No Room

Its raining outside
steam rising off pavement
around shadows in ragged coats
clustered in doorways
not everyone is in.
I know.
They pass a bottle between them,
pull knit caps down over their ears,
chew jerky stolen from the am pm
not everyone is in.
I know
They’ve fallen through cracks
cracking ice forming on puddles
in soaked shoes that will not dry til spring.
not everyone is in.
I know.
They are like salmon in the river
living off instincts, hearing some siren call
too irresistible….they have lost
their way..what God gave to Adam…
their ability to choose.
They will not find their way back
unless…..unless we decide that
everyone must be in.
I know

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Was it just a walk?

Or was it a stroll?

Was it a lumbering , limping biped

shuffling along behind the Boss?

Or was it a Bossa Nova?

The breeze could have been a

drummer’s brushes keeping them in step.

Maybe a bird could have sounded like

Bebel Gilberto.

Perhaps it was more of a dance,  with soft whispers,

in an outdoor ballroom…

eye-talk shared in twinkling glances.

Were they inhaling the moment

and sighing out through half smiles…carefully

placing each foot in concert with their partner?

Was it all business?

Or were they lovers?

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Spring has spoiled in the heat

and sweats now lubricating my catharsis.

I have nursed far too long deep within


A scene from Metamorphosis @ Linbury Studio (Opening 19-09-11) ©Tristram Kenton 09/11 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.comA scene from Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka @ Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House. (Opening 19-09-11) ©Tristram Kenton 09/11 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email:

this tunneled wood

and must rise now as even reluctant spirits do

when they go up to judgment.

I will not be food for birds.

I await some final surge,

some deafening crack of the whip,

then I will leave my larva past

and will name my wings Amnesia.

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As a boy, manhood stalked me

like a tiger…shadowy and fierce his approachman on a bridge

and short-lived the chase before I went down–

glassy eyes bulging and throat silent–

beneath  the violent overthrow of youth’s reign.

The cruel ordeal left me ravaged, unsure…thirsty.

I awake now (when I do awaken)

in an office full of books.

I have eaten all their pages and licked all their spines.

I have taken all their medicine…

but my dreams still bleed

and I wonder if I shall ever enjoy being a man

before I am very old.

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You in the Meadow


Keep custody of this vision:dandelion meadow

You among waves of dandelions–

sun-shaped lures bowing

in fluid dance, mounted by

the rascal wind,

his hot fickle breath

heavy against their spines.


They are martyrs ascending

in sheets of particle-light hung

like dusty window glass

across our secret meadow.


Lie down in them, tender-side-sup

beneath millions of weightless spurs–

tiny arrows let fly without aim.


Catch them like moths,

clustered puffs,  cupped in

gentle hand-traps,

then blow them–

Holy-Gold, …back to God.



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In Skyship we ride the cloud-swell,Montana Sky

dark, bulging hull swinging low

and snow-white sails stacked up high

camouflaged on the round cumulus waves.

“Just another pillowy pile” the tale we sell

to the ground below

(who very much wants to believe our lie).

“A curious formation” says Earth to her slaves.

And we laugh at that,

oh you should hear us laugh at that–

the Captain and I–

rolling on the sun-spattered deck, blue sky

in our faces, guffawing and chortling

at our incredible success,

then peering down, watery-eyed

over the starboard side at the silly ground–

desperately bending the shapes

to fit what it knows:

that there is no ghost-ship,

only more blue beyond a queer floating cloudscape

that will surely change into something else

when the westerly wind

inland blows.


First published in THE MAGE.

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The Ring

The ringIt is one long fingernail with pearl-colored polish

that isolates a single sparkling stone

on gray velvet cloth.


It is a widow’s hand

each pale finger ringed with stones–

stones that slide sideways and click

softly together when she picks up

his gold wedding band.


It is a tinkling sound

that escapes her steady discipline

when she reaches across the counter–

bracelets and bangles , charms and cabinet keys,

silver and gold , all together

like wind chimes.

But she is no gypsy.


It is that she is a true lady

with some word marked across her years,

perhaps a name–

what a flashback would reveal.


It is her brow

as it slowly worries into a fear.

“I am no psychic…” she starts, then stops,

suddenly retreating behind a blushed smile,

eyes cast downward at the floor.


It is her surprise.

“I don’t know why I said that…” she begins again,

her left hand pressing against the skin

at the base of her neck.


It is the tone of her voice

which becomes strangely casual,

“Why don’t you just get rid of this ring?

You’re such a nice boy.”


*first seen in POET’S GALLERY






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Edna Meyers

edna meyersEdna Meyers died in bed

her last earth-thought stuck on her face:

“a dream about gentle Jesus

or old Mr. Meyers” we think

after we have had our look

and looked away,

An unfinished expression

on its way to a smile

but frozen along the way

like a winter stream

whose ripples and wrinkles

are fixed by the cold–


Her last moment

has worked its way up

out of the dreamy dark

and into the morning sun,

but we cannot bear it.

We talk in whispers,

use a sheet to  cover it up–

like nakedness,

send it off the the mortuary,

to be erased,

keep ourselves up at night–

try to forget.


first published in Psychopoetica 1989

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The Wellspring

When I cup my hands

a certain waywell spring

(mug-shaped, so it’s sort of dark inside)

and if I stare long

into the hole,

my creased skin and fingers fade

and I can see the wellspring behind my

boyhood home.

It’s full of melted snow

with a patch of blue sky floating on the top,

and bright speckled pebbles

at the bottom,

looking like treasure.

You can get one

if you want to get an arm

and an ear wet  reaching.

I think about the knees of my pants

soaked by dew from those alpine grasses….

before it all starts slipping away

and seeping back

into that better time.


First seen in POET’S GALLERY

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My Sister Keeps The Cats


cat lady

My sister keeps the cats for me

down below;

down unlit concrete stairwells

with filthy walls croaking out

course graffiti in whispers

swallowed up by the dark;

down to the corner

where the boy is laid

wasting away on his pillow

lying awkwardly on his shriveled legs;

and past the smell.

You have to go a lot further

to get where the cats are kept.


The four white mamma cats

and all the striped kittens

and calico cousins–

they aren’t accustomed to visitors.

They would quit their sleeping

and romping and wrestling

as soon as you looked through the wire,

and then suddenly leap

each into his own cannister

arranged in order along the wall.

They would peek out at you–

just ears and eyes.

If you stare at them too long

they grow masks

and turn into ducks–

some people hate cats you know.

You would meet my sister there.

She’s been keeping my cats for years.


First published in SAMISDAT


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