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Sample Poems by Jay Paul


Saturday Night

I could stay up late.
Aunt Kate
liked the Hit Parade;
the radio played
around the brick house asleep
inside the creep
of ivy higher and higher where
upstairs
Jake and Millie talking came in from
their porch and a snare drum
from the fire house, then Chuckie Cook's bass
drum, a fife or two, and the dog named Nuisance
from the cemetery, and yes, I had
had
my bath and both eyes wanted to close
but on my elbows
I was leaning so near the screen
I could taste it on my tongue.




Living Close

Fire engine nights! The tall whistle
scything darkness to the tree tops,
the others in their shoelaces,
so much hurry street light
slides from their jackets.

Oh the wanting behind windshield
waiting to fog, oh the little fire
down the cigarette to his kiss!

His village lies fanning its pages. He
leans forward in his prescriptions
as soon as truck lights go
blinding branches and the fronts
of houses, and follows, unseen, close

enough to see what he must recite.



I Knew

"and never knew the loneliness of night"
--Noel Coward

A wolf was it-sideways
in the lane past the firehouse?
My brother wasn't born
so my father's voice had time
to play with my mother
and I had to shut my eyes
upstairs where the closet-
my clothes, my things in boxes-
could catch on fire, and while
the wolf moaned at the love
rising through the hairs
of his back, the fire whistle
on four braced legs could
howl as long as it liked.




Grandma's Canary


In the closet, Grampa's hand circled
to find the string. Electric light
threw his shadow against the brooms.

The Sunday it settled, I expected trembling,
the shame of frailty, but his fingers,
those intricacies, gave every bone
in my shoulder wild vigilance.

It was a time of milk bottles
left by somebody out of the dark.
In back, the burning barrel's flame
wanted eyebrows, the hair on my hand.

His head napped sadly by the radio.
Grandma'd find him when she covered the canary.
The Snyder men were slight, every one. And he
hardly enough to hold up pajamas and robe.

We kept our voices soft when the bread man
leapt up the steps. We had to listen
for Grampa in his bed,
tender around the heart and every window shut.