Two Cardinals Press

Local Color: Things, Persons, Places, Experiences

by Charlene Babb Knadle

Selected Poems

See to hear the poet read from this book.

School of Poetry

Poetry sprouts from the soil, on Long Island,
and from the hearts of its people:
one shouts, one murmurs, one sings;
diversity is its definition.
"Enter our slam contest," trumpets one event.
"We're performance poets," says another.
"Only those who matter need appear," one
makes clear. "Come one, come all," say others.
Workshops abound, competitions thrive,
anthologies and magazines attract, chapbooks
bloom, readings draw good audiences.
Some set their poems to music, present them
as songs. Some try for formal patterns,
stick to rhythm and rhyme; most favor open form.
Some write in dual languages, for sound and loyalty.
There's no narrow focus—ranking high: nature
(woodlands, its creatures, east-end light, the sea);
family, friends, the city, experiences of the past
and of today. Our Island offers room
for many poetries within its shores.
The best of these, collected, may not fit
into a one-room school. One faction,
selected, may not represent the whole.
The "Long Island School"
is a mansion of many rooms.


Fat-bellied antenna
and a lonely field
isolated together, but not idle:
each sings like a frog in a shallow pond
when the world's busy-ness comes to it.
The wind plays a tune upon the grasses.
The universe conveys its fullness
through a vast vacuum
to the narrow feed horn.
Underneath, a hoard of creatures roil,
feed upon one another. Wind, rain, sun
pock-mark, tint the massive dish.
Energy and entropy combine as partners
—sentient beings, cohabiting
with the seemingly inert.

Meditation on Singularity

Would I miss you, moon
if you vanished one night
to be gone forever,
in your place an empty sky,
vast horizon
unwatched, unlit
un-smiled upon?

Would I love the emptiness
the way a golfer
loves a treeless lawn,
never giving thought to
ghostly elms and maples
whose roots still lie
under the thick turf?

Without you, moon
would I pine like a bachelor,
in his secret heart
self-satisfied except for a sense
of something terribly missing?

What if our sky
held not one of you, but two...or three
...or more, like Jupiter's? Would I
dismiss their elegance as commonplace?

But we are given only you,
changeling moon,
and like a child with
no toy but one
I hold you as precious,
seek to divine your secrets.

Taking Off

In my dreams I travel by car
stop at the side of the road
to assist a stranger, pause to run
into my house for something,
find the doors and windows open,
go through the house to close them.

I drive in swampy, meandering roads
through marsh grass and blueberry bushes,
reach a point where the water is too deep
—but there is no backing up.

My solution to difficulties is to wake up.

I lie there grateful—but wish for
the superior escape
of my childhood dreaming
which almost always was to fly.

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