walked through once – cross-out poem

walked through once

I know how
to build doors

there’s a difference
between entrances
and exits

to risk the sun

the damage of life
wants me vulnerable
cleaved to the spine

pulling back
to the end

the body read

a door of risk

This is my response to dVerse Poetics: About Portals, from Anmol at dVerse Poets Pub. My cross-out poem is derived from one shared by Anmol, What’s Left Behind After a Hawk Has Seized a Smaller Bird Midair, by Justin Miller Reed.

Image source: morguefile.com


A Giraffe Lullaby & Isolation

The prompt for Poetics: Kafka for Kids, from Amaya at dVerse, is to use one of the provided quotes by Franz Kafka as the basis for a children’s nursery rhyme. In using the line “I do not see the world at all; I invent it,” I am taking a slight departure from the nursery rhyme route to show you something I wrote several years ago.

While my children were in middle school, Craig Frazier was their music instructor. He also was a volunteer docent at the Buffalo Zoo, and he produced a CD of animal-themed music as a fundraiser for the zoo. One of the tracks is titled “A Giraffe Lullaby,” and I wrote lyrics to accompany it.

Griffis Sculpture Park, East Otto, New York

A Giraffe Lullaby

Come lay your head on my shoulder
and I will tell you
all the things you can look forward to

Now close your eyes
and dream dreams of what you want to be

The ones that you love will be there
to walk beside you
in your dreams as you slumber tonight

All of the leaves in the trees
will hang low for you


Come lay your head on my shoulder
and I will tell you
all the things you can look forward to

All of the leaves in the trees
will hang low for you
and be as many as stars in the night

The stars in the night

A few years back, I asked my daughter and her friends to sing “A Giraffe Lullaby,”
so that I could record their vocals with the music.


And now for something in a totally different direction.
At the end of the prompt, Amaya included a Kafka quote with which she could well relate.
Well, so can I, at times. So, I’ve used that quote to create a cross-out poem.


No memory,
nor experience.
I have nothing,
know less.
What I do know is beyond
me, my thoughts a wall.
The essence, incoherent.
Thinking, scarcely.

Ken Gierke

Castle of Illusion ~ blackout poem

Castle of Illusion

Land and sites engaged the illusion,
made perfect the wholeness, hiding
hollowness. Empty windows watched,
the Ego isolated within, disturbed.
Cairn of ancestors, bitter wind,
vacant feel part of its landscape,
our own psyche apart from it.

This blackout poem is based on a post, Hunting the Unicorn: Shells and Fruits,
written by Sue Vincent and posted at The Silent Eye.  I encourage you to read it.
The image is an edited/layered version of  two of Sue’s photos.
~~ Thank you to Sue for her inspiration and for graciously accepting my offering. ~~

Inspiration de Chagall – cross-out poem

a model sobbed in Russian
studios rang with guitars,
Jewish discussions

I was alone in my studio
crammed with pictures,
canvases not canvases

three o’clock
blue dawn is breaking

a little way off,
cows bellowed,
and I painted them
all night long


Inspiration de Chagall
Elusive Trope has inspired me to try my hand at blackout/cross-out poetry, a form at which he excels. Following his poem When Dusk Appears, in response to Jane Dougherty’s Weekly Poetry Challenge #39: Sleep walking and inspired by the Marc Chagall painting Le Somnambule, Doug cites a quote about Chagall’s time in a communal studio setting – from Marc Chagall. The Russian Years 1906-1922 (exhibition catalogue), Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 1991 – which I first re-formatted into verses, before revising once again, this time with cross-out.
That original quote:

“While an offended model sobbed in the Russian ateliers, the Italian studios rang with songs and the sound of guitars, the Jewish ones with discussions, I was alone in my studio in front of my oil lamp. A studio crammed with pictures, with canvases that were not really canvases, but my tablecloths, sheets, and nightshirts torn into pieces. Two or three o’clock in the morning. The sky is blue. Dawn is breaking. Down there, a little way off, they slaughtered cattle, cows bellowed, and I painted them. I used to sit up like that all night long”

Thank you, Doug.

Ken G.