Word Poetry




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Sample Poems by Stephen Malin

Just Before He Pulls the Sun Across the Sky

one of the horse god's team
steaming and aflame
in slantstreaming green
spring light
first rays
of a stillborn dawn
stopping to show
know beauty like this stallion
nor how far our need reached
to find him
suspended in this
single moment


It is said of those, lost in mountain woods,
that conscious effort must be put to keep
upon the downward way; that, not on guard,
a few will start the climb again toward faces
sheer and white from where the ancient echo keens,
calling out of dark bone cages up
to cliff-slung, wind-swung places, into
mazes carved of rock and vapor, even
some who would as lief have stayed behind.


Called in from a lingering July twilight,
still high from kick-the-can and
tree-climb-express, at eight,
I was doomed for bed, but hungry
for the night's bowl of cereal
and hating to lose the last of the light
without a final climb. "What's your pleasure,"
my father asked, "up or eat?"
Desperate option--I fled
and went for the swaying tops,
branch and breeze,
the ground below forgotten
out of existence, the choice
an air that stirs the curtains
softly today sometimes
as I lie in bed at night,
swaying into sleep.

Deep Cover

half-filled with whooping terror
half with sunshine in a high state of polish
our tumult expanding as unsecret
agents bawling out from behind
darkly complicit trees
to career headlong around the bewildered yard
vanish under grinning hideout porches
pop through hedges shaking with glee
at shrieks of outrage from high-bred shrubs
and almost falling for the garden's plot
where shameless dahlias beckoned
from rumpled beds
but we spies immune
brown thin as levers
zoomed off abruptly
betrayed at top speed by gravity
and pitched into a dusty tangle
of twenty-second exhaustion
on the thrumming agreeable grass
countersigned by gasps of laughter
still flickering here
in this conspirator's smile
many assignments later

The Spring

As boys, of course, we had a place,
cloverful, unconscious of the road,
sloping into trees serene
and bank and stream and somehow
all ways hushed--except the daily train;
steam, and big enough not to intrude--
and where, oh where from where a spring
gushed clean numb pain by handcups
every time we drank.

Beyond ourselves, this silken green and secret
spring lent itself only to the tramps,
train-wise, fire-builders, fellow outcasts,
and since there it was summer
or it was not there, we soon defined
retreats--theirs most of air and fire,
ours of earth and water--
for with wordless tact, unseen at first,
as branches adding sunward reach,
the tramps moved upstream curve
to a lightning treefall bridge
that we would only visit in their absence,
nor ever touch the sallowed hanky,
tree-tied to the sun, nor where they knelt
by blackened ring of stones,
as they did not profane
our sodstick dams or half-built hut.
They gave the gift of distance,
leaving just an almost rustless cup
twig-hung by the spring
to sign their water rights.