Tuesday, November 21

Chapter 49:

In Which We Read The Final Drafts of Poems Submitted By Josh For A Grade In His Poetry Class

Lady Whose Form is Beauty

In dawn’s lilting graces she stands
drinking in warmth and life
hands raised into sky in reverent awe
gentle breezes sway this nature’s child

through air and all of nature
she sings – her voice is mild yet to be admired
come heat or draught by strength of root she stands
when floods flow deep she gains vitality

for her food is not brought forth with fervent energy
but charms bring nourishment to where she stands
vast tracts of space above sing her nature
yet softly whispering she brings the world to awe

keeping safe her children through winter garners admiration
not in heavens yet on earth all nature
offer their comfort through frozen wellsprings yet her
xanthic robes blanket them from cold where ere they stand

meditating on her ease of days
just as her wrapped body begins to lose its power
quiet reigns across frozen expanse of sky
revealing her tenderness throughout all winter’s dome

until she is rekindled of life in standing graces this
zenith under gentle skies leaves all nature in awe

West Nickel Mines

Monday, outside Paradise
Shots were heard from the small
One-room Amish schoolhouse
As the gunman took three lives
Wounding many, then turning the gun on himself
Roberts had no previous criminal record

I received word just like anyone else
Helicopter shots of the green pastures
Surrounding this traumatic bloodbath
Where ten were shot by one
Whose sense of revenge
Prompted him to slaughter the innocent

I saw the horse-drawn buggies sitting
Empty near the school afterwards
As grieving parents for the last time
Held their little girls in their arms
Two of the injured died that day
In the emergency room – They were lucky

There is nothing to be done for the injured
But patch them up and send them home
Where their scars will never heal
Seeing three of their friends bound and shot
Executed for no reason they could fathom
As the boys all walked away untouched

I change the channel to see more newscasts
Relating two other shootings that week
Colorado and Las Vegas
In the same way committed
By two other men who ended it all in blood of others
So I change the channel again to watch the Simpsons


Thrumming of the snow
Ice falls striking hardened ground
Breath freezes on lips
Outward world remains asleep
While under snow new growth begins

Sleet and hail forbear
The death of seeds has begun
To show forth new life
White and green begin to war
To keep the ice or melt him

With great bravado
Wind, rain, growth: the elements
Seeds resurrected
Grass and ground combine in mud
Roaring grandeur fades to calm

Gentlest time of hope
In stiff breeze, cool air, clear sky
Hoist our kites skyward

Ever lusty month
Devoid of happy festives
Closes growing hope
Replacing seed with blossom
Hope secured – Spring’s fulfillment

Growth has been sealed
Creation begins her march
Towards heated decay
Clouds carrying no water
The sky becomes a desert

Heat begins to climb
The mountain snows are melted
Leaving us bone dry

The earth cracks beneath
Craving the former deep rains
No clouds pass over
Withering leaves cling to branches
Drinking dry the marrow life

Until rain strikes once
The soil – a sponge – drinks, thirsts,
Soon is satisfied

Fallen leaves surround
Colors: orange, yellow, brown
Cover the green lawns
Football play-offs, apple pie
Pumpkin, mask, and sugar-coats

Jackets and mittens
Hearths begin to blaze anew
In the cold clear night
The moon flits across the sky
Winter has set in early

Begin again life –
But not now. Go deep under
Come blanket yourself
In soft, cold brightness of night
To the quiet pulse of snow

Ode to the Post Office Square Garden, Hayfork, CA

Garden Club of sixty-five ded’cated
Said it were for Civic Beauty
Right next on to the Postal Office
It were right nice for a spell
They kept her up for neigh on to
Well for a space

But you can not never tell now
‘Cept for the signs ‘bout
Winnin’ that a-ward in sixty-seven –
Town just lost the drive to maintain
When the mill close up

It got two oaks – one to a end –
And a big fir we decorate
Come Christmas – we light her up
She look nice then for a while
Got four Choke-Cherry though
Come fall they mess yer car some

They all put up this here clock
In honor a’ that doctor
And what he done for this town
But it stopped for last three year
Afore we noticed it

More weeds than flower grows now
And them good plants is moldin’
Used to be we kept lawns squared
But we let it go too and now it just weeds
Over yonder tree done grows good
Been might near a hundred year old

‘Cause her roots go deep an strong
While whole town decays
Before our very eyes
Grows old drops limbs – keels over
The weeds grow deep whilst all the flowers die

On Writing

Night finds my head upon the table
Passing hands through tortured hair
waiting for inspiration to arrive
sweating - sighing impatiently

I see the tortoise slowly pad her way
Tilting her wrinkled, aged beak
Into the waters of a clean night pool
From where she lays upon the grassy bank

The ripples from her mouth cross the way
Disturbing the moonlight shining in the dark surface
Riding the small waves just beyond the reflection
Of a large oak tree’s shadowy foliage

The oak stretches a limb down, down,
Softly, tenderly caressing each ripple as it passes
Creating a symphony of reflection:
Light and darkness dance upon the water

The moonlight flitting across the waves
Blending with the water lilies – each white crown
Waiting for the morning as they rock and watch
Water sprites play in quickly fading motion

Each ripple subsides, leaving behind a still mirror
Calming the reflected moon and oak
As on the grassy banks of night
The tortoise watches her own reflection

I take up pen and paper once again
bringing bits and scraps of self along
sufficed by what the tortoise left behind
life – distilled upon a page

For Dr. V. F.

Immortality was his tortured prize:
self only to gratify, honor from all.
The very means of his great fame
would bring infamy to his family name

Throwing all his mind and energy and pride
into infusing life in one long since dead –
to become a god was his success:

yet victories brought him no rest
as his creation he sought to destroy
as into night both man and monster fled:

the one to friends and love quick homeward flies
his creature to no more recall;
the other, dumb and blind on his own
to learn great truths, in hiding was his home.

Humanity could not long endure the sight
of one who looks the embodiment of resurrection –
a monster hideous to behold
who was innocent, his large heart pure as gold

and so pursued his maker, love to know,
from the very one who made him, or if that denied,
a helper, like himself, whom he could love

but Victor’s heart was pitiless and cold
for while he denied love one he had created
loved a woman, took her as his bride.

Yet ere the consummation of that night
the creature entered without their detection
he showed no pity, and Victor the price would pay:
his new bride lay cold beneath the clay.

V.F. lay all blame upon the beast, in wrath
bent to destruction of the other swiftly stepped –
that life the doctor newly had bestown –
who like himself wished not to be alone

yet Victor could not see that upon him lay all the blame
in vain he sought this lonely creature’s life
across the globe, until in Arctic snow

his life was rescued – to them he told his woe:
of how this creature deserved only death
as himself lay dying in his anger

Blinded, his pride stayed until at last
in pity over his breathless maker wept
the creature – to love he only sought to cleave
in solitude this world he too would leave.

With tortured steps the silent monster left
a corpse of man who had died as he lived:
the world would long remember this doctor’s name
yet celebrate it only in the monster’s fame.


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