The Poems Of Alexandrina Sergio: 'Timeless Pleasures Of Imagery And Sound'

'There is currently an exciting resurgence of enthusiasm for poetry, and it comes not a moment too soon,” says Alexandrina Sergio, who served as Glastonbury’s first poet laureate.

The sizable attendance at numerous poetry events organized by Sergio for the community in Glastonbury and beyond has proved her point.

“Beyond poetry’s timeless pleasures of imagery and sound,” she says, “the art has special relevance in today’s world as a unique means for communicating on intellectual, emotional and visceral levels.”

She is the author of three poetry collections, “My Daughter is Drummer in the Rock ’n Roll Band,” “That’s How the Light Gets In,” and “Old Is Not a Four-Letter Word.”

Sergio believes poetry is best experienced out loud. Her work has been performed multiple times by a professional stage company and she herself frequently performs her poetry, often accompanied by her husband, pianist David Sergio.

She considers poetry a two-part process, involving poet and reader (or listener) equally. Sergio believes that “the reader’s life experience unavoidably colors the poet’s words, and thus a poem’s meaning and impact become personal to each person reading or hearing it. If a poet’s words are well crafted and true — not manipulative or forced — they can allow one to perceive others with a deeper understanding and recognize shared human connections.”

She says that a writer earns the label of “poet” if his or her written words touch others in a meaningful way.

Ginny Lowe Connors, former poet laureate of West Hartford

EVERY BREATH

“Every breath you take has, at one time or another,

been associated with another living organism."

Martin St. Maurice, PhD.; Professor, Biological Sciences

Borne on my every inhalation,

through the choreography of time’s particles,

is an immortal connection

with ancestors of courage,

speakers of truth,

allowing the possibility that

life is vertical,

death an irrelevance;

that while traces of

Stalin

and Pol Pot

prowl through time,

I breathe as well

Siddhartha

and Teilhard

who in molecular incarnation

may well lead me

in a single respiration

toward Omega.

MESSAGE TO A LITTLE BEACH GIRL

I Wanna Get Messy! she shouts

racing to the tidal flats,

skidding to her knees in the oozing greasy black,

whooping with muddelight.

Take a roll in it for me, I say.

Go to it, Baby, I say.

Do it before it’s too late, I say.

MY DAUGHTER IS DRUMMER IN THE ROCK ’N ROLL BAND

Burnished hair tossing to the pulsing light,

sticks hit and crash in their circling flight:

my daughter is drummer in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Hi hat clashing with the throaty bass growl,

left arm movin’ like a panther on the prowl:

keeps ’em all together in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Five guys in boots sweatin’ out their chords,

singer wailing blues striding up and down the boards,

all countin’ on her rhythms in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Ran away from home when she was just twelve years,

left her Mamma crying for the grief and fears,

never dreaming she’d be drummer in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Lost behind silence in her windowless space,

smoked pot, drank gin, sneered in Mamma’s face,

then thought she’d be drummer in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Played drums in old garages and in barns choked with hay,

got good and then told Mamma to come and hear her play

when she got a job working with the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Now her brother helps the sickly and big sister teaches school,

and the baby’s doin’ brain research, improving the gene pool

while she’s become drummer in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

And their Mamma loves each one of them, as is a mother’s part

but somehow that redhead drummer reaches deep into her heart

when she triumphs over “Wipeout” in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

At breaktime she’ll find Mamma, flash a smile through barroom fug

and cross the room with arms outstretched in the exuberant hug

of an in-synch in-tune drummer in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

Burnished hair tossing to the pulsing light.

My breath swells with tears at the wondrous sight

of my daughter, the drummer in the Rock ‘n Roll band.

MEMO FOR A DARK TIME

Assemble the poets!

the bottle dancers

the music makers

the image takers

the wielders of brush and chalk

the actors

the story tellers

the song singers

the verse sayers.

These are the memory keepers.

These are the truth tellers

Guarding

All that proves we are children of light

(fractured though the light may be),

Providing

All that we need to fuel our defiance

of that which crouches

poised to render us

impotent

broken

afraid of the dark.

Assemble the poets!

PROPOSAL FOR A JOURNEY BENEATH THE SUN

I know the signal to make the camel fold his bony legs.

When he does, climb onto the seat.

Don’t put your hand near his eyes or mouth:

camels can be quite nasty.

Give our steed a little rap

to make him move.

Your burnoose will swirl about you,

the sand glow yellow,

pools shimmer just out of reach.

Distant whirls will leap from the horizon to climb the sky.

The ride will jog you, bumping your innards.

The ungainly animal will sneer at your dependence.

Sometimes the grit will crumble under your eyelids,

your throat will crack dry.

Sometimes you’ll nod, lulled by the undulating ride.

When the beast’s gallop belies his awkward promise,

your laugh will tumble in the wind.

Then the Oasis.

We’ll slip down,

drink deep,

eat dates,

kiss,

raise our orange tent,

lie entwined in wooly shawls.

We’ll praise the humped, homely, unpleasant camel.

He is the only way to make this journey.

I hope you think it worth the doing.

I hope you know the burnoose becomes you.

RINK

You

are the darting skater

slicing ice.

I am the Zamboni

MORNING DEER

If you were not here

who would care that I saw two deer

in the morning light?

GOLDEN WEDDING

Not for me,

getting dressed up, going to church,

repeating wedding vows.

It’s way too late to be re-promising,

re-telling what we’d each start doing

to make blissful the life of the other.

More likely we should vow to stop doing.

You could pledge to stop leaving pot covers unwashed,

hoarding old concert programs,

drinking more than one martini.

I might swear to forgo the equatorial thermostat,

the cheery lights in unused rooms,

the flourish of the late arrival.

What use to alter such things now?

My promises give way to prayer,

prayer that I will never awake

to a day without you in it.

SPECTRUM DANCER

The boy-cousins align in regimental file

and at the far end

one swirling girl,

silly-faced and barefoot-dancing

(face that clenches when the world assaults,

feet that kick back at frustration).

The photo shows

the eyes-forward stalwarts

ordered by height,

and at the end of the string,

swooping like a kite in the breeze,

the Smile Maker.

Procrustean observersremain unsmiling, mutter

spoiled the picture,

undisciplined,

find virtue in denial

of a wondrous child,

a little girl

who loves honeybees,

whispers her small finger across their backs

to marvel at the brush of gold,

has never once been stung

by a bee.

OLD IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD

I

This week

a noted bioethicist

got a lot of ink by

proclaiming the dubious value of life

after 75.

This week

a quasi-hipster remarked

on Facebook

that she would never join AARP

because she could not endure

the humiliation.

This week

the young man

behind the counter

at the pharmacy

called me “dear.”

This week

it was affirmed that dispraise

is the best defense

against silver hair and slowed gait,

much like a garlic bulb

thrust at an advancing vampire.

II

Old

is October on an

Appalachian Trail thru-hike,

Georgia long past,

Katahdin looming,

the in-between revelations, despairs,

pain, amazements

having transformed the pilgrim

into one who has breathed the sky,

divined that it takes this long,

that much black water,

to emerge whole from beneath

questions given first voice in youth

about reality and love,

unknowable until reality and love

leap out, attack,

demand naked combat,

turn the abstract concrete,

only then to relinquish their secrets,

truths profound with the power

to set us free.

AT A CONCERT BY THE UNDERSCORE ORKESTRA

I DISCOVER WHAT I WISH FOR MY SISTER

The violin unleashed

bends deep to the

keeper of a voice so true

as to wrap us all in silk and bangles

and the trumpet man’s magic

draws us up as if on God’s inhalation.

In this klezmeric moment I lift

my sister from the narrow bed

in that dun place of her existence,

escape past the hollow mouths

the drooped necks, hidden eyes,

race to the music.

He of wondrous chops raises the trumpet,

drinks from some past life

to shape a sound that spirals

to a gossamer furl

and gathers her into the emerging ribbon

where she turns on its breath.

The concert ends,

listeners cheer,

players bow to the praise,

the final note lingers

suspended

just beyond the senses.

Sister, when your song is done

may you be one with the music

and on its echo

Soar.

WITHOUT A STAR

Newtown, Connecticut

December 14, 2012

Disaster takes away words,

admits no language to shape thoughts.

We are left without a star to keep us true

when poems and stories all

mean something other

than they did before.

Everything seen

seems a message,

every gesture

a plea.

From a passing school bus

the wave of a wee hand

becomes a sacrament.

Poems copyright Alexandrina Sergio. Work for CT Poets Corner — a monthly feature highlighting the poetry of Connecticut authors — is selected by invitation.

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