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Five Poems - Marc Swan

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Looped low through a stand of pine
straight to my window
then up and over
the car roof dropping
to the roadside, and fresh kill.
I stop, slowly
edge backward, her eyes on me,
her head tilted slightly, watching
then pecking, pecking. She lifts
high over treetops,
a slice of flesh hooked
in her curved beak -
almost a month since my father died.
I walk along the road looking for a feather,
a smooth stone, something to hold on to.


On a Road in a Land Not so Faraway

If this story were a screenplay,
it would open in a driving rain,
camera mounted on a cab bumping
along slate-gray streets, tight
pan of one ravaged cement block
building after another, the distant
crackle of gun shot - modern bird
song for a once proud Serbian town.
In the backseat sits a young man
on business for an American company,
flown in from Venice, pockets stuffed
with crisp one hundred dollar bills,
he banters freely with the driver
until he discloses off-handedly
that his grandfather is from Croatia.
The stunned driver blindly stares
into the mirror. "What am I to do?"
"Do?" "We are at war, you and I,
I must do something."
For three long miles, the cold
hand of silence seizes the wheel.
As they round the corner that leads
to the young man's destination,
the driver brakes sharply, moving
the cab to the edge of the road.
Rain pelts hard against the windows.
"I know what I must do."
My thumb draws slow circles over
the fingers of my hand as the man
telling the story pauses, then continues.
"I'll charge you double, that's what I'll do."
The young man in the backseat nods
and they drive on.


Lotus Land
for Di

I see your eyes, your smile,
the smooth curve of your nose
on the surface of the moon,
on coins I get in change
for my daily latté, on clocks
everywhere - the badly-
in-need-of-setting wall clock
at the office, on the fresh
fruits and vegetables market
clock in Orleans, on the self-serve
Gulf Station window clock,
and on the wrists of strangers
standing unaware as I peer
beneath their sleeves.

More than these images held
in light, you travel with me, tucked
like a softly clapping bell inside
my heart.


Bird Song

Over her left shoulder, beyond
the slider, a wild finch pecks
thistle seed at the feeder.
I look to the window
for the bright yellow hue
of her partner. It's been a year
since their last visit midway
between dying - my father
in April, mother in June.
I wrote then of the wild bird
tap tap tapping at my window.
Today, they fly back and forth
to the feeder, each departure
marked by bird song
from tiny feathered throats.




Before that moment when
a blood-red orange
sun slides over
the milky white
rim, I walk
a few steps into
shallow water, drop
my arms, the full
length of my body
into the warm current, begin
an easy side
stroke - flickering light
a natural pathway
to the shore. I float awhile.
Languid waves lick
my fingers, toes.

I see a flash of green down
the beach. She comes
closer. I drag
my hand beneath
the current, pull up
a shell, flip it high.
If she cared to look,
she would see me.
Dark skin, her breasts
firm beneath a white bikini
top, chartreuse green
pants ride child
bearing hips - eyes
ahead, Walkman in place.

Later, on the short walk
through beach grass,
wild rose, I realize
how alone I feel.
I have a woman I live
with, a daughter I see
every month, parents dead
now over a year,
a sister still mourning
the life she never had,
thinks I have.
This feeling is greater
than light, water,
poems yet to be born.


Marc Swan lives on Cape Cod (Massachusetts), an arm-shaped segment of America that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. His poems have been published in a variety of print and electronic magazines in the USA and in other countries.


Other poems by Marc Swan on this site. And some more!

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