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Sample Poems by Peter Sears


High in the Bamboo

The cat likes to sit in the bamboo,
rest its head on its front paws,
and look out at the world.

I like to sit on the porch,
rest my head against the back of my old chair,
and watch the cat look at the world.

I look up into the bamboo, too,
glance back down at the cat
to see if it has moved.

It hasn’t. I try to catch it moving.
I don’t succeed. I squint to pretend
I am falling asleep. I fall asleep.

When I awake, the cat is gone.
I look back into the bamboo.
The bamboo tops move.



My Emptiness Rides in the Back Seat, Propped Up

Don’t look now but that’s my emptiness smiling at us
from the back seat of the car with the hat on that’s too small.
I give him hats that fit and he chucks them out the window.
Then flops over, face down,
probably laughing his eyeballs out. I prop him up.
Maybe I should get him like a baby chair.
Or tape him to the back seat.
Yesterday he caught me looking at him
in the rearview mirror.
That smile, I can’t take it.
I threw fresh mints back over my shoulder at him
as hard as I could.
I threw the towel at him that I use to wipe the windshield
and almost piled into a Dodge 4X4.
That’s it. I stop the car, take him out, sit him
on a wooden bench in the park, and walk back to the car.
Yeah, just leave him there.
He’s my emptiness, I can do what I want with him.
He’s such a baby. Maybe he should have to go it on his own.

Well, I barely get around the block
when I whip the car around and head back for the little whuss.
I mean, how long can he last on his own?
So I am getting out of my car
when I happen to glance at the back seat.
There he is, my emptiness, with one of those dumb hats on,
waving my car keys.



The Iraqi Women

From an article in “The Oregonian,” 07/05/06, A-5

The parking lot is filling with Iraqi women
here at the Baghdad City Morgue, just like yesterday.
Any minute now, a truck load of the dead is due in,

accompanied by the Americans.
Sunni and Shia slaughter one another and walk away.
The parking lot is filling with Iraqi women.

70 percent of the dead now are civilian.
Even children are common prey.
Any minute now, a truck load of the dead is due in.

The women wait to be told when they may go in.
Yesterday they waited all day.
The parking lot is filling with Iraqi women.

Wood scraps and paper they gather and burn
to drive the odor of death away.
Any minute now, a truck load of the dead is due in.

Here come the trucks! The gates swing open.
The women are told, Stand back, stay out of the way.
The parking lot is filling with Iraqi women.
Any minute now, another truck load of the dead is due in.



Postcard to Herself

The American girl of datebook breeding
was shocked to see that the beaches of Nice
were just rocks. Big ones. Hard, jagged
and not even one to sun on. Besides,
the Europeans were too European for words.
So, ruffled, she went sluffing by the sea,
sealed in the pink envelope of herself.
On tiptoes she stilted over poodle waves
and, once in, slicked back her hair
and backstroked along the beach,
then, floating, looked up at bright hills,
their high meadows, their cliff after cliff.
One hill was a fireworks of flowers
and a bird, rocking down a slope,
had wings of black glass. She watched
the bird fade out. Soon she would be home,
she thought, with only herself to tell about.