Wednesday 4 May 2022

Five Poems by Cleo Griffith




I have lived with this

through the month

and I am holding up,


kind of cooking

without the cookbook,

steaming up the kitchen,


have a lot of product,

not sure it is edible,

but I’ll keep the oven hot

until I’ve applied all the tests,


hope to have a credible lunch

out of the mass, something

with substance to flesh out


the bones which rattle around

without music

in the kettle.





Let me face the full moon, let me dance in light

let me stand in sun and know my shadow

I have known the cold and fog for much too long

Give me just one word to bring me out.


Let me stand in sun and know my shadow.

Give me a beat and I’ll remember what I lost,

give me just one note to bring me out,

I’ll reconstruct old music, my old rhythm.


Give me the beat and beauty I had lost,

play me the kettle drum and tambourine,

I’ll reconstruct old music, embrace rhythm,

nights will only be a part of day.


Play for me the kettle drum, I’m tambourine.

No longer mute I’ll chatter through the score,

nights will only be a part of day.

Let me face the full moon, let me dance in light.




   (for Linda)



was like a whisper slightly left-side of delineation,

or a slightly unpleasant, lingering scent,

evocative of some deep memory,

a shadow that would stay, grey-fixed, almost in sight,

a slight bitterness as of final medicine recently tasted,

a discomfort of the body ‘though in comfortable surroundings.



that was always here with you,

is gone with him, no touch goodbye,

just that second absence, abrupt,

no slow fade like his own long leave-taking.

Such closeness for so long, your trio through day and night

now only you and two holes in your universe.



has left your all-too-mortal hands

stretching into the hollows,

ready to accept even This again

in order to have him back.





I watch you try to dance in the rain

and recognize how difficult it is

to lift your feet against sorrows

accumulated through the years,

see how the regrets that rested as dust

upon your shoulders have become red mud,

drag you downward.


I see the chill upon your face

from the cold drops of uncaring water,

your eagerness to make them


find lightness in this storm.


I call you back inside,

take back my advice,

and hold you close,

just hold you.


Wind in Constant Breath


it seems we only meet like this

spiralling, spinning 

                 along a shore’s path


wind storming above water

has more predictability 

                than our uneasy tides


breakwater chases,

rises to challenge us


this is my destination

my definition 

                of love

Cleo Griffith has been on the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for eighteen years. Widely-published, her poems have recently appeared in POEM, Blue Collar Review, and Wild Roof Journal. She lives in Salida, California with her guard-cat, Amber. 

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