Beauty by JR Solonche


From my room down the hall,
I can hear the mathematics
professor getting emotional
about an equation, and I ask
myself how someone can get
so worked up about what isn’t real,
an abstraction, nothing but what?
Signs and symbols. A scribble.

Oh, I say to myself. To him
it is a poem, a formal one,
every word in place, every rhyme
perfect, every stanza exact. Poor man.
He, too, must pound the beauty deep in
with his fist. Every time. Every damn time.

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: The title is the most important word in this entire poem.

[Editor’s Apology: Sorry for the double post today. I used the wrong title in the heading in the original post, and needed to correct it.]

Quaker Gathering for Alice by JR Solonche

Quaker Gathering for Alice

It is simple.
In the center of the room is a table.
A candle is on the table.
A vase is on the table.

In the vase are yellow daffodils.
In the vase are white daffodils.
It is spring.
They burn yellow like yellow candles.

They burn white like white candles.
Sunlight shines through the windows.
The windows burn white.
The walls of the room are white.

We who are quietly gathered
quietly remember her.
We who are softly gathered
softly remember her.

She was simple.
For ninety-five years she was a candle.
For ninety-five years
the storms could not extinguish her.

For ninety-five years she was simple.
Now she is simpler still.
She is simpler than candles.
She is simpler than flowers.

She is simpler than years.
She is simpler than windows,
than sunlight through windows.
She is simple.

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: Some poems transcend grief in order to remind us that memory is the most important tribute.

Brando by JR Solonche


He’s a box.
He is wrapped in a tee shirt.
The tee shirt is a little too tight.
He wants you to see the shape of the box.

The arms of the box are akimbo.
The right hand of the box is under the left bicep.
The right hand is pushing the left bicep toward you.
That way it looks bigger, more impressive, sexier.

The left eye of the box says, Open me.
The right eye of the box says, If you dare.
Both eyes of the box say, Look but do not touch.
The box has a nose, but it is made of putty.

The box has a mouth, but it is painted on.
The box has a forehead.
The forehead looks like a third bicep.
Or does the box want his biceps to resemble two foreheads?

The box is bulging his forehead at you.
He does this by looking out from under his boxy brows.
He wants you to know there is a brain in there.
He wants you to know it is a big brain, a sexy brain.

He wants you to know his brain is bigger than yours.
He wants you to know his brain is sexier than yours.
So he points it at you, his forehead.
It is the same as telling you his biceps are bigger than yours.

This box wants you to understand something.
He wants you to understand he can beat you any way he wants.
He can beat you with his biceps.
He can beat you with his brains.

Other than that, it is hard to tell what this box wants.
It is a mystery box.
It is a heavy box.
It is an empty box.

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: Repetition is king in this poem.

Angels by JR Solonche


They do not need them for flight,
the wings, but instead
flaunt them for our sake.

We need them to need them,
so we can know how they
vanquish the earth,

how they, as we cannot, resist by rising
above all the trite temptations
of the world.

The true difference between us
is the face,
without blemish,

without age’s crease,
with only that tiny smile,
that tiny seed of wings.

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: This poem speaks of angels as the opposite of what most people wish, and the subtle creepiness is entirely convincing by the last line.

The Poem of the Future by JR Solonche

The Poem of the Future

The poem of the future will be smaller.
It will fit in the palm of your hand,
on your wrist, in your ear.

The poem of the future will not need
bulky batteries or cumbersome wires.
It will be powered by moonlight and weed.

The poem of the future will be automatic.
It will go for months without routine maintenance.
It will be faster, smoother, with a digital tick.

The poem of the future will be lighter.
It will be made of plastics and exotic metals.
It will be available in hundreds of shapes and colors.

The poem of the future will make our lives true.
It will perform in a second what it takes
the poem of the present a day to do.

The poem of the future will talk to us.
It will say things like “Buy IBM,” and ” Friend me,”
and “Pulvis et umbra sumus.”

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: This poem’s bold irony begins with the title, and moves through the lines until the grim last line.

Rhinoceros Head by JR Solonche

Rhinoceros Head

He looks as though he hasn’t slept
in weeks, the brown glass eyes softly sad,
the skin beneath folded and sagged.

He wasn’t meant to be seen
from such an unnatural angle,
we down here gazing at him

up there above us on the wall.
We want to reach up and rub his chin.
We want to toss a hat onto his horn.

Sweetness, all sweetness he is,
like a great, wrinkled gray rose,
with a shark’s fin for a thorn.

by JR Solonche

Editor’s Note: Sometimes looking at a thing from an odd angle inspires insight. This poem’s direction at first seems simple, but the closing two lines contradict the easy first glance.