The able word-smithy Ought to be pithy And must write well For his clientele. He should have felt sadness, And had spells of madness, Yet still kept some humor For his consumer— Because nothing beats levity Except, of course, brevity.
To be convinced of the strength of far-off powers— Of deities and entities and potencies Is to stick and wallow for wasted hours. Better to trust one’s own competency, Or to steady winds and blooming flowers.
Orange pumpkins and golden grains ripen Beneath a horde of black ravens who circle fields Where a straw scarecrow stands with his pipe in To frighten the birds from their meals.
The sky is not yet blue; it is rosy this dawn. A tendril of mist twines around the fruitful hollow: It is a delicate white wreath, soon gone, That laces the amber-leafed larches and purling river below.
The air is thin and clear– A person could see here for miles, And sound carries to a listening ear: The rasp of ravens, the sacred, silent whiles.
Day comes; the mist creeps into low, dank holes, Then vanishes as the sun paints the rose sky blue, Leaving the moon in the east like a glowing coal And coloring night’s purples with daylight’s vivid hues.
Flying like a rushing cataract over the still hills, The ravens light in a dead and leafless oak, To preen their glossy feathers with their matte bills And caw and croak and cackle and laugh as if at a marvelous joke.
Past the plums and bushes of blueberries Then through the hollow’s fog, thick and heavy, At dawn when the whippoorwill’s song carries, I drive the rutted road in my old red Chevy.
I have not slept the night, for I was out upon the trail Driving cattle on my horse along the dark terrain, The hours marked by distant whistlings of the locomotive on the rail, The deepest night made cold and bitter by unrelenting rain.
The heater’s blowing ghostly hot air on my hands, And the truck is bumping slowly along the road to home. I take a tired look at the good lands That wear my heart raw to work and roam.
On oak branches hang frosted leaves– Brittle, icy, and walnut brown– Among stones, wolves, owls, swans, and geese, Where flakes of snow fall thickly down. Fragrant pines and gnarled cedars stand In a gorge by the frozen stream Where fog lies in a milky band, And the sun makes the clear ice gleam.
Through this cold, all solitary, Walks a man most melancholy. All he owns is all he carries: His bread, water, hopes, and follies. He recalls a girl from his past. He dreads the long, poor road ahead For darkness here is most unkind. He has no place to lay his head.
He treks across the snowy plains Past the scrub oak, the pines, and streams, His mind is hard, his body pained. His clothing is worn at the seams. The moon rises, new and dark. Stars are woven like fishing nets. The land lies daunting, grim, and stark.
The Sensitive Poet There once was a sensitive poet Who had love but dared not show it. So she wrote her emotions into pages Then locked her poems up for ages. What good is love if you don’t bestow it?
The Indefinable World There once was an indefinable world Of green mountains and mists that furled It was populated by people both wicked and kind By folk who could see, and folk who were blind And from far off, it was a pale blue dot like a pearl.
The Singer of Songs There once was a singer of songs Who sang of this world’s wrongs He sang of misfits and outcasts Of lightless futures and broken pasts. He gave outsiders a place to belong.
Mike, an ordinary guy, gets turned into a tree one day. He walks down to the river, and he finds a place upon a hill in a forest clearing to live. He discovers that there are others like him in the glen of dancing trees.
While Mike was standing on the corner He became a tree. Why that was or how that was No one could clearly see. Mike became a big tall oak With branches wide and strong He had a crop of fluttering leaves For the wind to blow along
Now Mike was not your normal oak That stays planted in the ground No, Mike was of the special sort That goes walking ’round the town He took his steps with big deep roots That pulled up pavement as he walked He stopped the delivery man in his stride And village gossips as they talked.
Mike reached down with his big brown bough And scratched the knot upon his chest From it scampered a small brown squirrel That had made the hole its nest Then Mike walked to the river’s edge Where a young girl read a book And he leaned out over her shoulder So that he might have a look
She was reading a classic tale Of true blissful romance In which heroes fought with words and blades And lovers got to dance And so absorbed was the young girl In the words on every page That she noticed not the walking tree As it passed on towards the glade.
Mike soon reached the forest’s edge And he entered with a smile For this place seemed the home for him And he walked on for a mile Until he came to a sunny dell Upon a grassy hill And because it was the spot for him He grew quiet and grew still.
Now Mike lives on the hill Much like an ordinary tree But on some nights he takes a walk Past idle oaks and hickories He goes strolling through the moonlight, Where he’s brushed by season’s breeze, And joins his friends who are just like him In the glen of dancing trees.
Near an old stone cottage lies an old stone bridge In a grass-covered valley beyond a green ridge. The bridge spans a river that purls as it flows, One that makes a fine mist that catches rainbows.
It is a place as tender and as soft as a pheasant With soft, gentle breezes and pink flowers present, Where mothers and children can swim and can read And take the sweet rest that they both need.
But years before in the bridge’s mortar was mud, Made from mixing dirt and man’s blood, And the air, now pacific, was then filled with shrill screams From a man cruelly murdered at this crossing.
It was in the 1700s as he set on his way Past ripening orchards and stacks of gold hay. He was riding a young horse and whistling a song Through dusk’s fabled shadows: black, treacherous, and long.
Beneath the bridge were three murderous men Who leapt out to greet him with evil grins. They surrounded his horse with their swords all aglint; He understood at once their wicked intent.
The thieves acted quickly; they cut at his leg. The man fell from his horse, and he started to beg. But the bandits, wicked bastards, they stole his purse, Then they tortured that innocent till he left this earth.
They made their escape cleanly, and the man died in vain. He was half-eaten by crows when the sheriff came. And the sheriff he looked out over that stone-masoned bridge, And he saw there, far-off, the sight of the ridge.
The sheriff shook his head at the grisly scene, At the inhumanity of men and the cruelty they bring. But the years pass on, and the generations forget: A strong roaring fire dies, and is then again lit.
Seasons pass; centuries pass; the world turns. The buildings rise and fall; the field grows and burns. The geese they migrate, and the ducks come and go. The whales make their journeys far down below.
And at the end of the day, what have we to show? The human race is alive, that much we know. Still we circle that fiery sphere called the sun, And so we shall until our short day is done.
But till then the same places see new faces through years, The laughter, the weeping, the joy, and the tears. And the human race at once lovely, cruel, and so cold, Lives in a most-forgotten history that grows ever old.
The past few weeks, I’ve been quiet on my poetry website as I’ve been working on a murder mystery novel, The Murders in the Endicott Hotel. I’m happy to announce that it’s finished! It’s being reviewed by literary agents now, and I’ve started a new book too. I also now have some time to get back to my poetry! I’ve always loved nature poems–Keats’ “To Autumn” was one of my favorites when I was young–and I’ve loved paintings of nature. So here’s an imagist poem about nature and the upcoming fall weather.
A Rural Autumn
As the fall leaves start to scatter, Amongst the winds and raindrop’s patter, The cold gusts in from north and west, And the fields are fertile with the ripe harvest.
The strawberries turn red upon the vine The grapes grow ready to become a wine The pumpkins become both orange and round, While from the hollow, the song sparrows sound.
The mists of autumn blanket the moist mornings As the mushrooms grow in mud by springs The dells and the valleys are webbed by streams And the land glows golden in the sun’s banked beams.