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Lines Remembered & Other Poems

By Doug Tanoury, dtanoury1@home.com

Lines Remembered

I remembered
The first lines
Of Elliot's Four Quartets:
"Time past
And time present
Are contained in time future."
As the dark clouds gathered
And the rain began,
Splattering the concrete,
Striking the grasses,
Making each blade
Tremble with the impact.
And in the storm born confusion
I saw my past and present open
Like a simple book
Of children's prayers,
As the rain soaked in
To be transformed
Into growth
And a fragile greenness
That sways
In the weakest breeze.

 

On The Right Side of God

At the Second Baptist Church
Black angels in stained-glass windows
Guard the front entrance

And I think that God so loves diversity
That Cherubim of color
Wearing golden garb

Sing Gospel that makes the Saints
Slap their sacred knees
And I know that Seraphim sing the

Blues so plaintive and compelling that
Bare feet that bear the wounds of nails
Tap the holy floors of heaven

In perfect time with the rhythm
And every Saint and Martyr sways
On the right side of God

 

Agamemnon Has AIDS

I met a man who wore
The death mask of Agamemnon
And he told me "That death
Like every other moment of your life
Is something that happens to you

I came in contact with the body fluids
Of Iphigenia without surgical mask
Or gloves and I had unprotected sex
With Achilles and made love to
Clytemnestra without a condom"

And all of Mycenae whispers
Every woman's husband
And every man's wife
In irony fitting Greek drama
The hero home from Ilium

To bedsores, lesions and conspicuous
Consumption ravaged now and stricken
With the strictly modern malady
That's turned him suddenly old
Like King Priam and just as sad

 

East Grand Boulevard

Lined with run-down and ram-shackled centers for assisted living
And aging mansion in various states of disrepair and dereliction
A city street in faded glory
Where old people sit on wide front porches
Talking together on summer afternoons in late August
Watching the traffic pass as they had in June
Until the sun sets across the street
Behind the building with a burned out roof
And beyond the elms in full foliage
Until they are taken in
Still talking in low voices
Soft as the sunset colors
That paints the purple sky in twilight
And fade slowly into silence
As darkness grows

 

Barstool Science

I know now that the world spins
Like a maraschino cherry or pimento olive
Skewered and suspended
On the sharp end of a swizzle stick
That is topped like a palm tree with
Fanning foliage

Indeed I have seen the sunrise
Glistening amber in the east
Newly liquid and
Deeply golden
Like a double Manhattan
Dawning in a tall glass

As a television speaks inanely
In the darkness above the bar
I do not listen and
I do not watch but study the
Neat rows of square whiskey bottles
The long fluted and ornate necks
Of the liqueurs

I know now that if she were here
I would lean to speak in her ear
Breathing through her hair
And smell a trace of citrus
The slightly sweet fragrance
Of old cognac
That moves slow
Like syrup on my tongue

 

Epicures and Me

My jeans are too tight and
I struggle with their buttons
She says I've gained weight
And I say my belly and rolls
Like the seven hills of Rome
Are a are a landmark of the
Beginning and the end of me

She says too much fat around
My heart as she finds food stains
On my toga and I hear the lictor
Whisper in my ear remember
That you are a mortal man as
I see the last light of sunset
Shining tonight across the Tiber

 

Frontporch

If this poem had legs and feet
It would walk to her house on
July afternoons

When the sidewalk is baking
Hot and dandelions punctuate
Long lawns

If this poem had arms and hands
It would hold her on her frontporch
Painted In

Cool shade from the maple tree in
The front yard it's leaves and branches
An arbor

If this poem had palms and fingers
It would touch her face as it kissed
The quivering

Shadow of a maple leaf on her cheek
As she's embraced by a poem on
Her Frontporch

 

Neanderthal Love Poem

The Neanderthal they say
Dropped bunches of wildflowers
Into graves when burying
Their dead

So creatures with sloping brow
And hobbling gait indulge such
Simple gestures for complex feelings
Of love

Indeed had they no language beyond
Cries and tears to express their loss
So I will give them words
Shape them

On mouths and twist their tongues
To say do not leave me here alone
I went without you to a hillside
To pick

These flowers and I listened for
Your steps behind me and
The sound of brush bending as
You walked

Feet fall silent and you leave
I placed flower blossoms on your
Eyes but you do not wake or stir
Asleep now

Tonight I will sit with my back
To the fire wishing I could show
You one last gesture that says stay
With me

 

City Sonnet

Lying in the backyard hammock
On summer nights still and quiet,
Cool and dark, stretching out under
The pear tree like the bones of
St. Peter resting under the altar
Of a big Roman basilica.
Neither holyman or saint,
Just a secular hermit hiding from
The world, from love and life,
From time and change, hiding from
Death that knows no right time,
Wrong time, beg your pardon, 'scuse
The interruption, but always barges in
Like someone selling Britannica door to door.


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