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Larry Colker (1947-2018)


Reunification


I want you back, Annette, my South Ossetia,

the way it was when all your borders lay

within mine, Marianne, my Taiwan,

what can I do to bridge the gulf between us,

to sing again our common language? And Cassie,

O Cassie, my dearest Kosovo, if you returned

I’d make your face my emblem, your name my anthem.

All my cherished, missing, breakaway countries,

listen to me. I am a failed state, humbled,

crumbling, and I want you back, your climates,

your horizons, your parades.


(originally published in The Poetry Mystique: Inside the Contemporary Poetry Workshop, Duende Books)



Guardian Angel

(after Stephen Dobyns)


The angels did not immediately tell the Deity

of the unexpected turn of events in the garden.

Uh-oh, they said, someone is going to get it.

And they were right. One of them was chosen

to wave the biggest sword in all creation

at the entrance, to frighten away the children

and the children's children forever.

The other angels forget about him and never visit.

The sword is infinitely heavy and glows white hot.

No wonder he curses God under his breath

and secretly helps whatever children he can.


(originally published in The Cortland Review)



The Leap


We stood in groups of twos and threes

on the sidewalk outside the bar,

talking, smoking, watching traffic and each other,


one quiet old guy by himself looking at the moon,

when a quick motion caught our eyes

as the girl pounced onto her boyfriend,

shimmied up his tall torso,

squeezed her legs around his waist,

clasped her arms around his neck,

pressed her face into his hair.


If I were a prophet I’d say

a burst of light surrounded them

like a glory. Like revelation, like satori,

we were all converted on the spot:

for the rest of our lives we’d wait

for such a rapture, such a wrapped her,

our bodies suddenly made heavy

with bone and flesh not our own.


I caught the old man staring, dumbstruck,

until he collected himself,

went back to looking at stars.


At first the boyfriend took it like a puppy’s exuberance,

continued the conversation, as though that leap,

still rebounding in our chests,

was nothing special. But his girl did not unlatch,

tightened her arms and legs around him

until who knows what was let loose inside,

and he hugged her back, with a shy smile at us

as if embarrassed by his riches.


(originally published in The Sun)



Projector


Half sewing machine, half tank,

it was the closest thing I knew to a holy relic.


Elders fetched it from the closet

like the ark of our covenant with the past.


First came the ghosts of those who lie in the ground,

jerky simulacra dancing to staccato chatter.


Then came the famous line-up of the nine cousins,

four in diapers, three crying, all with chicken pox.


Then here we are, recognizable at last, in Florida,

Making faces at the camera; in the background, dolphins leaping.


O maker of humanity in its image,

O moving art,


you made light of us all.

We glowed.


(originally published in The Cortland Review)



Larry Colker co-hosted a weekly reading in the Los Angeles area for fifteen years. Amnesia and Wings was his first full-length book, published by Tebot Bach, 2013, (www.tebotbach.org). He previously published four chapbooks, and his work has appeared in dozens of print and online journals and anthologies since 1995. He was born in Huntington, West Virginia, and attended Deerfield Academy and universities in Chicago, Kansas City, and Urbana-Champaign, IL, with concentrations in Humanities, Romance Languages and Literatures, Educational Research and Psychology, and Early Childhood Education (he was a certified Montessori Primary teacher). He studied and “workshopped” poetry off and on with David St. John, Suzanne Lummis, Jack Grapes, Cecilia Woloch, Brendan Constantine, Richard Garcia, and others. In 2006, he was the poetry winner of the triennial California Writers Exchange contest sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc. Before his recent death, he moved to Hillsborough, North Carolina.


— posted November 2018
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