Four Poems by John Monagle







I know you are cold,
motionless under covers holding the warmth
so that freeze won’t seep into your skin.
I know you are cold,
on the sofa under a blanket,
trying to do a crossword puzzle by candle light.
I know you are cold,
standing with your back to the gas stove,
hoping the flame will lift the chill from your body.
I know you are cold,
warming yourself by the fire, wearing ear-phones plugged
into a laptop listening to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.

I know you are alone,
trapped in your house by the charged power line
lying like a snake slithering in your driveway.
I know you are alone,
waiting for your son or daughter to take you
to their house where you can lay down in ease.
I know you are alone
walking through neighborhoods, eyeing empty houses,
black filling the windows as if in mourning.
I know you are alone,
in a crowded restaurant after you finished lunch,
wearing old clothes, a grimy self you want to wash.

I know you are in the dark,
defiantly holding a candle, watching snow
fall on the lawn sheeted by ice under crystallized trees.
I know you are in the dark,
silence alerting your body to danger
as freezing rain pelts the roof and glass.
I know you are in the dark,
wondering if the distant train’s horn is one carrying lost hours
under a midnight moon or bringing back time before sunrise.
I know you are in the dark,
gripping the comforter so you don’t lose yourself
in the night or melt into the liquid black of God.


Obsidian colored hair and skin,
dark as the soil of Illinois, smooth curves
of fertile earth forever young, her smile
the sunrise, her eyes the gentle night.

Sitting with friends at breakfast, she waves
when she sees me. We exchange
slight conversations; these bits
providing nourishment for the week.

Her voice is a smooth velvet sound
rippling through words, streaming
through our laughter, music written
by the infinite composer is measured
to the beat in my chest.

I wish my hand could contour her cheek,
our eyes closed, lips upon lips.

Song of Africa, I am song of Ireland.
Let us stand on the same land and lift songs
from of our united hearts in the morning,
one soul rising from the altar.


The week has been under
drizzling gray.
So I bought some
yellow roses, chrysanthemums,
daisies, and lemon drops
for you.

As you roll
the drop on your tongue,
you put
the flowers in a vase
and deeply inhale the smell.

I remember when we met.
You wore a white blouse
and yellow skirt,
colors of spring days
and young hope,

your hair dark
as woods unexplored,
eyes of earth
nurturing virgin forest

that now look at me
as you are smiling.

Sunshine has come today.


She stands at the precipice
overlooking the bridges into Harpers Ferry,
the armory and the houses. Then she looks
to her right, upriver of the Potomac,
at buildings along the river and trees
descending from cliffs to the river banks,
in the direction where the river came from,
when clear waters passed over shallow stream beds,
gathering itself from tributaries, in a hurry to find
direction and flow, sometimes recklessly flooding
riversides when it was born of a blizzard.

She extends her arms,
as if she is going to embrace all the trees
and lifts her head to give thanks to the clear sky.

I stand several steps back from the ledge,
stare at people rowing boats
and paddling kayaks at the union
of the Shenandoah and the Potomac.
I look southward at the river flowing
through the gorge, notice the muddy
and deep water progress slowly
to the bay, then to the ocean.

I am aware of the disguise covering
swift currents and turbulence cascading
over boulders at Great Falls.
I’m old enough to remember
when the river was not full.
Water ebbed from the banks
during droughts, revealing sandy scars.

She turns around and look sat me,
smiling at my quizzical expression.
“You know, you are a very beautiful man.”

I am terrified of heights.

John Monagle writes: I reside in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Retired from working at The Library of Congress, I’m a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts with a MFA in creative Writing, specializing in poetry. I’ve had numerous poems published in a wide variety of journals including Minimus, Wordwrights, Bourgeon, and District Lines. 

Image: Pub. by Nichols & Stuck, Pharmacists, Charles Town, W. VA.  “Tichnor Quality Views,” Reg. U. S. Pat. Off. Made Only by Tichnor Bros., Inc., Boston, Mass., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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