Poems 2008-2011     by Martin A. Abramson          © Fort Lauderdale 2008
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Odyssey's End

the night has promised
an unearthly tenderness

the sorrow of her cheek
warm on my chest

I have outlived the wars I won
a hollow victory

washed ashore
friendless and alone

my crew, my ship
drowned--Troy's citadels
and toppled towers--

the golden spoils
glitter and tumble
in the shining surf

Ye Gods, what more have you to fear
from me

were I to spend the last years
after lost years

with Penelope?


I've tried trying

and now
I'm not trying

I'm just not trying


in the corridors of my brain
snow falls on new york city
drift after drift

old bricks breathe music
streets lead to memory

Dream Rhetoric: A Writers' Guide

the needful's what we breed
we doubt it

in the second of one
the doubtful takes the lead

the needful-doubtful ever
is the key

be careful to start
each second line with 'd'

this is the inner life of poetry

Straws in the Wind

 I have no opinions

I need a passport to reality

the air's so full of straw
can't tell which way the wind blows

I need to mutate
be transformed, transfigured
selected naturally

what memories swim
in this flood of dreams?

what ghosts of past sorrows?

Ishmael, how you've grown
you could be president
this is all Sarah's fault.

desert your temples
burn the ancient books
and intermarry

intermarry till each person in the world's
ten billionth Jew

then we'll be everywhere and nowhere
like God

The Dancers

how easily the old lose track of time
and time of them.

my zeitgeist is indeed
a wind-grieved ghost

my sins, an angry mob
howl me toward death

like Orpheus or Lot's wife
I must look back
lose love
and caramelize
still looking back
where failures are a trail of smoking ruins

I shall, when all my vices are rehearsed
and fiery witness to damnation prove
remain a prodigy forever cursed
still searching for the ultimate romance

who loved the dancers past the bounds of love

but could not dance

How Beautiful

how beautiful were the ones
we destroyed

agon of remembrance
what was won by courage
and lost through cowardice

between the months
when summer segučs
into rainy fall

petals in foglight
floating downstream

detained by ice
with twigs, leaves
air bubbles and loam

gripped between the frozen
banks and rocks

suspended days

Temporary Worlds

the temporary world of hurricane
showering shreds of houses
on shells of houses

of flood
floating houses downstream

of fire
smoke-veiled assassin

of tornado
plowing farms into the soil

crash of comet or economy
ice-age, ice-caps
germ war, web-war, nano-war
poised on the edge of cataclysm
a thousand temporary worlds

knowing we can vanish
like the foam on a wave

what are we holding on to?
what's holding on to us?

Mom and Dad

she called him the 'little green man'
he gave her one dollar a day
green of dollar was his color

she made him so mad
he threw her seal fur coat
into a bathtub full of water

I saw it swim away

Late Sorrows

at time's end
there is no romance

at time's end
also ends the dance

so brief the gods their blessings lend
so quick the hour so swift the lark

after you leave I nurse the spark
what life divides no scar can mend

after the afterglow
the dark

POEMS 2009


a Cincinnati suburb
drenched in real daylight
circa 1948

a boy of ten
who has not seen his father in six weeks
sits on a pillar
at the entrance to a small playground

he has waited
three hours already

and will wait
two more


I once pulled women out of context
and romanced them

now I think
if there is to be a woman
she must be
in context

Moshe the Tailor

I forbid you
to hold my funeral

I forbid you
to remember me

as I did not exist in life
let me not exist in death

let me rush from oblivion
to oblivion


The Sea...

reservoir of memory

has no shape
I can remember

of landscapes
buildings in sunlight
streets, plazas, parks

I can say only
I was there

Love Poem--for Valerie

toys with love
and us

and we must
play along
to win
the game

or sometimes 
stop it
soon enough

to sidestep
years of pain

Old Age
                       If it's a question of parallel worlds, this is one of the better ones.

funnel of memory and remorse
sorrow and situation

somebody loves me
in the strangest of ways
cruelest of ways

mirror of moment
ancient of days

All my life.
O God!

Still River
                      A Rhapsody on Valery's Le Rameur

a rower

in tunnels of foliage

prow ruffling
painted reflections

parting the real world
from its liquid mirror

the surface

a commotion
of oars

the memory of calm

  Slide Show

some rush to inter-

shun the abstract
have beaucoup fun

some live in the mind
prefer the entr'acte

where memory serves up
skein after scene

faux waking dream

Autistic God

What worlds
but bi-polar?

...No more questions!

Look kid,
I am what I am.

Get used to it.


as real as Dodgson
reading to young girls
in a summer meadow

Yeats sailing
artificial swans in Byzantium

or Van Gogh's sunflowers

the slow movement of Mozart's
flute and harp

Molly Malone
or the girl who stole sunshine
from Red River valley

rain in Seattle
baseball in Kansas City
wind in Chicago

what we take with us
into the unreal world

Poetry Festival

I'm no star on a stage
feted, applauded
each careless word
reverenced like gospel, but

I have my own mangy muse
stubborn, abstemious
taciturn, tightwad
inarticulate, hiding
with hate

Limbaugh's Joy

laughter of $billions,
crowing from the helm
of high white yachts,
falls on fervid seas
of unanalyzed dreams--
masters the troubled tides

cancer of money
metastasizes in the nation's arteries

swashbucklers exult
the power of piracy

Two Images from Morikami


through arching canopies
the fog
curls into curling leaves


distressed concentrics
bright green algae
on the glaucous pond


sleep is escape
but there is no sleep

nests of light
in the crossing shadows

quiet beyond
rotors and gears

refuge, silent
silent as the grave

there is no

 Passing Out

plumbing timeless depths
far black
memory of a dream

uprushing from
a thousand fathoms down
breaking the surface
at a cymbal crash

shocked by a strange
familiar world

muttering attempts
to make it home

she cradling my head
murmuring comfort

until I saw the new world
as the old
in sudden focus
and uncanny love

accepting it

  The Last Word

I came to Phoenix
overflowing love
and left, all passion
burned and seared away

how do you imagine
I could trust you now?

how encounter you
without revulsion?

how scatter any seeds
on this scorched earth?

by way of malediction, let me quote
your honorable Leech
in re his pledge
to drive me to the airport

"Take a taxi."


the mounts race
down the track

some sprint ahead
some inch along

some pound on turf
some slog through mud

some with expert jocks
some riderless

no comprehensive vision
to summarize the figments of my mind

but all will break the tape
at once


A basket floating on the Nile
found by a princess
among the rushes.

What's inside it?
Why does she want it?

How has it washed
into the swirling confluence
of peoples?

Is my desk
floating on the Nile?

Lombard Street

Haunted by the past
weighted with guilt
needing a new lease on life
the old one unrenewed

Yet not evicted from the premises
I haunt the empty hallways of my corpse
peer out of broken windows at the fog
scan dusty tomes in ancient libraries.

"Hold on," says the driver
as the bus lurches forward.
"I'm not supposed to be on Lombard Street
I need the 18L."

She says, "This is
the 18L."

Leaving at Lombard Street,
I'm nowhere.


a woman's voice
distinctly speaks my name

am torn from sleep with
pounding heart, half conscious cry

this is the closest
that I ever came