The Tower Journal

Nick Petrone


Sea Level

Our ears yawn to a paranormal din 
	which too soon becomes mundane
Eyes 		register purple swirling lights deep inside the gong 
		deep inside ourselves –
	Amorphous colored satori – you’ve always been there haven’t you?
And down from the mountain 
	tumble millions of potential works of art
	the pinheads of dancing scrambling angels 
	and underpaid demons
These notes and rhythms
	that roll down from the summit
	are merely vibrations and the to and fro of gushing air
	without our ears to arrange and compose 
	the melodies
Reach into my eardrums and play them directly
	tap them gently like bongos 
	or tear them to shreds with distorted furry 
	let me feel the event we call music as it sounds to plants and polished stones

The guitarist’s strings contort the atmosphere
The yogini’s voice box vibrates our Atman
The mountain wind weaves through the leaves of early summer 

These are the crests of waves 
	The misty spray we are allowed to know

Doing Nothing

I could scale the Himalayas
with nothing but the kink in my back
but lying on the floor is just as good

I could watch the world begin and end
explode and  resume
on television
but doing nothing is more remarkable

I could treat my tongue to warm molasses
and my hands to supple flesh
but my inhalations are just as sweet

I could solve all the equations
move beyond physics
make a real effort to know
but the back of my eyelids make me just as wise

I could get down on my knees
and pray for a pile of blessings
but the view from here offers genuine

I could smile about this or that or the other
but this smile I smile 
is only just the joy of the ages –
I breathe in Himalayas and Angry Vengeful Gods
and swirl them into pudding
I beam 
for past and future mountains in my mind
for the winter sunlight on my eyelids
for the scripture on the ceiling

The gospel says
Don’t follow			Don’t lead			Just go.

These strange hieroglyphs	Shout				Remain

Don’t capitulate to movement
Don’t embrace this happiness too hard
Don’t let your ego write a poem you fool. 

Left Field
spins in sapphire 
sixty feet
seventy feet
a million miles
my mitt detached
from my drifting 		body
from my 			obligations
my 				mortality

I step out of time
and know 			Zen.
resides there
for centuries				or seconds
in the azure firmament
of summer myth			
soundless				still 
yet faster than sunlight –

			perhaps microbes ride its rotations
			like night and day
			taking railroad stitches
			to the opposite side of nowhere –

as it begins its inevitable careless descent 
		I call adulthood
and scamper
through the freshly mown scent
of Little League left field.

Unknown Legends

The strikeout the strikeout the strikeout
and finally the crack of a bat the first week of June
that no one heard but me
the season he almost quit 
but scored two runs 
and even legged one out
in the championship game 
in the AAA division
of a little league on the outskirts
of a dying city
in a microscopic corner 
of the eternal social media feed –
he wears the jersey
from that legendary season
every chance he gets
and would expect you to know about his feats
if you met him on the street this summer

Lakes and large ponds after 
long days of driving
in which we leaned back to where the water and clouds become one
are just ordinary pics on the old Facebook feed
to the rest of the mammals on planet earth

The fire that took all night to build
and the one that blazed all day 
which we carefully fed
and then fed from 
and practically worshiped 
what with its power to transform hotdogs into memories
and smores into wisdom

Playing keep away with a pine cone
in waist deep water like
The World Series was at stake
we were just the millionth visitor
to that state park in the mountains

The high peaks we conquered 
and the ones that made us cry –
the poop a little boy left out in the leaves
that didn’t make my twitter feed

The day we discovered 
that hitting a tree trunk with pebbles 
is not available for PlayStation

The afternoon we were attacked
by 200 hornets
but eventually wore those stings
like badges

The night in Indiana 
when the rain came through the tent so hard 
we had to sleep in the car 
and drive 10 hours home as soon as it was light

The goos and gaas of each child 
who has worn the title of baby
will probably not make the Sunday paper

The lullabies unavailable on iTunes
The dinning room dances you won’t find on You Tube
and the emergency room visits you might

The whole laundry list we never read anymore
the budding imaginations we ignore as background noise
are nothing short of lore
to those who matter.

Not My Place

At the end 
of a dead end road
there is another road, unmaintained except by wildflowers
and abandoned snow tires 
an unrepentant work of art
an eroding canvas.

We used to celebrate adolescence at the abandoned quarry 
at the summit of this crumbing message board –
	the graffiti cocks and badly drawn balls have been washed 
	the girls you could call for a goodtime are now far too busy
	dropping their kids at soccer 
	all the narcs have been exonerated by twenty northeast winters 
	when we all thought their shame would be eternal
	Nirvana has been replaced 
	by names that I don’t know
	nor the couples inside the hearts
	freshly painted.

The sun still shines though,
the clouds still crisp, perfectly outlined wisps
that I’m sure have passed over these ruins before
and will again.

The trail to where it becomes wooded
tricks me into thinking that this is the same place 
I explored at 17
with a head full of ideas
from the sunshine on my tongue,
as if the trees and thorny bushes 
have not been busy narrowing the trail
as if there’ll be girls for us tonight in that uncomfortable place behind the boulder
at the cost of a beer or two.

The rusted out car has turned to ash
while the ashes from that bomb we barely finished 
must have incited the weeds
making war on the loose gravel 
under my feet. And I’ll never know for sure
who walked off with my lighter.

Let the past be gone –
I am light years away from pornography, paperwork
and other unwholesome breezes here
the wild, wind nudged grasses adorning the landfill
still loom pretty
an idyllic picnic spot
behind a  barbed wire fence –
makes me wonder if the legend of Birdman
still circulates in the halls of the local high school
or perhaps he goes by a different name these days.

Pretty sure this puddle
has been here since ‘93
although I know it has dried and been reborn
a thousand times
or more.

Now I hike back 
the way I came
because I cannot stay 
I have deadlines to dread
and children to feed
back down the asphalt hill 
that used to be a road
seeing the spray paint of young egos
already beginning to fade
and the lovers inside the hearts for ever ever ever.

Two kids are coming up the hill
as I am coming down –
I reflexively conclude 
that the unusual landscape they’re entering
cannot mean as much to them
as it does to me
but then again
it’s not my place to say. 

Copyright © 2014 Nick Petrone

Nicholas PetroneNicholas Petrone's poems can be found in many places, including The View From Here, Willows Wept Review, The Ranfurly Review, Poetry Superhighway, Word Salad, # Elements Review, Everyday Poets, Weird Cookies, Straight Forward Poetry and in overflowing boxes in his attic. You can also read his poems at He teaches American history in Syracuse, NY.

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014