Word Poetry




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Sample Poems by Martin Woodside


Children pile chestnuts on park benches
old men sort through morning glories
pinching the buds. Up through the crown
of trees glutted and gorged
the revolution is half finished.
You poor nature poet, cannot name
the spent trees outside our barred windows
the way nights here loosen and stray leave
our bodies tangled a catalog
of wounded nerves.
Leaving fingers on spines, loins, flanks
-naming parts like a butcher-looking for muscle
soft muscle, for heat, sharp teeth
against the back of the neck gusts
of wind railing the hard lines between
windowpane and window frame.
We will learn how to be here.

In this City

there's a certain way to shake your fist
at cars that nearly run you down in the road
but not the way that old man does
railing away at the traffic the signage
wires blown down after the storm
railing gentle continuous
fingers linked loosely palm soft
like he's cradling a baby bird-a chickadee
or some other kind of symbolic bird.

Some passers-by say he's an oracle
he's just been evicted
taken off disability and some say
it's all a bit much.
But what will they say in eternity
as he obliterates the seasons
chafing the cosmos what
will they say when he's there
every damn morning
caressing the sky with his fist?


Every few days it snows or stops
snow always gentle never lashing
or searing snow that takes
a looping motion soft around
the eyes painting the cheeks.

Every few days it snows or stops
and we all look up to see a scoundrel sun
yawning limply over freshly packed gutters
rusted plows huffing down
the rapt boulevards a scoundrel sun
in a cloudless sky.

In its wake we contemplate sheets
of ice on the sidewalk dogs on
the heating grates angles that form
between iceberg and eave.

For now trash is trapped under ice
stretched like specimen cells on platen
glass. For now all that matters is the way
people walk steaming down frozen sidewalks
without ever falling or failing
to notice certain holes in the sky
the days moving there first one
then the other back and forth
falling gently in the snow.

Viva Romania

The Romanian girls say that we're ugly which
they say in Romanian, which I don't understand.

But you wouldn't lie to me just with me and
this kind of heat is not brutal or brooding but

sharp and well polished, a thick gauze of clouds
lacquered with sun. The street's a crude dream

loose talk and lewd women. Too much and too
loud. I close the blinds, leaving husband and wife

hear the honeymoon isn't over with a kiss
that you whisper the room tremble-thin

in a language we blundered; the comely distortions
of your mother tongue.

The Brides all Come Here

And the light is just right with the ladies
lined up though the mood's a bit moldy

soaked through stunted cobblestones and clumps
of moss seeping in the dun walls of the basilicas

maiming the faces of saints. The brides deserve better upstaged by the scenery, sharing the spotlight

with the dirtiest birds in town.

Later, the night drips slowly, lush green hills tobacco fields sprawling. Listen

to the engine tap rap, rev up and turn. At the edge of town we've near left the picture, still slow

enough to catch the sweet hint of cigar. This is
a vacation so that's what we'll call it, not an escape

or a blessing.