Day 6 “first draft” for NaPoWriMo 2013
part of my Smalling Down™ series


on finally reaching the end

as he reached the threshold
he hesitated
breathed in
partially turned
head cocked
breath caught
hand resting on the door

their eyes met
each wanting to speak


she sighed
looked away
he dropped his head
pushed open the door
stepped through
walked slowly on
never looking back

it had all been said

• • •

rob kistner © 2013


“Under Windsor Bridge” by Adolphe Valette, 1912


dead calm envelops me

moist morning fog
adrift on the water
wraps ‘round me
like a cool blanket

it muffles the sounds
of daybreak’s industry

alone with my thoughts
in peaceful privacy
safe anonymity

the regrets of last night
dim and fade

this brief sanctuary
a soothing balm
so welcome
at the start of this heavy day

• • •

rob kistner © 2012

this piece inspired by this visual prompt at Magpie Tales


“A Dinner Table at Night” — by: John Singer Sargent


immersed in pleasured chatter
bursts of heightened laughter

in the ringing clank of crystal
of silver on fine china

crisp bustle of starched service
lush rustle of satin’d lace

aglow in silken’d candlelight
caressed by gentle strains

wafts of sweet Bordeaux
heady fragrance of cut orchids

midst soft din and dance of mirth
I gaze upon your empty face
and see there in your hollow eyes
our game is solitaire

• • •

rob kistner © 2012

this piece inspired by this visual prompt at Magpie Tales


…here’s in keeping with my ‘dark’ fantasy that all clowns have bizarre, perhaps criminal pasts…


gaze upon me
if you will
my countenance crafted
to fool
and thrill

I’ve spent years in greasepaint
and sorrow
I rue the past
I dread tomorrow

they call me laughing bob

it wasn’t intentional
you see

I only wanted her to hear me
to know my heart

but her laughter
her hollow
taunting laughter
her laughter wouldn’t stop

it wouldn’t
and I needed her to hear me
to understand how I felt

but the laughing
and laughing
the incessant laughing
I simply couldn’t have the laughing

so I made it stop

now I hide behind this painted smile
now everyone is laughing
and laughing

but I no longer hear

• • •

rob kistner © 2012

this piece inspired by this visual prompt at Magpie Tales

The Hour of the Beast


The Hour of the Beast

when the most capable
believe they have risen above
the mucus, the shit, the afterbirth
of their origin

when in their reflection
they see perverse transcendence
towards entitlement
in which no allegiance
or kinship of nature
binds them to their center

nor founds them in the
fevered fumbling fury
of the frightened flesh parade
in which they lock step
flailing for survival

when their insanity of arrogance
so distorts their vision of time
of the ancient
of the sweating
bone-broken reality
of human will and wallow
through which they likewise trudge

shiny shoes or no

when they blatantly begin
to eat their own
while copulating with false gods
on forsaken gilded alters
of perjured horrors

then the hour of the beast
is certainly at hand

and we’ve all become
the hulking mass
of the apocalypse
deserving to be struck down

and our black hearts
torn out and severed
by the self-inflicted rapier
of raw wild justice
and our husks immolated
on the pyre of banished
abandoned truth

that moment
is near

• • •

rob kistner © 2012

Morning’s Pardon

…morning brings we fallen mortals forgiveness and hope…


Morning’s Pardon

fallen into night’s embrace
held down by dark shadows
I writhe in the arms of nightmare

would that I could rise
into the light of dawn’s nod
but I’m flesh, weak, consumed by flesh

purity laid raw entangled in my sin
skin to skin with my obsession
restrained to roil in my transgression

but soon the light of morne
will fold itself upon me pardoned
to pray I not be too far drawn asunder

• • •

rob kistner © 2012

linked at Magpie Tales


…to loved ones missed, now sadly departed…


after the clutter of leaving
after the hurry of goodbye
after sweet anticipation faded away

after no more embraces
after the laughter was memory
after the sadness collected day upon day

after the spaces fell empty
after the familiar grew distant
after our time together had become the past

after the taste of regret
after the loneliness mounted
after sands in the glass spilled away much too fast

I did not think it would be this quiet
I did not think it would seem so far
no I did not know it could be so quiet
nor did I know how this silence would scar

• • •

rob kistner © 2011

The Dimming


The Dimming

here is the change

the forgetting

the slipping away
into the haze of memory

the frustration
of no longer being able
and still
the burning longing to…

and you
dimming in this fog
midst the times we have cherished
the places we have loved
fading beyond reach

an ever-mounting loneliness
like so many vacant seats


• • •

rob kistner © 2011

linked at Magpie Tales




do you hear the autumn wind
stirring in the branches

do you hear the leaves rustle

do you hear my breath
whispering your name

do you hear my heart beat

do you hear my tears fall

or is it silent

silent as the light-less realm
that hauntingly engulfs my soul

silent as that night
when apples spilled
on the broken stair
where rail eluded
your grasping hand

silent as your futile cry
when no voice came
to grace your lips

tender lips
that parted gently
to hold my kiss


that will not know again
sweet fruit

nor love

• • •

rob kistner © 2011

poem & image above inspired by visual prompt below

linked at Magpie Tales

For Naught


For Naught

the virgin page taunts me


the bright white
throbs like a migraine

no burden of remorse
no weight of mystery
does it bear

no sting of anger
no wink of mirth
does it proffer

nothing sensual or sensitive to share

no tale to spin
no plot to thicken
no coin of phrase to turn

just vast blank space
tormenting nothingness
cruel emptiness
to drain my brain

dissonance spills through my open window
the scatter of autumn showers
stir of october wind
rustle of moist leaves

in the distance
muffled keens
bursts of barking
far off yelps

the edgy piercing din
of dripping prowling night
intrudes in damp insistence
to fill my head
fevered with frustration
to leave not one small space for wit

the search for insight all for naught

no spark to light this dark
no muse in sight

nothing clever or profound
in the air this night



• • •

rob kistner © 2011

linked at Magpie Tales




I lift myself quietly
very quietly
from beneath the sheets
soiled with neglect
soaked with my nightmares

I am again awake
from another dark night
that began with fear
fear I might not survive
and ends in sorrow
realizing I did

I rise
make my way carefully
past the shallow-breathed crumple
that lay milky-eyed
in a heap on the floor
save a twitch of the head

a head which now harbors demons
where nocturnal angels of sweet release
had lain down lush upon it
in fevered embrace
lustfully conjured
by last night’s spoon and lance
still skewered silver in the soured vein

this wreckage is my mother

I stop but for a glance
verifying life
then move on head down
angle to the bathroom
to the scum-brown bowl
to wash my face
lit sallow by the yellowed bulb
that hangs bare and lonely

strange eyes
hold me in the mirror
broken as my heart

eyes of knowing
eyes of sadness

grief courses through me
weighing upon my being
burning into my heart

I want to cry out
but there is no one here to hear me
no hero that can help me

driven by instinct to survive
by urgency to flee
I shudder away the paralyzing despair

in this dank food-less morning
in this ruined single room
in this coat-less chill of predawn
I gather up my books
step lightly through the door
down the damaged stairs
into the hostile streets
heavy with this childhood of strangled dreams

I duck and dodge
in and out of shadows
praying to once again avoid the evil
that lurks and slinks
among the garbage and graffiti
of these crumbled bricken’d canyons

that rolls slow and lethal
gripping cold blue steel
in predatory drive-by

seductive as a smile
deadly as a snake

which if diligence should fail
I fear will consume my soul

deliberately I continue
until at last I find my way
to the building
to the classroom
to my desk

to the only hope
to which I dare cling

• • •

rob kistner © 2011

this poem inspired by image below

linked at Magpie Tales

also linked at d’Verse

Silence – two reflections

These two poetic reflections are unrelated, beyond their focus on silence. The first reflection here considers what it is to fall into the deepening silence of old age. The second reflection looks at the silence that causes, and also results from repression…




shrouded by evening in waning october
as autumn tumbles towards winter
is to know the losing of the light
the ever growing darkness
the advance of the cold
the time of endings
death’s due vigil
deep silence

how do I abide this season

• • •

rob kistner © 2011



escape was an improbability
as was understanding
opinions regarding outcome
ignored altogether
fate sealed with no discourse
executed with an air of entitlement

when one has no arms to flail
no fists to clench
no fingers to point
gestures of dissent are sorely limited
rights easily wrest away
freedom falls beyond grasp

when one has no voice

• • •

rob kistner © 2011

poem “Silenced” inspired by image below

linked at Magpie Tales

King of Sunrise


King of Sunrise

on the boulevard below
last night’s rain puddles
midst the chaos of metro-clutter
held hostage by tire and curb
as if abandoned by the waters of earth

it shoulders its way through the gutters
in search of mother sea

this day begins golden and crisp
bird songs echo empty sunrise streets

me and the first edition
we sit by this morning window
with coffee and curiosity
quietly serenaded by the 5:00 AM news

I read
occasionally glimpse the screen
grow troubled by our human plight
amazed how we never learn
when the answers seem so obvious

in this moment
the tv drones
my frustration rises
my spirit slips
my mind drifts
lifting on the vapor ribbons
wafting from my steaming cup
until I stare distracted

the announcer’s mouth continues sculpting words
but I’ve fallen deep into my thoughts
imagining how different it would be
if I ruled this world

• • •

rob kistner © 2011

linked at Magpie Tales


Aeropachydermiciderecklessly causing the death of someone or something by actions that result from the foolish belief that one is so smart and powerful that one can make an elephant fly.



somewhere between our petrochemical insanity
and our reckless dance with fractured atoms
we believed we were the miracle
and it all went seriously awry

we fantasized we had dominion
that we understood the vast unknown
could control the raw chaotic
that we had figured out the why

so we delved into dark science
with no regard for frail nature
flailed our way across the planet
belched our leavings into our sky

we so bought into our egos
that we perceived ourselves as gods
that we were capable of anything
perhaps make the elephant to fly

but we humans lost sight of balance
did not comprehend our place
as only one of precious many
we let the tipping point slip by

now we wonder what will happen
to our misbegotten dream
stare through disbelieving tears
as we watch it slowly die

• • •

rob kistner © 2011

linked at Magpie Tales



“Why Raven?”

Images – a ten year vigil

…lest we ever forget






unfathomable images

the graceful glide
engulfed by the spire
in a roar of golden orange

horribly beautiful

perversely mesmerizing

devastating images

torrents of humanity
raining down

desperation their only escape

masses of humanity
to outrun the unbelievable

to be delivered from the inconceivable

traumatic images

shrines of free commerce
by the unbearable weight
of their fragile significance
plummeting to earth
in a cloud of self-destruction

heartbreaking images

terrified souls
by the unbearable weight of the moment

staggering onward
to outdistance the surging roll
of all-engulfing
pulverized aftermath

courageous images

tireless heroes

those who were called
who served unselfishly

who gave the ultimate service

haunting images

wiped away
from the ashen-grey faces
of the traumatized throngs

now just masks of calamity

all made equal
by horror and grief

one nation
under siege
with tragedy and sorrow
for all

unforgettable images
burned into our hearts

• • •

rob kistner © 9/11/09