Pieces of Poetry

Written Fall 2008 for ENGL463 - Introduction to Poetry Writing
by Alyssa Reeves

the silent storm inside my arms

The lightning struck where thunder failed to give warning:
a harsh blow in springtime afternoons.
We are all left
with smoking trees
and towers
and TV antennas.

Where tall cliffs once stood straight and strong,
the rocks now rest in a crumbling pile.

The clouds stooped low and blinded out the sun,
so I embraced the tempest as it mutely raged.

Steaming geysers release hot streams over rolling hills;
cold rain falls on even the most beautiful of roses.
The distant quake erupts without a sound,
a shudder detectable only when you hold your breath
and feel the shifting in the gentle breeze.

The breaking heart is still the beating heart.
We’ll pray on these tears for years,
and I’ll hold tight
to the silent storm inside my arms.

-Alyssa Reeves (December 12, 2008/Language of Poetry poem) 


At the Canyon

After the fight in June, she left for good.
Her journey carried her west to the hills:
She sought her solace in the arms of God
And rested each night underneath His sky.
Out here the world holds lyrics in the leaves
And sunlight breaks through passes in the clouds.
The highways cross just past the mountain’s ridge
Where vultures hang on branches by the stream.
The weary traveler dries up in the sun;
The birds swoop down to make of him their lunch.
She turns to write a letter to send home
To tell them all the view here steals her breath.
These words are all she has and they are lies,
Half-truths that are no comfort to her heart.

-Alyssa Reeves (November 17, 2008/Sonnet poem)

The Post-it Note

Julia - I know you're
   probably still mad about the
 cupcake incident, but I
  swear it wasn't my fault.
I just want you to know

  that I love you.
 And I'll bring home those
    chocolate cookies you like
   because this week
     they're half price.
                     love, Mitch

-Alyssa Reeves (November 3, 2008/Persona poem)

lost at sea

the pounding waves explode
over my deaf ears and
salt dumps into my veins.
a frantic impulse invades my limbs
when the surface fails to break
and I am lost in the tide,
hidden deep beneath the sparkling blue:
death disguised as paradise.
the sharp sea erupts in my lungs
and slices without mercy through fragile fibers.
up above, the heavens split
as ambition slides beneath the swell.

--Alyssa Reeves (October 24, 2008/Sound and Sense)

Homer Linebaugh
He wore overalls and a brown fishing hat
Though we never saw him leave to go fishing.
Mostly he spent his time being retired and
Working in his shop, building doorstops
That looked like kittens and wooden flower to paint
And stake in the yard.

On warm afternoons he stood at the fence and watched
Us toddle around in the backyard,
Saying little but multiplying his wrinkles
As the sun baked his smile.
Occasionally we slipped through the gate and joined
Him and his wife Mildred.

He painted his past for my dad in hour-long conversations
And proudly showed him the silver dollar
He swore his great-grandfather had carried
During the Civil War.
"It saved his life," his voice was eager like a child.
"A bullet hit this coin and it should have hit his heart."
My dad (I'm not sure why) didn't let him
Savor the sweet piece of luck.
"Look at the date, Homer."
From my spot on the floor, I thought the old man stopped breathing.
"That bastard!" he muttered.
"Homer, not in front of the kids."

--Alyssa Reeves (October 20, 2008/Story-Telling Poem)

Gluttony from the Get-Go
They brought us home after four weeks:
4 pounds, 4 ounces - a three-package deal.
The heart monitors screamed occasionally,
panic to the untrained ear.
Gently shake us when we forget to breathe.
The warm bottle is too good to let go.

My favorite was root beer,
And my sister liked Sprite.
I'd get all excited so it swam down the front of my shirt
And pooled in my lap.
My dad handed me a paper towel and said,
"Kid, you've got a drinking problem."

We started up at 17, 18, 20.
The law's a loaded obstacle
Slip beneath it like a hole in the fence.
When everyone's doing it, you welcome the shots
Because we're young and invincible
And we believe even real bullets
Are made of rubber.

--Alyssa Reeves (October 5, 2008/Mosaic poem)

I Call Her "Harriet"
Morning pierces the sky with such fervor
that I am roused from my sleep
in a panic; like a 2 a.m. phone call
urgency pushes at the blinds.
Will today be different?
The world awaits.
Pull them up to reveal a dark reality:
Death hangs outside my window,
a dumb silhouette before the blinding light.
Small silk coffins shudder
like nervous hammocks.
Connect the dots.
An eight-legged ambition carried out flawlessly.
Premeditated murder.

-Alyssa Reeves (22 Sept. 2008/Images and Indirection)
Note: first half of poem may be cut by request of the professor

My Name is Noel
Just past mid-December
when a nightfall of snow gives way
to a dim morning of dull diamonds
covering the ground, the trees,
the roofs, the cars, the roads,
waddle outdoors in seven layers.
Sharps winds cut beneath your nose
and across your exposed cheeks.
Spend the next several hours trudging
around ankle-deep in
fresh, flawless precipitation.
Step onto the untouched plots
of powdered grass.
Welcome to a sacred acreage.
Snow surrenders beneath wet sneakers
and echoes between Hale and Waters Hall.
For hours, admire quiet flakes drifting down,
silhouetted by street lights.
Daylight fades into the ground.
Make your way inside where
a wet trail of footprints
follows you to the bathroom.
Peel off our damp outer shell.
Cheeks are red and burning
and fingers tingle, as if being licked
by a cold flame.
Shuffle to the kitchen in an undershirt
and shorts and socks.
Sip hot chocolate.
Every winter the word is spectacularly silenced.
Rough edges of buildings are softened.
The absence of sound is beautiful.
At night, the stars
are magnified
against the blackest firmament.

-Alyssa Reeves (8 Sept. 2008/Framing a Poem)