Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Poems

New Poems

© Copyright 2013
E. G. Happ
Nyon, CH 1260

All Rights Reserved



New Poems is a title of its own demise.  But it is also one of hope.  That there are new poems to write means there is living, seeing and breathing in to do.  New poems become old poems and eventually gather dust.  I read through the old work and like a cabinet-maker, I see the knots and the splits from dry winters, but I also feel the oil of them, running a hand across their worn words and turns of phrase.   Here are the furnishings of the senses.  Come, sit, have a coffee and croissant.  Brush the crumbs into your palm, dab the napkin of the page to your lips.

Dec 2013

Back to Working Chapbooks


The following is a working edition of a chapbook.  The poems are dated as reminders to me about when they occurred.  Expect changes as I edit.  I welcome your comments. Please let me know which poems you feel are strongest, and which need to be retired.  Send comments to fairfieldreview at hpmd dot com (with a wink to the SPAMers :)  --egh, 6 Dec 2013

6-Dec - First draft of poems written at the stations, along the morning paths.
7-Dec - Added additional Jul-Dec poems and rearranged in chapters
8-Dec - Minor edits
2-Oct - Minor edits



Noon at the Apartheid Museum 

I walk through a country's soul--
there are voices
there is pain,
unbearable pain
and it is borne
and only at the end
is there justice
Reconciliation is not easy
it is not fast
it is not soon 
but it comes;
it comes 
like a rain
that starts with a few
drops on a face
then like tears
a washing
a flood 
a beginning.

Dedicated to Nelson Mandela, 2018-2013,
who died last night and inspires anew

14 Nov 13 and 6 Dec 13

Giving thanks

The early light
is grabbing the snow topped Jura
and against the grey-blue sky
they glow with the new day.
"Come see this," I say, "they are glowing."
"Yes," you reply, "they do that every day"
"But it's the first time today."
And even though this day of thanks
came last year and the year before
I am grateful
and feast on the image of life
these old mountains hold in the palms
of their hands.

28 Nov 13


The six peeled pears
blushing from the steamed rose'
in which they bathed
wait patiently in the white bowl
standing proud in a circle
with their little brown stems
curled off center;
you arrange the foie gras slices
on each plate,
the toasted round of fig bread
standing as a shade
against the naked pear
which has backed up in modesty
peering over its shoulder
at this patron of the art
who has just sighed
at the simplicity of this opening
that begins the feast.

29 Nov 31

Preparing the first course, Thanksgiving

Before I Remember

With a flap of the white sheet
I remember my mother
standing in the yard
on a spring or summer day
draping it over a thin braided line
and clipping it against the breeze
with wooden pins she grabbed
from a dish set on a folding chair;
this must have been a day before
dryers and softener sheets,
before the quick alarm
buzzing that all was done.
I don't know why I thought of this
when I awoke and looked out
at a new autumn sky
with the high gray clouds
hanging as if they had been
pinned to the Jura
and I aching for the breeze
of your morning sigh
before you awake,
before I remember.

8 Oct 13



Morning Poem xxvi

At the end in the road,
where the village square opens
and the steps are few
a sky of such blue beauty
makes me stop
and lift up my head
in all my regal virility
as if this curve of light
had the laugh of youth
and my step had the feathers
of spring

30 Jul 13

Why I believe in second chances

The bus shakes and rattles,
angling its way up the steps of the side roads,
morning sun slicing this way
then that--
everywhere there are the tall cranes
with their long arms and counter weights
their shadows whipping the bus
with jagged stencils of black and grey
and then they are gone;
stepping off through a wheezing door
the blue sky calls,
and this morning
even the clouds have fled.

31 Jul 13

Morning Poem xxvii

The trams with their rails above
and below
navigate in this in-between world
of what sparks our passions
and grounds us;
this morning with the sun
toasting early
all the drive is to stop,
and step off
the servant steel
to the Jardin de Paix
where there are frogs waiting on lily pads
for the chorus in which you have a part
to begin.

6 Aug 13

Morning Poem xxviii 

She sits at the edge
of the Main Street tables
at Apunto
silver hair coiffed
by the low sun,
smiling with a hint of slyness
as if she knows something
that we who walk with sprite steps
toward the train that never waits
have not yet seen,
that is as elusive as blue sky
on a rare crisp day in August
that frames each stone
on this cobbled way.

12 Aug 13
Rue de la Gare, Nyon

The stillness on the pond

The sparrows come to the goldfish pond,
stand on its stone rim
and lean into their reflection
taking in this liquid glass;
the light from the midday sun
and the stillness on the pond
presents them with an image
that is only theirs,
one where they appear
to lean into a kiss
as the master avian
grips the edge
and bends for a drink.

12 Aug 13
Jardin de la Paix, Geneva

Good news on a lily

At the other side of the goldfish pond
there is a sudden to-do with the urgent
sound of fish vying for some morsel
that is not apparent.
There is no one else tossing bits
of sandwich bread into the school
and my tuna-fish Bagnell is long gone.
I get up and walk to the other side
to see what all the fuss is
and see a bit of crust my neighbor
flicked into the drink
that landed on a lily pad;
how these amber denizens
got the good news is a mystery
but they are knocking on the leafy roof
as if the world were balanced on its stem
and with the persistent hope,
the promise of its body
slides off this heavenly perch
and enters their shallow pool.

12 Aug 13 

Mid-day absence

The monster green John Deere mower
sits silently on the corner of an estate lawn
half mowed at noon,
the gardener on the freshly smooth turf
asleep under a warm sun
arm canopied over his eyes;
this is a lunch I do not know,
but curious, I stop to take a photo
with my phone
and save it away on a corner
of Oblivious and Main

15 Aug 13


It is already late in August,
the autumn whispers
in the early day
before the sun is high;
what was slowness
of a summer
is now a quickening,
not yet the alarm
of winter's night;
in each moment
there is a knowing
that the fire is waning
that the fire is waiting.

27 Aug 13



Poetry while waiting

Poetry while waiting
for the morning train
is an in-the-palm reading
with a tiny screen
windowing into a world gone by
of an oiled wooden desk,
a piece of paper lifted
from a drawer,
a pen freshly inked
pausing over the paper
as the writer looks up
to a clear-story window
at the ceiling's edge
that has flickered some light
on the ceiling as the willow trees
in front wave with their metronome
of music about to be played.

31 Aug 13
Somewhere in Tuscany

How fragile we are

The street musician
sets his chair next
to the palace gate
where the acoustics are moist
and the evening shade is quick.
those who are weary from the galleries
and long walks on narrow stone streets
have come to sit alone on old steps and listen.
The reverence in their silence
is a gift of sacred places
as his gentle guitar echoes
"this fragile earth,
our island home"

5 Sep 13
After dinner, in Florence

Waiting for the boat

Waiting for the boat
in a small seaside town
basking in the sun
and feeling the late summer breeze
arrive early
before the sun dunks into this
confluence of blue
where the sky has also made
its arrival known by knitting
into this Mediterranean picture
just where the distant sail
has sketched from right to left;
the horn sounds as all eyes
look down the steps
to where this vessel makes its port
where we walk across on dry land

Sun 1-Sep-13
Cinque Terre


Under this sun
of a late August day
in the village on the coast
there is not a thought
that does not evaporate;
the skin tightens with the salt
from a whisper off the sea
and even the air for breath
has the taste of baking;
a walking stick prods the cobblestones
as if they were coals
and walking the fire
were invitational;
were it not for the cherry tomatoes
you popped in my mouth
that reminded me of sun
and heat and earth,
I would be dreaming

10 Sep 13
Remembering Cinque Terre

Morning Poem xxix

I am riding between the first class cars
sitting in the conductor's fold-down seat
with the baggage I've maneuvered
just enough to make for leg room.
staring into the blue panels with
three or four coats of paint
I ride with the sounds,
the roll of bearings
the jiggle in the door
the occasional whoosh of passing
trains and stations
the flute of the brakes
the chime of the announcing
that we've arrived.

16 Sep 13



Evening Poem iv

Hundreds of white flies rise from the lawn
as the sun slices low across this valley
and illuminates each as if spores in the wind
if they are called by the night
they glow with anticipation
rising up the meet the inky heaven
as it rolls down like a river.

23 Sep 13

Evening Poem v

The bus trundles by the old wall
high above the bending avenue,
the turning leaves hang on spindly
branches leaning over the stony limits—
how can one be brave without the roots?

Walking through the halls of shops
and restaurants dark
between the lunch and dinner hours,
reminds me of the platform for the trains
so empty at mid-afternoon it feels
everyone has left the city.

The security agent waves the camera phone
from my hand;
I slide it into my pocket and turn
as you walk through the detectors
and into a quiet of your own,
your tears fresh on my lips.

I am making my own quiet now
a place where no one else enters,
where only you are the echo
that runs across oceans,
that whispers my name.

7 Oct 13

Pillow Talk

I take off one shoe
then the other,
and think about how
one moment follows another.
these are not put back on
and laced up in the morning.
they fall like snow on the pond
and disappear.
yet I see them now as if new,
the memory is never past.
I remember our first kiss
as if it were about to happen,
and I anticipate.

8 Oct 12


It is
one of a dozen words
she has learned
before her second year,
"up" she says with the sign
of two arms stretched
into the gathering in
that I the occasional grand-pa
have been entrusted
"up", she says with an urgency
of wanting to be held
"up" to see a world below
from a high branch
in an ancient tree
"up" to spark a love
that would defend against
all manner of monster
"up" to remind me what
a simple holding creates
the bond on which
we rest, the hands
that will not let us fall.

11 Oct 13
For Anna

Anna at 20 months, Cincinnati, OH

Evening Poem viii 

This lobe of moon
points west across
a continent and ocean
to where I imagine
you are waking
to a sun half a day
and yet as I trundle
across this campus
on a chilly night
in the midst of October’s
I am walking with you
closer than a hundred
and steps can
ever reach.

15 Oct 13
St. Charles

Morning Poem xxx

Grey morning blowing
through the mid-autumn trees,
the shimmering cymbals of leaves
shaking loose from their limbs,
the air chilled enough to make
me huddle in my coat;
soon the day will begin
and there will be the cacophony
of speaking as we all take our seats
but for one more minute
I can sit with the trees
and think of you leaning
into me.

16 Oct 13
St. Charles

Morning Poem xxxi

The early light is dancing
with the autumn leaves;
the flutter in the heart
of the tall trees calls,
and I am holding you
as surely as the sun
holds each yellow and red
maple, oak and beech 
hands that are open with a painted palm
that the early light has grasped
and will again
and ever do.

20 Oct 13
Sunday in No. Stamford

Evening Poem ix

The gardeners were here today
with their trimmers and rakes;
now each bush and hedge
is coiffed, precise as a clock
in a Swiss station;
they left exactly at six
with branches tied to a narrow
trailer with blue elastic straps
as the sun set behind low clouds
at the valley's edge;
tonight we set the clocks back
and the days will seem to shorten,
pruned back to the early spring
as we rake up the minutes
like leaves and take them
in tall bags to wait at the corner;
in the unraveling of the wee hours
before the Sunday sun creeps up
I imagine your hands rubbing
your sleepy eyes, the early morning
tussle of your hair,
and the press of you
when I gather you in.

27 Oct 13

Morning Poem xxxiii 

This must be a gaggle of kindergarten kids
huddled on the other train platform
with their yellow yokes and tethers,
diminutive backpacks,
winter coats;
their teachers barrier them
from the edges
herding them into an early circled form
and wait;
the train will come
and unfathomable adventure
but for now one boy points
to the autumn tree
with its circle of red and yellow and some green,
his arm and finger piercing the mundane
that is never mundane
with an urgency
to look
before the moment falls.

1 Nov 13


The yellow maple leaf cartwheels 
across the littered lawn 
as if on a rail into the garden 
so this gust of late autumn wind 
grabs all in its path 
and has us searching for the sheltered side 
in parkas with fur trimmed hoods 
turning anywhere but straight 
into to this crescendo that shakes 
the trees until every leaf drops and dances. 

24 Nov 13 



Walking from the plane in Nairobi

Lightening flashing in the distance
yet no thunder sounds--
too far away,
so far I’ve come

the night haze hangs
in the street lamps
and though the driver knows the way,
I am lost

it is late
and somewhere
south of this equator
you have not woken yet

sometimes I am weary
of the travel;
the exotic becomes a way-station
and I have yet to sleep

the rain comes
slowly as a train arriving;
I dream of an umbrella
and you leaning into my kiss

10 Nov 13, 16 Nov 13

Noon at the Apartheid Museum ii

I walk through a country's soul
there are voices
there is pain
unbearable pain
and it is borne
and only at the end
is there justice
reconciliation is not easy
it is not fast
it is not soon
but it comes
it comes
like a rain
that starts with a few
drops on a face
then like tears
a washing
a flood of beginning

13 Nov 13

Evening Poem xiii

Sitting in this terminal
that seems at the end of the world
I begin the journey home;
tomorrow you travel with the sun,
and as this planet spins
our paths braid again
like the travel from Paris
and between the coasts
we return
slower than the lightening
but as sure as the thunder
we return

15 Nov 13


Hints of Winter

Morning Poem xxxiv 

As the train pulls into Coppet 
there are glimpses of the Jura 
through the narrow streets; 
the clouds of days are lifting 
and have left their early winter dust 
as white laced cards 
that say you were here 
a season ago 
and returning 
in the hints of days. 

5 Nov 13

Evening Poem xi 

In a window beyond the white stucco wall 
a couple sits at a table; 
I see above his shoulders 
and half her face, 
but it is the top of the olive oil flask 
with its curved spout 
that commands the center between them, 
and I imagine from his intent look 
that the talk 
is of the events in the news 
or something during her day 
and that at any moment 
he will reach for the tall glass 
and pour just a dash 
of extra virgin oil 
on whatever dish is set 
before them 
that I cannot see. 

6 Nov 13 

Evening Poem xii 

There were fewer stars tonight 
as I trundled the garbage bag 
down our little street, 
the dipper's handle was gone 
and the north star had bedded down 
behind a wispy cloud; 
I wonder how the ancient mariners 
navigated on such a night, 
guessing how far it must be 
to that next point of light 
and knowing home was half 
a world away 

7 Nov 13 


The hound I just passed 
tethered to the chair of his master 
who sits just outside the door 
of the tiny cafe 
where I buy croissants-normal, 
has his nose to the breeze 
that wafts in like a slow 
news day 
from villages beyond this campus 
whose little town will be quieter 
like the pause in this hounds sniffing 
as I enter his stream 
swinging my petit bag to go. 

8 Nov 13 

Morning Poem xxxv 

The wind blows through the underpass
as a constant cello with a long bow;
a lone violinist plays a sad largo tune
from one of the masters I do not know.
and the gust of air becomes still;
people stop in their morning rush
and breathe in the sighs and sways
of the artist who plays for coffee.

25 Nov 13

Evening poem xiv

"I've got an old John Deere tractor and it’s got plenty of rust,
But inside it runs like a top." --Don Henley

Listen to that engine purr
there's a sureness to that hum
of gears turning 
and valves lifting;
this is an ear that knows.

Never mind that the shine is gone
and a feebleness has entered the looking glass;
this top can spin forever;
see that wobble now off its center?
Momentary! It will be back!

There is still a gleam in the eye
chin lifted and a step forward;
hear the music in the wheeze
the idle humming before the drifting
off to sleep.

26 Nov 13

Evening Poem xv

It is the first night I can see my breath
wisping out like the curve of smoke
from the chimneys in the distance;
a late flight whines overhead
as it makes it's climb with heartthrob lights
flashing on the wingtips;
I hear the gurgling of the fountain
somewhere to the left,
and over rows of shoe-box houses
a train leaves the station;
at the turn there is the sound of shutters
clapping at the day's end
and on the main street with its perfect
cobblestones there pass solo
shadows in dark coats
without a sound.

3 Dec 13

Morning Poem xxxvi

The utility truck comes towards us
with it yellow cab and yellow flashing lights--
there is no siren for the downed wire.
The cherry-picker bucket sits on its
long arms folded, waiting--
all is to the ready;
as our bus turns left
and the truck turns right,
we go with intent
of reaching our destination
and making a change
that shines a light
on some corner of the world.

5 Dec 13 

Back to Working Chapbooks
© Copyright 2013, E.G. Happ and The Fairfield Review, Inc, All Rights Reserved

Document last modified on: 12/06/2013

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