The Tower Journal

Ruth Lepson


as damask
ask anyone




In memory of Steve Lacy, jazz saxophonist & composer,
who set Creeley & many other poets to music

eased away from the squeeze play so no more squealing no
more squiggles so no more squib kicks or brackets or
brambles or crawfish and after dinner just a squad room
squelching squalor no sputter, squamation or sprocket
not a sprinkler or even a sprig no more gigs no great spotlight
nevermore a spree just a sprag not some spunky no more
donkey just some wheels not a single springtail or springhead
in sight just spring fever early at night nor sprawl not a
spokesman or a spondee left a split second nor one spireme
not even a spire nothing splashy never splendid not a
spinnaker no brown nor a prism stilled spicatto no sphinx
spellbound or a sphere no more spells spats or chaps or
spasm not another carnival and no more of that great mocha

we’re all small
try not to know
juncos meander in the snow
are you listening
there’s a crow
it’s mid-winter
pretend I’m near
you were once
and I am now
(time shows us how)


it was like getting a cat
thinking it would act like a dog

it was like walking up to a skyscraper
pushing against it with your palms

driving down the highway under a cloudless sky
getting nailed by a hailstorm

it was like regressing but with passion
sex without a body

it was walking down the highway at dusk

getting a letter from one of the few
you really admire
and never hearing from her again

it was when

and if you could get the proportions right
the world would look real

the purples close by
the mountain ridges softening the landscape

and in between the wind-blown vineyard
                        the lines of wind-breaking poplar
                        the silver brown olive trees

looking long and plainly you’ll imagine

there are other mountains over there
today you’ll discover a valley or two

seeing something new
your heart will riot and rest
           orange blossoms and white

and underground and in the sky
what you can’t know or be stopped by

no thought is worth this
why have ideas of worth when

            all’s equal under the sun

today the late day sunlight
on the dark green leaves lightens them
once you were a girl
and hope was an apple
beautiful boys hung around
each corner
you stayed up all night looking at
the prettiest
his wheat color curls at the side of his neck
the lightest thing
in this little world until

last night when thich nhat hanh
sits like a tall shadow
flickering with light and
choruses sing
each face a renaissance portrait
deep in itself
there it is
the entire world
deep in itself

the wind rises
the soothing of the sun
childhood again --
though age moves in --
one final time is the same time

don’t try to sound like
someone else
we all sound
the same in another dimension

I can allow you to
stay in your own way
now I see a little of what is
there’s no more hope
just what is
no more your words
which meant nothing

they can't say
still you feel it
not sorry to cry now
knowing it will end
you the world my friend

Copyright © 2014 Ruth Lepson

Ruth Lepson is poet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she often collaborates with musicians. Her new book with Pressed Wafer, Ask Anyone, will be accompanied by musical settings of some of the poems. Her other books are Dreaming in Color (Alice James Books), Morphology, with photographer Rusty Crump, and I Went Looking for You (BlazeVOX). Her poems have appeared in Jacket2, Agni, EOAGH, Big Bridge, Let the Bucket Down, SpoKe, Ping Pong, and many other journals.

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014