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"The Last Time I Ran Away"
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River Poets Journal
A Journal of Poetry/Prose
Art & Photography
Below - Sampling of Poetry and Art from 2014 River Poets Journal Special Edition
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Poems by River Poets Journal Contributors
All future rights to material published on this web site are retained
by the individual Authors and Artists/Photographers
Music by Sandy Bender
This page was last updated: May 20, 2014
Judith Lawrence, Editor
It’s not like I meant to be gone
so long. My parents pissed me off.
I needed some air, and there’s no
law against chasing rabbits. Is there?
I have always been clumsy. Tripping
over nothing, falling
down a hole, landing in another world
shouldn’t be all that big a surprise.
the shrinking tea wasn’t my best decision,
but that was enchantment not inebriation,
and the man in that pimp hat was
really persuasive. His coat might have passed
as a uniform, and I needed
help. How the hell was I supposed to know
the freaking monarch was a lunatic with more
issues than a Jerry Springer marathon.
The important thing is that I made it back,
eventually. No visible scars. Maybe
just a few lingering nightmares about a cat
with an incessantly maniacal grin.
Things I’ve Never Known
There are things I’ve never known,
like lonely nights in Keflavik
and heated words in Memphis.
And there are things I’ve never touched,
like cobblestones and hazel hair.
An elusive dream, always ahead of me,
turning grass where I lie to brown,
and making walls around me far too close.
But I keep packing my one bag,
striving in hopeless pursuit
from town to town and room to room;
never giving up, never catching up.
Seeking stones and hair on lonely roads.
© Lennart Lundh
A city, not my own
It’s almost evening once again,
and I haven’t checked schedules, prices,
haven’t made a reservation. Small
flowered hedges go blurry lavender,
and across the street a neighbor’s daughter
sits in her yard: one shoe discarded,
white socks and hair bow askew, looking
like a painting by Renoir. Thelonious Monk
drifts from the apartment above. Home fades,
detail lost; brothers and sisters have children
I’ve never seen. My lease has expired;
each month I think I’ll put in notice,
but don’t. I asked the landlord if I could
build shelves in the alcove; Sure, he said.
Sure. Now every shelf is filled. He’ll likely
jack the rent for his next tenant, point out
built-in shelves, hand-waxed, hand-rubbed.
I should send a letter home, a photograph
or two. Maybe with Adrienne on the bridge
that reminds us of Giverny, Monet’s swirling
blues and greens. But, this neighborhood
has begun to feel like family. Later,
I’ll meet Brick, stroll the district, something
going on at every corner: music, mimes,
poetry. Look! Tiny petals fill the wind
like snowflakes. The neighbor’s child
picks up her ball, goes indoors.
I once set off for Arizona
after being worn out by my wife
for being drunk and a fool.
After screaming my head off
about how lousy life must be
with a terrible bastard like me,
I crawled into my beat-up Mustang
(drunker as Cooter Brown)
with only my guitar and a credit card,
determined never to return.
I only got as far as
the Motel 6 in Lafayette,
some fifty miles away.
I drove home the next day,
hungover and chagrined,
and swore to my wife
I'd never do it again;
so I don't drink
the hard stuff
©John Lambremont, Sr
Not one person sitting in these rows
of reclining seats knows who I am.
They nod, smile, make polite conversation.
When I stare out the window
at the expanse of blue seated upon cotton candy,
I feel the space beneath my skin.
I move from one city to the next,
stopping sometimes to savor
street scenes, museums, natural
wonders. I drink coffee
in cafes where I am allowed
to sit for hours, even if I order
only one tiny cup of espresso.
When loneliness sinks its blade
too deep, I join a group or say “yes”
to the traveler asking
if I want to get a bite.
Then comes this in-the-moment closeness—
And the drama simmering back home
bleeds into the changing sky.
No one had tree houses where I grew up.
At age nine or ten I scramble up the wooden telephone pole,
run away to my garage roof.
Cooing pigeons share my roost.
Cardinals’ red feather- paintbrushes blur past me.
A squirrel startles me,
its gray and black coat speckled like the shingles.
It inches toward me when it hears the wrapper tear
on the almond chocolate bar
I take from my pink and black bandanna.
I curl my fingers on both hands
then peer through the tiny holes like binoculars,
toss back my hair pretending
to be one of Charlie’s Angels spotting crime,
but really just scouting our neighbors’ tomatoes
turning from green to red.
Cars streaming down our street,
the snap of a bat and wiffle ball,
even my Aunt calling me
all seem far off up here,
as though I’m ghosting over my world, watching.
I could choose to reach out, touch it
like the Dogwood branches brushing the roof
or let it wait
till I’m ready.
A foot in both worlds
I move slower on the way down,
feeling each black metal rung
pressing the soles of my feet.
©Cheryl A. Van Beek
Street Art - Jef Aerosol - Paris, France
Street Art by Nick Walker - Paris, France
Street Art - Artist Unknown
Mural-by-Natalii-Rak - Białymstoku, Poland