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The Visitor

The year before my family moved to a new city
I lay in bed, Japanese rice paper walls
reflected in mirrored doors.

Plastic model planes smelled of
fresh glue atop my dresser.
An adult visitor leaned
knocking them to the floor
crunching plastic, not noticing.. or caring
as he and Dad talked of things I
barely comprehended.

Stuffed feelings of not belonging
lingered in my throat,
my only medicine a book
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

A plane motor whirred, horse neighed.
Can I find myself in 1956?

©2013 Julian Spalding

Poetry

It is cinnamon on the tongue,
a flock of ravens cackling in a tree

the aroma of morning coffee,
blood coursing through my veins.

It is my lover’s touch against skin,
the scent of a rose

silky avocado sliding down my throat,
the ocean surf lapping my feet.

It is a hummingbird’s flutter of wings,
darting blossom to blossom

a hyacinth blooming in spring.
It is Mom’s life in a shadow box

ginger orange marmalade on morning toast.
Its door opening into my soul.

©2013 Julian Spalding

Ode to a typewriter

Southern Oregon Poetry Third Prize, April 2014

When you stop typing you smoke,
keys stuck together in inky clump.

Your keys clack, carriage ratchets, paper rustles,
cool metal cold to touch, resisting fingers.

Hemingway’s Old Man born of
cigarettes, metal and ribbon.

School papers clacked out in midnight madness.
Ginsberg howled in his flight of furious fingers.

Chthonic rumblings of silver QWERTY.
Newspapers, books owed to you.

Letters. Remember those?
Signed, sealed and delivered by hand.

Your footprint is in my brain.
World made by hand.

Stuffed in my closet
at night you sigh.

©2013 Julian Spalding

Fuchsia

Your little lanterns light
my evening walk,

cascading mist of
glimmering moonlight.

Colors of vanilla and blood
whisper in the breeze.

Irish sheep splattered red and blue
bleat in green pastures.

You are their temple
of jasmine gardens.

Peat fires waft through your boughs,
a cloud hanging on the mountainside.

Your hedgerows line my path to
trilithons shielding graves of ancestors.

Tender, delicate flower of youth,
pendulous eardrops of swollen blossoms.

Languid, drooping flower, floral ballerina
dangling opulent purple trumpets.

On a soft Irish day you are a
soft touch to my heart.

Your colors shimmer
like fireworks in the sky.

©2013 Julian Spalding

A Poem for Sandy Hook

by August Schulenburg

After the upturned desks, the hiding in closets, the running and
The no time to run; after the lines of red-eyes and open mouths,
The microphones pressed in the faces of children but
Not all of them; after crying in the far office bathroom
For kids I’ll never know in a place I’ve never been, again;
After the petitions and tweets and posts
And speeches and hearts going out out out again,
After the never-again, again;

Again it will happen, in Damascus and Panjwai,
In Columbine and Oakland and other places
Named for trees and flowers; again the promises and laws
Will blossom and fall like trees and flowers, and the kids,
Like trees, like flowers, will be too beautiful to bear but
They will be, borne to places under ordinary grass.

After the grass and the stones on stones, after the name
Of the man with the gun is spoken for the last time,
After there are no words must come the words,
Because there are words and you know you know them,
I do, even if I don’t know how to say them.

They are the words welling up in my eyes as I
Picture the backpacks and crayons; words like cool rain
On scalded minds, words like rivers over dusty laws,
Words that shake my body when I hold you close,
And I am, right now, holding you close), words
We bury under ordinary grass, because we are busy
And afraid and polite and the jerk in the checkout line
And the asshole in the traffic and the inconvenience
Of all the what were we talking about again? and then,
Tomorrow, another after.

After another after,
I must say rain and river,
After never-again again,
I must sing of backpacks and crayons;
After there are no words,
We must make new ones,
Words fashioned from the sounds
Children make when
They collide in bright-eyes and bruised-knees
On playgrounds,
Words that don’t wait
To make the world
What we say it is
When we say
This is what the world is
To children.

Darlingtonia

7th Annual Southern Oregon Poetry Award, Second Prize, 2012

As I drive toward
the Oregon coast
a sign by the road
pulls me: Darlingtonia fen

Footsteps crunch chips
in pine-scented woods
rustle of leaves
bird whistles
coo-coo-ca-too

Pitcher plants proliferate
sucking flies to
their final meal
drawn by musky scent
to a poisonous stew
of mesmerizing liquid

Cobra lilies lie in wait
caped carnivores in
silent reverie of death
trap bugs in lazy languor

Sun filtered shadows
cross my path
as insects buzz
around hooded hosts
silently awaiting their prey

I walk though misty forest
curious at the play of life and death
in oasis of carnivorous plants
insects dance, drown
humans observe, move on

©2011 Julian Spalding

Wind swept cypress hover
Over sea-side garden
I write poems on a bench

Bee balm blooms red
Fountain water falls
The moment suspends in silence

Hummingbird darts among bee balm
Wings touch my face
Soft brush of gossamer

Breeze blows wisteria
Weeping blue atlas
Cries to the skies

Buddha sits in the garden
Grasses sway
I am content

Fuchsia’s red ornaments
Ivy’s heart-shaped leaves
A cool breeze

Calla lily thrusts skyward
Wild surf breaks
The day lies in wait

Blue skies kiss the pacific
Sea stacks jut
When did I die?

Sea birds glide over waves
Above urgent tumult
Surf crashes, relentless

Breakers pound the shore
Dog jumps up
Garden invites

Water beads on the screen
Fog rolls in
Mind chatter ceases

Surf pounds the shore
Seabirds skitter across the sand
I listen to the sound of silence

Seen through a glass darkly
Stars’ vast expanse
Star Trek on steroids

Driftwood piles on the beach
Sea stacks break ocean’s surface
The smell of morning coffee

My lover removes his shirt
Muscles contract
My heart skips

©2012 Julian Spalding