Transparent Words - Poetry


5 poems by Alan Breacher



With Sinbad


on Saturday afternoon

raining in the streets again;

grey dreariness rolling in,

tapping my window pane.


fingers trace down

film listings;

thoughts afloat on

the ship’s rising bow.


we head out with hurried strides

through the puddles and frigid air,

over the bridge to the end of town

and the old brick cinema.


missing a step with each stride,

I look up to see the posters,

then glance back in hope

my older friend has caught up.


we purchase tickets

then push through the doors,

and on the darkening screen

watch the opening credits. 


Kassim waits to occupy

the station of grand Caliph

when evil Zenobia casts her spell

to grow hair and sharp teeth.


Sinbad with his brave sailing crew

searches vast northern seas

to reach the curative shrine

and restore the prince anew.


after the adventure is over and won

we stroll into the fading light:

my head filled with giant bees,

sabre-toothed tigers, and Troglodyte titan.


it all ended so well I cheer,

remembering prince Kassim as Caliph,

Sinbad marrying the princess,

through cold rain that brings home near.





Kemah Afternoon

(Texas Gulf Coast, 2007)


We visited Kemah last winter with our friends;

an unfamiliar grey sheet veiled the shining sky.

and held a certain promise of rain and silence

except for the swirling wind rushing in from the Bay.


Our kids rode the yellow submarine back and forth

and screamed their fun while I watched pelicans

drift smartly overhead, like kites:

I remembered my first college break in summer.


We toured England’s West Country, my brother and I, on our bikes: struggling up

steep hills then floating down the other side with the rush of

oxygen filling us. In the evenings, we drank our tea,

listening to others’ stories before tired early nights.


In Kemah, after the others left, and as the light brightened into evening,

we lingered by the shoreline and watched more pelicans,

flapping by in twos and threes, searching out places to settle,

before we too made our way back, reluctantly.



A Quiet Corner

(University of St. Thomas campus, Houston)


I say goodbye to my son

as the studio door closes, then

drive to the college campus

beside potholed streets.


I wander the tree-lined sidewalk,

reach the corner and cross,

drawn to the dome of St. Basil,

on the other side of the road.


set in a quiet corner,

hedge and high wall overlook

early rose blooms of bright scarlet,

fluttering over formal pathways

like butterfly wings unravelling.


white walls raised to the sky,

golden roof reflects light

like a beacon or torch atop a hill

or deep in a cavern and three bells

ready to sound out old memories.


black wall juts out,

polished granite,

holds up the bells like a flag of

holiness waving from afar.


outside the gallery, students

lounge under live oaks when

clear sunny days are cool enough

for sweaters or long-sleeved shirts.


on this day the sky is grey;

inside the gallery

leisured footsteps

and the measured, soporific intonations

of the lecturer

reverberate through hallways and vaulted rooms

and fill the afternoon

like the calm before a thunderstorm.


plastic flowers, canned soup, and

Mona Lisa hang in the diffused light whitened

above parallel lines of black wood and

captions bearing the name “Andy Warhol”.


rectangular cushion set

black in the middle of the floor

provides a comforting

vantage from which to listen.


turning outside to the shady boulevard and past

towering brick of another chapel;

Rothko’s dark vistas line inner walls,

looking like unfurled banners.


inside there is peace

but I see only empty silence

until I remember my son

clutching his new painting

in the fold of an old broadsheet,

and I hasten to meet him.




A Hanging Coat


hung between darkness

and damp anonymity,

its long arms moulded

by the warmth of frequent use.


slate-dark cloth draped

with a formal austerity

that belied a grey silky lining

and the lingering loneliness

of conversations overheard.


pockets sagged on either side,

burdened with receipts, pens, and crumpled notes

left over from well intentioned plans

and the irritation of hasty meals.


cloth like brushed sued

from earlier fashions,

juggled large round black buttons and

formed the outline of a bulging belly.




Before Our Journey


preparing for our journey to the far off archipelago,

where patchwork rice paddies frame water buffalo.


silver domes of village mosques hang like balloons,

or beacons above the clamour of searing afternoons.


we buy new clothes and luggage for comfort;

make mental lists of diseases that can be caught.


we resolve to keep journals to record what we see,

as we find our way around the fabled country.


we recall the dark throbbing mass of honey bees,

high in the canopy next to auntie’s eaves;


the mango tree with the pungent aroma,

that ripened fruits on the rising ocean breeze.




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