This selection of poetry changes periodically.

You can consider each poem a work in progress.


Every new thing she see reminds her of the past,
or loved ones long gone, she the last of her line:
the way things used to be, how we did things then,
the funny thing her brother did, the tricks they played.

How much has changed.

A different world, consumed by history, lost
except in a few pale memories locked in spirits
headed away from Now and into the past tense.
The days wind down, grow fewer—whether
short or long we cannot say—
but not miles, not miles left to travel.

I listen for as long as I can,
stories told again and again,
trying to bear witness,
trying to let her know
someone still cares.

I try, but memories don't get the laundry done,
the dishes put away, the dinner cooked.
The Now is relentless, unsentimental, unforgiving.

Someday you will regret not having these conversations.

Yes. Someday, someday, someday.

But for Now
I have many duties in my way
and steps or miles before that day.
Steps or miles before that day.


At the end he needed so little from me.
Certainly not my tears, my sympathy.
At the end his eyes glistened clear and deep,
already piercing the clouds separating us
from that place beyond dreams, hopes, fears,
pitying us because we could not yet see.
Lightened of greed, and envy, and regret,
he wore our sorrows like a cloak of feathers,
his smile radiant with sadness, the exquisite
illusion of the world fading, fading—here
this moment, then gone. He needed nothing
I had to give, except love. All he had
to give was love . . . and a beautiful pain.
Then that, too, was gone, and only love remains.

  The Lives That Die  

The flow of the voices in the crowd
wash over me in a tide:
these are the lives that die,
the lives that die.
Rising and falling before me
all the humans, body and soul,
who have ridden the rivers of their lives
towards the cataracts.
They have ridden their lives
and each moment seemed an eternity
held in a bubble above the surface,
suspended pure and whole
before bursting,
to merge again with air and spray.
Their minds may have chosen
to look long or short,
known the cataract was coming, or chosen
to dream it was not,
but the ebb and the flow
of the pulse in their throats cried, “Eternity!”
They knew they could not die.
The pulse insisted on life, insisted they were
even as the current bore them on and away,
even as the current bore them on.


  Radio Isotope

Driving from the hospital, the clouds
in the radiant blue sky pile high, clusters
of white cotton atoms around a nuclei of silver,
glowing from the inside, pulsing with light.
I want never to forget them, to absorb
each particle of every moment, every charmed quark
and long-lived J from now until the end of my time.
My gratitude is immense enough for that sky,
and no matter how black my heart may grow
nothing can change this moment:
there was no light on the film.

I thank God for another reprieve,
for my mediocre life and these mediocre poems,
for the sweet chain reaction of joy spilling out of me
and into that sky. I thank God! I am not dying yet.

Ahead of me on the highway a car jumps the shoulder at 60,
careens towards a lamppost, the driver oblivious. At the last
moment possible, his head snaps up, he sees the post, wrenches
the wheel to continue weaving down the freeway.

I stay well behind him, suddenly sober,
mindful once more that meltdowns await
around every curve in the road.


Copyright © 2010, 2011 P.J. Thompson