JJ Cromerhttp://www.jjcromer.com/shapeimage_7_link_0

Copyright © 2019, Otis Nebula Press. All rights reserved.


In Unfamiliar Fields

I was there on a dark night, stripping

    saplings, wearing clothes blacker than the air

beneath the low clouds keeping me from

    understanding the stars. Instead, I watched

what my hands were doing, as if I

    floated above myself, so intent was

I below I could not see my face,

    did not know what kind of light was in my

eyes, whether it gathered the compressed

    evening where even sounds did not travel

or came from within, thus should have been

    feared as I plucked the leaves in fistfuls. There

was a drive-in.  I rode a bike, found

    myself in unfamiliar fields become

brambles and iron weed.  I wanted

    to wash, could smell a stream but did not know

its direction, could not say how I

    had arrived, what exactly had happened,

if I was bleeding, what was his name.

What Shall I Put In My Bucket

What shall I put in my bucket, you said,

for we saw so much to choose from that spring:

wet, round stones; smooth driftwood dry as bone; an

upturned oyster shell, nacre still gleaming;

a bleached crab claw, pincher yet intact on

a day we have never forgotten, no

matter estrangements, our transitory

disregarding, for we’re the only two

who share this memory and so should not

stray far from the peace of an ocean by

relinquishing to resentments that are

temporary while that day gleams always

with its cloudless sun and perfect wind, the

cried of the gulls encouraging in us the

kind of laughter that occurs only when

one is jumping in the waves of a body

too large to see the other side and thus

becomes all that is possible yet for

us to do-even now-once we realize

till we die, we will always be children.

When Late is Never

I unrolled my sleeves, one after the other,

for I needed something to do with my hands,

waiting for the mood to shift, for whatever

it was to pass, moonlight washing all over

the porch, making the wide Adirondack chairs

and picnic tables appear from another

world, glowing as if any moment they would

break up into molecules and dissipate,

become as invisible as what I was

hoping for but was so far unable to

find: compassion and understanding, a small

mercy on the side, having forgotten where I

was amidst all that lunar spotlighting of

the face of the dark earth, realizing in silence

even my breathing was needy, night crickets

on fire, earth ablaze in reflected light, the

night fat and full of harvest while you were not

coming, were in fact elsewhere, which under the

endless blanched firmament meant I was nowhere.

Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems have appeared widely over the years, most recently in New World Writing, London Magazine, and Appalachian Heritage.