Barbara Buckman Strasko

poet    writer    teacher

 

SELECTED POEMS

 

 

I’ve Carried Rain

 

I’ve freed birds caught in traps

small hearts all

a rumble. “All cry,” the crows

 

say, black and blue and bitten --

their confessions come now

to tribunal.

 

I’ve carried lilacs through rain

broken their branches and hoped

they would not wither. And now I watch

 

starlings on the wire

one by one drop into unknown

shelter.

 

As clouds darken down

another notch, the smell

of ferns seep into me.

 

A day to stroll into,

to measure shadows,

to measure light, and it’s only

after night falls that I understand.

 

The fern uncurls,

the rain still on its leaves,

as if wanting to throw

itself away in summer.

 

The Summerset Review( 2010)

 

 

 

Ode to the Berrigans

 

I owe to you my son, whose father would

have gone to war, maybe never returning.

 

His fate was set by you that day in New

Brunswick, a Sunday spent ripping files,

 

pouring blood, as priests you marred records.

You saved my husband, his number low but never called.

 

Will there be others to take your place?  This

generation too stunned by the last?  You saved

 

my husband, his number low but

never called.  Instead, we had a son,

 

his eyes dark brown. Now he writes poems,

one about a war he dreads and one about

 

a war I know he could never have understood.

He is opposed to all violence, and seems to have come

 

into this world speaking in long sentences

about love.  Your son as much as ours.

 

Catholic New Times (2003) and Poets Against the War (2002)

 

 

 

In a Silent Way

 

Put your body inside that cut

of Miles, where the hand comes out of the ocean

painted with the world, and the blue

heron flies to the marsh

scraping its wing against slow

wind and sky. It’s the one

right before the slow train

 

heading toward Europe.  One blue-black

crow stands low in the tree where thick limbs

separate and the white sycamore lights

a backdrop of differences.  The whole time,

 

the guitar sounds like Jimi playing to a flag

where the stars are the multiplication table

and the stripes reach out for more. Notes lift us

 

when the light diminishes a field, and a bird

soars right through the center of another

silent horizon.  Early morning, everything is

 

possible until you remember your life is still yours

and all you want comes slowly, never what you want

by the time it gets to you.

 

Ninth Letter (2008)

 

 

 

Bruise

 

When the hawk flies from the sunset on the other side of the sky

to the grove of trees by the river, my throat tightens, my eyes

 

rest not on the hawk

 

but on its shadow, on rock,

all belief suspended and the bruise of light wavering

 

on rims of bark. I recall the yellow light

of the sun starting to descend and the way

 

the neighbors sit

on their side porches to watch.

What is it these people yearn for?

 

My own desires

 

so strong they are written

on my skin, but in a foreign language deciphered

 

when the shadow of the hawk in this remaining

light takes flight

 

curving the hill in silence cut from ruins.

 

Tar River Poetry Review (2007)

 

 

...

“The poems offer us the twin gifts of consciousness and conscience in the compassion they bear outward, refusing to insulate themselves from the world. The voice in these poems is that of a world citizen even in the most private of her meditations.’’

- Leslie Ullman

...

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