Reversal of Fortune
That . . .
Today, I write:
no brain lock or writer’s block,
never idle or addled, plot upon plot.
Practical prompts, writing schedules,
I aspire − become renowned
as scribe of insightful stanzas,
toward tour de force status,
something deemed a Classic.
Endowing with endearing words
as adulating aficionados gnaw painted nails,
climaxing with thumbs-up . . .
a dedicated shelf in bookstores –
glitzy chain and Indy alike –
masterwork, magnum opus!
This . . .
Today, I fret:
soured lines glares back,
needing reweaving into resonance.
Fictions and goading prose whacked
into petite victories, hard to celebrate.
Suppress a passive verb.
Second coat of adjectives.
Laminate lame line with adverb.
Pious patinas . . . hocus-pocus. . . .
I declare to the image, make homage
to the muse, regret oft-committed sin.
Lesser pleasures depress ears,
joys chopped, smeared over tongue.
Eyes directed to shadowy things,
I re-pledge to slivers and scattered
scruples backsliding across my page.
On the Shelf
A single space gapes between
books on the shelf. Most fill
allotted slot unread, collected during
semesters, or cluttered years.
At attention behind framed photos
and dusty memorabilia, well-worn
volumes denote evidence of worthy
pursuits: immediate joys weighing
against passed lulls, token props
and notions. I shall vow to search
for another book to bridge the nagging
breach in my archive. Pillage boxes,
stacked and stored; or revive a weighty
transcript – not just a joyful passage –
one revered cover to cover. Drab
shrouds stare back, awaiting re-sorting.
Perhaps I could disguise the gap, dust off
a snapshot of a past-lover’s bleary smile,
on a blurry day: her unanimated eyes, our
overcast desire never dowsed, since hidden
spellbound in a drawer. Even a colorful vase
might stand in: yet bouquets become a nuisance
. . . the watering and required trims. . . .
Each shelf evokes slivers of the man I sought,
every boring binding a craving: pages
of extinct minutes, passed-on un-mended,
too easily supplanted with prattle. The gap
reminds me of my delinquent spaces
I must fill before true midnight turns,
reread awkward chapters only skimmed.
Revisit bookmarks, and retranslate
word by word to reckon a foreseen self.
Poems have appeared Poetry South, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, Potato Eyes, Georgia Journal, Main Street Rag, Iodine, and Pembroke Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals Vox Poetica, Pyrokinection, and The Blue Hour. His fiction has been recognized by the Norfolk Society for the Arts and published in Atlantis. His Second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (Press 53), was published in April of 2016, and a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He was awarded an “Emerging Artist’s Grant” from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); has been a featured poet on the North Carolina Public Radio Station WFDD; received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem “The Blood Watch”; and is a Pushcart nominee. Sam lives in Winston-Salem with his wife and has two children, and retired from his day-job of 32 years with the Winston-Salem Recreation Department. He is the 2017 President of the NC Poetry Society, and Past-President of Winston-Salem Writers.