Best Cyndi Macmillan Poems

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Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

CHAN


Ghost knight, playing Tolkienesque chords
over common, white noise,

I still hear you, cosmic brother,
strumming the songs of pentagrams 
           from your optical guitar, 

like that scene out of Star Wars,
all were always welcome at your wild bar –
interplanetary troubadours, euphoric warriors
or a ninja geek incognito, a wistful rhymer
         who knew truth seldom whispers,
love is the only real free-artistry,
requiring no discipline, no perimeters,
no limits and no definitions

I still hear you, cosmic brother, 
so alive, streaming a high volume 
of colours, blue still holds a torch for you, 
loud and proud,red engulfs night 
without one regret,

but its your delicate gold, my friend, 
         I can never forget



Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2014

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

WE, NASTY WOMEN

                                   
must refuse relegation, obey
only the roar of our own angels, then reshape 

breastplates to shield the motherland
from any warlord who dares 

to pimp our flag.
Battlefields have always been a woman’s place,

We were born to bleed, to fight-
off advances, to heal from the inside-out.

We, nasty, nasty women
who dare castrate filibusters, know grit, 

audacity, the combat for higher grounds.
History is lit by an army of fiery 

heroines, burnt at stakes by low-life 
aristocrats, suckling-pig-kings.

We, Nasty women rise from ashes
to become better-armed daughters,  

knightmares, hallowed witches on frontlines, 
glorious, undefeated legends. 
 


After Jeanne d'Arc et Saint-Michel by Eugene Thirion, painting seen above 
 

Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2016

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

JOURNEY COMPANIONS: THE FRIEND SONNETS PART II

HEROES

Near somber guards, units of children heap 
dead leaves, naive to any else fallen.
Friend, you chuckle, but your posture speaks
of duty on this day of contradictions.

Firefighters bow heads in silent paean, 
while polished trucks stand at attention.
Families have again answered the call
to attend this festival, so uncommon.

Here, laughter rings around the memorial
for exuberance must never be doused,
Gloriously wrought, a sculpture of angels
commiserates with each mourning house.

You say, I see valor in lives that inspire.
 I see heroes and their lines of fire.


*For Craig

NEW DALI

Surreal, the way a contortionist knots
himself as the escape artist breaks free.  
Uptown, buskers beckon with what-naughts,
drawing thousands. Candyland, sighs New-Dali

at its epicenter, his true element,
and he takes it in: the sword swallower,
blindfolds, jugglers, clowns miming laments,
fire-fed gals, stilted-men and tots taller 

on shoulders. This carnival can endear,
turn heads, but only one with a seer-heart
studies the music box dancer, then swears
that she spins perfect webs with street-smarts.

Mirroring that swivel, awed by his entourage,
He becomes centrum to his own collage.


*For Chan, fully alive in Heaven.


SNIPPETS

Your brows are up. The Princess Cinema
is not your choice. C'mon, I don't fit here,
you snort. You, with all your charisma 
and kindness, stand in a short line, fearing

boredom or worse ... pretense. Promise me,
that we aren't about to wallow through
subtitles, you sigh.  Give me clarity,
a story, something that I can relate to.

But the charm catches you by surprise,
a star-struck atmosphere, the seats are new
and the popcorn is still warm. Friendly eyes
laugh, then amusement streams from you

for these Global TV spots simply delight
like each snippet that you joyfully write.


*For Andrea




TARTANS

There be Scots as farrrrrr as the eye can see.
Brawn calves and bright kilts delight lasses 
while pipers swagger out of the pub, tipsy.
Your smile broadens as a caber is tossed

end over end. Then, across the glen, highland                      
dancers in ghillies beckon with hearty flings.
Auch, it’s hot yet heather dare no’ wilt. Clans
gather, roguishly rib each other, as wool spins

in wheels. Aye, the romance can fair overwhelm
e’en the sensible. Worse for we, the fanciful. 
Come, here’s the tea tent. Let soft fiddles calm
as we nibble oatcakes. Tartans and tunes pull

heartstrings. We sit raptly, lost in Brigadoon,
put pen to napkin to let wee thistles bloom. 


* For Francine

TESTIMONIALS

Rustling maples break vows of silence,
naturally. As pleased, spears of hyacinth  
worship breezes with such soft reverence
that we give pause in this living labyrinth. 

Nothing here is still; wood thrush reverb
good news and cicadas buzz testimonials.
Nearby, a creek mumbles, Word-Word
while squirrels glorify their bounty. All

is abuzz with joy, save for the shade
under a weathered cross; it’s emptiness
resurrects veneration. A butterfly wades
the sudden hush, lands on your hand, nests.

My friend, you lift it to wood, sympathizing 
on bent knee, speechlessly evangelizing. 

*For Brian

ON THE FRINGE

Your eyes drink the hues of the Shisha Lounge:
art on walls, art brewing over charcoal.
This coffee ceremony is on the fringe,
far from the pallid and staid. I’ve marveled

at these dear blends, how culture can transcend 
barriers and ignorance. We order too much.
Tibsy, zignie, timtimo.. injera bends 
to each spiced delicacy as our plates touch. 

Gone is this haven where pleasure was shared.
Still, I’ll bring you there. Scribe, man of integrity,
sit with me. Exhale poetry. Imbibe tribal air. 
Mine, this moment and mine, this memory

but that mystifying brew, that receptive floor,
the smoke refined by deep respect… each are yours.  

*For my cuz, Scribe


SUMMERLAND

A warbling vireo hops from oak to elm.
Your gaze wanders, too. This amphitheater
hosts the lyrical, almost overwhelms,
for beyond the mill ruins, the Grand River

is deep in thought, reflecting. It’s as though myth
lives; Summerland has come to the hillside 
where weathered fieldstones beguile the impish
to dance. They do or else tin flutes will chide.

Though cozy the spot,  the world's at our feet.
Tanned toes can not help but tap. Strong is the lure
of pipes and those songs that dulcimers keep.
When night softly falls, one group brings rapture. 

They sing until stars tire and all are hoarse
like poets rousing words to supplicate verse.

*For Carrie


WORD ON THE STREET, 2009


Pure pageantry, how publishers' banners
wave over tents. Flocks of readers graze
on glossy trades, leaflets, hardcovers,
chapbooks. My friend, a true gent, stays
his ground. Maybe, it is the press of page;
Its forthright weave petitions for slants,
favors unique fonts, yet gilds no edge,
sees no need for illustration, just verdant
language. I did not intend to read
over his shoulder. He grins good-naturedly,
tweed makes an allowance. Each line, poetry,
he praises and I still my chatter. We feed
on gems, unrushed, but their brilliance spurs
a verbose woman and a man of his word.


*For David

Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2014

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

THE CHRONICLES OF A PHONOPHOBIC

                                             **For Ruben O, My little Bro**

(This poem was written and a recording made for the contest sponsored by Team Poetrysoup which was deleted before it was judged.  I wonder if this would have received a placement?)

Alarming, how analog clocks can tock back, 
sound-off each morning like those hungover barflies 
at the laundromat who dive-bomb 

buzzing dryers as bleached belles 
in heels attack threadbare tiles 
with a stomach-turning, M60 click clack, 

click clack. All night cafes fare 
no better, terrify with their red-eyed twit-ter-
to-woo owls, their jingle-jangle spoons.

Heartlessly, the freaky knock-knock joke 
of a barista smacks-down the expresso machine —
grounds for a massacre behind the counter.

The plink-plunk of rainfall deafens.
Birthdays send you into a panic.  Too risky,
the onslaught of jubilation,  the grenades that wait

in overblown balloons. New Year’s Eve brings histrionics.   
Nightmarish, the yellow chimeras of construction
and every screaming chick-a-dee-dee-dee...

Ear plugs are a given.  
Heaven is a soundproof room.
Even that plan holds more than a hiccup or two.

Horror resounds everywhere.  
Babies thunder by in hot-rod strollers. 
Frightening: the gurgles, giggles, ear-splitting rattles. 

In the nursing home, an awful rasp of life    
roars behind a tissue-thin curtain,
the horrendous lisp of oxygen, so deathly loud.






Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2016

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

DIVINE STEEPLES

She lets me put violets in her hair,
good-humouredly, calls me Ophelia
in such a way that I spout, But Shakespeare
pushed war, not love. Resplendent, Thalia

strolls the peaceful paths of Victoria Park,
taken with the interplay of people,
the signs of change, bridges like love at work;
Often, her hands become divine steeples

of calm prayer. Yet there is imminence 
heard in fervencies, a tremendous will
wrought with words of truth and tolerance 
that dare to preserve all that is spiritual.

Three share our views in comfortable silence,
Me, hope and a Goddess of Non-Violence. 


*For Catie
 




Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2014

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

WATER, WATER

                        

                                    Water     /     Water
              New Hamburg, Ontario         Rubkuai village, South Sudan


                                   locals rise          locals starve 
       with the river, heed warnings          where once there was a river, 
                to keep from its banks           travel along arid banks

                 thirty thousand gallons          a tanker arrives with a few gallons
                         of unwanted rain          rain is worth all limbs
                                      burdens          how burdened the village —
                                storm drains          the drought drains life from fields

    this summer, filled sport bottles          this summer 
                 will be abandoned near         will crust tongues
                                 splash pads,         as the dying
         where saturated children riot         tend to the dead
                 in mist & spray, soak in         inconsolable mothers silently
                  the never-ending fount         riot [eyes too dry to mist
                        until fingers prune,         can still spray bullets
                                    until thirst          or thirst for just one more look
                     sends them skipping          as irises prune in the sun]

                    cars gleam and grass          grass is a memory
                         springs underfoot;         & graves spring up underfoot
                       the bridge is power-         like emaciated bridges 
   washed, as though the downpour          nothing stops the downpour 
                              hadn’t flooded          of diarrhea — the filth binds   
                                spider’s webs         cholera’s web

         people shower, run half-filled           people kneel for droplets
    dishwashers & laundry machines,          the desert launders
                           a kettle screams           the jawbone
                                 for someone,          of the newest ghost who still
                             anyone to listen          listens, waits, for anyone



Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2017

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

TAIL SPIN, REVISED

This page shows my writing process and is part of Poetrysoup's first workshop.  The workshop's intent is to reveal how revision strengthens a poem. Constructive feedback can be a gift.  Should any journal editor provide suggestions to me, I'd eagerly listen.  This 'reveal' will be archived, may be used as a teaching tool for newer poets.  Thank you to all the workshop participants.  You really put your heart into this project.  


Clammy palmed, heart amplifying 
a heavy metal gallop as if thick smoke fills

the corridor, a face peers through the window;
A pilot warns, we’re coming in rough.

Like that first ear piercing, eyes crammed shut;
Like Jamie Lee Curtis in the closet 

clutching a hanger, screaming to wake herself up. 
A memory of brakes failing on the highway,  

of an empty pantry, then getting that pink slip.
Too much, too much, panic takes hold,

a lockdown, a breakdown, a savage dog bite — 
when the cure was still a stab to the belly,
 
Like you just saying to me
I’m not sure if I love you, anymore.


Version Two, May 7, 2015


ROLLERCOASTER RIDE,

Clammy palmed, heart amplifying 
a heavy metal gallop as if thick smoke 

chokes the corridor, a face cracks the window
or the pilot says, we’re coming in rough.

Refrains, this'll hurt me more than it hurts you;
Ma'am, three weeks til we get the results,

a long dreamed pregnancy, sudden bleeding,
mother in her coffin, ear to frigid wood.

Like razors in an apple,
like Jamie Lee Curtis in the closet 

clutching a hanger, screaming to wake herself up. 
A memory of brakes failing on the highway,  

of a skeletal pantry, of a bullet hole.
Too much, too much, panic takes hold,

a lockdown, a breakdown, a savage dog bite — 
when the cure was still a stab to the belly,
 
Like you just saying to me
I’m not sure if I love you, anymore.  





Version 3 -- tighter, more erratic, rapid fire.

TAIL SPIN

Clammy palmed, heart amplifying 
a heavy metal gallop as if smoke 

chokes corridors, a face cracks the window,
the pilot yells, we’re coming in rough.

Remember, soap in the mouth,
Remember, you want somethin' to cry about.

An awaited pregnancy, sudden bleeding,
mother's coffin, ear to frigid wood.

Like razors in apples,
like Jamie Lee Curtis in a closet 

grappling that hanger, my parallel life,
brakes failing on the highway,  

skeletal pantry, new bullet holes.
too much, too much, panic takes hold,

lockdown, breakdown, dog bite — 
when the cure was a stab to the belly
 
like you just saying to me
I’m not sure if I love you, anymore. 




Version 4

TAIL SPIN

Remember, soap in mouth,
I'll give you somethin' to cry about,

clammy palmed, heart amplifying 
a heavy metal gallop,

as if smoke choked corridors, 
a face cracked the window,

the pilot's croak, 
we’re coming in rough,

Mother's coffin, 
ear to frigid wood,

pregnant, at last, 
then suddenly bleeding.

Like one Halloween,
a razor hid in my apple,

shrapnel in our bedroom door,
too much, panic takes hold,

lockdown, breakdown, rabid bite — 
when the cure was a stab to the belly
 
like you just saying to me
                I’m not sure if I love you, anymore.  

Revised:

TAIL SPIN

Remember, soap in mouth,
I'll give you somethin' to cry about,

clammy palmed, heart amplifying 
a heavy metal gallop,

as if smoke choked corridors, 
a face rattled the window,

the pilot croaked, 
we’re coming in rough,

Mother's coffin, 
ear to finished wood,

pregnant, at last, 
then suddenly bleeding.

Like one Halloween
a razor cored my apple,

shrapnel in our bedroom door,
too much, panic takes hold,

lockdown, breakdown, rabid bite — 
when the cure was a stab to the belly
 
like you just saying to me
                I’m not sure if I love you, anymore.  

Revised 6

TAIL SPIN

Remember, soap in mouth,
I'll give you somethin' to cry about,

clammy palmed, heart amplified 
a heavy metal gallop,

as if smoke choked corridors, 
a face rattled the window,

turbulence, warnings,
we’re coming in rough,

Mother's coffin, 
ear to finished wood,

pregnant, at last, 
then suddenly bleeding.

Like one Halloween
a razor cored my apple,

shrapnel in our bedroom door,
too much, panic takes hold,

lockdown, breakdown, rabid bite — 
when the cure was a stab to the belly
 
like you just saying to me
                I’m not sure if I love you anymore.  


Revised 7 -- I am happy with this one, finally... any more takers? LOL

TAIL SPIN

Remember, soap in mouth,
I'll give you somethin' to cry about,

clammy palmed, heart amplified 
a heavy metal gallop,

as if smoke choked corridors, 
a face rattled the window,

turbulence, warnings,
we’re coming in rough,

Mother's coffin, 
ear to finished wood,

pregnant, at last, 
then suddenly bleeding.

Like one Halloween
a razor cored my apple,

shrapnel in our bedroom door,
too much, panic takes hold,

lockdown, breakdown, rabid bite — 
when the cure was a stab to the belly
 
like you just saying to me
 I’m not sure 

                    if I love you anymore.  

Revision 10 -- thank you EVERYONE

TAIL SPIN

Remember, soap in mouth,
I'll give you somethin' to cry about,

clammy palmed, heart amplified 
a heavy metal gallop,

as if smoke choked corridors, 
a face rattled the window,

turbulence, warnings,
we’re coming in rough,

Mother's coffin, 
ear to finished wood,

pregnant, at last
overjoyed — sudden blood.

Like one unforgettable night
a razor cored my apple,

shrapnel pricked our bedroom door,
too much, panic takes hold,

lockdown, breakdown, rabid bite — 
when the cure was a stab to the belly
 
like you just saying to me
 I’m not sure 

                      if I love you anymore.  

Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2015

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

MUSE


Sunset. Synergy is moving between chairs
that don't quite match, widening tight circles   
of rovers. Muses Cafe, a small cove where
views internalize, so we heave heavy troubles

outside. Minstrel Mary Anne Epp shelters 
songs about happenstance. When a server drops
a plate, she ad libs, Save cracks for later.
Heads nod to her witty vibes, bite-sized bops.

Inspiration strums as parlance sighs, Good grief,              
my journal's at home.  You say, All's fine.
but your purse offers only ONE loose leaf,
curiously room enough for TWO to lay lines.

Pens groove. Friend, you prove that poets can wage
self-determined verse while on the same page.


*For Kathryn 



Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2014

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

FETAL POSITION IN THE ER

 
Broken but disbelieving, we wait   
for any doctor to say it’s just blood
as the gray man greens, throws-
up in triage. A Goth teen holds Band-Aids
to her scalped thumb.  Somebody loses  
patience, explodes, Why are the sick 
 
treated this way? Doors dilate & the sick 
smell of antiseptics greets a waitress    
wearing a steak knife. We are cribbed by loss;   
gone, teeny heartbeats as I pass blood 
clots. A junkie limps, unaided,
to the bathroom,  another throw 
 
away human, unlike a tot thrown   
from a fire. Unforgettable, that sickening  
sound, shrill scream after scream raids  
the room of complaints. Hell won’t wait 
for examination, I learn, as bloodshot 
eyes meet mine. Hope is lost. 
 
Patients stoically sit. Some lose 
change to a vending machine.  A cop throws 
a look to his charge.  Words drift, bloody 
stool, x-rays, concussion. Sick talk to the sick.   
My hand is gently squeezed. No one else waits- 
out a miscarriage. I watch an aid 
 
swab vintage tiles, restack HIV/AIDS 
pamphlets as if they’re a deck of cards, like loss 
is just some hand dealt. Somewhere, a mother waits
for her boy to sleep, will wash bottles, throw
out dirty diapers.  Somewhere, a heartsick 
father releases bloodcurdling  
 
sobs because a body was found.  Blood
is both bond & amputation.  I took first aid
so I know why the sickest
get priority.  Besides, we've already lost                            
each other,  little one.  Our separation has thrown
me off balance. Why couldn't you wait?
 
As if I need hearing aids, a nurse throws 
my name out to the sick, the lost, ER roommates. 

No. I'll never be ready. Let the bloody stirrups wait...



Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2017

Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

I'D RATHER WRITE ABOUT

a flustered tango of Gypsy moths 
drumming the porchlight; chalk artists; 
the endemic disappearance of farms—silos lost 
in unkempt fields;  space stations; the sunlit-scent of lemon 
oil on cherry wood; birth; the chasm between cultural 
appropriation & cultural appreciation; the history in our dust; 
loneliness & heartbreak; trivia; funky funerals;  
climate change, hurricanes, earthquakes & neglected 
victims;  heirloom charm bracelets, homemade 
wind chimes & the homing sound made by a singing bowl; 
masquerade balls; cityscapes hidden in ant hills; fly 
fishing; serendipitous skinny dipping; missing children, 
teddy bear memorials, forensic identification, monsters 
never found in sleepy towns;  the horrors of zoos—
elephants gone mad, lions robbed of their pride;
book reviews;  civil unrest, bad cops & good cops & young men 
gunned down; brand new fire stations; cancer survivors who wear 
baldness so beautifully; my favourite pair of jeans; river rocks 
found by dearest hands; a letter that can never be 
received; joyful celebrations;  incandescent dragonfly 
dreams; twenty million at risk of starving to death; 
wildflowers shaking pretty little heads; 
misogyny disguised as religion; forgotten veterans who die 
a bit more inside every day; the rainforest, shrinking; 
saintly stoners & postulant prostitutes; toxic smog; 
madmen with warheads; cheese cake & ice wine; 
every personalized Kama sutra move & the God-given 
ecstasy of body on body language; holding hands;  
why one giggle can change everything; Thanksgiving 
prayers; abandoned minefields, boy soldiers & devastating 
amputations;  the songs of the working poor; lightning 
over the lake; his timely phone calls; brotherhood & sisterhood; 
love in its every form;  old maps; twenty-one gun salutes;  
the extinction of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise; being 
five, being twenty five, being ninety-five; kites; dogs chawing 
on ragged rawhide; church-like museums on a Sunday 
afternoon; make-shift picnics; deja vu; thrift store
wedding dresses; long drives with comfortable silences;
fading freedoms; censorship;  seamless moonlight;  
introspective dalliances with self-acceptance;  the power 
of purpose; how to be the bigger person;  how to go 
in a new direction; how to rise above . . .

Copyright © Cyndi MacMillan | Year Posted 2017

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