Guest Poets Paula Grenside and Rick Scarberry

(Editor's Note: This is a first for APW: a collaborative effort by returning guest poets Paula Grenside and Richard Scarberry. Questions by each author are listed below.)

A Path to Solitude

I watch you on childhood playgrounds
Where innocent games
Fill endless hours
And the world stretches only as far
As the schoolyard
And my backdoor
By your sunlit hair
And softness

You run and kick the ball
it dances in the sky of my eyelids
Your  shouts and laughter are but
swords that tear embroidered blouse
With finger scissors
I will cut all curls of hair
sew shorts and dirty T shirt
be tough as only boys can be
when flashing ball will hit my chest


Will finger scissors cut away
The magic of your gentle tone
Or the swirling pools of mystery
That, sparkling, cloud your eyes
So I will not be captured
In their depths, I look away
To flashing balls and toughness
Games that only boys can play
And leave you standing there

The sun is rising as every day it does
the oak still standing in the yard
the day unfolds in warmer hues.
Your eyes like flashing scimitars
run over blossoms on my breasts;
your glimpse of brown...
it ripples hidden stream of blood,
I wonder if your heart is tiding.
You turn and leave me standing
on the shore.

No more a child
I look for you eagerly
To drown myself in your eyes
And know your velvet touch
With princely confidence
Do I promise you happiness
And paradise worlds
Unwavering devotion
And love

Your fingers entwined in my hair
you make me dance around the sun,
your love and kisses promise me
we are two stars, no space between.
A hectic river in our veins
streams blood in seething cauldron,
we plunge inward, unlock all doors,
dive deep in cobalt blue of merging self.

Past being a  stallion , wild
Hooves raised to the sky to beat at unseen foes
I beat hooves at invisible walls
That separate me from you
Inevitable folly breeds anger
I show you that
But cry alone in secret places
Feeding seeds where giant oaks
Once fed a roaring flame

Yet time blows on the flame
the noise of habit makes you deaf
to all the screams of shrinking heart,
and ever you assume my skin your mane,
you do not care to pour fresh air on dust.
A wall between two rooms, so high it grows,
I throw a bunch of feathers, I try to fly,
you pin them on the cracking boards
of old familiar wooden floor.

My breath is shallow now
Too soon come age and dying flesh
And why, now, through veiled lids
Do I see you so clearly
And know the distant look in your eyes
Is reliving  hours and days lost
And crying for a return
That can never be
I rode proudly my gallant steed
Not knowing that your single wish in life
Was to be lifted up alongside me

And winter days spit cold on ashes,
on naked branches of dying oaks.
You hold my hand,
you gaze at snakes, slow pulsing veins.
- We journeyed a long way, we two -
you proudly state.
A wrinkle smile fades among deep lines,
I do not tell you that my eyes,
through mist and tears and time,
strive to detect and give a name
to present stranger I once well knew.

October, 1998

Richard Scarberry's Questions:

1. Can the two individuals involved be easily identified from the writing?
2. Does the evolution of the relationship come through clearly?

Paula Grenside's Questions:

We were interested in exploring the male and female mind and to see why there are so many misunderstandings. It was fun working with Rich on this poem.

Correspond with Richard Scarberry at
with your ideas about this poem.

Correspond with Paula Grenside at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop