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Larry Jordan: Still Looking
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
  • A Sketch of Hunting Island Light

    I drew the rays so they vanished
    into the sea implied by a shore,

    lodged its base in the rocks,
    then watched a tern race waves.

    A clang sounded far from the gleam
    as I drew her standing by the lens,

    then smoothed the curling edge.
    Worrying over lines to shape her eyes,

    back and forth, I darkened what
    would not come out of hiding.

    I bore down, trying to reach beyond
    the gasps of drowning surf.


    Taking a Stand

    My lips try out
    someone else’s dream.
    In a huge tent, I spread
    the flaps apart,
    thrust my hand
    up another’s spine,
    wave a hat
    from the center ring.

    My legs try out
    someone else’s feet.
    Part of me strains
    at a chain.

    I pound a shout
    from my chest, hard
    enough to awake.

    Wiping phlegm
    I wince,
    wince at the cold,
    cold floor.


    When enamored with bowlers,
    apples, stairs and nudes,

    I started peeking under the curtain
    listening at the door,

    watched a feather float on the scent
    she whirled throughout the room.

    I stared where the fruit
    should have been.

    Just before the applause,
    five or six rows back,

    a quarrel started,
    provoking an expected shush

    and continued in the lobby,
    arguing color, light, expression

    and the rippling of her hem.
    I went home to clean my brush



    She lived in three small rooms.
    Her knick-knacks in a light
    you couldn’t tell was on.
    The silence was nudged
    by refrigerator hum.
    Her cheeks too pale, her hair too combed,
    she sat alone, ate lasagna, drank wine.
    I once carved her name in a tree that died.

    I doodle now: stairways and spirals,
    coils like smoke that funnel off page.
    Sooner or later the page is full
    of loops that curl, curl into Os,
    over and over in perfect rows.



    I heard the shuffling as a stir in the world.
    —Please put on your shoes.
    I saw the sun go behind the clouds.
    —Please go mow the grass.
    I heard the jays and crows awake the dogs.
    —Please call your mother.
    I heard sirens, then leaves under the wheels.
    —We need to turn the heater off.
    I saw the lake ripple the setting sun.
    —Could you fold the towels, please.
    I watched the trees play in the wind.
    —Please fix the door bell, soon.
    I listened to Stravinsky and Grofe.
    —The store will close at ten.
    I watched the sky turn orange then violet.
    —We’ll be late, it’s half past seven.
    The moon rose, breaching the tops of trees.


    To My Sister

    I left when you were nine.
    You are always reminding me.
    Big Sur was busy then,
    everyone being different.
    You’re the one who remembers
    when our brother went to Nam.

    I lost track, too busy looking up.
    I’d heard you had married.
    I forget his name;
    he beat you, I was later told.
    You had a look that any bus would do.

    The sky has changed its girders
    and the land’s been dozed since then.
    The clarity of time
    matters when I close my eyes,
    or closing my eyes make that matter.

    Nothing has waited for either of us,
    our stories are getting shorter.
    More and more we’re leaving out.


    Father Paul

    In the end she died, fitting nicely
    in a new, wool suit trimmed with lamè.

    I watched a squirrel climb a limb
    as the priest used words that were not his.

    Later, we’d drink a round of scotch
    and laugh about the way she walked.

    Father Paul laid his hand on my shoulder,
    and looked deep into my eyes.

    He seemed desperate to fill in the blanks
    with something he could recognize.
  • Larry Jordan’s work has appeared in Comstock Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Red Savina Review, Straight Forward, Miller’s Pond, Antiphon and others. He recently had a poem nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives and writes in South Carolina.
  1. David Belcher
    'Nothing has waited for either of us,
    our stories are getting shorter.
    More and more we’re leaving out.'

    I always paid close attention to Larry's advice.
  2. Michael Ashley
    RIP buddy.
    Jay Dougherty likes this.
  3. Nora D Watterson
    I keep looking at the first, and I don't know why
    the second line in   .... (second stanza)
    hmm okay I think is me, I don't care for punctuation I guess because is so hard to read perhaps the way it was intended you know
    I mean we all try  it but is not like speaking aloud - what I mean is - if we - as the authors were to read aloud a written work we'd penned then I am sure would be by far different - but to convey it on paper well that's another story ... I love this one, but I get a slight niggle, just barely - barely so - am not sure what it is, I keep looking.. is it in the first line,  is it  "on" instead of  "in" or is it "racing" instead of "race" or is it it  "lodging a base on the rocks watching a tern race waves" to be honest I don't know but this I do know, the poem draws and draws again and for this I thank you :)  (this means, this whole commentary means I like it enough to attempt in my blind-sidedness to dissect it which in turn means I think is by far lovely lovely lovely

    I know crapola about nothing concerning punctuation you know - never even went past 9th grade really
  4. Nora D Watterson
    the first poem stirred me, really like that one
    all of course are wonderful in my opinion, was lovely to take a stroll with you
  5. TrishSaunders
    I liked all of these poems very much, I thought To My Sister was especially tender and moving, and the line, "you had a look that any bus would do" is haunting me. What a way of expressing desperation. These are all really terrific, Larry! Hats off.  I wish I had read these sooner.
  6. brendan christopher
  7. Jay Dougherty
    I come back to this one, Larry. Especially enjoyed "Olivia" today.
  8. bodkin
    Moving stuff Larry.  Possibly 'Olivia' is the one that resonates most for me...
  9. maggie flanagan-wilkie
    Nice selection, larry.