October 4, 2016

Four Poems by Todd Outcalt: "Doodling," "Venice in the Rain," "Art in Florence," and "Singing the Blues"

Todd Outcalt is the author of over thirty books in six languages including Common Ground, The Best Things In Life Are Free, and the upcoming children's biography, All About Martin Luther King, Jr. His poetry has most recently appeared in The Oklahoma Review, Rattle, and Poetry Quarterly. He writes mystery novels under the pen name, R.L. Perry.


Consider the triangles, the curlicues,
The trapezoid houses brick-by-brick,
The one-eared dog chasing his big stick
As you talk on the telephone overhearing the news . . .
     Of a death perhaps or homicide,
     Or phone the pizza order in—
    Waiting for someone to listen
    To your explanation before they decide

To cancel your insurance or sell your stock.
That’s why you draw the perfect square:
To see if you can find yourself there
In that ball of hair, that grandfather clock,
    Or if that curl of smoke is hiding a flame—
    A metaphor, perhaps, under some other name.

Venice in the Rain

I have always been thankful for the small things
Which seem to avail themselves to us
In fortuitous moments, rapturous wings,
Or the minutia of the serendipitous
Marvels on which our love clings:
A ledge perhaps or vacancy sign,
A light turned on to pave the dark,
A poor kid selling ponchos, a found dime
While drenched in a rainstorm that would float an ark.
And those blind alleys past the Rialto Bridge
Where we ran for cover, past our prime,
And found a restaurant, not privilege
Really, but in the nick of time
So reminiscent of all we’ve made of love.

Art in Florence

Looking back I could have written
A thousand observations on the wind
Or David’s song or the absolution
Of the vistas that we marveled
Over in their broad tapestries
Above the caramel-colored glen

I could have said I love you
As we strode the garden paths
Or made our way down the stone stairs
To the river road that seemed a bit
Too melancholy or like something
Of an ending now that I think of it

Or I could have kissed you on the bridge
As we stood there drenched in sun
Staring upward into that rise
Where we had once stood
Holding Florence in our hearts
And her gold reflection in your eyes

Singing the Blues

There is energy in sadness
That makes life tolerable in tears
Some moral sense of madness
That dispels those fears
Attributed to happiness

Most of us don’t trust
Our good luck to hold much longer
So we smile and sing the blues
It’s the crying makes us stronger
Or perhaps the joy of staring down
At the rhythm of our blue-sued shoes

~Todd Outcalt

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