poet michael a griffith

Burden by Michael A. Griffith

pray
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Burden
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Two old men rattle-off prayers
with Brooklyn accents, racing the priest.
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Young family two pews back seek
guidance, solace, and time.
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The homily over, the body
and blood served, good-byes, well wishes.
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In a back pew a woman has fainted
from the heat and her heavy 9th month.
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The family stops to help, the old men
sidle by with quick prayers.
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The priest is summoned and he
is quick to help but not to comfort;
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he knows this woman, knows her
sins, knows she came for more than prayers,
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more than he can give her now.
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The woman wakes and blinks
and stutters and apologizes.
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Her baby stirs within feeling
more a burden than anything else
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in the hot church this August day.
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The priest ushers the family
to the door, turns, goes back to the woman,
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looks down into her damp eyes, around her pale
face, to her dry quivering lips and whispers her name.
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Michael A. Griffith began writing g poetry after a disability-causing accident. His chapbooks Bloodline and Exposed were released in fall 2018. Mike was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in October 2018. He lives near Princeton, NJ and teaches at Raritan Valley Community College.

Michael A. Griffith (@AuthorMGriffith) | Twitter

Bloodline by Michael A. Griffith

Mikes-final-cover-copy
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By g emil reutter
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Poet Michael A. Griffith writes in the opening poem of this collection, Polyglot:
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To know true meanings and speak plain
as whales tell no lies in their arias
and bees are never false in their dance
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To whisper a word to the wind
and make the hurricane stop.
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In this 26 poem collection released by The Blue Nib, Griffith brings the commonplace to life through the use of stark, truthful language blended at times with extraordinary metaphor in settings of the ordinary, never false in his dance with words.
He writes of a strained relationship in the poem The Old Dingy. Griffith captures the divide between father and son, a stubbornness on both parts he equates to the quiet dark cold lake:
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The distance between us in not so great,
but the space…
it stretches out like darkness,
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like the lake his dinghy is on.
Dark, even at noon, wide, can’t see the other shore,
Quiet and cold, this space between father and son.
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In the poem, Satan’s Toy Car, Griffith writes of the salesman who comes to visit his mother, capturing the sleazy nature of the man in the description of his car. his long red car./ A big city car./Shiny, real shiny in the sun./ New. The poem tells us how the salesman attempts to get rid of the child by presenting him with a toy car so that he can hit on the mother. After several attempts the mother slaps the salesmans face who departs. The child also departs later in the day with the toy car. Day later I fetched Satan’s toy car,/ buried it up at the church/ where it ain’t done no harm/ or no good ever since.
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In the first four stanzas of Noona, he captures the hopelessness with imagery that brings you into life existence in a nursing home:
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You called me “honey” amid your clutterspeak
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You will forget what you said to me
or that we spoke once you turn and leave.
You will roam the halls,
look into darkened rooms
for someone you might see.
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You will moan and wail and cry.
Wet will drip from your nose.
And the next time I see you, you could be calm.
You might be laughing,
Yet your eyes never seem dry.
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Only remembering patches of a life before,
thoughts so full of holes,
like the ivory doily
on your cluttered night stand,
brought here with your family pictures and more.
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Griffith covers a large swath of life in this short collection. Of birth and death, of politicians and creeps, of love and loss. An observer, his poems bring you into the real world he has lived and loved.
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You can find the book here: https://thebluenib.com/product/bloodline/
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g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems. He can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/
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Uncle by Michael A. Griffith

metal
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Uncle 
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Arms tired, hands
like useless crane shovels
legs strong but stiff as
tree trunks. Your shoulders

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have held others up, as
the cane you’d just as soon leave
at the Elks’ hall after bingo
supports you now.

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Now you sit fiddling with
glasses three years too old,
eyes awash, blinking, reading about a man
who you voted for but wouldn’t now.

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Now a car passes, its music thump-
ing like the metal press at the foundry where
you gave your best years,
your best blood.

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Blood in your hanky, your
coughing, your dreams. You
tell no one. It is your job now to hide
such things, to protect

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your family, your friends, the
few who are still here, who
still might worry, might wonder.
Tired, how tired too soon.

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Too soon to go to bed, Jeopardy
isn’t half-over yet, and your son might
yet call. But you start to doze after the first
lightning round, the first can, the first

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star appears low on the horizon.
Cloudy later on, a drizzle falls,
your son doesn’t call. You wake, neck
sore, chest heavy. Sluggish, down

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the hall you get into bed, then lie
there, staring into the dark, sounds
of the bingo games and metal press
ringing through your head.
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Michael A. Griffith began writing poetry as he recovered from a disability-causing injury. His poems, essays, and articles have appeared in many print and online publications and anthologies. He resides and teaches near Princeton, NJ.
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