Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the category “Poems”

Mother and Son

Mother and Son
After the arrest,
not a word is said of her,
and he is sent away
to an orphanage
from which
he eventually escapes,
a stowaway on a steamer
that brings him back,
lice-infested in tattered clothes
with a rash that makes the skin crawl.

After his return,
he’s told she’s away on business,
and he is sent back
until another escape
finds him living in the ventilation shaft
of a railroad station
outside of which he begs and steals.

After being caught,
the orphanage where he returns
has lost all patience
and sends him to a military school
where they discover
a problem with his heart,
and he is forced instead to work
in a factory breathing in toxic fumes
and eating wallpaper paste to stave off hunger
until he flees at night
across the Gulf of Finland.

Amused

Amused
In the middle of the night
you sit together
and though they stand
and shout,
you are calm in each other’s presence
and amused
as they try to make sense of the world
like that inhabitant of the isle
where are you soon to dock.

The Miraculous

The Miraculous
His appearance must have put the
hiring committee off
as did his accent
and place of origin.

All the questions put to him
were answered
most unsatisfactory.

No, not suitable at all.

Fallen

Fallen
The claws of a screeching cat pierce
a soul whose blood slowly drips
on the newly fallen snow that drifts.

A Life

A Life
Days you never knew.
The farm they grew up on.
The dust and hazy summer afternoons.
The bridge you crossed
and on a New Year’s Eve
slid across.
The planes that now land and take off.
There is so much you didn’t know.
You think about this all
as you read about
a life you hardly knew.

A Precarious Existence

A Precarious Existence
The absence
I feel
is similar in kind
to when
you left your family
behind
for the jungles
where you lived
a precarious
existence.

God Forbid

God Forbid
In theological circles
I imagine there is a word
for lack of grace.

Having put away my robes,
I am no longer privy to it.

Certainly this is how
he appears to me.

Someone like an
Antiochus Epiphanes
famous for his lack of décor.

A PC Mao Suit

If everyone believes
what they’re told,
then they have entered childhood,
which is fine while it lasts,
but weren’t we advised to put away such things
when we were older?

Being re-educated
is not what it’s cracked up to be,
and my desire to be reformed is
I will say without a straight face
marginal at best.

So find me a peasant
who has learned not to read,
and let him do his best
to develop in me
a fashion sense

Bereft

Bereft
A face bereft
of all emotions
raises his hands
through which
the arteries of life
once flowed.

The New Year

The New Year
In that spacious house
near where the gangster dwelled,
America’s most wanted in
a Fedora hat,
the two of you sat,
the new year having earlier been ushered in
elsewhere,
and from your treasure chest
you both took a few,
and with the music
already soothing
the resolutions sworn off,
you watched the wind
blow snow about
the frozen lake.

A Sliver of the Moon

For those interested, my new collection of poetry, A Sliver of the Moon, is available. As for further writing, I am hoping to have my second novel out by summer’s end. Now after that, it’s not necessarily silence, but I am certainly expecting things to be a lot more quiet around here. Think perhaps of those probes seeking evidence of extraterrestrial life. A new job in another country will just not allow the considerable free time I’ve had all these years.

The First Thing We Do

The First Thing We Do
Jack would do
anything
for anyone
you were told.

So you waited
in his lobby
interested to hear
what information
he might provide.

From a plaque on the wall
a Bible verse stated
obedience to God
would bring about good governance.

A painting of Washington
kneeling on the banks
of the Delaware
hung.

As for your mother,
she’d already crossed
the Rubicon.

Jack’s secretary,
who’d earlier
said
her father, too,
was suffering from
dementia
and had expressed such
understanding,
told you coldly,
“He can’t see you.”

No jot and tittle
means sympathy’s
in short supply.

The Bane of the Blooming Moon

The Bane of the Blooming Moon
1
In a cottage
at the end
of a trail of tears
a newborn baby
was cradled in a doctor’s arms
unresponsive.

Beside himself
with terror,
the father snatched the boy,
and raced outside.

With an axle
he crushed the icy lake surface
and plunged the child in.

It came out crying.

2
The old rancher
with uncouth manners
looked upon the tiny infant
and predicted its demise,
but it had other ideas
fighting off the convulsions
that wracked his body,
the temperatures
nothing but a bathtub of ice
could dispel.

3
With his parents
traveling the vaudeville circuit
he slept in the drawers of cheap hotels,
was cared for by chorus girls
backstage.

At seven,
his mother,
the singer,
took a very public dose
of mercury
and
lived
though her marriage
and career
ended.

4
As he retraced the steps
to his ancestral home,
clouds dispersed
and the moon transformed
the disconnect
between words and thoughts,
shadows at the bottom of his soul.

The church bells chimed
across the makeshift bases
set up in a field
of weeds and thistles.

Near the swamp
a wildcat’s back arched
to the sky
as if to ward off evil.

Our Mid-Month’s Poet: Jean Toomer

Storm Ending by Jean Toomer
Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears . . .
Full-lipped flowers
Bitten by the sun
Bleeding rain
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.

W&S Sketch II: The Crab Apple Tree

For those who don’t have Water and Silt, the poem I’ll be talking about can be found here accompanied by John Spiers’ drawing.

Raised in the suburbs, I knew only a little of the difficulties my parents faced growing up.  My mom’s parents were immigrants, and she was a child of the city surrounded by a mix of Irish, Italian, and French-Canadians, all struggling as best they could in a new country at a time in which things were terrible economically. My dad grew up on a farm so in many ways had it easier, and while only only eight miles from the downtown area, it might have been hundreds.

Since my maternal grandmother died when I was only seven,  I have few memories of the farmhouse with its ornate curtains and the sun pouring in through the windows. I can remember sitting on a slope that led up to the cornfields talking with a cousin. Another time dancing about as the marvelous seedpods from a maple twirled like helicopters as they fell. Near the large oak with the tire swing was another tree, and all about its trunk in a circular pattern were crab apples, which I examined to see whether they had holes before brushing one against my t-shirt and biting into it, tasting a tartness that remains with me to this day.

 

 

Our Mid-Month’s Poet: William Blake

The Tiger by William Blake

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Sketch 1: Water and Silt

Today’s poem can be found in my new collection or in accompaniment with John Spiers’ wonderful sketch.

My dad was a dreamer, a word that some people (not anyone here I’m sure) use dismissively. I never have.

He had many dreams and while this was not by any means the most important, it was one that had a direct impact on the way I view life.

All dreams don’t come true, of course. The rain does fall on the just and on the unjust.

Although my dad mainly made map and roads, he did on occasion put up buildings.  The particular ones in question were townhouses, which were not then the ubiquitous phenomena they are now.  There was every reason to believe the development would  be a success. Its location would be just a short commute into the metro area once the proposed freeway was completed.

But then the 1974 US recession took place and the freeway was delayed.

The comfortable life I had led was no more.

No, it wasn’t the Appalachian poverty you read about in Winter’s Bone but our new home was very old and in very bad shape, and though I always had something to eat, we ate what we could afford, and during that four-month period we consumed more eggs than we probably should have mainly because they came free from the ornery hens in the chicken coop in back.

It was difficult being uprooted, and I absolutely hated my time spent there. However, now that I’m much older (in fact, the same age as my dad was then), I can appreciate that the experience gave me an understanding I might not have had otherwise. Empathy is important as is a willingness to lend a hand.  There but for the grace of God go I.

 

 

Our Mid-Month’s Poet: Robert Frost

A Late Walk by Robert Frost
When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

Water and Silt

I’m happy to announce I’ve just published my second poetry collection, Water and Silt, on Amazon.  It’s cheap as dirt or perhaps even cheaper (Have you gone to a gardening supply store lately?).

Sketch 11: The Final Embrace

As those of you who visit on a regular basis know,  every month (okay, nearly every month) I write a little background on one of the poems in my first collection, Watercolors.  If you haven’t got it, it’s free. You can download it at Smashwords by clicking on the cover on the right or here at Barnes & Noble.  By all means, write a review.

Anyway, our poem this month is The Final Embrace.  It’s about learning of the illness that would eventually take my dad’s life and journeying back to him.

Before I got the news, I was sitting in my apartment, which had a wonderful view of the sea and listening to James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James. Because I didn’t have a phone (At the time, the waiting list for one was something like eight years.), my mom had called my next door neighbor.

Living in a relatively small city, I had to fly out from a larger one about two hours away. It was before the days of the Internet so I had booked my tickets through a travel agent. Unfortunately, I had found a very greedy one. While in the street with my suitcase waiting for my taxi, someone from the travel agency told me they’d made a mistake in the pricing and needed more money. I thought I’ll give you whatever you want – I’m not going to argue. And I thought how I would give all the money I had if only my dad would be well again.

Horn of Plenty

Horn of Plenty
Those that cleared
the fields
and planted
crops
vanished.

Let God be praised
for the plague
and
our
full plates.

Free Ebook (Watercolors)

Watercolors is free today through Friday.

I hope you’ll get it, read it, and if so inclined, review it.

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