by Ron Friedman

The Solos 

I want to talk

About what I meant to say

When the kite broke loose

Floating like a leaf

Into the horse corral

North of our school

On the hill.

Do you remember its descent?

I mean, the sky was

More than blue, beyond blue

Not the idea of blue

The few clouds,

Beyond the idea of white.

Even though we would

Sing together on the stage

It was the solos

That still shake the air

Sways that kite back and forth

Feathering onto the earth.

Awakes me at night

Thinking now is the time for song.

Let’s say, our high pitch

Can still reach those clouds.

Like an invisible beanstalk

With silken black corn hair

Like Gilberto’s voice

High above the rest.

Or simply say,

There are times in our lives

When no words can describe

The colors we see

Beyond blue, beyond white

There are no sounds to describe

The pitches we hear.

Waves of sound and color

Go far on a warm day.

This is a good life.

Now, only now.

Gypsy Moth

In a free country

You can wake before sunrise

Naked with your lover

Hear a low flying plane

And peer out the jalousie windows

Above your headboard in the early spring.

In a free country

You can walk to a park

Where the geese graze in the first morning sun

Bending their necks downward

Toward spring sprouting grasses

Maintaining a border of honking

As you walk by.

In a free country

With a low flying plane

The elite will conspire

An absolute value for their votes

While ignoring all the life

Walking around ponds.

While ignoring yesterday’s

Spin of the planets, youth, and promise.

In a free country

When you wake before sunrise

To the low flying plane

You and your lover naked,

Stand up in the bed

Peer out your twin framed windows

Saying to each other, gypsy moth.

In a free country

Your bedroom wall mirror,

Reveals your naked backs

On the opposite wall

Before sunlight.


(For Ann, a late blooming Magnolia)

Let’s say you rewrite your story.

Drive to the arboretum

Bring your dog so he can lead the way.

Cloudy sky, blue sky, sun, no sun.

Stop at the pergola

Where the blue pendulus evergreens

Shine before giving way to shade. 

Dance up the steps like

Long legged peacock spiders .

Twirl under the roof like the

Cowboy in Missoula.

Pirouette, plie like your old lover

LIke the twisted white pine needles.

Leave with the girl you danced with all night.

Near the tree peonies

Where the mallard swims,

Step up to the plate.

Foul two off into the wetland.

Let that guy think you can’t hit

His curveball after seeing two

Fast ones.

Be ready, wait on its break,

Send it deep to left

Over the fence.

Do it again your next time up.

Find the cinnamon barks

How their skin peels away

Like paper thin dry barnwood

Splintered by years and weather

Run like the splintered skin

Through the wide shouldered

Japanese forest grass

Through the Mexican feather grass

Through the tall grains of Nebraska.

The kousas are weeks behind

The buds not even formed.

Their language not understood.

No jailer will be able to translate

Or explain their confinement.

At the trial you simply say,

A different language, a different culture.

Knowing all the time

It takes years to think in another tongue.

The jury declares innocence.

The kousas, free to bloom as late as they desire.

Now, at the redbuds

Run like the mile record holder

Place first by the red railed covered bridge.

Where the winners gather, bow down.

Accept the burden as if you

Knew weight comes

With stepping over a finish line.

Find the group of magnolias.

Stellata blooms all burned by the late

Spring wind and cold

Tattered wasted white petals

Now having to wait for next season.

Their roots still pumping

As the days warm and leaves form.

Before you head home

Another magnolia, buds not even open

The metal tag saying, Ann.

Old Songs and Comfort

I taught myself guitar chords

Words of early folk songs.

Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye

Whiskey I cry, if you don’t give me

Rye whisky, I surely will die.

Different songs came back to me

Leading the canoe trip up north.

The tornado came from nowhere.

The blue sky darkened

Winds blowing our boats

Sideways with the young boys

Paddling quick paced towards the shoreline.

We huddled in the woods

Under my green nylon tarps

Deflecting the hail and water.

Little girl little girl don’t lie to me

Tell me where did you stay last night.

Rescuers came out looking for us.

They had guided us earlier that day

Towards an island we

Rejected as an overnight place.

And paddled out for another destination

When the sky darkened.

Good night Irene, Good night Irene

I’ll see you in my dreams.

The next day we paddled

Back to that site.

All the trees were splintered two

Feet above the ground

All pointing westward.

Not one standing in a fifty foot swath.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you

Away, you rolling river.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you

Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Ron Friedman grew up on a family farm in Clarksburg, NJ. He became interested in writing early in elementary school. After completing college with a degree from the University of Montana in Literature and Anthropology, he returned to the family home where he started Paint Island Nursery, a plant nursery with focus on natives and and flowering plant material. The local arts scene was rich with writers and he created The Paint Island Poetry Festival which gathered poets and other writers from the region for day long events. He now lives in Webster, NY with his wife and son.