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Selected Poems 2004-2007

by

Jason Sturner

Copyright 2008 Jason Sturner

This book is available in print; see Sturner’s website for details.

Table of Contents

Eidolon

Whispers

In Spite of Candlelight

Can You Dig It, Girl?

Comfort Zone

Pulse

Arachnophobia Cured!

Moonshadow

Promise of an Eagle, to a Friend

The Pace of Waiting

Last Words

Broken Hearts in Paris

The Props at My Funeral

Emma’s Favorite Thing to Look At

My Morning Sickness

14 April 2005

Stopwatch

These Things

Could You Stay the Night, Forever?

Psalm of My Own

Morning Rain

Seasonally Home

Note to reader: Due to the nature of digital formatting, some of the following poems may have lost their original structure. If you would like to see the poems in their intended design, please visit my website for reading options or consider purchasing a hard copy of the book. Thank you.

Eidolon

I want to wake you

with a kiss

Bring you to the patio

where breakfast waits

Feed you strawberries,

blueberries, compliments.

I want to take you

by the hand

Walk you to the beach

where waves wait

Give you an ocean,

the sun, my heart.

I would love you—

I would love you so easily

if you were real.

Whispers

I am a whisper.

Of storms through your skin,

the desire-rain

across your inner thigh.

You are a whisper.

Of buttons slightly untamed,

the lightning-window

inside a metal frame.

This pinprick in our shadow

reveals a minor flow,

like hearts caught in a spiral

where the wind ascends.

And if dust settled

on the swan’s bones,

a quilt-sky could rise

from this field of poppies.

Until then, I am a whisper.

Of night tangled in vines,

the dream-pathos

exhausting your sleep.

Until then, you are a whisper.

Of thoughts shutting my eyes,

the curtain-stage

hiding these theatricals.

You say:

I cannot go beyond words for you—

We both know why.

And I reply:

When my heart falls to the floor,

poetry will do.

In Spite of Candlelight

She senses

Something past me

A bit like hope

Cast off my shoulder

To the wall

X, I want to

O, she can

I see

Something airborne

A bit like revelation

The tarnished halo

Of her visit

X, tonight!

But O, she cannot

She feels

Something for herself

A bit like regret

Slipping off the heavy end of a sigh

When she goes

Can You Dig It, Girl?

I washed you out

with a few cold beers,

your pretty face

among old parts in the garage.

You had me under your sheets

before I realized my mistake—

Hooks, lures;

gasping hearts flopping

all over the place.

They say behind every man

is a good woman.

My-my,

how things have changed.

Comfort Zone

When rainbows evaporate

and flowers burst into dust

When the rivers

become bloodstreams

I’ll bloom

and sing like a bird

I’ll scoop you up

and into my arms

Bone by bone, hair by hair

Your fair skull

against my heaving chest

We’ll talk

of philosophy and science

of gods and devils

with love at the center

as a fire

And when it burns down

And when it burns down

I will bury you, again

my only love.

Pulse

The morning is cool, quiet,

set perfectly in place

and her eyes are filled with it.

She kneels down,

watches bees

bend the silky petals

of her favorite flower.

Time is a deific ox

pulling her life forward, steadily

and her eyes are splintered by it.

She stands up,

hears a starling

stream music from its breast;

today it will find a mate.

With two fingers across her wrist

and a mild concern in her heart, she thinks

Where does the beauty of a flower go when it dies?

Arachnophobia Cured! Or, Extinguishing the

Autumnal Fear of House-Penetrating Ladybugs

Late last night

the ladybugs came to get me

to swarm over me

in the dark.

And this morning

I’d have woken up eaten

if it weren’t

for the spiders.

Moonshadow

She sails under a moonshadow

on the back of a white swan.

Tears fall down her cheeks

because her heart is unloved.

She sees twilight in the water

then turns around to face it.

A star shooting overhead

sparkles romance from its tail.

She thinks, Why can’t that be for me?

But each tear that fell on the lake

became a ripple towards shore.

And love waits patiently

just beyond the water lilies.

Promise of an Eagle, to a Friend

for Rita Hartje

— Sin & Confession

You’ve asked me to speak of eagles.

Of diurnal flight over moonlit valleys.

I was to offer you the brazen talon

of its faith, hope, and love. As a song.

But I lied when I said I could spring

this bird from my heart willingly.

I betrayed myself into thinking

I was the keeper of its valor. I am not.

In truth, it flies through me but doesn’t see me.

A ghost of old tears reflects from its eyes.

And though my soul is wretched and my ego has lied,

I long for your unconditional love. In dreams…

So many nights I’ve fallen asleep in your heart!

Awoken in the world your words have built.

I can’t kiss your angelic face, but I hear its soft music.

It sings that our distance is illusion. It’s not real.

— Redemption

You’ve asked me to speak of eagles.

Of nocturnal flight over sunlit peaks.

To take your hand, guide you across clouds,

and illustrate the strength of God. I have. In you.

With faith, hope, and love under wing,

you have flown softly, quietly through me.

The embers of your saintly energy

raining down upon my soul. I weep.

Because you, my friend, are the eagle.

You see me.

The Pace of Waiting

The sunflowers grow tall

in fields we don’t know,

leaning over the broken bodies

of men younger than the day

of men wiser

than night.

Soldiers… inhaling

the light of sunset;

a reveille to the angels.

These men… chivalrous,

sanguine; anxious to make proud

their transfigured fathers.

Unaware, it would seem,

of the world’s way of forgetting

and not forgiving.

These men… a man, dreaming

in black and blue. Wondering if the

blood, the pain, is a gift for his god.

Hoping invisible hands

will gather all his relevant pieces

and let his hour be peaceful.

That those he loves most

will conquer this distance

sit alongside him,

and carry him home.

Last Words

I hear you in a dream calling out.

Searching for that someone

you have never known. I sit alone

in a rotating corner—shadows forming

all your favorite shapes.

My dream-self does not know

where it belongs in such dreams.

Always wishing it could tell you

that I am findable. That in your equation

I can be proven.

You’ve seen my silhouette, coming off the walls

you walk along. It hinders the burning sun for you;

is a barrier when it’s cold.

But have you looked closely, lately?

Look now.

And though not in the shape of a crown

or a single, confident rose,

it is not a dangerous thing.

It is not meaningless.

Did you even know, you’re its maker?

These are the things I want to tell you.

But my dream-tongue must hold.

It holds because I know that in the place

where we actually speak

we are speaking our last words.

Broken Hearts in Paris

I dreamt last night

Of the last night I saw you,

All covered in deadweight gold

And tarnished by its light.

You stood at the window,

An angel with burnt wings

And a soul tired of dancing.

“It’s never easy backing out,” you said.

“I know,” I replied,

Our backs facing each other

And the voice not quite my own.

“Sometimes it isn’t what we imagine.”

You breathed against the window

And made a heart with your fingertip.

I closed my eyes

And put my forehead to the door.

When moonlight fell across the bed

You turned to me and said, “Paris, we

Should’ve gone to Paris. They have stars

And paintings, all the romance you can take.”

I fumbled for my keys and opened the door.

“And broken hearts,” I said.

Plenty of broken hearts.

The Props at My Funeral

While I sleep

throw ropes down my mouth.

Climb in—

But beware of the biting words

that linger along the throat.

They are bitter, always questioning

destiny’s decisions.

When you reach a path lit by embers

Grab your cross, and hold it tight.

There, bits of heart decompose along the turn.

You should cover your head, for it drips still

off the ribs

(Remnants

of a splat-

ter-ed

love

affair).

You may even see her against the starless dark.

A ghostly angel playing the loose string

of a smashed violin . . .

(It is true: sometimes the old sounds are deafening

and you can’t hear the new ones)

But I digress.

Follow the map that I gave you

and gather the props as you go:

The rusty crown.

The bloody pile of nightingale feathers.

The broken teeth of one genuine smile.

And don’t forget the dried up pen and quill.

I should remind you now

to leave by morning,

for tomorrow I will sit at the edge of the world.

There I will smile into the rising sun

and without a thought

drop off.

Emma’s Favorite Thing to Look At

The sun rose ripe and warm over the quiet town of Batavia, Illinois, tucking shadows into the pockets of morning. People opened their shutters and children ran out to play. Robins sang high in the trees as squirrels played beneath them.

With a proud smile on his face, a father gently puts his daughter Emma into a bright red stroller. Seconds later and they’re off, destined for the local park – the one with all the old trees and a creek lined with violets. As they follow the sidewalk a breeze comes along and tickles Emma’s face, lifting her curls. She giggles like life is at its brilliant best.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the park, a newly emerged swallowtail spreads its wings in the warm sun, nearly ready for its first flight.

Emma and her father enter the park. An immense, magical world of flora and fauna surrounds them in all directions. Emma’s eyes light up, dashing from right to left, up then down – there is so much to see!

Then something red flies by and lands in a shrub. “Look Em,” her father says, pointing, “there’s a cardinal.”

The stroller comes to a halt and Emma’s father disappears. He reappears a few seconds later with a purple flower and offers it to Emma. She takes the drooping flower in her tiny hands and stares at it. After a moment she looks up at her father, who raises his arms. “Emma, what could that be?”

Emma seems puzzled. “That’s a violet, Em,” he says. Suddenly she turns away and drops the flower onto her lap, watching something small, yellow, and airborne coming towards them. Her eyes go wide. It’s like nothing she has ever seen.

With a jolt of excitement Emma positions herself at the edge of the stroller and looks at her father, who remains silent. The butterfly comes closer, most certainly noticing Emma and her big brown eyes. But it also sees something else – the bright red, perhaps nectar-filled object Emma is sitting in.

Fighting the breeze, the swallowtail makes its way to the stroller, orbiting both Emma and her father. It flits up and over their heads, spirals down and back up again, casts a tiny shadow across them.

“Emma,” her father whispers, “that’s a but-ter-fly.”

Emma watches the frantic display, then looks to be sure her dad is watching too. By the time she turns back the golden insect has landed on the stroller’s edge, seemingly to relax its wings; tired from its first flight.

Emma sits very still, never taking her eyes off the curious visitor. But that cannot last. Bubbles start to shoot off her lips like fireworks, and in seconds she’s lost all control – slapping tiny hands on pink legs and making all sorts of incomprehensible but joyful sounds. In that same moment, not for fear, but of necessity to carry on with its butterfly ways, the newborn swallowtail ascends from the stroller and flies away.

And although the butterfly would never return, it was never far from Emma’s heart.

Author’s note: This piece was inspired by an obituary. For reasons unstated, a little girl named Emma passed away when she was two years old. The obituary was quite short, but it contained such simplicity and innocence that I will never forget it. It was told that one of her favorite things to look at were the butterflies.

My Morning Sickness

my morning sickness

is a morning dream

of reaching for the girl

that keeps falling

off my edge

reoccurring memories

dive-bomb the present

blooming up the gut

to break open

old scars in the heart

the dream fades

when day hits its fist

pulling fresh thin skin

over broken bone

I walk the park

in mindful stride

a stress-heavy head

chiseled clean by calm

I turn the corner

and sink into a stop

there, a man sits in the grass

holding his baby in laughter

and now, my morning sickness

concerns an unknown child—

a child that would look so much

like her and me

14 April 2005

In response to a dream in the book Einstein’s Dreams

It is nights like this

when the halls of my heart

are filled with moonlit sonatas

and a numbing ache

that all I want

is to be next to you

watch you sleep

and be the first thing you see

when morning comes.

To remind you

that even if life repeats itself

we always find each other,

beautifully, over and over again.

But tonight, all I have

is a beer in my hand

these words in my head

and no way of knowing

how to love you.

Stopwatch

Everyone is dead.

Slumped against steering wheels,

on the floors of kitchens and bedrooms,

face down in swimming pools.

Bodies litter the malls,

the halls of prestigious universities,

they’re in hospitals and sports bars,

at desks in corporate offices.

In the center of the oval office

lays the body of our president,

maggots crawl out

from beneath her eyelids.

The rats beneath the streets

lift their heads and twitch their noses.

Vultures fly off trees

into waves of decay.

Remnants of humanity crumble,

are buried, eroded and grown over.

We are dust and fossils; we are history.

The planet is lush and productive.

Out in an unnamed ocean

a new breed of dolphin is born,

its flippers more like modified claws.

One day, it will use them to grasp the shoreline.

These Things

for Kelly K. Moran

I have longed to be

the quiet, fading light

that helps you sleep;

and sunrise through the open door.

I’ve stayed awake for hours,

wondering how I could channel

the most beautiful things

through your eyes,

and into your heart.

I have wished to be

the warm, child-long summer

that stirs your playful curiosity;

and dreams across the long winter.

For a time I doubted

I could be any of these things,

or the myriad others

that fill my head each day.

But the stronger my life

bonds with yours,

the less I doubt my abilities,

the more revealed is my part.

With love, all possibility follows;

it follows me, it follows you.

And all these things wished for

are already true.

Could You Stay the Night, Forever?

Wrapped in the fireplace

of your arms. Warmed by

the trust in your smile.

The night and our love

Are acquainted. You cuddle close

and feel my heart. I brush your

hair away from your face.

The window and the rain

Are old friends. Soft candle-

light washes over our skin,

soft music over our repose.

The ambiance and timing

Couldn’t be better. I look

down at you, you’re falling asleep.

I kiss your forehead

and whisper, Sleep well.

With eyes closed, you sigh

and reply, Then don’t go.

Psalm of My Own

God makes no promise

but that of love.

He says,

Reside in the V of my arms

like a bird’s nest

in branches.

Firmly, I will hold you;

strong storms and wind through.

Love makes no promise

but that of itself.

She says,

Trust your heart and let me shine

like a wave of light

through dark forests:

Make peace with yourself

and make peace with others,

for you’ll need acceptance in your eyes

when you meet us.

Morning Rain

for Kelly K. Moran

This morning there was much rain,

forcing the birds into trees,

the butterflies beneath leaves.

I stand at the open window,

listening for the cool silence

between raindrops.

I begin to wonder

about time machines,

about being fully absorbed into the future:

 

The full view of a sunset

from our porch chairs,

a cat resting at our feet.

Faces aged, a hand

holding a hand.

 

And the wind

comes down from flowered hills,

filling the home with fragrances.

Everything is golden orange

like a softly glowing jewel.

I blink and turn from the window.

Another routine day begins.

The echoes of my heartbeat

will mingle with the rain.

Seasonally Home

I pack away summer clothes

to a soundscape of Vivaldi.

The songs of summer birds

have settled like dust.

I light a candle at the window

and watch leaves fall across the yard,

overcome by a sensation

I cannot describe:

My heart is in a dance

with autumn’s return.

###

About the author:

Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published four books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, Selected Poems 2004-2007, and Collected Poems. In addition to poetry he writes flash fiction, short stories and nature essays. He resides in Geneva, Illinois, and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Discover other titles by Jason Sturner:

Kairos

10 Love Poems

Collected Poems

Connect with Me Online:

My blog: http://jasonsturner.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/opaline72

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/flapper1

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