Rachel Baum

Three Poems – Rachel Baum

Where the River Pauses

a Clare Sonnet

I know a river that curves to the right
toward rising foothills, in lengthening sight
past mountains in their cloudbound ascent,
river meets stones with submerged intent.

Water plumes skyward, an incandescent sight
broken shards flash in blinding light
a mirror held up so the sun can admire
her brilliant beauty in its reflected fire.

It tumbles down a familiar surging path
carving into beaches with every storm’s wrath
combing through grasses, exposing the gaps
roots gnarled and broken, muddy banks collapse.

Watch the river’s rush as it embraces the shore
how it sails out to sea, its final detour.


In Dreams Cars Flew

In her dreams, cars flew off bridges
somersaulted over guard rails
hurtled toward garbage trucks
missed hairpin turns.

Recall middle school physics
that gravity affects momentum
and water will be displaced by
the weight of the Pontiac.

Like a leaf on the surface of a pond
the car is briefly buoyant
it rocks in waves that sing tenor
in a duet with the vehicle’s fizzy sinking alto.

It nestles into the spongy sediment parking lot
the driver’s side window open, as though a teller
would hand over an envelope of twenty dollar bills
from the drive thru of an underwater bank.

Originally published by Palooka Press in 2022


White Dinner Jackets, Black Bow Ties

You stopped playing long ago, without an audience
what is music anyway, notes meant to be shared
are just sound waves careening in a vacuum.

Three rows of musicians, white dinner jackets
black bow ties, a Girl singer and a Band leader
….and His Orchestra a flourish on shining, draped satin.

Those Big Band nights, dinner and dancing lost
to time and evenings in front of the TV, watching
Elvis and The Beatles, you complained of the noise.

You tried to show me how to moisten the reed
on the tongue, like a communion wafer, cradle
the saxophone’s girth, cumbersome as a sleepy toddler.

But you had no patience, chords and cadence
alien to me as Gillespie and Sinatra, so you laid
the alto sax and A-flat clarinet to rest in peeling leather cases.

For a while, your whistle came home after work
yet even that was only a brief spark, the crackle of electrons
and satellite transmissions, dissipating with the wind.

Rachel R. Baum is a Best of the Net nominated poet, and the editor of Funeral and Memorial Service Readings, Poems and Tributes (McFarland, 1999). She is the founder of Moving Mountains Poets and the Saratoga Peace Pod, crafters who create warm items for families in crisis. Her poems have been published in OneArt, Jewish Literary Journal, The Phare, Raven’s Perch, New Verse News, and others. She has two poetry chapbooks: Richard Brautigan’s Concussion (Bottlecap Press, 2023) and How to Rob a Convenience Store (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2024). She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York with her dog Tennyson.