Poetry by Krikor Der Hohannesian

April 3rd, 2013

Photo by Teenie Harris

____________________________


 


PANHANDLER’S SONG

Her mantra – “spare a little
change?, have a nice day”
– a gift of music
to the song-less bustle of commuters’
daily outpouring at the railhead.

A two-bar ditty laced with calypsonian
optimism, percussed by the tambourine jingle
of her change cup, hopeful syncopation
given lie by mirthless eyes cast down
at scarred pavement, and then

the predictable coda sans conviction –
rush hour’s desultory staccato
rhythms flattened out by the drone
of her cadenced intermezzo voiced
with metronomic precision.

 

 


BLUE SMOKE

The last yellowed leaves

from the Norway maple spiral,

dive and pirouette to ground –

hours of raking pyramid after

pyramid, the tedium of stuffing

bag after bag, the impulse

to light a match, to resurrect

the late fall smells from boyhood –

the bouquet garni of maple, elm and

oak in sweet burn, the twist of blue

smoke, the upward curl into

blue November sky, soundless

as the pause over this final mound.

Next door, the open garret window

the thump of heavy metal blues,

the whiff of dope – he must be

in his 40’s now, still sponging

off the old man, his baseball visor

backwards lest you miss the message.

I’m thinking, what would he know of

Son House and Bukka White, smoky

Delta blues, or the smell of leaves burnin’?

 

 


 


RITUALS

Another dawn on the front stoop
awaiting the ribbon of blue like
no other blue. In the east, Mars and
Venus suspended in indigo. Anticipating

the mockingbird’s symphony,
trilling, warbling long fugues
ushering in the day on cue.

      Waiting

with a cup of coffee and a cigarette
for the morning paper.

                        And waiting

for Mr. Bojangles in his baggy pants
and worn out shoes, only he doesn’t
dance…he shuffles, shoulders

drooped, hands clenched behind
hunched back, beaky nose dead ahead,
a starved bird scenting for grubs. Eyelids
half-shuttered against despair, a life
of circles folding back on themselves.

                        Waiting months on end

for a glimmer. And one morning
by God he cocked a wild left eye at me,
his daring uncaged just this once.


 


ODE TO RAY BROWN

Oh, maestro of the viol
sweet as Georgia Brown, sweeter
than brown sugar, you wove myriad
tapestries of velvet sounds and rhythms
perfectly cadenced with the heartstrings
of the soul reverberating in
rapturous harmonic vibrato.

Never a soured note escaped
those calloused fingertips, never
an upbeat a split second too early
or too late – ballads to make one weep,
bebop as smooth
as honey…

Walk that dog!

 

 


FRIDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE CHEZ


In the rain and wind on Church Street
a stone’s throw from The Square
a gust of nostalgia eddies
the gutter trash — crushed beer cans,
dog-eared flyers and soppy snipes —
some things never change. I flash on
the Swiss jeweler, a gremlin
in perpetual stoop, loupe
screwed to his right eye,
Bulovas staring out the shop
window. The corner bookstore
where you could hang all day
with no “can I help you?” And
why was there never a soul in
the Christian Science reading room?
But most of all, the Chez Dreyfus
bar, Friday afternoons anytime
after three. South Boston Eddie
the barkeep, white shirt starchy,
black bow tie askew, polishing
shot glasses, pilsners and
snifters ready for his posse — once
he told us he’d thought he’d
seen everything until we came
along: black, brown, white and
everything in between. There
was Billy C, “the borstal boy”
with the crapulent kisser
Judas to a lifetime of
too many shots of Bushmill’s
washed down with a growler
or three, regaling all with
Irish-laced banter and Boston
politics. Cherubic Carl
who sipped his Hennessey’s
with pinkie extended and
blew blue smoke from
his meerschaum all the while

expounding on Sartre and
Descartes. And the Friday
round table of the cats from
the Ed School. Willy B., once
right hand to Dr. King, swearing
that melanin was the only
difference between him and me.
Gerard the epicene, milk chocolat,
“wha’s happ’nin’, man!” always
on the prowl for good reefer.
Roosevelt from Bed-Stuy, equally
at ease with raps on the foibles
of public education or the attributes
of the fine young fox two tables over.
And my main man, Emmett, truck
driver from Paterson on his way
to two doctorates, his brother
in for a stretch at Attica. That

was then and this is now: a chi-chi
salad bar, upscale boutiques
anorectic mannequins empty-eyed,
students with cell-phones jammed
tight to their ears, eyes cast down
to the pavement soaked with
the silence of a thousand stories.

 

 

About Krikor Der Hohannesian

“I have been writing poetry for some 35 years but have only been submitting my work for the past six years or so. Since then, I have had poems appear in many literary journals including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, The New Renaissance, Chiron Review, Chrysalis Reader and Peregrine. I also serve as Assistant Treasurer of the New England Poetry Club.”

 

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