POEMS

Something Usual In Any Other Circumstance

 

 

The afternoon is sunny after the storm

as Joe and I make our way

up the incline of Black Road

slow going in the old V.W. Bug

Our son rests on my lap

something not frowned upon

before child safety-seat laws

only he’s in a small cardboard box

inside a plastic bag

tied with a twist

 

I think of the many times

we’ve traveled this road

him wiggling on my lap

gurgling with glee

I attempt to shade his eyes

from the blaze of light

as we drive that final mile 

 

Today we take him home

for the last time

park in front of the empty lot

scorched black where our house stood

the week before

open the small cardboard box

untie the twist on the plastic bag

and one last time he is animated

playing on the sudden breeze

that rises to guide him to his rest

 

© 2004 Cynthia Bryant

Humming Bird

 

Tiny nervous creature

Flitters all around

Such intense movement

Without so much as a sound

 

Stunning, all a quiver

Such a solemn face

Expending all that energy

While floating in one place

 

Cynthia Bryant September 22, 1998

Millennium

 

 

In the minds of surveyors

the scribes of Man

as another century slams full speed

into the wall of time

The millennium

teeters on the edge of abyss

the black hole of future

unexplored

 

Common eyes poised

in a backward gaze

fearful to let go of the familiar

The Midas touch of nostalgia

apportioned to faded past

 

All thought turns now

to the hands of time

swiftly reaching for each other at midnight

For that is how it will come upon us

in the black of night

people struggling to focus in the darkness

only to be greeted by dawn

2001 Cynthia Bryant

 

 

 

 

 

Cookies for the Children of Haiti

 

On any given day

kids of every age are seen sitting

legs crossed  squatting  

nibbling this much sought-after staple

in the La Saline slum

 

Women up early

cross an open sewer

to buy dirt

$5 to make a hundred cookies

 

Climb rope ladders carrying buckets

up to the abandoned prison roof

   sift out stones and twigs

   infuse dirt with water

   on occasion add some sugar, salt and butter

fill over-sized clay pots

thoroughly mixing with hands

some while nursing

 

Scoop out a handful at a time

arrange into cookies on the ground

left to dry in the sunshine

 

Sell to others waiting

offer hopes of rich minerals held in the earth

a way to slow the rumble of empty dreams

 

2012 Cynthia L Bryant

Comments

I read your poem several times, each time crying with a new revelation. But what I’ve ultimately come to realize, Cynthia, is you’ve made your son come alive in my mind, and with every reading of your poem by every reader, your son lives again. What a gift you have given us.

❤️  Becky Bishop  White

 

 

Heart wrenching. Very beautifully written.  Constance Cheslock Hanstedt

 

 

That's an excellent poem. I also write poetry, so I never say something's good if it isn't. I'm so sorry for your loss.  Chloe Wagner

Lock Her Up

 

Somewhere 

to a nonplussed audience

 of her parents

a molested daughter

blurts out the secret

about her lately pouting tummy

how it came to pass

 

Somewhere

a mother screams 

unintelligible sounds rise

to blot out offending words

that present too hard a choice

Calls the police

on her canary-yellow kitchen phone

 

Somewhere

the fury of a father

shocks high-color to face

as he pummels daughter 

in attempts to exorcise

the madness   

that threatens exposure

 

Somewhere

nosey neighbors open front doors

stand in groups in their yards

make up minds by committee 

about what sort of folks

and who’s at fault

when laundry is aired

 

Somewhere

small town police arrive

lights flashing

as parents point to daughter 

an undone puzzle on the floor

police gather the pieces 

pile her into the back of a squad car     

 

Somewhere 

an unheard daughter 

serving one-month solitary in Juvenile Hall

revisits over and over  

the last few moments at home

   outnumbered

         incorrigible

 

 

Cynthia Bryant 

Crossroads

 

Nightfall contained pitch-thick air of desert

though muted night-lights glistened above

no light made its way through doorless opening

into the adobe pueblo with earthen floors

floors to sit, fitfully sleep upon

ample water from a nearby well 

 

Daylight hours spent in town

daughter perched on hip

husband’s eyes hawk-like from a distance 

as we pulled manna from the hearts of tourists 

for formula, diapers, food 

enough to gas the psychedelic painted van

bartered for in Colorado the month before

 

Barely into my seventeenth-year

on the sly with Army-deserter husband     

who hid beneath a dark-haired wig 

tied at his forehead with rawhide band

Our hungry daughter

whose bottom prickled with rash

that year outside of Taos

 

Summer season brought happy diversions

shared with brightly clad wanderers

whose long hair, beads, bandanas

colored my world

as they trickled eastward 

toward rumors of days and nights 

filled with free-love, music

 

We stayed on 

unable to follow the dreamers

Our young family

pressed deep into living

that summer of ‘69

battling survival and dysentery

against colorless New Mexico backdrop

under shadow of fading youth 

 

©2005 Cynthia L. Bryant

9.0 Two Hours Later  

 

Viewed from above

beaches littered with little semblance

of what must have been cycled lives

that rose then fell 

with thirty-foot waves

that crashed into reality

faster than Japan’s bullet trains travel

arriving at the speed of tourist carrying jets

to ring the gong of tragedy

so clearly

the whole world shivered 

and cried out as one

 

©2005 Cynthia L. Bryant

Panther

 

The stranger’s open hands

found mine

grasped firm

pulling me up

on to the landing

 

Clothed in black

Leather pants

hung low

on narrow hips

encircled by ovals of silver

 

Long-sleeved shirt

hugged close to

masculine shoulders

several buttons left undone

 

Long restless curls

wandered his head

wild and free

 

Intense cat eyes

almost golden 

gauged me with curiosity

 

Self-satisfied smile

on the prowl

 

         Hey Honey

    What ya doin’ here?

 

Suddenly self-conscious

I mumbled something

about my old man

being in the opening band

 

      Too bad, he purred

showing me a chair

 

Later on my boyfriend and I

hand in hand

lost in a sea of faces

on darkened dance floor 

One beam of light shone

on the promoter

 

       Time has come

       to welcome

      here from L.A.

      with their hit

      Light My Fire

     topping the charts

     let’s hear it for 

        The Doors

 

Drums thumped solitary

like a clap of thunder 

Strobe lights flashed 

As electric harpsichord played intro

my man in black

leapt onto the stage

microphone in hand

 

©Cynthia L Bryant

Beach Town Summer

 

The stone bench carved with Celtic knots

waits in the garden

remains empty

As I admire it from my office window

 

Alongside the deeply rooted fifty plus foot tree

has the look of someone poising

right hip swung to one side

gnarled limbs buoyant on ocean air

 

Small precious butterflies dart in around

bright summer foliage

the place my dogs love to play

chase their shadows

as lemons decide when to drop

join the others on the ground

 

Even the many birds

Who sing, chant and rail for me this June morning

Know little of the path  travailed dreams

dead and otherwise

That led me here today

my bit of Shangri-La

(C)2018 Cynthia L Bryant

SALT

 

Often when you touch me 

    in that familiar way 

sensation transports me

takes me to the borders of the infinite

a place where you and I are intertwined

with all that have been or will ever be

dazzling jewels like sea foam

sunbathing on the rocks

Cynthia Bryant (C)2015

Novice

 

Today’s flight began early

Before mother earth had waken

Stand in lines   Remove shoes

Please place all jewelry, change, phone and computer

In the white plastic boxes provided

 

A walk through the metal detector

Already comfort zone level ajar

When the machine clangs alarm

 

Taken aside red-faced    stricken upright 

A hand wand is waved up and down the body

Emitting another rude sound

 

When out comes a barrel of a woman with the look

Of an annoyed pit-bull

Has me stand still    arms out straight

Gets to 1st and 2nd base with witnesses

As my PTSD alarm kicks in

And I disappear

Only my rhinestone-studded blouse

To face the verdict   

2016 Cynthia Bryant

Early Dream

 

 

Drawn from troubled repose

rubbing sleep from eyes

I follow laughter

down the hall

Enter knee-hi into a room

with a soft haze of acrid air

alive with sleek hands

holding chilled stems of cocktails

smoldering butts 

between yellow-stained fingers

 

I search frantically for mother

as prattle dances across the room

from the myriad 

of bright red mouths 

that smile hideously

cackle loudly   then louder 

I gasp in horror

for mother’s face 

is on each and every

wicked witch there

 

August 19, 1999 3:46 PM 

 

Cynthia Bryant 

Dedicated to Rosa Parks

who went to her final glory

 October 24, 2005.

 

Southern Breeze 

 

Summertime in the south

was slow with thick wet air

smell of magnolia blossoms

fragrant mint grew in yards

Swamp-coolers and overhead fans

moved like molasses poured over fritters

 

Black tea, sweet and well iced

hushpuppies served with syrup     

grits drenched with butter, on the side

Where sensible white-folks with means

hired colored women with hungry children 

for pennies on the dollar to do their bidding

 

Syndicated Amos and Andy Shows 

played by under-employed black actors

brought peals of laughter across the South

on black and white televisions 

in proper white homes 

where blacks were allowed only as servants

 

White-hooded Klansmen still came by night 

continued to burn crosses

hang bitter crop reminders of hate 

from white poplar trees 

that Billy sang about at 78 r.p.m.  

for whites and blacks to sway to 

 

The time before Martin had his dream

that ended in a nation’s nightmare

Days when thousands of people marched

singing “We shall overcome”

and a tired working woman took her place

defiantly in history, just by sitting down

Cynthia Bryant (C) 2005

Addend

 

Few people notice

A lone woman as she makes

Her way along wetted asphalt

Walks with head down

Where puddles glisten

Interpreting the many shades of gray

The shame pushed out over every inch

Serves to cloak her sensitive skin

From prying eyes

Her eyes catch the reflection

The knife stabs deep

(C) Cynthia Bryant 2017

Corkscrew Dance

 

1

New life begins—

spirit crowning into this world

in ever narrowing spirals

as if attempting

to screw itself into life

grounding

surrounding soul

 

2

Old life ends— 

Breathless energies  

harmonic colors

whirlwind in ever widening 

twister formation outward

Unplugging spirit 

from earthly ties

 

3

All cycles begin then end in

a metaphysical corkscrew dance

of rainbows light

constant cyclic completion 

ordered in divine devise  

 

 

 

July 18, 1997 11: 36 a.m.

 

Back Alley

 

Back alley…

A misnomer, too benign

For such a vile deed

The place I was taken

To cover the heinous deeds of my father

 

The house was in disrepair,

rubble all around

the question of sanitary conditions

Answered simply by lifting eyes or nose

 

There, seated on well worn couches 

Fidgety, frightened, forlorn women

I in my shame, hardly daring

To look up or glance around

 

Given a tranquilizer an hour before arrival 

At the den of death

The corners of my vision softened

Ever so slightly

 

Mother sat by my side 

Attempting small talk

A nervous ruthless culprit in crime

Determined to have her way

 

Strangers

Lead me down the darkened hallway 

To a lighted room—

Given gas, almost immediately

 

Awakened into a nightmare: 

Loud squealing, crashing sounds, 

Brightly colored flashing lights

Assaulted my senses

 

As my molested body contracted to hold on

Sounds of a ruinous running remedy

Poured into some far away bucket

Outraged, my tortured mind screamed 

 

I came to—two tampons crammed up 

My young ravaged body

My fragile mind splintered beyond belief 

Or caring

 

Father’s sin washed away clean

Murderers paid in full

I was encouraged to leave, post haste

 

 

©2005 Cynthia L Bryant

Still Small Voice

 

They made me come see her

those folks that protects kids

Last year they took away sissy

for getting too fat or sumpin’

Next day police grabbed papa Joe

took him straight aways to jail

Mama says same thing happened to her

with papa Sam 

Seems like womens are always causin’ problems

 

One time 

after my baby brother Buck went to his rest

Mama told me her mama passed when she was ten

At Eleven, sissy born almost dead 

could barely whimper

When she was thirteen I came into the world

screamin’, her daddy’s face grown on to mine

she slapped regular for no good reason 

 

I saw the whole thing 

clear as softball every Saturday afternoon

behind the old school

Papa Horace came knockin’ round midnight

singin’ Amazin’ Grace how sweet your mouth

lookin’ for some sugar

no more childs that way

 

How mama told him 

she was fixin’ to have another child 

he stopped singin’ then

turned all mealy-mouthed 

mama shouted no, then screamed

Horace’s shiny black boot

caught her side, her open mouth

then landed on her belly over and over

‘til she was quiet as night

 

Mama’s in a high bed on wheels

her mouth split open like rotten peaches

left on the ground, spittle bubbles

runnin’ from the corners of the black hole

where teeth used to be 

open to no man  no how

 

The red bandana mama wore to bed 

Is missin’, ripped off 

Head wrapped with a clean white rag

stained with red patches like the berries

she puts up the end of every summer

spreads on our bread all winter long

 

Everyone of my papas run off or run in

No papa to take me in

Show me man stuff

Tell me how lifes gonna be

State foster folks my familys now

 

Grace is gone 

Left me like her mama left her

no good for nothin’ mama just lays there

No more mouthin’ off, no more nothin’

Just like her papa Sam told me

Before he took off 

Women’s ain’t nothin’ but troubles

They gets what they deserve

All of them bitches

 

Cynthia Bryant  (c) 2018

 

 

"Passionate. Heartbreaking. Wonderful poem." 

 

Cindy Anderson, Monterey

"Heartbreaking, I am moved beyond  words."

 

Sheila Landre

 

Remarks: Still Small Voice
Remarks-Lock Her Up
 
"Powerful Poem"
Anita May, LA Poet/ Editor
"Amazing Poem"

"Eric Howard-Editor and Poet

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