March 28, 2012

J.R. Solonche


“The days never end, but people end, right?”
My daughter asks me this today. Dazed
by her question, my mind goes blank. I stare.
Then I say, “Yes, people end. All people end
when they’re old. It’s called death. Days never
end, though, because days are not people

who have blood and bones and skin and…” “Never
mind,” she says, going back to the people
in her dollhouse, bending their arms, the right
leg, the left leg, to seat each one in a chair.
But this explanation will not be the end
of it. I know there will be other days,

tomorrow, perhaps, when she will take me unaware
with “Why do people end? Will Mommy end?
Will you end? Will I end?” So I’ll have to get it right.
I’ll have to clear my throat, sigh as wise people
sigh before I say, “Emily, you must never
doubt that God made people end to fill the endless days

in Heaven.” Then she’ll ask about Heaven, and right
away I’ll be in trouble because I’ll never
be convinced about a place where people
have wings and play harps, a place without days
and nights, or of just one day without end.
Even if satisfied with that, she’ll want to know where

it is and about God and what gives God the right
to make us do anything he pleases, as though people
were dolls and the world a dollhouse. At my wit’s end,
I’ll probably blurt out something I’ll regret for days,
such as, “God’s like a person, but we really can’t compare
God to a person because God, you know, will never

end as people do.” To which she’ll say, “So the days
are like God then because the days don’t end
either, right dad?” I will smile in despair.
I will smile and nod and hope she never
asks again. I will watch her play with her people,
watch her bend their wooden heads to the left and the right.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006

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February 27, 2009

J.R. Solonche


The lover of stone must be old,
for there is no such thing as a young stone.

The lover of stone must be strong,
for he must be able to climb up the mountain

and the summit of the mountain
to find the beginning of stone.

And he must be able to climb down
the mountain again to the valley

and to the bottom of the valley
to find the ending of stone.

The lover of stone must be a genius at unrequited love.
He must be a connoisseur of the cold.

The lover of stone must be a saint,
for stone will no more return his love

than does God return that of the saint.
The lover of stone must be jealous.

He must be jealous of the water that loves stone to smooth.
And he must be jealous of the wind that loves stone to death.

from Rattle 29, Summer 2008


J.R. Solonche: “I write poetry because I can’t compose music. That’s the short answer. The long answer involves my 12th grade English teacher at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, Mr. Feinberg, who dared me to write a poem, which I did. Well, I guess that’s another short answer.”

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