Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Shifting Through Photos’ and other poems

By: Jim Brosnan

Shifting Through Photos

They never returned
to the gravel path
they hiked last October
or the woodland landscape
where they spent hours
under naked silhouettes
of hickory, maple, and birch.

In this photograph
she wears a long
blue peasant skirt,
he’s in dress slacks.
They carry sweaters
and hold hands
on a carefree afternoon.

Fallen shapes camouflaged
converging footprints
in this picture. The scent
of pine forest emanated
from composted leaves
into gentle autumn breezes
as they waltz past stands

of hardwoods, laughing,.
embracing each other.
The moon watches
a tumble of snowflakes
settle on nearby evergreens
as I return the photographs
to the top desk drawer.


Nighttime Song

When we stopped meeting in patient dreams
it was the cool of an October morning,

a crisp day when I hiked along the river
before seven on that cloudy fall morning

moments after tangerine brushstroked the Iowa sky
several hours after my thoughts were lost in sleep,

when lost memories were sometimes forgotten
although birdsong echoed in the background

remnants of dreams were triggered by birdsong
when evening conversations were now recalled

as silence stole early dawn’s breath,
snatched intimate phrases overhear

even when we savored the simple meanings of images
hours after we stopped meeting in patient dreams.


Awaiting a Response

This sentimental letter should deliver
images from those memorable falls
we shared: melodic serenades
from the highest branches of hickory,
blue and white stained-glass lamps
displayed in the shop on Main Street,
the night we hiked its entire length,
the restaurant’s herbed-crusted cod
and chardonnay, the carnations
on the table—pink and white.

This message should distract you
from your summer daydreams
to yesteryear’s tender memories.
I send you these intense clauses
to place me in your daily thoughts.

These are my random feelings
in the dream state of restlessness.
Why not respond to them on some
lazy August afternoon? Answer
with a response that affirms your
feelings on that night we hiked
the breakwater, the cranberry sunset
we shared when I felt the warmth
of your hand in mine, heard your
laughter echoing along the shoreline.

At the Tuscan Bistro I order a calzone
while the lapis blue of evening
disguises your silhouette. I still see you
walking sidewalks in Cape Elizabeth.
What else can I possibly record?



My mind races down
long avenues on mental
journeys after I wake
again tonight to rumbling
midnight freight, empty
boxcars rattling over
grade crossings,
an engineer blowing
a shrill whistle.

I ponder my failure
to visit Dublin or
make the side trip up
the Rhine, to never seal
the envelope explaining
my decisions—a detailed
letter lamenting life’s
disappointments, dreams
completely unfulfilled.

Should my poems imitate
life experiences? Infatuation,
loss, a breeze turning leaves
of sugar maple consumed
the energies and talent
of earlier poets. A calm
fall evening, an ordinary human
existence with dreams
and moments of joy—

isn’t this life’s goal, given
the proximity of death?


In Pursuit of the White Moon

An October twilight
deepens into magenta
as hickory silhouettes
stare at twinkling lights
from across the bay.
Blue sodium haze
illuminates cement sidewalks
while nightfall casts
licorice shadows
over wooden flowerboxes.

In these daydreams
memory infiltrates
my nocturnal wanderings
through city streets
pulsating with the brash
notes of jazz bands,
echoes in dimly lit
alleys under the red
neon flashing signs
of in-town diners.
Sometimes I walk
the sandy shoreline
gazing at scurrying
sandpipers while
the full moon ascends
over the ocean’s glitter
and haunting cries
of herring gulls
call you back.

Years before
we said goodbye
nightfall concealed
our embrace
just hours after
a tangerine sunset
painted the distant
horizon in pale

my rambling
visit leafy avenues
after midnight
where I repeat
your name
before I reach
country roads
where I recall
our whispered
now buried
in the ashes
of our history.


Awed by Jack-o’-Lanterns

In the peach glow
of daybreak, we breathe
in the colors of autumn,
make the mountainous
morning ascent on
a two-lane road to Keene.
We pass a roadside stand
where pumpkins and corn
stalks hug a wooden shed,
the sign reading CLOSED.
Mountain passes bordered
by stands of paper birch,
accent the iridescent gold
of sugar maple saplings
sketched against ominous
black clouds as the morning
sun illuminates young beeches.
We descend into the valley
before walking Main Street
where we ponder the carved
faces of pumpkins—
a thousand smiling faces
staring at the mountain range.
With your hand in mine,
we admire distant church
steeples as we listen
to a quartet: two guitars,
mandolin, and banjo
entertaining the crowd
on a cool October afternoon.


Dr. Jim Brosnan is the author of Nameless Roads (2019). His poems have appeared in the Aurorean (US), Crossways Literary Magazine (Ireland), Eunoia Review (Singapore), Nine Muses (Wales,) Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), Strand (India), The Madrigal (Ireland), and Voices of the Poppies (United Kingdom). He holds the rank of full professor at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI.

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