Word Poetry

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Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Alan Albert


Clouds

You can't cut clouds
out of the room. Their wisps
get snarled in the thick
brown arms of the shag
reaching up for promise
in the ceiling.

They disassemble,
their particles
becoming a part of
the dinner mats
and the bathroom air
and accumulate
invisibly on beards
of entering men.

Their drizzle
seeps into the skin
and coats the walls
like a tablet.
When windows are opened
everyone leaves in the wind.

The Haze


The roads are long.
They are highways.
No one crosses the street
for fear of being hit.
The roads do not go in
to the mountains.
The mountains are protected
behind the haze.

The helicopters come
to the Marine base.
They land there
in the haze.
The Marine base
looks like a mirage.
It is an experience
to see the huge hangar
in the charged haze.
I don't have to do anything
today. The haze takes over.
I am no one.
The haze takes over.
If I were burning leaves
as I did as a boy,
the smoke would mix with the haze
and the haze would darken.

Yesterday, I saw
the bright doctor.
He had haze in his kit.
I coughed and he told me
he could give me some haze
and nothing else.
I accepted that
and sat down when he left.

At night, the empty sky
replaces the haze.
The muscles in my back
tell me I am holding on.
The stars break through the skin.
The stars are walking with their canes.
They are never holding on.

Columbus and the Poem


The poem was discovered late in 1492,
just after Columbus discovered America.
It was found just after his boat
hit upon the bottom and skidded to a stop.
It was recorded he said,
"I have found somewhere, and a manner in which,
to put my thoughts, and in a way only I can do."
It was recorded he was already holding a notebook
in his hand when his boats touched the future.

He had been looking for spices, paprika
and especially appreciated
the red angel of his clothing.
He thought himself a conquistador
and loved the loft of the sails, their generous billowing.
At night he would gather himself and sleep
under the fading light and then watch the sails
again appear. He went all the way
on the ocean, it was recorded, to pinch himself alive.
He was the first person
from Europe to do so.
It was the discovery of the most familiar
that made him happiest, even beyond
the Queen's kisses. Although happiness then
was thought of only as somewhere to sail to,
something to bump into after going wrong for a very long time.


The Janitor's Life

I hate to tell you but I see myself
in the janitor's life, parked off
the beach by a few blocks, typing poems
in my apartment on the 2nd floor.
I hate to tell you this since it seems
you see me in some college teaching,
or in some other job where I'm clean
and safe. I see myself coming home,
after eight hours of dusting, waxing, cleaning,
finally resting, listening to the water,
glad about the pastel walls of my building,
letting every friend I know progress
toward offspring and money. I know
this may not set well with my family,
who you are, but I can tell you I work
in an office now and wear a tie
and tie my shoes and smile
when necessary and "get to work."
But I feel as a janitor must feel,
sweeping things up, going over chores,
reporting to the boss. And the water
is pretty on the shore and pretty
on the boat bows at night when it looks
like young ghosts with light wands.


The Invention of Loneliness


There were three German
physicists reportedly working on the problem
at the same time. One of them,
Krupp, came up with a way
of leaving the tears out. Another,
Russell, was beginning
to understand sweets
and their relationship
to recovering. Duncan,
the third, discovered a new
filament which would allow
a more reliable depletion
of energy. The person
actually credited with the invention
of low-cost marketing
of what we now refer to
as The Big L, was Edgar Bullough,
a worker at Crythe, a small
manufacturing plant in
Wilmington. He had found a way
to affix invisible ribbons
of sadness to the newborn.