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Sample Poems by Peter Serchuk

Beauty's Saddle

Beauty's in the next room
and everyone's enchanted.
She's sitting on a piano, singing
an Irish drinking song, sober
as a Monday morning.
Her silk cocktail dress is singing
too, a few inches short of breath,
while philosophers at her feet
keep filling her glass, mesmerized
by the fingers of light on her stockings.
Gentlemen, let me be clear;
She bores me to tears with her curls
and her lilts, with her hips and
her teasing. She puts me to sleep
with her spiraling promises:
like the one she's making now,
encrypted in notes you can't possibly
hear as if she were a gate swung
open wide, and me, the lone stallion
set free to roam the world.

Town Drunk

He was my wife's uncle,
married once,
diplomas from schools
most couldn't get in to.
The two of us drank ourselves
to Jupiter at my wedding, years
before he made it his profession.
People said we looked alike;
green eyes, dark hair, a look
that always seemed to be
elsewhere, as if something
invisible had entered the room.
Perhaps he saw it, that something
that told him he was not one
of the chosen, that others
would be rich or famous,
somehow noteworthy, while
his shoes would always be
brown and ordinary.
As for me, I may have seen
it too, shadowing those faces
filled with love and expectation,
a cliff too slippery to ignore,
enough to keep me sober.

Einstein in California

Though his favorite playground
sat between his ears,
he loved the fat, easy days
of a California summer.
Swinging in a hammock in Alta Dena,
he couldn't help but measure
the universe that had him trading
licks at the Bowl with Rodsinski
and belly laughs with Chaplin.
Flattered and feted, he calculated
the improbability of his fame;
The absurdity of the FBI in suits and ties
as they trailed him on the beach.
Later, watching the red ball of August
wade into Santa Monica Bay,
he surveyed the mass of grief
descending, his own escape,
and wondered at the fields of grace
which lace the galaxy.
Some miracles defy all understanding,
he thought. And happiness
demands no genius at all.

The Naked Women

Just when I thought the world
was racing to its end I see them
everywhere; ordering lattes at
Starbucks, bent over crocuses
and daffodils, waiting for buses
and taxis in earrings and heels while
morning finger-paints their backs.
On the street joggers illuminate
the mundane. At the bank, the same
long line now seems like courtesy
thanks to the teller in Window 2.
And I marvel at the hand of justice
when a policewoman tickets
my car wearing only a pen.
What a wild world we live in,
puppets of money and fear,
as if this brief stop in Eden was
little more than a business trip.
While neighbors hoard tax cuts
and prepare for the apocalypse,
I'm comforted by the evening news;
Tan lines cupping the implants of
the anchorwoman who referees
Muslims and Jews, zealots chasing
the innocent with prayer books
and guns while the meteorologist
brings a warming front to my
free and private continent.

Man on Ocean Park Boulevard Talking to a Parking Meter

Destiny, perhaps, or just good luck
took the yellow light to red and brought me
to a stop at the corner of Ocean Park and 23rd.
At first, I thought what I heard was coming
from another car'the usual hip-hop rap.
But then I saw him at the curb, talking to
the meter in front of the laundromat.
So I pulled over just to be sure he wasn't
another cell phone exhibitionist bore.
No, this was a stifled soul, an undermined heart
with something to say. It's no secret there's
enough to rant about these days and so few
ears truly listening. So I tried to listen
or at least overhear, mindful of times I've grilled
ghosts of my own with no one else there.
But his voice was garbled by traffic noise.
From his face I had to make my best guess.
My own stifled soul saw a man on a mission
for all of us, asking, How much time is left?

Full Moon Over Monterey Bay

No veil of mist to hide your face,
tonight I am the fog at your feet.
We know each other well, sister,
if not always by familiar light,
unmistakable by alibi.
It's been years since we've met
like this, the coils of summer past,
the great square of Pegasus
now tempting others while
we troll in the dark.
This is the cool down,
another autumn to measure
distances, to recalibrate
the reach of hands,
to retest the polar magnets.
Yes, we will always be lovers
you and I; Starved for truth,
hungry for illusion, casting
yesterday's light on the waves'
strangers when the sun comes up.