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'Flaming Out Like Dreams At Dawn': Verses From A Somerville Poet

(Andrew Ruiz/Unsplash)
(Andrew Ruiz/Unsplash)

Editors' note: “Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air," wrote Carl Sandburg in 1923. "Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable."

April is National Poetry Month. These verses by Ed Meek push beyond the boundaries of the world we know.

On the Outer Cape in August

100 miles south of Boston
where the Cape curls up
like a dog’s tail,
a gazillion stars
redefine the night.

We’ve stepped out onto the porch
to search for falling stars
which aren’t stars at all
but meteorites --
white streaks of cosmic dust --
flaming out like dreams at dawn.

In August they announce
the coming end of summer.
Meanwhile, in the garden,
fireflies surprise us
with their ethereal presence
and the miracle
of bioluminescence.

Maybe it’s the timing
that makes us savor
these sacred gifts.

In the Dead of Winter in Somerville

(Grimalkin/Unsplash)
(Grimalkin/Unsplash)

Underneath the street,
beside the tracks,
between the trains,
an Asian woman — all angles,
few curves, inserts her violin
between her chin and collarbone
and launches into “Paint It Black”
by the Rolling Stones that morphs
into some wild, jazz/blues fusion,
and draws a crowd with raised eyebrows
and unexpected smiles.
We toss dollar bills
into the worn case at her feet.

When the train roars in,
she stops and bows and we clap.
Do you have a CD? Someone calls.
She shakes her head.
She is much older than I thought.
Her roots are gray.

I step onto the train
wondering how many years
it took to reach
that plateau of facility
with bow and strings.

How many others?
Artists, musicians, poets --
wear the cloak of anonymity.

Miss Maloney

(Cel Lisboa/Unsplash)
(Cel Lisboa/Unsplash)

A doll, my mother proclaimed,
after meeting Miss Maloney
the new fifth grade teacher.
Just out of Bridgewater State Teacher’s College,
an eraser over 5 feet tall,
natural blond hair in a bun,
blue eyes in a field of freckles.
Smiling, she invited us
to set goals for the year.
At recess, our war council convened.
We aimed to make her cry
for being so pretty and perky.
Each day at 10 as she stood at the board
explaining prime numbers
we swept our math books
off our desks and the thump
made her neck snap back.
Afternoons as she read us
her favorite books, we cracked
our #2 pencils in half in unison,
lined up at the sharpener
and cranked it till it whined.
When she lost her cool and yelled,
we laughed so hard we fell
off our chairs and rolled
on the chalk-dusted floor.
Just before Christmas, she let
her hair down and cried,
fists clenched in desperation
while we cheered.
When she returned after break
she vowed she’d finish the year
and that would be the end
of her aborted teaching career;
she was going back to school for business.
Walking home, we exclaimed,
“We did it!” and high-fived,
though what we did was far from clear.
The middle school was warned about us
and knew exactly what to do.
They broke us up,
And then they broke us down.

Related:

Ed Meek Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Ed Meek is a poet, writer and the author of "Spy Pond."

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