Poetry from Christopher Bernard

What Is a Poem?

By Christopher Bernard

Writing it:
a moment of pity, plus a little skill, plus an absolutely absurd pride.

Reading it:
echoes, echoes, echoes of the dead.


Words and cats:
proud seductive minds.
Writing it,
like herding cats
who just happen to be on fire.

Reading it,
on the other hand,
like listening in on a convention
of drunken, but supremely eloquent, dogs.


This poem hides its joy
in a smuggler’s bible of pain.
At the heart of it is a humbleness
dancing in secret with its pride.

What’s a poem?
Always a little ahead of us,
like the promise at the bottom of the Mediterranean of your eyes.

What’s a poem?
We’re off like a rocket and zig-zag across the globe a thousand thousand times in prose
before collapsing, exhausted, in the stillness of a poem.

What’s a poem?
The secret joy between a butterfly’s wings.

What’s a poem?
A laugh that unfurls into a flock of starlings.

What’s a poem?
A well-wrought stone protecting a scar.

What’s a poem?


Night. Summer. A window
left open. An overheard secret,
not meant for you.


Two ferries pass each other like cautious cats.

Fog over the island
and a cloud over the mountains
glittering like falling snow.

A night of wind,

and the thirsty land opened its mouth,
and the farmers broke open their cisterns,
and the rivers bled like flowers.

It had not come to reward anyone.
It swept over the Pacific,
vast as a sun storm,
bearing water hard as an assault.

It cared nothing, or everything, for you.
It gave what it had to give and passed on.

You didn’t care. You licked the rain from your lips,
and smiled, giddy, with crystals of rain in your hair.

What is it to you? Nothing. Everything.

Let it smite the dry hard land.
Let the rain come and drench the land,
that dry sponge, over the cracked, caked, unending
fields of dust. Let the hard earth ring
like a bell tolling in the dark. Let your parched face
open. Now. Let it


Christopher Bernard’s novel Voyage to a Phantom City was published recently by Regent Press. He is also author of The Rose Shipwreck: Poems and Photographs. This poem comes from his next collection of poetry, Go With Me.

2 thoughts on “Poetry from Christopher Bernard

  1. Pingback: Synchronized Chaos » Blog Archive » Synchronized Chaos April 2016: Escape Artistry

  2. What is a poem if not but our imagination into a place of solitude.Your words always fit the idea of poetry coming to life with a voice of its own. It is this place that we seek.

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