Joan Kantor Poetry - Poetry
 











Agnostic*
 
 
As I pass
by a patch
of greyish-green plants
 
my eye catches
the morning light
reflecting
from a leftover drop
of dew
 
whose translucent tension
lets the color
show through
 
It’s impossible
how she holds together
the quivering
taut bulge
of herself
 
doesn’t drip
or slide
down a stem
 
but clings
to the drooping
curved edge
of a leaf
 
tempting me
with belief
 
 
* This poem won first place in the 2013 Hackney Literary Awards




                                                  Her Dream *
 
                                              On a scratched up
                                                        sepia
                                               hand tinted photo,
                                             barely held together
                                             with crumbling tape,
 
                                           this proud little dancer
                                           with arms outstretched,
                                              is daintily holding
                                         up the edges of her skirts
                                              while balancing tall
                                                   on the tips
                                       of her shiny black toe-shoes.
 
                                               With bright eyes
                                              and hopeful smile,
                                             full
                                                 of anticipation,
                                                 she
                                                       can
                                                            already            
                                                                    feel
                                                             herself
                                                         twirl,
 
                                                          but,
                                               in this moment of
                                                   imminent joy,
 
                                          standing perfectly poised,
 
                                                she’ll be waiting
 
                                                        forever.


* The introductory poem in the Writer's Digest First Place Award Winning collection
   Fading Into Focus
                                                           
  
 
                                                  
                                               
                                                    
 
                                                   
 
The Potter’s Hands *
 
 
Years haven’t dulled the sting of anticipation
 
I see each black hair
sprouting
from my father’s weathered olive skin
 
flat nails
      crusted white
     
outspread fingers
 
tendons strung tensely
 
poised
 
for slow motion slaps
 
Those hands
that hovered large
before my child eyes
 
Hands
whose palms
molded spinning clay
into pots
             full of fear
 
 
But I was made of different clay
                 and hid from the potter’s wheel
 
While waiting
                    for those fingers and palms
to find me
 
I hardened
to stone


*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)



 
 
They Will Be Watching
 
 
Children unheard
 
cowering
cringing
wondering what’s wrong
 
exhausted
from trial and error
 
dragging
their broken questions
 
sinking
in purple-tinged shadows
 
hiding fears
in fantasy
 
receding into walls
becoming one with walls
 
The venom and shouting
bounce off them
 
Shards of shattered plates
nick them
 
Someday
they’ll emerge
to replay the scene
 
and the walls
 
the walls
 
will be watching



*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)
 
 
 
 
 
 
She Was*
 
 
Will I remember
just the forgetting
 
not the fierceness
of hands on hips
 
her meekness
morphed
into mother bear
 
not the gentle control
of family turmoil
 
with a look
 
not the shopping trips
filled
with confidences
 
or the sweet soprano
of kitchen sink songs
 
but the scratchy
record-skipped stories
instead
 
my mind glazing over
with effort
 
to listen
to what
makes me
cringe
 
Recipes gone
 
Foods prepared
a thousand times
 
but never made
before


* previously published in Fading Into Focus (2015)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Friday After School *
 
 
She turns the key,
            pressing her exhaustion
                    against the opening door
 
                                 Emptiness sucks her in
 
She hears the echo
of her heel and toe
tapping on tile
                               Gravity
                                         pulls her
                                             into a chair
A newspaper
finds her fingers
but the words are lost
 
Others’ needful children
become a background hum
 
the rhythm
             of her own life
staccato
 
Like the pummeled
tightly stretched skin
of a drum
 
her center          is worn thin



*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)



 
 
 
 
Worlds Removed*
                           for my mother
 
 
Far from her familiar world
my mother sat on the Mississippi train
watching a young woman board
a tiny sack
of skin and bones
                         hanging limply
                                from her arms,
                                         whimpering
as in reflex
she swayed
to the beat
 
Her thin
worn
empty
pale face
lost
between drooping straw hat
and shapeless red hillbillydress
 
had withdrawn from a world
whose cries
she could no longer hear


*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)


 
 
Daylight Savings*
 
There’s an aura
in the silence
of mingled shadow and light
as slowly the day switches over
and in sadness I sit at the dining room table
looking inside and out
through confusion
towards the warm glow that wafts
from the top of the stairs
and the rouge-tinted blanket
of leftover fading blue sky
beyond the bay window
as darkness takes over late afternoon
in this room
full of unwelcome evening


*Previously published in Autumn Sky Daily Verse (2015)




 
 
Autumn Marsh
 
 
Salt marsh straws
sucked dry of green
 
are matted down
like scruffy hair
 
cowlick spiked
 
unruly drab
 
against the earth’s broad scalp



*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)
 
 
 
 
 
Late September*
 
 
Peach and gold
        on tiptoes of red
prance
          across
                     the treetops
 
Making merry
        the dance of death
they bring joy
                  to fading green
aglow
        in a gilded
                        crimson
                                     finale
November’s
                 bare branches
                                   unseen



*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)
 
 
 
 
 
 
River Rodeo*
 
 
 
Riding
           on riffles
 
and bucked
                  by waves
 
reflections
                of trees
                            and sky
Rise
       and
             fall
slapping
             into
                   stone saddles



*Previously published in Shadow Sounds (Antrim House, 2010)
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