Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Synesthesia of Poetry

—Poetry by Joshua C. Frank
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain

Four families sit down in a circle at camp
By pines lit by sky white with stars and a fire
And, one by one, people start singing along
When one of the fathers picks up his guitar.

The children, excited to hear the guitar,
Will always remember that night in the camp
When all of the families were singing along
As one single voice that encircled the fire.

The logs turn to ash; night is fading the fire.
They stop one by one, with detuning guitar
And voices too tired for singing along,
And children get carried to tents in the camp.

The fire put out, all are plodding along
In the camp, with their minds filled with song
and guitar.
(prev. pub. in Snakeskin)

The kitchen door slams open wide;
The boy flies through to play outside.
His house becomes his castle’s walls;
The distant car horns, clarion calls.
A stick becomes a mighty sword;
The bushes, an invading horde.
He charges with his battle cry,
Defending home, sword brandished high.

He fights assailants one by one;
Beneath the houses sinks the sun.
The sky near dark, marauders downed,
And bush leaves all around the ground,
The vanquished men laid by the tree
Go back to being shrubbery.
He drops his stick, runs in the door;
The castle is his house once more.

Play trains him up for when he’s grown,
Defending family of his own.

(prev. pub. in The Society of Classical Poets)


A true story

A toddler into water fell
And sank as quick as rock.
At nine feet deep, she couldn’t yell
Or jump or thrash in shock.

Her mother heard the splash portend
Her daughter’s water grave;
She dove into the pool’s deep end,
Her little girl to save.

She grabbed her daughter, held her tight,
And with a presto prayer
Sprang toward the shimmering sun of white
To give her girl some air.

She held her up while sinking down,
And knew to save her daughter
That she herself might well soon drown
So inched toward shallow water.

Seconds before her lungs gave out,
Her face felt heat and air.
Her feet on ground, she breathed a shout:
“Success!”  An answered prayer!

The whole crowd cheered the mom en masse;
She gained a hero’s glory.
She told the public-speaking class—
I still think of the story.

(prev. pub. in
The Society of Classical Poets)


At six, I had a dictionary
Where I would meet a man named Verb,
Superb and quite extraordinary.
In every definition’s blurb,
Right at the finish, did while doing,
For example: “Verb chewed, chewing.”

In my mind, I saw Verb clearly,
With brown hair, mustache, thin, and tall.
“Verb smiled, smiling” sincerely
And “Verb told, telling” me of all
That “Verb did, doing” through his days
Within a sentence or a phrase.

“Verb ran, running,” “Verb swam, swimming,”
“Verb vaulted, vaulting,” “Verb gave, giving,”
“Verb bought, buying,” “Verb trimmed, trimming,”
“Verb flew, flying,” “Verb lived, living,”
One day I came real close to crying:
The day I read that “Verb died, dying.”

I looked up “verb,” and then I knew,
It’s not a man who lived and died;
It’s just a word that means to do.
Relieved, I put the book aside
And ran outside, where I “played, playing”
The things Verb did that still “stayed, staying.”

(prev. pub. in
The Society of Classical Poets)


In very early years, now far behind,
When I returned to earth at midnight deep
From nightmare scares within my frightened mind,
My mother rocked and sang me back to sleep.

I hid in bed from monster and from man
As blackened shadows seemed to slowly creep,
But once I finally to her bedroom ran,
My mother rocked and sang me back to sleep.

No sounds outside from people, beasts, or cars,
Her voice and arms would soothe me as I’d weep;
I saw her by the light of moon and stars—
My mother rocked and sang me back to sleep.

The happiest of moments in this was
When I collapsed into a sleeping heap,
Contented, safely dreaming, all because
My mother rocked and sang me back to sleep.

(prev. pub. in
The Society of Classical Poets)


Fingered strings upon the cello
Vibrate by the moving bow.
Autumn tones in red and yellow
Echo from the to and fro
Through the eight-shaped box’s hollow,
Out the narrow, curving holes.
Oaken humming sounds must follow
Movements of the bow that rolls.

Violins sing high with tension,
Flutes all tweet like chirping birds,
Horn sounds bubble in suspension,
Clarinets speak notes like words,
Yet my ears prefer the cello
Over winds and higher strings.
None can sound as rich and mellow
As the notes the cello sings!

(prev. pub. in The Society of Classical Poets)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joshua C. Frank

The violin plays shades of blues
The viola moans its tones of oak
The cello hums rich autumn hues
The colors rise in curves like smoke
The piano plucks its bubble notes
Myriad colors float and pop
Each horn, an orange circle floats
The flutes shoot out their dark blue dots
The circles vibrate till they stop
Harmonious colors fill my thoughts

(prev. pub. in
The Lyric)


Kitchen Newcomer Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives in the American Heartland. His poetry has been published in
The Society of Classical Poets, Snakeskin, The Lyric, Sparks of Calliope, Westward Quarterly, New English Review, Atop the Cliffs, Our Day’s Encounter, The Creativity Webzine, Verse Virtual, The Asahi Haikuist Network, and LEAF Journal, and his short fiction has been published in Nanoism and The Creativity Webzine. His website is here: Welcome to the Kitchen, Joshua, and don’t be a stranger!



For more about music and colors, go to


A reminder that
Sacramento Poetry Alliance features
Dan Rounds this afternoon, 4pm;
and Sacramento Poetry Center’s
Second Sat. Reception
the art of Joe Rice, 5pm.
For info about these and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
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