Tuesday 5 November 2013

3 Poems by Sy Roth

Work Makes Free

wrought iron gates bear the vultures’ weight,
roost above the runic message--
beginning an end—

work makes free—

their guards swim in the River Lethe
sense no evil as they cram  innocents
into their machines
grinding them to death.
mouthless, silent statues
imitate life,
inhale the noxious odors,
brush the stinging ashes like dandruff from their shoulders.

while emptied beings
warped musselmen,
mark their serpentine passage
in the mud,
aimlesslessly dragged about,
mashed into dust.
hazy memories.

vultures persist
coddle the message--
linger with their young
untouched by ghosts
in their safe havens
where clocks tick endlessly
and the callow suckle at their breasts.

work makes free—

They Find Salvation

Below the stadium, where bestial games begin,
They link the beasts – bears, bulls and slaves.
Above the crowd yawps desires
their bloodlust songs sung in basso profundo waves
inky contralto voices mixed in like a tinkling avalanche
of razor-sharp crystals to the sand below.
Their fetid air, a renegade wagon
rolls down a prodigious hill,
gawkers chained to the hapless bear, bull, and slave
a gift-wrapped fury adorned in chain-mail.

Slave cowers before the snarling beasts,
bear and bull measure each other.
Stadium trembles with their bellowed wishes.
Blood-dreams inspire them,
bear’s jaw snaps at the bull's snout,
bull's horns find gore places,
the slave pisses the ground.
Blood spray bouquets, thrown to the rabble,
the slave their salvation.

Adorned in a begrimed loincloth,
he bears a long hooked pole to unlatch the beasts.
Crowd roars their entreaties,
Move to the beasts!
Sacrifice for the good of men!
Tentative steps,
turns to the closed gates, hot pokers keep him in the arena.
Bull snorts and paws the blood-stained sand,
bear growls a tooth-filled face
the pole trembles in his hands,
all lost under the umbrella of a darkling sky.

Alternatives vanish in a prestidigator’s top hat.
The hook separates the pair.
Free of the other, their fury on him.
He is the crowd.
He crosses to the red-hot pokers.
Bull and bear bloody the arena with him,
split his spine,
bring great cheer to the Commodus.
The slave finds freedom.
The crowd their salvation.

Picasso Resides in His Pipe

Picasso resides in his pipe of mangled pasts.
Familiar streets, idealized homes
mingle with droll visions in his mind.
He takes a deep drag of them
reconstructs them into mundane voyages
that end on the beaches of white-clapboarded homes
where boys and dogs could not steal his childhood.
Like Venus, they emerge from their clamshells
protecting innocence from the view
of boys pummeling each other with bicycle chains
where drunken women do not beat men with their umbrellas.
Seeks escape from besotted vacant lots.

Street dreamers reside in his head
Beneath softly lighted idyllic landscapes
mythical mischievous lands where
skinny kids sail away from the sordid to wander bucolic realms
find new realities in magical brush strokes
exploring the winds of youth
outfitting them in clothes of transcendent times
in frozen in Saturday Evening Post vignettes and Boys Life adventures.
Avoids men in T-shirts breathing beer fumes
who come to his door seeking their own realities.

He poses the innocent,
stick figures fleshed to represent life
while he sucks deeper on his pipe
to find Rembrandt in Roosevelt’s four freedoms.
His pipe burned portraits without cynicism
into canvases of lives that Morse-code that we are good.
A dialogue of the loneliness of a girl at a mirror,
a silence of separation in breaking home ties
like Vermeer lights dance under diffused light
that plays terpsichorean music in the stillness.
Manic perfectionist with his pipe prop
self portrait where he rests among the masters
eyeless in his own gaze
canvas echoes innocent message of indifference
until his Ruby Bridges strides confidently
sends her own smoke signals that the world has changed.


He comes riding in and then canters out. Oftentimes, the head is bowed by reality; other times, he is proud to have said something noteworthy. cRetired after forty-two years as teacher/school administrator, he now resides in Mount Sinai, far from Moses and the tablets. This has led him to find words for solace.   He spends his time writing and playing his guitar. He has published in many online publications such as in Parentheses, Poet and Geek Magazine, Gloom Cupboard, Pif Magazine, The Circle Review, Poetry Super Highway, Millers Pond Review, Earthborne, Nostrovia, Cyclamens and Swords, The Germ, Rockhurst Review, Wilderness Interface Zone, Red Ochre,  Bong is Bard, Danse Macabre, Mel BraKe Press, Larks Fiction Magazine, Exercise Bowler, Otoliths, BlogNostics, Every Day Poets, brief, The Weekenders, The Squawk Back, Bareback Magazine, Dead Snakes, Bitchin’ Kitsch, Peripheral Surveys,  Scapegoat Review, The Artistic Muse, Inclement,  Napalm and Novocain, Euphemism, Humanimalz Literary Journal, Ascent Aspirations, Fowl Feathered Review, Vayavya, Wilderness House Journal, Aberration Labyrinth, Mindless(Muse), Em Dash, Subliminal Interiors, South Townsville Micropoetry Journal, The Penwood Review, The Rampallian, Vox Poetica, Clutching at Straws, Downer Magazine, Full of Crow, Abisinth Literary Review, Every Day Poems, Avalon Literary Review, Napalm and Novocaine, Wilderness House Literary Review, St. Somewhere Journal, Carcinogenic Poetry, The Neglected Ratio, Windmills Magazine and Kerouac’s Dog.  One of his poems, Forsaken Man, was selected for Best of 2012 poems in Storm Cycle.  Twice selected Poet of the Month in Poetry Super Highway.  His work was also read at Palimpsest Poetry Festival in December 2012. He was named Poet of the Month for the month of February in BlogNostics. Included in Poised in Flight and Point Mass anthology published by Kind of Hurricane Press.  A Murder of Crows named Poem of the Week in Toucan.

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