Wednesday 20 April 2016

5 Poems by Bryan R. Monte

The Curse

Thrown across the bare wood floor
the crumpled, yellow legal paper
half opens against the skirting-board;
a knotted fist
or a rose in autumn. 

The Blessing 

How can I be rising whilst still sitting
with these four hands upon my head?
Afraid I’ll fly right out of this chair
and disturb this twenty-minute, temple prayer. 

The laws of logic and physics reassure me
I can’t be moving, won’t disturb
the words recorded in this room
which, on playback, sound smashed and broken. 

OK, enough, make it stop, I think
unlike a little child
unwilling to be lifted up. 

On Your Way Out 

On your way out
your voice was much clearer
though I never heard a word
three thousand miles away 

Pain gripped my arms, my chest,
shot down my legs and feet
into the floor, my body, a bell
ringing to the centre of the earth. 

The mid-week call was
no surprise, already packed
I told everyone at work
I’d be gone for a week. 


Always rooms and beds big enough for both of us
but you have to work and don’t like America
especially the red states, where I was born
or where I’m attending a writing course
in Florida’s January summer weather
as I listen to 70s & 80s songs
from a station in Orlando
on the little clock radio
next to the bed. 

You said I would miss you before I left
and you were right even though
I was still glad to get away
and up in the air where
I felt so much lighter,
off on another

These wings of words and metal
carefully fitted together for
lift and travel have
taken me away

This Emptiness

Behind the bookcase, pushed aside,
a winding staircase that leads
to three, empty, attic rooms,
two with yellowed articles pasted on walls
the third with a skylight window
where only God looked in. 

The furniture has long been taken away
just as the people who once hid here
the secret flat now hollow and cold
as the chimes from the royal Westerkerk’s
blue, red, gold and white-pearled crowned spire
peal through the wooden floors and beams. 

The teenagers, who shouted outside in the rain
along the Prinsengracht, clicking their rings
against the metal queue bars for half an hour
crowding together for selfies and warmth,
are now much quieter or silent
groping for a place to put this emptiness. 


Bryan R. Monte’s poetry has been published in Assaracus, Bay Windows, Friends Journal, Irreantum, and Sunstone and the anthology Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets. Recently he has written 20 poems about multiple sclerosis and a collection of memoirs about Steve Abbott, Harry Britt, James Broughton, Jerome Caja, Thom Gunn and Harold Norse. Both collections are in search of a publisher.

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