Contemporary American Voices

June’s Featured Poet – Paul Lubenkov



Paul Lubenkov-


Oh! those who don’t believe in
this sun here are real infidels.
–Vincent Van Gogh

There is no brighter sky.  Deep
And wide, these colors reach
Beyond themselves,  each short
Stroke of speed assaulted
By light until it must burst
And the trembling land glow
Beneath this magnificent sun.
What more could there be?  What man
Could resist the power here, the air
Of imminent explosion?  And yet,
Toiling in the right foreground,
This wooden-shoed peasant,
His head too large, his arms
Too short, and on his face
A look of angry desperation,
Does not sow this ground
With the proper reverence.
Scattering an apronful
Of seed in an act of what
Appears to be spastic
Convulsion, he strides toward
Something out of sight.
His hat low on his neck, he is leaving
Behind him that sun, that sky,
The half-sowed fields as if
He imagined he could somehow
Abandon them, escape to some
Other place where he could teach
His shadow to believe in something
Anything except this impossible sun.



For George Garrett

Maintain your balance:  avoid the new,
Forget the old.  When the telephone rings,
Study the hollow sound of air.
Waving the loud flag of love,

A mysterious woman shall enter your life.
It will be too late.  Remember the mailman,
And spend some time resisting pain.
The silence of wisdom is everywhere;

Bite your tongue and listen for fools.
Enjoy whatever pleasures you can,
But avoid the night, all those trees
Shaking their arms of dark thunder.

With luck, you will keep one jump ahead
Of whatever is always somewhere behind,
So forget that hand, that web of bone
Scratching its way across your wall.

The sun will set and nothing will happen.
The moon will rise and nothing will change.
A blind man will bring you a terrible gift,
And you will remember what you tried to forget.



It has bothered me all my life that
I don’t paint like everyone else.
— Henri Matisse

But, the color ! Your brilliant color!

Slabs of aromatic blue ,
Stripes of iridescent green,
Goldfish struck like stamped medallions
Suspended in a bowl of ether.

You opened windows to bold cathedrals,
Moroccan landscapes redolent with spice,
Aberrant hues and the falling light
That bleaches color and flattens form.

Your loving and confident hands caressed
Breath to canvas. Languorous nudes
Embrace their moment as eyebrows evolve
Curving to aquiline nose, just so.

Carving with color, your brushstrokes stung,
Left Salon dandies dazed and dumb,
Eyeballs scorched to the light.

That mystic beard you wore with such grace
Did not muffle your growls for perfection. And what
Dull brute dare tame this delicate beast?



In deserted houses, floorboards speak
For the strangest reasons.  When shutters bang
Or an unwatched door suddenly swings shut,
We say it is the wind when there is
No wind.  Birds, rats, shifting foundations.
We are quick with answers that keep the peace,
But who can be sure?  On every wall
Moonlight illuminates subtle designs
And these patches of light survive us to say
The past does not die.  We let it escape.



From a Czech proverb

No matter how sad
Do not trust the man
Who never wants to sing.

He will bore you to death
With the speech of the deaf
And your ears will turn to stone.


After a lengthy career as an executive with Eastman Kodak and Fuji Photo Film, I have returned full circle to my first post graduate job: College Instructor. Although it is certainly intimidating to return to the classroom, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to give back.

Poems recently published and accepted for publication in The Sierra Nevada Review, The Stillwater Review, The Outrider Review, River Poets Journal, Falling Star Magazine, and The Tule Review.