Her Gentle Hands

July 5, 2014

The rain comes out of nowhere, thunder first.
It rumbles through the town more like
a rock concert than a storm. Lightning bolts
light up the dark streets with their ancestral ecstasy.
The boy sits on his bike, his newspapers folded
and wet. The gas station on Sunrise Road
is empty but open. The milk truck stops,
then glides through the traffic light.
The boy pushes off into the dark red street.

If only rain were syrup we could use
to sweeten the sounds our words make—
the words they think will come out of your mouth
to stop him, but don’t,
words that will speak your name—
your name along with all the songs to sing before
the skidding truck suspends all sounds—
the sounds that crash as if bottles fell from the sky,
so much like that hissing sound
that lungs make as they finally slow the breath down—,
and of course the sounds of a prayer
so that he could lie down to sleep
where such precious words are formed—
within her gentle hands.

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5 Responses to “Her Gentle Hands”

  1. John Looker Says:

    I’m visiting again Jim. This poem poem remains startling for me, but (or rather: And) it’s as good as ever. Fresh and fierce.

  2. Anna Mark Says:

    It is the verbs that most often trip me up. I am prone often to leave them out, but when I let others read my poems they stumble and falter…we need verbs, apparently, and I obviously haven’t learned the trick of how to leave them out poetically.

  3. extrasimile Says:

    First, Anna, thank you. Of course it is ‘gentle’. These days, I use spell check to correct—not so much my bad spelling, though I am a bad speller—but to correct my bad typing. Sometimes it autocorrects to the wrong word, and I miss it. So…good spot.
    The change of tone was deliberate. In some way I am contrasting a ‘prose’ section with a ‘poetry’ section—which is the result of my thinking about the difference between the two after Tom D’Evelyn gently chided me on—or challenged me—about the relation between grammar and poetry. Would a paraphrase ruin the poetry? Of course, he’s quite right. There is nothing about bad grammar that is poetic. But I seem to be finding sentence fragments interesting these days. And run-on sentences. At City College, I work with students who are learning English. There are times when their writing approaches poetry—though they don’t realize it and get very embarrassed if I praise it as such. English verbs—and those modals—are the very devil. And what better definition of a poem than to say it wrestles with the devil?

  4. Anna Mark Says:

    A beautiful rain poem. Is it “gentile” or “gentle” or both?

    And all the sounds…where such precious words are formed.

    I’d like to lie down there, too.

  5. John Stevens Says:

    That delivers quite a shock to the reader – congratulations Jim! The two stanzas cleverly change in mood and pace as the story or scene unfolds. To someone who reads your poems regularly there’s an interesting change from the first lyrical stanza to the second which is not only dramatic but also, in your customary way, more elliptical. Both very interesting – indeed arresting.


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