Back to Collected Works | Back to Main Page

Poetry By Cynthia Hammond
from Greenville, South Carolina


Plump, pink rays of early morning sun
Slide between the flat spaces
of my closed window blinds.
They must squeeze through the narrow slits to fit.
They don't mind a tight bind, or being squashed,
Nor care if their corners are flattened
to get through the place.
They come into my special, treasured space,
And fill my room with soft light.
Uninvited they rest and wait,
Then ooze into the corners of my small life.
They find dust bunnies and coins fallen from pockets.

They slip purple and indigo fingers into dark alcoves,
Secret cubbies that do not want to be
reminded they even exist.
Then chameleon-like, turn orange and blue,
Hunting out the best secrets in my once safe retreat.
They find a letter never mailed, with no stamp to go,
A fallen bead from an earring piece, hiding below.
Brighter rays now, the crystal light is here.
Good-bye dark, so long night. Where is tomorrow?
Sunning itself in the ribbon of light,
Just outside the blinds of my life.


Those days still call out to me.
Days of sliding down spirals of crystal frost,
Punching holes in tissue paper, blue skies,
With pointy stars of gold and silver foil.
Days of ragged, crooked butterflies
Made with dots of construction paper confetti,
Patterns never seen before or since,
Torn and tossed in wild profusion.

Days of mittens and kittens and chalkdust sneezes,
Squeaky shoes and warm soft mufflers,
Whisper to me in confusion.
Castles growing from secluded mountain tops,
Where wispy fog curls around tall thin, turrets.
Girls with long, golden hair are
rescued from fierce dragons,
Then whisked away to palaces
That are full of happy thoughts and endings.
Those days still wait to be unraveled.
They gently call me back to the beginning.




When you were young,
before you were even you,
I held you in my heart.
Your eyes, your voice,
your name I didn't even know,
But I knew you even then.
As you grew your own self to be who you are,
I held you in my love--
Guided your steps, sang your favorite songs,
Gave you popsicles for "broken lips;"
Watched you pull and kick against eveything.
Let you go, then held you dear,
Soothed your feelings, helped slay your dragons.
Sat up waiting for your key in the door.
Your music rushing into every shadow,
Telling the darkness, "be gone!
Only happiness can live in my house."

Now as I know you are far away;
I wait for your time to come around,
Your foot on the stair, key in the door,
Loud laughter, large appetite
Consuming vast quanities of food,
air, and all my space:
Just as I knew you'd be.
From the places deep in my heart,
You spill out, never contained,
Never anyone but yourself.
Always who you were,
Even before I knew you.
I held you in my heart then,
And always will keep you there,
My son.



I put socks on her feet, as she had asked--
Knowing she'd never really feel them.
The night was deep,
Morning not yet broken,
But her soul had broken free.
Gone out to a destiny I couldn't follow,
A place I couldn't go.

I put socks on her feet,
Hoping she'd know somehow
that I had remembered.
The stars were shouting deep in the night.
We stood around, breath hanging
heavy in sharp clouds,
Frost had gathered on the grass,
I knew she saw it and thought that
it was thick somehow,
But I could not hear her say so.

I put socks on her feet.
Her eyes were closed.
Eyes that no longer could see
The bright sunlight streaming in
as morning took over.
A different day, a new day--
She was here? No. She had gone faraway.
Then I remembered.
I put socks on her feet
to "keep her feet warm."
She would know.
I had remembered.
I put socks on her feet.




The truth is; I really don't remember.
I don't remember any of it,
just like it was yesterday.
I certainly can't recall your red
and navy plaid shirt,
The one with the button missing,
Or your old "best" pair of saturday slacks,
With a pocket thread hanging loose.

I can't remember your slow smile,
Or how the sun caught the glint
in your dark eyes.
There's not a trace of scent
from your aftershave
When I open the closet door.
But then, I could never hear your laughter
Filling up the entire house
Until the walls shook and rolled.

It's all a mystery. A play that once
I read in a railway station:
Two lovers who lost each other,
then tossed away their vision,
Later passed close enough to touch,
But neither could remember.
They never connected again,
though each was missing something.
The vision was still there,
But they were blinded by
cataracts over their hearts.
And neither one could remember.



I know how to fix a flat tire,
Change a battery in a car.
Repair a broken window fan.
Get a vcr tape unstuck.
Pick a lock without a key,
Tie 3 proper kinds of knots,
Hit a target with my eyes shut.
Win at poker, monopoly, and jacks.
Bake biscuits without an oven,
Iron a shirt with a pleated front.
Pack a lunch without a sack.
Solve a quarrel without any licks,
Find my way out of any place.
Start a fire just using sticks,
Install a pipe for the kitchen sink.
Reroof a house, mix any drink,
Catch a rat, sew with lace.
I still get somewhat sad and blue,
When I remember I can't fix you.




Don't speak to me of love,
For I'm acquainted and on a first name basis.
The kind that makes your heart
stand still as you wait hours
For a glimpse when the movie's over
and the theater emptied.
The kind that says, "forever,"
And forgets tomorrow who you are.
The type that says, "I will treasure you always--"
Then the trashman comes,
and you're sitting on a rain-slicked curb
Falling apart in the sun.
Don't speak to me of love.
For I know all of love I want to know.



Where time and thoughts and water meet,
On a lonely, fragile beach.
Where life and hope and past converge,
Meals are shared in silence.

A desperate piece of crumb called "life"
Dissolves in the bottom of the cup.
Nothing moves or is ever lost,
But nothing can be found.

We will meet, stand toe to toe,
Know each other with a glance.
We will watch the waves, turn back the tides,
Hold eternity in our palms.




Never given music, only given words.
Songs that play inside of me, others never heard.
Standing in the shadows, waiting for the light.
Playing in the darkness, listening way past night.

Let the floodgates open, let the rivers roll.
Washing out the sorrows, flooding out my soul.
Fragments of the future, slivers of the past,
Running past my doorstep, racing much too fast.

Listen to the gurgles, hear the train wheels whine.
Pushing past the sentries, knocking down the steel.
Standing by the arsenal, putting out the fire.
Weapons we picked up, treasures I put down.

Lightning chasing rainbows, riding on the storm.
Feel the pulsing thunder, taste the wind-new born.
Running after sunshine, catching the burning night.
Raise my fist against it, stand upon my feet.

Set my face toward morning, I will once again be free,
To touch the liquid daylight, then taste the acrid fire,
To soar out on the updrafts, where I can set the music free.



I sang a song of loneliness tonight.
Did you hear it in your crystal tower?
Did the music float over the meadows,
Then through your open window?
Did it stop outside your gate to wait,
For an invitation to come inside?

Can you hear my heart song now?
As I sit, knees under my chin
Fingers covering tightly clinched eyes.
I feel your shadow fall across my hidden,
thin-folded silhouette.
I cannot imagine the soul-pain away,
Or blunt its sharp, cutting edges.

I hold my breath inside myself,
Waiting for you to return
To the sanctuary of your crystal tower.
I remain outside your realm, alone and afraid.




It's narrow in this box you stuck me in;
The labels you stuck on me hurt my skin.
I've tried to twist and turn,
but the twine you used is strong,
And the messages on the labels
seem to be all wrong.

These blinders you put on
to make my vision straight,
Only allow me to see a future that waits.
Oh, love, don't you know?
It is yourself you hurt.

My life will break this box,
Then expand and grow.
While your life will narrow,
And finally close.

It's narrow in the box you stuffed me in,
But I can easily break out again.
Your labels can be torn and moved,
That tatoo on your heart will never come loose.



When the world was young,
And I could run barefoot across the neighbor's lawn,
When crickets sang on a summer night,
While lightning flared in the distant sky,
Then peppermint was brand new.
When fog rolled in without a sound,
As apple trees rained a carpet of blossoms.
When "shepherd's watched their flocks by night,"
And stars would sing in the heavens.
When we would lie on quilts outside for hours
And gaze at the dancing waves of light.
Back then, "borey ellis," sounded right, but scary,
When the North Pole was where Santa
sporting a white beard lived,
I could never understand how Santa got
the northern lights to dance.
When clover was for making crowns and rings,
And outfield was too far away to count for much,
Then peaches had scratchy fuzz
That made my lips tickle and itch.
When big leaves became plates,
and pottery pieces were cups,
I found a tiny fissure into another world.
I can't think why I can't go back.




And if I say the words aloud,
It makes them true--
And they may or may not be.
I never know until they are
pushed from my mouth.
Then they become thistles,
Tiny winged creatures, hurling through the night,
Some great infestation of a no-name virus
That travels about in the air and settles--
I never know where.

So I never say them aloud anymore,
But sometimes, deep in the night forest,
Amidst the calling of treefrogs and crickets;
While the owl swooshes down to snatch his prey,
Very softly, with not even a whisper of a sound,
I form the words with my lips
To prove to myself the words are real.
This way they never escape
or betray me in daylight.
In the morning sun,
the only evidence is a pulsing heart,
And the words make it real--or not.
I never seem to know.



Got those blues again.
Stomp down, in the cellar,
Can't get up, no way out,
Let me out of here, wanna' die blues.

Surfed in on the wind last night.
Sliding, riding in waves
Straight into my bedroom,
Found its way by the full moon light.

Washed in through the window pane,
Looked around, hands on hips,
Kicked the shoes under the bed,
Looked at me, "oh no, not you again."

Can't see why you came to town.
Faded denim-thin all washed out,
Holes in shoes, dirty face blues,
How can I let you get me down?

Go back out, just any way,
Out the window, through the door,
In the trash, shoe gum,
Just get out. Blues, just stay away.




It was a perfect April night.
We sat so far out on the edge,
Under stars so ancient,
They spoke olde english with
a flat Appalachain twang,
And whispered secrets of life eons old.

There was magic in the night,
A fleeting thing of awe.
We watched as children,
Noses pressed against the candy store window,
Not daring to believe the total beauty of it all.

We became a corner pattern in the tapestry
Of magic woven in the stars.



Clouds in his eyes,
Frost on his fingertips,
He raced headlong into the dust
clouds of tomorrow.
Somewhere past the mystic mountain,
Rolling around the sinking sun,
Flying around the edge of tomorrow,
He plunged his feet into the water!
Deep! Below the mud and sand,
Under the fossil shells,
He thrust his feet and roots
into the core of the Earth,
And he grew!
Power surging;
He began anew.



Top | Back to Collected Poems | Back to Main Page