POETRY READING: Black Night Sky, by Paula Shaffer

Performed by Allison Kampf

black night sky {genre: fear}
paula shaffer

there is a fear my son will die today
because his skin is black as night

black night sky

that darker fear that whites so dread;
how dare my son dare to breathe,
dare to live

reach for the sky

play by the rules so self-confined;
the “talk” is clear as constant rain,
that reminder of fear each time you leave
your brown skin marked as sin

auto-rejected from the day of birth
your dark skin the color of Earth

i grieve for you with constant fear,
i cry for you when you leave,
i apologize for those ugly clouds
that rue your day, existence’s theme

racism so deep, it never bends
its darkness cast because of skin

i grieve for sons who won’t come home,
laid to rest in a pit of degrade

civil unrest because of skin
unleashes fear you won’t obey

and one more black boy dies today

his last words: i can’t breathe

Poetry Reading: BENCH SOLILOQUY, by Paula Shaffer

Poem read by Allison Kampf


This is my Bench; I deem her to be. She minds the Sea dutifully; in silence, splendidly.
Firmly in place on this rock jagged cliff, barrier free, scene panoramic
for the eye’s inner theme: keen, translucent clarity.

This strong tawny throne atop pedestal high, my toes exposed cannot touch
ground; my bare legs swing like those of a child from long time ago. How I had
forgotten how simple fun can so easily be; grace should be said here, deservedly.

The Sun in brilliance stakes his scorched claim; Sister Wind fans back chillingly.
The Ocean’s spittle dampens my face, cools my arms, taunts me to
dare even to breathe. I sit in awe, my smallness aware, how grateful to be.

“Consume me,” says this wild Lady Sea, serving salty martinis, a sun-kissed tease.
So I imbibe, with desire athirst, until drunk with beauty and wonder entwined,
consume her elixir in greed, one last sip to satisfy time.

Two seagulls banter just who will be first to dive into frothy waves white, slicing,
taunting, gravity suspend, to finally break free, a daring bait tease,
vying for bounties now richly exposed, hidden below the shimmery gleam.

Snippets of laughter, tinkling chimes, pepper the sea salt air; and then Sister Wind’s
bellowing roar: “I will be heard,” insistent demand. I hear her song,
passion intent made perfectly clear; I willingly obey, submissively.

A toddler set free lithely skips on the Ocean’s soft edge; wet sand tracing tiny toes
tanned, mapping the claim of this little girl’s glee. A new path to wander and fearlessly be:
magic unleashed, whimsical, untamed, wildly free.

A golden-crowned pigeon in wedding dress white regally sashays into my
sight. “Look at me,” she coos, boastful in sheer royalty. I acquiesce, then bow
in humility to Queen of the Bench, Her Most of Royal High Majesty.

My lips taste the salt of this deep turquoise Sea, seasoned just so, a chef’s risque
dream. Sand, salt and sea; recipe of senses set loose, how simple, how free,
like lovers embraced in a delicate kiss, tender in its intensity.

I long to sail to this Ocean’s far end, taste her salt-sweetness, chilled champagne tea,
reach the magical side of a wanderer’s dream, that thunderous
stream, rushing to wherever it leads, however far faraway is.

Yes, this Bench is mine, and always will be. My solace, reprieve, when tears are on brim;
exposing a world that few really see, dare comprehend, baring her secrets