Curt Plaskon
Author photo: Terri Price
The poems in Life: Still the Greatest Show on Earth are culled from a life passionately lived. Their wisdom comes from a man who sees clearly the atrocities life visits upon us and still has faith and philosophical resolve enough to call it the greatest show. Curt Plaskon sings praise songs in the face of disaster. Here, love is stronger than its Adversary. Harriette Gill writes, “That Curt Plaskon is a classically trained pianist is evident as he uses rhythm and tempo with passionate energy to describe the world around him. His insightful observations of the human condition are re-woven with wit and wisdom – they are his music in words. The colors, smells, textures and sounds in his poems create paintings in the reader’s mind, and the result is a masterpiece telling of one man’s journey that chronicles his love of life – its successes and disappointments. You will wish to read this collection again and again, each time finding something new in Curt’s greatest show on earth.” And this from Jane Trauger “This collection of poetry takes us on a journey through a life – quite possibly our own. With his pen, Curt paints pictures of a journey that encompasses the unrestrained love of a companion, the wonder of other lands and cultures, quiet musings on the human condition and what it means to simply be in this complex world. At times the author offers answers to questions that we have failed to ask. These are writings that will entertain, gladden, and perhaps enlighten the reader who searches for a unique view of humanity and its relationship to the world. Wonderful is too small a word.” James Ervin Smith adds, “Curt Plaskon is a soulful poet who writes of the life he has lived and is living (‘I’m halfway home with lots ’a road signs yet to pass’); of loves both past and present
Book cover
Cover photo: Terri Price
(‘Do you remember my arms around you with love so great that I would forget to breathe?’); of losses and reunion (‘There is much I must tell you; there is time that must be recovered.’) His thought-provoking observations take a worthy reader down many roads to many places. With the reminder that life is ‘still the greatest show on earth,’ Curt challenges us to think, feel, observe, learn and love.”

Curtiss Plaskon grew up in New Jersey. After serving in the United States Army during the early 1960s, he began a life-long career in the medical field, spanning bed-side critical care, hospital administration, and medical product development and marketing. He lives in the south of France with his artist wife Terri Price and their Bichon, Maisie. Curtiss is the father of five children and has three grandchildren.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-78-8

Copyright © 2015 by Curtiss G. Plaskon

6" x 9" paperback, 92 pages



copyright © 2015 by Curtiss G. Plaskon



They held each other’s hands in
a warm twenty-fingered Gordian knot
and he said,

“I would miss you” and she said,
“and I you” –

to all those who whisper about it – well,

Kicking the fallen golden leaves in St.
Germain de Prés would simply be
a nuisance.

Spotting that blue white dazzler rising on
the evening horizon would become
simply mundane.

Albinoni’s Adagio would only be heard;
there would be no breath-taking passages
that stopped both their hearts. It would
simply play to a wandering ear.

And that second untouched cup of coffee
poured by habit and tossed each morning –
rather a waste don’t you think?

And that is why neither would let go sooner
than the other.


Old Tiles and Cobblestones

The roof tiles are now burnt orange
from the virgin clay and a hundred
years of summer suns. Winter snows
and spring rains have air-brushed north-
facing tiles with a pale green patina.
A missing tile is rare and as obvious
as a lost front tooth in a portrait.

Cobblestone is underfoot on every
street and is worn smooth from
shod hooves throwing sparks
and iron-rimmed carriage wheels.

Sidewalk cobblestones are burnished
by centuries of leather-covered
feet. There are no sharp edges on the
once brawny, square-shouldered granite
blocks placed deep and close for all time.

Beggars and Princes smoothed them
equally with each footfall, as did penny-
stinkers on the way to the Rose or the Globe
and the parasol-covered ladies in
satin shoes en route to the opera.

And I will do my part for as long as I am

Centrifugal Force

I watched a large dog walk out
from the sea after a wave-tossed frolic.

He took a few steps up beach and
as if in slow motion did half-barrel
twists creating a spiral spray
of glassy droplets; a miniature
watery galaxy exploded from his coat.

Would it be possible at day’s end to
spin a few times around and create
sufficient centrifugal force to have
all that I have heard and seen fly
from me like the briny wet off that

It would be better, I think, to be rid
of it all at the end of the day; sleep
would come easier and I would have
the strength to wade back into the
deep once again.

The Lemon Seller

There are worse fates to befall an old
woman than to became a seller of lemons.

She sits under the shade of tall linden trees
near the park behind a table with two baskets,
one filled with bright yellow fragrant lemons
and the other with coins.

She needs no clock; her time is measured
by the fruit that leaves one basket and the
coins that fill the other.

I wonder if her hands will always smell
of lemon oil and if her apartment brimming
with crates of lemons is not a paradise for
a French perfumer.

Does she wonder at night about the fate
of all her lemons: the smile of the children
that drink the tart liquid mixed with sugar
and ice, or the chef who blesses the fish
with a dash of that magic elixir?

Is she the sorcerer of the magnificent tart
du citron in the baker’s windows that halts
our travel as we walk by?

And when her time comes to pass on to
a grander celestial orchard, will the preparer
say we have no need of him, for the magic
fruit of which she was so fond has done his
work for him?

My Conversation with Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If God hadn’t rested on Sunday, He would have had time to finish the world.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Señor Garcia Marquez, now that you are eighty-five and I
seventy-one, it would be my honor to sit
with you in Arcataca at a small table on a dusty street with
a glass of aguardiente.

By our second glass I would slide across the table what you
wrote, and ask you what it is that you wished God had
finished on the seventh day.

Not the intoxicating night perfume of jasmine that filled
your soul with courage as you made your way to the window
of that young beauty with which you were smitten.

Not the white doves scattering at your feet as you crossed
her courtyard.

Could Columbia’s Condor wings have been wider?
Could the emeralds in your mountains be greener?
Could the parrots in your lemon tree be more brightly colored?
Can the aromas drifting from the cocina be more exotic
as the day’s light fades and rustling palms play long shadows
on the earth?

So, as our bottle empties, Señor, what is not finished? Ah! Mankind you say!
Not by the seventh, the tenth, nor the one-hundredth day,
Señor Garcia Marquez. You and I both know that.

“Señora, another bottle, por favor.”

The Empty Bird Cage

There is a beautiful bird cage hanging
from a pole in my courtyard, inherited
and its history unknown.

It is not an ordinary bird cage,
wonderfully crafted with closely
spaced delicate bars and reinforcing
bands yet gently arched like a
gothic church nave. Filled with stained
glass, it would be a masterpiece.

Though undamaged and pristine
it has no bottom. It never had a bottom.

I have wondered often what impulse
caused the craftsman to not finish this piece.
Was the beauty of his work incongruous with
the theft of a singing bird’s freedom?

I would like to think so and wonder about
the human consequences of that compassionate
gesture, that unfinished work.

Would that same impulse have caused the
slaver ship to remain un-keeled, un-masted?

Would the smith have forged his shackles
with weak un-tempered iron?

Would the axes have been kept too dull to
fell the Steppe’s birches for travel
to the frozen Gulags?

Would the rails and ties have been made too weak to
hold the human cargo moving slowly to Treblinka?

Would the finisher have left the blades blunted and
un-honed in Darfur and Somalia?

To the anonymous builder of the unfinished
bird cage: know that it remains as you left it
and know that when the wind blows through
the delicate bars of the empty cage it
sings your song of freedom.

A Coalminer’s Requiem

What a necessary folly this is:
good, honest men diving into
the maw to swing an axe at the
belly of the earth,

only to be spit out at the end
of the day like a used wad of
chew, all carbon-faced and
coughing up black dust.

Not yet diamonds in this seam
but more valuable: try to fire
up a locomotive or a steel mill
with a shovel full of diamonds.

A ton or two of shiny black rock
for a sack of corn meal and a
bucket of lard.

I count the days a coal cart at a time,
hoping to God it’s not my axe that
throws the spark that brings the
women and children to the still
smoldering entrance of the mine.

Life Close Up

I would like to think that I have grabbed
life by the lapels and pulled it tightly up
against me to feel its heartbeat, smell
its breath and see my reflection in its eyes.

I should think that my arms would have
grown tired of this constant intimacy I
have lived so many lives. I took them as
they came, some with luck, many without.

I blew life into a few who like Gibran’s
arrows have fallen in many places and
pinched the flame of some who should
have shined far brighter and longer.

There are many things one can see
and feel when one pulls life up close.
It is not all good, but I embraced it and
I loved it and I hated it because I could
do no other; it belonged to me.

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