Jeff Spahr-Summers, US




Free Verse




a to z
my tongue
spelling it out
deep for ink
or maybe
i'll write
your name
over and
a poem
until your well
runs dry



Pantoum Four


Anything goes
On the road of life
I suppose
Lord knows whatís best

On the road of life
Unless I stray too long
Lord knows whatís best
I choose to travel light

Unless I stray too long
Because I believe in love
I choose to travel light
You canít hurt me

Because I believe in love
I suppose
You canít hurt me
Anything goes



playing the bass ukulele


this morning while thinking
about rocks and flowers
buddhism and poetry and
yes you i am wearing it out
the bass ukulele i mean
this morning my mojo is
as hot as banjo barkers
not thinking about blisters
on my raw plucking fingers
half way across the planet
i am entranced i am dazzled
i give in to sweet abandon



From Table Mountain

(on a sunny day)


The world seems an endless array
Of silent shafts of light dismayed
And uncertain in their sense if direction.

But I am above this confusion now
And can spray the light wherever I may:

down on the old fort in Cape Town proper
or on the maze of spiked ships in Table Bay
(distant twinkles from the eastern ledge).
or from the northern edge to bright forests
leading into suburbs a vague as the vineyards,
even south where Devilís Peak become streaked
in shadows of stray sunlight from the Atlantic ,
and facing west the Twelve Apostles begin to glow
like towering citadels reflecting down on Camps Bay
my school near Strathmore Road and my house
where later I will be flayed by the light myself.



kissing the sun


all my life i have craved shelter of darkness searching for a soothing morsel of
comfort a soft flannel blanket of twinkling stars to hold close to my skin to cover
my face clutch to my heart drag around behind me like a hesitant child at every
turn wanting to lay myself down sleep among sweet wildflower meadows pretty
petals licking my lips tender kisses of scented satin raindrops and finally i know
to stretch my arms reach out to the tingle and sizzle of the gentle lips of the sun



Letter to the Ravenwood King


Sometimes when I drag out of bed,
Bracing myself for taxi cab tag
Lie urbanites do,
I can still hear the roaring flood
Of ripe Colorado Pine
Smearing sawdust in my ears,
Tearing lumber from the Rocky Mountain air.

And sometimes I despair
At the loss of my ticket to the mills,
The irresistible thickets of thrills
For a boy earnestly employed
In selecting
Only the finest bedding for our mares.

You must have known that my childish delight
Was feeling for the pulse of a rancherís life.

And now
Twenty years later,
My wife stirs next to me.
Outside, winter slurs
Purrs over the lake, blurring the shore,
And the streets of Chicago
Sprawl helter-skelter, determined
To pick the choicest of shelters.
Just like you did
When civilization came peddling next door.
You packed up your family, divided your ranch
And crawled north to Montana ,
Settling on reservation land.

I wanted to give you a hand
But Africa was just too far away.

And did you ever understand
My lust for the dazzling array
Of sights around the world,
Or my taste of dismay with words
And how they sound to my ears?

So now Iím bound for life...
Bound for years to write
and recite my poems,
Like a lover might.

Can you hear the call?

To me itís deafening.
It echoes through the walls,
constantly questioning
Shouting about the wooden chest
You made when I was five.

The one thatís alive
With the pictures I need
To remember my life.





With the music on
All electric bass ní
Grunting guitars ní
Standup boogie ní
Heart thumping
Foot stomping funk
I want to play you
Sing all sexy sultry
Like Iím relatively
Certain you do



The Fog


The fog has cleared now.
Itís ambled off like a sleepy child
In search of a place to lie itís head.
And I see the trail stretched before me
As though in a dream, something forgotten,
Laid out like the yellow brick road.
And I know this is the way I must go.



oh! darling


make no mistake
i am here to sway you
i am persistent
best prepare yourself
for a long drawn out
impassioned siege



The Surprise


It could be;
a bug in the eye,
a pothole or
a speed bump,
a stop sign
upside down,
a period before.
it is realized
or an ant bite,
a mosquito,
one never knows
the perception of expectations.

It might be;
the woman
suddenly naked
in front of you,
black panties
on the floor
the sting of the zipper,
the whipped
cream pie all
over your face,
the dog

more subtle.



i want you (she's so heavy)


sugar sugar
give me some candy



morning paper


perhaps today
were on the same page maybe
the same article maybe
the same picture or
two hanging in the air
every word
free as houdini come
read the headlines
forget the trivial trap
flapping in the breeze like
plastic wrap I see
grapenuts and blueberries
lemon rinds on the table
in the distance green
tea and honey it
makes me want to
pick up the telephone
good news
is hard to find



Mother Has a Dream


That Iíll return home unmistakably wiser
For the tests on the road Iíve taken,
That Iíll shake the dust from my shoes
And gladly hang them to rest nearby
Like a runner winded by the race.
She hopes that Iíll tell her Iíve learned
Lessons more important than hers,
That marriage has tamed me, and
Iíve the nerve to change my stubborn ways.

She has a dream...
Where Iím installed near at hand,
My family sprouting all around me
Like weeds shoving through the walk,
Eating apple pie and Chevrolets.
She see my wife sharing her coffee
A cup at a time each morning
As my son grows wild out back,
While I sit alone on the porch
Writing stories and happy poems
To quench my restless heart
And forget the trouble Iíve known.



golden slumbers


i reach into my magical bag
digging for white socks
to wear to bed you know
over my cold cold feet
i pull out
a sock with a grey toe
i reach in grab another
a sock with a gold toe
these socks are stubborn
i reach decisively for a third
a sock with a toe both
grey and gold
these socks are clever
this is when i admit
i think of you



maxwell's silver hammer


hammer out your differences
hammer in the morning
hammer after noon
hammer after dark
hammer out solutions
hammer hammer hammer
hammer out frustration
hammer with a vengeance
hammer out the fear

she came in through the bathroom window

someone should have told her
there's not a sliver of difference
between torment and love
someone should have seen





the snow is melting in the high country
campers and hikers swarm up the canyon
little ants hauling their lives upstream
packed for every conceivable contingency
sometimes it is bitterly cold after dark
in the mountains better come prepared
to suffer indignities and accomplishments
of the sort that only lowlanders dream



i don't want goodbyes anymore


i learned to say goodbye so easy
from traveling all my life
from always packing my baggage
at night packing boxes
looking at maps
pitching my tent of a life near water
just a leaf kissed by whatever wind does prevail
across the planet i have reached
through the canopy of trees
peered over mountains and dived underwater
swimming through curiously
allowing goodbyes to stack up in my closet
little boxes of shoes never worn
ever again



next to me


in the cafe a man pours
his coffee onto his saucer he
slurps from it like a horse
greedily but slow
deliberate he
pulls a half-eaten bagel
from his tattered
yet magical paper bag
smears a psychedelic sort
of soft serve butter
with a flourish
across the top
and suddenly he
like a chicken/there it is
like a chicken
by the task at hand



Read the Global Report on South Africa by Jeff Spahr-Summers









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