From and about On Paper Wings

"Writing sonnets, villanelles, and ballad measures, as well as occasional free verse, Kentop produces a poetry that is accessible, humorous, and imbued with the perspective of his sixty-some years. At the very least, his verses offer a chuckle of recognition; at best, they speak in images too rich in connotation to lend themselves to paraphrase." — Belle Randall

"Donald Kentop writes with an assurance that invites the reader into his poems without obscuring his nuanced themes…. This is an accomplished and memorable collection." —Richard Wakefield


In fall, earth declines her northern shoulder
From the sun, exhaling summer, then
Stalls before drawing in a colder
Breath, a warning to the winter wren
That songs are better sung much farther south
This time of year. They will not flock in showy
Masses at some muddy river's mouth
Or settle down like blossoms in snowy
Clouds, cackling on the browning plains.
The wrens will travel singly down the sun,
Abandoning their nooks, then go to pains
To find them all again. A one-by-one
Migration, invisible except to those
Who also take the pain and time to rise
And wait and watch; to suffer common crows,
To trace their several songs and search the skies
And trees, to pierce the dappled morning dew
To catch the flicker of an upcocked tail.
All this not to merely count a few
Brown birds or walk along a bracing trail,
But to hold in sight, just for a time,
Complete perfection there and so to fuse
The sacred and profane and raise the paradigm
Of life, ascending to the higher views
That flight provides; to see them as a prayer
Alive, created to fulfill their fate-
Adoring God. They die without despair,
Feel pain without self-pity, quarrel without hate.
This is why the early watch was kept,
Why seekers rose at dawn, while others slept,
And scanned the sky for wrens and marveled why
Their gift to ground exceeds their gift to fly.


My father's blue-eyed parallax of view
would slip its axis when he had a few.
The binocular precision of his eyes
unlinked and disconnected. Unsynchronized,
his line of sight would aim but only graze
my cheek and shoulder. Though he tried, his gaze
would pass through me like I was made of glass
to search for something shining in the grass
beyond, and I'd believe but not know why
that somehow I had slipped and gone awry.


Fires wrapped in tissue, luminous
survivors of the antique garden,
still dispense forgetfulness
from high apothecary shelves.

We once bowed low to nod
beneath their acrid-sweet indulgent grace
and kneeled in reddened fields of awe
so numbed we could not hear the pods
whose milky distillation sang to us who challenged
heaven, who dared to fly on paper wings.

Copyright © 2004 by Donald Kentop

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