Saturday 9 April 2022

Four Poems by Michael Ball


My Cheeks Speak


Why, you’re Wanda Michael’s boy, ain’t you?

I was tall and blond,

with a chest like a draft horse.

She was short, slight and brown haired.

How did this (other) hick know us?


His face pitted and wrinkled

by hot sun, winter wind and age.

On the sidewalk next to the town’s

single traffic light, that blunt farmer

pegged me just right.

While I did not recall him, he saw

my mother’s high cheeks.


She was far away and he likely

had not seen me since I was car-wheel high.

Country folk delight in knowing

their people, in claiming their own.


That country man surely

went through the town schools

with her, decades, children,

marriages and funerals ago.

He remembered her cheeks and

that was enough for him to ID me.


And I am not really a stranger.

We know the same orchards,

corn fields, river and hills.

There’s no reason he shouldn’t

approach me and claim my cheeks.


Cotton Island

Float on your own cloud, children.

Swing slowly low, free and calm.


Sultry Edisto Island,

joy need not be profound.

It pleases the five young’uns

swaying between palmettos

on box springs hooked to two chains,

beside the sand and red dirt

road that runs next to their house,

wooden, barely standing and

on stilts above tide and storm.


The kids do not fear water

nor weather nor those driving

by headed nowhere at all,

but still looking and waving.

They rock their ride and it swings.

There is fun the poor without

appointments enjoy all day.


The cabbage palms provide shade.

Time Out. Time’s Up.


I welcome being stripped

of pandemic pity.

Communal woe became

shared and imposed argot

we each and all can speak.


We share an empathy

forced down by the devil

always there but unseen.


Those of us not dying

nor with throat or nose tubes

imagine cruel demons

are dispatched and long gone.


Let our Covid terrors end.

Olly olly oxen free


Literary Magic


Two hundred miles distant and again

twelve hundred miles away, unwitting

poetry players had surely felt themselves

displayed and described clearly in public.


Yes, banal as poets writing about poets

and poetry — or singers singing about

their craft — that trap caught me.

In fairness, it was double baited.


At my reading, my wife’s mobile

played its attention-seeking tones

right after I read a poignant piece

on a long-time friend with dementia.

Visits to her are both sad and funny,

drenched in the rain of confusion.


Ooo, the caller was that same friend,

whom we would call after the reading.

Surely that had to be mere coincidence.


Yet, consider that very evening

my Facebook feed showed a comment

on the promo for the reading, this one

from an erstwhile darling of long ago.

We have not contacted in several years.


She wished me luck, much like Worf’s

Qapla’ exhortation to have success.

She too could not know from the notice

that my reading included a piece on her.

Neither she nor my friend had seen or read

her poem. Neither knew she was on the bill.


Reduced to superstition, I turn country.

I asked myself were their ears burning?


Science does not honour much less adore

telepathy. Right now grant that pretence.

For the nonce, I would trust in the hoodoo

of remote brain-to-brain chatting.

Poets pretend power and they may claim

magical effects for their spoken words.

Michael Ball scrambled from newspapers through business and technical pubs. Born in OK and raised in rural WV, he became more citified in Manhattan and Boston. One of the Hyde Park Poets, he has moderate success placing poems including in Griffel, Elevation Review, Gateway Review, Havik Anthology, SPLASH!, Peregrine Journal, In Parentheses, Spillwords, It’s All About Arts, Kind Writers, and Reality Break Press. Featured poet at Menino Arts Center, Rozzie Reads, and Open Door Yoga Center for the Arts. 

1 comment:

  1. I dreamed about you the other night. I was introducing you to someone, you and your brother, apparently a twin, also named Mike. Maybe I'll write a poem about this Gemini occasion.


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