Category: Poetry

A Tide Barely Felt

A Tide Barely Felt

The Tide Barely Felt


Time, the tide barely felt,

Sweeps us



Its low waves rush across the shore

And withdraw,

The clicking sounds of tiny rocks colliding,

Raking over their fellows,


With each arrival, each delivery, each departure

Less force, less vigor, less wash.


Random faces float top shallow pools,

Then gone.

Lesser men, never friends, never mattered.

Women too with their skeptical eyes,

A smile, a hope, a moment’s attention,

Then forlorn, resigned,



To know I do not care


Have already forgotten.



Morning Moon

Morning Moon

Morning Moon

by Phil Cline


Mist surrounds the morning moon

Hovering above night’s remainder,

Heaven’s pale reflection of regret.


Dawn waits wet residue to dry,

Moist women asleep, their legs languid,

Carelessly spread, left apart-by the departed.


The raucous evening’s promises redeemed

Foolish jocularity shortened by haste of

Dreaded day.  Here any moment now.


Friends hurry home,

New enemies scurry away,

Excess devolved to lonely stillness


The tinkling music of clinking glasses gone,

Dark wood bar wiped, band packed, smokes lit.

All’s mute, wary of another horizon.


Windows shuttered, doors locked,

Gates of iron bars chained and secure.

The night’s celebration contained.


We, the last souls out,

Standing on the street

Respectful of the silence.


A dog pats by on gentle paws,

Suspicious of what he smells,

Cautious of what he might disturb.


Impatient of the Dawn

Impatient of the Dawn

Impatient of the Dawn


No new lease for the cabin in the wood,

No replenishment for the lake

At the bottom of the hill,

No more apple slice


Slipped between my lips,

The taste crisp, crunched

And savored like dew drops

From a branch’s furthest tip,


Only the lonely slap of my slippers

On the rain wet pavement.


I bend for my paper and up again,

Among homes still cozy dark.


The widow next door in silhouette,

Watches me from her upstairs window,

The flutter of her gown a whisper,

Ghostly and stark. She remembers


Not long ago,

When her husband drew

The rubber band away and

Unfolded the self-same news.


Those better times and bitter,

The feel of him, his arms,

The press of his chest,

His infrequent laugh, his frequent smile


At some homely comely disaster.

Then the day the test came back,

The day the cake slipped from pan to floor,

The dropped cup broken, and more, much more


Before he left ahead of her,

To lie in peaceful meadows

Among lesser friends utterly forgotten.

She does not know


My cortege too is leaving soon,

Leaving these verdant fields,

These dandelion hills

To craggy rock ledges,


To slate slabs for eternity’s repose

To troubled dreams,

And memories un-deposed.

While she continues her vigil


As dawn turns to day

And day turns to night again,

And homes cuddle to sleep all around

Until there’s just the one lone light behind her.


Thoughtlessly rude, I wave at her.

Crude to interrupt her reverie.

Offended, she turns away, disappears,

But circles back to wait her turn,


And poignantly ignore me and, like me,

Impatiently wait for the Dawn.











Before Life

Before Life

Before Life


Afloat snug in warm fluid for untold time

Awaiting mine own age to emerge,

Innocent, perfect, ready

To preen, to pretend, to prance


In seed plenum; shell, fossil, rock entombed

An eternity. Inanimate to animate by a bit of water,

A trowel, an earthquake shaking boulders loose

To gambol, smash, crush, to disclose


Life. Here. Come to Earth. Sent? Lost?

A tree to branch, to wish straight, symmetrical.

Yet defiant.  Grown awkward, gnarled, prickly thorns, scratching nails

Pruned and shaped by chance, by evil, by tragedy, by happenstance


By danger cowed until final ascension, up through the clouds, to

Where? Airy, ethereal, reclined on a cloud maybe, lazy, sublime

Yet haunted by life’s memories of travail, loss, unrequited pain.

Heaven won’t absolve regret though should have to


And all this fight, and, too, poetry and song,

These mathematics, glass beakers, computers, infinitesimal.

Great heroes flawed and fallen, forgotten.

Wicked villains redeemed. No less worth in


An Afterlife

Pined for, prayed for InLife,

Though BeforeLife, I think, must be

What we


To return





The Preacher on the Other Side of My Window Pane

The Preacher on the Other Side of My Window Pane

The Preacher on The Other Side of My Window Pane

At his farthest touch, beyond

A cold, translucent window pane,

Smudged, scratched, etched by those

Who passed this way many times ago

He bends, squints to peer past

Diaphanous curtains. At curious figures

Moving, gamboling; busy on the other side

At what he doesn’t know. Or why.

Echoes off the wall of his chest,

Rhythms. Blood beats Thumping, Pumping

In bursts up through chutes

Toward the residence of his soul

And around, down, back to 

His center seat of existence. And those

Reverberations travel outside his border,

Beyond his body’s jurisdiction

And on. Like a smell, fresh or foul, remembered,

Found, among broken shards in a melon field

Culled in summer; Spoiled remnants of fruit

Harvested, left for those compelled to survive.

The taste on his tongue, sweet or bitter or bland

And the linger afterwards, ineffable as a memory,

Concrete as a Soldier’s memorial,

Wispy as a fragrance butterflied on the air.

His aged sight, blurring the form of People,

Movements, appearances and disappearances,

Their existence other, separate, forever apart

From his body and imagination; from his unit,

But the outlines of worlds remain

Among the scattered, overturned furniture of memory,

Like the memory in a dream from

Other dreams, fleeting misunderstandings

Beyond the studies of science, literature,

Beyond our own sculpted rock,

Beyond these days,

Numbered and Checked off.

And if, as he says, he’s not bound alone by physicality,

He asks, how can the Unknowable be?

No matter what and where it be. And now

You know I know he believes







Unwelcome to me

The too bright light from

From across the street.

Spilling in, over the sill, onto


The undusted dresser,

The bedposts of an empty bed,

Blankets and rumpled sheets cast aside,

The door half closed as if she still slept there.


I wish to be left to my dreams.

And random memories of

Departed friends, scattered family,

The despair of lost security.


As another final morning dawns

The light through my window dims,

No match for this sky, gray like new steel,

The clouds at end on the far horizon.


Now awake, the Neighbor I see is only me

Reflected back on my window.

He naps fitfully in his last comfortable chair;

He will leave the light on again all day.








The General, a poem by Phil Cline

The General, a poem by Phil Cline

My General


Up along the hill

On worn and weathered knees

He strived headlong, stubborn,

Leading us to our destiny.


Our Captain shouted No! to him,

Warning of shocks and shoals,

Of arrows, pins, shards and blades,

Of bent, broken flags and escutcheons.


And all us foolish boys

Who marked his words,

Respected his histories,

Who stepped from platform to train


And left our fair loves

Huddled down against the rain,

Who laughed cadence to each other

Loud, hearty and brave,


Only to be vanquished

On this foreign hill,

To lie red in the mud, to stretch crooked

Across these rocks in death and misery.





Just Once, a poem by Phil Cline

Just Once, a poem by Phil Cline

Just Once


Just once watching the tides at play

A wave cut fiercely left to right,

Never topping nor breaking to white,


A green watery blade it was

Rising and rending the wind,

Scattering the screaming gulls,


Then calmed to mere swell,

It withdrew seaward

Never crashing to shore.


I did not know oceans could do that.

I do not know if it’s something

I need to fear.



Dry Grass at the Beach, a poem by Phil Cline

Dry Grass at the Beach, a poem by Phil Cline

Dry Grass at the Beach


Dry grass at the beach house

Beneath rainless clouds,

Thirsting next to eternal acres of sea,

The drought remains, piteous, aloof.


The fog’s damp mist wet insufficient

To reach down, nourish, resurrect

Dead roots and parched strands

Of sun burned grass.


The retired captain peered outward

At an ocean of wavering memories.

He watched their white caps peak, glance, roll under,

Returning to their watery depths forever.


Gone now, those Wet years of Plenty,

A Frolic of time expended freely,

The Loud discordant Songs,

The Drinks, The Dances, The One Regret.


The Captain cupped his callused hands,

Against the warm wind, lit his cigarette,

Deeply inhaled, swallowed really,

The cancer didn’t matter now anyway.


He dropped the smoldering match

On the dry grass.

And ground the final ember to death

Under his boot.


He resolved

There would be no more tears.

She was right not to wait for the rain.

It won’t return.