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River Town Chronicles: April Is the coolest month

Start out National Poetry Month with some brief poems

Come April, National Poetry Month, I’m reminded of how T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” begins: “April is the cruelest month.” After reading poems written by juniors in my classes at Marmion Academy, perhaps you, too, will conclude that April is the coolest month.

A sample of their verse follows, the range wide, from satire to accolade, from street fight to sunset, from Parkland to Pinochle.

Never Again

The uneducated so-called man / Caressing the see-through glass of wine / As the devastated blue kid / Cries his raindrops / On the lifeless thing called a life / At a dark funeral. // The unchangeable so-called man / Listening to the sound of rock and roll / As the kid with one less friend / Listens to the silence, / The quietness / Of a voice that can no longer speak. // The unwanted so-called man / Enjoying his fur-covered bed / After a long-day’s work / As the hearts of many / No longer beat to the beat of their drum / And other hearts / Can no longer love them the same way.

– Isaias Ponpa, Aurora


We walk through life with masks on our faces / Hiding who we are from all who see us / Never do we see the truth in their eyes / Never do we hear the love in their words / Never can we feel the sadness in their touch / Until it is already too late.

– Coley Weed, Sugar Grove


Hey sonny / Wanna have a few hands? / A little Ziggy? / A little Ziginette? / I like that "duce" / Those Johnnies are nice / Them "Kowboys" too / 7 and ½, Poker, Rummy, Sweep / Whatever you want to play Chris / Just as long it’s not chess / You know Chris, Pinochle is a good game / Real men play Pinochle / I’ll have to teach you how to bet / Just no chess

– Michael Serra, Aurora


A scarlet wall of / Light pierced over the mountains / Like a distant fire


The white Drill rifle / Spun rapidly through the air / Dancing in the sky

– Christian Henkel, Batavia


My feet are planted on the cold wet pavement, / Speakers roar and voices shout, / The taste of blood is in my mouth, / Sweat is crawling down my hairline, / One more punch connects to my ribs, / My hands are shaking viciously, / My head aches as if four men are squeezing it, / I bring my hand back, / I thrust my fist forward, / It connects as blood spews from above his eye, / He falls to the ground with a loud THUD, / I get patted on the back and slipped a $20 bill, / My head falls into my hands.

– Nathan Masus, Batavia


Dude, I’m so deep / I’ve read Tolstoy’s texts. / Read Plato’s "Republic" – / The Symposium’s next. // I can quote words from Whitman, / Know verse from Thoreau. / You’d be hard-pressed to find / A book I don’t know. // My vocabulary, syntax, / Are all flawless, in fact, / I write verses with virtue, / And tall-tales with tact. // I put knowledge above, / And wisdom below. / Love to say that I think, / When of course I don’t know.

– Ben Saloga, Sugar Grove

Many thanks to these young poets who shared their distinctive and various voices.

Rick Holinger lives in Geneva, teaches English at Marmion Academy and facilitates a writing workshop. His fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals. Contact him at

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