Water Over Whispers

Water Over Whispers

Let us close the door
behind us,
shut the world away.

Slowly, slowly, off
slip our clothes.

It is as if gods
were releasing their essence
we are those gods,
you and I
deep in the eyes
our arms raising.

Hush —
let us do without words
only sighs
only whispers
only glances
only touches
soft and gentle

Before you, someone made the Earth
and the moon
and the comet,
fire in the pitch of space.

What will we make, you and I?
a rush of blood and water,
a tropical sun,
moonrise over a mountain
a mighty river’s murmur
in her bed.

The gods watch over us.
Time himself attends us,
standing stock still.
Even their keen stares cannot hold back
the first word we speak:


Posted by John Onorato in Poetry, 0 comments
Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

This is the end
of the beginning
of the end
of the beginning
of the
of the

and on …

You are gone
gone now
yet not gone
You are here
yet not here
now you can sing
now you are silent

Where are you?
released, released
Where are you?
here, you are here
with me
with us
with love
with love

is the end
this is the end
this is the end
of the beginning
of the end
of the beginning
of the end
of the beginning
and on
and on

( birthed
in violent red fire
yet holding still
six feet above me )

is it you?

it’s the end
it’s the beginning
it’s the end
it’s the beginning

it is the beginning

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Blowing Down the Walls

Blowing Down the Walls

Despite my
best efforts to keep my life all
and shit
I feel things changing
and it scares the crap out of me
I want it so badly
I want to change so badly
I know how
complacent I have become
and I hate it
I hate myself for that

(not a long leap
by any imagination)

but simultaneous-like
change scares
the living shit out of me
I suppose it would scare anyone
I suppose I can’t always
blame that one on my brain injury
but fuck change scares me
but hey, the muse struck, here at four am
like she usually does

that bitch

I mean really, why can’t she keep
normal fucking hours like the rest of humanity
but I digress

so hey, the muse struck, at four am
and I listened to her
whereas usually I would mistake her
for something else,
or not hear her at all,

or maybe even stuff a sock in that fat bitch’s mouth …

and I dunno, it feels like I just ate
a stick of spiritual dynamite
and that sucker just went off
in my under-used heart
blowing it wide open
here’s hoping I can get some more mileage
out of it

real soon now
being complacent sucks
I gotta tell ya.

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For Gerry

For Gerry

Won’t the clouds
please stay still
for just a moment

let me enjoy
being with my friend
one last time —

Let me soak it in
your house,
your dog
the organs you played
your pictures and your glassware and your books
all so precious to you

your presence,
never strong
always gentle
and now

At least you’re better.
At least you’re free of pain.
At least you are there
with the gods
looking down on us
as we struggle on
without you.

Here’s some stories and anecdotes about the friend in this poem, who passed away in late 2019.

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Stemming the Tide

Stemming the Tide

Let me see you —
my eyes light on you
from across the room.

you meet my gaze
and smile.

Oh, heaven!

It is
as if
I see you
for the first time —
branches released
(stars released
from the trees
of our being-ness.

Let us do
without words, without noise
only touches
only glances
only sighs
soft and gentle
yet insistent
as the world falls away.

Chaos behind us,
you belong to me
just as I belong to you
twin islets of sanity
in a world made of madness,
chaos before us.

Before you,
there was no form
only void
and me, waiting.

Before you,
there was a cavalcade of souls
each more inadequate
than the last.

Time himself
stands stock still
immovable, immaterial
as our host moves,

The gods themselves
write paeans to our desire
there you are
and here I am
locked in the memory of your eyes.

Posted by John Onorato in Poetry, 0 comments
Go Figure

Go Figure

Crotchwell thinks I am mad.
Crotchwell thinks I am mad
while he sits in his corner
playing with his paddle-ball

When his time comes
Crotchwell sits in front of the board
hands fidgeting
occasionally going to the key
around his neck
just as I sit at the board
when it is my turn.

When it is not my turn
that is, when it is Crotchwell’s turn
I like to write.
I have run out of paper
margins and all
so I have taken to writing on the walls.

Crotchwell watches me
and undoubtedly considers
whether this is odd behavior
or not.

Sometimes his hand strays near
the .45 on his hip
and he thinks
of whether he should kill me
or not.

For if one of us is acting strangely,
it is the duty of the other
to shoot the strange one.

This is an order.

We have many orders.

We are to watch this board
and wait for something unusual to happen.

We were not told
what this unusual thing would be,
but we were assured
that we would know it
when it came.

If something indefinably unusual
happens on the board,
Crotchwell is supposed to proceed
to one end of the room
and I to the other.

Then we are to take the keys
from around our necks,
insert them in the special locks
and turn them at the same time.

If we do that,
something very unusual will happen.

Something much more unusual
than a few lights on a board.

In the meantime,
Crotchwell plays with his paddle-ball
and I shall write on the walls.

I covet Crotchwell’s paddle-ball —
I have asked him if I could play with it
and that earned me only a baleful glare
from Crotchwell,
keeper of the paddle-ball.

I tried to take it from him
and play with it myself
but he found out.

Now he sleeps with it
under his pillow,
and sometimes
the ball hangs down
as if his pillow
were growing a testicle.

Crotchwell’s pillow
grows a testicle
and I compose sonnets on this event
writing them on the wall
so small that none can read them
not even Crotchwell.

I do not want him to know
that I am composing sonnets
about his paddle-ball —
I used to write large
but I have gotten smaller, because
of space considerations as well as
Crotchwell himself;
I wonder if he will consider this strange behavior.

Crotchwell watches me
he undoubtedly thinks of shooting me
and I watch Crotchwell
I try to decide if I should shoot him
or not.

Perhaps if I shot him
it would bring some reprieve
to this madness.

Perhaps if he shot me
it would bring some reprieve
to this madness.

It is an endless game,
between Crotchwell
and I
and we’re not even players —
I’ve got the strangest feeling.

I think I’ve got it figured
that we’re just pawns.

We don’t figure,
Crotchwell or
and the paddle-ball
and the poetry
figure even less,
but at least
they give us
something to think about
when we are not
watching the board
for something unusual to happen.

Here’s some background on the subject of this poem.

Posted by John Onorato in Poetry, 0 comments
Cities at Night

Cities at Night

I cannot become one acquainted with the night
City lamps haunt me, when I walk
People surround me with noise they call talk
When all I want is to be left alone
alone, with night, my companion, no light

I cannot become one acquainted with the night
Even in small towns there is no dark
There are stars, burning high
There are cars, drawing nigh
Is there none to aid my plight?

I want to become one acquainted with the night
I want to outwalk the furthest city light
to be where there is no fear
only comfort
never fright
wrapped in darkness
my solace, the night.

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My Cure

My Cure

As I wake
anxiety hits me
in the face.

There is no therapy.
There is no escape.
There is no vacation,
quiet and serene
no gentle rush of waves
to keep me company.

is the stuff of dreams
and reality
is all I have.

Yet I do what I can
with what I have;
we all
do our best,
knowing what we do
and not
what we don’t.

I work the frame —
write and read
ideate and talk
even a little exercise
here and there
a little reflection.

Anxious as I am,
I have discovered a cure
my breath heals me
as I tread the forest path
slowly, slowly
the Universe shows me
its infinite love —
wind in the trees
a soft rush
of nearby water
barely heard
a timid doe
I see in the distance
far away
yet so far away.

Thanks to Mirza Hatipovic for the inspiration.

Posted by John Onorato in Poetry, 0 comments