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

An Endless Afternoon of Now

My poem “An Endless Afternoon of Now” was just published in the latest issue of Tipton Poetry Journal. For much of the past year, I have been reading all the novels of John Steinbeck and came across a remarkable line from his last novel The Winter of Our Discontent that seemed to cry out for a poetic response. So here’s my poem.

AN ENDLESS AFTERNOON OF NOW

It wouldn’t be bad to be that way, suspended in time—not bad at all, an endless afternoon of now.
 ~John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

To enter you must first
choose a now—sitting
on a bench with your
first love and the touch
of her knee against yours
or the way you watched
him through the window
as the train pulled slowly
away from the station—
think of Hopper’s
Josephine standing
naked to the dunes,
a cigarette dangling
from her fingers,
and you get the idea.
Make it something for
the ages, something
that looks good on the wall.

First published in Tipton Poetry Journal Issue #33 (see page 30)

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Grave

Just had a new poem published in the latest Starline, the official journal of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.

Just like him to wait till now—
always the procrastinator
promising to write but
never getting around to it.
I can barely read the words,
scrawled like drunken
worms across the page.
And look at that stationery,
all crumpled and rotted
like he didn’t give a damn.
But what really ticks me off
is the postage due.

 

 

Things Forgotten

There’s a store in the mall selling
personalized engraved gifts
to remember every occasion.
Too bad there’s not a store
to help you forget
those moments
engraved on your brain:
that time in second grade
when the bully won and you ran away,
the slap in your daughter’s face
and the slam of the door when she left,
the thud of his head as it hit the windshield,
the look in your wife’s eyes
when she caught you in your naked deceit,
the words that still echo in your head
or the words you should have said,
the relentless pain she endured
that helped you decide at the end,
the hour just before dawn when you
relive the horrors again and again.
No need for fancy gifts—sandpaper
and a buffing wheel will do,
applied judiciously to remove
just enough letters to dull the pain
without losing their meaning,
just enough to let you sleep at night.

Originally published in Tipton Poetry Journal Issue #32 (see page 76). Read more here (click lower right corner to expand to full screen mode).

Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy My Poetry Book

TWARONITE COVER 1 (2)1.You’ve never heard of the author. Real poets have names like Shelley, Byron, Bysshe, or Percy Dovetonsils.

2.) You’ve always hated your sophomore English teacher.

3.) There are no gunfights, car chases, exploding cows, or sex scenes in my poems (well, maybe a little).

4.) All the really good poets are dead.

5.) Buying books means killing trees.

6.) Poems are all about romance, pain, grief, nature, and the mysteries of life and death, and you hate that stuff.

7.) You only like poems that start with “There was an old man from Nantucket.”

8.) You can never remember the difference between a simile and a metaphor, and frankly don’t give a damn.

9.) Most.of the poems are free verse, so why should you have to buy the book?

10.) Poetry is like truth, and “you can’t handle the truth!”

If you’re still determined to buy my book, visit Amazon or purchase it here  

 

 

 

Praise for Trash Picker on Mars

My first poetry collection has just been published by Aldrich Press (an imprint of Kelsay Books).TWARONITE COVER 1 (2)

Read an advance review: “The poems in Trash Picker on Mars, as the title suggests, range from the concrete to the abstract, from Pascal to mythology, from the homeless, represented by weeds, to a trans-gender person in a gym. What stands out in this collection is Twaronite’s attention to the details and textures of ordinary life as he presents us with reminders that the ordinary—the working man, the sleeping woman on the train, are not to be forgotten when seeking the sublime.  In “The Container Store” the poet longs for “just the right vessel/to store your thoughts/and emotions in safe/and accessible places”—a wish many of his readers will certainly share.”

Nancy Owen Nelson, PhD, author of Searching for Nannie B: Connecting Three Generations of Southern Women.

Available from my online store or at  Amazon

Working Man

With Labor Day just around the corner, I’d like to share my poem “Working Man.” Watch on youtube

It was just published by Work Literary Magazine – Working Man

You can read this and other poems in my first poetry collection Trash Picker on Mars, just published by Aldrich Press. Available at Amazon

TWARONITE COVER 1 (2)

 

 

 

Advance Review of Trash Picker on Mars

TWARONITE COVER 1 (2)Written with wit and compassion, Gene Twaronite’s amazing poems give readers a whole new view of many ordinary experiences of our culture. Nothing can ever be seen the same way again. A few lost keys “Scattered across the pavement/they lay, like shiny petals/plucked from their flowers” become windows into their imagined former owner’s soul. In “Mannequin,” Twaronite’s compassionate view of what was once a semi-human form now become only “eyeless sockets in an empty face–/all that remain of the life/she once possessed” and manage to suggest the way we are all seen by corporate commercial interests. With metaphors embodied in gritty, graphic images, Twaronite sometimes makes astonishing hairpin turns of meaning in his poems as he does in “Trash Picker on Mars,” where this planet seemingly “defrocked of its canals/and green men by Carl Sagan” ends up to pose a chilling potential indeed.

Susan Lang, Faculty Emeritus at Yavapai College and author of the novel The Sawtooth Complex as well as a trilogy of novels about a woman homesteading in the southwestern wilderness during the years 1929 to 1941.

My first poetry book Trash Picker on Mars, published by Kelsay Books, will be coming out in late September.