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Featured Poet: M.C. Rydel

Walking Without a Destination

                                    a sestina for Sense-A


It’s easy to walk a lot of miles

When you don’t have anyplace to go.

The walks close to home have sounds

As familiar as high school bands

Practicing, or a car radio, so loud

Crossing guards alert the troopers ahead.


Out of town walks have sounds

Unfamiliar (some soft – some loud).

Strange traffic patterns ahead,

Dim streetlights going on for miles

And an anonymity which bands

The tourists together everywhere they go.


Alone, a walker could go five miles

In the city and not hear one loud

Scream or gunshot anyplace ahead;

The same walker in Iowa sounds

Fearless as he watches bikers go

Smoke in the parking lot with country bands.


With a partner, I can walk ten miles,

The words on her lips the only sounds

That matter in the next moments ahead;

We walk until hopelessly lost and go

Ask for directions from roving bands

Of teenagers, who make sure they’re always loud.


It’s easy to walk a lot of miles

When you don’t have anyplace to go.

Nighttime forces you to study the bands

Of stars, until finding Polaris, ahead

Of the clouds carrying storms, loud

As cannons to the citizens afraid of sounds.


Daylight brings its own problems, ahead

Of any other considerations; rock bands

Break up because the singer wants to go

Alone; the rest of us wander for miles,

Sing a bit off key and a little too loud,

And fall in love with the way her name sounds.


I haven’t a place where I really want to go,

And there is no place I would never go.

Walking without a destination is easier than it sounds.








Months of Immortality


Everyone in my family

Dies during the month of October.

You’ve got to know that about us

Before you get involved.

My grandfather died a lieutenant

In the Battle of Argonne Forest

About a month before the Armistice.

He left two little children behind.

My dad, the younger one,

Lived almost to the year 2000.

He walked in red and yellow woods

Every October day till the very end.

We found him on a park bench

The wind flapping his trench coat lapels.


Everyone in my family

Dies during the month of October.

My sister’s the bravest of us all.

She skydives every autumn weekend,

Finds midweek deals in Colorado

To ski the expert runs;

Been known to jump out of taxicabs

Right in the worst part of the city

And gets drunk in costume on Halloween night,

Screaming shit about immortality, like a god.

Everyone in my family

Dies during the month of October.

You’ve got to know that about us

Before you get involved.


Indestructible.  I am indestructible.

The next eleven months are mine.

I can manipulate the very time zones

With an app on my phone.

My nieces and nephews, daughters and sons,

Look both ways before jaywalking,

My dogs don’t run through open gates.

My cats safely cross the busiest streets.

Yet the people who haven’t met me yet

Don’t know a thing about my fate,

I am the master of my existence,

The shaper of unshaped destiny.

I am immortal until the light of the next October sun.

Makes me dance until the long, long month is done.








Seducing a Widow

                                    For Zach


Move at least a thousand miles away,

Especially when you are young and still stumbling

Into discoveries of unestablished significance:

Brazilian orchids that may cure asthma;

Light year long radio waves, incomprehensible;

Sauces of garlic, ginger, mango, and butter.

Then, you just have to let it go,

Like a water skier dropping the ropes

Or a litterer with cellophane, or like a widower yourself,

Just letting everything go, as he unwinds,

Unties, unfastens, and loosens his first widow

Who has been convinced, to let everything go.


Make yourself a thousand years old.

Live twenty lives.  Remember them all.

Tell stories.  Listen to the wind.  Take naps.

Soon, you will be all alone, a cynic in the subway,

Homeless, living in a barrel, writing messages

All over dollar bills, defacing people’s change

With obscenities, ideas, and ransom notes.

That is what will get her attention.

Make her see you for as young as you are.

Muscles in gym shorts, a day-old beard,

Hairy arms tuning an acoustic guitar

As you wait for her to come to you in her bed.


Move another thousand miles away.

Disappear like a sports car passing on the right,

Linger like a piano pedal’s last long note,

Find a beach, a sunset, a skyline,

Forget everybody, look for something new,

Spend time with tender piercings and tattoos.

She will decide to move a thousand miles too,

Maybe more, looking for untrodden villages,

The French coast, lights gleaming and then gone,

Until she shows up years later as a post card,

A single line of text in code, read aloud,

Nothing but syllables and ink, languished, forlorn, and ready.








Windswept at the Demonstration

                                                            Zuccotti Park, 2011


She’s sweet disorder wrapped in a blanket.

Crimson hair thrown on the shoulders,

Her dark eyes absorb the last light before sunset

As drums and voices and sirens and wind

Answer the cobblestone clomps of horses

Beneath the mounted police around our encampment.


They’ve let us keep the tents for one more night,

Let the library, soup line, medical staff remain

As November makes us seek cover

And cocoon in sleeping bags in the darkness.

She’s willing to let me enter her dreams, she says,

Into the pathless woods of ghosts and crystals,


Premonitions and tarot cards, stars and beach fires,

Travelers and gypsies, a pot of steaming soup, a waning moon,

And the buried streets of gaslights and hitching posts

That lie dozens of feet beneath this public park,

Once a maze of nineteenth century avenues

That the city we occupy has built over.


She leads me out of this deep winter sleep

As the wind rattles our canvas walls

And the music finally subsides and the scents

Of makeshift dinners dissipate into the dew

Of tomorrow morning, when we march again

And mingle with the rest of the universe as inconvenience.

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