by John Sweeder 

Blues Busker

The young man
cradles his harmonica
with cupped hands
caressing it with his soul,
coaxing emotion
from its compact form
as poets do with pens.

Tunes jazz from
his mouth harp
through long fingers
with knobby knuckles,
wafting tabasco tunes
as spicy as
red beans and rice.

From street-side curbs
he plays his
rhymes and rhythms
as we tap toes
on tourist sidewalks,
listening to his free verse
rise to the heavens.

His blues drift skyward
like invisible scores
bestowing sharps and flats
that we store
for safekeeping
and later retrieve from
our mind’s music box.

His Ashes

In early fall, after most tourists have left
the island

to return to inshore homes, we place his ashes in a
makeshift castle

we build with wet brown sand at dead low tide.

Saltwater consumes this ephemeral fortress in
small-scale bites

as wave after wave rushes and retreats like
piping plovers

feeding at ocean’s edge.

The golden sun blinks at us from the clouds above.
Pale ghost

crabs audit our work from their burrows’ breaches.
He did

not think there’d be many attendees at his interment

(and he was correct). As his remains wash away with
comingled sand,

we silently pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and
Glory Be,

then collectively whisper, “Long live the king.”

Light and Dark at the Cineplex

At noon on Tuesday Trish drives her vintage
red coupe to the local Cineplex. Seated

by herself in the 5th from the last row
of a darkened movie theater, she

removes the bag of unsalted popcorn,
purchased the day before, from her paisley

pocketbook, a treasured gift from her niece.
As Trish watches PG-rated coming

attractions, she noshes on her crackling
snack with mouth closed, but is distracted by

a small light source emanating from the
breast pocket of a gray-bearded man seated

arm-in-arm with an ombré-haired woman in
the row behind. Trish says to herself, It’s

rude of him not to turn off his cell phone,
and then thinks, But what if it’s his daughter

who’s trying to reach him? Maybe she’s caught
in a violent rain storm and needs rescue?

Trish refocuses her attention towards
the screen in front as the feature film begins.

Several minutes later she notices
other translucent particles of light

appearing as arrays of tiny shooting
stars falling from the blackened sky. Nonplused,

she tries to square this circle by imagining
how such a singularity occurs.

Like film itself, it is dreamlike. Trish deduces
these shooting shards of ephemera are mere

droplets of rain that have leached through the
roof of the aging movie theater and bent

the projector’s light beams like a prism—
aqueous beads of stardust, the stuff of dreams.

About the Author:


A poet, creative writer and memoirist, John Sweeder has had his work published in the Burningword Literary Journal, Shantih, Haiku Journal, River Poets Journal, The Opening Line Literary ‘Zine, and Ancient Paths Online, among other venues. He has completed his first chapbook entitled, Wonderwheel Dreams & Nightmares: 26 poems to Charm and Alarm.