solitary. Braided. Neither here nor there.
Awareness hangs on a hinge as he refills
the glasses. We listen alone. Thoughts
ribbon among owls distant cries, voices

muted by water. Retreating footsteps
on cobblestone. Quiet. Fleeting touch of breeze
on my cheek. Only Our Lady’s stones
across the river, solid, substantial, cast gold
into the night sky, clear and weightless as sleep.   


I have to start the music off with "Parisian Thoroughfare."  This version is by Arturo Sandoval:

Here is Sandoval's version of "I Remember Clifford":

Here Sandoval performs "Night in Tunisia" with Dizzy Gillespie in Havana:

I'll finish with something new, a cover of a song by Taylor Swift:

I hope that these songs inspire you to write a poem for the fall/winter contests:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

'Tis the Season part 2

'Tis the Season also for end-of-year awards.  Choosing nominees is often difficult, but it is also fun to go back and look at work from the past year.

This year I nominated some work for the Pushcart Prizes.  My students in ENGL 101 convinced me to select Catfish McDaris' "Sweet Jesus":

I also chose Charles Clifford Brooks III's "For Dad" although his "Promise for Momma" is also wonderful:

Not only did A.J. Huffman win Thelma's Prize (Spring 2015) for "The Barbie Formerly Known As" but I also nominated her poem as one of the six:

I also chose Miriam Sagan's "Etudes":   You may also know about her blog, Miriam's Well.  It is well worth exploring:  I am also intrigued to see that she teaches poetry online as well!

Martin Willitts, Jr.'s "Letting Her Hair Down" is another stellar poem, part of his series inspired by Andrew Wyeth's Helga drawings and paintings:

I nominated the multi-talented Angelee Deodhar for her haibun "Grandparents' Day":
To learn more about haibun, take a look at an anthology that Angelee recently edited:

Congratulations to all Pushcart Prize nominees from The Song Is...

In addition, having heard about the anthology Bettering American Poetry, I nominated Catfish's moving poem "Elizabeth"
and Lynne S. Viti's "Harp Music"

Congratulations, Catfish and Lynne!

In the meantime, the fall/winter contest will be open until at least December 30.  Poems inspired by jazz musicians born in the 1900s and 1910s and by Latin jazz are welcome!

Here is some Danilo Perez to inspire you!

Monday, November 30, 2015

'Tis the Season

I meant to post Donal Mahoney's essay during midterms, the craziest time of the year, but I've been falling further and further behind. (The picture above is a typical scene as I grade papers and Thelma guards them.)   So here is Donal's essay during the headlong rush to the end of the semester.  Enjoy!  

He’d Rather Be Carrion than a Vulture

Perhaps young writers today who hope to write poetry or fiction while teaching at the college level might profit from my experience years ago when I had the same dreams. I was finishing a master’s degree in English, hoping to go on for the doctorate, and then teach as a professor of English at a college or university, and write poems for the rest of my life. Maybe a little fiction as well, I thought, after reading J.D. Salinger.

Then I attended my first English Department holiday party for faculty and staff at my university. I was invited because I had an assistantship that required I teach two courses of rhetoric a semester in return for remission of tuition and a small stipend. The professors and their wives were all there and this was the first time I had seen my teachers outside the classroom environment. 

The profs were a gracious bunch, all from good stock, and I was not particularly gracious nor from stock similar to theirs. I was the son of immigrants from Chicago where everyone was rough and tough and hard to bluff, or so they thought, and spoke a language riddled with balderdash and buncombe. All I had in common with most of my professors is that I, too, could write and spell.

As the party progressed, I mingled as best I could and talked with several professors who had guided me through Milton, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Old and Middle English, all the usual courses required for the master’s degree. All I had to do was finish my thesis. It was a barn-burner in gestation, tentatively entitled “Ralph Waldo Emerson: His Concept of Skepticism and His Doctrine of the Infinitude of the Private Man.” 

It was a hybrid piece, the spawn of two papers I had written for a class in Emerson. I needed to write an introduction, middle and conclusion, provided I could find some way to marry the two papers that had no discernible connection. Apparently I succeeded because months later the prof who oversaw my thesis told me in all seriousness that although he disagreed with my conclusion, my thesis was accepted. 

At the party, however, the profs did not yet know I wanted to go on for the doctorate, teach and write poems. I had had by then perhaps 12 poems appear under a pen name in the university literary magazine, typical juvenilia for a poet starting out. For some reason, I knew using my own name would not have been a good thing. But I did not yet understand why in light of my goals I should be more interested in writing and publishing literary criticism in scholarly journals rather than poetry. I knew, however, that was the way to get ahead in any English department. “Publish or perish” was the motto of the time and probably still is today for anyone who wants to move up over time from assistant professor to full professor. 

As the evening wore on, I finally sought out the chairman of the department. I had never had him for class but knew that his specialty was Victorian literature. He was a nice man who would have a big voice in whether I might get financial help to go on for the doctorate. To the best of my memory, student loans were not available at the time. My father’s hard work had made my first two degrees possible and I would never have asked him to pay for another one, although the assistantship I had for the master’s degree had lessened the load on him. 

The chairman asked about my plans and I told him about my desire to get the doctorate, teach and write poetry. He was obviously taken aback and asked if I had given any thought to writing scholarly papers. I said I was more interested in writing my own stuff. This obviously failed to reassure him that I might be a good candidate for the doctorate and he tried to help me understand why. 

He began by explaining that while writing poetry was a noble pursuit it was not a good way to earn a living teaching English at a university. Writing and publishing literary criticism in scholarly journals was the way to get ahead. I would be wasting my time if my intent were to write poetry or fiction. He was kind and honest and did his best to set me straight. To this day, I am thankful to him for doing that.

But even if I had thought of it at the time, I doubt that I would have said what would later come to mind as to why I was not a good fit. But I knew I would never want to write about what someone else had written if it weren't a course requirement. I wanted to write my own stuff or, quite frankly, write nothing at all. 

I don’t think it was a matter of ego or pride although that element had to be a factor. I had written enough long papers to take two degrees and I had had my fill of that kind of thing. To be sure, I thought certain types of writers were called to write serious literary criticism and their efforts could be helpful to scholars. But I was not a scholar in the traditional sense and not cut out for that kind of writing beyond the classroom. 

Years later, when asked by someone else why I didn’t want to write criticism, I said I would rather have poems of mine be carrion in the grass rather than be the vulture who drops down to eat them. I no doubt found those words deep in my satchel of balderdash and buncombe. 

I never did go on for the doctorate and I think that was truly for the best. I worked mostly as an editor and writer for years with a late foray into raising money for charity. That also tapped my love for words. Nothing quite like trying to convince the wealthy to dig deep to help the poor. Some give willingly when the case is presented. With others, metaphorically speaking, a toilet plunger helps unless you point out the tax advantages. 

On my own time, I have done fairly well writing poetry, fiction and essays. It’s been an interesting life in that regard and continues to this day. Hundreds of students have also benefited from never having to hear me lecture on Dryden and Pope, had I taken the doctorate. I never did like couplets and probably would have said so at the wrong time. That probably would have been as politically incorrect as writing poetry rather than criticism while a member of the English Department at a good university.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had fiction and poetry published in print and online publications in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among them are The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey).

Photo of Donal Mahoney by Carol Bales

I also want to include Will Mayo's Thanksgiving poem since this is also the holiday season.

My Stomach Is Full


Will Mayo

And yet I am hungry.

I have eaten of the whole grain fields,
the rice in some lonely lotus pond,
the trees in evergreen verdure.

And still I am hungry.

I have eaten,too, of small ones by the lake,
of lovers holding hands in a yellowing sunset,
of dawn upon an Eastern horizon.

Still I am hungry.
And my stomach growls for more.

I wish to eat of canyons in the West,
of Tokyo upon an early rising,
Moscow and Kiev upon a dusty kiosk.

I wish to eat of you by my side,
holding hands upon a lover's lake,
never wanting to let go.

I am still hungry.
And my stomach makes room for more.

When I am grading papers, I like to listen to Jimmy Smith's "The Sermon":

His "Stormy Monday" is also appropriate:

Here he plays "Watermelon Man":

I'll finish up with his "Midnight Special":

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Allison Grayhurst

From the Corner of My Eye

Torn from the spirit proclaiming,
and now revenge has abducted the anchor of
my feeble wisdom, has cut my coffin in half,
punishing with the anguish of duty and survival first.
Again I sing, disciplining myself
out of the clutches of madness, and
the dialogue of infants I hear in a terrible
dream that blames my rage on all the living.
I am yielding to the charms of my enemy's poison,
to the aftertaste that promises an antidote
but gives only a look in the mirror or a bath towel in the morning.
I am grieving my imprisonment, welcoming
the nightmare because resistance is but
a shadow struggling against a real thing. I am
taking the canopy off my bed. I am gleaming with
guilt and the sheen of ingratitude.
Forward is the highest goal, to keep moving
in spite of words like 'freedom' and 'happiness',
in spite of our nature and our greed to
accumulate, to be outward looking for distinction,
or to obey what is in place because it is all
our private thoughts can explore. I made a sea creature
with clay and two hands. I kissed a cloud
with both eyes open. Let the world be crowned with 
its two-week-vacation glory. Let my hourly wages
get the better of me. I am fixing to fail. I am reaching
for something strong like belief. And over my shoulder,
I see a gift of a thousand roses.


I will hold you one more time,
I will not be afraid of your passing.
We will bond on the eclipse of your life,
our eyes locked in gratitude and unspoken
Thank you for sharing my home, for being
a part of my family. For so long, I missed you.
For so long, we have loved one another with
unsurpassed equality and depth. Your gentle intelligence
has carried me through many storms. Just
to be with you, sometimes, was all I needed. This one,
I will have to walk without you. I will have to say goodbye,
my sweet and perfect soul, goodbye my pet panther,
goodbye my many-lifetime friend.
We are lucky to have loved one another.
We will join again where there is no bleeding,
no dulling of the skin. Bless you, go easily into God’s arms,
go freely: You have loved. You have been loved.
You are eternal.

My Love is Waiting

In the bald winter
where only the cold grows,
my love is waiting.
Strands of sorrow like
straw stream from his fingertips,
and his clothes are the shade of indigo,
resurrected by his constant desire.
Clouds clear at his feet and coffee is poured
on his behalf whenever his hands need warming.
He is sheltered in the alleyway garages, takes his cue
from the pigeons. His legs are long,
like candlesticks they stretch across January streets.
My love is waiting for the blanket of my flesh, waiting
to salt his emptiness with my touch.
He watches from the balconies.
He is mad, ruled by the erratic radiance of music.
He is waiting on the branches of the elm,
waiting for the night to clear,
waiting for my heart to open and claim him
like a birthmark.

Entrance Door

You stand at the entrance, robbed and dazed,
alone with the rain.
Your school is poor, much like water on a grave,
it cannot restore the yellowing clover. But I believe in you,
in the parting of your eyelids and the outpouring
of your creativity.
I saw your eyes, written with the depth of the wind.
Your sorrow is not easy,
but the power of it within you
will play out into an unimagined liberty.
A longed-for communion
will possess you and bring you barefoot out of exile.
I don’t know why this disappointment must claim victory
or why joy and intimacy
were not open mouths, parting, to match your ageless purity.
I don’t understand the burning, the collapse, and why
the Earth is so hard. But I understand you,
and what a blossom of magic you are.
You are meant to know this sorrow before
you can be happy. You are meant to dance out your grief,
your rage, the incapability
of others. Balance yourself here. I will help you.
I will kiss your hand. This is not random. Disaster is yours.
But the animals know, and I know, you are close
(so very close)
to the last release before

Interval of Parting

I will keep quiet
when my sea is sucked into the sky,
keep quiet about my hundred
strokes that take me nowhere, quiet
about my anguish and requiems.
We will be different - for now, we will
not know one another so completely.
For now, I must go it alone, my struggle hidden
except in prayer and solitude. I will build my own nursery,
bandage my wounds until they are no longer visible.
I will sleep close to the angels, feel my only safety
in their ethereal arms.
I will turn even further to God, depend
on only God to love me fully
and see me through - through this wilderness
of leghold traps, of paper promises
and cowardly predators, through this funnel
that tightens and seems to have no end, through, without
showing the damage of this fishnet, without you,
you who are going on your own journey and cannot help me here
any longer.

Bio: Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 675 poems published in more than 315 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published eleven other books of poetry and six collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press in December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series in October 2014. More recently, she has a chapbook Currents pending publication this Fall with Pink.Girl.Ink. Press. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay;

            Some of places my work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary MagazineSouth Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, New Binary Press Anthology; The Brooklyn Voice; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review. 

I'll close with some music.   The first song is John Coltrane's "Equinox":

 I'll finish with Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain":