April Poems. 30 Poems For National Poetry Month 2016.
(Some are finished, some will be reworked. Maybe even some extra.)


For some reason I open the book
of poems to the same page over and over,
this random act when bored or searching for
a word is meant to catch a flutter of thought
that is not mine, but I’m starting to wonder,
as a hawk lands on the back patio
in search of its own nourishment,
if this is a form of divination.
The hawk doesn’t make off with one of the
chipmunks I’ve wished to be rid of, and I’m relieved
when it flies away, all hungry beauty and power.
The poem, though, takes place
in summer, and there’s something of my
childhood in it, the way the poet describes
gravel roads and a humidity so dense it lulls
the spaces between the words to a drawl,
as recognizable to me as if spoken.
What am I to find in this now—other than
a metaphor for returning—as spring breaks the
world open with hawks and poems and I write
so far from that girlhood home.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


In moments I’ve forgotten
this hearth spoke with spark and ash,
like today, a spring fire, holding back the wind,
garden gates wide. Someone must go tend to those invitations
but here I sit, warming myself, allowing things undone,
wondering; Will the wishful buds freeze, will deer peek up at me
satisfied from the now whistling path, is it the garden’s whim to bloom
beneath April snow? Years of changing sky hold our efforts,
the stacking and split of what we’ve salvaged,
turned now to ember loud as neon, and this day
gives back nothing, no hint of all that, except warmth.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


Lately I’ve been thinking of peonies
how something wildly lavish blooms
at my door untended. The first year they fell,
and I discovered bursts of pink so outrageous,
fluffed layers surrendered, pure extravagance
sleeping on the ground. Of course I pondered this,
and undone by my neglect, they seemed to gaze
up with the sad realization that I’m no gardener.
But at the hardware store, we found
the ring and restored each stalk with
sweet attention. My husband’s back
to me in the afternoon sun. I remember
thinking—who knew a flower fully bloomed
could need to be held like that.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


The Central Park turtles,
hundreds of shadows clinging
stoic and poised to fallen pond branches,
could have been site-specific sculpture,
gifted, then forged by an artist’s welcoming.
Nature’s outrageous gesture made irrepressible,
yet still. But something moved, and we
hurried closer to find water flashing
with delight around every textured shell.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.


When things were bad
friends said, go buy yourself
some flowers. That’s what we
did in New York in the 90’s.
Bodegas on every corner, I liked
bundles of daisies and purple
stalks called something I don’t
now know. Maybe there were some
sweet pea and snapdragons, and
thinking back to colors, the way the
street seemed to melt the soles
of platform sandals, one air conditioner
humming as I cut stalks over the
kitchen sink. All of this seems
so strange these years later
when I would have told you I
always loved summer.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 3016


The world asks you to surrender
more than you carry. A garden trowel
held loosely in a gingham apron pocket,
a watch burnished drab from ticking,
a feather found just when your belief
in feathers had vanished. So much is
asked of our tender human souls.
So many things we could never part with.
And, yet, on a day like every other day,
walking in sunlight down a hill,
the morning’s flash-force glint touches
your breath and you stop, empty as
you dare to feel, and reach for something,
unnamed, to find the weight of it is comfort.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016

Swimming Hole

Across the mountain a breeze sweeps
what’s left of spring into the valley down
by the swimming hole. It lifts the willows
off creek banks where her chosen forgetfulness
settles. We leave so much behind to become who
we are. Some things are added, of course, but the
discarded make heavier transitions. In a few weeks
she will throw off clothes and wade over the rocks
until she finds depths to hold her. Shivering with
the first recognition of water’s late spring, she will
swim, warming, until the day ends, then dress in what
she wore there and go back to a life, each moment,
she’s choosing.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.

Dixie Cups

My grandmother’s tomato
plants would be more than
just sprouts by now, aiming
for the sun from Dixie Cups
lining the windowsills.
I’ve forgotten what month
they planted, she and my
grandfather, but before the
sprouts went into the tilled
soil of the garden, she raised
them indoors, with the most
gentle care, like children
needing to be tended. And
remembering this fills me
with longing for one more
minute, watching her turn
them, just so, to meet
spring’s afternoon light.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.

Twenty Minutes

A frustration exists below my allowances
for time and crowds and things in my way—
the guy setting up Cheetos and a coat rack
hustling back and forth with boxes of wine
and a stack of plastic plates, when I’ve just sat
ready to write something, reading first to
drop down into a place far from his scurrying.
Sensing his need to warn me, I look up and
seem more Southern than I still am. A quarter
of a Manhattan century, now everybody’s new.
I ask of his event, it’s starting time, he tells me to just
hang out, no problem, take twenty minutes.
I nod and shoot a look, can’t help myself anymore,
there’s too much of this. The city has become it.
Every café now a bank, each space rented, loud.
Poems written in twenty minutes, parties thrown
carelessly on paper plates.

~Sharon Rousseau

New York City #3

One night I traded clothes with a prop
comedian and don’t even ask how that happened,
stuff like that was always happening, but my vest,
this fuzzy leopard, was not vintage, though it could have been,
and the prop comedian had to have it. I’m talking had to.
So a chick brought his tie-dyed T-shirt, brighter than
that neon mess happening in the sky a few streets up
on Times Square, into the bathroom, and I handed over
the leopard. It’s crazy the things you’ll do hanging out with
agents, but that’s how it went back then. At the end of the
night, exchange repeated, taxis flagged. No way he was
keeping the vest. Sometimes it’s easy to embellish mad stories,
things long ago told by someone we think now it’s cool to be.
But the truth is, I’m writing this in Woodstock and that guy
does like eight shows a week in Vegas. Obviously, we
had on the wrong clothes that night
until we switched.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016

Without Apology

Without apology the day cools like
a fresh pie left on the windowsill.
So much is like that, finding the temperate
balance once we decide to set it somewhere,
leaving it to rest for a few hours.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.

Too Long

It’s been too long
since I’ve heard someone
say, “Well, I do declare!”
while admiring
a pound cake.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


Just now, I dropped an ink
pen and drew a short line across
the white living room sofa. Good,
I thought, as the mark refused to
fade under my finger’s quick
response, that reflex born to
erase things. This impractical
fact, what I wanted undeterred,
white sofas and a sand painting
such folly in the country,
but just to have this home, after
years of quick erasures,
what goodness that holds for
me while I delight in the improbable.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


The late April fire hums
and pops with its swift burning, even
though spring has dropped her dandelion
feast across the hillside. Nothing is yet settled.
The days lengthen and outside we will plant for
summer. What are the totems that hold us, we wonder,
knowing what we know and all that we don’t.
This between us remains unspoken, the earth beneath
each window our footing, love something we count on
to remain as we discuss the coming frost, how to
protect this beauty we’ve already sown.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.


I live part-time
in a town where
each wail of siren
is documented on
Facebook with an
expectation of
full disclosure of
the nature of the
event. The other half
of my time is spent
in the city where
every lone siren
stands as anonymous
cry, only maybe twenty
sirens in the same place
will get a twitter
mention. This tells you
all you need to know
before considering any
form of intimacy.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


Why Bother

While I hesitate to write
about the small chocolate
bonbon partially unwrapped
from its burnished foil and
stuffed under the low-slung
radiator lining the hardwood
floor, I might. But then I would
have to write of mice, and Billy
Collins has already done that
too well. So, I think, why bother
to say much more and make
notorious these mischievous
trespassers hiding and nibbling
on chocolates, which by the way,
I didn’t know I had.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


We find the Sunday breakfast table,
our places set with talk of wind gusts
and when to leave, this incongruous snowfall
tipping the first hint of the maple’s
blush, so much of life still tight as a fist.
We chat with coffee to the day undecided,
light and heat flicker, should we stay or go?
“Have you ever noticed how sweetly the willow
makes its attempt to leaf,” she asks, “that twist of green
finding its way from a branch, dry as a thorn.”
This is her kitchen, rough hewn and found,
what she’s made from distance,
this spring snow far from the city
where she speaks of other things.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


The paper phone book
occupies an entire kitchen drawer.
Well, maybe there’s a large cylinder of
tape in there, one pair of orange scissors, and
other things like seed packs and menus and a recipe.
The guy who owned the house before left the phone
book and sticks of incense, which filled each room
(way beyond the cluttered kitchen drawer) with dusky
longing scented almost like plums. Bells and notepads
drift around the garden when I imagine how
people gathered to meditate—influence a new
consciousness. And how, in order to find the incense,
someone had to reach over all those names in the phone
book waiting like the lines of a poem before translation
to be invited.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.


Over on Broadway a fruit vendor
hovers around the north-west corner
stacking lemons and limes and
apples. Some roll off the cart
and onto the sidewalk and tumble
through a stenciled meme, which
might as well be cycling around
the internet, this block of pink
letters and flower petals, in fancy
script saying, Honor Your Parents.
It doesn’t fade under subway-step
commuters and scooters and even
touch football disrupting rush hour.
It will be there tomorrow. Then
somehow another will appear
in its place. The fruit guy will wear
a hat and chase after the pears
falling across Be Your Dream
written delicately in lavender.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016

The Bridge

Through the charcoal dusk
car lights travel the road but
will be back around soon.
Across the smoothed stone
creek-bed a bridge is shuttered
and still. While it’s true there are
other ways to town, disappointment
flashes in a night of headlamps
retracing the half mile
back to where they started.
News will travel and the road
will become more thoroughfare
for deer and ambling bear,
our walks growing solitary
the nights now, only stars.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


You broke my #heart
when you #unfollowed me
on #Instagram. You were
the #fantasy I thought
I needed.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


You make a marriage on air
it’s spun that way, like chalk on silk
leaving pale stains of dust where you step.
If you look back at what could have been,
had you been yourself, wholly fused with the earth
and not just him, the story will reel quickly, written
in a language of flourish, all pinging crystal,
an orchid dropped on a beach, someone else’s hand.
But it’s not that and you know, what could have been
has nothing to do with fantasy written on time
the backward glance through someone else’s window.
It would have been quieter, without grandeur,
plain almost. Yes, you think, it would have been
not so different from this.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


The orchid stands tall, curving from
mossy knots wound tight, stem to bamboo,
a decorative trussing almost metaphor—
the six white blooms
(so much seems both truth and lie)
falling softly onto each other.
Outside the fallow snow
weights each branch in imitation
of what grows deftly cultivated here,
an exquisite blooming,
accompanied by April birdsong,
this winter, our spring.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


On the country golf course
a softness of greening willows
fades into mist falling from mountain
sky, a reverie, this spring snow gathering—
such an extraordinary Monday.

Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


Once you know
the doorway to a cathedral
stands open without locks–
you enter.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016


What kind of room
have you entered
in a dream it’s some
kind of jazz house
like the one where I lived
with hidden stairs.
Smoky and blue
enough light to get
lost behind but the
music’s good. This dream
sounds really familiar
I say, and you nod,
“Yeah, that’s New York.”

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.


The women gather in the fellowship
hall not to discuss things, not at all,
but things are discussed.
Someone isn’t invited and
that’s not discussed. One
woman’s child, grown and
struggling with what he owes,
is not discussed. There is depression
lurking but that is not discussed.
A woman’s skirt length last Sunday
is discussed but the tones are hushed.
The failures of a local business are
discussed but quietly. Then there’s goodness.
Goodness can be discussed. Goodness
abundant in these women
in this church hall is often discussed.
And the pastor looks on, pleased.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016

Before Social

Above the brownstone sidewalks
in cinematic dusk, apartments
both stage set and still life, the city as it was
before we weren’t this anymore. (Think
of the word quaint. Is that transporting?)
The wall of tall windows, panes
of rippled glass, lace panels hanging in
sheets like movie rain. Budding plants
and spices, life reaching for the night, pots
wet-glazed with color. Lapis, copper, celadon,
cream, blood orange, lemon. The heat of summer
slides down the backs of her legs, shimmer sweat
as she breaks a whisper of rosemary and drops it
into a pot. One small air conditioner rumbles in
another window. She doesn’t have to tell us, back
then it was like this, through so many
anonymous frames, through remembrance,
drawn from imagination, or as if dreamed,
we knew her.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.


There are houses to be made
from your sweat, and oh lord, time
will pass you by. The grandmothers
gathered in the kitchen, hips rounded
with conversations gone to whisper,
“no, don’t want that for this child.”
Through the steam of canning they watch,
windows flung open, each breath a
prayer to the freedom of your running.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016

For Prince

Dear god to be a girl child,
thirteen, sitting in her room, looking
at that cover while the album played over and
over. How I got away with it, I don’t know.
The lyrics, that loop, “I wanna to be the only one
that makes you come running,” what can be done
with a pause, the breath-catch in some phallic phrasing.
So little was allowed, that South narrow as the yellow
line broken down a two-lane. And sex a territory to
earn through white gown devotion—while you know
most of what everybody says is a lie, and that will make you
crazy enough. Time goes nowhere, days drag like a skipped
record. Some of us get good. Some of us get mad.
Some of us get lost. Some of us get out.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016.

Culture of Trump

The difficulty is this. I have no belief
whatsoever that being a woman makes
me at all inferior. I have no belief that
I should be talked over, passed over, voted
down, shut out, dismissed, diminished, coddled,
confined, or even enshrined. That is the difficulty.
Once piece of ass, now grown ass. In the workplace
there’s a tired shelf for that trophy. That is the difficulty.
Where to sit at the family table with my opinions
and my frustrations. This becomes a difficulty.
So many places set for a cardboard cutout. She’s
taking up the space we all need to hold. That is
the difficulty. Right now, in 2016, this is difficult.

~Sharon Rousseau. April 2016