Cliff Schrage Cliff Schrage

Broken Prose, Spoken Poems

Excerpts: some poems from the book

Broken Prose, Spoken Poems


As sallow, ashen angels
these lean fowl fly
beneath clear heavens
in the lavender evening.

Saintly over a smooth waveless surface
as ancient ships in white canvas,
silent on an indolent inlet
they drift, sail.

Nothing flutters
or shifts
in moments of moving time
until the swans’

Wings widen,
slam air under necks stretched forward;
webbed feet slap across a surface of water
in the lumbering dusk.

This sound swallows silence
in sudden turbulence;
the swans launch, softening their noise,
lifting upward, rising toward heaven

in vast white flight.
All earth’s fixed
this moment- with this flock's motion
and is still.


We never see you you elusive canine knaves,
diminutive wolves,
coy cousins of conquered pets,
committers of murders,
moon shadow chasers,
gang members hiding from light taking
night’s quiet by her throat in long crescendos of cries,
pup yips, whelp barks, snarls,
howling wails pitched high as whistles-
social celebrations over bloody kills.

We never see, but ever hear
these suffused pitches, your singing of
“a land of darkness and the shadow of death.”
At the food chain summit and summer’s quiet gloom
you howl wails pitched high as whistles
heard in the nether east of Eden,
stealing serenity, taking her by the throat in
this fallen world. Your frenzy of a dozen dialoguing voices
startles the stillness in stars at the treetops of the universe,
stills faint pulses of contiguous creatures
in your bloody desperation, your
desperate despair-
like humans in their social loneliness
in this fallen world.

Sharon, Vermont

This is the other side of the world
Where dairy cows remain docile,
Dressed in panda bear clothes, bashful-
Grazing in daisy-dappled, green walls of pastures,

Dusk descends on talons,
And clouds are mountains in white and gray, or
Cumulus peaches enthroned over walls of emerald green.
White River is yellow-silver while this slow dusk

We begin to drop into sleep, drowsing into
That place where time is sly-
The sound of still crickets slow dancing
With humming chime of moving water,
Both alone.

When dawn rises,
One red barn yawns,
Demanding all the attention.
On the other side of the world
Dusk descends.

Across the Rubble of Babel

They see us across the water-
Publics of another culture.

Uniting is strained.
For centuries a band of water separates us.

They see us beneath evening darkness,
Across the rubble of Babel

And water.
Lights flickering-

We see them-
Flickering lights.

Our hands, feet, the way we eat, fight, live-
Like them for centuries.

Two sides. Us and them,
We and they, couplets-

They see us. We see them-
Lights flicker.

All poems copyright © Clifford Schrage