Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Barbara Strasko

First Day of School

In the city a child waits for me-
she's perched on her front stoop
unsure how she will get herself up
while her mother sleeps,

or how she'll keep track
of her brothers
jumping fences into quiet
yards they have no business in.

She wonders what route she'll take to avoid
the girls who have declared
they hate her more than anything
and how she will face the boys who
know her father's in jail and why.

She is not sure how she will
get permission to walk the noisy halls
to my office, or what I might say when
I read her poem on crumpled paper.

She only knows she will wait there,
and I know when I see her
I will remember the line of starlings

I saw this morning, making
new designs on wires all the way
down the bend in the road,

each new design another word
I gather from our sky
to give her.


Comprehending Lunacy

I wake in the wrong arms and tumble back into my own sleep.
We are as opposite as the smooth river and the broken stones.

I seek the designs of space between the arches of the bridge.
You see the strong concrete holding the entire weight.

I feel the silence in the view you get lost in, it holds me.
You somehow get through life without standing still.

I recognize your name, though it doesn't share letters with mine.
We only want a glimpse of what we have wished for.


Edward Hopper

Dauphnee House 1932

All windows shuttered
except one next
to the tracks.

Dried grass, also
yellow. Bone- like
telephone pole with no wires.

In the quiet of
the house, absence
moves toward presence.

A woman sleeps,
a man's brush keeping time
to her breathing



A Ribbon Around a Bomb

He paints her as gorgeous plant forms, flamboyant plumage, delicate tears, thick eyebrows the wings of a blackbird. Years before, red, red, blood flowed from the bus accident. A painter in the seat next to her had a pocket filled with gold dust, and so she lay naked with golden specks spilled all over her, naked and bleeding on a billiard table. In the hospital death dances around her, and her thick black hair sprouts on the white cloth of night, the pillow and sheets. The yellow blanket grows roots while vines climb the bed post protecting her contented sleep so that her skeleton rests on the canopy as she blends with clouds, legs hollow, one arm clutching lilies to her chest, always floating there, always asking-