Monday, September 26, 2011

The Late American Experience

Rain, interminable Gray.
Down the long sides of wall
Stacked on wall, brick on brick, tall
Limits of yesterday
And her construction.
Down long trees, long streets, long
Curses of the workers: song
Now of destruction.

Bring low the buildings, bring
The dust of shattered mortar to the earth;
Give forth an emblematic birth
But fruitless.  Sing
Of ones who faint, fail, fall
Dwelling in doubt, wishing vainly in the place of hope,
Phantasmal wealth of debt, the entire scope
Of their desires and terms of definition. All.

A gamble past, now lost, still losing and a dread
-A wait, while the past,
Devoured by gambles, breathes last.
And now the dread of debt-collector's tread
Out in the hall.
The future also cut off, Truth being undesired
and held at bay- steeped in self, soul required,
Sold! To the Collector in the hall.

Sing! Of yesterday, and not of yesterday,
Now, and of tomorrow.- Not forever-
Thank God, waiting is not forever.
Rain, interminable Gray.

"Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"

For her homecoming, she wore flowers in her hair.
She looked beautiful, they said- her daughters put them there.
We sang her favorite hymn, with joy, in country time;
With fifty rasping voices full of artless fervor chimed
The notes of one piano, thoughtfully singing light.
We sang as one, a blessed and broken body.
                                                                    It was a rainy night.

Autumn Incertitude

The seasons pass.  Autumnally deep tone
Sets in; souls wander, each and all- alone.
Fires in sap and blade blaze out, blood-red
And blood-purple, meeting a sky blue-dead.
Some beetles cross the road, and killdeer shriek
And Time takes up his prey in his cruel, curved beak.
One dares to stare into that ice-cold eye;
One reads its prophecy and calls it "lie."
I seem to see his talon-grasping years
Squeeze closer, tighter, choking me with fears
Of failure, and of fading hopes and light,
Till I gasp in pain to the stone-deaf night.
But I defy him with a thundering heart:
One thing, one, keeps Fate from me apart.

Beings in hell below, in heaven above,
All, all, know this: that once, I was in love.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Come, Wanderer, from the wind-born blast
And tangled myriad of darkened dreams.
Come, Fugitive, from your storm-scarred past.

Come, Mariner, toward the blinding beams
And blessed albatross you thought you slew:
Come and fear not, though resurrection gleams,

Glows, beckons, and threatens to rip through
The paper-thin reality you made
And remade, and must be Made anew.

Come, Lone One, dare you not to be afraid,
Dare, one trial past, the next ordeal
Of fire, or is it yet to be delayed?

Though erring man as men must be, yet Real,
You are not, nor are meant to be alone;
And one is come to help, the Other, heal.

You are gone forth, one ray of thought: are grown
A Man in fields of stars, unknowing and unknown.
Come, Stranger, shine away your shell of stone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Gold Remains
Bare feet on the new spring grass
Mingle with the daffodils;
Laughing voices, fresh and young,
Echo on the sunlit hills.

For they are youth, and they are spring,
These gold things tossing in the breeze:
A merry flash, a sudden glimpse,
That young hands eager reach to seize.

She cranes her head to try to see
More than there is from where she stands:
The scene is hers, and rightly so—
She grew them all with loving hands.

The laundry waits for half an hour;
This fruit is hers to hold:
One second of eternity
To have her fill of gold.

But then the morning fades away;
She turns her face and sighs;
The spring is gone, the children grown,
The flower fades and dies.

For all her love and all her care,
The winter comes again:
And old, old Time she cannot slow,
Nor keep things as they’ve been.

The years pass on, and many springs
See an empty field of grass;
The house is gone: the hearth, the frame,
And shadow footsteps pass.

For they are gone which once had lived,
And naught of them remains;
Forgotten are her mother-joys,
Her mother-cares and pains.

But bare feet on the new spring grass
Mingle with the daffodils;
And laughing voices fill the air
And echo on the ancient hills:

For they are youth, and they are spring,
These gold things tossing on the breeze:
A merry flash of distant hours
That young hands eager reach to seize.
photo by Tony Hisgett, 2009.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Her hair is blond and blowing in the wind
As she plays upon the stones.  When she falls from her perch,
Her laughter rings in hollow valleys.
The stream sparkles and her hair sparkles
Under the yellow sun that is smiling on the earth
As if creation’s dawn is
A coolness comes between her and the sun,
The daylight cut off quickly when she runs
Close to the tall gray structure of her fathers,
Door-hole gaping deep.  It is the temple,
Where the painted priests serve who knows what god,
But he waits to engulf her heart.
Not yet.
She runs back into the singing sunlight.
When to the temple she returns, her hair
Still gleaming (now in torchlight), she is silent,
Another lamb sacrificed uselessly,
To purge the pricks of a miserable conscience.  She lies
In a pool of Life, drawn from herself, that has
No power.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hay Crew

Another summer's season, and yet another hot
Wind drives the rolling fescue, fully grown,
A grassy sea of billows to be mown.
It glistens glassy-green, chest high with sunshine shot.

Men anxiously consult weather, market price, 
And wait.  Dawn comes and brings a sound:
Equipment fells the stalks by millions to the ground-
The combines from their necks the seed-heads slice.
Days pass and jokes are made, as hay is made.  Too-late rain,
Which would not come for months when needed, comes
When its a nuisance-worse.  But still hay-harvest hums.
Raked rows along the hard, smooth curves of earth are lain

Long and drying sunward first.  The balers (round or square,
According need and preference) move. The smell
Of human sweat and hot fresh hay they do not sell.
It is a Jacob's birthright to those who breathe the air.

Along the sticky blacktop, trucks crawl piled high,
With newborn bales and teenage boys atop
Pleased to work their muscles, but glad to stop,
With sunburned faces raised to burnished sky.