By Jeff Shalom
Reading with a Pen
I would walk through your poem but your poem is the gray
uncertain curtains cloaking each phrase mined on each axis
spitting words at the grave the worms that are left
when there are no words to say the shovel that digs
through the ashes the flashes and razes the rubble that’s left
when the poem explodes I would swim through each wave
with dolphin delight surfing and whistling
with the echoes the echoes the accolades
the light sonic sensations after I’ve drowned
observing the swerving from under the ground
after I’ve drowned the page would be dry
the heart would be healed the tears all un-cried
I’d fly through your poem with my own pen in hand
taunting you haunting you kindness be damned
I wanted to know what it was like before we
caught every sunrise with a click
and before we added soundtracks
to our stories and liked each family
picture, before we battled banshees,
before bourbon scented boasts,
before we dueled with narcissists,
stacked skeletons, shed ghosts,
so I bought myself a notebook
and flipped away my phone,
ignored the morning’s warnings
and wrote another poem,
her auburn face a candle
her lips a blazing sun
her eyes a lighthouse beacon
keeping night from everyone.
After Gerald Stern’s poem “Waving Goodbye.”
Lucidity came slowly
untying a knot,
unraveling a braid
unto separate strands of not.
What else is here?
When two rivers meet, do they rush?
How does it feel?
When I’m alone,
it feels like flying.
I feel your touch.
I want to clear you, to solve you,
to steer you, resolve you,
but I’m nowhere near.
How does it feel
to feel it?
Oh, it’s a rush.
Source: the song “Paprika,” by Japanese Breakfast.
About the Author:
Jeff Shalom is a poet from Upper Nyack, New York. He has a writing minor from the Johns
Hopkins University Writing Seminars program. His work has appeared in Offcourse Literary
Journal and the Nyack Poetry Walk. He enjoys photography, music, sports, and storm chasing.