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Best Poems Written by John Tansey

Below are the all-time best John Tansey poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

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Empty Nest

With the boy’s room, draped in white sheets
This whole year, like a cocoon, preserved in amber, 

She closes another album: The fossil record of their marriage, 
Steeped, in the earthen layers of clay.

Then turning to face him, two huge land masses: 
He, the old world, she is of the new, 

And with thirty years of continental drift
Having poured an ocean in between them, 

They live, now, in different time zones, 
Sleep, eat and speak in different tongues…

11.15.7					John Tansey

Copyright ©2008 John Thomas Tansey

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2013

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Our Fathers, Once Gods, No Longer

Life was holier then when younger, 
opened gifts at Christmas, I toyed
beside the shelter of my father.

Faith in the world was stronger
when what little I knew, relied			 
upon the lies he told me when younger, 

For as the hand of God, come under	
a cloud to part the sea for a boy, 
I walked proudly through the crowds with my father.

But now, his iconic loom no longer
fends, like prometheus, the plight
of man from one no longer younger.

For I see in the winter of his growing older, 				
this frail mortal of him, that destroys
the hope I would hold his hand forever. 

Empty by fact of having grown colder, 
Christmas goes quietly without the joy 
so omnipresent when I was younger-
and still knew God by the shape of my father.	

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2013

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Brandon, the world depends on the existence of fireflies. A simple kindness toward lesser things. The magnanimity, the compassion of not taking life simply because you can

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2015

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A History of it in the Family


Eyes aglaze in the morning rush,
	suspended in thought,  I stare					
		through the window of the car,			

Adrift in this diffused glare
	of the green traffic light,					
		I am too absorbed to go through.			
I have scaled life's stair to this rung
	where my mother stopped, doubting			
		 she could continue on, 

Collapsing right there in a slump,
	bent half-over from the fear 				 
		of seeing their before her		

In the shape of her father on the stairs---				
	his grim infirm slouch, praying				  			
		she would not follow after

To where the ghost of him stood,
	starless and fearful even at that height
		that he still could not see God. 


How old was she then when she descended			
	  back down, stumbling 		 
		over words she would choke on,			

As she spoke of her life,  regressing	
	 to the gestures of a child,		
		spiraling through the years
To where it all started, a girl lost			
	at the bottom landing,  turning		
		 with a face flushed in tears,  		
"My  father",  she said, "would sit in a chair
	drunken fits of silence 
		so steep he did not notice me there",

"Standing in that immense air of depression,
	 where only mother would speak,  breaking
		the silence like a bird of premonition"

"He thought his life a loss", she said			
	"alone, and given up, he abandoned
		 every hope I was the love of".


Was it then she bit her tongue
                 and folding back her limbs, buried
		every white flower in her mouth,	

Extinguishing actions like words
	she withdrew by lantern, alone		
		to the cavernous echoes of her soul.

Is this is my inheritence, this brooding trait,			
	this inherent sadness that states 
		I am sole heir

To my family's flawed heirloom
	   of depression, passed down
		in an ambry of gene.

This shell of a man,  host
	to its genetic strand,
		its rogue chromosome 

That looks back from the mirror---
	like these hands once thought mine
		 seeming now to have always been yours.

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2013

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Muscle Memory

Muscle Memory
Looking in the mirror, I am getting older; the loss of muscle mass Sink-holing the skin with pockmarks and the sagging of my triceps and hamstrings shows me so. Ten pounds for every ten years, they say. With such drastic loss of muscle memory I soon forget how to crawl.

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2015

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Delusions of Evening

Evening sets with self-delusion
stirring the synapses
with a steaming 
cup of coffee.
A dimly lit oil lamp
shrouded in Saffron 
casts the room in an amber hue
where words meld like gold 
onto the page
		in an alchemic blaze.

Morning rises, dispelling dreams
out of every fold of darkness
to a sterile whiteness
that turning back 
such ingots
into leaden blocks of stone
I wake, both bleary eyed 
and blood shot, into this failed, 
pale bleak
		truth of morning

John Tansey

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2013

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A Gift from the Romantic

It is in the subtlety
And not the blunt insult, 
The threat and not the onslaught; 

The implied and not the explicit.

It is in the first gleaning, 
remembered scents of Spring
And not the direct, 

Overhead heat of Summer.

The autumnal dread 
And not the dead of Winter; 
The sweet dream of sleep 

And not the bleak morning after.

When somewhere between the gift, 
And it’s crumpled paper wrapping, 
Lie an infinity 

Of finite things to be chosen: 

But of a thousand choices 
if I must choose one, 
I would settle, instead, 

 For the choice and forego the choosing…

John Tansey					11.25 07

Copyright ©2008 John Thomas Tansey

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2013

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All truth is quicksilver
Slipping through fingers. 	
The moment I speak
Is the same that I lie.

It is only when my tongue
Seeps deep down my throat,

Knowing though not telling,
That truth remains alive.

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2014

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The Mortal Delemma of fairy tales and Fire Flies


(Brandon, the world  

depends on the existence of fairy tales and fire flies, 

the simple kindness towards lesser things,	 

the magnanimity, the compassion	 

of not taking life simply because you can.)		 


Out playing with my son 			 

in the day-dwindled dark			 

among the autumn leaves, 

an enshrined firefly				 

cupped in the apse of my palm,			 

I stoop closer to show him			 

its brief  luminosity like an halo,			 

a prayer candle in the breeze			 

its flame, flickering 

in the grotto of my hands.	 


Suddenly,  a swipe of the hand,			 

and the fall begins 

with a child's first cruelty 			 

and here we stand, guilty 

by the depth of your stroke 

that felled a star and made the sky dark 

but for the full moons of your eyes		 


What shall I say to you now, 

that you are only two 

and your years thus far 

have been but the calculation  

of constants						 

like your parents, fixed planets, 

fingering the flora of your golden hair 

as they revolved about you. 


This is the father’s dilemma, 

whether to dispel as rumour		 

the faith in fairy tales and fire flies 

to head off the terror 

of learning on your own 

that the world has no morals, 

nature no ethics 

steel you for a life of brutality 

make you a bully, 


Or nurture that spark of gentlenesss 

as your jaw drops  

at the that last spot of phosphor on your shoe, 

and the glow of a firefly 

dissapearing beneath the blades  

like the sun going down on us both. 


It is the end of the day, summer,  

and the innocence of your ways.	 

John Tansey

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2019

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A Fear the Day

I Fear the Day 

I fear the day 

the sheer length of it. 

It's call to actions 

and not words. 


Fearing it while it is 

and loving it when it is gone, 

right or wrong. 

Evening beckons... 


It's soft, amber hues of lamplight. 

As I peruse a book, 

another day passes 

into fables of mythic storytelling. 


Swaddled in the womb of light 

in an eternity of night; 

Until sunrise and the dread of morning, 

I wake, trembling, at the start of the new day

John  Tansey

Copyright © john tansey | Year Posted 2019