John Silver

Twelve Poems

around the bright sky
the purple mountains lie Readings from Friends: Twelve Poems by John Silver

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When One Becomes Two

when your god ripped the rain
out of my skull you were
standing near engulfed
by fallen floods
he strained you
into something pure
something realized

when he caught your hands
tearing paper into thunder
he sent you to pray with his servants
bowing down away from your sorcery
to fill his churches and temples
with an army of Jobs
only they pointed out to you
by their voices
yelling through
blood rusted screen doors
slamming enigmatic messages
into the night

and you
walking slowly through
his desert
losing consciousness
always and never
reaching you were
sitting on the platform bench
waiting for a next train
searching out another first choice
so you could make it second

you could not have left more easily

Song Of The Garden

in the breeze the gate is squeaking
in the garden waiting
white and yellow crocuses

they were not there yesterday

when did you see them
growing briskly
through the snow

losing the edge
of the whitest of winters
leaving as if it were never here

crows are up screaming
mocking us from

on soft cloudy days
red leaves in the clearing
they still call out to you
in every way

grass growing through them
wind spinning rustles
into every day

my thoughts were forever
i can not think them


bells are ringing
in a small church
on the way to the quarry
we think we can listen
to what’s missing

when steel on stone rings it speaks
the stone is then smashed into gravel
flowing downward
with a hollow scraping sound
along galvanized steel chutes
into piles along a barren drive

as we walk our way home
a strong wind blows an ache
into our ears
gripping us

until we hear again
the bells

Song Of The Green Forest

inside the green forest
growing up from the ground

you see everything true

it’s all moving shadows are trailing
over mosses and red fallen leaves

barren branches reaching for space
floating swallows still in their flight

can they not see me anymore?

running water floating the drifted snow
away from my sight

you make everything new

then you cast me into the white day
your gray eyes twisting everywhere

can you not hear me anymore?

inside the green forest holding your distance
moving it northward in every way

around the bright sky
the purple mountains lie

they softly fade
my shadow


only Apollo knew
the truth of your prophecies
but he would never lift
the vengeful curse
he placed on them

time jams forward
crunching into
a cascade of symbols
spilling ahead of itself
in an order
only transparent
to you

numbered days
condense to a pale doom

standing there
in front of your lover’s palace
in a dream faster than life
amidst that scent of
future’s blood
waiting for the heavy gates
to swing themselves open
unable to change their momentum

your destiny

an approaching reality

even you
could not believe
and so you waited
for Clytemnestra’s axe
and the roll of your head
in the street


on this dark afternoon
I saw into the rain
your illuminated image
reflected in wet cobbles

as the water grew deeper it sustained
a temporary equilibrium
above the grate

I thought of you leading me
into your journey of no direction
to your door of surrender

our complexity of circumstance
was so convincing

you said you wanted
to pay your final debt
to get rid of it all
your final reach for freedom

perhaps in a singular location
where the beginning of all
ends accumulate


in early November
when i saw shadows moving back
before they turned to lengthen
in a different direction
in a different clinging
to a new path,
standing there
at the turn
in the clear embrace
of a broken life
i found you there
inside a brief moment
but perhaps not brief enough
to defeat reason

the drab eternal colors
and the temporary ones
surrounding us
with a mirror of sights
including a precipice
cutting through hands
grasping pointed cliffs
suggesting a surrender
to the air of birds
or gravity
letting go of this view
of reaching out
and autumn walking blindly

The Witch

he was in his battle dream
when they shot his Sopwith from the air

they tossed him on a plank
with some demon corpses there

they couldn’t stop his bleeding
and the doctors didn’t care

but an old hag of a nurse appeared
digging earth for a deeper trench
all the while she counted numbers
downward as they went
she shouted out each integer
till a spell formed clot appeared
coagulating all of it
into one
dark spot of war

A Light In The Door

old ghost we know
you are your work

it was only you
holding on to dark expectations

we tolerated your critical presence
while your hidden lenses
tracked and tricked us into
timeless corridors of distortion

slinking down
you slanted us deeper
into hidden negativity
all concealed
in a hovering ancestral will of deceit
barely detectable
secure in its other directives

who would believe
you would tighten
and frighten us
but we resisted
if only by catching
some clear sun
through a light
in the door

In The Motion Of Breezes

when all the cast out pages
flame and crumble
into carbon scraps
the dark mirror on the door
will be a way through it

we tried to bury you here

far from your enemies
but even now their hatred
rattles our windows

your life, a twisted code in flight

injects into our visions

we raise them up to clarify

in the flutter of burnt paper

in the motion of breezes

Walking The River

we found a way
to a thoughtless kiss
a consciousness
at once apart from
our separate intentions

an act of defiance
and then a trimming down

a containment of an essence
of what’s really true

and so what else?
a core of regret?
another list of wrong turns?

heavy clouds conceal this sun
only a few rays streaming through

no where to go but rain
and then some boats
blasting their horns

Dream Memory

there was a
band swaying
with dirges
in top hats
all in black

a hand was sweeping
in the steeple
where the birds of Ashmore flew

a chapel door
of colored glass

and a coffin painted blue

there was a garden near
the arches where the horses
trotted through

John Silver grew up Cold Spring Harbor, L.I. Does covers, poems for Tamarind a coalition magazine. Hosted Tamarind Collation for 10 years. Moved to Westbeth. Published in AND THEN, and other anthologies. Hosted Westbeth readings. Curator of The Image and The Word Exhibition at the Westbeth Gallery. Two Books of poetry (UNDERFIELD PRESS). Contributed covers and poems to White Rabbit and other anthological constructions. John Silver also paints.

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