First Prize ($500 and the Malovrh-Fenlon Poetry Prize): “Beethoven’s Ninth Sonata” by Robert Milby of Florida, NY.
Also as a finalist selection:
“Beyond Satie” by Robert Milby
Lion Autumn Music Publishing NYC, 2023
Available by request from author or from www.amazon.com
(sponsored by Flying Monkey Productions Kingston, NY)
Winning Poem " I Was Never Under Quarantine "
Honorable mention " Social Disgracing "
Judge: poet Cheryl Rice
Thanks to the Authors League Fund of Brooklyn, NY for their assistance during the difficult times of 2020.
Featured poet Robert Milby plus open reading
Route 207 (corner of Stony Ford Rd.)
Campbell Hall, NY
Featured poets David Messineo, Randy Sutter, and Robert Milby
plus open reading
Host: Robert Milby
4 Cohen Circle
Open poetry reading
Host: Father Bob Phelps
St. Lawrence Friary
180 Sargent Ave.
no cover charge
Featured poet Margaret Fox plus open reading
Host: Robert Milby
8 Union St.
Featured poet Clayton Buchanan plus open reading
Host: Robert Milby
96 Main St.
Pine Bush, NY
Red on her dream-blue dress.
Crimson leaking, on her Dawn-blue shawl.
Sunlight holds her roseate morning aloft.
Tarot fragments, atop a Maple.
Encrimsoned sheets tease her gown.
Scarlet statements scatter to the ground.
Dew glistens on remains of Night’s shadows;
Cold lawns—bare feet no longer abound.
Red soaks her leaf-brushed sweater;
Wet stones lost to Time-burned weather.
October-Red! The Maple’s garments.
October scarlet—Virginia Creeper;
October’s tannic fire in fading twilight.
A late Harvest bushel, for a dying season of Light.
October 11, 2016
The Sparrow’s Folly in Late October
Why did the Sparrow, perched in the nearly denuded Red Maple,
fly on an angle, into my second floor bedroom window,
striking the glass, then disappearing,
into the quiet, late October morning’s shadows?
What possessed the little Sparrow?
Seeking shelter from impending, cold rain?
Was it nearby cell towers or a Red Tailed Hawk’s ghost?
The ignorance of smart meters,
on everyone’s house but mine?
An Autumn fear, or whisper from the Divine?
It was no media-birthed, pole shift,
for that will not happen.
But the magic of consciousness parasites:
Humans assure bad omens; portents in October,
when cars and buildings are avian obstacle courses.
23 October, 2022
-For Edna St. Vincent Millay
(died October 19th, 1950)
Frost returns to melt-drip from the old house’s roof.
Daybreak is a masseuse, managing Sunbeam paint brushes;
knowing which size, and how sharp to make the point, from warm lips.
The Maple shudders. Scarlet shards fall to leaf pallets.
Sun toasts the comforter of Sky —
Iris blue; calling poets to the royal court of Dawn.
November 2, 2015
I melted in the late June heat wave,
but in my misery, felt a change.
Stood in winds and rains to reconstitute the body;
reminders of the holistic healer bursting clouds of candid emotion.
The heat took one gale of a beating.
His summer rage was bitter fangs;
a barking blaze—cut down by cooler clouds;
storm wave of rain, fog and folly.
July 10, 2023
The Chair in the Field
Old wooden chair; faded purple paint—
sat upon by birds, ghosts, and rain.
Clover, Dandelion, and Violets –
a riot of verdure hiding lathed, moldy legs.
Dog days growling in the firmament;
then a vengeful jungle where lashing rain is spent;
angry droughts, whose only relief is Autumn’s ascent.
Leaves in October and November piled;
some danced across the cracked, chipped seat.
Winter spells of ice and snow—fewer songbirds than Crows.
Where were children, to play upon this household icon;
now a commoners’ throne in a feral kingdom?
One wet morning—it vanished from the backyard roll call;
lost to a Spring cleaning, piled in shadows behind the barn wall.
13 May, 2023
The Red Fox on Stony Bar Road
-Wawayanda, NY April, 2023
Spring afternoon, Red Fox emerged from shadows,
grey habit of mire, over burnished fur;
royal garb of woodlands.
Drank from a rain puddle,
near blossomed Dogwood, and swaying Willow.
Late April, more fickle than March, because rain,
desperate nesters; passions of beast and human.
He trotted along the rural road,
not intent on nearby creek nor marshland,
but a humble puddle, where he stood:
mud-dressed paws and legs;
matted red pelt, as if whelped by the tough land itself.
Furtive lapping of grey water, from gothic storm clouds.
26 April, 2023
-Minisink Valley High School grounds, Slate Hill, NY April 2023
Awakening fields; Starlings and Robins;
ubiquity of Sparrows.
Damp and cold breezes.
Leaves—dried and antiquated.
Perfume of April sod.
Scraps rise in random gusts,
Papers wander parking lots.
Empty now, not like three years ago, but due to Spring break.
Lone car—young driver practicing for his license;
father in passenger seat.
Winter- browned Oak leaves gather
at the baseball field’s fence,
rattling in uncertain northwest winds.
Black pavement, faded grey—
released from Winter’s snow and ice;
puddles shiver in mud resplendent fields,
ghost scenes and images of the original farm,
appear in peripheral flashes as the runner passes.
Light variations and Sunset sparkles in silent,
school windows, when dusk yields to night.
3 April, 2023
Red-Winged Blackbird in Late Winter
The first Red-Winged Blackbird of the season
pecked seeds from frozen snow.
Sparrows and Mourning Doves joined him;
Nuthatches on Maple bark; Juncos below.
One would not expect mobbing until mating;
antagonizing raptors and seed thieves,
in blossom months and Summer.
Red Wing, with his proud, scarlet epaulets;
songs without words; fierce defense of nest and home;
courtship poems in Spring.
26 February, 2023
Old friends don’t always die, or flee,
but remain in reverie farms; memory pastures.
They hide in attic trunks, beneath stark winter’s cold rafters.
They move from sight; marry and raise families; divorce,
follow different lights over horizons.
We seek reasons for offenses presumed but never given.
Some have died—some vanished, leaving youthful laughter,
and life’s manic theatres, pieced together by those who stayed,
to wander a trail to the cabin, or road to the castle.
Vast memories are found in cottage as in manor:
similar joys and sorrows—fragments; whispers;
glowing ceremonies of commonality.
Recalling images and hopes of children,
we don sweaters and coats of lost thoughts
and boundless, Summer worlds of the sanctity of childhood:
Friendships woven into warm tapestries, which never shrink, fray, nor fade.
2 February, 2023
The Guilty Party
Several dollars of bird seed
are not worth sleuthing the sound
of metal feeders being tipped
in a cold December night.
I tumble out of bed; amble down a darkened staircase;
through silent rooms inhabited by ghosts.
Exit by back door, over porch,
out to the Maple, where the guilty are caught, red hoofed.
Sunflower seeds, corn, and millet scattered,
as they retreat from the wreck, into backyard shadows—
calling in White tailed snorts:
“We’ll be back tomorrow night, it was too easy!”
3 December, 2022
Poem in Mid- November
-For the Poets at Java Blue
We had early snow and rain, that Tuesday night.
Some crashed cars on the strange terrain,
not seen since Spring.
Sliding home, after poetry at the café;
no tavern refugees, but some carrying
wild, autumn leaf garments;
year-end ghosts’ gothic temperament.
Snow contained the late hours,
leaving wet footprints of man and beast.
Over glazed, desolate farm fields,
November leaf gust dialects:
tantrums, prayers, winter chants.
17 November, 2022
Small Pockets of Resistance
They turned their backs on the new religion of fear.
She homeschooled her children.
He taught his sons how to read the weather
and work outdoors.
She showed her daughters
how to sew patches, darn, weave.
He told stories of ancestral truths.
The boys could read at four.
The girls could read at four.
Their lives were not like television rumor.
They understood freedom and humor;
organic gardens and folklore.
They did not try to erase the past:
deny truth nor invest in class.
Small enclaves of resistance
were little things, done with great love.
August 15, 2022
The Fox Runs at Night
-for Matthew Milby, Jr.
Late, still heat; Tree Frogs, Crickets, and Toads
hopping across my path.
I jog on a clear, Summer’s night; shirt and shorts drenched,
as if I passed through a shower; as though a storm pursued me.
Beyond the elementary school’s long driveway, heading east,
the Red Fox jogged ahead,
stopping on a lawn, under a Black Walnut tree.
His secrets paused to gaze at me in the glow of my flashlight.
He wandered away,
on his late-night adventure,
as Crickets ceased their chorus,
and Bats sailed above, listening.
1 August, 2022
An Unintended Ode to Summer
You worked in the cool, unlit house all morning,
then entered a back porch,
to discern who was stoking July’s ire, in the Northeast Jungle.
Which species of demon was conjured,
as fireman for a furnace in the firmament’s power plant?
The berry bushes and remaining Daisies fainted; fresh Moss fled.
Lush grasses from Spring’s ardor swayed, delirious—
no longer in soft embrace of April’s mists,
but a veil of perdition that Dog Days twist
on a Celestial loom in Summer.
Raccoons crowd the shadowed corners of barns,
and neighborhood cats play coroner at street carcasses before Dawn.
Even ghosts are thinner in the diurnal theater of Summer,
Grey gowns of revenants in Autumn,
are but gossip among field hands and cows, subdued by the Solar kitchen.
July 1, 2022
The Catbird, Chipmunk, and Sparrow
Catbird and Chipmunk on a rain-dampened porch roof.
Late May morning; joined by a Sparrow.
Cars and trucks navigate the side street,
to gain a minute from Main.
Automotive carnival in all weather—
never pauses; no longer stays home.
In furies of mindless driving,
playing with AI tracking devices,
two convicts across the street,
enter an early morning SUV.
They do not hear birdsong nor witness immediate
and minute grandeur that is late Spring.
FED X truck delivers noise and diesel exhaust.
The human fete brings emotion, whim, and lust.
Catbird and Sparrow call;
Chipmunk eats last year’s Rose of Sharon seeds,
and carries remaining blossoms for a future feast.
4 June, 2022
You have comfort foods.
I have comfort sounds:
Spring winds in Pine boughs.
Rain on an old barn roof.
Ignored Sparrows and Winter cousins—
proof of songbirds’ secret dialects.
Church bells on Sunday mornings.
Grandfather clock’s midnight warnings.
Rotary phone’s peal,
relic of slower and less neurotic days.
Children’s laughter in an August playground.
Autumn leaves dislodged
and falling to a damp October yard,
out of reach of engines, exhaust,
hardwood verses; equinox thoughts.
5 April, 2022
The Steaming Porch Roof
The roof is steaming in early morning.
Solar intention warms worn shingles.
The old porch sighs damp reveries,
relived that winter has been evicted.
No final payments of sleet.
No stingy snowflakes, gathered in despair.
Red buds appeared overnight in some acres.
Scallions, Daffodils, Crocuses slowly emerge.
Cowbirds, Grackles, and the Red Winged,
returned with extended families of Starlings,
leading the vernal chanson,
however hopeful; however early.
Brown Scarlet Oak Leaf tossed
between slate-tinted storm clouds
in heavy piles suspended above farm fields.
Rain breath from the dark creek,
where fog and fresh mosses are sung of
by bleak troubadours of Equinox.
26 March, 2022
Tears mixed with Snow in March,
bending branches and muting talk of Equinox.
Late Winter's mysticism; Sun seeks red buds.
To hear verdant blood moving in Lilac limbs;
Oak roots, and Maple's flowing nectar.
Vestal cloud scent.
Winds bring bird verses to seed kitchens.
Starlings rout suet.
Sparrows chant with millet falling from cold beaks.
White powder rubbed on heads and wings.
Tantrum gusts force ice-battered pines to sing.
Houses and old barns reveal their recent fangs.
Yellow and Purple Crocuses, shiver in custody battles,
between algid Gusts and prescient Sun.
Warmer breath woke a spider who left
a snowflake swaying on the tip of a single web.
9 March, 2022
Winter Storm Izzy
January 16-17, 2022
Your forebears took lives; you took lives.
In your gothic track, under the Wolf Moon,
leaving the South and Mid-Atlantic states,
your wind-medicated labors
carried every violent dance of water:
snow, sleet; blizzard variants of glacial rain.
A lunatic daughter of errant winter,
as he struggled to contain your mood swings:
your banshee breath.
You are no Katrina. You are no Ida.
Your threadbare train swept frozen grasses,
like a jilted bride, fleeing family and friends
across the yard, in a hissing panic of shame and rage,
tormenting people, and cursing God.
18 January, 2022
Beneath the Wolf Moon
Abandoned cottage at lonely lake dream;
dock illuminated— a glowing necklace, beneath a hat of snow.
Frozen birdnest. Colddark Lake wearing his January coat for Twelfth Night.
The Seven Sisters gazed from Wolf Moon sky. Oak sentries observed.
Ghost lit a blaze in a fieldstone fireplace; laughter steeped the cottage.
Spirits read to each other; minds wandered rafters;
scent of melancholy hid in recesses. I felt them behind me at the old sink and cold stove—
cooking; brewing coffee.
Ghost heads touching, they desperately poured gasoline
from a large, red can, into the car’s tank.
Deceased; still reaching, on a frozen night.
March 9, 2015
December 23, 2017
House Finch at the Feeder
The Winter visits began in October,
when many leaves filigreed limbs;
early frost on dampened lawns, and garden remnants wilted.
Sparrows and Mourning Doves arrived first;
waiting like family at dinner: some raucous, some quiet.
Then, Slate-Colored Junco, en masse; at Dawn
where sallow and golden pages fell,
shaken from the ice-burnt book of late Autumn.
Blue Jay in a bare Maple, whose soliloquy, like Crow’s,
can be heard across the yard.
By conjure; lighter than Purple,
the blush of House Finch appears
in the swaying pan of cracked corn,
Sunflower seeds, and millet.
His coat, selected from a Spring closet;
a quiet nest of tiny eggs, protected by his mother.
8 December, 2021
Geese Flock in October
Each evening, starting in September,
as the breath of the land changes,
and ground fogs shame leaves to blush, the cries arrive.
Canada Geese, born in the Hudson Valley,
sail over, and in their choral prelude, remind of Autumn;
seek new ranges where consortiums gather.
In parks with ponds; dragon-breath over stands of Maples;
lonesome lakesides, the choristers rehearse as they pass.
Often, the passion overtakes entire acreage;
blotting out side street race tracks
where cars and trucks fly for most of the hours of a day.
Beneath the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon,
Canada Geese visit as glowing ghosts.
Warning of imminent snow,
but never heeding their own oratorios,
they rise from pond shores,
and vanish into fog moors.
20 October, 2021
Tumult in October
Copper-hued leaves shook and dislodged from the Ash,
as a large number of Blue Jays fought in the chilled, October dawn.
A Norway Maple bore witness, but no breezes admitted foreknowledge.
It wasn’t a visiting Hawk. Vultures were not interested.
There was no cat in stealth in the yard.
The Blue Jay cartel warred for several minutes.
Rival sides cursed, screamed, flapped;
changed the dream of a quiet Autumn morning,
to a row over territory; the highest boughs’ deciduous blush in October.
A Sky blue feather fell from barn’s mossy roof, softly to the damp lawn below.
October 4, 2021
Great Blue Heron, at the Pool
-for James, Jeffrey, and Richard
A Dog Day’s night, brought a shy guest.
A visitor from the marsh behind the cemetery,
over Milliner’s Creek, and into our August evening yard.
Great Blue Heron, resting on the wall of the pool.
Heron arrived in guise of an evening phantom of Summer.
Was she chased from her nest by Vultures,
so that they could plunder the clutch?
Or, was it her season, where offspring wandered,
mates vanished, and Heron donned her late-Summer dowager’s cloak?
Her silence was her wisdom. Soft breezes, her paintbrush in shadows.
12 August, 2021
The White Oak
at Minisink Valley High School
-Slate Hill, NY
Elder White Oak; fossil-offering sandstone, at its raised roots.
Poison Ivy’s vine, carried up the Oak’s fog-grey bark—
Mockingbird alone in the highest boughs.
Old, green wooden shed to the east;
dirt road wandering; fading to a large field.
Queen Anne’s lace, and modest, blue Chicory,
border the path, with white and purple Clover,
meeting down the center.
Younger Pin Oaks, mere yards away,
cannot recall the farm,
but lean and listen, eagerly, to agrarian yarns;
Truths of the days before motor cars, and electric distraction,
when plows were horse driven,
and sunset traded diurnal light for night’s contemplations.
White Oak’s memoirs, buds and bark tomes; perfumed, green acorns.
Autumn leaves heaped in shadows.
Schoolyard tales where children’s voices are heard with haunted cattle.
13 July, 2021
For the Daisies
“We are flowers of the common sward,
that much we understand.”
-from Daisies,by Kathleen Jamie
Late May was in love with June.
We stood as maids of honor; witnesses to their wedding.
Sparrows fed their young, seeds of Hornbeam blossoms;
Blue Jay was best man, and Squirrels prepared the lawns.
Honey was a gift from the barn’s apiary;
Clover and Roses, a prenuptial agreement,
as new salads from the garden were served to mouths, beaks, and maws.
Dandelions, the Children’s flower, agreed to cast the softest confetti.
Daisies, in their shy beauty, from farm fields, and roadsides;
backyards and marshes, graveyards and rail trails,
whispered the poetry of impending Summer.
1 June, 2021
Forecast as gusts; as breezy evenings by some.
Omens and cautions, about power fails and fences down;
garbage strewn about the town.
Yet, never are warnings about rogue winds;
late winter nightmares ‘til dawn.
There are no gale paths from the coast to the Valley,
but guerilla gusts, stopping breath, and hiding bodies.
Here are random winds—
shifting barn walls and vowing violence for trees.
From shredded flags, to brown fogs above peat fields in March;
nights of private fears pacing halls of Victorian houses,
whose eaves whistle and rafters tremble.
That which cools a Summer’s kitchen,
now, a cruel witch rules, claiming victims—
Rogue winds rise, ceasing their visions.
March 15, 2021
Ode to Orlena
31 January to 2 February, 2021
New York, and surrounding maps,
has not had a witch cast such spells in years.
Her grey breath travelled across the country,
in a late January omen of early February,
where all shadows were hers.
Men toiled to ransack her studio,
shred her cloak and tear her gown;
scatter quiet consternation, to freshly sculpted mounds.
Mistress of a Grand Solar Minimum—
angry issue of a colder epoch;
Sweep dark fields with acres of nimbus brooms.
Knit shrouds of ice consequence to cover pawprint remnants,
of lost animals and hidden humans.
Insurgent snowplows traverse village lanes and county roads,
stifling your blizzard harmonics; scraping pavement—
a bloom of golden orange sparks, before Sunrise.
2 February, 2021
Moonlight on Eagle Cliff
(a Black Rock Forest poem)
I have yet to see Moonlight on Eagle Cliff.
Wandering Black Rock Forest by day;
alone at the old stone house in the night.
I’ve stood as winds pushed me towards doom,
but haven’t been cliffside in silver at night.
The Pitch pines in Winter; dry Oak bark lichen;
acorns and dead leaves tossed at my feet.
No other vagabond hiker or ghosts,
as gusts cry through hollows, and snow becomes sleet.
From Spy Rock to Jim’s Pond, snow blanches the night,
to orgies of Equinox, at Mineral Springs.
The forest refreshed with April’s soft dew;
Deer trails at Dawn; and scatters of wings.
Summer’s cross visage; sweat-wrinkled brow,
furrowed in crops of maestro humidity.
Alas, Phoebe! No beams from Diana’s pleading glow;
no lullaby of Luna at nodding Sunflower rows; to leaf crop harvest amidst frost strife.
I have yet to see Moonlight on Eagle Cliff, late at night.
March 23, 2020
August, in Black Rock Forest
Black Rock Forest, Cornwall, NY
August, in Black Rock Forest, sundry twigs and dust.
Continental Road wanders above Lower Bog Meadow,
along a hill, south of the ancestor pond—
a cloud pensioner, bereft of rain,
despite recent limbs felled by a tropical storm.
Spruce-hidden Catbirds, converse by the Babcock House,
during a parade of young Toads.
A haunted, green well pump,
across the road from the stone abode,
recalls meditations of water over the dam at the reservoir.
Yet, all roads are dry—despite an earlier tempest.
Monarchs’ Milkweed sanctum; Queen Anne’s breeze considered lace—
her bouquet of Red Clover and Chicory, at the foot of resilient Mountain Laurel,
where Sparrow contraltos warn of storm.
Bumble Bees flee a truck bounding through the leaf bestrewn road,
only to return to their efforts at pollen gardens.
Scrolls of Hickory bark tell gothic yarns of an older silence;
nestled amidst remnants of Hemlock pines, White Oaks, and nuts,
scattered at the bench of glacial Sandstone.
The haunted, green well pump, across the road from the settlement house,
flakes of rust abound in fresh mud at my boots;
well water as relief from ornery Summer’s solar fixation.
We do not tramp to the waterfalls, for fear of scant trickles, and mosquito- usurped puddles.
We care not for crowds, who desire easier access from Mountainville
or the sign-addled, shadowed road, from Old Mineral Springs.
The forest awaits September’s stage change; where colours ripen; rains are colder;
aromas of Autumns past, imbue the tapestry of deciduous hues.
August 29, 2020
First Presbyterian Church,
Village of Florida, NY
Late February gales buffet and carry a senior Crow,
as she attempts to land on the steeple of the Presbyterian Church,
where shingles and boards have been pried away in weeping gusts.
The sky is a colonial bed of wet, grey blankets.
Mold-stained white paint pealed by storm anger.
The bones are dark and damp; over two hundred years old.
We have prayed inside the mind of the building.
Never have we observed the curator wind, at his gallery of regret.
February 27, 2020
Enigma of the Night
In a garret, immured in parchment, gazing through cracked windows;
early morning candlelight; until at night—
I wander the streets, a man distinct from day.
Stevenson could not render me; with pills, potion, nor powder
as stark darkness’ scholar; I am seen by towns-folk, but not remembered.
Courting schemes for a word-littered life:
from café, gallery, bookstore; calling scribes of the past.
Grey daybreak finds me cold, sneaking home like a mouse, ignored.
Slowly climbing dust-smitten stairs; the third floor, to hide.
Apart from the rain and Sun to abide.
Papers stacked— from boards to rafters; with candle, books, and quill.
November 7, 2019
January 21, 2020
Sisyphus boulders; Promethean cinders;
Ulysses sail boat wrecked—
recast as Winterreise’s toil.
Walking backwards to the past; perpetual snares; swamp gasses;
feral noises in forlorn woodlands; another cliff; another fen.
When, oh when will the trail lay clear of brambles;
other peasants’ foibles; other people’s troubles?
When can I tend my own vineyards and gardens,
without playing chess in the urban dominion?
Target of a modern trajectory; a cog in the field of the penitents’ factory?
Let me trudge to a one room schoolhouse—
I’ll keep it secret.
I’ll make a pact to stay in the mists of the atavistic.
Leave the path of an itinerant preacher—swear!
And I’ll promise not to come back!
January 10, 2020
The Ranting of Seagulls and Crows
Shoprite, Warwick, NY
Seagulls are born of blank, carnivorous snowbanks,
They dance over a supermarket parking lot.
Crows patiently observe those gulls wounded, ill;
Dying of winterblight.
Some people are raucous Crows—others are magical seagulls—
I have seen people who are born of Crow and Seagull union,
urban hybrids of inland and shore.
I moor in the car—a sea of pavement, icebergs floating; snow fodder;
dropped from the mouth of a snowplow.
Diesel, with death in its name, barking to Crows
as they recite stark Poems of December wind gossip.
The store is aviary: flocks carry refuse to pack nests.
Old seagull limps on leg ruined by blue fishing line, tangled; dangling but not quickdeath!
Fishermen are kin to deer and bear hunters.
They cast Styrofoam cups, cans, snares, barbed hooks
to moss beds; tree limbs on lakeshore.
Shoppers are hunters and gatherers of a different species.
They drop millions of cigarettes, paper and plastic, phlegm,
dog dung scattered around solipsistic cars.
Some humans are mordant crows, or common, feeding seagulls—
flocking to Ego roosts and Id stripmalls, where all is for sale,
and all will sail on Winter gusts if startled; but raving,
spying birds of prey when kindred steal from their manufactured food chain.
February 19, 2004,
November 27, 2006,
December 1, 2019
Rain, on a September Morning
Sunflower yellow powder, honey-scented, late Summer.
The glass vase on the kitchen table was my mother’s.
The family’s house, left to us.
A colder season shops at a thrift store—
clothing for early Autumn, to arrive in three week’s time.
Cooler Breezes incant rain, build bubbles in puddles,
quickly bursting the tiny globes as they float.
A lone, yellow Walnut leaf, dislodges in mist,
floats to the wet and darkened grass.
September 11, 2019
Frost fingers strip Maple leaves in morning; winds took the Ash, rain got the Elm,
Oak remains defiant, but he too will be icesheared.
Frost grabbed the hips from my denuded rose bush; caps of ice and dimmed their blood;
toughening soil as the brown boudoir of Autumn congeals.
Trees know ghosts!
They welcome them in Autumn; contend with their endless rhetoric,
sibilance, and wind laments in Winter.
Pines hug spirits; crying turpentine in Summer mad swelter,
copious resin when left alone on the edge of evening,
facing a night of endless ice, and stark animal wars.
Where would trees sway to stay in the scant Sun of December?
Long, grey limbs of the Beech,
hanging on to her headdress; hugging armfuls of copper-shined leaves,
held close to her head as Crows crowd roof in deference to the chimney altar.
She wishes with her siblings that she could sit atop the roof with Crows,
but knows that to fall, would destroy the house;
ruin the heat; crush the frosted world of huddled humans.
November 9, 2017
November 11, 2017
January 24, 2018
Beyond Satie, I hear yelling in the street.
Just after opening the second floor windows to a May morning,
expecting Sparrows to speak from Rose of Sharon.
Gnossiennes is shattered by an unseen stranger, slamming a car door.
Beyond the cd’s vernal outpouring:
other people’s schedules—
louder than a rural morning in 1890;
come not to my door, as an angry ode to frenetic, urban dance,
but through the window,
stealing the breath of a bohemian piano;
where the blundering offspring of entertainment’s plot against inspiration,
tramples gardens; scatters birds, and fells trees, beyond Poetry; beyond Satie.
May 29, 2019
Summer’s Ephemeral Portrait
Grass Sparrow, eating Hornbeam blossoms; Phoebe sings of Daisies.
Honeybees return to the aged barn.
Screech Owl perches on a rafter.
Breezes brush soft, Maple hair.
Green manger for Orange Daylilies; Clover aroma in the air.
Morning Glory is selected scarf for Rose of Sharon.
Garter Snake, and Garden Spider; Dragonfly distraction.
In Summer’s ephemeral portrait, there stands a phantom.
We were warned, when cold, from Crows;
in green by manic Robins.
A ghost, floats above snow in winter;
now in hem-high, listening grass,
staring as stark specters do; eager to return to flesh.
June 8, 2019
At Pacem in Terris
The Wawayanda creek spoke verses to July’s Dog Days,
as the Chamber Organ tuned and patrons waited
to enter the remains of the old water mill.
A woman wandered the sculptures.
Her red blouse bespoke Summer flower gardens and her smile reversed time.
She had not heard Theorbo nor Viola da Gamba,
but past lives are often forgotten in the new world beneath the Sun.
Ancient river beckoned and we surveyed the grand cave of the mill;
where Italy met England, over 400 years ago.
The trees whispered tales of eldritch people; ghosts watching in approval.
The woman sat in awe of holy music, noble, untroubled, and at peace.
August 11, 2015
May offered glimpses of Winter-released garbage, on the mud-mired creek bank.
A black coffee maker, half-buried in stream sludge, standing close to the currents;
lid open, container full of rainwater. No carafe.
An Ermine swam across the waterway; climbed ashore, over leaf and moss near the dead
machine. I gazed from the bridge above dark fluid, as Blackbirds and Finches called.
He is harboring the coffeepot in his den.
Ermine may have turned the creek to endless coffee;
beans stolen from nearby farmer’s market, pungent dark roast ground by his fangs.
June 1, 2018
A Meditation on Ravel’s Trio
May’s chilled fog and deep rains have beckoned all
to introspection’s meadows.
A Piano calls beyond the garden’s slate-grey walls.
Cello and Violin rains punished the remaining white blossoms,
creating rivulets in cold mud, like those of the dark, Great War.
Honey Bee colonies hidden for days, return,
when Sun blooms for a promised afternoon pageantry.
February 23, 2016
Snowmelt Ides in March
Mid-March, and the firmament is grey, like a turbulent creek in snowmelt.
A light breeze buffets dead leaves; snaps old tarps; plastic bags, and forgotten flags.
Spring is struggling to be born.
The heavy cloud’s water breaks!
Daffodils and Crocuses crown—
Sun Doula guides the new mothers in rough winds.
The air becomes pungent with rain. Old glacial exhalation above winter-tired church spires,
manors and shacks; waking forests; damp and desolate meadows.
In Frost’s pasture, the spring sings up through ancestry’s leaves,
withered grasses, careless straw; and offers clear drink to chanting Geese,
fraternal orders of Crows,
reciting verses from the Romantic Era of late Winter.
March 15th, 2016
Omen on a January Morning
He arrived at Dawn to speak with a silent coven,
atop the grand Victorian building on Main.
A large, angry pickup blew through the ice-stern street,
like a troubled Autumn leaf dislodged from my thoughts.
Aurora’s disciple did not flinch at his warm, chimney pulpit.
He turned to watch the purple clouds scab to consternation’s Grey;
saw me observing him, from my garret window.
Fellow Vultures called— crouching on the rooftop, shoving the horde.
He raised one wing from his shabby perch.
No Maestro Hawk, but a playwright, above drowsing commuters.
Snow keeps Memory; Ice jails Desire throwing plans to disarray.
I can not see their breath, but the fifteen black emissaries, are a morning collegium;
watched by a chorus of Crows, who bark challenges to a waking snowstorm.
January 25, 2015
He dances, waving commuters on,
Under a bleak, late autumn sky.
Which ballet is this?
Crisp November aires—
crows taunting, cars haunting his afternoon and evening.
Who is this grandfather of school children’s safety?
He swings the red, plastic stop sign—
quixotic thrust, but his windmills are giants!
The chaperone of shadows, as dawn barely tinges the winter clouds.
His bright orange and yellow vest is a carnival costume.
His hair and moustache, a shade of winter fields—
cheeks chafed by sharp Sunrise gusts,
and his baton is a scepter—
mocking royal coaches as they hurry along the cold highway,
never turning to his theatre; as children on buses do,
missing this jester at the end of an empire, a clown in the circus of rush-hour.
A Legacy of Grey
Applying shadows to a Spring afternoon; recalling Winter, without the woe;
recanting promises made to a Crow; wandering with a burden of poems.
A leaf, a sheaf of colder breezes cast from North cloud ego,
as a reminder of the ephemeral season, with atavistic paints of Autumn.
Fog and mists hold flesh in stern garments; worn in word armaments—
folly and regret renewed in damasked thoughts.
Daisies reach through forlorn pastures of mood;
call to creekside Lilies, and White Birch woods, release tawny Fox prophet from
legends, out to a meadow, where Sparrows guard secrets of sectarian Crows,
whose séance secures rural ancestors—manors of ghosts; cadres in continuums of rain;
endless hues of grey; to nurture moss, mould, and grains,
before sprouts and Butterflies faint in the Dog Days.
May 31, 2017
A Cemetery in Goshen
The November sky pours deliberate crows, washed from private thoughts
behind a massive, Celtic cross— lichen brushed by rough thighs of a grey wind.
November winds seduce each other in the watching cemetery.
I read Dickinson, and follow her carriage, just ourselves,
with strong coffee, after spilling it on my book.
The dead would prefer that I leave.
I impress them with dark verses.
An old man walks, out of a mausoleum, past my car, from the past
To the bars of iron, and through them.
Oak oil breath emerges, but there is no nearby woodpile.
Farm ghosts rise from rain darkened sod, through scattered leaves.
Tireless sentries of the naked orchard, dressing her in their dream fog
To protect her slender limbs from the withering Winter cold.
October 13th, 2011
Beethoven’s 9th Sonata
The piano sonata is Autumn leaves,
dyed in sound, chasing each other
like giddy schoolchildren
down a blustery country lane.
The leaves dislodge from the keyboard tree,
headlong to a path of afternoon windplay.
Orange and ruddy rustics carry softer yellows along,
coaxing those still younger greens with red freckles and wild opinions.
Yet, when grey brushes brood into later tones of day—
colder hues call the leaves over frost-dressed stone walls,
beyond harvest-abandoned fields,
and shadowed wells, quieting pliant faces to discs of ice.
Now Winter’s recital intones solitude,
notes hung like breath garlands above the gloom,
speaking in rustled pages; keys of frost and snow,
outside the desolate hall.
December 8, 2009
Above an algid, metal pan of seeds, the pair appears on Christmas morning!
He scouts the powdered rain;
she clings fast to a swaying feeder;
he routs through snow-blessed Millet, for the black gem of Sunflower,
presented to her— a Yuletide gift on a sacred morning.
January 17, 2018
The Yellow Monarch
The Yellow Monarch visited in his spirit cloak; past the apiary clock,
in the wall of a senescent barn.
A Crow carried bread over the yards.
Robins—spies for the Equinox,
having renewed their contracts, maintained their lawn outposts.
The Butterfly was an epigraph of the Sun’s poem; a voice of silence at Dawn.
A brief transit of thought along a brambled path to the Garden.
Mullein skeletons swayed in Clover and Timothy grasses.
Farm tractor field hand traversed haunted peat moss,
and white Willows on creek bank, trembled as breezes reminded of old country past lives.
The creek was ripe in natal Summer wildlife—
birddive sky antics—Goldfinches chased a Red Winged Black Bird as he called;
Swallows fell from wind-severed storm clouds.
Yellow Monarch maintained his court, in defiance of the setting Sun.
June 21, 2017
Night, Chester, NY
Main Street— old end; lamps wear Christmas wreathes.
Pass in car, wander afoot, sail on Crow wing.
Winds sing soot crumbs down freshly warmed chimney throats.
Oak rubs his hands together, seeking songs of summer.
Sparrows pray atop a church manger’s roof.
Magi and cattle don night-painted frost.
All but the infant stand in dried, elder Oak leaves.
The Snowstorm’s wet aspersions became a festival of brown receipts.
Maples and Oaks rule the lawns.
October’s haughty hues—
held in dusty trunks; dream ledgers,
collected in each house, barn, memory church.
Ghosts from the opera house wait for a train;
sit in the café, with Blues in its name.
Bare bulbs of Rosehips tremble in leafless shame.
Only the winds now know her.
Glories of the garden, rendered to a stain
of mulch upon Birch bark, and Black Walnut husks.
Signpost sweeps a cold, grey parking lot,
never reaching dancing papers—
the final proof of purchase made by springtide Sun.
December 19, 2018
Copyright © 2019 Robert Milby Poetry - All Rights Reserved.