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Sample Poems by Cynthia Atkins


Sacred Season

Somewhere at the furthermost tip
of this city, there is music alternating
in the falsetto jowls of wind. Teeth marks
into infinity, all the sawed wood
will be wheeled in for winter.
There is nothing more explicit than this:
a threshold of trees disrobed, a narrative
of light in a window, a paradisal of ice
like hung chandeliers. Transitions
are hardest for us. Detained by weather,
flux of indecision, resistance to change--
We are dug in for the night,
to dip bread in a crock of bouillon,
to age, to dismiss all the things
that enter our lives only peripherally noticed.
The fiery stars replicate
our fingertips, human failing
to let the errant intrusions
slip through them--as now, outside
after an interval of silence, the almost
inaudible sound of someone shoveling
the first snow from their walk.



Train Song

In the approach to all that is oncoming--
At the crossroads to longing, a pre-echo

plinth of steam, just before the longest man-made
noise. Each time, making it up as it goes along.

Almost a psalm, almost a heavenly invention
like the ancient dawn. Steel black bull, unstoppable.

Remember Louie Armstrong blowing,
as in the things that will never be the same?

A sailor left on a train of good intentions.
I watched him run to catch the red-eye.

Her red eyes were a host of possibility in goodbye.
Hands wave to the clothes-lines of our lost descendants.

At every depot, it pushes a doorbell
to the heart's yearning. We're overcome

by its sheer force of will, both urgent
and tranquil as the prism of a steady rain.

The stretch of impediments, our blinking eyes
railing past window boxes, boarded windows,

past all that stays in one place. Boxcars fanning out
to the fabricated land. We've lost the art

of junkyards in history's random chain,
derailed memories to non-sequential freight.

Weightless, I'll wait for its unhurried dirge
tracking the intangible ache, ghost-like

as wind-chimes catching a clack of wind.



To Say Aloud

Archaic.
Airplane in the sky,
and the elements whisper,
'how trite the weather is,
merely a thing of the past.'
Push a button
for a jet stream, a blizzard,
(harlequin. . . to. . . romance)
streak the windows with rain.
Make the moon serve us
a late night cup. Voila,
the cloth is whisked
to artifice--nude, empty box.
("Art, which is so last century. . .
Soul, which is so passe. . .")
To say aloud the things
that are too. . .?
Thank you, no, we'd rather not
admit where it hurts.
We'd rather push a button,
control the mental temperature.
I will navigate your destiny
to the best of our intentions.
Away with nostalgia and printed books,
things handwritten and the mail
as we knew it. Push the train's long whistle
out of town, (it shouldn't be
where it doesn't belong). Strangers still talk
about the weather getting stranger
all the time. Daffodils in February? Snow in July?
Easy come. . .Easy go. . . Let us touch
something sacred. For this:
Let our hands be tied.

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