Uncivil War, by Terrence Sykes

jargon moderne
would name me
spectral being
but call myself
a man
a young man
too young
to be a man
to die for a unforgiving
futile unnecessary war
but was not the first
or never be the last
fancied myself a poet
& an orchardist
inherited my father’s land
when he died of tuberculous
then men came to my little Virginia town
pulled all the us  even the boys
onto the main street
you die here as a traitor
or perhaps in battle as a hero
skirmishes & encounters
raged all along these land of
this commonwealth where
watered runs divide into branches
making it nearly impossible
to forge with cannon or artillery
re-enactments on these knolls
the blue and grey in their
mock battles & crips clean uniforms
while we were knee deep in mud
all sides in brown so you knew not
friend neighbor or foe
gentry came from DC to watch us
women with parasols
high on the hills picnicking
men smoking cigars as if we were
chess games upon checker boards
survived the first major battle
only to fall as the second one was in retreat
last rites were by a vulture
who looked skyward to confirm
his next meal had passed before him
over time as rain & floods eroded Bull Run
my bones were covered – but not laid to rest
an occasion newspaper tumbles by
how half a century after perishing
almost two hundred poets artists writes
died in one day at the beginning of a battle
of a world war – one of two read about
across the ocean in another continent
even today upon land where Jesus walked
hatred rages on today in karmic cycles
seems I’m in eternal limbo and can’t move
beyond this haunting battlefield
bound here at the place
and to only watch passages of time
this log – I’ve sat here for years at a time
seasons change but the facts remain the same
can’t change the past
as it repeats itself
over and over again
or the future that lies in wait
rarely even the present can be dealt with
days turn to weeks to years to decades
still the scores remain unsettled
a man with a metal detector
scanning my remains
the chain around my neck
spade drove like a spike
you can damn my body and my soul
but that was the cross my mother
gave to me as I was shuttled to the depot
ire gave me rise and an unknown voice
You take that  and  I will take you
my apparition turned him
into a leaded glass of absinthe
frozen then ran like a buck
over that wooden fence
sometimes on rainy evenings
just as dusk turns into night
in the enveloping darkness
you can still hear the echo
of the whistle of  that  Manassas train
that brought me here to my fate

Resurrection, by Terrence Sykes

in the 1800 block of Houston Street
in grimy Greenwich Village back
in the turbulent limbo of the 60s
that walk up cold water tenement flat
was a dream for a coal miner’s son
fleeing reality of Nam & poverty
printing press operator by day
fedora’d longing  poet by night
searching for whatever could be
took another name & age
premature gray hair brought
no suspicion to that resurrected life

Bassano Moon, by Terrence Sykes

bright as that
votive candle
lit after mass
rises above those
war torn mountains
partaking red wine before
dreaming of crepuscolo

mere shadow of a man
paralyzed & nightmares
battling memories
scarring my soul
flashbacks & delusion

traditional shot of grappa
upon grandmother’s
ancient flowering rose
aiming for the roots
pricked my already maimed finger
bleeding upon sacred soil
blood of an unmartyred saint


I often write about WWI/II  probably because I like the Italian poets between the wars – I always try to make it a persona poem and take myself there.  Bassano was the little city at the foot of Monte Grappa where soldiers from all over Italy stopped before marching into those mountains to perish or be maimed for both wars – but fortified the fragile body with Grappa before ascending into Hell. 

Russian Trilogy – three poems by Terrence Sykes


obsidian clouds
,,,,cloak starless sky

seeking my muse
sitting on my
darkened patio
she’ll probably speak
some obscure dialect
from an isolated
steppe landscaped
russian village


Your name noble city
…translates as mugwort
dried & dispelling moths
from home & garden
where once corn pollen
scattered & danced
into Ukrainian winds
haunting my name
radiated blood of
your ancestors surge
through my veins
in vain clouds
drizzle upon
forsaken earth
but will the mugwort
rise again amongst the ruins


When I die
When they sort
Through my possessions
Through my poems
Tossed into recycle bins
Tossed into Siberian soil
Will my soul
Will itself
To come forth
To round again


Terrence Sykes is a cook, gardener, forager & heirloom vegetable researcher  … Remembrance whether real or imagined is a reoccurring theme is his wordings … his poetry, flash fiction & photographs have appeared in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, India, Mauritius, Scotland, Spain and the USA

Transmigrant Sequence, by Terrence Sykes

hunger awoke me
at the border
but I still remember
when the whole world
lay just outside of
that old wooden
screen door

depths of my soles
show soul’s remnants
of footprints
In foreign soils
hastily walked upon

mapping migratory patterns
of those suffering from
remittent soul syndrome
flight from the past
latitude & longitude
diary of memories
with each step
that was mistaken

silent hauntings
echo & adverb
chancing & changing
tense & reverbs
at a memory’s notice


what consequences arise
when sanctuary is
sequenced amongst
unleavened faith
along the uncertain
fragile shores
of crossing


star  revelations
beneath the vast broken sky
chaotic cosmos


eons ago
a mighty ancient sea
ravaged & raged
saline flats
eels flourished
amongst reeds
eons of erosion
today I stand here
when my body
is bound &
laid below
what future ocean
shall brine my bones

CDC VILLAIN- ELLE by Terrence Sykes

All these self righteous hypocrites still linger
Rolled up like a fetus innocent pretense
Want to give them all the middle finger

Shock and awe as our rights dismember
We all know the master mind is surely Pence
All these self righteous hypocrites still linger

Where is a voodoo woman to conjure
Ignorant politicians so stupid & dense
Want to give them all the middle finger

Grabbing tits & ass with an entitlement finger
Vulnerable vaginas are now regulated forth hence
All these self righteous hypocrites still linger

Agent Orange & his regime we shall always remember
Evidence based & science based words they mince
Want  to give them all the middle finger

Are you gay bi straight or transgender
We are all Americans who’s lives are now tense
All these self righteous hypocrites still linger
Want to give them all the middle finger

I am a Nazi by Terrence Sykes

I am a Nazi
I rise with white power
To surpass those
Different from me
I am a true American
I don’t like like Jews for  sure
My sister married a Yankee one
Live in a big house on Long Island
He has some big corporate job
She goes to temple &  raising them like Jews !
That guy I was friends with in high school
Found out he was gay
He helped me pass many a test
I dropped him like a hot potato
Guess he was trying to make a pass on me!
Didn’t have time to got to community college
Or even take time to try out trade school
Too busy obsessing over how oppressed I am
By the world outside that I don’t want to understand
And all the other white males like me
I sure don’t like Muslims either
They are almost blocking my Friday drive
Going to the 7-11 where they all work
To get my weekend  cigarettes & beer
Trying to get away from all these foreigners
The last straw was when that black family
Moved into the neighborhood last year
Bought the biggest nicest one
How dare they try to to act better than me
I decide then and there we must rise above!
Blaming others for your short comings is the easiest thing to do
If you were really a red bloodied American you’d be a Nazi too

Grappa e Vino / Grappa and Wine by Terrence Sykes

il colore d’acqua
senza colore
non può vederlo
ma molto forte
come Fe
e Dio  – senza finito

il colore del tramonto
sangue rosso colore
di Gesù’
dei mei paesani
come guerre
oh Dio – senza finito

the color of water
without color
unable to see it
but very strong
like faith
and God – without end

the color of the sunset
blood red color
of Jesus
of my countrymen
like war
oh God – without end

Cancion del Abolengo / Song of Lineage by Terrence Sykes

soy mulato
de los colores
rojo blanco azul
de mi nuevo pais
maroon y verde
suelo y rocas
de mi pais natal
campos que atendia
sembrando nuevos suenos
negro y gris
mia alma magullada
rotos por otros porque
soy mulato

I am a mixture
of the colors
red white blue
of my new country
brown green
soil & rock
of my birth country
fields I tended
seeding my dreams
black gray
my bruised soul
broken by others because
I am a mixture

Partridge …..Elegy for WWI by Terrence Sykes

unmarked forgotten
unnamed forest
once merely
hills & vale
foreign fields
mizzle laden
seed buried
bullet blossomed
crimson within

partridge sings
ponderous songs
upon branches
juniper & yew
rabbit & badger
and I beneath
rest at their roots
all about & around
flourish comfrey & rue

This is not a Protest Poem by Terrence Sykes

Whiter than white
Their blood flows
Within my blood veins
In that pipeline
Upon their hands

If we build that great wall
Or the last taco stand
Will you return
Across the great waters
For you know not
What is sacred
Or merely profane

You took & you take
Make no mistake
You still make
Decisions depraved
Ancestral bones & souls
Rattle from graves
& the great beyond

The Last Tea by Terrence Sykes

Watch the door .. dear
you know it always slams
into my little room
I asked them to dress you
in your Sunday best
for our special tea today
yes we can dear.. extra sugar

I’ll make the tea dear
yes that is Tony Bennett on the record
remember when you first moved here
we cut the rug in the rec center every Saturday night
this time forgotten senior hell – I mean hall dear.. extra sugar

Time moves on doesn’t  it
Here dear.. it may be bitter
we swallowed enough bitter pills
husbands who passed scores ago
children who haven’t visited in almost a year
Oh we are not bitter are we dear.. extra sugar

My dear friend – I understand your babble
we have been friends that long
I forget too much these days
you have forgotten it all
you in your wheelchair
me with all these pains & aches that ..
oh dear … extra sugar

Are you comfy or cold dear
I’ll pull up the afghan we made together
I’ll turn over the album &play side two
why not just one more cup
more tea dear… extra sugar

Yes it is a very special type of tea
a very rare blend indeed
but it is for our very last tea
what kind of tea is it …
hemlock tea dear .. extra sugar

Guernica by Terrence Sykes

April 26 1937

( for Stephanie – Beekeeper )

dawn found me
by the fire
bitter coffee
stale bread
alone in my

mother tongue
my mother
was born here
as well as her
mother’s mother
mother mother

symphony of wings
beating of the hive
heart beat – heat
living creatures
morphed  into one
grand orchestration
sacred smoke

prideful of my honey
taste of ancient
ever divine
queen on her
royal  throne
grafting future

thoughts interrupted
stinging noises
winged predators
our lives

our hives aflame
drone moths
drove –  dove
fury & flames
merely workers
absconding swarm

when the enemy
from the gates
of the heavens
vanity & treasures
are forgotten

smoke & fire
burned three days
drove me into the cluster
until the attack ceased
what sins
we simple
people partook


devastation abound
upon my return
wearing a veil of tears
hives empty
house in ruins
enemy on terra firma
casting myself
into the unknown

along the Montseny
wild boar forage
arbutus flower
feral bees
dance drunken delight
in the land of
milk & honey