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Her legs, rippled hints of a jazz dancer’s spine,

jut out of a denim skirt and on into mud-crusted

boots in the mantle photo, both dogs claiming

one stick, small town background. No jobs there.

This sky dropping red and saffron robes, dusk

stumbles across lanes with one eye open


                 from; Red Gauze of Sunset by Charles F. Thielman






    Community Swelter
Night Kicking Dice Across Blacktop
After Rain, Portland
Hawk Cry Wedding City Jazz
Waking in April
Night Rivers
Red Gauze of Sunset
As The City Hums
On a bone-dry slope




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Charles F. Thielman


Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., moved to Chicago, educated at red-bricked universities and on Chicago’s streets, Charles has enjoyed working as truck driver, city bus driver and enthused bookstore clerk.   Married on a Kauai beach in 2011, a loving Grandfather for five free spirits, his work as Poet, Artiste and shareholder in an independent Bookstore’s collective continues!    And not a few of Charles’ poems have been accepted by literary journals, such as The Pedestal, Poetry365, The Criterion [India], Poetry Salzburg [Austria], The Oyez Review, Battered Suitcase,  Poetry Kanto [Japan], Open Road, Tiger’s Eye and Rusty Nail.


His book, “Into the Owl-Dreamed Night” is available through Uttered Chaos Press at www.utteredchaos.org






Community Swelter


The heat drags its knuckles

over blacktop, brick, arms, faces,


jack-boots the street as humid mist

drifts from the heart of our bricked square

out to the curb where coffee shop workers

are delivering ice waters to the street urchins.


Scooping a cube onto her neck, she’s trying

to triage her malaise with iced coffee,

relief dissolving her street mask for a moment.


Summer night draping damp linens

over city intaglio, blue glyphs of exhaust

above intersections, verve and pocked nerve

hinged on the dark geometries of power lines.


No seats inside, she fingers another cube

up an arm, beveling the edge honed all day

at work unloading boxcars to load trucks.


Square denizens promenade and sweat,

cop on horseback beside a sidewalk tree


regulating the pulse as a corner sax player

lets fly with a freighted wail, notes

like orchids spun down canyons,

drawing stragglers to our shared swelter.





Dawn soon carved

by the shadows left by loss

in each layer of real

and what we bring into each room,

windows painted shut,

voices stymied by glass.


On the street,

the world starts in fifteen minutes,

strap on your watch, or


write into this quiet

as your lover rolls out of sleep,

her thighs catching light.


Dream waxed eyes deep,

she watches you

as a doe,

standing in long grasses and sun,

watches an August streambed

and sees wind


grazing wave crests,

clouds rooted in undertow.



Night Kicking Dice Across Blacktop


She likes to think her shadow is stitched

to a façade, a façade dissolved by

her hot embrace of this moon’s eclipse.

Angers rivulet into her newly-dug trench,


ashes and seed planted along the loam edge.

A name drawn in wet sand, the undertow

inhaled broken shells as she reached

for sunset glints inside agates.


Her dry skin drank in the cold beads strung

along a driftwood branch, brush-tip just now

reaching canvas with its load of dark blue

as jazz sax bevels edge into oar. Thoughts


like bone chips clatter against the nest

where her faith sits, that lit mecca close

to spine, her eyes born of sought dream.

Pushed by needs closer to canvas,


she chants an old prayer, hunger

scraping the layers of a mask away.

She browns her father’s eyes, dusk

shuffling around the corner behind him.


Joe’s Cellar Bar & Grill in neon red and blue,

his work-knotted shoulders pushing through

the plate glass door, his just

visible co-workers raising a toast.



After Rain, Portland


Tonight’s street theater in rehearsal

around bridge legs, street urchins


encircle a fire barrel while pigeons arc

iridescent, unloading over happy hour.


I take in the view at mid-bridge.

Glass towers blued as the blue thighs


of clouds roll across the burlaps of sky.

River hauling debris around green hills


to the Pacific. Lines of brake-lights strobe

down bridge slopes, commuters fleeing


cubicles, becoming consumers on

that freeway’s exit ramp to the mall.


Swing shift break over, I approach

my factory’s riverside door as another truck


backs into the shipping dock, dark cave

needing a refill. I flick my break smoke


onto a puddle of diesel, half

wanting to ignite a distraction.



Hawk Cry Wedding City Jazz


Held by habitual love, men of dusk

raise oak batons into deft subito,


the blue notes of jazz sax and trumpet

rising above brick, asphalt and pulse.


Men of dust raise oak batons into deft subito,

conducting current swirl as a seeled falcon


climbs, rounding on columns of heat and sweat.

Homing in on the blue notes of flute and trumpet,


men of dusk grasp at sedge beside the current

as men of dust raise oak batons, sensing


pain in the serrated glaze of stars.

Hawk cry wedding city jazz, held by


habitual love, men of dusk, men of dust

dance and stride through the convoluted air,


raising oak batons into deft subito, breath of cougar,

blood of bighorn, bones of whale, sight of osprey,


flesh within flesh. These lovers of twilight lean

into its liquid flutter, discovering new pain,


sweet pain, in the serrated glaze of stars.

Hawk cry wedding city jazz, men of dust,                                        


men of dusk homing in on blue notes, true eyes

opening in songs of love, anointing the new wings


arriving laden. Oak branched surprises of clarity crest

beside the current as a large falcon wheels and dips


into our dark blue sky, thousands turn at the peal

of its cry. Edging down into green, these lovers


of twilight lean through the birdsong swept air.

Men of dust, men of dusk raise oak batons


into deft subito. Blue notes rising from dry benches,

rising into a liquid flutter, current pulling


marrow as the ragged heel into their waltz

of hungers, hawk cry wedding city jazz.



Waking in April



like the faces

of sleeping poets


bisect my soul.


Dream’s warm shirt



and coaxed off my shoulders

below pre-dawn birdsongs,


her scent rivers inside

my tongue

 and floods my chest.


Night Rivers

She sees vaccines and illusions

riding downtown curbs,

city night balanced

along the edge of a duotone slant,

moon pulling shadows across current,

spotlights revolving below a dome

capped with silvered contrails. Loss

tattooed on the wing of a dream

let to fly. She walks beside a river wall

 to the peace garden, haiku in stone

 rooted in nuclear war.


A tug boat plies upriver, lone deckhand

near the bow, incurable eyes sweeping

a rectangle of sky as trucks throttle

down bridge slopes.                       

Bridge legs collecting shadows

as she traces carved letters a mile

beyond the work-week’s spinal taps.


Tough to be solo amid these weekend couples.

Flaring colors across fresh canvas after

a wreck in the same town is hard work,

the promises given in that dream

echo inside memory.

She pivots away from laughter,

dank cloth of hot summer on her arms

 and legs, gaze snagged

 on an initialed bench.



Red Gauze of Sunset


Day-dream small windows, sun slats

crossing a wood floor to her statue,

his eyes steadied that instant by

marble in the artist’s reach,

a remedy for the soul vertigoes

delivered daily office to cubicle.


He steps out onto their second floor porch

and stretches his arms below the red gauze

of an April sunset, ears following a train

wailing towards her factory, her swing

shift soon taking their first break,

knotted shoulders ready for

the liquid songs of robins.


Her legs, rippled hints of a jazz dancer’s spine,

jut out of a denim skirt and on into mud-crusted

boots in the mantle photo, both dogs claiming

one stick, small town background. No jobs there.

This sky dropping red and saffron robes, dusk

stumbles across lanes with one eye open


as happy hour mimes the day-shift’s truncated

ballets. Soon, night will rattle strings

of sodium pearls, marquee and back porch lights.

They all will pile into the car and go idle outside

a factory gate, late buses being too dangerous.

Having shortened the winter with their passion,


she’ll be sharing baby photos with her co-workers

in 6 months. He gazes west, recalling how,

as a child, he pressed a flashlight on

his left palm and dreamed

the true smell of his blood.




As the city hums   

                                              [Ekphrasis, after Artiste Robert Tomlinson's "Basin 3"]


Night emerges from

the dried blue husks of day

to stutter out stars.


Inkwells of darkness spout

plumes transfiguring

each concrete equation,


your daily mask imprinting marrow

as you forage along the seams

of memories, tongue gathering


vowels like agates

that can be tumbled

into greater beauty, given light.


Dream’s right foot tremors a pedal

bone edge held to stone wheel

umbrellas of sparks cast over rust


 and kindling hand-swept

 from the median

between twilight and sleep.


Moon coaxing a rhinestone blouse

on to the night’s shoulders,


lines of lit Braille

ink across cement

and into alley mouth.


All that you perceive

becomes driftwood fed to a kiln.



On a bone-dry slope


Those who listen for the sound of ash

say fire is an animal

that grows by drinking

the sap of wood and bone

and speaks in guttural continuo,


gold on yellow waves

scored over black char.             


Embers taken by wind scribe

the intent to crown

every need for rebirth

with a given fact of darkness,


that exile pulled back overnight

through borders the moon traces.                    


Guarding hope

in white light

dilutes the magical,

coyote not heard singing

the code to unlock all gates

and drop flints up moon-lit paths,


wings stacked on a bone-dry slope.



3 - Publishing History:


"Community Swelter" in The Oyez Review [Chicago]

"August" in  Muse  Anthology [on-line zine]

"Night Kicking Dice Across Blacktop" in Tiger's Eye [Eugene, Oregon]

"Hawk Cry Wedding City Jazz" in Fault Lines [Portland, Oregon]

"Night Rivers" in Open Road [on-line literary zine]

"Red Gauze of Sunset" in Emerge [on-line]

"As The City Hums"  in Original Weather [Portland, OR]

"On a bone-dry slope"  in Great Weather for Media Anthology [NYC]


4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think. 

We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

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