Gerald Friedman – 3 poems

Conceited Madrigal 


Before we can remember, we were blind,

then reaching:  stop signs, burners, cherries first

struck us as disconnected, undefined;


Then we worked wavelengths, firings in the head

by experience and talk, into a burst

that warns and tugs: the experience of red.


Thus I—you laugh!—moved the world’s middle point

for you, to you, most lovely.  On our joint

land we shone dark hair, salt, laughing too much.

Now let them, when we’re blind, dazzle my touch.


The Crowd 


Under a pond of light our sons

play football players,

the stage after trick-or-treat,

run, hit, fall, walk;it’s familiar as the bathroom.

In the second quarter

a breeze breaks in

from late lawns and leaf-covered sidewalks—we’ve been breathing each other’s bloodlust and worry

while the air passed among houses

where grownups watched the news, children whined about bed,

people washed dishes, or made love, or were even alone.


Falling Silent

Sometimes it tempts me, trying

to learn the simplicity

and silence of a tree—

or recall my infant years:

My brother in the kitchen waggles his hands,

expecting ice cream, eyes round;

my parents stroke the paneling

in a shadowy room of the house they found;

the old one’s guard of poplars (felled now) stands

while my sister runs inside, crying,

rubbing the yellowjacket sting

on her neck, lit by my fears.


Memories get brighter as I go back

like clearings far apart where woods grow black.


Will old age be

flashes of dogwood, or a grandchild’s face,

more and more rarely piercing the blur of memory

and the encroaching empty space?


Gerald Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland and now teaches physics at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico.  He has published poems in various journals, recently Rat’s Ass Review, Entropy, Panoply, and Bombfire.