Richard von Sturmer


Gathering Clouds


cars accelerate past
our sitting for peace,
a cool breeze brings us
the shadow of pigeons
the smell of hotdogs

end of summer —
the soft tar now hard,
a cigar butt
stands upright
on the sidewalk

under concrete towers
people talk of chest pains
and the approaching war,
tips of the oak leaves
begin to turn yellow

as the car window
his face disappears
in a flash of light


“Iraq Admits
Weapons Inspectors”
so far away and yet
the sunflowers here
are also fading

outside the entrance
to the funeral home
a broken beer bottle,
I think of a dark ship
launched into the darkness

downtown abandoned
the only people
those who wait for buses,
I ask myself
has a bomb fallen somewhere?

in the middle
of nowhere, a forlorn
orphaned garden
dedicated to
ten sister cities


the sunlight
now cold,
red berries
from the dogwood tree

“US Will Not Go to War
with the Iraqi People”
a squirrel holds its chestnut
as if looking into
a crystal ball

outside the grim
apartment building —
a pack of playing cards,
kings and queens
scattered among the bushes

every ladder I see
is either crooked
or broken,
and every person


buying a small, black skull
from the Mexican shop
I glide past
my own dark thoughts
this autumn evening

marigolds growing
in a vacant lot,
and a Dead End sign
with a sticker that says
“It’s Okay”

throughout the day
a foreboding of
unwholesome karma
ripening in this land
of bright opportunity

a fire engine moves slowly
down a green corridor
no heat no rain,
the black skull smiles
in the palm of my hand


the sun beaming down
on satellite dishes,
near the edge of the road
rows of pumpkins
waiting to be carved

“Blast Cripples French Tanker”
the door to the diner
propped open with a cinder block,
people hurry by
dressed in winter clothes

nodding to the same man
I passed yesterday,
so few of us
prowling the streets
of this empty city

Bush talks about not waiting
for a mushroom cloud,
in the window
of the Japanese restaurant
sun-faded displays of sushi


defining the edges
of lawns and sidewalks,
golden locust leaves
by the heavy rain

a fall in pressure
and my head throbs,
a thin concrete line
circling the reservoir
separates water from sky

all of one colour
the light in men’s eyes
am I walking among ghosts?
leaves scuttle aross the road
pigeons peck the dust

through the tavern’s
tinted windows
a white ball
on the pool table
shines like the moon


carrying a book on Grünewald
along the empty streets,
his hummingbird angels
and hybrid demons
give life to my inner world

bombs explode in distant lands,
blackened fire-escapes,
chimneys releasing
white smoke
into a white sky

left at the bus stop,
a small pile
of children’s books
tied together
with black ribbon

inside the Halloween store
severed heads in jars,
outside a chorus
of crows crying, crying
through the skeletal trees


“Republicans Take Senate”
the distorted reflections
of mirrored buildings
for a moment more real
than the buildings themselves

Midtown Bus Terminal:
people drink coffee
and smoke their cigarettes
as if it were
the last day on Earth

these small bushes
with burning
orange leaves,
the wind has yet
to tear them away

Friday evening,
everything speeds up
even the sun
going down


Author’s Note


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