IMG_1268Today, Word Incident hit the 5,000 views mark. Hard to believe it! It’s been a great place to offer poetry, information on my novels, music, and interaction with the public. So – to celebrate I thought I’d put up a poem that I wrote for my mom, remembering her at Christmas several years ago now. She passed in 2008. It’s always a sort of bittersweet time as we remember the people who’ve made an indelible mark on our lives. Regret is not something I dwell on, except when it comes to my mom. This was one of the Creekwalker Poems and it’s called:

Expecting Snow at Christmas

Not known for snow, more for its liquid form,

A pearlescent night street and coalescing hues

Extend Rain City farther into the world beyond.

Expecting snow tonight, every sound is stilled,

Lamplit flakes float into white shale stair steps,

Concrete and earth not yet gone, lightening just now.

Morning news is snow, schools shut, people stay put,

Wind turns clouds away from the city. Away

From colored houses – every window is Christmas.

Electric are the lights. Your body under its

White glow, glistening like streets I’ve traveled

Long to get here, your breath is winter.

Final words for the good son, the one who

Wiped you, brushed teeth, combed hair, held you up.

Lying forges moments: “You were a good mother.”

Expecting snow at Christmas saddles the heart, winches

Its bonds, burns your last words, a vinyl stuck needle

Scraping at truth: “No. No, I wasn’t,” you said.


2 Poems Published in Flights

Two poems selected by Adrienne Cassel, Guest Editor for Flights. My thanks to her and Jamey Dunham for their inclusion of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958 and 90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011, which are part of a suite of poems called See America.

90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011

                                         for Nicholas 

In the hour before my vacation ends I meet

a young man who’s heart is as seared

as mine has been these last few years.

We open each other up with everything

we have: our lips, our eyes, our hands.

After, in the cab, he says he’s Googled me.

I’ve been opened up like a book

it seems, like so much Information,

my story spilling forward

from this man who’s researched the

man he’d loved for just an hour. After

our kiss in the cab, the Indian driver,

watching in the rearview at 44th,

discreetly turns. When my hour’s love

has gone, I ask the driver where he’s from.

“Calcutta,” he says. We talk of India’s beauty,

our families, the selfishness of Americans.

I remember the love of Indians in 1981,

in the pre-dawn glow of the Taj Mahal,

the love of the man who’s picture I took

with his wife, hours earlier, Indians both, and

his insistence that I be photographed

with his love before a museum housing

ghosts of the world’s artists – the work

of grace’s fleeting moments.

Is this not the point? To love?

Even for an hour?

For 1/60 of a second?

Or on a cab ride,

our lives speeding forward,

creating love with a kiss, a picture,

a hug with a cabdriver at departure’s curb?


Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958


It’s the bird I’m thinking of,

this thing of flight, as

I’m driving my girl to Vegas.

The one thing she wanted,

its cage propped against the seat,

wind whipping its feathers,

a few days ago in Playa del Rey

where we met blind.


We’re minutes away from marriage

and this white bird comes to mind

who lives inside a cage,

while she takes my hand

at the Chapel of the Bells.

With this ring I lift the latch,

and the bird flies free.


We will live our consequences:

this thing in her belly,

a seed that bird

might have eaten as a

blessing before taking flight.

We will lick the wounds and

secrets of youth’s folly.

We will drive home

to the Playa and our

feathers will be full.


In light of today’s hearing on Arizona’s immigration law. The photograph above was taken where my Great Grandfather was born and raised in Kaisersesh, Germany.


We come from slate, rock shale mined by German hands upending earth,

ripping out hard mountain hearts leaving earth’s crust opened, wounded.


Between world wars our father’s fathers began building an American hearth,

for found wives, children, creating cities, engineering torrents of work grounded


in tradition. Decades streamed by, farms and front porches defined worth.

Our soil slipped away, separating families over oceans, driving the unfounded


history of shale locked in grey, our hands, our eyes, now lifting on the Fourth,

but dreaming home’s black forests, town squares, church steeples bounded


on all sides by time’s relentless tick. Immigration expands this country’s girth

and we are richer for it, though we build cement walls after sirens sounded


our ancestors’ arrivals.  Brick by brick and wire, blade sharp, swirls across earth,

making our country a prison while new immigrants hopes are unaccounted.

The Dogs of Central Park

Watching dogs play in the snow today reminded me of this poem I wrote about all of the dogs of central park, which was inspired by my friend, Fran Reisner’s book, “The Dogs of Central Park.”

You can listen to it here as well. http://tinyurl.com/72oapo8



The Dogs of Central Park

We come in at all angles from brownstones and high-rises, running, sniffing,

bounding across The Great Lawn in every season, once through saffron gates,

dragging our humans to meet ancestors, generations of buried bones, chased balls,

nipping silk petticoats waiting for attention, the play to begin, discovery.

Down along the paths to The Boathouse where we bathed, and rode

the great ships from shore to shore, in this park, this banquet of smells,

in skyscraper shadows, we strolled under shielding trees protected by angels

wings. Leashed, we crossed Balcony Bridge, lunched at the Ladies’ Pavilion

breaking away to hear Shakespeare’s sonnets sung as we raced up granite

mountains to see our ghosts digging, their paws scratching the history of

New York, the immigrants who tamed and lived with us, building the horizon

up, up, but leaving this beauty here for us, where all streets converge,

mapped by our noses so that we may find each other and urge our offspring

into the great maw of hope, driving our humans, our park, our city, forward.

Skyscraper 9.12: In remembrance of 9.11.01

This poem was written a few years ago in response to the events of September 11. 2001.

I wondered what it might be like to walk into a skyscraper in any city in the world the day after and wonder about the all of the people encased within it going about their daily lives, but with the knowledge of the events the day before. I hope you’ll take a moment and reflect on those that were lost.

Originally published online at The Breakfast District, this poem was part of a collection of poems that won the 2010 Creekwalker Poetry Prize.

You can listen to it being read by me here: http://web.me.com/tschabarum/Tom_Schabarum/Poetry_and_Video/Entries/2010/12/15_Skyscraper_9.12.html  or simply read it here:

Skyscraper 9.12

The workday extols the virtuous to be kind,

Be compassionate, as the lorries go forward.

Elevators lift and fall while the sky marvels at the

Intrusion of workers, the severity of wool,

An aroma of perfume placed at that one spot

Where the neck slopes at the muscle, which

Pulls you forward into the realm of possibility.

All of the sounds: the clicking shoes, blenders,

Cell phones, muffled chattering, peels of laughter,

Echo as Chaucer’s people stream by with stories

Locked in their laptops, vessels of information,

Of rhyme and meter, the sound repeating, enticing

The blind to lead rather than follow, the blessed

Men to lean close to the ground, and listen.

If the weather were not so clear, so warm, and if

Ice encrusted the windows as in winter, say,

When the wind rushes through the turnstile door,

Haphazard, like men and women together, or any

Form of love, then the moment in question, the fire

And falling bodies, the crash, would not intrude

On the day’s beauty about to unfold despite hate.

Grandmother; Leaving

On this emerald isle of every shade

Of green and blue beyond, I’m

Thinking of aged textured hands

In mine; wisdom’s fingers pulling away.

Nothing to tie to now but memories:

A looking glass’ reach, the air palpable

As cotton, sea through her hair,

Something left and returned to, her blue

Scarf elegantly draped, a clock’s key found

In ashes. Heat-fused silver, touching the

Mouths of family, each voice drifting

Into words that are merely sounds now.

We know what they mean, these vowels

Stretching out across years. We hang on

Every muttered, unintelligible consonant.

Even her breath, when it catches, is beautiful.

Days slow as night quickens forward while

We wait for a generation to pass into white.

Fifty: A birthday poem


Age is not so mighty as to dwell upon,

It’s the life led, or air filled with sounds.

All around the shake of a day, a walk,

Your finger lingering under water spilled

From a mountain, the deep of it, and cold.

If I were to tell you to let age go, let

Angle of Repose be our point of

Connection, the sound an owl makes

Deep in the woods, or our travels linking

Us to a found history, then you might

Know that love exists outside of

Tangled sheets, youth’s spark or an ideal.

You might have the honor of which

You desire, to call someone love, someone