My poetry dates from three periods--early poetry from middle and high school, past poetry from college and poetry from the end of college.  It’s been a while since I’ve tried to write anything poetic, but here it is anyway.  All poems are copyright Tofer Carlson.  Any may be reproduced or performed free with written request so I know where it’s happening. 

Due to browser formatting, poems may differ from original intent.  Please email me if you would like to see a poem in it's original arrangement.  

it's always about a Girl

It’s always about a Girl

in fighting dragons—

            terrible, wonderful creatures of

                         maple leaves and pine needles

with just my broom-handle sword and trash can shield.

or swinging between vines

            above the waiting jagged mouths of

                        crocodile logs and stone tigers;

trying, just trying, to reach Her in time.

swinging up high, so high into the air

            leaving the grounded swing-set-mission-control

                        for outer space, beyond our dreams

only to return to hear Her voice

she is always the same, yet always a new face

            each Helen sends me farther from my life

                        and all I do becomes my quest to win Her

yet there is no Trojan horse to batter down these walls

my sails unfurled, I seek my own particular harbor:

            I search ahead, I gaze at the past, but I glance to my side

                        at the emptiness, the perfect copilot lost to never

leaving me a ghost, aimlessly drifting across our seas.

pale forms rise from the graves beneath my feet

while the dead fog creeps through the midnight soil

I step into the earth for a long year’s nap

drawn on once more by Her siren’s call

It’s always about a Girl

and she smiles

And she smiles.

            Quietly.  At first anyway.

It starts silent like that,

but then a sudden beam, and

I can’t help but join.

She’s dangerous like that. 

I’m sure we were talking

            about something, or something else

but it’s her smile I recall.

            It’s just there.

And there it is.


            something else is too

            darker and deeper

a passing cloud

a faraway look

a thoughtdreamwish

            for something else

            the missing thing

But then she smiles,

            and the world is right again;

            back on its course from gone astray.

And she smiles.

The Lost

we start life strong, and strong we live

we fight for peace of mind

we love until our love’s worn out

and quietly we die


but there are those who disappear

whose tears we never see

there are those who cringe in fear

and we ignore their plea


they are the lost among the norm

deprived a joyful song

they live without the love we have

and we stare blindly by


they move away, become unknown

before unblinking eyes

an empty chair, becomes a grave

and we, their lives deny


some lost become what others won’t

and serve the ones they feared

they live the lives we cast for them

and we walk idly by


among the lost, are those more gone

than those who live to serve

the missing lost, are gone for good

and we take off and fly


the lost become the darkened tales

that haunt the ears of youths

forgotten echoes of our friends

and we believe our lies


they live unseen, beneath our feet

the lost, before they leave

they dance alone, while we live on

and quietly we die


I noticed it first—because we locked our doors at night.

We never did that before.

But everything changed.

I guess I saw it happen all around me

                                       in the papers

                                       on the news

I knew it was them.

A couple of kids threw eggs at a house

     broke into a garage

                                 three houses

I know the ones you mean.

From over there?

When did they move in?

                                                I don’t know.

                                                But after they came,

                                                It all started going to hell

It used to be that only the paranoids,

            Who watched television shows like

                        America’s Deadliest Next Door Neighbors

                        (And the Families They Destroyed)

            who locked their doors.  Not us.

My best friend lost his key once.

At school.  He was in fourth grade.

It had a baseball key chain in white and red enamel.

His mom had the house rekeyed.

He was grounded for a week

                                        Three weeks

Keeping him inside

                                 Made it safer

—after all,

                  in a town of friends and neighbors,

                  you never know who might pick up

                  that key

                  and use it to steal

                                            your babies.

I guess, she probably noticed before I did.

The difference—them—that came into town.

They moved in, and everything got that much worse.

I read about it in the papers.


You say it's just a g-a-m-e, when you play me again and again.=

And I believed you, yes I believed y-o-u when you spoke about our game.

(if you want to call it that)

Oh, you villain, you c-u-r!

A t-i-e-m player they said, but what's that? Why you're right!

There is no I in t-e-a-m.

I'll give you your j-e-a-l-o-u-s-y, but why

must you have taken your fifty-four triple word score points--

from my hopeless l-o-v-e and aching h-e-a-r-t with such a cold w-o-r-d

I know it's just a g-a-m-e; I know I shouldn't care,

but I can't help feeling that something

-the blank is a k-

no, I can't help but feel, that something is b-r-o

-double letter-

b-r-o-k-e-n between us.

eight points.


she stares out at me, dark with chained emotions,

dusty with misuse-abuse until each blade

becomes the twirling arm of some great broken beast-

torn from life too soon;

torn from broken dreams;

                       torn from great hopes;

never to feel the electric excitement again.

It wasn’t always like this.

she moved with the wind once,

downing the hot, sultry air

            as if the best of drugs

seizing the hot, damning air

            and keeping it for herself—she could Fly

but no more

               no more flying

            no more dreams

         no more thrill of the summer breeze slashing through the sunset

      no more tears, or laughter-smiles-love,

   no more frolicking with the dust mites in the spring

no more warmth; the dead clawing of winter has taken the life out of the air

no more

It wasn’t always like this.

out the open door

leaning forward, She touches Her hand to Her cheek—She is tired

life looms over Her head, yet She doesn’t see—

She mourns for what She doesn’t know, what She can’t feel, and what She will never see

a cautious twirl of Her hair moves the air within the room

drives me to act, yet the gale sends me cowering back into my chair.

where has Her smile gone? 

the same smile that stirred my heart, stole my mind, tore my soul

is gone

            sacrificed to the eight hour work day

                                                                        to living as a student

                                                                                                            to another man

why can’t it be me?

but I know.  I know what I have done.  What I have brought into being. 

these events are of my own forging.


the sunlight crown moves again, rending me from  Her image

sending me back to earth

                                        back to Her memories

of dancing, laughing, joking, smiling, living, loving

a perfect moment with no one else in the room-

but perfection can’t survive in the reality of a high school dance

where one night turns into another

            another becomes a dream

                        a dream that closes the doors to my heart

for that week—
that single day—           the only hour—

one minute—

a solitary second hidden somewhere

so I could shatter Her dreams

and I did


Her feet draw Her through the open door, but I can’t weep—

            my tears have been closed off for some unfortunate time.

She turns!

                surely for one last look at what broke both of our hearts,

the pitiful creature living in his own desolate dreams—

to come back to me, to love me!

            we could be happy, She would once more smile

                        every moment could last forever in Her arms

Her lips curl up as She hesitantly takes a single solid step towards my waiting heart

then another, faster!

another and another and another—until She is almost within my embrace once more;

my heart Soars

                        as She grabs Her backpack

                                                                  floating once more out the open door

into his arms

Older Poetry

Poetry from my sometimes angsty, sometimes prideful teenage years.

A Call to Arms

The sun has just risen, red as blood

No flower is left hidden in the shade.

Something is wrong, there are no screams;

No blood, no death, no guns to be seen.

The clear blue sky is full of birds,

There is no smog at all.

The serenity of this scene seems strange;

Where is the noise, the fear, the hatred?

Why do I see green, beauty all around?

Others have risen, made family in peace

We have nothing in common but wonder and hope.

I hear music; quiet, pastoral in sound

People are singing, dancing with joy.

We are joined by Animals, both great and small

No longer threatened by the presence of humans-

And we, mankind, are no longer shaken by them.

A crash of thunder alerts me to the sound of rain.

The water from the tarnished tap tastes of copper.

Television brings only news of death.

My peaceful vision?  The time was never; our dream is now.

Sonnet I

Blessed lovers, may you hear but a word

Of all things gone past, never to rescind.

All that must be said might never be heard

But still lies within and tears at my mind.


I cry to those of love unrequited

To those wishing for little more than life

Who knows misery but those slighted,

In such a manner as torn by cruel ice?


Passion ignites those who have yet to love.

Sorrow encumbers those in love of late-

Infatuated with the purest dove,

Whose simple quip is of the darkest hate.


To all those young lovers who've yet to learn,

Close your heart now or forever more yearn!

Sonnet II

   Vainly, the moon tries hiding her pale tears-

   Drawing her cloak to hide a mournful gaze.

   Her love lost to light, mislaid by her fears,

   She grows green to think where he might have strayed.

   Searching through darkness, amid waning hope,

   She lets tears of light fall to pierce the night

   That her love might crawl up the darkened slope

   Return to her arms, held eternally right.

   But waxing jealousy weakens with time

   And as time repeats; as waves upon sand;

   The moon removes her ragged, tangled skein

   And sends her pale love to search through the land.

        But with your pale, silent, gentle caress,

        I dream myself, held safe against your breast.


How can I say this?

         Keeping hope alive

Making a fool of my heart?

It's far too late to stop

         I will go on

How can I thank you?

                  for your Wonder

            for your Speech

         for your Smiles  

Each ignites a thousand sparks within

How can I ever mean what I say

                                                  or is it say what I mean?

I don't even know most of the time

Grace, beauty, kindness- each filling wholefully

         willingly occupying a space in but a tiny part of


                  An unyielding hold on

My Heart, My Mind, My Soul

You alone are unique among travelers

      all spawned of earth, only to return

      An Angel rides above the currents


A captivating song, a thrilling voice

I can't leave it behind,

      even for a single heartbeat

Sometimes so quiet, outside the hatred,

      sometimes so like me, loving all that is                  


Joyful laughter, happy laughter, oh so happy

      but nervous?

In the Arms of an Angel everything fades


Glorious tones pour forth crying towards freedom

      Leaving the mouth of an angel if not the arms

There is something, I don't know

      Mystery, kindness, Wonder?

Will I ever know?  Do I ever need to?

Perhaps not, but these times are here and now

And I am lost in awe, and aww, lost in love.

I don't know what else to say.

It's already so muddled and confused             

                    Making me

understand perfectly how some can only say

                      I love you

                                    In a Song


The bile rises once more

        as they tenderly hold each other. 



vainly at one another.

Can’t they See?

There isn’t any point,

At All.

Not now.

Not Ever.

Her hand reaches slowly behind his shoulder—

        I cringe.

Her cold hand falls lightly to his side—

        I gag.

His gray clawing fingers meet hers—

        I have to leave.

My tray remains as I leave the room;

        Glass tumbling as I slam into the table

Heads turn,

        Eyes gouge

                At whatever I might be hiding



from—but   it’s not for them to know,

               it’s not for them to know,

        Eyes gouge

         but   they can’t see my soul

The floor listens to my footsteps, accelerating

        Even as the glass,

with each sharp   echo

resonates a lighthearted dirge

                intent on mocking me

They can all see,

        can’t they?

        CONTROL myself

They can’t know

They Can’t

They CAN’T

But they still scream at me

                  curse    at me

                  laugh   at me

They Know.


Our eyes meet—

        and she knows too.

She doesn’t laugh at his joke

Her smile?  I’m nothing.  Invisible.

an Untouchable.

The handle reaches for me

        strives to connect

At least something out there wants me

If only to end the craving for the



of long practiced maneuvering

    and suddenly

the room is free of my presence

The door slams silence behind me.

        I shudder.

Slams silence into crisp attention.

        I crawl

Silence that brings! 

I howl.


An angel leaps into the water 

From the safety of the pier. 

Each simple stroke releases rings, 

Halos forged from golden light. 

I think.  Her image fades,

Hidden by silver shadows.

And suddenly, that angel swimming

Becomes human, all the same;

The sun hides in its misty gowns

And our magic leaves the stage.

© Tofer Carlson 2011