Author Archives: Jeff Schwaner

About Jeff Schwaner

Poet: three published books of verse and two novels. Studied poetry at Cornell University, where I was awarded the Dorothy Sugarman Poetry Prize and George Harmon Coxe Award for Contributions to Creative Writing. Entrepreneur: Co-founder in 2000 of Booksurge, an author-initiated self publishing and Print On Demand (POD) site purchased by Amazon in 2005. Working guy: manager at LexisNexis. Family man: husband and father of three. New England native and current Virginia resident. Big fan of Blue Ridge mountains and hills and trees in general.

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Unrecognized local number texting
‘Why did you change to “might come”

this weekend?’ I froze. Daydreaming
Of visiting my father on his 85th birthday.

Death’s number is always local, no
Matter how far away he seems.

And yes, he saw my mother fall,
Perforated inside, and went into the

Woods with eyes half seeing,
To the retired cop’s house for help.

And sometimes I see him there
Among the scrub oak, out

Of options, unsure, trying to lead
Death away from the house

And that was the time I came.

Lee on either side of the mountain

Lee on either side of the mountain

Citizens emerge from bars to high-five the protesters
Who stop short of the monument and line of riot police

On the other side it will be easier to tear down an entire school
So it costs nothing to remove his name from it

Movement trips a security flood light outside my dream
Deer walking silently through a dark backyard

Lightning, like the earth is pulling

koirose

Lightning, like the earth is pulling

Lightning, like the earth is pulling threads from the moon,
Unseen above the clouds. The earth’s desire is so strong

That fish wriggle from the tree by my driveway, and roll
On the sidewalk waiting for rain. The neighbor says they are fallen

Flowers from the rose of sharon, but they more resemble
Shrink-dried koi, ready to plump up as the moon draws

The water inland. Like wishes waiting for the right moment
They will blossom only after their fall and swim down the street

Where everyone can see, unattached to what they grew from,
Swallowing bread dropping through the air from the hands of strangers.

The clouds

0805cloudoverlake

The clouds

For generations they saw them
Looming above, the sunlight

Skreeing off the wings’ edges
The bottom in shadow skimming

The heavens as if looking below
For those it wanted to strike

And for generations they ran
Or froze in dread, until so much

Had gone by they had almost
Forgot, and then one day a small

One skimmed over them
And the smart ones stood there unafraid

As from it another smaller one
Fell, light glinting on the edges

Shadowed below falling faster
Than anything they’d seen

And they realized
They’d been right all along

Like the ancient Chinese poets

blackwalnut

Like the ancient Chinese poets

Hundreds of years from now
I am almost sure that no one reading this

Will understand what I mean about
The black walnut, how its fruit

Falls from the sky in August like baseballs,
All the season’s lost line drives and extra

Base hits, all falling in a few weeks of
Evenings, after the ballpark has shut its eyes.

Who will read it and know what I hear? The ten thousand thuds
Of things getting away, all concentrated

Into a night of continued falling, like all your
Life’s bad news dropping in one long sleepless

Dream. Because the black walnut poisons its
Own earth against other trees so it can soak up

More sky, creating more fruit that drops from
Higher heights and falls in a place of the night

That only a black walnut could fall and grow
Anything from. Maybe that’s what you will

Understand, reader, a thousand years from
Now, in your own evening of everything falling.

Carters Lake on A Last Summer Weekend.

People dispersing into the colors of sky and leaf. Crows exchanging fragments of thought. Who is in the world, and who is of it? I don’t want to quote the entire poem, so here it is. Thanks to Jessica Mock for allowing the reblog. //JS

Jessamayann

The amish people were in faded blues like a sky over an empty corn field at the end of summer when the harvest has left only dust and heat in the middle of no where.

The women had on hats and long dresses, boots laced up past their ankles. The girls walked almost along the edge of the water but they never touched it. They rippled away from the lake like little waves, becoming in themselves water, as if to remain separate from the external element itself. How strange it must feel to be in the world but not of it.

Fragments of blue dresses and sky disappear into the trees and I can hear an entire thirsty world wrestling against the breeze, not knowing where it is coming from but knowing where they are going.

After they are gone, the empty beach is a deserted cornfield. Crows fly in…

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