Selected Poems by David J. Rogers

 

Hobos in a Clearing in Wyoming

We reached the crest of the hill at dusk.
Below us like the camps of infantry
Burned the scattered fires of forgotten men,
Each a separate picture.

They lived in the open or in
The opulence of tarpaper lean-tos against a tree
And migrated as punctually as geese.
They wore black–perhaps it was the soot of freight trains–
And squatted on their haunches like crickets
Beside the snapping flames.

Cicadas chirped in the grass.
Streams of smoke trailed off high into the trees.
Embers flickered and faded, flickered and faded
In the harsh bite and sparkle of a sudden wind
And glowed bronze on the men’s untroubled faces
Late into the night.

 

Bed

Danger in the air today.
Madeline woke to morning fear,
Passed into afternoon fear,
And came to evening fear.
Unspeakable really-
+++++She’s going to bed.

As always her friend
Called at noon.
If Madeline answered she was still alive.
Then Madeline was hungry
And went down to the kitchen
But didn’t have the strength
To make a peanut butter and jelly
Or ham and cheese sandwich
And heard voices in the walls so
She gave up and now
+++++She’s going to bed.

She tried especially hard today,
Did her best
As long as she could
As she promised
She would
And now
+++++She’s going to bed.

She is sorry
She let her friend down
(He cares so much)
But nevertheless
+++++Bed is where she’s going.

She’s left her friend a note
Because she has no one else
To write notes to before
+++++Going back to bed.

Danger inside Madeline too so
Bed is where you will find her.
Bed is where she will be.
+++++Bed is the place she is going.

 

Lady at the Fair

At the history museum in Chicago
I turned into a gallery and
I saw your life size photograph, you
Coming toward me
Holding a parasol in the rain
At the World’s Fair in 1893.

What I wonder
Do you mean to me now.
What do your long lace gloves
Flowing textured white dress
Plumed floral hat
Pleasing face
Parasol
And eyes meeting mine
Signify to me?
Why does the memory of
The image of you in that picture
Take hold of my heart?

Why do I feel
Affection for you
(I don’t know you)
And wish I too at that moment
Was turning that corner
Under those rain clouds
Onto the fairway
With you whoever you were
Close to me
That day a century
And a quarter ago?

 

Friendship

My dog and cats are dead now
But the squirrel who loved them
Comes every morning to sit on the fence
Awaiting their return

 

Morning Glories

Sitting on a window sill
Watching people
Exchanging stories
Over white and purple
Morning glories
On the flanks of the hill

 

Woman Sitting at a Table in China Town

I saw you
Looking at me
Knowing I had
Looked at you
No chance ever
To see you again
Or you to
Look at me again
With your dark eyes.

You, who had I
Known long ago,
I would have run
My finger over so carefully
Then cupped in my hand
Like an orchid.

 

Fish

Down on the docks of Puget Sound
The air is pervaded
By the smell of
…Fish.

The trawlers, the warehouses,
The cutting houses, the waves and wind–
Everything–
…Fish.

And all the people there,
Are the color of
…Fish.

After work this fish population
Assembles in schools
In restaurants along the water
Where they eat
…Fish.

And when you walk down the street
Afterward you realize,
Laughing, in high spirits, that
You too have become a
…Fish.

 

Wolves In The Rocky Mountains

We sat at a table in the inn and ordered coffee.  The utensils were gold. From the windows we watched through the falling snow eight stalking wolves winding down the mountain in single file, slowly, like liquid through the spruces and evergreens. It was getting late. We had stayed too long. We didn’t want to stay around until dark when at that elevation it would be really cold, and the wolves were on our mind. We paid and left.

Looking over our shoulders we saw the wolves streaking among the trees and circling and wheeling around and teasing and tormenting a young deer they had separated from a herd. We could hear the wolves and the deer breathing and see the wolves when they weren’t attacking the deer playfully burrowing their snouts in the snow. There was nothing we could do to save the deer. We didn’t want to watch.

 

Lovely Ambition

I think I will write a masterpiece
After lunch today.

My readers will no doubt sigh and say
“This poem’s well-nigh beautiful,
The play of language across the page,
A rage of genius.”

It will not be frivolous and light
As other poems I’ve read,
But of love, birth, and death,
The major topics so to speak.
But first I’ve an appointment to keep–
Laundry in the corner piled steep.

I will begin with the delicates
As I am prone to do,
Then pen my masterpiece
In the afternoon.

 

Waitress in a Café in Kayenta Arizona

Fingers like sausage links,
Face round as a tire,
Hips the breadth of a moving van,
Elaborate, beauty-shop hair,
Said her name was Anita Valaquez.

She said:
“Shove over handsome” and sat down.
She said: “I know you’re thinking just look at that woman,
She’s got an ass you could set a table on.
But that’s okay with me. You can’t argue with reality.”

Then she said: “Got a minute?
I want to tell you kids a story.”

 

Woman Suffering Badly In Diversey Parkway Apartment

Day by day, event by event,
Milestone to milestone–
New Year’s Day, Independence Day
Birthdays and anniversaries-
Year by year and slowly
Like jelly tumbling from a jar
Illness interminable
Pain unceasing
Friends departing
Lonely.
Watching her soul dying
She asks
“Can one return safely from hell?”

 

The Snow Fort

As a boy
I built a snow fort
Under my porch
Working all day
While others played
And hosed it down
So it would survive
And I was proud

It was a sturdy structure
But not sturdy enough
I suppose because
When I went to admire it
In the morning
It was shattered
By whom I would never know

I wondered and often have
Why someone
Would be so cruel
As to destroy
A snow fort like mine
And never built another

 

The Joys of Puttering in Closets

Old clothes
Are the best clothes–
Ketchup on sleeves,
Rips on knees,
Mustard on trousers
In the shape of flowers,
Frays where frays belong.
Ah, there is nothing wrong
With wearing old jeans
Tearing along the seams.

 

Woman in the Garden

We are all so complicated and sealed up
In the little disguises we wear
That we can truly know in one lifetime
Only a person or two, and they not always

But only in momentary bursts of understanding.
All the others we reduce to a few strokes:

That woman in the garden is lovely, has a lovely smile,
Owns a lovely dog.

 

Summer Scene

Monarch of the
clothes pin

servant of the
breeze;

white sheets
muttering,

white shirts
fluttering

on the
line.

Mother at her
dearest

on the gray -painted creaking
porch

on a sunfresh
afternoon.

 

The Lessons of Birds

One cannot help but suffer desolation
As dreary as the land itself
Standing alone in barren places

And feel the sincerest admiration
To see rising from a yellow hill
A large black bird whose wings open wide
And show a bright vermillion underside
That cries loudly with delight as it takes flight

To live most admirably it seems
One’s soul must be to desolation
And barren places
As a bird ascending joyfully
From yellow hills

 

Mom

She bends over
The washboard
Exuding love

Uneasy with words
She has no other way
Of expressing it
So she scrubs and scrubs

 

Old Man in Shorts In Wilmette Illinois

Odd to see
An old man
With knobby knees
In Bermuda shorts
Thumbing a ride
On a busy street
At three PM

 

Butterflies

Butterflies you and I
Fluttering over a garden–
Our little world–
Flower to flower
One person then another
In search of that one who is to us
Though perhaps to no one else
The loveliest

And when we find that flower
That is enough

 

Sister and I Impatiently Waiting for a Bus

Slush
On the street and sidewalk
Soft and hushed

Down the street
Before the red brick fire House
Clanking chains lashed
Around softly humming tires
Splash past

A warm Christmas Eve
End of day
Grandma and Grandpa on their way

 

Friday Calls

813-629-5162
813-629-5162
813-629-5162
Every Friday night
813-629-5162
But now my mother has died
And O, I’ll never hear her voice again from
813-629-5162

 

We say goodbye to life in increments

We say goodbye to life in increments
A daily departure
And others in our absence
Ask when and how we went

We can’t return
Even if we wished
All hope spurned
Plot finished

 

Hiking Along the Timeless River


“We felt we were above the world, above reality, in pure, pure ecstasy.”

Then the river in the forest was back with us, coursing in its channel from north to south, country to city, undulating, serene, immortal, as though on our return that night it would sweep us along in its steady current past what had ever been and was ever to be, immune from time.  Overhead the trees cast long, thin shadows that swayed on the moving surface like dancers.  Sweat flowed in streams down our backs and we were as optimistic and happy as the wind was hot.

My father took off his knapsack and rubbed his shoulders where it had cut into them and reared back and flung a twig into the air and far out into the river. Then we took off our shoes and socks and put our feet refreshingly into the ceaselessly passing water. Laughing, we splashed each other.

We felt we were above the world, above reality, in pure, pure ecstasy. We lounged back on the bank, contented, centered, listening to the river wind, and gazed up at the eternal sun displayed in the sky like a burnished coin while below it the timeless river flowed on, bearing Dad’s twig swiftly away to eternity.

 

© 2020 David J. Rogers

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25 Comments

Filed under Personal Stories, Poetry

25 responses to “Selected Poems by David J. Rogers

  1. Roslyn Kushner

    Thank you David. I liked all the poems, loved many of them!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. Michelle Endersby

    Thank you David, what a delight to read your poetry, your words painted a compelling series of vignettes. I smell the fish and the smoke from the hobos’ fires, I am looking over my shoulder to see the light tread of the wolves descending, but it is the Lady at the Fair who stands out most vividly to me, I don’t know whether I want to be her or to be her friend.

    Like

    • Thank you, Michelle. You write so beautifully and have a poet’s spirit. I treasure your words. It pleases me so much that you describe my images the way you do. That Lady at the Fair is so compelling to me too. Best wishes, David

      Like

  3. Good morning David, Having just returned From a VIRTUAL trip to Amish Country I am delighted to sit quietly and read your beautiful poems. Each one tells me a story and paints an image filled with colour in my mind’s eye.
    What occurs to me as I read your poems is how much more we learn about you the writer in a short poem.
    You have told me about your experience of travelling like a Hobo..(fabulous) and so to read these poems tells me so much more. I can now imagine how exciting this life must have been for a young man.

    I thought ‘Bed’ to be very poignant. – It made me feel sad.

    I really loved Morning Glory…

    Possibly one of my favourites ‘Woman Sitting at a Table In China Town’. It so beautifully describes that fleeting moment of recognition when everything could have changed….

    Fish….I could smell fish throughout and after. Spending so much time at the Fish market in Olhao Portugal – this really rang a lot of bells.

    Lovely Ambition….This made me laugh and at the same time sad for all those thoughts and ambitions that just never get off the ground…All the time dreaming instead of doing.

    Waitress in a Cafe in Kayenta Arizona.

    You paint such a fabulous picture of this woman with hips the breadth of a moving van:). I love it and I love her.

    Woman in the Garden….also resonates.

    Mom….beautiful

    Grandma and Grandpa on their way.
    This poem say so much….

    And so my dear friend, although I haven’t commented on al the poems are done justice to your beautiful writing…rest assured that I loved reading these and look forward to reading many more.

    Janet :)X

    Like

    • Dear Janet,

      Thank you so much for your lovely, thoughtful comments, beautifully expressed, about my poems. Very kind of you to give the poems so much attention.

      If the poems were alive, they would be grateful. I have a relationship with each poem which I find added to by your feelings about them.

      Your comments about “Hobos in a Clearing” and the waitress in Kayenta–my hobo experience–are very accurate. Those six months, divided over two summers, I think enhanced my life and my writing considerably. I think about those experiences often and have written about them many times.

      I was looking forward so much to your comments because I knew you would have an artist’s aesthetic insight, and I value your thoughts. I’m so glad we were able to locate the comments, and I appreciate your patience and persistence.

      Let’s continue to take care of ourselves and stay healthy so we can talk like this many times in the future.

      All the best to you, Janet,
      David

      Liked by 1 person

      • I enjoyed the poems so much and was disappointed that you hadn’t received my comments about them…but thanks to Don that is all now taken care of:)

        As you say let’s continue to take care of ourselves and stay healthy so we can talk and continue to write and paint.

        Best wishes my friend.
        Janet :)X

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Marilucas Casarrubias

    Hi David,
    Thanks for sharing all these beautiful poems.
    I loved a lot of them, such us “ Friendship” and “Friday calls”
    I hope you and your family are well.
    Have nice day.

    Like

    • Thank you, Marilucas. All my family are well. I hope you and yours are too. I’m glad you liked my poems. Thamk you for the compliment. I like that little poem, Friendship, too. It shows how much I love animals. I like Friday Calls too.

      Hopefully, we will see you soon. Til then, stay well.

      David

      Like

  5. Evoking scenes before my eyes so I feel I am almost with you and the wolves and the deer.Very vivid imagery, which might make others want to write like you do.But first we have to see like you dio
    Glad to have at last read some of your poetry
    Maybe more?
    Katherine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very nice and flattering comment, Katherine. Makes me feel good. Yes, I am an imagist to the core, a painter at heart (who wishes he could actually paint, but can’t). I do plan to write a blog about various aspects of composing in images.

      Thank you for sending this. I hope you are busy writing your lovely poetry and that you are feeling well.

      Best wishes,
      David

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the idea of your blog,David.Very pleasant sunshine here so I am doing nothing!I can’t do nothing very easily so am enjoying it
    Katherine

    Like

  7. I know that one too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. David, I’m sorry to be late. What a beautiful and varied collection of poems. I never had the least talent for poetry, so I’m absolutely wowed. I remember “The Lady at the Fair,” so I should have known there were other beauties waiting in the wings. You know I related to “Bed.” Yet such a different peaceful vibe from “Hobos.” It brought to mind an old song made popular by Glen Campbell, “Gentle on My Mind.” The phrase “With cupped hands around a tin can…” created an image that lingers after decades. Your poem has the same feeling, particularly with “And glowed bronze on the men’s untroubled faces…”
    Wishing you a marvelous Monday and a wonder-filled week. Hugs on the wing!

    Like

    • Teagan,

      Thank you for your kind comment and for the RT on Twitter. Generous people always make me feel good.

      I’d never written poems until after I’d written millions of words of prose, and I assumed that my son was the poet in the family, but I took a shot at it, and it worked out. Why don’t you take another shot at writing poetry?

      Best wishes and hugs to you too.
      David

      Liked by 1 person

  9. They are all really diverse and thought provoking, but I loved these three the best out of them all. Bed, Friendship and A woman in the Garden. Especially, ‘friendship’ because of its brevity and simplicity that yet sends across the lovely message. “Bed” almost makes me wonder if Madeline has depression, because that’s the only way I read the poem. I’m not sure though what you had in mind when you wrote it. Thanks for sharing these with us. ☺☺

    Like

    • Thank you, Shruba. I’m glad you like the poems. I like the poem Friendship too. It makes me think of my dear past pets and the squirrels who climb my fence–good feelings. Madeline suffered from bipolar disorder for many years–a serious case.

      Like

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