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By April’s Kiss, Published March, 2017

Copyright 2017, David Di Paolo

Smashwords Edition

Cover Art: Diane Ditzler Frossard

Interior Layout and Cover Design: Howard Johnson

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Published by SDP Publishing, an imprint of SDP Publishing Solutions, LLC.

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ISBN-13 (print): 978-0-9981277-4-3

ISBN-13 (ebook): 978-0-9981277-5-0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016960042


Dedication

For my father

and

for Grace


Foreword

By April’s Kiss comprises a series of reflections and descriptive passages, accompanied by photographs and artwork. This compilation was a product of two major life events that came on the heels of one another: my father’s sudden and untimely passing, and a personal diagnosis of early stage cancer. The piece is in three parts, which are grouped by mood: By the Creek, In the Cave, and In the Meadow. Some of the earlier entries reflect a period during which I sought solitude and the lonely comfort of night. My hope is that the life-affirming poems in the third section will resonate with those who have experienced similar emotions: confronted with the death of a loved one, a diagnosis of cancer, or any other of life’s challenges that send us in search of solace, encouragement, and personal discovery.

I envision this work much like a concept album in the days of classic rock and progressive rock music—in the vein of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles, Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull, or Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake & Palmer—being unified by thematic content and meant to be experienced in one sitting, in about one hour (and hopefully worthy of repeat reads).

There are perhaps two pieces that require context. “Wonder” hearkens back to the beguilement I felt as a teenage schoolboy, staring out the window from an isolated cabin in the Pocono mountains, daydreaming, with the prep school’s summer reading assignment of George Steinbeck’s The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights laying open on the pillow in front of me. My cross-country bunk mate, John, introduced me to the recently released Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac, letting the vinyl disc spin incessantly for the several-hour break between our morning and evening runs, and carefully resetting the phonograph needle to “Dreams” (the album’s second track), after “Gold Dust Woman” would fade into silence. Before the weeklong camp ended, there was a moment when I gazed out the window and conjured a vision of Stevie Nicks singing in the woods, twirling in delight to the melody. It is one of those enchanting memories that remains in my mind decades later, as vivid as if it happened yesterday. It was an early experience of the power of music, as well as a blissful synthesis of fantasy and reality.

“Cursed” draws its inspiration from Cat People, the classic 1942 noir horror film by Val Lewton, starring Simone Simon as the tragic heroine Irena, who is haunted by a lifelong curse. Irena has fled from her past in a remote Serbian village to New York City. She has resigned herself to the conviction that her soul is forever lost; the best she can hope to achieve with her life is to suppress the evil hidden inside her and prevent herself from transforming into a black panther that will kill anyone who causes her jealousy or anger. She cheerily observes to the man she will marry that she likes the dark. “It’s friendly.”

So, with that, let me lead you to the bank of Neshaminy Creek in Tyler State Park, or beside a small trickling stream in a quiet place of your choice....


Table of Contents

1 By the Creek

The Nomad

New Moon

The Fog

Wandering Disillusion

Succession

The Ghost Boy

What I’m Not

Dear John

Groundhogs

Faith

Hive

2 In the Cave

Grayness

The Fig Tree

Fog II

The Lemon Tree

I Will Miss

Cursed

The Raven in the Mist

3 In the Meadow

Sunday Morning

The Pea Plant

White Lily

Let’s Go on a Picnic

Wonder

The Last Arrow

The Watermill

Bottled Sunshine

The Wind

Let Me Not Be Vexed

Psalm 151

Jellyfish

I Can





The Nomad

I was a seed

blown from far away,

on dandelion wings,

by April’s kiss.

My roots, they’ve yearned

for the arable fields

of a distant land,

so long forlorn.

Legs I’ve grown,

in search of the place

where I know I belong:

The home I should have called my own.

In the alpine meadow

where the daisies dance

and the heather sings,

while the lazy glacial melt

slowly bids farewell

to the shape-shifting clouds

pantomiming fairy tales.

For now,

I must be content

to be a nomad

drifting through vacuous space,

lost in time’s folds,

always seeking that greener place.


New Moon

Spin.

Spin the yarn, miller’s daughter.

Tell your tale.

Withhold not a trifle;

turn your straw into gold.

Scrub.

Scrub the floor, Cinderella.

Wash away your tears;

mind your tongue as you trim your sisters’ gowns.

Wander.

Wander the woods, Goldilocks,

until Wonderland you find.

Take Alice by her hand and hasten home.

Tick, tock, tick—

The rabbit’s watch sounds the alarm.

Sun set,

moon arise.

The day is coming …

it’s almost here.

The villagers are gathering

to secure the gate.

Thought banished from their psyche all of you were;

no longer had they need of legends and fables.

They had reason.

They knew why the sun shone and the world turned;

why the apple fell; and how the atom could split.

Dispelled you were from their lives.

But now they collect themselves

beneath polluted, pewter skies,

surrounded by rising, overfished seas,

their souls craving a logical solution,

of how to light the sky,

turn the seas blue,

and paint the fields green.

And so they wait

for a modern miracle.

A happy ending.

A new moon.


The Fog

The fog.

I can feel it.

It’s alive.

Suckled by my insecurities

and sorrow.

It billows with my angst,

clouds my vision,

encircles and binds me.

I can’t escape him.

Can you?

He’s reaching out.

He’s tapping you on the shoulder,

whispering,

“My name is _______.”


Wandering Disillusion

To raise a fire,

only to be overpowered by its smoke;

to trace the footpath,

and then to discover the thicket;

to tender the carrot,

yet the rabbit snubs past.

Boots submerged to the ankle,

moored by the suction of the muddy bank.

My gaze is caught by the floating driftwood

tumbling over the failing dam,

spinning in confusion

and disintegrating downstream.

The loud plop

as I extricate my foot

sends the sunning turtles

diving deep from the moss-painted rocks.

The deep footprint

records my presence;

a testimony to survive many storms.

Yes, I was here.

In the creek,

the geese assemble.

Taking respite from their autumnal journey,

they cool the webbing of their feet

and rest their tired wings.

As they share their honking tales,

in a convivial gathering,

I imagine that I might join

in the fellowship.

Spying my approach,

the flock voices their disillusion of my kind,

born of their wanderings.

Ire of the forlorn and outcast hunter raised,

the bow is leveled,

after the fingers have retracted

the straightest of arrows from the quiver.

Their suspicions confirmed,

the birds launch into the clouds,

leave me in a daze,

amidst the shedding trees.

The wind echoes the call of Lenape brethren,


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