Shawn Nacona Stroud lives just outside of Columbus, Ohio with his two dogs. He fills his time working a full-time job while hard at work on his second Master’s Degree. His poetry draws on both observation and life experiences. His poems have appeared in various magazines and online journals including: Chronogram, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Eunoia Review, and Melancholy Hyperbole.
How can you love me if you all want
something different? I’ve tried
so hard to please you, each spring
dressing in the finest lace of my blooms
until your fields are gowned in white. Radiating
the sweetest perfume nature can produce.
Even still, occasionally, you’ll trample
right through me as I sway mindlessly
in the warm June breeze.
I am not the regal rose of the garden
or the varied colored tulip everyone stops
to adore. Nor that pink whore azalea
one can buy at any store. Yet,
I’ll not implore you to notice
my various natural beauties, to stop
your abuses and indifference toward me.
Each spring pollinating, I hold power over you, and I
relish when bees attentively tickle
all of my lovely petals.
Café Du Monde
Powdered sugar dusts our table
like strewn blow, I feel
a buzz tingle through me, numbing--
the Quarter becomes resonant. The traffic,
a line of light along Decatur Street
whose rattles and prattles dull
voices and laughter echoing across Jackson Square,
quivers in gaslight shadows. The people here
are all one face to me, drawn like insects to the light
of a distant jazz from the Rue Bourbon.
How happily they sacrifice themselves to the darkness
surrounding the Vieux Carré. Behind,
a barge bellows its inevitable departure--
everyone here yearns for somewhere
beyond this moment with me.
When I die, wings of fire drape the sky.
North to south is ablaze, and the sun a bullet hole
bleeding out once again, becoming
the emptied wound of the moon, now
corpse-colored upon my cinders. The filmed over
eye of the dead of night. It's alright
that this descending darkness is death. I’ve grown
accustomed to the emptiness of midnights.
I must become like the owl which stalks
mice to sustain this afterlife, I must
gulp each soft morsel whole
to endure long enough to feel
heat rekindle within, those sweet agonies
as I burst from the ashes at dawn!
I knew you were brittle, fragile-
marked box, dropped and damaged, still
when I opened you like a tucked cardboard-
lid, your potential had the gleam of porcelain,
the beauty of a dashed china soul.
For years I labored puzzling
your fragments and slivers together, glue
pearly as semen on my fingers. I thought
eventually something new would grow from you,
stunning as a Grecian vase on a cheap mantle, and yet
the lines of my efforts wore, fissuring you entirely.
I’ve never reassembled you again.
All afternoon I’ve watched the day slide
eastward, its greys pawning themselves
to the churning green wall of Ohio's horizon. It withdraws
until its stooped in its obligations; a bankrupt sky
glares down. The clouds are such riches now.
A priceless commodity--
precious as gold and stark as silver.
They dwindle and darken
in the distance. The stars
glint with their meager lights,
as unimpressive as loose change
scattered across an emptying purse of night--
a destitute darkness devours us.