Friday, February 17, 2017


the neighbors were making
lots of ruckus 

last night 

but perhaps 
they were trying 

to sing 

bongos, ukeleles, clarinets, 
cowbells, castanets

and this awful wailing 

but maybe 
they were just trying 

to sing 

thought it might have been cats 

but it was the vox humana 

about twenty-seven of them 

and all prima donnas 

making a racket 
attempting to swing 

but heck 
to be charitable

maybe they were just trying to sing 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

return to the little rooms

returning to the little room --
studio, efficiency, cubicle --
solitary cell in the brain

blundering home at odd hours
you miss the address, or the building's 
down, burnt out, demolished

or the elevator refuses to pause at your floor
you wander out in the night mesh,
Manhattan street matrix

(it was the decade of the solitaries
long-distance hollow-eyed striders
up and down the wounded bleeding avenues)

at last, guided by some god's hand
you stumble home to the little room,
safe place, asylum, it endures in time

narrow bed, desk and lamp, and in the drawer
the deck of suicide cards, your old poems
cryptographic tomes line the shelf

reclining, you recite aloud
the old bards gather
chanting greybeards join in

moonlight plays over the foot of the bed
autumn returns and in its clarity
angels take wing over Harlem

full moon slides and your mind to the west
over the cliffs to paradise
down to the river, onto the rocks of time

--Ross Bender

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

little rooms

in the little rooms 
the trance arrives then departs
your Muse approaches

furious priests march in
beating their tambours
the drums, the incense

imposing women,
formidable as storms, rush over you
delirium in their wake

the keys to the little rooms
to find them you consult 
the subway maps

these little rooms are always
similarly furnished --
a narrow bed, a lamp, a desk

reserved for you
in a decaying building
down in the slums of time

--Ross Bender