Three Poems by Janet Krauss

It is What It Seems

After the painting SLAB CITY II by Alex Katz


It is not what it is—

a small, simple house

without foundation

inviting the floods

of Katrina with corpses

joining the overflow

of muddy waters,

and those alive

with no place to go

staying dry

on their rooftops,

waving white rags,

mute signals

of desperation.


It is what it seems—

a small, white house,

its dark windows

storing coolness,

the sweep of summer green trees

fanning the roof with shade,

inviting one to open

the yellow door,

and breathe in

whatever the wind brings–

the scent of unfettered sea

but not far behind

the foghorn’s lament of warning.


JosefTecumsehStitts_Heceta Head No. 2
Heceta Head No. 2, by Josef Tecumseh Stitts


Simon and Oliver

I meet them in the grocery store,

in their carriage, one behind the other.

Their names are whispers of tenderness.

At seven months their blue eyes are lit

by a light not even imagined

within the sphere of the Empyrean.

With their bobbing heads and instant smiles

they float in the immaculate newness

of life. They float above what

the laureled poet called the threshing floor,

what we who tower above them

fail or struggle to avoid.


JosefTecumsehStitts_Heceta Head No. 1
Heceta Head No. 1, by Josef Tecumseh Stitts


Train Ride

On nearing 80


Bert by my side, sunlight shares

the pages of my book wherein

I savor pathos and gasp

at tragedy as water glances

by my window in a chorus

of waves and I catch

a glimpse of a couple

briskly walking on an inlet beach.

I drift along away from where

what to do with the rest of my life

sits among books and lesson plans

lost amidst the shelves of the past.

I drift away from all this to

the hand that helps me climb

down the suspended stairs

of the train, the hand

I do not know until I look up.

“Hi Mom,” he says,

and the steep interval

of space all around me

that hungers for my fears

closes up and disappears—

for the time being.


Janet Krauss, a widely published poet, has two books published, Borrowed Scenery(Yuganta Press), and Through the Trees of Autumn(Spartina Press), 2005 and 2007, respectively. She was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She teaches writing and literature at Fairfield University where she received the Adjunct Award of the Year in 2006. She also enjoys teaching creative writing in the Bridgeport, CT schools.