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Sample Poems by Bob Stanley

In an Ordinary Winter

for Quinton Duval, 1948-2010

water fills the dark soil
in the wide plowed field
where a quiet man gazed out his window
listening to movements in the air
score of magpies and mockingbirds
under sun-filled western sky.

The birds remind him of floral notes
from a wine he tasted in another
sun-baked land alongside the woman
he’d still love today
if he could see her, touch her the way he did
for fifteen thousand days on earth—
Bourgogne Blanc, perhaps
hints of pear sailing alto harmony above
bone-dry gravel.

He’d weave all the warmnesses together:
sun, air, wine, Nancy, birds,
raucous calls and random flight,
with a goodly bit of himself-windy days,
humor, home-spun melody, always
calling out, ever-shifting trajectories.

What We Imagine

In your ancient, soft coat
you drift my way
oars dip water
hands cold
and a scent
I don’t recognize—
sun at your back
not quite smiling.

You bring
pickled herring
white in its vinegary silver

You bring
chopped liver,
onions raw,
squares of rye waiting
to be filled

you bring
peas in the silver tray

as if meals were
what holds a family
now and then, talking
as if talk mattered.

As if we’re fed
by a visit
in a dream.

You Don’t Love it Enough

for Dr. Art LaPierre

Sure, you’re singing strawberries,
now make those strawberries drip chocolate.
Your brain knows, but your mouth’s not
fast enough; make your face a fast fish,
fire beneath your breathing, lifting
jet from runway, full speed rising together
your harmonies carve a shape in air,
create a seam in the universe of sound,
not only channel the voices of sun and moon
but all the spheres, so when you sing
stars dance across the sky.

Into the Quiet

Close the book
slip socks again
onto sticky feet and
move back through
the long day
unravel evening so
food turns unprepared
and drive the sleep-eyed
afternoon in reverse
dis-order that
business lunch
ask waiter to de-
serve the Manhattan
clam chowder with regional
sales manager
unshake hands, back
out of meeting
rewind careful
with D on the drive—
two hours talking
except when silent
erase all that

So at nine in the morning
when the house was quiet
children at schools
Joyce on her own trail
to work hurtling forward
I stop
pen in hand
slowly begin
to move forward again
into the quiet
of reflection
in hope of finding
what it is I seek
when I do not have
to move fast
when I need not wish
to move backwards
as if I could stay
right where I am.