Approaching Lye Brook

Three of my poems – “Approaching Lye Brook,” “Holy Ghost on a Window,” and “The Unmerciful Leg” – have just been published in the latest issue of Wilderness House Literary Review. You can read them here:

Waiting for the Bus (in Henderson, NV)

It’s just a hole-in-the-wall convenience store

Doubling down as a bus terminal

On the road to the El Dorado.

Beyond a wall of warehouses and power lines

Projects the hazy image of Las Vegas

Against a screen of blue desert mountains.

It is already ninety and, with still half an hour

To kill, I go inside.

A decrepit office chair announces

The waiting room of damned passengers

Forced to sit for eternity wedged

Between bookcases of DVD porn

With titles like Drop Your Drawers,

Ass Candy and BodASScious

And a long showcase stocked like a

Museum of the tawdry with marijuana

Papers, bongs and pipes of all colors,

Detoxifying products like Urine Luck

And Ready Clear, a Venus de Milo-shaped candle,

Dagger paperweights and CO2 cylinders,

Radar detectors, gargoyles topped with

Little glass plates to serve up snort,

Long knives with silver and gold

Handles shaped like cobra hoods,

Even a corn cob pipe and bronzed shoe.

Over my head is a rack of Hustler, Playboy,

Penthouse and others harder still. 

There is no escape.

I try to pass the time with the local

Entertainment rag laced with

Lusty leather-strapped women advertising

Cabarets and gentlemen’s pleasures.

I put down the paper and clutch my book,

Reading it deliberately as if to

Cleanse myself of these primal images

With a baptism of pure words.

Just in time the bus comes.

I scan the islands of passengers

Scattered among the mostly empty seats:

A tidily-dressed retired couple,

Two young women in silver-sequined

Running suits, and a gray pony-tailed guy

With frazzled beard and vacant eyes.

Gazing at my fellow voyeurs,

I wonder what vices

And passions they harbor.

Together we travel in darkness

Afloat in a wanton sea of desire

That defies my sensibilities

As I delight in being part of it all.                                                                             ©Gene Twaronite 2013

Originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review, Summer 2013


Trash Picker on Mars

In the dim time before dawn
the woman clamped her metal
fingers over a beer bottle.
Her buckets overflowing with
litter from a dying world,
she sat and stared at the
alien landscape of asphalt.
The stars had all faded
except for the one red light
of Mars still defying the sun.
The woman smiled at the
mythical planet now
defrocked of its canals and
green men by Carl Sagan
and the Legion of Reason.
But still she dreamed.
In her electric cart she glided
over the red-gold deserts
of ancient Barsoom—
past  the fairy towers
of Grand Canal and the
monoliths of Helium where
a once great race of Martians
lived, played and died—
filling the canyons of
Valles Marineris with the
excess of their empty lives.
Out of habit she picked up a
fluted green shard, then
laughed and flung it along
with her buckets into the
trash heap of lost Martians.
Through the dark grottoes of 
Great Rift Valley she roved to
the shores of Mare Sirenum,
whose salty crust reminded her
of past ruins and distant times
when she could still cry.
For a moment she stared at the
sun, weak and small as it
rose above Olympic Mons,
igniting her in a ruddy glow.
She was the Princess of Mars
and there were still a few
unhatched eggs inside her.
And at the edge of
Candor Chasm she
bared her heart to the
silent, scouring winds.
Then into the dawn
she drove to begin her
new race of Martians.                                                                       © Gene Twaronite 2013
(Originally published by April 2013                            

Four O’Clock Light

Introductory Note: This is my first published poem. Though I usually write my poems in free verse, I decided to try writing something more formal. While reading a book about literature, I came across a French verse form called a villanelle. It employs a complex and somewhat artificial form of 19 lines to create an impression of seemingly effortless simplicity and lightness. I was intrigued by the fact that it was the same form used by Dylan Thomas in his powerful poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” which conveys a message that is anything but simple or light. I also found that writing a villanelle is not nearly as effortless as Dylan Thomas makes it appear. Anyway, here is my poem, which explores both my childhood fascination with Norse myths as well as that certain quality of light one sometimes sees while wandering through cemeteries and ancient stone ruins.

Four O’Clock Light

In the four o’clock light of a fall afternoon
The realm of reason gives way to wonder.
The vision of old is gone too soon.

Stone lichens read like an ancient rune
Of Odin casting my thoughts asunder
In the four o’clock light of a fall afternoon.
Do I dare emerge from my sane cocoon
To mine the ruins of a mythic world under
In the four o’clock light of a fall afternoon?

Is it Loki who tricks my spirit to swoon
And feeds this phantasmagoric hunger?
The vision of old is gone too soon.

I wish to ride in Mani’s chariot moon
And wield the mighty hammer of thunder.
The vision of old is gone too soon.

For an instant the solid rock is hewn
As the inner child is freed to wander
In the four o’clock light of a fall afternoon.
The vision of old is gone too soon.                                                                                         © Gene Twaronite 2012

Originally published in the online journal Eternal Haunted Summer, Winter Solstice 2012 issue