Poetry Showcase for Merril D. Smith (including some Leonard Cohen inspired poems)

(c) Geoffrey Wren

Rhythms of Time

Birds on a wire
gather like clouds before a storm,
like thoughts flocked together,
perched before they fly shadow-winged
toward the blazing sun

gilding the rooftops--and the fiddler—
with his burning violin, 
sings the songs of stars—

the endless cycle of before
and after love and beauty, constants amidst the fleeting. 
And so, we waltz, three-quarters beyond time,
pausing like birds, then soaring high again,
in rhythm, feeling the universe’s beat.

*Inspired by Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” and “Dance Me to the End of Time.”*


Star-dusted primordial seas birth dinosaurs,
who emerge to fly back toward the light.
From river shore, I watch them
in bobble-winged flight,
twinkling silver above the sapphire waves.
Now, there, in the crisscross currents, 
the osprey sights a rainbow beneath the surface. 
A dive and splash, his taloned toes grab
the flounder--
who only sees white wings,
the Angel of Death, carrying him home.


There’s a space in the tumble of a wave
 just before it hits the sand, 
when you can see the fold of time--a fraction of a second
that vanishes with the evanescent sparkle
of spindrift in the air,
a synaptic connection made and gone,
winged on white gull against grey-blue sky. 
As a strand of seaweed twines around your ankle, 
the moment passes,
and the next --
and you remember him,
and that space between heartbeats, 
when you listened, waiting for the next one--
that never came.

Short bio: Merril D. Smith is a historian and poet. She is inspired by nature, particularly her walks along the Delaware River. Her poetry has been published recently in Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Nightingale and Sparrow, and Fevers of the Mind.

Twitter: @merril_mds

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Merril D. Smith

The Wind Whispers Storms by Merril D. Smith   (poetry from her webpage)

3 poems from Merril D. Smith in Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Before I Turn Into Gold Online Anthology: 4 poem showcase by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

(c) Geoffrey Wren

I Always Daydreamed of Running Into Leonard

Outside a café table 
somewhere in Los Feliz, 
the poet in his vintage blue 
suit with his fedora tilted 
over to keep the LA sun 
from hindering his already 
wrinkled skin. While sipping 
a rare blend of European tea, 
I notice the way he flicks 
his cigarette ashes into the air, 
as he, slyly grins, Cohen
waves me over, “You must
be a poet.” he whispers 
in his deepest voice. 
“I can tell…” he says, 
as I sit down, I stammer: 
“I love the way you smoke 
that cigarette…” Glancing 
back at me, through his mirror 
shades, I picture Leonard 
delightfully giggling, 
“Each ash flicked 
is my way…” he begins to say 
while taking a giant drag 
of his already vanishing 
cigarette, he declares: 
of thanking her for the gifts 
that came like a seductive 
prayer” like an expressionistic 
memory filled with poetic 
smoke, as his aura clings—
Leonard disappears

4 AM rewakens like Leonard Cohen

He wakes up early as darkness 
shadows at the monastery in 
the Los Angeles mountains, 
peaks of monks chanting, 
even amid his resilient vows 
Leonard sparks lighting her 
cigarettes with his mind 
in the dark, blinking back 
his eyes begin to sing, remembering 
her lips ready for wordless 
conversations flashing back 
from the spotlight so smoky 
she returns… again and again, 
coming like a reimagined passion 
play, the roles between the sheets,
bodies of poetry believe they
were more than making, recreating  
love. Before their dance climaxed
and he woke up alone, only 
her ashes remain, flickering 
in his mind, she arrives before 
the light of morning, she reaches 
inside reawakening the match
between his half-closed eyes, 
the poet exhales, reliving 
the stars from their last night 
together, her drags rise from 
the floor, merging with shadows 
even more ashes from her 
smokiest flame this Lady 
Midnight reappears—glimmering
candles ripple as his glowing skin
loves to remember every space
she loved to explore.

She asked, why Leonard Cohen preferred his walls, empty and white?

When he glares, in between
sips of wine, Beaujolais 62,
he loves imagining movies
emotion pictures from his
imagination coming alive 
his eyes, the blinking 
projector focusing 
daydreams, each scene 
becomes a poem, the pen
and paper on the table, 
always there to recreate 
lines from the memoria 
verses he transcribed
just by sitting starting
at the walls, never white
and empty, to Cohen’s 
eyes they filled up
painting his mind 
with colors, resurrected 
focusing her glow Marianne’s 
body naked, wires filled
with birds chirping waves 
of laughter, Hydra isle reawakening
morning embodies the fantasies 
from his favorite shadow 
play, his mind dancing 
with the sun, Leonard 
loved watching his 
imagination rhymes
coming into light. 

The Chills

Standing in the vacant 
kitchen in his newly 
inherited home, Adam 
recalls the last night 
together drinking as
father and son, asking 
the poet where he could find 
the last bottle of Tequila. 
Opening the fridge, he 
remembers discovering one 
of his father’s holy Cohen
notebooks, rhymes 
frozen inside with so many 
little freezer burning icicle 
crystals on every page. 
Feeling the cold from 
the fridge, he doesn’t 
close the door, the son, 
Adam wants to stay here 
and inhale the freezing steam 
inhaling the verses chilled
by his father, wanting to 
be thawed out waiting 
for the voice of The Flame
deep dark smoking to reappear 
reliving the last moment
discovering the last notebook
his father the Poet—left with
with the bottles and ice cubes,
knowing each stanza inside
he would know the stranger
behind the father, with even 
one poem could he discover
a line would that we answer 
so many lyrical labyrinths 
melting so many paradoxes 
glimmering inside. The Poet 
now gone, the house is even
colder. But as Adam finds 
the tequila bottle with his
father’s fingerprints back 
in the fridge, he clutches it 
and pours one last shot, 
although this “lost” notebook 
has only half-filled in  
elegiac treasures, with 
a toast he can still 
feel the chills, as Adam 
drinks, no chaser tears, 
missing Leonard the Poet  
his father, the son declares—
“I wish I knew him better.A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

Bio: Adrian Ernesto is the author of Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, Between the Spine from Picture Show Press and La Belle Ajar & We Are the Ones Possessed from CLASH Books and Speaking con su Sombra with Alegría Publishing. 

His poetry has been featured in Harvard Palabritas, Glass Poetry: Poets Resist, Cultural Weekly, Yes, Poetry, Frontier Poetry, The Fem, poeticdiversity, Rigorous, Luna Luna Magazine, The Wild Word, The Revolution Relaunch and Palette Poetry. 

Adrian lives with his wife and their adorably spoiled cat Woody Gold in Los Angeles.

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

Before I Turn Into Gold Anthology: “The Reason I Write” by Kat Blair

(c) Geoffrey Wren

The Reason I Write

In the house where I 
grew up was a library
and in that library was
a man.  He was
beautiful and terrible,
loving and mean. This
man loved words with
a passion and read
me anything and
everything he could
find. Sendak and
Homer, Wyndham and
White. He gave me
words and he brought
them to life. He gave
me words for years
until he'd finally given
me the words I
needed to leave him.
The words I'd use to
pick myself back up.
He gave me so many
words to love. He 
gave me Leonard. He
gave me a poem.

The reason I write is
to make something as
beautiful as you are.

The reason I write is
because I can't help it.
Words are the safest
place I know. I play
with them
incessantly. I craft
conversations in my
head, jot notes in
books, and index
lyrics and quotes with
the rapacious
appetite known only
to children raised in a
cage built of books. I
can give you the plot
points of the Iliad,
quote White
Christmas, and argue
the bible as literature
with equal ease. In
our house, the ability
to bend words was
survival the way food
was survival the way
staying stock still in
the right moments
was survival and, if I
know one thing, it's
how to survive.

If I'm without one
thing, it's the ability to
tell when it's okay to 

I hoard food then
binge it then go
without it for days.
I've bought a library
twice over. I still, a
decade from poverty,
run a tab in my head
in the store while I
shop. I am an expert at
going unnoticed. I am
capability incarnate. I
have never needed a 
thing in my life.

In 1993 I was
enamoured with a boy
who painted me a
replica of the Various
Positions album
cover and tucked it
into a spare CD case
as wrapping for a pair
of silver earrings I still
have today. A month
later he caught my
backpack as I d
dropped it out the
window of my father's
house before taking
the back alley way
from there for the last
time. We were on our 
way out too, 
everything but the
words themselves
already occupying the
space between his
hand and mine. When
we broke up, I turned
back to Beautiful
Losers. Where better 
to lose yourself than 
in words.

There is a magic to
language, and I wield
it. He broke me in 
three words but I will
love you forever in 
five, and I have never
been accused of
modernism. If I love
you, you will know it. I
won't let that love sit.
I have sat too long in
that absence myself.
In my way, I am 
bending and shaping 
the world as I know it,
doing my best to hold
back the tide. I am
taking these words,
divorced from their
origin, despite their
origin, because of it
too, and stocking
the shelves of that library
anew. This time, no
weapons. This time,
we're building. This
time the hero is me
and the hero is you.
This time we go back
and we rescue the

When I'm with you I
want to be the kind of
hero I wanted to be 
when I was seven 
years old. A perfect
man who kills.

Bio:  Kat Blair (she/her) is a queer Canadian writer, editor, and poet 
living in California. Co-EIC of Corporeal and Chapbook Editor for Lupercalia, Kat tweets as @katharine_blair and fumbles the rest on Instagram @kat_harineblair

“Now I Was Not In This Dream” by Catherine Graham for Before I Turn Into Gold Online Anthology

(c) Geoffrey Wren

Now I Was Not In This Dream

originally posted in You’re Our Man Anthology.

But you were, Leonard.
We sat night-cornered in a café
wringing the lyrics of this poem,
ironing the lines with our mouths.

Letters like severed legs marched out.
They flattened to our will. Evidence
ballooned by us as cries in thought bubbles.

(poetic response to “Morning Song” from The Spice-Box of Earth)


Forthcoming from Palimpsest Press, 2022: The Most Cunning Heart (novel)

Shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards, praise for Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric:
“Catherine Graham’s seventh book of poetry is an intricate reverie, in poetry and prose, which floats back and forth in time and between memories, dreams and reflections.” – Toronto Star
“It is a masterpiece. The melding of poetry and prose into a beautiful and heartbreaking skein, gradual revelation, going back/going forward, weaving in and out, repeating and broadening the meaning as you go. A journey that is fascinating, heartrending, and courageous.” – Marilyn Gear Pilling 

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Catherine Graham

Poem by Elizabeth Cusack for Before I Turn Into Gold Day

Who exactly does not love you

Who exactly takes the fall
Do you give a fuck at all
Your silence is golden
I follow it closely
Who is it among you
Who answers the call
I know it’s old fashioned
I care not at all
Who is it among you
That garnishes the fall
And now that it’s over
Are you happy, are you glad
I could not keep it up
I’m sorry I’m not sad
You want a sob sister
I’m not up for it now
Give me a bar room
Or give me a brawl
Being a player is nothing at all
So you play me and I’ll play you
How does it feel to be no one’s fool
Do you draw your cards now
From the bottom of the deck
How do you feel when they bite your neck
What do you think is waiting for you
You killed off the old ones
They’re easy to lose
You kissed the new order
They’re easy for you
All your false modesty won’t pay the rent
So you kill them off slowly then wonder
Where your money was spent
It’s been long
It’s been painful
You just want to have fun
You’ll be the happiest two people
When you are one.

Twitter: @ecusack4

Youtube: PoetryonTheRocksforLonelyHearts

  Dylan Poetry Showcase from Elizabeth Cusack

Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write. 

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