Poetry Blog by James Roper

Diatribe I (slam performance)

 

There is a problem inherent

         in the instruction of the masses,

shoehorned into classes where

         questions are standardized.

Answers, too, are standardized,

freethinking’s not encouraged,

*

but facts are mass-produced

          that lack the bliss of discovery;

The emphasis on the answer moves

          focus from the journey, and

          in tur...

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Nightmare

 

I remember this dream, this nightmare returning.

The wind screams through a bloody plow

In a fallow field, forever burning stalk to ash.

A foul stench rises from furrowed rows—sulfur.

 

Hunched in the corner, a scarecrow blazes,

Writhing weakly, wailing: Nothing Grows.

 

Dead trees, bone white, swing crooked limbs

With empty nooses swaying like pendulums.

Sap pou...

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Gods and Numismatics

 

Orichalcum, a thirty-five millimeter disc blazing—

Sun-kissed, playing the light like gold in the mind—

An off-center mint obscures letters that plummet

Off the edge, an escape from the man imbalanced:

 

IMPPP.NEROCLAVDCAES… cecidērunt.

 

I am transfixed by the art, pompous and beautiful;

Roma, lovelier than Venus, is victorious, powerful.

 

Roman generals, durin...

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Cemetery Tour

 

                                    I.

Red clay coats black shoes on a previously dry day.

Fresh ground, disturbed earth, new plots—Petrichor.

 

It is easy to get lost in this field of dear landmarks;

precisely placed blocks look much like suburbia.

 

Still the sun shines through brief spring showers.

Laughably relevant to the now, a bitter-sweet sendoff.

 

Ashes...

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Walking Home at Night

Down a dusty sidewalk I dredge,
Darkness sours my off hour trek,
As low-beams gleam behind my back,
Growing shadows from tree and hedge.

Then so too sprouts my twilight twin,
Who shoots ahead at a furied pace,
His will is strong, he'll run the race,
Must I deny this 'me' the win?

For minutes--hours--we trade the lead,
As the cars pass he falls away,
Only to show it's all in play, 
A...

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The Calm

entry picture

Three more rain drops beat

Staccato, full stops, to leave

A promise on the wind:

The storm will soon begin again.

 

 

 

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short poem

Short and Sweet

When I regard the short and sweet,

That perfect crossroad given life--

And since the two so seldom meet--

I like to stop and stay awhile.

 

For what observer could protest

To cherishing a fleeting thing,

And wishing it to stop and rest,

To hold it up and hear it sing?

 

But recognize its fading glow,

The moment one's excitement peaks,

Then turn around and let it...

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beautyfleeting momentsshortsweet

A Passing Thought at 5AM

I miss the little things.

My schoolyard friends,

The summer's end,

My childish dreams.

 

And fear this too

Of tomorrow's day.

When I will say,

Today was full.

 

If Hope lies ahead

And happiness back,

It can only track

That now is dead.

 

The present is skiewed,

By what was then,

The future's when,

And how they're viewed.

 

,

 

 

...

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futurenostalgiapastpresent

Unemployed

Today I am the immovable object,

A dented can of who-knows-what

Adorned with a loud sales tag

That screams, “I am less than I was.”

 

My worth has been discounted,

My status redefined: damaged.

My life has been provisionally shelved.

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I Know

Maybe the grass will be greener,

The hills smoother,

The well deeper,

Sweeter—

If wishing makes it so.

If dreaming births hope—

I know.

The world won’t teeter,

The branch won’t bend itself low—

And the soil won’t rise to meet her.

Not for the dreamer

To grab hold of fruit that much quicker.

Nor will that water become liquor

Simply because it was told.

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ExpectationHopeRealism

In School

In school I was foolish—graded and grated.

I’d spend my time passing it.

I’d break bones for the cheap

Seats in gym class one day;

I’d breakfast at noon the next.

I’d wage war with witticisms and wisecracks.

I’d say “thank you” by way of thumbtack.

I beat blackboards till they were white

And they beat me till I was black-and-blue.

I was light in the wallet, heavy in the ...

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Ghosts

One thing I am proud of most:

I never believed in ghosts.

Because shadows are shadows,

Or worse, penumbras up close,

And smoke leads to smoldered embers,

Not the fire one might suppose.

Reputations are ruined

By what one may think they know.

 

When you listen to stories,

Remember, there are no ghosts.

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falsehoodsghostsrumors

A History of Manifest Destiny

Take note of me,

Polish your guns,

I’ll tell you how

The West was won:

 

With a treaty,

Then a treason,

And with a God

Given reason.

 

What's past is past.

What's done is done.

 

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The Kill

 

A butterfly flaps its wings,

A fluttering of wild intent,

As a wind stirs softly

Lifting up a fragile thing.

 

A fluttering of wild intent,

The mantis strikes swiftly

Lifting up a fragile thing,

Now it becomes dinner.

 

The mantis strikes swiftly

But fails to note the other

Now it becomes dinner

For a hungry forest frog.

 

It fails to note the othe...

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naturepantoum

Looking Inward/Outward

What am I but a piece of meat?

Neat nerve clusters, spread

Through a body comprised

Of smaller willing things,

Brings chemically fired emotions

To mix with meddlesome knowledge

And the aspirations of past

Generations—the hopes that

Procreation will inevitably occur.

Or maybe I am a creature of habit.

Vapid and practiced and nurtured

In the prerogative of a favorite

...

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Ice-Storm-Morning Sonnet

 

A sheet of ice on black pavement gleaming

As frost, settled on shrubs, illuminates

A white powder morning and activates

The sound of grass, underneath feet, crunching.

I with my twin brother wander, beaming

Along the path untouched, to what fascinates

The mind of two children and resonates,

Bridging the gap between awake and dreaming.

For brief moments the world was fr...

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ice stormnaturenostalgiasonnetsonnets

Winter Storm Stories

 

 

Under an old quilted blanket, starbursts of autumn colors,

We sat, listening to unembellished stories of the past

 

In the light of mismatched candles placed on flat surfaces,

Throwing occasional shadows to dance on the walls

 

With a cadence that matched the tempo of her voice

And swept us away to a time when water was fetched.

 

It was winter both inside and ...

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memoriesstorieswinter

Nothing Pure, Unbroken lasts

Nothing pure, unbroken lasts,

The world changes innocence,

It's best to disregard the past.

 

We're fated to don the cynic's mask

In spite of life's condolences,

Nothing pure, unbroken lasts,

 

Despite our ill-reaching grasp,

Or self-preserving countenance, 

It's best to disregard the past.

 

The body decomposes fast,

we lose our precious permanence,

Nothi...

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hopelessnessimpermanencevillanelle

Grandma

 

How can an arch hold

the weight of a boulder,

Bowed over, not groaning?

It was the same with her shoulders.

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grandma

A fall in the Morning

 

 

The razor cold breeze whipped at the small child.

For the tall pines grew below the cliff—no help--

And offered their apologies in their own way,

Filling the air with their sharp centric scent

And swaying like an ocean of green in the wind.

 

But, that day, the boy could not tell trees from tears,

And he could not smell aught but what he tasted:

Just copper and sa...

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fallmorningpainwarmth

Advice

How prolific your profundity,

To see what others cannot see,

To relate your divine acuity,

To take the time to talk to me,

To advise advice altruistically,

To lower yourself to charity,

To solicit unsolicited graciously,

To presumably pontificate pompuosly 

To offer two red cents for free.

 

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advicefacetioussarcasm

Warm Nights Behind the Orange Grove

Warm nights behind the orange grove,

We found each other between the rows,

And felt the cool ground in our throes,

Lost ourselves—lost our clothes,

Told secrets only moonlight knows,

Basked in silent afterglows,

Then promised never to let go,

Those nights behind the orange grove.

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love

Girl of My Dreams

Tally one for days past,

At present still remembered.

Nil for today, at last,

For your presence it still lingers.

 

My dreams are full of you,

And In my waking hour, you echo,

There is naught for me to do,

Save hope you let me let go.

 

I stay awake at night,

Because when sleep comes it seems,

I must concede my plight.            

You are the girl of my dream...

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despairdreamsheartachesorrow

Don't Write Hungry

A really good sandwich,

Has two pieces of bread,

(we all know the club is compensating)

Is void of mayonnaise,

But has in its stead,

(Mayonnaise is for the self-deprecating)

A nice bit of mustard,

And a sharp slice of Ched…dar.

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funsandwichsilly

Ever-was

I long to return,

To the land of Ever-was,

So that I can learn,

Why it was we never were.

 

And if I discern,

What it was you wanted then,

Then I will return,

To when-we’re-not again.

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IfLoveTime

Have you ever heard an angel laugh?

Or watched her go about her day, 

In a pleasant kind of way,

And realize that you are happy too,

Just because she laughs with you.

 

And know that if she were to ask,

You would accept her any task,

And do it with unblinking speed,

If only it was you she’d need.

 

Have you ever known such despair?

To always have an angel there,

Who gives meaning to each passing d...

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angeldespairlovesweet sorrow

For a Stranger

I saw a girl today.

Her hair was fire.

And like fire, I was drawn to her.

Like fire, I kept my distance.

 

I was afraid she might burn me,

That my passion would consume me.

So I let the moment pass,

And I watched her leave.

 

But like staring into a flame,

When she was gone,

And I closed my eyes,

I still saw her.

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beautyfirelustpassionrespect

No Reason

The day seems a good bit colder now,

Casting blue light through the windows.

And I just don’t seem to have the energy,

To get up—go on—continue.

I know things won’t get better,

I no longer can believe.

Today I found no reason not to leave.

 

When times were rough in the past,

I had you to keep me strong.

But now my bed seems rather large,

And the nights seem way to...

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depressionmelodysuicide

Evolution of a Domestic Argument (From the Male Perspective)

Nope. Not. No, I won't!
I dare not. Do not. I don't!
Shall? Shan't! Shall I, not!
Can? Can't! Can it sot!
Never. Never. Never again!
 Okay, sorry. I give, you win.

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argumentconcessionlove

None

I not sure why you did,
What you did, 
Today.

But it's funny how,
It's not that funny now,
That you have gone,
Away.

Now the world will miss,
The happiness, 
That's true.

Since the light has gone,
The night has come,
Sadness remains. 
Not you.

So we say goodbye,
Farewell funny guy, 
Adieu.

With your grieving bow,
You leave us now,
I hope the pain,
Is through.

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none

Out There

It is dark out there,

Where did the light go?

 

I can't see a thing,

But can feel the snow.

And the temperature is dropping,

Twenty below.

 

And my sister stopped moving,

And mother is slow.

Father has gone,

To where, I don't know.

 

And it is dark out there,

And still the wind blows.

 

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colddarkdespairhopeless

Moving (on)

Empty boxes now unpacked,

I pretty sure I left with more.

A new house with new memories,

But an old house with bare floors.

 

Still there's promise in the air,

And potential in the frame.

Perhaps here I will thrive,

I know it can't be the same.

 

 

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hopemovingnew

A Weed

entry picture

Yesterday I saw a weed,
proud and tall as a tower,
But it will be cut down soon,
Because it was not made a flower.

You see, a flower is considered pretty;
It pleases the eye with form and color.
But a weed is considered ugly,
And dares to spread, and cover.

So they say it is a choking plant,
And consider it a bother.
But a flower chokes just as well,
It is just has the decency to be...

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beautyflowerweed

Secret to Success

Keep it short and keep is sweet.

Don't subvert the paradigms,

Just make 'em laugh or make 'em weep,

But don't spout preachy diatribes.

 

Make it simple and make it clean.

Give the people what they want,

Like on the silver movie screen,

Watch 'em praise and watch 'em fawn.

 

Now don't be modest and do be vain,

It's what they've come to expect,

From big shot artis...

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facetioushow tojudgmentalsuccess

Headache

No, there'll be no poem today.

I have a headache that won't go away.

It could be my blood pressure or tooth decay,

or maybe I just need some nasal spray,

But there'll definitely be no poem today.

 

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headachepoem

Take This Seriously!

Okay, no--wait!
Put down those salad tongs!
We will take this seriously,
There's no need for salad tongs.

And why is your hat on your foot?
That is not a shoe.
Try to take this more seriously.
That's the one thing you should do.

No. That is absurd.
What does anyone want with a laugh.
You need to take this seriously,
Stop acting like a sap.

You? Of course you.
Do you see anyone e...

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Memories

I think it was a blizzard,
But I can't remember.
It was cold.
I was just seven years old.
And I ran inside. 
To hide from the storm.
Thinking maybe I could get warm.

The water felt like ice,
But the sun was nice.
It was March. 
I can still hear the dirge.
And I ran inside.
I tried not to care.
Thinking maybe you'd be there.

The warmth was gone,
But I was alone.
It was done.
We...

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coldmemories

Ditch Digger

I've heard the world needs ditch diggers too,

Which is good for me and good for you,

Because now we can be important to,

The doctors and the lawyers.

 

Oh, won't my mother be so proud,

To have raised such an important child,

Who reached the summit in the clouds,

When it comes to holding a shovel.

 

So, remember not to try too hard,

If you were born substandard,

...

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mediocresarcasm

Like an Old Friend

entry picture

Like an old friend one would rather forget,
It passes by and stops me in my tracks,
Out of respect I do not move,
For the procession in black.

And like a phrase that stirs a memory,
I remember sunny, never rainy, days,
When I bowed my head and cried,
Underneath the willow's shade.

And how I felt I would never be whole again,
And how I gave so many pieces to,
The lush and green grass,
...

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A River


I sat upon a cold creek bank,
I often do this when I think,
Or ponder over the deeper things,
Like, "what does the future bring?"

Now, the water seldom answers back,
So I sit there, listen, and relax,
And let my mind wander off,
To other shores and other thoughts,

But today the water heard my cry,
And decided, though I don't know why,
To take interest in a lost man's plight,
And off...

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directionexperimenthoperaftriver

I Thought to Try Something Different (preface to "A River")

I must admit that I usually do a few, short and simple poems a day. There is nothing wrong with this, and I normally do, and will most likely continue, to write in this manner. But when I woke up today, seeing as it was my off day, I thought I might try something outside of my comfort zone. And so I wrote the longest poem that I have ever written (not so long by most standards, but long for me). I...

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directionexperimenthopeprefaceriver

The Slow Boy

The teachers told him not to dream too big,
That his talents lay somewhere other than Arithmetic,
That English would never be so kind,
As to reveal its secrets to his young mind,
That History was better served,
By someone who could steer its curves,
That Science was a distant star,
So he shouldn't try to reach too far.

Maybe because he was so slow,
He didn't listen to them blow,
But to...

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characterdeterminationhopeschoolslow

A Ring

The children dance round and round, They speak the old familiar words, Things their parents also heard, They sing and laugh and all fall down.

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allusionchildrendownhate

Poisoned Well

Today I found a poisoned well,

Useless as my water pail.

No life it gives that I can tell,

Just an acrid sulfur smell.

 

 

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deathpoisonwell

Mason

The mason lays another brick, Smooths fresh mortar with his trowel, So that his clay will bind and stick, So that his house will not fall down.

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creationdownmasonprotection

Insomnia

Insomnia rears its ugly head,
Like an old friend, 
now unwanted.
I stare at the clock,
Heavy eyed,
And wonder,
"Should I sleep now or later?"
For I am not sure anymore,
What is expected
Of a single man,
And I stare at this empty bed,
And miss her body,
And her warmth...
And her.

 

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depressioninsomnialongingsadness

On the Influences of Love

Love turned me into a circus monkey,
A raving, craving, fiending junkie.
Incessantly nodding, affirming yes,
Consistently giving, despite duress.
Love turned me into a puppet pauper,
A penniless, lack-luck, begging gawper.
Constantly scrounging, loose change sifter,
Tirelessly searching, dime store drifter.
Love turned me into a courtly fool,
A grinning, spinning, ignorant tool.
Happ...

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bitterlovepastrottensour

The Corn

The corn grows tall, side by side, Crowded in the fertile ground. It stands and waits and cannot hide; Tomorrow men will cut it down.

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corndownhelplesshelplessness

The Wind Sweeps In

  The wind sweeps in to turn the leaves, for no reason other than it can. The leaves can't reckon or understand, why the wind would want them upside down.  

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changedownhelplesshelplessnesswind

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