S T E P H E N   F E R R E

When the Rain Come, Gently

Tortured flower (2007)

Petals drop 
she counts the ways 
she loves me –
not enough.

I love her
I love her not
the daisy soon naked
screams in agony
“You love me not!’’
another petal plucked.

The rose, red
with age fades to brown
to black, love
lilies grieve its death –
still breathing
comatose.

Heaven’s scent
the lilac fresh, molds
food for slugs
my chamomile lawn
strewn with weeds.

One by one
she counts
she loses count
what does she count? –
nothing, she’s forgotten.

 

Distant Trumpets (2007)

Distant trumpets
blaring our wedding march,
a fanfare yet unwritten.
You were a stranger,
everything I wasn't.
It was the only thing about you
that I’ve ever known for certain.

We argue, stamp out of the room.
We don't speak for days,
not of anything significant.
We forget, not long,
but enough to remember – 
remember why –
the meaning of it all.

We are twins,
yet you favor the bull
and I the crab.
Chocolate undoes us
Books, music,
our passions.

Uneasy duet, rehearsing,
got to get that passage right
No, not that way!  Well, maybe.
You always know best
We'll get there eventually,
Someday we'll understand
the complex rhythms of love.

 

Some Things Never Change (2008)

Guilty, I admit it.
I'm reminded every time I remove my clip-on.
She taught me how to tie a bow-tie.
I've long forgotten.

I don't wear my dinner jacket
as much as I used to,
when I was with her.
My fault. She sent me away,
and I didn't fight,
not hard enough.

My DJ is old and ill-fitting.
Too tight – I've expanded.
I hang it in the closet,
alongside my black trousers, non-matching.
The right ones are still there,
waiting for the day I'm skinny again.

I feel young when I'm with her,
but she hates it because I've moved on.
The ruffled shirts were so seventies,
Now it's white linen,
creased because I'm not bothered to iron.

It's still me underneath it all,
there's more to love
albeit with less hair.
Some things never change.

 

On Being Mortal (2008)

Life sucks sometimes,
dreaming, planning your future,
but it doesn't work.
It’s not so easy.

You can't have your cake,
much less eat it.
There is always something in the way,
or someone.

Grand designs die with a whimper.
You do what you can
with what you were given –
not much.

My lottery tickets never win,
the numbers never come up.
I have to work for it all now,
but I’ve grown lazy.

I wish I’d laid a foundation,
shook the right hands,
greased the right palms,
slept with the right ... men.

That was a hurdle too high for me;
my switch-hitting is limited to baseball.
Maybe I’d be famous now,
in certain circles.

If I’d practiced hard,
where would I be now?
It’s prostitution
to get what you want.

I played safe, conventional;
no chances, me – play by the rules.
Don’t hurt, don’t get hurt.
Someone always does.

They say you are as old as you feel,
but who are they?
Young, or blessed with a silver spoon.
Where are they?

I have things to be thankful for,
I know, but the tunnel is getting blacker.
I’m starting over
with no light at the end.

Yet I don’t give up,
it’s all still to play for;
I won’t have time to enjoy the prize,
if I ever win.

Grease those flaccid palms,
buy the ticket,
sleep with ... 
no, still not that.

I’m still playing safe,
playing the long game,
but how long is that?
Not long enough.

 

Hazel (2008)

Her eyes were blue today;
they change with her clothes,
with her mood, when she’s happy,
bluest after a night of passion,
in the morning.

I remember; mine were, too.

I shouldn't have knocked,
maybe he was still there.
Sleep still in her hair,
but not those eyes.
I’d interrupted?

“No,” she said. “I’m glad you're here.”

I couldn’t stay, shouldn’t,
her robe invited,
hastily adorned,
barely worn.
I was welcome.

“Just having a lazy day,” she said.

Not too lazy,
still out of breath.
Where was he? Who?
I’d forgotten why I’d come,
why I should go.

Those blue eyes – her body smiled.

They are green when she’s bored,
or nervous, like me today,
I love her mussed hair,
her feet, one caressed the other;
I had to run.

Hot in the car, too hot for January.

I remember too much.

 

A Dark Night in a Never-ending Past (2008)

should have been the best
a little red candle
insurance
burning bright
exorcising spirits

gone, the inferno of torment
peace, resolution

not ours

missing, the fiery passion
that bound us
together
replaced by regret
new ghosts

strife, where there was none
distrust, a cancer of doubt

festered

couldn't have been worse
a love destroyed
recriminations
regrets of a dark night
in a never-ending past

 

When the Rain Comes, Gently (2008)

the forgotten sunset,
a burnt umbra crayon
I never used,
a half-broken promise
reflected in a fractured mirror

whirlwind shards of truth buried
in a frozen deception
those selfish lies
silent accusations stir
an icy drizzle of resentment

when the rain comes, gently
our temperatures falling
lost innocence
simmers over a low flame
it’s never over when it ends