Coo Cooo

Snow. We awaken to many inches of snow. And more swirling, slanting, sifting snow. Silence.

White light. A snow blows the steaming breath of many gods . How silly of me. Not many gods. But a breath of one god — a powerful snow storm, and the cars, covered with heaps and heaps of snow, sit like stranded arks in sea of white.

Branches and bushes bow and bend under the snow weight. Skinny trees stand with some branches pasted with frosting. Crack, branches break. Thud on the roof.

Car tires slice the wet street.  I hear my feet crunch the snow. I breathe out a white cloud. Snow stops. Listen. Coo Cooo, echoes from a distant tree. This dove, like Noah’s bird with an olive branch in its beak, tells us the storm has ended.

Surely, no storm lasts forever. Now go kiss a snowflake. Amen.

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Mother’s Hand

Mother’s Hand
(revised today, 4-3-2017)

So much depends on shaking out wrinkles
from this clean dry handkerchief, then
laying out this white cloth onto the ironing board.

As we lift the steam iron, so much depends on
Mother’s hand on mine, helping me
guide the point into the corner, then we
glide the iron, slowly, along the seam.

So much depends, depends
on Mother lifting away her hand,
her encouraging whisper, “Now,
turn the cloth over, press lightly —
that’s perfect.” So much depends on
setting the iron onto the metal pad.

Depends. Depends on lifting each corner
to fold the cloth over onto itself; with
Mother’s hand on mine, we
delicately iron down the fold line,
“Is that good?”
“Perfect.” I set down the iron.

So much depends on
folding this white rectangle in half again,
— as Mother lets me iron the crease —
steam puffs
cotton shines.
pressing this folded cloth
to my nose — breathing in —
smells like Mother.

When you’re five years old, with
the whole world pressed and clean
so much depends on ironing handkerchiefs,
with Mother’s hand
on your hand, forever. Amen

James Ciletti
(Thanks to W. C. Williams)

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The peppered palate

Or the Poet as Chef

When I sit down to a seven course poem
I expect the poet to serve a verbal feast
that I need a fork and knife to eat

Like tasty vowels kissing my lips —
Enjoy sliding p’s and q’s across the lines–
Sip succulent sibilant similes

Slice crunchable consonants
Munch molar masticating metaphors
Swallow easily with a digestible burp

Then say, “Now that’s a poem
You can sink your teeth into.”

(Note, I began to sauté this when at a
poetry house call, I said, “I consider myself
a sensate poet.,” A guest asked, “Why?”
I answered, “Because I write poems
that you need a knife and fork to eat.”

I’ll be re-writing this, the 2nd draft
and serve various versions,later this month,
bring your knife and fork, and a napkin.

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April is the sweetest month

April is the sweetest month and also National Poetry Month.

Some of my fellow poets have avowed to write a poem every day in April. I’d rather be helping my grapevines get ready to produce new wine in October. However, to spark my own creativity, sort of shine a flashlight beam into my ears and find out what is in there, — you know, we really have no idea what we can or will create until we take pen or brush or other tool in hand and move into the imaginative and thoughtful creative process — so

thinking that we are so arrogant to believe we can write a new poem every day, my choice is to simply write everyday, post it here, and hopefully unearth a few nuggets or fresh green onions that will sparkling and spice up our imagination or salad.

This is a misty moistly morning here Colorado Springs and I encourage all of us, this first day of April to take pen in hand, or brush or other creative instrument and make something happen with it — whether Mary flourishes out a design for a stained glass window, or Helen Hudson picks up her guitar and sings a song to the birds, or Bill Barns shares a memory of his first love affair with Italy.  DO IT, this is our gift, and spiritual grace.

With clear and chill winds fisted clusters of blossoms pink the peach trees; garlic swords point to blue sky. A song trills from our ash tree. Always, now or after the rain, damp earth assures me that life will go on;

that starlight will necklace night and a planters moon will shine on new potato plantings; onion bulbs push up green tendrils, and OH! the greening of the lawn for barefoot tickles and comfort for our eyes. YES, OH YES, this spring is the very best and sweetest. Amen.

The new curator of the Vatican art treasures assures us,
“Art is a spiritual ambassador.”

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Spring Delight

   Millionaire’s Spring Delight

Yesterday, had I been a millionaire
able to hire a gardener or two, I ‑‑
still would have knelt in the earth
and brushed back the crunchy leaves, to see,
touch, oh! green shoots of new garlic,
tulips, peonies, dandelions. . .


Yes, pruned scratchy rose bushes
sucked blood from my thorn‑stabbed thumb;
cut back the lower aspen branches,
plucked up the dry and dead tomato and
pepper plants, snapped off hollyhock stalks.


Yes, yes, even spaded the earth and
drilled my finger into the rich soil
and planted white onion bulbs. Now,
the earth under my fingernails ‑‑
curved sliver of the silvery new moon.


James Ciletti © March 2013

Recently published in the 2014 issue of

the Poet Laureate project’s, Poetry While You Wait.

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Waiting For Mary

Waiting For Mary

Friday is tomorrow and tomorrow you come home to
winter mornings of rose colored dawns
windy afternoons, sullen evenings,
then star-bright chilled nights when
your breath whitens rising into the universe.

Tomorrow the trees will be one day closer to
their buds leafing out, robins singing,
worms rising in thawed earth; tomato seeds
exploding out of their shells, peppers too.

Tomorrow the garlic tips green a little more.
Red headed finches eye April nesting sites.

Nonetheless, tomorrow feels so far away, because
you are so far away; because
because I cannot fast forward time; because
because we are not there yet and today is
Thursday. Hurry home! My kisses
are waiting for you.

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Mother’s Hand (1st draft)

Mother’s Hand
Jan. 18, 2017
Draft as written in my journal at 6:30 am

So much depends on shaking out the wrinkles
in the clean dry handkerchief,
then laying out the cloth on the ironing board.

So much depends on Mother’s hand on mine
as we lift the steam iron and she helps me
set the point into the corner of the handkerchief and
glide the iron along the seam.

So much depends on Mother lifting away her hand
and the encouraging whisper in my ear to
turn the cloth and repeat the ironing, until she says,
“ that’s perfect,”
and you set down the iron on its metal pad.

So much depends on how you take each corner
and fold the cloth over onto itself and
halve the cloth and again Mother’s hand on mine
and we delicately iron down the fold line and
set down the iron and fold this white rectangle
in half again and Mother lets me
iron down the crease and the steam puffs and
the cotton smells and you hold
the folded handkerchief to your nose and
it smells of Mother.

So much depends on ironing handkerchiefs
when you are five years old and
the whole world is pressed and clean and
Mother’s hand is on yours,

(C) 2017 James Ciletti

I share this first draft just as I had written it this morning so that you can
“edit” it to make it better. And in a few days, after I brood over it, I’ll
share my re-write. Cheers.
“The best poems and stories are the ones you get down on paper.”

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