The Stuff of Poetry

Give them circles of Hell
the stench of battlefields
and young lives lost
love’s passionate embrace
a young mother’s grief
at her stillborn child
the vanity and futility
of all endeavor
despair that falls
like acid rain
doubt and faith
the ways we meet death
and off they go
writing verse that matters.

But give them something
like a hangnail
or the place you
always stub your toe
the fit of your new sneakers
that little lift you get
when your favorite tune
plays on the radio
or the cute way
you still pull in your gut
when a young girl passes by
the quiet sigh you make
every morning
for no particular reason …
and their voices go mute
as if there’s nothing
sacred or profound
no truth or beauty
in life’s detritus.

First published in Wilderness House Literary Review Summer 2017. Read this and two other poems here  http://www.whlreview.com/no-12.2/poetry/GeneTwaronite.pdf

After Hearing the Young Black Poet

AFTER HEARING THE YOUNG BLACK POET

speak, my first reactions were
sadness, rage, then wonder
at our different worlds—
he writes of the bullet
he knows has his name on it
while I write—again—of my
imminent decrepitude,
he writes of all the times
he was stopped and frisked
while I write of indignities
suffered at airport security,
he writes of how his
great-great-great grandfather
was sold and branded like cattle
while I write of how my
Lithuanian grandfather’s name
got butchered at Ellis Island
he writes of how it felt
to watch the first Black president
compared to a monkey
while I write of how
my big ears always turned red
whenever kids laughed at them,
he writes of the pain
that won’t go away after
seeing his son killed because
a policeman felt threatened
while I write of the day
a policeman’s wife shot her husband
dead in the bedroom above us
and I felt sad for my poor dad
cleaning bits of brain off the walls,
he writes knowing that for some
he will always be less of a man
while I write whole and secure.
We explore the separate
flows of our lives, holding
them back against time,
diving for words
in quiet pools of reflection,
but it’s a wonder
his dam doesn’t burst.

First published in Ginosko Literary Journal Issue #19 (see page 331). Read this and four other poems here Ginosko Literary Journal Issue 19

Trash Picker on Mars Review

My little book of poems has picked up another review, this time by my local newspaper.

TRASH PICKER ON MARS

By Gene Twaronite (Kelsay Books, $14)

Reviewed by Christine Wald-Hopkins for Arizona Daily Star

This collection of poems, which came out last year, is an expression of the concrete, the contemporary, and—see the title—the imaginative unlikely. Two-thirds of the thirty-two poems previously published elsewhere, “Trash Picker on Mars” is Gene Twaronite’s first book of poems. Covering such subjects as a porn-peddling bus station, a sleeping woman in a subway car, a container store, the death of a mourning dove, the poems reflect upon gritty, working class life in modern American society and the nature of life itself.   AZ daily star/southern arizona authors