June-August 2017

With this posting, three by 3 begins its sixth year of publication. May there be many more–and all for the best!

As part of the celebration, I’m re-posting three of my favorite poems. By giving them a reprise, hopefully they’ll find readers with the same bias! For additional commentary, their original posted dates were: March-May 2013 (“Priorities in Perfect Practice”), December 2014-March 2015 (“Origins on Galapagos”),  September-November 2013 (“The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry”).


Priorities in Perfect Practice


Not only a metronome
plays a key role…

At the piano
sits a virtuoso.
He’ll tackle anything…

Note the ivory steps.
They slope upward,
towards a dream door.
He’s rhapsodizing
over which riff
might make
a break thru.
Also, what will it sound like?

In real life
a living room
houses him.
The walls wear ears.
They eavesdrop
on steady solos.
Likewise, a low
ceiling listens in.

Those are his
full scale critics,
besides a
small metronome
ticking away
on a table.
That’s their measure
for trying out
latent talent.
All he has to do
is follow along.
Whether the door
will wind up opening
hinges on him.
As to when is up to them.


First published in Octavo


Origins on Galapagos


Lucky ducks, though they’re terns,
that can always bank on
a cornucopia surfacing around them?
marooned onshore pools
with kelp, eelgrass, crabs
clinging to the bottom…

Their ancestors also fared well,
as per my post mortem memory.
Enough to establish a flock of birds
with blood lines tied to flowing tides.
My kind died out long ago,
overcome by an unstable volcano.
Had our wings been bigger
we’d have flown off the island;
or swam away if we’d known how.

Likewise, I can recall when
the first newcomber was spotted
poking around one sunrise.
He appeared alone, but as the sky shined
others showed up, mouthing sounds
like “right here” and “Dr. Darwin.”
Each day they arrived early,left
after hovering over scores of nests.

Naturally,they never saw a feather
nor heard us chirping.
We were no more than a body of ashes
left behind like lava–the darkest part
of the sand they stepped on
while doing their legwork
up and down dunes.
They came close, though,
those curious creatures
that ran around
after every tern.


The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry


A stream springs up.
Ribbons of currents sparkle
as they curl around rocks;
turning, by late afternoon,
into the deep water
of a long, dark pool.

There and then, its slowly
moving surface features
the likes of Master Shimu
searching for shade
along the bambooed bank.
Are those his eyes
floating among the green leaves
whisked off by the wind?

An eddy enters the picture.
Soon the leaves are drawn
towards it, branching
away on separate waves.
Also, within drifting
distance, the bottom
appears again.

He’s seen enough, though,
for a full day;
between reflections
and the mirror between them…

It’s time
to let the watercolor dry.


 First Published in The Montserrat Review                                                            















2 comments to June-August 2017

  • Thanks for three more wonderful poems. As someone who’s spent countless solitary hours at the piano, Priorities in Perfect Practice rings so true. Origins on Galapagos captures the history and significance of those islands as well as their magic. Master Shimu paints a picture in the mind. I so enjoyed these.

  • Thanks, Michael, all three of these are worth re-reading! you have words that walk right off the page and starts a fire in another poet’s mind, like your “Priorities in Perfect Practice,” (by the way, isn’t alliteration just the nuts?!?), I can smile and nod as I’m savoring your imagery “…the ivory steps. They slope upward, towards a dream door…” It’s exciting to read a poem and step through a door into another dimension…and I key in on “…the walls wear ears..” and “…a low ceiling listens in…” I’m keen on investing human traits and actions in the objects and creatures around us, that creates almost limitless opportunities for tapping into fantastic realities. You keep expanding the boundaries of the experience right through to the last lines. Bravo!

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