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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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The Cobbled Streets


Ben Franklin’s cobblestones

framed the steel streetcar tracks

acting as amplifiers of scrunching, crunching

steel wheels turning and grinding their way

up and down the busy business streets,

passing alike the mansions and five-story

tenements housing the later arrivals

from Ireland and Italy and middle Europe.

The mansions of the earlier arrivals -

the Bok’s and Widener’s and Wanamaker’s

occupied wider swaths of city streets and ways,

occupied what had been pastures and woodland lots.


These cobblestones formed the underpinning

of streets and ways throughout the old city,

laid two hundred years ago to contain the dun-colored talc,

keeping this milled dust to a bare minimum in dry periods,

keeping the brown latte colored squishy mud to a passable track

during wet times in winter and spring.


As oxen and mules strained to pull wagons piled high

with casks of tea and finished linens and gingham cloth

downloaded from English and Dutch barks and schooners,

these laden wagons plied their way here and there around the city

and well beyond to nearby towns, to small forges and factories,

even after the streets were asphalted and otherwise paved

the cobbles remained; they stayed as underpinnings to remind us

of how the City was framed and formed,

of how granite cobbles defy even the wrinkles of time.

                                                                 -Samuel I. Doctors


Life’s Track: Tripping Stones Along the Way


Anonymous two miles plus a little, end to end,

Open field to closeted manor houses,

The forest path is strewn with tripping stones,

Some are there just as fields of scree,

Some are there large as fists, some closed,

Some fully open, splayed fingers showing,

Some are there just as broken parts of larger stones,

Many between one size, one dimension and another.

Some eccentrics carried and left by ice sheets,

Millennia and millennia and more millennia ago.

Some sit casually atop the track, exposed to sun and moon,

Some buried, only an engaging edge showing,

Some slant one way, some clearly angle another,

Never sure whether these stones lie just

Below, beneath the surface of the track

Or wend their way some larger distance,

A few inches or feet or yards below,

Some sink for a time uncertain, unknown,

Some disappear in rain and rain’s runoff,

Some lie deep, full earthen deep,

Some near to Gaia’s mantle,

Some even further down in the core below,

Some thrust up by random tectonic shifts,

Some flung skyward in molten lava,

Some just dance, cavorting and capering

To a Chopin polka or to a Strauss waltz,

Some dance to a Hungarian song medley,

Part of folk song turned rhapsody by Brahms,

One-handed or two, fortissimo, at times sotto voce,

With each tone, all seem intent on trapping a foot,

Either foot will suffice for this ambuscade,

All see their mission as causing a stumble,

Some to stretch a walker, a runner full out,

Some just a doubling over will do,

Some a sprain to one ankle or the other,

Some a strain to one knee or the other,

Some placed for the unwary, the careless,

Some noticed one day, gone the next,

No calling card, no note of leave taking,

No trembling tear-stained farewell.

Some return unheralded, unbidden,

Some return with injury and curse,

Some botch their life’s mission,

Some leaving only a scratch or two,

Some too short, some too small,

Some so large, some so very tall,

Some just their being there is their all,

Some seem abashed, some may be contrite,

Some seem just sufficient for the mission intended

As tripping stones along our following trace,

Along our every day well-worn woodland path,

Along life’s twists and turns and wrinkles,

Along life’s strange,surprising ways.


                                    -Samuel I. Doctors

Late Fall Tapestry


The early morning montage

knitting together a lingering moon glow,

a slowly setting Selene’s sharpened scimitar,

a fast dimming morning star and

a sun just breaking the far horizon.


Early light shows darkest jade pine needles

amid the crystal covered limbs and boughs,

each crystal reflecting the morning light

as though from a gleaming diamond tiara.

The shuttlecock speeds back and forth

across the lightening sky with yellow ribbons,

across the lightening dun-colored branches,

across the few lingering orange-yellow leaves,

across the deepest ochre and russet foliage

of quaking aspens’ season’s final dancing leaves

weaving each morning a more austere tapestry.


Still earliest morning renews my faith,

renews the forest’s contour and shapes,

brings on the hope and dreams of a new day,

encourages me to throw back the coverlet,

to let the phantasms of night recede.

I lower my feet into lamb’s wool slippers,

I tie the obi around the heavy cotton robe.


Rising slowly to take up the steaming cup,

to turn on the oven warming my morning bun,

to turn the computer to the Times and Guardian,

to read of what happened and what was only imagined,

to read of this war and that uprising here and there,

of this rebellion and that oncoming genocide,

to glide through Sheinwold and Doonesbury,

to ponder Krugman, Stiglitz and Nocera,

to wander through the arts and editorials,

to take up the cudgel of another day,

still there is the weaving of a new forest day,

as I linger for a nonce over my steaming latte.


                                   -Samuel I. Doctors