Paul Clemente



I sat there helplessly

I sat there helplessly,
Feeling like god on his toilet,
Looking over a map of the union,
While a larger brown spider crawled,
Without hesitation up and into the dirty
laundry bag hanging on the doorknob.

I sorted that laundry later in the day,
Wary, suddenly nimble fingers,
Inspecting, shaking each article,
Arms extended and chin up, over the pile,
Feeling those imagined itching sensations
which often plague a summer's sleep.


Swamp Red Maple

You cannot trust a swamp red maple
to give you sugar and warming wood.
Her sap's too thin to be a staple.
Her brittle boughs misunderstood.

Although her limbs expect decay,
a learned tree knows angry wails
and fights the Fall's fiercest display.
She spurns the reaper and the gales.

October masts fly scarlet jibs.
In the breeze, a hush, a chime,
for branches weak as children's ribs
that fail when on their windswept climb

and do not return to reproduce.
So thoroughly are the prunings shed
that dawn reveals a somber truce
to let the living collect the dead.

You cannot trust a swamp red maple
to supply your sugar and warming wood.
Her sap's too thin to be a staple.
Her brittle boughs misunderstood.


About the Author

Paul Clemente was born and raised on the banks of the Hudson River. He is young enough to have missed Woodstock and old enough to remember the mothballed WW II fleet in Haverstraw Bay. He is a scientist with the NYSDEC. He lives in Esopus with his wife and two sons.

(click here to close this window)