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Sample Poems by M.J. Iuppa


Small Worlds Floating

1

In the gloom of morning, before
light blinks on the horizon,
little gray birds begin
to stir– chilly notes
burden the air.

2

Small worlds floating–
specks of dust & cinder, bits
of every year uncovered–
seems so inhumane
to begin, again.

3

Still, we have little else to do
beyond the number seven,
parsing days to weeks to months,
then years tumbling like stones
in a barrel’s infinity.



4

My desire– to lie down on the spine
of a green canoe that’s set adrift
on a pond full of water lilies
and golden carp, and sunlight
tracing its transparent map.

5

All day the dream dwells
in transient places, small fires
of hand written pages, gleam
then burn out to gray–shadows
that dissolve under a slight touch.




Traveling through Flesh

After a painting by Eric Fischl, Frailty is a Moment of Self-Reflection.

Morning’s light glows in the corridor where
your father walks the carpet’s worn threads.

You watch his hesitating steps: his right arm
out-stretched, balancing on his body’s shadow–

his ordinary mouth pursed in the words
he never said out loud. Even now

he doesn’t want your help. He’s determined
to be a man of certainty. Yet you can see

through his transparent skin something
indescribable:

Your furious father, your kind father,
your father who vanished before your eyes.


Ontario

Anything can happen in Spring’s twilight.
The stark fields hold heads of rotten cabbage.

It’s smell is no longer vegetable, but something
far worse and unimaginable– its insult lasts

like memory– I have not forgotten how the lake
sky curdled and April’s moon pressed its full face

against the clouds’ thick caul. You were right
to leave this world when you did.



Nothing to Fear


Lying on soft grass, in summer’s moist dark, my heart
revs– stutters                thumps–
I want to whistle really loud: Come home, now!
 
That was my father’s whistle at twilight,
in the years I lived outside of my skin, racing
my shadow along the lip of the lake.

Right now my heart feels thin. I have no curfew
to speak of– nothing to fear when the dome
of sky rolls to black. It seems impossible, but

the looming darkness whistles its own anthem.
I can see the spine of so many things surrendering
their last flecks of light. It’s a lifetime

and I imagine gods blowing their steady breath over
the mouths of green bottles hanging in apple trees:
tiny whistles– obsidian wings– a gulp of air.


Portrait of Lighthouse with Irises

Against a sapphire sky,
this whitewashed lighthouse,
constant solemn face, searches

the wide sea for any breach–             
whale or ship, rising up
in the swell of tide . . .

Noise of buoy bells,
a rusty gate’s hinge,
gulls’ wheedling cry–

morning and night spent
leaning forward– open-eyed
indigo irises grow brighter

than torches set to burn–
no one can say how long
eternal will keep.
 

Company is coming

(I smooth the puckered linen,
wishing it were carefree, but

my table sets in old-fashioned
stubbornness.  I’m still inclined

to woo and cluck over creases,
tying soft knots in each corner;

my hands tug for tenderness.
It gives a little.)

Blue candles.  Warm bread.
A knock at the door.


What She’s Waiting For

While sinking into the ether called summer, she lost
her heart’s rhythm to rolling fields of wheat
and suddenly felt weightless–

The air, sweet and moist, grazed the length of her body– 
No noise except the sudden syncopation of rain’s bass
and treble notes snared in the darkness of daylight– 

And the mulberry, with its wide expanse and distracting
fruit– a curious shade that concealed a boys’ dormitory–
so many robins huddled side by side, the sound

of sleep in their throats. She thought this
a comfort, knowing they were there, hidden
among a sea of leaves; anticipating
                                    
the fluster of their departure, like her heart
quelled beneath her ribcage, ready
to explode–