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Michael Keshigian
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Loneliness Motel

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

His little hole in the Boston skyline,

one window lined with soot

facing Fenway Park.

In the room overhead,

there was a clarinet

that stalked Stravinsky’s “Three Pieces”

every evening.

During the day it was mostly quiet,

the crowd on the sidewalks

resembled the spiders in the room,

preying with thick overcoats

to catch the unsuspecting

in a web woven with smog

dimly illuminated with the little light

that penetrated the building alleys,

so dark, he could only shave

with a lamp in his face.

Every morning at 7:30 A.M.,

students clamored on the staircase,

rushing en route to classes

at the universities

and colleges around the corner,

the clarinet player would flush the toilet

then turn on the shower.

Once in a while, a bird

chirped or tweeted, like a bell chime,

so close to his door,

for a moment, he believed

he had a visitor.



Cemetery Silence

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

He stood in front of the headstone

marking his father’s grave

under a maple tree

that shaded the parcel

reserved for his mother.

“I found that twenty

you sent me,” he whispered,

“found it in the leaves

next to the curb during my run

the day after

we moved you here.

I asked for a sign

and you thought of

dropping a twenty on me.

I knew it was yours,

all the serial numbers

matched your birth and departure date,

never mind the letters, all T, S, & K.

Money is what drove you,

but at least, this time, you answered.”

He concluded the one-sided conversation,

hoping for another sign,

but all that followed

was a long silence,

one that encompassed all the gravestones

and the rows of dead they marked.

He kneeled, got closer to the granite slab,

pressed an ear against it

as if to block the deafening quiet

that enveloped his surroundings.

Still nothing, cemetery silence,

the most disarming silence of all,

so silent, he could hear the still air breathe.



The Departed

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

Bereft of their earthly vessel,

they linger,

concealed within the camouflage

of blue sky, sun, clouds,

and willows weeping in the garden.

The leaves are aware of their presence,

trembling as a chilled breath

rustles each stem

amid the forest confines

where the birds listen then flee

to a higher perch,

sensing an invisible intrusion.

Why else do they sing,

but to soothe a meandering spirit.

And the shadows,

with their shifting silhouettes,

must be aware as well.

They disappear then re-emerge,

visiting that unknown dimension,

returning with a contorted

yet cryptic message

impossible to decode,

as they darken in the disposition of the sun

when it dances between the clouds

and the birds renew their song.

Should rain commence,

the shadows drown,

the departed shudder,

and silence envelops as raindrops fall

in preordained puddles

under watchful, transparent eyes.

Only the crow nods in acknowledgement,

opening his beak to address the invisible.




 

 

DIMINUTION

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

On a tree

by a narrow street

upon a bending bough

I perch in a dream

unseen

over people in a field

hovering about

an empty hole

obstructed by a box

with contents

of what used to be me.

Some are sobbing,

most are somber

and few hide

a reluctant obligatory glint.

All see the hyphen

between random dates

engraved upon granite,

transform my toil

to a trophy abbreviation

for living.






EVENTUALLY


 by Michael Keshigian


 

Staring from the moon

in a dream

I saw people of Earth

meander aimlessly


 

from minute cavities,

following burrows

to dutiful destination

and back again.


 

Some moved faster

others carried more

and few were prostrate to fantasy.

Yet above each hill


 

hovered ghosts of intentions

not resting, but preparing

markers with singular openings

where well meaning will be placed.






WHEN NIGHT NO LONGER ENTICES SLEEP


 by Michael Keshigian


 

The old man has bad dreams,

he sleeps very little.

Up from bed

he walks on bare feet

through the darkness,

bumps then leans, from memory,

upon the furniture,

his beating heart

reverberates within the room.

The window facing the street

is a blackboard,

he squints for chalk lines

to delineate being

from being no more.

A rush of apprehension chills him

yet he continues

toward the bathroom

for relief

and another glass of water.

Standing silently at the threshold,

he listens for raindrops,

mice in the walls,

or a passing car,

but hears only the raspy breath

of lengthening nights

and the footsteps

of dead relatives

shuffling in the kitchen.


 


 


 


HONEYCOMB BLUES

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

This is how it used to be

with him and his lover,

she taught him

a new song

every morning,

a different line,

her face

in the pillow,

tracing her finger

up the stairway

of his spine

with a weightless melody

until it filled his brain

and he sang

as he rolled over

to lock his lips

around hers

so she might sugar his mouth

with more honey,

her tongue tipping sweet melodies

backwards in his throat.

The day was longing

after mornings like that,

sunlight a lonely companion,

though the song droned

like bees in the hive

all day in his head.




SETTLING

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

They did what they desired,

pursued a dream until it evaporated,

relinquishing then

to the arduous commerce of acquisition,

allowing sorted perspectives

and temperaments of trophy representations

to infiltrate an idyllic affection

that long ago dwindled

behind the guise of co-existence.

And now, they are here,

at a table of ruin,

years of routine impossible to amend.

Dinner is served,

the baked salmon drowns

in the clear glass lake of the plate,

the wine’s bouquet has wilted.

It has been decided,

the present has its promise,

it yields a blessing,

no expectation, no loss,

yet a place to go,

vague reasons to remain.

Creature comforts have

no hearts to break.




HOME AGAIN

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

Abandoned house, are there

only spiders and rodents

residing amid your rooms?

I see my distorted image

upon the fogged glass

of the old storm door,

and feel like a prowler,

appraising the value of items

upon your walls

or tucked in your corners,

when, in truth, I seek

to rekindle precious memories

and reconstruct pictures

the recent days

have begun to obscure,

events the rain of years

are washing away,

remembrances,

trickling indiscernibly 

through the pitted window

of my mind’s eye

as I rap my fist

against the glass,

hoping the ghosts will answer.



 

 

 

INHERITANCE

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

Early morning, a little snow

teases the outstretched branches

with the help of the wind.

It is cold, but inside the stove’s warmth

cradles the recliner in the lamplight

where he reads poems.

His fingers, thick and calloused,

flip pages enthusiastically

as he notices the shape of his nails,

much like his father’s,

no moons rising.

And like his father had done,

it’s time to contemplate departure.

One day, the stove unlit, will dispense

the damp aroma of creosote,

the book will lie closed

upon the arm of the recliner.

One day, a relative will enter

and acknowledge

that the house is empty,

no warmth, no breath, no poetry,

an indentation upon the seat

next to the book.

The change will go unnoticed

by the snow, wind, ice, and

those few crows meandering

for morsels upon the buried landscape.

He returns to reading,

the words delight him.

What would become of these joys,

he wonders.

Someone should take them.

 

 

 

THE VOICE WITHIN

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

It is the voice

inside his head

inside his heart

inside his ear,

a voice with no pitch

no sound,

electrical currents

which guide him,

the voice of experience                                                                                 

under layers of living,

the aggressive voice

the deepest voice

the buried voice

which speaks

to his unrealized life,

his silent life

that no one sees,

a life he questions

when the voice screams

and beckons him to listen,

to lend an ear,

to convince his mind,

open his heart

and heed the whispers

beyond denial.

 

 

 


thebeckoning.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2017

THE BECKONING

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

Upon a summer’s eve when the lawn

was not yet drenched with dew

and still radiant from the day’s warmth,

when the tips of white pines

rose skyward like long fingers

to tickle the underside of stars

as the evening air vibrated

to a cricket ostinato,

he laid atop the grass,

arms and legs extended,

and marveled at the infinite distance

above him with its clustered collection

of variously illuminated rocks and stones,

wondering what will become of him

once his time in this dimension ended,

where he might find himself,

what form he might take, and in fact,

would he be aware to bear witness.

His thoughts transcended

and for an instant he became one

with the mass about him

and believed he heard

his name whispered in the harmony about,

a single concordant breath, faint and distant,

like a dried autumn leaf

brushed by a wandering snowflake

as though it belonged,

not to him or his parents

who endowed it upon him,

nor to this place on earth,

but to the vast emptiness

and unanswered question

from which we all appeared,

to which we shall all return.

 

 


recognized.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2018

RECOGNIZED

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

He stood there,

staring back at me,

odd expression upon his face,

smiling after I did

from the other side

of a huge pane window

on the newly renovated office building,

appearing a bit more disheveled

than I remembered.

More wrinkles

supported his grimace

and receding hairline,

acknowledging me

when I nodded hello.

I used to know him well,

athletic, sculpted, artistic,

a well-defined physique,

but his apparent paunch

negated any recent activity.

This window man

I thought I knew,

musician, writer, runner, dreamer,

now feasted off the stale menu

of advancing age,

aches, excuses, laziness,

failing eyesight and an appetite

for attained rights

decades seem to imply.

Yet I accepted him,

embraced him for who he was,

aware that he would be the lone soul

to accompany me

toward the tunnel’s light

when all others have drawn the blinds.

“Walk with me,” I say.

He stays close.

 

 


lackofrain.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2018

A LACK OF RAIN

 

by Michael Keshigian

 

 

If there were no rain,

there would be

far too little noise on the roof

or upon the windowpane

that would distract us

from the pulse in our inner ear

through the silence at night,

no gutter song to lull us to sleep,

no applause of wet leaves

for thirst-quenching relief.

In a cloudless sky

and barren landscape,

the rain would no longer

astonish our senses

with torrents that flood the riverbeds

then angrily fall from summit’s edge

upon boulders that spray

a foaming mane of platinum.

Car wheels would pass like a cough,

the absence of a splash

that might instigate our adrenalin,

administers calm instead.

The sky would no longer

be crowded with giant gray eyelids

that occasionally coax

the sun to sleep

and allow us to focus

upon the mysterious messages

their odd, translucent shapes impart.

Without the rain,

our very lives would drift instead,

fantasy vapors

against the cobalt blue,

twinkling and as aimless as dust.

 

 

Michael Keshigian’s twelfth poetry collection, Into the Light, was released in April, 2017 by Flutter Press (https://www.createspace.com/7037872). He has been published in numerous national and international journals, including Oyez Review, Red River Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, Oklahoma Review, Chiron Review, and has appeared as feature writer in over twenty publications, with six Pushcart Prize and two Best of the Net nominations. (michaelkeshigian.com).

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