Trash Picker on Mars Winner of 2017 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award

My first poetry collection Trash Picker on Mars has just won the 2017 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award in the category of Arizona poetry. I would like to thank my publisher and editor Karen Kelsay (Kelsay Books) and freelance editor Kate Robinson for their help and support. Mostly I wish to thank my readers over the years who have enjoyed my poems and encouraged me to keep on writing.

Stay tuned for exciting news of the next poetry book.

Meanwhile, if you wish to purchase a signed copy of Trash Picker on Mars, you can do so here. It is also available on Amazon.

 

Timepiece and Other Poems Published in The Ravens Perch

Timepiece as well as four other of my new poems have just been published in The Ravens Perch the ravens perch.com/timepiece-by-gene-twaronite/  

The Ravens Perch is an independent online literary magazine considered by Feedspot to be one of the top 100 literary blogs.

 

A Blank Page

If I put a word here, say
for instance, extravagance,
how would that look? Or
if I gave it a whole line
extravagance
like something that fills
the sad space in your life
by pumping itself up
to seem important.

What if I put in a long pause….?
not because I need to,
but to make you stop and listen
for whatever comes next as if
the words held sacred truth.

What about all that space
along either side of this page?
I could
pull it in
like so
or take it all the way out to the farthest reaches of space
just because it is there and I can.

Does it matter what I say here or how?
Do words depend on me to give them life
or do they possess lives of their own?
Do they rise and go to work each day,
and come home again to sleep at night?
Do they aspire to perform great things,
to come together with other words
in poems and speeches for the ages?

Maybe in the meantime I should
give them something to do,
some little task around this page
to make them feel useful.

And if I don’t write something
to fill this void today,
would it be a tragedy
if I left it empty?

1st Prize Winner of Arizona State Poetry Society 2016 Legacy Award. First Published in Sandcutters 2016  http://azpoetry.webs.com/2016-annual-contest-info

All That Was Needed

All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory.
~George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Keep telling yourself
it never happened
wage relentless
assault on all
evidence to
the contrary
vanquish doubt
as you double down
on the message
memorize
then swallow
fix it firmly
like a favorite song
in the jukebox memory
of your hippocampus
play it again and again
as you reimagine the past.

First published In Tipton Poetry Journal Summer 2017 (see page 54)

 

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).