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Saturday, August 30, 2014

White Boy, Black Love


The rivers care nothing for the color of the mountains,
while the sea kisses the curves of the shore
no matter how adumbral the sand.
My skin against yours is a study in contrasts
yet the flavor of your flesh thrills with voltaic zest.

So many external differences get lost
in the heat of lust’s fire for release;
our tongues sweetly dance in pink abandon.
I don’t give a rat’s ass if you are street,
as long as you don’t mind that I wrestle words.
Thick and juicy is worth more to my mouth
than pale and freckled, your skin is maddening.

My mouth on yours gets lost
and I would have it no other way.
The soft sweet of your lips
drowns me in my loin’s fire.
Your sugar baby nipples come alive
under my pale thumbs, rising to the challenge,
filling your moist with musky heat
and my head with nasty ideas.
Your strong hands push me and pull
directing me to where you feel the most.
You know what you want
and I am enslaved to frenzy,
intent upon devouring your sex.

Together we rise up
while we get down to the dirty.
Your dark berry makes my white Irish shine
as our limbs tangle in torrid heat
igniting sparks whose tiny stars
will never dim, even if they never catch fire.

No shame in entering through the back door
I know your friends would not approve,
and my desire for you outweighs my distaste
for racial politics, my need only knows
that all cats are grey in the dark.

©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014



The problem with boundaries
is that they have two sides.
Cross the line and you are
in here with me,
an invasion of the spirit
which makes us enemies.

Our weapons are ugly
as they all are;
unhealthy tendencies,
learned behaviors,
and knee-jerk reactions,
codes for languages
we were never taught.

But we build our lives
on one side or the other,
right or wrong
love or hate
safe or crazed
true or false,
and I no longer can tell
which side I am on.

Originally Published in "Grief Tattoos" - get the Kindle edition HERE
©2010 Christopher Reilley

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


This is an Occasional Poem, written to commemorate the 375th Anniversary of Dedham, Massachusetts, founded in 1636 under the name Contentment.


On a voyage out to the eastern sea,
the river Charles chances upon a place
where Contentment finds time for watery thanks;
a place that has in Time’s dance come to be
a harbor of neighbor’s love and slower pace,
where past and future meet upon its banks.

Come, walk these streets, these paths of Dedham town –
where history walks hand in hand with tomorrow.
This place where the noisy brood of barnyard
Has given way to commerce’s gold crown,
Where men and women leave behind sorrow
To join in pleasures of work, soft or hard.

Has there ever been a man so alone
who has never once thought or felt or said
“This is my place, my home, my spot on Earth -
where family roots took hold as stars shone,
where street names are found in fields of the dead.
This is where my people knew me since birth.”

History found a place to lay its head,
onto this common hearth and shire so fair,
where blood now flows through our brethren’s true veins;
so three and three fourths centuries are read.
As each child born either heiress or heir
to more wealth than any mere bank contains.

So hear these links to our storied lives past
know Washington slept here as he traveled,
and that the torch of liberty was lit
by those whose hope for the future was vast.
Avery Oak lives on as Council’s gavel
So wisdom and choice are proclaimed with it.

From Boston to the border of Rhode Island,
from Sixteen Thirty Six until today,
from Peanut Butter Valley to Legacy Place;
village sites from Oakdale to the great highlands
will each have something important to say
about our love for this, our time and place.

Lincoln lunched here, spoke to friend and foe alike,
and America’s first canal, Mother Brook
was dug to connect the looping river.
We've had criminals here, and worker’s strikes,
Oldest house of timber frame in the book,
And spirits and spooks to make us shiver.

Moments of our lives have marked history –
Phoenix House rose from ashes of flame,
Ames Tavern gave us the first almanac,
the Sacco and Venzetti mystery
where anarchists shouldered all of the blame,
and progress rode in on a railroad track.

Dedham granite – a warm, rosy-hued stone
has made cathedrals and libraries too.
Pottery made here is cherished world wide,
the rabbit design is all ours alone.
There is nothing we cannot think or do
when we share what we have deep down inside.

What treasures we strive to give and perceive,
what marks upon Time’s book do we inscribe –
how have we left this place better than found?
What we give is equal to what’s received,
and we have grown homes out of scattered tribes,
carving community from mere green ground.

So here we stand, from many, forming one.
Neighbors, merchants, students, all one big clan
whether borne, or become, we are today
one town, under the glow of one bright sun,
from the smallest girl to the oldest man
we celebrate our home’s triumphant day!

©2014 Christopher ReilleyI would love to know what you thought about this piece. Please consider leaving a comment.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Poem I Meant to Write


I regret not writing you down,
you swam through my mind
linking words and thoughts
with gossamer chains
that glistened with meaning,

But the kitchen can was calling my name
using the voice of my wife.
There were skinned knees to be kissed,
equations to be sorted out,
house rules to be followed.

Has the opportunity passed?
Have you flown, like a caged bird
through a conveniently open window?
Are you even now winging toward
another poet, a different writer?

I have the scraps, the fragments,
the word-pieces I had intended
to build you from.
I will try to arrange them so,
in hopes they cast the same shadow.

Like my grandmother's smile
you linger just behind my eye,
waiting for me,
wanting to be released
in just the 'write' form.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

What is Never Coming Back


I miss outrageous hair bands,
the delicious sizzle and pop
of a needle in the groove.

I miss mustard sandwiches for lunch,
tomatoes and salt until fit to burst,
or butter and sugar on slabs of bread.

I miss first kisses, crushes, flirts, and charm,
practice with the glossy lips of Farrah
being barefoot and dirty the usual case.

I miss garter snakes and tall grass,
grasshoppers and crickets,
spiders, frogs and my other playmates.

I miss being able to forgive my dad
for collectors and police at the door,
for divorces, beatings and lies.

I miss TV, tucked behind mother's legs,
wrapped in fuzzy warmth, safe from harm.
I lost my delusions years ago.

I miss summer camp, with archery
and swimming, bunk beds, bug juice.
Another chance to reinvent.

But more than anything else I miss,
I miss the freedom from time limits,
never caring what day or time it might be.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What You Are Not


You are not your count of years
or the freckles on your cheeks.
You are not your jumbled thoughts
or the words you did not speak.

You are not your school homework
or the tests that you have passed,
you are not the first in line,
but you are also not the last.

You are every book you have ever read
and every song you have ever sung.
You are most you when you are working hard
and sticking out your tongue.

You are tangled hair in the morning
and smiles that you try hard to hide,
you are the sweet tinkling bells of laughter
and the last time that you cried.

You are the songs that you sing to yourself
when you know you are all alone,
you are every place you've ever been to
and the one that you call your home.

You are the things that you believe in,
and every person that you love,
you are your precious mementos,
and all the things you're dreaming of.

You are choice and opportunity,
and potential to be great,
you are someone's heart's desire
as well as their perfect mate.

You are made of stars and magic
but it seems that you forgot
when you decided that you were defined
by all the things that you are not.

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014



Take my hand, at least once more,
look at me with your mother’s eyes.
There will be time for one more story
before this year begins its goodbyes.

Rest your head on my father’s heart,
smile at me with all you have got.
These are moments that make me live,
moments that can’t be stolen or bought.

Soon enough you will be full grown,
the loss of youth will take my breath away.
So while I have time, let me hold you close
enough to cherish this and every day.

Flower of my eyes, sleep well and deep,
dream of happiness that is yet to be.
Know deep within your daughter’s heart
that you are everything to me.

©2014 Christopher ReilleyI would love to know what you thought about this piece. Please consider leaving a comment.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Before You Leave Home

Today is the day I take my beautiful daughter off to college. I admit, my feelings about this event are mixed, and not altogether pleasantly.

Being an incredibly intelligent young lady, she skipped a grade when she was very young, and so she goes off fully a year younger than her contemporaries, which worries dad to the point of frazzle.

But she is also a cautious, carefully-minded girl, observant and slow to insert herself, waiting for the opportune moment in most things. Despite the dichotomy of the two households she was raised in, she is a remarkably well-balanced young lady.

I can only hope that she is safe, and happy in her new circumstance.


The day before the last day
is often the hardest.
I walk the rooms
as I have countless times before,
awareness of what is to be
renders each footfall
a loving father's farewell kiss.

This was the spot where life quickened,
there the one where your smile
just reached out and killed me.
Over here is where we often sat
listening to the long
westward tale of the sun.
You live in these walls
as surely as
shadows live in fire.

New lives have come
from the answer
to old prayers,

fare thee well
as you walk your own way.
The promises made
have come full circle.

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Friday, August 15, 2014

On Our Anniversary


At first, we were serious,
with the solemnity
of beginnings -
all must be done right!

Eyes closed,
I memorized the Braille
passages of your body.

The sound of your silence
drowns out the world.
Beneath the weight
of my words,
I crumble.

Then, we were amorous.
Having learned the route
we looked for shortcuts.

Press me like a flower
between the pages
of your arms,
let my tongue learn
the salty taste of you.

Find a ripple
outward from this joy.
Remember this moment
carved into our past?

Now we are grown,
taking the time
to laugh together
as much as we love.

This is what I want.

©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer's Life


And so here we are at the birth of summer,
we see her, bright eyed and sparkling.
And the next thing we know, she is a toddler
in a bright yellow sun suit,
blond hair spilling over her shoulders
blue eyes as spicy as can be.
She looks at you, and you know that she knows
all eyes are upon her,
while finches dart and play in her hair,
she is perfumed in honeysuckle,
her smile lights up the sky.

Soon she is a girl, questioning and bright,
impossibly precious to all,
because we know this cannot last.
Thunder rumbles like a house being moved
as the sky purples, and the air,
once soft, turns electric.
Before our very eyes, she is a teen,
a goddess of rain and renewal,
to wash us clean of waste and ambition.

The air is so thick with summer
I feel the sun has buttered me
like a muffin.

And now she is a woman, potential realized,
become what she was meant to become all along.
She is the moment, the now,
the day that arrives just before tomorrow,
whether it brings storms, or harvests.

And soon, sooner than we would like,
she fades, and robins worry.
The sun reminds herself to set the alarm
for half past spring,
and she sets her mind to rest,
easing herself to sleep,
so that we might prepare, and know,
and wonder, “What did I forget?”

Only the air is still.

©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Tragedy of Comedy

Robin Williams 7/21/1951 - 8/11/2014


To drain away the agony he feels
the comic mugs and riffs
spiraling one joke atop another.
He cackles as you laugh,
opens his robes
and throws another joke at you
so you cannot see
the tracks his tears have made
from his eyes to his heart.

He opens his grin-box
and spills the contents over you,
saving nothing of its contents
for himself.
It has been said that
comedy equals tragedy plus time
but if true, it means
he must live with tragedy
until time converts it,
bearing the weight
beneath his own smile.

He never laughs when he is alone
never cries when he is not,
needing our love of his silliness
to carry him through another day,
his nights carrying him along
a river of his own tears
and blood, and sweat.

Weep for him, if you must,
shed a tear at his exit,
realize what we have lost,
but know that even now
when it will do him no good,
he only wants you to smile,
laugh at his jokes
and love him for who he showed you,
not who he truly was.

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Do Things Differently


Would that I could do things differently -
I would crash and lumber more
being unafraid of hurting myself
and more careful of hurting others.

I would take more things apart
so that I could find new ways
to put them back together,
and if I could not make them work
I would make them do something else entirely.

I will relax a lot more, sleep later, clean less.
I would spend the time that I saved
in better fashion, by watching clouds,
or tickling children, or making love.

I will take more, give less.
Take more trips, more chances,
more risks and I’ll take a lot more time.
I will give less weight to opinion,
give less credence to conjecture,
and give less concern for calories.

No doubt I will make more mistakes,
but I will likely make more friends
and they will enjoy my company,
because I will be barefoot, tipsy,
cheerful and sillier than I am today.

I would scratch what itches, burp when I need to,
and kiss everyone who is willing.
I would do things that scare me
just because I can.

And I would not simply write poems,
I would practice what I preach,
I would do the things I…

…excuse me, I have to go.

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Friday, August 8, 2014

Relativity for Ten Year Olds

Here is a short bit of prose from my upcoming book, "Breathing For Clouds." I hope you enjoy it.


“Daddy, what does E=mc(2) mean?”

“Do you want the long answer or the short answer?”

“Both,” she said with a grin. She knows how to wind me up, that one does, and sometimes I think she asks me these questions just to hear me talk.

“The short answer is this: Energy and Mass are two aspects of the same universal stuff, and that famous equation is the relationship between the two, how much of one equals how much of the other, and viceversa.”

“No way.”

“Total way.” I wound up. “Albert Einstein first put the most famous scientific formula in the world on paper in 1905 as one small part of his general theories of relativity. Einstein had discovered, and was trying to explain, an intimate relationship between mass and energy. Energy is the ability to make something happen, mass is the physical weight of a material object. You with me so far?”

“So mass is the car, and energy is the gas to make it go.” The kid is a genius.

“That’s a great way to put it simply, kiddo. Now, it seems logical that energy is energy, and mass is mass, period. But Einstein discovered that energy and mass are two interchangeable aspects of the same thing, which all of the big-brained science guys running around in lab coats; the finest minds at humanities disposal, and they call it mass-energy for simplicity’s sake.”

For the mathematically unchallenged (I’m pleased to say that she got this part easily) if m stands for an amount of mass, and E stands for the equivalent amount of energy, the equation says you can determine that amount simply by multiplying m by a number represented as c(2). The number c(2) is incomprehensibly large – it is the square of the velocity of light – so you can get an enormous amount of energy from a tiny speck of mass.

“Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light?” At first, she looked pleased, then puzzled. Umm, so….what?”

So what? This is the finest thinking that any human being has ever come up with so far, that’s so what.” I grinned at her, and she grinned right back. “The reason that this is not more in your face and on the news in everyday life (with one huge exception) is that most of the common, daily, energy-producing adventures we experience, such as turning food into energy or burning coal and gasoline are all chemical reactions. In all chemical processes the amount of mass converted to energy is miniscule, I mean tiny, I mean it’s harder to measure it than it is worth.”

At her look I continued. “OK, even if I blow off a stick of dynamite, definitely a chemical reaction, which lets off a lot of energy, enough to blow something up, comes from half a billionth of a gram of matter, twenty trillionths of an ounce of stuff actually converts to make all that BOOM!” Of course, I poked her.

“If you could somehow gather up all the gas and powder and bits of paper that made up the stick of dynamite it would be almost impossible to measure any difference!”

“But that, and almost everything else, is a chemical reaction. Remember the exception I mentioned earlier? That’s nuclear reaction.”

“Bombs and stuff.”

“Well, yeah, but also the fusion reaction that fuels the sun. See, all the mass in the universe exists in atoms, right?” She nodded. “Molecules are made of atoms and elements are made of molecules, and when they are close together it’s a solid, farther apart things are liquid, even farther apart and they are gas, right?” Nod again. "So if all of the matter in existence is in the atom, by converting the mass of the atom directly, you get LOTS more energy, billions of times more. Like in bombs, or the burning of a star.”


“Totally. Now what makes atom bombs the all time champion of matter to energy conversion is the chain reaction. Each atom that rips apart makes two other atoms rip apart and they do it and so on, and so on. So when you get billions of atoms all releasing their energy at once, each one billions of times larger than any chemical reaction, you get a really big BOOM!” She was ready for the poke and parried it easily.

“Not all nuclear reactions are bombs and suns. If you control the conversion rate of the atom to energy flow, you can get steady power, like at a nuclear power plant, so we get electricity for lights, TV, and stuff. That’s what’s in it for you.”

“So Einstein was a big brain.”

“Oh yeah. You know, he had fifteen sets of identical clothes, from the sweaters to the socks, so he never had to worry about what to put on, he just grabbed the next clean set.”

“So Einstein was big geek, like you Dad.”

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dreams of Travel


I take the bundle of maps and roll them tight,
stack them neatly in the shelf where they will rest,
marveling at my trick of sliding the whole world
into a cardboard tube, wondering if oceans spill,
if mountains will tumble like laundry being dried,
continents trickling away as hourglass dust.

I know that when I sleep, they come to me,
unfurl themselves in order to lay against my skin,
whispering the names of exotic places
with the hot breath of sirocco in my ear,
moonbeams glittering possibilities
across their paper wings.

Their fragile magic is eternal, but changing,
place names and political climates mirroring fortunes.
They wrap me in a traveler's blanket,
calling me to come where I've never been -
taste the winds of Moroccan streets
and the lush fruit of unknown isles.

And in the warming light of day
I walk the public gardens and concrete ways
of urban indifference,
my face a shuttered lantern,
my work-booted feet recall the papery shush
of stolen steps across a fragile field.

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Digital Acquaintances


We have yet to meet
but I know you.
You are as oxygen to me,
sustaining my every breath,
not as a lover, but as a gift,
an encompassing echo
of what my soul sees as truth.

I have never heard your voice,
yet your words warm my nights.
The beauty and passion they carve
from emptiness,
light a candle within me,
showing me the way home.

You have challenged me, soothed me
and inspired me, but I would not know you
If I passed you on the street,
your face is a mystery to me.
But I have seen your heart,
and the rhythm of its beat
makes me brave enough
to step out into the light.

I have allowed your keys
to open locks within me,
drunk deeply from the wellspring
you have offered in the desert.
The moment I wrote my first poem
it was all about you.

©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Friday, August 1, 2014

The Precipice of Desire


The merest thought of you
brings me to the edge
of Love's cliff face,
the precipice
of desire.

Here I teeter, and rock,
thrilling with the desire to leap
face first
into the chasm,
to cast doubt to the wind,
to fall into you.

Once, when I was young and brave,
I would have stumbled over the edge
without ever knowing it was there.

Once, when I was in pain,
suffering the torments
of Love despoiled,
I would have spat into the wind
then wondered why my face was wet.

And there was a time, my sweet,
when I would have lied
and told the world that I had leapt -
only to climb free
in victory.

Instead, I find myself
warmed by the updraft,
thrilled by possibilities,
charmed by my own desire,
knowing only
that this is where I remain.

©2011 Christopher Reilley

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