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Harry J Baxter Jan 2014
The sound of clattering plates
as a voice in the kitchen yells
we gotta sailor walking in hot
and the waitresses walk around the place
always just beyond the breaking point
wearing voices which say
we hope you have a great night
the plates they clatter
as the men at the bar grow drunker
as the redskins lose yet another game
No sir,
we regret to inform you
that you can not take your beer home with you
in a kiddie sized to go cup
the plates clatter
as the bus boys and dish crew
bounce to Mexican hopping beats
bustling and jostling their way through the six tops
a cart full of leftovers and the crayon drawings of little kids
seven o’clock sees the dinner rush
come and go
and still that sound
the endless clattering of plates
as quitting time rolls around
and a hundred people throw a hundred exhausted punches
at the same juggernaut of a clock
as they always have and always will
outside fresh air smells chemical
and in the car
alone on the ride home save for the passing
of headlights: strangers navigating the same dark
you still think you can hear it
the clattering of plates
CGB May 2015
Foot tapping
Hand shaking
Mind racing
Walls breaking
Strength taking
Nail biting
Head throbbing
Knees clattering
Life shattering

*Leave me,
Anxiety!
ZzyiP May 2018
there are chains on my desk,
you cant see them but i can,
in fact i can feel them.
i can feel them tight around my neck
pulling me away from my soul.
they slowly drag me 'forward'.
my grip on freedom weakens as the links tussle my neck,
the singing of birds fade and become more distant.
singing choirs cease to sing.
the sun shines differently,
its a dim light with no glimmer anymore.
i see less colours now and my muscles ache.
i move less, smell less, feel less.
its cold as i subdue to the pull.
my clattering and rebellious steps form rhythm
my legs conform as i march in sync with all the same misfortunates around me
dragged and dragged we march
there is no point to resist
now we march
confidently we march
but our souls were left behind
school, exams, educational system.
JC Lucas Oct 2014
There is something magical
in the whirring
of a midday laundromat.
A cessation of pride,
maybe.
People all dressed in sweatpants
the air full of detergent smell
and the sound of coins clicking
against great tumblers
as they go round
and round
and round
and round...

The people smile back,
no use pretending superiority here.
Whistlers twitter on, folding towels and socks into neat, organized piles.
The children are well behaved,
their hands full of potato chips
given by their parents as a pittance for their patience.
The patient patrons
ponder on,
their empty hands crumpling receipts.
This, with the crunching of chips
and the distant whistle
over the percussion of clicking
coins clattering
in a dryer
compose an unintentional opera,

an ode to humility.

Humility's honorable honesty heals humanity's hubris.

Noisy trucks pass outside the floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows,
Where the hot air wreaks its violence
and men make their ways

in spite.
III. TO APOLLO (546 lines)

TO DELIAN APOLLO --

(ll. 1-18) I will remember and not be unmindful of Apollo who
shoots afar.  As he goes through the house of Zeus, the gods
tremble before him and all spring up from their seats when he
draws near, as he bends his bright bow.  But Leto alone stays by
the side of Zeus who delights in thunder; and then she unstrings
his bow, and closes his quiver, and takes his archery from his
strong shoulders in her hands and hangs them on a golden peg
against a pillar of his father's house.  Then she leads him to a
seat and makes him sit: and the Father gives him nectar in a
golden cup welcoming his dear son, while the other gods make him
sit down there, and queenly Leto rejoices because she bare a
mighty son and an archer.  Rejoice, blessed Leto, for you bare
glorious children, the lord Apollo and Artemis who delights in
arrows; her in Ortygia, and him in rocky Delos, as you rested
against the great mass of the Cynthian hill hard by a palm-tree
by the streams of Inopus.

(ll. 19-29) How, then, shall I sing of you who in all ways are a
worthy theme of song?  For everywhere, O Phoebus, the whole range
of song is fallen to you, both over the mainland that rears
heifers and over the isles.  All mountain-peaks and high
headlands of lofty hills and rivers flowing out to the deep and
beaches sloping seawards and havens of the sea are your delight.
Shall I sing how at the first Leto bare you to be the joy of men,
as she rested against Mount Cynthus in that rocky isle, in sea-
girt Delos -- while on either hand a dark wave rolled on
landwards driven by shrill winds -- whence arising you rule over
all mortal men?

(ll. 30-50) Among those who are in Crete, and in the township of
Athens, and in the isle of Aegina and Euboea, famous for ships,
in Aegae and Eiresiae and Peparethus near the sea, in Thracian
Athos and Pelion's towering heights and Thracian Samos and the
shady hills of Ida, in Scyros and Phocaea and the high hill of
Autocane and fair-lying Imbros and smouldering Lemnos and rich
******, home of Macar, the son of ******, and Chios, brightest of
all the isles that lie in the sea, and craggy Mimas and the
heights of Corycus and gleaming Claros and the sheer hill of
Aesagea and watered Samos and the steep heights of Mycale, in
Miletus and Cos, the city of Meropian men, and steep Cnidos and
windy Carpathos, in Naxos and Paros and rocky Rhenaea -- so far
roamed Leto in travail with the god who shoots afar, to see if
any land would be willing to make a dwelling for her son.  But
they greatly trembled and feared, and none, not even the richest
of them, dared receive Phoebus, until queenly Leto set foot on
Delos and uttered winged words and asked her:

(ll. 51-61) 'Delos, if you would be willing to be the abode of my
son "Phoebus Apollo and make him a rich temple --; for no other
will touch you, as you will find: and I think you will never be
rich in oxen and sheep, nor bear vintage nor yet produce plants
abundantly.  But if you have the temple of far-shooting Apollo,
all men will bring you hecatombs and gather here, and incessant
savour of rich sacrifice will always arise, and you will feed
those who dwell in you from the hand of strangers; for truly your
own soil is not rich.'

(ll. 62-82) So spake Leto.  And Delos rejoiced and answered and
said:  'Leto, most glorious daughter of great Coeus, joyfully
would I receive your child the far-shooting lord; for it is all
too true that I am ill-spoken of among men, whereas thus I should
become very greatly honoured.  But this saying I fear, and I will
not hide it from you, Leto.  They say that Apollo will be one
that is very haughty and will greatly lord it among gods and men
all over the fruitful earth.  Therefore, I greatly fear in heart
and spirit that as soon as he sets the light of the sun, he will
scorn this island -- for truly I have but a hard, rocky soil --
and overturn me and ****** me down with his feet in the depths of
the sea; then will the great ocean wash deep above my head for
ever, and he will go to another land such as will please him,
there to make his temple and wooded groves.  So, many-footed
creatures of the sea will make their lairs in me and black seals
their dwellings undisturbed, because I lack people.  Yet if you
will but dare to sware a great oath, goddess, that here first he
will build a glorious temple to be an oracle for men, then let
him afterwards make temples and wooded groves amongst all men;
for surely he will be greatly renowned.

(ll. 83-88) So said Delos.  And Leto sware the great oath of the
gods: 'Now hear this, Earth and wide Heaven above, and dropping
water of Styx (this is the strongest and most awful oath for the
blessed gods), surely Phoebus shall have here his fragrant altar
and precinct, and you he shall honour above all.'

(ll. 89-101) Now when Leto had sworn and ended her oath, Delos
was very glad at the birth of the far-shooting lord.  But Leto
was racked nine days and nine nights with pangs beyond wont.  And
there were with her all the chiefest of the goddesses, Dione and
Rhea and Ichnaea and Themis and loud-moaning Amphitrite and the
other deathless goddesses save white-armed Hera, who sat in the
halls of cloud-gathering Zeus.  Only Eilithyia, goddess of sore
travail, had not heard of Leto's trouble, for she sat on the top
of Olympus beneath golden clouds by white-armed Hera's
contriving, who kept her close through envy, because Leto with
the lovely tresses was soon to bear a son faultless and strong.

(ll. 102-114) But the goddesses sent out Iris from the well-set
isle to bring Eilithyia, promising her a great necklace strung
with golden threads, nine cubits long.  And they bade Iris call
her aside from white-armed Hera, lest she might afterwards turn
her from coming with her words.  When swift Iris, fleet of foot
as the wind, had heard all this, she set to run; and quickly
finishing all the distance she came to the home of the gods,
sheer Olympus, and forthwith called Eilithyia out from the hall
to the door and spoke winged words to her, telling her all as the
goddesses who dwell on Olympus had bidden her.  So she moved the
heart of Eilithyia in her dear breast; and they went their way,
like shy wild-doves in their going.

(ll. 115-122) And as soon as Eilithyia the goddess of sore
travail set foot on Delos, the pains of birth seized Leto, and
she longed to bring forth; so she cast her arms about a palm tree
and kneeled on the soft meadow while the earth laughed for joy
beneath.  Then the child leaped forth to the light, and all the
goddesses washed you purely and cleanly with sweet water, and
swathed you in a white garment of fine texture, new-woven, and
fastened a golden band about you.

(ll. 123-130) Now Leto did not give Apollo, bearer of the golden
blade, her breast; but Themis duly poured nectar and ambrosia
with her divine hands: and Leto was glad because she had borne a
strong son and an archer.  But as soon as you had tasted that
divine heavenly food, O Phoebus, you could no longer then be held
by golden cords nor confined with bands, but all their ends were
undone.  Forthwith Phoebus Apollo spoke out among the deathless
goddesses:

(ll. 131-132) 'The lyre and the curved bow shall ever be dear to
me, and I will declare to men the unfailing will of Zeus.'

(ll. 133-139) So said Phoebus, the long-haired god who shoots
afar and began to walk upon the wide-pathed earth; and all
goddesses were amazed at him.  Then with gold all Delos was
laden, beholding the child of Zeus and Leto, for joy because the
god chose her above the islands and shore to make his dwelling in
her: and she loved him yet more in her heart, and blossomed as
does a mountain-top with woodland flowers.

(ll. 140-164) And you, O lord Apollo, god of the silver bow,
shooting afar, now walked on craggy Cynthus, and now kept
wandering about the island and the people in them.  Many are your
temples and wooded groves, and all peaks and towering bluffs of
lofty mountains and rivers flowing to the sea are dear to you,
Phoebus, yet in Delos do you most delight your heart; for there
the long robed Ionians gather in your honour with their children
and shy wives: mindful, they delight you with boxing and dancing
and song, so often as they hold their gathering.  A man would say
that they were deathless and unageing if he should then come upon
the Ionians so met together.  For he would see the graces of them
all, and would be pleased in heart gazing at the men and well-
girded women with their swift ships and great wealth.  And there
is this great wonder besides -- and its renown shall never perish
-- the girls of Delos, hand-maidens of the Far-shooter; for when
they have praised Apollo first, and also Leto and Artemis who
delights in arrows, they sing a strain-telling of men and women
of past days, and charm the tribes of men.  Also they can imitate
the tongues of all men and their clattering speech: each would
say that he himself were singing, so close to truth is their
sweet song.

(ll. 165-178) And now may Apollo be favourable and Artemis; and
farewell all you maidens.  Remember me in after time whenever any
one of men on earth, a stranger who has seen and suffered much,
comes here and asks of you: 'Whom think ye, girls, is the
sweetest singer that comes here, and in whom do you most
delight?'  Then answer, each and all, with one voice: 'He is a
blind man, and dwells in rocky Chios: his lays are evermore
supreme.'  As for me, I will carry your renown as far as I roam
over the earth to the well-placed this thing is true.  And I will
never cease to praise far-shooting Apollo, god of the silver bow,
whom rich-haired Leto bare.

TO PYTHIAN APOLLO --

(ll. 179-181) O Lord, Lycia is yours and lovely Maeonia and
Miletus, charming city by the sea, but over wave-girt Delos you
greatly reign your own self.

(ll. 182-206) Leto's all-glorious son goes to rocky Pytho,
playing upon his hollow lyre, clad in divine, perfumed garments;
and at the touch of the golden key his lyre sings sweet.  Thence,
swift as thought, he speeds from earth to Olympus, to the house
of Zeus, to join the gathering of the other gods: then
straightway the undying gods think only of the lyre and song, and
all the Muses together, voice sweetly answering voice, hymn the
unending gifts the gods enjoy and the sufferings of men, all that
they endure at the hands of the deathless gods, and how they live
witless and helpless and cannot find healing for death or defence
against old age.  Meanwhile the rich-tressed Graces and cheerful
Seasons dance with Harmonia and **** and Aphrodite, daughter of
Zeus, holding each other by the wrist.  And among them sings one,
not mean nor puny, but tall to look upon and enviable in mien,
Artemis who delights in arrows, sister of Apollo.  Among them
sport Ares and the keen-eyed Slayer of Argus, while Apollo plays
his lyre stepping high and featly and a radiance shines around
him, the gleaming of his feet and close-woven vest.  And they,
even gold-tressed Leto and wise Zeus, rejoice in their great
hearts as they watch their dear son playing among the undying
gods.

(ll. 207-228) How then shall I sing of you -- though in all ways
you are a worthy theme for song?  Shall I sing of you as wooer
and in the fields of love, how you went wooing the daughter of
Azan along with god-like Ischys the son of well-horsed Elatius,
or with Phorbas sprung from Triops, or with Ereutheus, or with
Leucippus and the wife of Leucippus....
((LACUNA))
....you on foot, he with his chariot, yet he fell not short of
Triops.  Or shall I sing how at the first you went about the
earth seeking a place of oracle for men, O far-shooting Apollo?
To Pieria first you went down from Olympus and passed by sandy
Lectus and Enienae and through the land of the Perrhaebi.  Soon
you came to Iolcus and set foot on Cenaeum in Euboea, famed for
ships: you stood in the Lelantine plain, but it pleased not your
heart to make a temple there and wooded groves.  From there you
crossed the Euripus, far-shooting Apollo, and went up the green,
holy hills, going on to Mycalessus and grassy-bedded Teumessus,
and so came to the wood-clad abode of Thebe; for as yet no man
lived in holy Thebe, nor were there tracks or ways about Thebe's
wheat-bearing plain as yet.

(ll. 229-238) And further still you went, O far-shooting Apollo,
and came to Onchestus, Poseidon's bright grove: there the new-
broken cold distressed with drawing the trim chariot gets spirit
again, and the skilled driver springs from his car and goes on
his way.  Then the horses for a while rattle the empty car, being
rid of guidance; and if they break the chariot in the woody
grove, men look after the horses, but tilt the chariot and leave
it there; for this was the rite from the very first.  And the
drivers pray to the lord of the shrine; but the chariot falls to
the lot of the god.

(ll. 239-243) Further yet you went, O far-shooting Apollo, and
reached next Cephissus' sweet stream which pours forth its sweet-
flowing water from Lilaea, and crossing over it, O worker from
afar, you passed many-towered Ocalea and reached grassy
Haliartus.

(ll. 244-253) Then you went towards Telphusa: and there the
pleasant place seemed fit for making a temple and wooded grove.
You came very near and spoke to her: 'Telphusa, here I am minded
to make a glorious temple, an oracle for men, and hither they
will always bring perfect hecatombs, both those who live in rich
Peloponnesus and those of Europe and all the wave-washed isles,
coming to seek oracles.  And I will deliver to them all counsel
that cannot fail, giving answer in my rich temple.'

(ll. 254-276) So said Phoebus Apollo, and laid out all the
foundations throughout, wide and very long.  But when Telphusa
saw this, she was angry in heart and spoke, saying: 'Lord
Phoebus, worker from afar, I will speak a word of counsel to your
heart, since you are minded to make here a glorious temple to be
an oracle for men who will always bring hither perfect hecatombs
for you; yet I will speak out, and do you lay up my words in your
heart.  The trampling of swift horses and the sound of mules
watering at my sacred springs will always irk you, and men will
like better to gaze at the well-made chariots and stamping,
swift-footed horses than at your great temple and the many
treasures that are within.  But if you will be moved by me -- for
you, lord, are stronger and mightier than I, and your strength is
very great -- build at Crisa below the glades of Parnassus: there
no bright chariot will clash, and there will be no noise of
swift-footed horses near your well-built altar.  But so the
glorious tribes of men will bring gifts to you as Iepaeon ('Hail-
Healer'), and you will receive with delight rich sacrifices from
the people dwelling round about.'  So said Telphusa, that she
alone, and not the Far-Shooter, should have renown there; and she
persuaded the Far-Shooter.

(ll. 277-286) Further yet you went, far-shooting Apollo, until
you came to the town of the presumptuous Phlegyae who dwell on
this earth in a lovely glade near the Cephisian lake, caring not
for Zeus.  And thence you went speeding swiftly to the mountain
ridge, and came to Crisa beneath snowy Parnassus, a foothill
turned towards the west: a cliff hangs over if from above, and a
hollow, rugged glade runs under.  There the lord Phoebus Apollo
resolved to make his lovely temple, and thus he said:

(ll. 287-293) 'In this place I am minded to build a glorious
temple to be an oracle for men, and here they will always bring
perfect hecatombs, both they who dwell in rich Peloponnesus and
the men of Europe and from all the wave-washed isles, coming to
question me.  And I will deliver to them all counsel that cannot
fail, answering them in my rich temple.'

(ll. 294-299) When h
Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the right,
Because of the firecat.

Or until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the left,
Because of the firecat.

The bucks clattered.
The firecat went leaping,
To the right, to the left,
And
Bristled in the way.

Later, the firecat closed his bright eyes
And slept.
Lucky Queue Oct 2012
Blip. Blip. Blip
In the black of my room a red light pulses langorously on my phone
Steady green and blue lights and a rapid orange define the router across the room
Red digital numbers stand in the place of the clock
At precisely 6:00 am my alarm goes off(a deranged rooster entrapped in my phone)
A flick of a finger dismisses the crowing and the day has begun
After dressing and any other trivial task, I  am headed downstairs
A chik of the toaster
One beepbeepbeep of the microwave
More digital numbers, this time green, indicate that my bus comes shortly and I dash off
The headlights of the bus announce its presence half a block before it halts and the doors jerkily slide open
I text Graham from five feet away, because I don't yet know enough sign language
On the bus the driver may make an announcement, various lights and a few wires around her seat
School starts with a bell and the mindless herd shuffles in
The hallways bustle with the noise of teenagers chatting noisily, ipods playing, cells buzzing, beeping, texting
Homeroom and every period after is marked by a bell before and after until the last bell, freeing us from our institution of education
Now everyone is really alive and the clammer of sounds is three times as loud as the morning.
On the bus all but the most obnoxious are silent, closed off in their little world of a cellphone, ipod, or mp3
The kids file on and off the bus, only waking from their technology induced zombification to rapidly vocalize with their friends
Once I get home microwave humms as food is reheated or quickly cooked
The rice cooker is prepped and light flips on when plugged into the wall
Coffee maker may be set, and if my dad is home, his workspace is humming and light-pulsing as well
Brother and sisters argue over which tv show to watch or first computer turn while I'm wrapped up in my world of texting homework and poetry
Mom arrives from school and dinner is made
Stove humming loud and food stirfryed
Dinner no blips beeps or pulses matter, just the clinking of silverware and conversation
Afterwards, faucet runs dishes clattering while I wash
Imersion resumes and videos, games, and homework take over until bed
Teeth are brushed, pajamas donned, and members of this family mess around in bedroom before slowly transitioning to bed, and then sleep
So ends another day for me in the 21st century
Marshal Gebbie Apr 2013
Standing on the hillside is a rustic yellow cottage,
Rusty yellow staining from the steel dust of the trains.
Passing, rushing carriages that crisscross by the hour,
The ten o clock from Frankston meets the City train detained.

Golden light of sunrise in the calm of early morning
Golden light reflected on the rusty cottage roof,
Puffing at his briar and sitting at the doorstep
Old Grandpa drinks the peacefulness whilst stroking cat aloof.

Bacon smells a-beckoning from coal range fires a-glowering
Delicious tang of coffee from my Granma’s breakfast fare,
The clattering of silver wheels as silver rails reverberate
Sings the music of the morning with not a trace of care.

Memories from yesteryear I treasure on reflection,
Memories, a little boy, recalled from times secure.
Memories of cuddles in the ***** of my Grandma
And the scent of plum tobacco giving Grandpa’s pipe allure.

Perhaps a trick of memory, perhaps my passing fancy
But I clearly recall a sign above the kitchen door,
A simple sign of welcome with a sense of real belonging
In the gentle name of “Sunrise” to warm the heart galore.


Marshalg
In memory of my dear Nan and Pop Cummings @ Mordialloc by the bay.
23 April 2013
I left this town in 75
a dumb drunk ****

or as a friend once
poetically observed
"a beer quaffing linebacker"

but tonight I return
an enlightened poet
ready to recite
a stack of poems
eight years and two days
removed from my last drink

now relishing
the sweet intoxication
of drinking in
seas of words and letters,
brading a life's narrative with
solitary lifelines of truth

This town knew me

I know this town

The pomp and circumstance
of my high school commencement
occurred in this very place

I know the exact spot
near St. Mary
where Moose was killed
that awful
Good Friday evening.

After enjoying
the team revelry
at a Saturday Night
victory party;
I ran my hand across
the scarred Poplar
on West Passaic Avenue
that abruptly ended
Fic's life.

I slink past the house
filled with heinous memories
of my youth, cringing
through relived nightmares
of my father brutalizing
my naked mother in
an alcoholic rage;
and remain busy
trying to lick the still
raw sting of running wounds
inflicted by a mother
consumed with a
raging bitterness of
self righteous resentments.

Beer, *****,
Strawberry
Boone's Farm
and lotsa rolled bones
destroyed my family home,
murdered childhood
friends and greased
the wheels of
getaway cars in
fruitless attempts
to escape emotional
nightmares.

From where I stand
I can throw a stone
in any direction to mark
the scenes of
a hundred stories
that authored
the constitution
of me.

Across
the street
I can see
the lights burning
in the apartment where
Weehawken Joe
once lived.

Take a look.

He was crazier than
Tony Montana and
like Scarface not a
single lie could
be found in him;
he also possessed
the gift of
the best jump-shot
the Bulldogs ever had.

Years after I left town
I burst into tears
when Buns Hines
broke the news that
Weehawken  Joe
died of throat cancer.

Mortality is a
bitter truth
to swallow.

All along
Park Avenue
old commercial haunts,
save Varrelmann's Bakery
long gone.

Further up the street
my pilgrimage ends at the
WCW homestead.

In the fading light
of a glorious
autumn afternoon
the house appears
rundown, empty,
mournfully shabby.

On an upper floor
a lace curtain gently
flits and darts out an
open window.

I ponder
the words
still dwelling in
the dark closets
haunting the rooms
of this distressed edifice.

I wonder
how they now
sound?

The faint noises
hidden in
dusty corners
moaning a
ghostly presence,
creeping the halls,
clattering about
the kitchen,
bounding through
the living room
in an old beat-up
Red Wheelbarrow;
rolling along
moving to manifest
faintly whispered echos
into fully formed phrases;
liberating expressive sentiments
of a very blue house...

Eight years, two days
removed from a drink,
I'm grasping for letters
fumbling for the words
listening for sounds
churning within me
seeking to release
the revelations
of my truth.

Crosby, Stills Nash & Young
On the Way Home

William Carlos Williams Center
Rutherford NJ
10/02/13
Don Bouchard Jun 2014
Art Bouchard,
My father,
Never marched a drill,
Nor fired an angry shot...
Recounted fond memories
I've heard so many times:
How long ago, when I was very young,
He and our neighbor,
Art Pribnow,
Up before the sun,
Engaged in tractor battles
(Dad was very sure he won).

My father woke those mornings,
Early 1960s,
With the popping cough of
Worn diesel pistons
Clattering out white smoke...
Then blue and black,
As engine heat and friction
Tightened gaps,
Sealed compression,
And the motor steadied into an even roar.

Across the county road
Our only neighbor led or followed suit,
Sending smoke and sound
To drown the morning songs
of meadowlarks and robins.

Fifty years later,
Dad laughed in recollection,
"We started rising just a little
Earlier each day.
Started up our tractors
In a sort of game
Called, 'Who's out first?'"

Six became a quarter of,
Then five-thirty backed to four.
One tractor or the other roared,
Early and then earlier
To be the first to pull
Into the waiting fields.
When three-thirty came around
My mother shook her head,
But if she said a word,
I never heard.

These battling neighbors
Even started engines up
Before they ran,
Milking buckets swinging,
to their barns to chore
As early became earlier
in the little farmers' war.

One day in town,
By happenstance,
A meeting came between the two.
My father, being younger,
Had energy for more,
But old Art Pribnow shook his head,
Grabbed my dad's hand and said,
"Let's stop this foolishness
Before one of us is dead!
I don't know about the hours you keep,
Or what got in our heads,
But I admit, I need my sleep!"

The farmer battle ended then.
A hand shake and a smile
Between two farmer friends,
Created country lore,
Remembered here a little while,
As, "The Early, Earlier War."
I remember with a smiling sadness this story told by my father, now gone two years, about a little "friendly war" he and our neighbor, Art Pribnow, engaged in during spring planting time. The year would have been around 1959 or 1960, when I was just a baby. The story still makes me smile. I hope you enjoy it.
He was a Grecian lad, who coming home
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily
Stood at his galley’s prow, and let the foam
Blow through his crisp brown curls unconsciously,
And holding wave and wind in boy’s despite
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet and stormy night.

Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky,
And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear,
And bade the pilot head her lustily
Against the nor’west gale, and all day long
Held on his way, and marked the rowers’ time with measured song.

And when the faint Corinthian hills were red
Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay,
And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his head,
And brushed from cheek and throat the hoary spray,
And washed his limbs with oil, and from the hold
Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals brazen-soled,

And a rich robe stained with the fishers’ juice
Which of some swarthy trader he had bought
Upon the sunny quay at Syracuse,
And was with Tyrian broideries inwrought,
And by the questioning merchants made his way
Up through the soft and silver woods, and when the labouring day

Had spun its tangled web of crimson cloud,
Clomb the high hill, and with swift silent feet
Crept to the fane unnoticed by the crowd
Of busy priests, and from some dark retreat
Watched the young swains his frolic playmates bring
The firstling of their little flock, and the shy shepherd fling

The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang
His studded crook against the temple wall
To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang
Of the base wolf from homestead and from stall;
And then the clear-voiced maidens ‘gan to sing,
And to the altar each man brought some goodly offering,

A beechen cup brimming with milky foam,
A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery
Of hounds in chase, a waxen honey-comb
Dripping with oozy gold which scarce the bee
Had ceased from building, a black skin of oil
Meet for the wrestlers, a great boar the fierce and white-tusked
spoil

Stolen from Artemis that jealous maid
To please Athena, and the dappled hide
Of a tall stag who in some mountain glade
Had met the shaft; and then the herald cried,
And from the pillared precinct one by one
Went the glad Greeks well pleased that they their simple vows had
done.

And the old priest put out the waning fires
Save that one lamp whose restless ruby glowed
For ever in the cell, and the shrill lyres
Came fainter on the wind, as down the road
In joyous dance these country folk did pass,
And with stout hands the warder closed the gates of polished brass.

Long time he lay and hardly dared to breathe,
And heard the cadenced drip of spilt-out wine,
And the rose-petals falling from the wreath
As the night breezes wandered through the shrine,
And seemed to be in some entranced swoon
Till through the open roof above the full and brimming moon

Flooded with sheeny waves the marble floor,
When from his nook up leapt the venturous lad,
And flinging wide the cedar-carven door
Beheld an awful image saffron-clad
And armed for battle! the gaunt Griffin glared
From the huge helm, and the long lance of wreck and ruin flared

Like a red rod of flame, stony and steeled
The Gorgon’s head its leaden eyeballs rolled,
And writhed its snaky horrors through the shield,
And gaped aghast with bloodless lips and cold
In passion impotent, while with blind gaze
The blinking owl between the feet hooted in shrill amaze.

The lonely fisher as he trimmed his lamp
Far out at sea off Sunium, or cast
The net for tunnies, heard a brazen *****
Of horses smite the waves, and a wild blast
Divide the folded curtains of the night,
And knelt upon the little ****, and prayed in holy fright.

And guilty lovers in their venery
Forgat a little while their stolen sweets,
Deeming they heard dread Dian’s bitter cry;
And the grim watchmen on their lofty seats
Ran to their shields in haste precipitate,
Or strained black-bearded throats across the dusky parapet.

For round the temple rolled the clang of arms,
And the twelve Gods leapt up in marble fear,
And the air quaked with dissonant alarums
Till huge Poseidon shook his mighty spear,
And on the frieze the prancing horses neighed,
And the low tread of hurrying feet rang from the cavalcade.

Ready for death with parted lips he stood,
And well content at such a price to see
That calm wide brow, that terrible maidenhood,
The marvel of that pitiless chastity,
Ah! well content indeed, for never wight
Since Troy’s young shepherd prince had seen so wonderful a sight.

Ready for death he stood, but lo! the air
Grew silent, and the horses ceased to neigh,
And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair,
And from his limbs he throw the cloak away;
For whom would not such love make desperate?
And nigher came, and touched her throat, and with hands violate

Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown,
And bared the ******* of polished ivory,
Till from the waist the peplos falling down
Left visible the secret mystery
Which to no lover will Athena show,
The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the bossy hills of
snow.

Those who have never known a lover’s sin
Let them not read my ditty, it will be
To their dull ears so musicless and thin
That they will have no joy of it, but ye
To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering smile,
Ye who have learned who Eros is,—O listen yet awhile.

A little space he let his greedy eyes
Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight
Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries,
And then his lips in hungering delight
Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck
He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion’s will to check.

Never I ween did lover hold such tryst,
For all night long he murmured honeyed word,
And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed
Her pale and argent body undisturbed,
And paddled with the polished throat, and pressed
His hot and beating heart upon her chill and icy breast.

It was as if Numidian javelins
Pierced through and through his wild and whirling brain,
And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins
In exquisite pulsation, and the pain
Was such sweet anguish that he never drew
His lips from hers till overhead the lark of warning flew.

They who have never seen the daylight peer
Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain,
And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear
And worshipped body risen, they for certain
Will never know of what I try to sing,
How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his lingering.

The moon was girdled with a crystal rim,
The sign which shipmen say is ominous
Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim,
And the low lightening east was tremulous
With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn,
Ere from the silent sombre shrine his lover had withdrawn.

Down the steep rock with hurried feet and fast
Clomb the brave lad, and reached the cave of Pan,
And heard the goat-foot snoring as he passed,
And leapt upon a grassy knoll and ran
Like a young fawn unto an olive wood
Which in a shady valley by the well-built city stood;

And sought a little stream, which well he knew,
For oftentimes with boyish careless shout
The green and crested grebe he would pursue,
Or snare in woven net the silver trout,
And down amid the startled reeds he lay
Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited for the day.

On the green bank he lay, and let one hand
Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly,
And soon the breath of morning came and fanned
His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly
The tangled curls from off his forehead, while
He on the running water gazed with strange and secret smile.

And soon the shepherd in rough woollen cloak
With his long crook undid the wattled cotes,
And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke
Curled through the air across the ripening oats,
And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed
As through the crisp and rustling fern the heavy cattle strayed.

And when the light-foot mower went afield
Across the meadows laced with threaded dew,
And the sheep bleated on the misty weald,
And from its nest the waking corncrake flew,
Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream
And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful could seem,

Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said,
‘It is young Hylas, that false runaway
Who with a Naiad now would make his bed
Forgetting Herakles,’ but others, ‘Nay,
It is Narcissus, his own paramour,
Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman can allure.’

And when they nearer came a third one cried,
‘It is young Dionysos who has hid
His spear and fawnskin by the river side
Weary of hunting with the Bassarid,
And wise indeed were we away to fly:
They live not long who on the gods immortal come to spy.’

So turned they back, and feared to look behind,
And told the timid swain how they had seen
Amid the reeds some woodland god reclined,
And no man dared to cross the open green,
And on that day no olive-tree was slain,
Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair domain,

Save when the neat-herd’s lad, his empty pail
Well slung upon his back, with leap and bound
Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail,
Hoping that he some comrade new had found,
And gat no answer, and then half afraid
Passed on his simple way, or down the still and silent glade

A little girl ran laughing from the farm,
Not thinking of love’s secret mysteries,
And when she saw the white and gleaming arm
And all his manlihood, with longing eyes
Whose passion mocked her sweet virginity
Watched him awhile, and then stole back sadly and wearily.

Far off he heard the city’s hum and noise,
And now and then the shriller laughter where
The passionate purity of brown-limbed boys
Wrestled or raced in the clear healthful air,
And now and then a little tinkling bell
As the shorn wether led the sheep down to the mossy well.

Through the grey willows danced the fretful gnat,
The grasshopper chirped idly from the tree,
In sleek and oily coat the water-rat
Breasting the little ripples manfully
Made for the wild-duck’s nest, from bough to bough
Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise crept across the
slough.

On the faint wind floated the silky seeds
As the bright scythe swept through the waving grass,
The ouzel-**** splashed circles in the reeds
And flecked with silver whorls the forest’s glass,
Which scarce had caught again its imagery
Ere from its bed the dusky tench leapt at the dragon-fly.

But little care had he for any thing
Though up and down the beech the squirrel played,
And from the copse the linnet ‘gan to sing
To its brown mate its sweetest serenade;
Ah! little care indeed, for he had seen
The ******* of Pallas and the naked wonder of the Queen.

But when the herdsman called his straggling goats
With whistling pipe across the rocky road,
And the shard-beetle with its trumpet-notes
Boomed through the darkening woods, and seemed to bode
Of coming storm, and the belated crane
Passed homeward like a shadow, and the dull big drops of rain

Fell on the pattering fig-leaves, up he rose,
And from the gloomy forest went his way
Past sombre homestead and wet orchard-close,
And came at last unto a little quay,
And called his mates aboard, and took his seat
On the high ****, and pushed from land, and loosed the dripping
sheet,

And steered across the bay, and when nine suns
Passed down the long and laddered way of gold,
And nine pale moons had breathed their orisons
To the chaste stars their confessors, or told
Their dearest secret to the downy moth
That will not fly at noonday, through the foam and surging froth

Came a great owl with yellow sulphurous eyes
And lit upon the ship, whose timbers creaked
As though the lading of three argosies
Were in the hold, and flapped its wings and shrieked,
And darkness straightway stole across the deep,
Sheathed was Orion’s sword, dread Mars himself fled down the steep,

And the moon hid behind a tawny mask
Of drifting cloud, and from the ocean’s marge
Rose the red plume, the huge and horned casque,
The seven-cubit spear, the brazen targe!
And clad in bright and burnished panoply
Athena strode across the stretch of sick and shivering sea!

To the dull sailors’ sight her loosened looks
Seemed like the jagged storm-rack, and her feet
Only the spume that floats on hidden rocks,
And, marking how the rising waters beat
Against the rolling ship, the pilot cried
To the young helmsman at the stern to luff to windward side

But he, the overbold adulterer,
A dear profaner of great mysteries,
An ardent amorous idolater,
When he beheld those grand relentless eyes
Laughed loud for joy, and crying out ‘I come’
Leapt from the lofty **** into the chill and churning foam.

Then fell from the high heaven one bright star,
One dancer left the circling galaxy,
And back to Athens on her clattering car
In all the pride of venged divinity
Pale Pallas swept with shrill and steely clank,
And a few gurgling bubbles rose where her boy lover sank.

And the mast shuddered as the gaunt owl flew
With mocking hoots after the wrathful Queen,
And the old pilot bade the trembling crew
Hoist the big sail, and told how he had seen
Close to the stern a dim and giant form,
And like a dipping swallow the stout ship dashed through the storm.

And no man dared to speak of Charmides
Deeming that he some evil thing had wrought,
And when they reached the strait Symplegades
They beached their galley on the shore, and sought
The toll-gate of the city hastily,
And in the market showed their brown and pictured pottery.
Mitchell Duran May 2014
We took the back road to the house. The shade from the trees made the road feel like tunnel. Not a shred of light came in. We'd have to drive slow. The road wasn't made of concrete: it was made of dirt, rock, and dead leaves. Sometimes we could see the worms come up out of the dirt in the headlights, their pink stretching bodies like weird little fingers. Carrie never looked. She said it was too scary. The rest of us would look and watch them dance around like that. Sometimes we'd have to run them over. Of course, we'd feel bad about it, but we needed to get back to the house. There were things to be done. Nothing planned, but nonetheless, things to be done.
Englend reversed the car up to the front door. The liquor, the food, and the beer was in the back and would make it easier to get it from there. Patty and Carrie (the one scared of the worms) ran straight to the bathroom. They'd been complaining about how we never stopped at a gas station to ***. Englend said we didn't have the time and I just didn't care. Denny was in the same mindset as me. We usually were. Kat was looking out the window, thinking about something she didn't wish to share when we started to unload. She offered to help after she'd finished her thought, but the three of us said we had it. We didn't really, but we let her have her thought while we carried the bags. There weren't that many to complain about anyway.
When everyone was inside unpacking their things, I hung back and smoked a cigarette. I looked down at the river. It was full and rushing. The trees were full with bright, lime green leaves. The branches were tanned auburn from the sun. They looked the forearms of the Mexican girls at my high school: smooth, everlasting, stretching to a place I was never allowed to touch or look at. I ashed my cigarette into a pile of leaves and immediately worried that I was going to start a fire. I kicked it out, thrusting my boot heel into where I thought the ember had went.
"What the hell are you doing?" Englend screamed from the front porch, a handle of whiskey underneath his arm, a glass with ice in the other.
"Ashed into the leaves," I told him, "Trying to take it out." I kicked the leaves a few more times, then walked towards Englend.
"Let me get a hit of that," I said, pointing at the handle.
He spun the top and it rolled off the tread. The cap rolled off the deck and Englend chased after it, handing me the bottle first.
"Take this. Where'd the hell it go?"
"Down there somewhere," I said, pulling the bottle back. The sweetness of the whiskey hit my nostrils first, then the bite of the liquor. I coughed, feeling my eyes begin to water. The first one was always the hardest. After that, they got easier.
June had just ended. July was just arriving. The third was tomorrow and the next day was the fourth.
I took another pull from the handle. I placed on the decks railing and left Englend with it. He was still looking around for the bottle cap.
"I thought I saw it roll under the deck," I told him.
"*******," he moaned. He looked up at me, "Come and help me. It'll be faster with two."
"Can't. Gotta' check on Carrie and get ourselves a room."
"*******," he moaned again, reaching under the deck.
"Don't get your hand bit by a possum or rat or something!" I yelled behind me, going inside. "Carrie!" I screamed, "Where'd you go?"
"Upstairs getting our room ready!" I heard her scream from the 2nd floor, "Come and help me put the sheets on."
I went into the kitchen. Denny was stocking the fridge with the beer and the meat. I reached over his shoulder and grabbed a Budweiser. He had an open one in between his knees. The light stuff was on the bottom to the far left, the heavy stuff in the middle, and the expensive IPA, hoppy stuff to the far right. The top shelf was for food, mixer, and whatever else the girls had decided to get at the store. Fruit and things. I opened up the freezer. There were two handles of Smirnoff resting on three large bags of ice. We would need more ice. I closed the freezer and ran my fingers of the labels of two more handles of Cazadorés tequila and Bulleit bourbon. Overall, I thought we were fairly stocked for the four day weekend, but one could never be to sure. People came out of the wood work for the 4th of July. No telling who would show up at our front door.
I went upstairs to see what Carrie was doing. She was laying on the bed with the sheets resting on the dresser. The light was off. The room was cast in that light grey pigment that happens when the bedroom light isn't there. It was nice. The sun had been straining my eyes the whole time even though I had been driving in the backseat. Carrie was laying face down on the bed. She was wearing a skirt, so I slowly laid down on the bed and inched her dress up. She didn't flinch or move, so I pulled it up until I saw her burgundy lace *******. They looked pressed or ironed or something they looked so clean.
"What're you doing?" Carrie asked me, her face down into the mattress.
"Just looking," I said.
"At what?"
"At your ****."
"Why?"
"Cause' it's nice."
"Close the door."
I got up, closed the door, and laid back down.
"Lets put the sheets on the bed first."
"OK," I said.
We put the sheets on the bed, but couldn't wait for the pillows and the rest of the blankets. We tried to be quiet, but knew we weren't. After, we took a shower together. I rubbed Carrie's shoulders while the hot water rained down on us. She said it was better to get a massage in the shower because the hot water loosened up the muscles. I didn't know if that was true or not, but I did it anyway. I watched her as she unpacked her bag. Her hair was wet and it swung back and forth, wetting her back. She was wrapped in her favorite pink towel. Water dripped from her body down to the floor. I waited to put my things away. I had brought up very little. Mostly *****. Carrie took up most of the dresser. I had one drawer by the time we were finished.
We took a nap. After we were done sleeping, we looked outside and saw the sun had been replaced with the night. The stars and the light coming from inside of the cabin streaked out into the forest like a splash of golden florescent paint. Carrie and I poked our heads outside to listen to the creaking trees and the rustling of animals through the bush. Someone downstairs was lightly clattering dishes as they cleaned them while the smell of red maple firewood burning in the fireplace came up to our room. I took out my phone from my pocket and looked at the time.
"****," I said, "It's already 10 o'clock."
"I'm starving."
"I'm starving and need a drink."
"Let's go downstairs and see what they made."
I slipped on my 501's while Carrie straightened up her hair. We went downstairs and saw two plates with hamburgers and fries on them. Patty was at the sink cleaning the pots and pans. She was staring down into the soapy froth, humming a song to herself I couldn't understand. She hadn't heard us come down. Denny, Englend, and Kat weren't in the living room.
"Where is everybody?" I asked.
"Oh!" Patty burst. She swung around, a soaped up frying pan in her hands. "You scared the **** out of me!"
I put my hands up, "Gotcha!" I said smiling.
"They went for a walk somewhere and left all the dishes for me."
"Leave'em," Carrie said, taking Patty's hands and wiping the soap away with a rag, "Van and I will take care of them."
"I only have a few more..."
"I insist!" Carrie took Patty's arm and lead her to the couch and laid her down. I took a cup from the pantry, filled it with ice, and poured Bulliet half-way up. I handed the glass to Carrie and she brought it to Patty.
"Look at that," Patty smiled, "Full-service."
"What you get when you come up to the Dangerson cabin."
"**** right!" I exclaimed through a bite of hamburger, "Only the best here."
Patty leaned her head back after taking a long sip of the whiskey. She exhaled and closed her eyes. I watched her as her chest heaved up and down. She kicked off her shoes and let her hair fall over the armrest of the couch.
"You said they went into the woods, Patty?"
Carrie took her burger and went and sat next to Patty.
"Lift your legs up," Carrie said, "Let me sit with you."
"Yeah. They went into the woods an hour or so ago. Probably a little less."
I opened the fridge and grabbed another beer.
"What were they going out there for?"
"I have no idea."
"Probably to get firewood or something," Carrie said, "Can you grab me one of those."
"Sure," I said, tossing her one.
"Wait," She yelled, throwing her hands in the air. The beer landed right in one of her flailing hands.
"Nice catch," I laughed, opening the fridge and grabbing another.
"You're such a ****!"
I smiled and walked out onto the deck.
"He really is," I heard Carrie tell Patty.
"I heard that!"
"You were meant to!" she called back to me, laughing.
I shook my head and opened the can of beer. Why did they decide to go get firewood now? We had plenty of wood here already. Patty probably didn't know what she was talking about. That happened often. I strained my eyes to see through the darkness, maybe see if I could spot a flashlight or the round end of a lit cigarette, but the forest was just a wash of thick blackness. Even the stars had grown faint.
"Englend!" I shouted.
Nothing. Not a peep. They were far out there.
"Englend!" I shouted again.
"What the hell are you shouting at?" a voice said from the trees. I couldn't tell who it was, but it was someone I knew.
"Who the hell is that?"
"Well who the hell do you think it is?" It was Englend. He came out of the trees like a wild boar. He had a handle of whiskey in one hand with a pile of small twigs and firewood in the other. What came to mind first was a mix between a drunken Brawny guy and a pinecone.
"What's all the screaming about?" Kat asked, trailing behind Englend. Denny followed behind. They all had armfuls of wood. From what I saw, little would be useful, but I kept that to myself.
Englend came up the deck and handed me the handle. I took a long pull. As I drank, I looked up into the stars, which were now out and shining brighter than they were before. A cloud had moved, wavered off somewhere, presenting the gifts that were behind it. I lowered the bottle and watched Denny and Kat walk up the stairs. They were smiling.
"What are you two so happy about?" I asked, handing Denny the whiskey.
"Gimme' that!" Kat snagged it out of my hand, laughing. She took a long pull. Denny, Englend, and I watched, amazed that little hippy Kat could take such a heavy shot.
"Good God," I murmured.
"She drinks like a pirate," said Denny.
"A ****** pirate," added Englend.
Kat was especially small. Not a small person small, but petite. She also had a great *** and could out drink, out party, and out do the rest of us in debaucherous shenanigans. She had never heard of the word or feeling of shame either and did, really, whatever the hell she felt like.
"I heard that you *******," she said, exhaling, blinking her eyes wildly.
"That was a biggun'," Denny said, taking the bottle and pulling it.
"Needed it. Englend had us wandering around the ******* forest for firewood the minute we got here."
"Do we even need any?" I asked.
"Course we do!" Englend exclaimed, "Gotta' keep our ladies warm!"
He put his arm around Kat and shook her.
"Gross..." Kat frowned, her face pickling while she squirmed out of his arms.
"You love it Kat...where's Patty? Where's my babe!?" Englend thundered off into the house.
"I'm right here," Patty squealed. She was still on the couch with Carrie. She kicked her feet crazily as Englend jumped on her. Carrie jumped off just before he cannon balled onto the couch.
"You guys are SICK!" Carrie screamed.
"You love it," they both said in unison. The two of them play wrestled until Patty finally got Englend by the ***** and kissed him.
Denny handed Kat the bottle," You want another?" he asked.
"I'm good, Denny," she said.
"Hank?" He asked me.
"I'll take one, yeah," I said. I pulled it back as Kat went inside. I exhaled and looked at Denny, "So, you and Kat are the only two legitimate single people here. How you feel about that?"
"Hopeful," he said.
"That's good to hear. I'll see what Carrie can do."
"Sweet," he said nervously.
"Let's get inside. Patty made some burgers."
"Thank God," Denny sighed, shaking his head, "I'm ******* starving. Englend had us walking for ******' miles.
"No idea why. We have plenty of wood downstairs."
"Seriously?"
"Yeah. Lots of it. I cut a bunch the last time I was here."
"******," he laughed, "Englend told us were out."
"He doesn't know what he's talking about," I said. We walked into the kitchen. I put the bottle down next to Carrie, who had made her way from the couch back into the kitchen. She looked at the bottle, then at me.
"What you drinking there?" she asked me looking at the bottle.
"Whiskey," I told her.
"Can you not drink so much?" she whispered so no one could hear her.
"I'm good," I said, taking her hand, "I just drank a little bit outside while I was waiting for Englend. They went on a wild goose chase for firewood."
"Good."
"Denny was telling me they went all over for the stuff."
"Why?" she smiled, "We have so much from the last time we were up."
"That's what I was telling Englend, but he didn't care. Guy gets antsy."
"Who's antsy?" Englend called from the couch. Patty was wrapped up in his eyes, looking drunk from the single shot Carrie and I had given her. Kat was on the couch with a beer. Denny was hovering by the door, rocking back and forth on his heels still holding an armful of fire wood.
"Why don't you just leave that by the door?" I told Denny, "Take a seat. Stay a while."
He dropped the firewood by the side of the front door and took a seat on the floor in front of the fireplace by Kat. He looked up at her and smiled, but she didn't notice. She was sipping her beer, rummaging around in her pocket for something.
"What I was saying was that you guys didn't need to get anymore firewood or kindling or whatever the hell you guys got because we have a lot from the last time Carrie and I were up."
"I saw those logs," said Englend, "And they're ******* twigs compared to what we got!"
Everyone laughed.
"Well," I said, opening the fridge for another beer (I wasn't sure where my other one had gone to), "I'm not taking the **** down."
"All good, we'll take it down."
"You'll take it down," said Kat, "We had to walk through half of the ******* forest to get to your secret wood spot, then walk back. I'm finished with wood for now."
"Fine," Englend moaned, "I'll take it down in the morning."
"I'll help you," Denny added.
"Good! We got two big guys to do it. It'll be done in no time."
I turned around and opened up the cabinet that was filled with shot glasses. I took six out, put them on the table, and filled them with whiskey.
"Let's take a group shot before we all start getting snuggly and sleepy."
"Great idea!" Englend shouted, popping up from the couch.
"For America!" Patty giggled, following Englend.
Kat helped Denny from the floor and walked over to the counter. They parted hands when Denny was on his feet, but I could tell he wouldn't mind holding her hand for the duration of the trip.
"I'm glad to have you all here," I said, "Glad we could do this."
Everyone nodded, smiling, holding their golden brown shots in the air.
"For America," I said.
"For America!" the rest of them yelled. We soaked in the glory of fine whiskey and hazy conversation for the rest of the night.
Everyone was moving slow in the morning. Englend seemed to be the most up out of everyone. I walked into the kitchen to him whipping 12 eggs, grating cheese, pan frying potatoes, bubbling coffee, and pouring orange juice into mimosa flutes. The champagne was already out. I thought, a little alcohol will probably do me some good. It did. After my third glass, I kissed Carrie when she groggily walked into the living room. She preceded to slump onto the couch. I brought her a cup coffee and some Advil. She smiled meekly into my glazed over, blood shot eyes. I could tell she was hurting, but she would be right in a couple hours. Once we got into the river, all would be right.
"Jesus," said Carrie, "You guys are already drinking?"
"Of course!" Englend laughed, "It's the fourth and it's already noon. We're behind if anything."
"And Englend made breakfast," I said.
"I can see th
Ellen Joyce Jul 2013
Her laugh broke the window pane -
shards of glass pouring like rain,
the sound of shattering safety made her blood run cold
as she clung to disintegrating silence.

Grains of silent-self
pricking the backs of her eyes until tears streamed down her cheeks
wiping fiction from flesh, eyes turned to the floor
so you won't see the sadness where the sparkle should be.
Could be.
Would be.
Maybe.

She feels the barbed wire noose around her tongue loosen,
unfurling its razor sharp grip on her throat
to the melody of the sweet small voice singing soothing songs
seducing her to speak.

Speak.
The words fall clumsily from her lips like ***** clattering plates
splattering waste on wall and doors
leaving a mess that cannot be swept
nor hidden under the carpet or clothes.
"Please. Please.".

She feels eyes burning into naked-self
declaring the truth as if it had the strength to stand,
to bear the weight of shame from times that should remain untold,
but she told.
"Look away. Please. Don’t look at me,
I need you not to look at me, please please please".

She squirms beneath the squirming,
the crawling cascade of bugs under her skin,
in her-self, ***** girl -
ankles twisting, fingers bending, hands trembling,
heart beating, breath quickening, mouth begging
"please please don’t look at me".

The kiss to be seen, breaks like a scream
on the back of a lifetime playing dead,
choking back the words left unsaid,
hiding scars of the wounds that once bled.  

Wounds that call from beneath layers of scar tissue,
a symphony of whispering simpering bacteria
recalling the filthy mire imploding from the pyre;
seal after seal broken leaving her less beauty, more beast.  

In a place where animals do what animals do,
mounted like cattle, like dog catching *****
whose losing the battle to guard her chasm,
to keep the place barred.

Her pleas broke the threshold,
falling forward, hands and knees grinding into twigs and leaves,
his grip so thick on her hair
that he heaves out a scream from the depths of her bowels,
ripping through tension and fear
to gift a ***** with a mark, a shame, a name that won’t disappear –
“Don’t look at me”.  

They call it ******
as if you could name a pain that seared so deep it
drew a blood that would take a week to heal
and a ***** that would never stop rising.  

Her arms buckled under the weight of shame,
of blame, of every screaming name he seethed into her sullied flesh,
with every wavering breath she breathed – “please don’t look at me”.  

His hands grip beneath her hips
nails biting into aching, seeping flesh, filling her pores with
more, more, more.  

Baths - a thing of the past,
water hot, rusted and greying with the rot that lies on her,
with the putrid knot that lies in her.  
“I’m so ashamed.”

Her exhaustion broke her human-ness –
body depleted from repeated invasion that she couldn’t stop,
that he wouldn’t stop -
was sure he had reached a perverse plateau of the boundaries that he breached.  
She underestimated him.  

Label weathered bottle,
nectar alluring drawing inside crawling bugs
as forced kisses stole breath,
focus lost and a nip to his tongue would cost a choke-hold to blur the world,
spit on her face hurled with the venom of an injured python.  

Cold, hard, scraping against skin trying to get in –
“Please.” –
bugs crawling, cascading, invading,
fighting my womb, biting my flesh raw, boring into my blood
turning life force to mud and self separated from beautiful source.  

I felt his thrill at my hip.
“Please don’t ...
Is it masochism to share the most humiliating, hurt or is it healthy?”

Her mouth broke -
alive with sensations and nerves that serve
to taste to feel, to flex a tongue to sing to speak to eat.  
He drew her to her knees,
with greater and greater ease
to penetrate perception with ******* till her jaw ached and strained,
drained, choking back the spoils of man,
feeling panic as her stomach recoils vomiting shame.

Every seal torn open; closed - locking the dirt inside.
This poem was written in the process of therapy to deal with **** and abuse experienced when I was in my early teens.  I share it now as I watch my god daughter turn thirteen and feel a fear for her and a need to protect her.  I share it now because I fought long for a voice and now its audible.
Lotte Jan 2014
When the wind blows from the front,
You'll feel the nostalgia,
Hear the hustle and bustle of fishermen,
Crunching cockle shells under their boots,
Smell the sweet smelling tobacco from pipes,
The toil and hardwork heavy in the air.

Knocking you from the moment,
A faked tan man with a chihuahua,
Hear the cackle of faked laughter,
Clattering of stilletto heels upon cobbles,
Smell the alcohol laced ***** spilling from mouths,
The fruits of labour heavy in the air.
“Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!”

The merchant’s word
Delighted the Master heard;
For his heart was in his work, and the heart
Giveth grace unto every Art.
A quiet smile played round his lips,
As the eddies and dimples of the tide
Play round the bows of ships,
That steadily at anchor ride.
And with a voice that was full of glee,
He answered, “Erelong we will launch
A vessel as goodly, and strong, and stanch,
As ever weathered a wintry sea!”
And first with nicest skill and art,
Perfect and finished in every part,
A little model the Master wrought,
Which should be to the larger plan
What the child is to the man,
Its counterpart in miniature;
That with a hand more swift and sure
The greater labor might be brought
To answer to his inward thought.
And as he labored, his mind ran o’er
The various ships that were built of yore,
And above them all, and strangest of all
Towered the Great Harry, crank and tall,
Whose picture was hanging on the wall,
With bows and stern raised high in air,
And balconies hanging here and there,
And signal lanterns and flags afloat,
And eight round towers, like those that frown
From some old castle, looking down
Upon the drawbridge and the moat.
And he said with a smile, “Our ship, I wis,
Shall be of another form than this!”
It was of another form, indeed;
Built for freight, and yet for speed,
A beautiful and gallant craft;
Broad in the beam, that the stress of the blast,
Pressing down upon sail and mast,
Might not the sharp bows overwhelm;
Broad in the beam, but sloping aft
With graceful curve and slow degrees,
That she might be docile to the helm,
And that the currents of parted seas,
Closing behind, with mighty force,
Might aid and not impede her course.

In the ship-yard stood the Master,
With the model of the vessel,
That should laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!
Covering many a rood of ground,
Lay the timber piled around;
Timber of chestnut, and elm, and oak,
And scattered here and there, with these,
The knarred and crooked cedar knees;
Brought from regions far away,
From Pascagoula’s sunny bay,
And the banks of the roaring Roanoke!
Ah! what a wondrous thing it is
To note how many wheels of toil
One thought, one word, can set in motion!
There ’s not a ship that sails the ocean,
But every climate, every soil,
Must bring its tribute, great or small,
And help to build the wooden wall!

The sun was rising o’er the sea,
And long the level shadows lay,
As if they, too, the beams would be
Of some great, airy argosy,
Framed and launched in a single day.
That silent architect, the sun,
Had hewn and laid them every one,
Ere the work of man was yet begun.
Beside the Master, when he spoke,
A youth, against an anchor leaning,
Listened, to catch his slightest meaning.
Only the long waves, as they broke
In ripples on the pebbly beach,
Interrupted the old man’s speech.
Beautiful they were, in sooth,
The old man and the fiery youth!
The old man, in whose busy brain
Many a ship that sailed the main
Was modelled o’er and o’er again;—
The fiery youth, who was to be
The heir of his dexterity,
The heir of his house, and his daughter’s hand,
When he had built and launched from land
What the elder head had planned.

“Thus,” said he, “will we build this ship!
Lay square the blocks upon the slip,
And follow well this plan of mine.
Choose the timbers with greatest care;
Of all that is unsound beware;
For only what is sound and strong
To this vessel shall belong.
Cedar of Maine and Georgia pine
Here together shall combine.
A goodly frame, and a goodly fame,
And the Union be her name!
For the day that gives her to the sea
Shall give my daughter unto thee!”

The Master’s word
Enraptured the young man heard;
And as he turned his face aside,
With a look of joy and a thrill of pride
Standing before
Her father’s door,
He saw the form of his promised bride.
The sun shone on her golden hair,
And her cheek was glowing fresh and fair,
With the breath of morn and the soft sea air.
Like a beauteous barge was she,
Still at rest on the sandy beach,
Just beyond the billow’s reach;
But he
Was the restless, seething, stormy sea!
Ah, how skilful grows the hand
That obeyeth Love’s command!
It is the heart, and not the brain,
That to the highest doth attain,
And he who followeth Love’s behest
Far excelleth all the rest!

Thus with the rising of the sun
Was the noble task begun,
And soon throughout the ship-yard’s bounds
Were heard the intermingled sounds
Of axes and of mallets, plied
With vigorous arms on every side;
Plied so deftly and so well,
That, ere the shadows of evening fell,
The keel of oak for a noble ship,
Scarfed and bolted, straight and strong,
Was lying ready, and stretched along
The blocks, well placed upon the slip.
Happy, thrice happy, every one
Who sees his labor well begun,
And not perplexed and multiplied,
By idly waiting for time and tide!

And when the hot, long day was o’er,
The young man at the Master’s door
Sat with the maiden calm and still,
And within the porch, a little more
Removed beyond the evening chill,
The father sat, and told them tales
Of wrecks in the great September gales,
Of pirates coasting the Spanish Main,
And ships that never came back again,
The chance and change of a sailor’s life,
Want and plenty, rest and strife,
His roving fancy, like the wind,
That nothing can stay and nothing can bind,
And the magic charm of foreign lands,
With shadows of palms, and shining sands,
Where the tumbling surf,
O’er the coral reefs of Madagascar,
Washes the feet of the swarthy Lascar,
As he lies alone and asleep on the turf.
And the trembling maiden held her breath
At the tales of that awful, pitiless sea,
With all its terror and mystery,
The dim, dark sea, so like unto Death,
That divides and yet unites mankind!
And whenever the old man paused, a gleam
From the bowl of his pipe would awhile illume
The silent group in the twilight gloom,
And thoughtful faces, as in a dream;
And for a moment one might mark
What had been hidden by the dark,
That the head of the maiden lay at rest,
Tenderly, on the young man’s breast!

Day by day the vessel grew,
With timbers fashioned strong and true,
Stemson and keelson and sternson-knee,
Till, framed with perfect symmetry,
A skeleton ship rose up to view!
And around the bows and along the side
The heavy hammers and mallets plied,
Till after many a week, at length,
Wonderful for form and strength,
Sublime in its enormous bulk,
Loomed aloft the shadowy hulk!
And around it columns of smoke, upwreathing,
Rose from the boiling, bubbling, seething
Caldron, that glowed,
And overflowed
With the black tar, heated for the sheathing.
And amid the clamors
Of clattering hammers,
He who listened heard now and then
The song of the Master and his men:—

“Build me straight, O worthy Master,
    Staunch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
    And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!”

With oaken brace and copper band,
Lay the rudder on the sand,
That, like a thought, should have control
Over the movement of the whole;
And near it the anchor, whose giant hand
Would reach down and grapple with the land,
And immovable and fast
Hold the great ship against the bellowing blast!
And at the bows an image stood,
By a cunning artist carved in wood,
With robes of white, that far behind
Seemed to be fluttering in the wind.
It was not shaped in a classic mould,
Not like a Nymph or Goddess of old,
Or Naiad rising from the water,
But modelled from the Master’s daughter!
On many a dreary and misty night,
‘T will be seen by the rays of the signal light,
Speeding along through the rain and the dark,
Like a ghost in its snow-white sark,
The pilot of some phantom bark,
Guiding the vessel, in its flight,
By a path none other knows aright!

Behold, at last,
Each tall and tapering mast
Is swung into its place;
Shrouds and stays
Holding it firm and fast!

Long ago,
In the deer-haunted forests of Maine,
When upon mountain and plain
Lay the snow,
They fell,—those lordly pines!
Those grand, majestic pines!
’Mid shouts and cheers
The jaded steers,
Panting beneath the goad,
Dragged down the weary, winding road
Those captive kings so straight and tall,
To be shorn of their streaming hair,
And naked and bare,
To feel the stress and the strain
Of the wind and the reeling main,
Whose roar
Would remind them forevermore
Of their native forests they should not see again.
And everywhere
The slender, graceful spars
Poise aloft in the air,
And at the mast-head,
White, blue, and red,
A flag unrolls the stripes and stars.
Ah! when the wanderer, lonely, friendless,
In foreign harbors shall behold
That flag unrolled,
‘T will be as a friendly hand
Stretched out from his native land,
Filling his heart with memories sweet and endless!

All is finished! and at length
Has come the bridal day
Of beauty and of strength.
To-day the vessel shall be launched!
With fleecy clouds the sky is blanched,
And o’er the bay,
Slowly, in all his splendors dight,
The great sun rises to behold the sight.

The ocean old,
Centuries old,
Strong as youth, and as uncontrolled,
Paces restless to and fro,
Up and down the sands of gold.
His beating heart is not at rest;
And far and wide,
With ceaseless flow,
His beard of snow
Heaves with the heaving of his breast.
He waits impatient for his bride.
There she stands,
With her foot upon the sands,
Decked with flags and streamers gay,
In honor of her marriage day,
Her snow-white signals fluttering, blending,
Round her like a veil descending,
Ready to be
The bride of the gray old sea.

On the deck another bride
Is standing by her lover’s side.
Shadows from the flags and shrouds,
Like the shadows cast by clouds,
Broken by many a sunny fleck,
Fall around them on the deck.

The prayer is said,
The service read,
The joyous bridegroom bows his head;
And in tears the good old Master
Shakes the brown hand of his son,
Kisses his daughter’s glowing cheek
In silence, for he cannot speak,
And ever faster
Down his own the tears begin to run.
The worthy pastor—
The shepherd of that wandering flock,
That has the ocean for its wold,
That has the vessel for its fold,
Leaping ever from rock to rock—
Spake, with accents mild and clear,
Words of warning, words of cheer,
But tedious to the bridegroom’s ear.
He knew the chart
Of the sailor’s heart,
All its pleasures and its griefs,
All its shallows and rocky reefs,
All those secret currents, that flow
With such resistless undertow,
And lift and drift, with terrible force,
The will from its moorings and its course.
Therefore he spake, and thus said he:—

“Like unto ships far off at sea,
Outward or homeward bound, are we.
Before, behind, and all around,
Floats and swings the horizon’s bound,
Seems at its distant rim to rise
And climb the crystal wall of the skies,
And then again to turn and sink,
As if we could slide from its outer brink.
Ah! it is not the sea,
It is not the sea that sinks and shelves,
But ourselves
That rock and rise
With endless and uneasy motion,
Now touching the very skies,
Now sinking into the depths of ocean.
Ah! if our souls but poise and swing
Like the compass in its brazen ring,
Ever level and ever true
To the toil and the task we have to do,
We shall sail securely, and safely reach
The Fortunate Isles, on whose shining beach
The sights we see, and the sounds we hear,
Will be those of joy and not of fear!”

Then the Master,
With a gesture of command,
Waved his hand;
And at the word,
Loud and sudden there was heard,
All around them and below,
The sound of hammers, blow on blow,
Knocking away the shores and spurs.
And see! she stirs!
She starts,—she moves,—she seems to feel
The thrill of life along her keel,
And, spurning with her foot the ground,
With one exulting, joyous bound,
She leaps into the ocean’s arms!

And lo! from the assembled crowd
There rose a shout, prolonged and loud,
That to the ocean seemed to say,
“Take her, O bridegroom, old and gray,
Take her to thy protecting arms,
With all her youth and all her charms!”

How beautiful she is! How fair
She lies within those arms, that press
Her form with many a soft caress
Of tenderness and watchful care!
Sail forth into the sea, O ship!
Through wind and wave, right onward steer!
The moistened eye, the trembling lip,
Are not the signs of doubt or fear.
Sail forth into the sea of life,
O gentle, loving, trusting wife,
And safe from all adversity
Upon the ***** of that sea
Thy comings and thy goings be!
For gentleness and love and trust
Prevail o’er angry wave and gust;
And in the wreck of noble lives
Something immortal still survives!

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
‘T is of the wave and not the rock;
‘T is but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest’s roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
These are the hard times,
the long stretch of coal-shed days,
the corrugated nights of the antinomian.

I retch at the old doubts and the panoply
of dustbins clattering bright,
their watchers simian in the morning ****.

I dress as though dredging up greys,
monotone deep in the GB tradition:
now sandpit tea with oil stain floats
silt dreads the mass of a seven year clay.

Four weeks of shadows drown wind in a storm.

And dreams of my cottage
in days of such calm and late summer happiness
as brought cut corn and strawbs
and horse manure in hugs

until like Zulu tribesmen the birds appeared.
Hunched with expectation
Spears smiling like baddies they rushed me.

I woke pouring sweat like a workhorse
the weakest of defences laid up
my face pulling cellophane over French windows.
This is a very old effort. It's probably not up to scratch, but i couldn't resist using it to start the February collection. Eliot had it wrong...April's a breeze compared to the cold long nights of Feb...
Thousand minstrels woke within me,
"Our music's in the hills; "—
Gayest pictures rose to win me,
Leopard-colored rills.
Up!—If thou knew'st who calls
To twilight parks of beech and pine,
High over the river intervals,
Above the ploughman's highest line,
Over the owner's farthest walls;—
Up!—where the airy citadel
O'erlooks the purging landscape's swell.
Let not unto the stones the day
Her lily and rose, her sea and land display;
Read the celestial sign!
Lo! the South answers to the North;
Bookworm, break this sloth urbane;
A greater Spirit bids thee forth,
Than the gray dreams which thee detain.

Mark how the climbing Oreads
Beckon thee to their arcades;
Youth, for a moment free as they,
Teach thy feet to feel the ground,
Ere yet arrive the wintry day
When Time thy feet has bound.
Accept the bounty of thy birth;
Taste the lordship of the earth.

I heard and I obeyed,
Assured that he who pressed the claim,
Well-known, but loving not a name,
Was not to be gainsaid.

Ere yet the summoning voice was still,
I turned to Cheshire's haughty hill.
From the fixed cone the cloud-rack flowed
Like ample banner flung abroad
Round about, a hundred miles,
With invitation to the sea, and to the bordering isles.

In his own loom's garment drest,
By his own bounty blest,
Fast abides this constant giver,
Pouring many a cheerful river;
To far eyes, an aërial isle,
Unploughed, which finer spirits pile,
Which morn and crimson evening paint
For bard, for lover, and for saint;
The country's core,
Inspirer, prophet evermore,
Pillar which God aloft had set
So that men might it not forget,
It should be their life's ornament,
And mix itself with each event;
Their calendar and dial,
Barometer, and chemic phial,
Garden of berries, perch of birds,
Pasture of pool-haunting herds,
Graced by each change of sum untold,
Earth-baking heat, stone-cleaving cold.

The Titan minds his sky-affairs,
Rich rents and wide alliance shares;
Mysteries of color daily laid
By the great sun in light and shade,
And, sweet varieties of chance,
And the mystic seasons' dance,
And thief-like step of liberal hours
Which thawed the snow-drift into flowers.
O wondrous craft of plant and stone
By eldest science done and shown!
Happy, I said, whose home is here,
Fair fortunes to the mountaineer!
Boon nature to his poorest shed
Has royal pleasure-grounds outspread.
Intent I searched the region round,
And in low hut my monarch found.
He was no eagle and no earl,
Alas! my foundling was a churl,
With heart of cat, and eyes of bug,
Dull victim of his pipe and mug;
Woe is me for my hopes' downfall!
Lord! is yon squalid peasant all
That this proud nursery could breed
For God's vicegerency and stead?
Time out of mind this forge of ores,
Quarry of spars in mountain pores,
Old cradle, hunting ground, and bier
Of wolf and otter, bear, and deer;
Well-built abode of many a race;
Tower of observance searching space;
Factory of river, and of rain;
Link in the alps' globe-girding chain;
By million changes skilled to tell
What in the Eternal standeth well,
And what obedient nature can,—
Is this colossal talisman
Kindly to creature, blood, and kind,
And speechless to the master's mind?

I thought to find the patriots
In whom the stock of freedom roots.
To myself I oft recount
Tales of many a famous mount.—
Wales, Scotland, Uri, Hungary's dells,
Roys, and Scanderbegs, and Tells.
Here now shall nature crowd her powers,
Her music, and her meteors,
And, lifting man to the blue deep
Where stars their perfect courses keep,
Like wise preceptor lure his eye
To sound the science of the sky,
And carry learning to its height
Of untried power and sane delight;
The Indian cheer, the frosty skies
Breed purer wits, inventive eyes,
Eyes that frame cities where none be,
And hands that stablish what these see:
And, by the moral of his place,
Hint summits of heroic grace;
Man in these crags a fastness find
To fight pollution of the mind;
In the wide thaw and ooze of wrong,
Adhere like this foundation strong,
The insanity of towns to stem
With simpleness for stratagem.
But if the brave old mould is broke,
And end in clowns the mountain-folk,
In tavern cheer and tavern joke,—
Sink, O mountain! in the swamp,
Hide in thy skies, O sovereign lap!
Perish like leaves the highland breed!
No sire survive, no son succeed!

Soft! let not the offended muse
Toil's hard hap with scorn accuse.
Many hamlets sought I then,
Many farms of mountain men;—
Found I not a minstrel seed,
But men of bone, and good at need.
Rallying round a parish steeple
Nestle warm the highland people,
Coarse and boisterous, yet mild,
Strong as giant, slow as child,
Smoking in a squalid room,
Where yet the westland breezes come.
Close hid in those rough guises lurk
Western magians, here they work;
Sweat and season are their arts,
Their talismans are ploughs and carts;
And well the youngest can command
Honey from the frozen land,
With sweet hay the swamp adorn,
Change the running sand to corn,
For wolves and foxes, lowing herds,
And for cold mosses, cream and curds;
Weave wood to canisters and mats,
Drain sweet maple-juice in vats.
No bird is safe that cuts the air,
From their rifle or their snare;
No fish in river or in lake,
But their long hands it thence will take;
And the country's iron face
Like wax their fashioning skill betrays,
To fill the hollows, sink the hills,
Bridge gulfs, drain swamps, build dams and mills,
And fit the bleak and howling place
For gardens of a finer race,
The world-soul knows his own affair,
Fore-looking when his hands prepare
For the next ages men of mould,
Well embodied, well ensouled,
He cools the present's fiery glow,
Sets the life pulse strong, but slow.
Bitter winds and fasts austere.
His quarantines and grottos, where
He slowly cures decrepit flesh,
And brings it infantile and fresh.
These exercises are the toys
And games with which he breathes his boys.
They bide their time, and well can prove,
If need were, their line from Jove,
Of the same stuff, and so allayed,
As that whereof the sun is made;
And of that fibre quick and strong
Whose throbs are love, whose thrills are song.
Now in sordid weeds they sleep,
Their secret now in dulness keep.
Yet, will you learn our ancient speech,
These the masters who can teach,
Fourscore or a hundred words
All their vocal muse affords,
These they turn in other fashion
Than the writer or the parson.
I can spare the college-bell,
And the learned lecture well.
Spare the clergy and libraries,
Institutes and dictionaries,
For the hardy English root
Thrives here unvalued underfoot.
Rude poets of the tavern hearth,
Squandering your unquoted mirth,
Which keeps the ground and never soars,
While Jake retorts and Reuben roars,
Tough and screaming as birch-bark,
Goes like bullet to its mark,
While the solid curse and jeer
Never balk the waiting ear:
To student ears keen-relished jokes
On truck, and stock, and farming-folks,—
Nought the mountain yields thereof
But savage health and sinews tough.

On the summit as I stood,
O'er the wide floor of plain and flood,
Seemed to me the towering hill
Was not altogether still,
But a quiet sense conveyed;
If I err not, thus it said:

Many feet in summer seek
Betimes my far-appearing peak;
In the dreaded winter-time,
None save dappling shadows climb
Under clouds my lonely head,
Old as the sun, old almost as the shade.
And comest thou
To see strange forests and new snow,
And tread uplifted land?
And leavest thou thy lowland race,
Here amid clouds to stand,
And would'st be my companion,
Where I gaze
And shall gaze
When forests fall, and man is gone,
Over tribes and over times
As the burning Lyre
Nearing me,
With its stars of northern fire,
In many a thousand years.

Ah! welcome, if thou bring
My secret in thy brain;
To mountain-top may muse's wing
With good allowance strain.
Gentle pilgrim, if thou know
The gamut old of Pan,
And how the hills began,
The frank blessings of the hill
Fall on thee, as fall they will.
'Tis the law of bush and stone—
Each can only take his own.
Let him heed who can and will,—
Enchantment fixed me here
To stand the hurts of time, until
In mightier chant I disappear.
If thou trowest
How the chemic eddies play
Pole to pole, and what they say,
And that these gray crags
Not on crags are hung,
But beads are of a rosary
On prayer and music strung;
And, credulous, through the granite seeming
Seest the smile of Reason beaming;
Can thy style-discerning eye
The hidden-working Builder spy,
Who builds, yet makes no chips, no din,
With hammer soft as snow-flake's flight;
Knowest thou this?
O pilgrim, wandering not amiss!
Already my rocks lie light,
And soon my cone will spin.
For the world was built in order,
And the atoms march in tune,
Rhyme the pipe, and time the warder,
Cannot forget the sun, the moon.
Orb and atom forth they prance,
When they hear from far the rune,
None so backward in the troop,
When the music and the dance
Reach his place and circumstance,
But knows the sun-creating sound,
And, though a pyramid, will bound.

Monadnoc is a mountain strong,
Tall and good my kind among,
But well I know, no mountain can
Measure with a perfect man;
For it is on Zodiack's writ,
Adamant is soft to wit;
And when the greater comes again,
With my music in his brain,
I shall pass as glides my shadow
Daily over hill and meadow.

Through all time
I hear the approaching feet
Along the flinty pathway beat
Of him that cometh, and shall come,—
Of him who shall as lightly bear
My daily load of woods and streams,
As now the round sky-cleaving boat
Which never strains its rocky beams,
Whose timbers, as they silent float,
Alps and Caucasus uprear,
And the long Alleghanies here,
And all town-sprinkled lands that be,
Sailing through stars with all their history.

Every morn I lift my head,
Gaze o'er New England underspread
South from Saint Lawrence to the Sound,
From Katshill east to the sea-bound.
Anchored fast for many an age,
I await the bard and sage,
Who in large thoughts, like fair pearl-seed,
Shall string Monadnoc like a bead.
Comes that cheerful troubadour,
This mound shall throb his face before,
As when with inward fires and pain
It rose a bubble from the plain.
When he cometh, I shall shed
From this well-spring in my head
Fountain drop of spicier worth
Than all vintage of the earth.
There's fruit upon my barren soil
Costlier far than wine or oil;
There's a berry blue and gold,—
Autumn-ripe its juices hold,
Sparta's stoutness, Bethlehem's heart,
Asia's rancor, Athens' art,
Slowsure Britain's secular might,
And the German's inward sight;
I will give my son to eat
Best of Pan's immortal meat,
Bread to eat and juice to drink,
So the thoughts that he shall think
Shall not be forms of stars, but stars,
Nor pictures pale, but Jove and Mars.

He comes, but not of that race bred
Who daily climb my specular head.
Oft as morning wreathes my scarf,
Fled the last plumule of the dark,
Pants up hither the spruce clerk
From South-Cove and City-wharf;
I take him up my rugged sides,
Half-repentant, scant of breath,—
Bead-eyes my granite chaos show,
And my midsummer snow;
Open the daunting map beneath,—
All his county, sea and land,
Dwarfed to measure of his hand;
His day's ride is a furlong space,
His city tops a glimmering haze:
I plant his eyes on the sky-hoop bounding;—
See there the grim gray rounding
Of the bullet of the earth
Whereon ye sail,
Tumbling steep
In the uncontinented deep;—
He looks on that, and he turns pale:
'Tis even so, this treacherous kite,
Farm-furrowed, town-incrusted sphere,
Thoughtless of its anxious freight,
Plunges eyeless on for ever,
And he, poor parasite,—
Cooped in a ship he cannot steer,
Who is the captain he knows not,
Port or pilot trows not,—
Risk or ruin he must share.
I scowl on him with my cloud,
With my north wind chill his blood,
I lame him clattering down the rocks,
And to live he is in fear.
Then, at last, I let him down
Once more into his dapper town,
To chatter frightened to his clan,
And forget me, if he can.
As in the old poetic fame
The gods are blind and lame,
And the simular despite
Betrays the more abounding might,
So call not waste that barren cone
Above the floral zone,
Where forests starve:
It is pure use;
What sheaves like those which here we glean and bind,
Of a celestial Ceres, and the Muse?

Ages are thy days,
Thou grand expressor of the present tense,
And type of permanence,
Firm ensign of the fatal Being,
Amid these coward shapes of joy and grief
That will not bide the seeing.
Hither we bring
Our insect miseries to the rocks,
And the whole flight with pestering wing
Vanish and end their murmuring,
Vanish beside these dedicated blocks,
Which, who can tell what mason laid?
Spoils of a front none need restore,
Replacing frieze and architrave;
Yet flowers each stone rosette and metope brave,
Still is the haughty pile *****
Of the old building Intellect.
Complement of human kind,
Having us at vantage still,
Our sumptuous indigence,
O barren mound! thy plenties fill.
We fool and prate,—
Thou art silent and sedate.
To million kinds and times one sense
The constant mountain doth dispense,
Shedding on all its snows and leaves,
One joy it joys, one grief it grieves.
Thou seest, O watchman tall!
Our towns and races grow and fall,
And imagest the stable Good
For which we all our lifetime *****,
In shifting form the formless mind;
And though the substance us elude,
We in thee the shadow find.
Thou in our astronomy
An opaker star,
Seen, haply, from afar,
Above the horizon's hoop.
A moment by the railway troop,
As o'er some bolder height they speed,—
By circumspect ambition,
By errant Gain,
By feasters, and the frivolous,—
Recallest us,
And makest sane.
Mute orator! well-skilled to plead,
And send conviction without phrase,
Thou dost supply
The shortness of our days,
And promise, on thy Founder's truth,
Long morrow to this mortal youth.
For this my mother wrapped me warm,
And called me home against the storm,
And coaxed my infant nights to quiet,
And gave me roughage in my diet,
And tucked me in my bed at eight,
And clipped my hair, and marked my weight,
And watched me as I sat and stood:
That I might grow to womanhood
To hear a whistle and drop my wits
And break my heart to clattering bits.
THE PROLOGUE.

The Sompnour in his stirrups high he stood,
Upon this Friar his hearte was so wood,                        furious
That like an aspen leaf he quoke* for ire:             quaked, trembled
"Lordings," quoth he, "but one thing I desire;
I you beseech, that of your courtesy,
Since ye have heard this false Friar lie,
As suffer me I may my tale tell
This Friar boasteth that he knoweth hell,
And, God it wot, that is but little wonder,
Friars and fiends be but little asunder.
For, pardie, ye have often time heard tell,
How that a friar ravish'd was to hell
In spirit ones by a visioun,
And, as an angel led him up and down,
To shew him all the paines that there were,
In all the place saw he not a frere;
Of other folk he saw enough in woe.
Unto the angel spake the friar tho;
                               then
'Now, Sir,' quoth he, 'have friars such a grace,
That none of them shall come into this place?'
'Yes' quoth the angel; 'many a millioun:'
And unto Satanas he led him down.
'And now hath Satanas,' said he, 'a tail
Broader than of a carrack is the sail.
Hold up thy tail, thou Satanas,' quoth he,
'Shew forth thine erse, and let the friar see
Where is the nest of friars in this place.'
And *less than half a furlong way of space
            immediately
Right so as bees swarmen out of a hive,
Out of the devil's erse there gan to drive
A twenty thousand friars on a rout.                       in a crowd
And throughout hell they swarmed all about,
And came again, as fast as they may gon,
And in his erse they creeped every one:
He clapt his tail again, and lay full still.
This friar, when he looked had his fill
Upon the torments of that sorry place,
His spirit God restored of his grace
Into his body again, and he awoke;
But natheless for feare yet he quoke,
So was the devil's erse aye in his mind;
That is his heritage, of very kind                by his very nature
God save you alle, save this cursed Frere;
My prologue will I end in this mannere.

Notes to the Prologue to the Sompnour's Tale

1. Carrack: A great ship of burden used by the Portuguese; the
name is from the Italian, "cargare," to load

2. In less than half a furlong way of space: immediately;
literally, in less time than it takes to walk half a furlong (110
yards).

THE TALE.

Lordings, there is in Yorkshire, as I guess,
A marshy country called Holderness,
In which there went a limitour about
To preach, and eke to beg, it is no doubt.
And so befell that on a day this frere
Had preached at a church in his mannere,
And specially, above every thing,
Excited he the people in his preaching
To trentals,  and to give, for Godde's sake,
Wherewith men mighte holy houses make,
There as divine service is honour'd,
Not there as it is wasted and devour'd,
Nor where it needeth not for to be given,
As to possessioners,  that may liven,
Thanked be God, in wealth and abundance.
"Trentals," said he, "deliver from penance
Their friendes' soules, as well old as young,
Yea, when that they be hastily y-sung, --
Not for to hold a priest jolly and gay,
He singeth not but one mass in a day.
"Deliver out," quoth he, "anon the souls.
Full hard it is, with flesh-hook or with owls                     *awls
To be y-clawed, or to burn or bake:
Now speed you hastily, for Christe's sake."
And when this friar had said all his intent,
With qui *** patre forth his way he went,
When folk in church had giv'n him what them lest;
              pleased
He went his way, no longer would he rest,
With scrip and tipped staff, *y-tucked high:
      with his robe tucked
In every house he gan to pore
and pry,                   up high* peer
And begged meal and cheese, or elles corn.
His fellow had a staff tipped with horn,
A pair of tables
all of ivory,                         writing tablets
And a pointel
y-polish'd fetisly,                  pencil *daintily
And wrote alway the names, as he stood;
Of all the folk that gave them any good,
Askaunce* that he woulde for them pray.                    see note
"Give us a bushel wheat, or malt, or rey,
                          rye
A Godde's kichel,
or a trip
of cheese,        little cake scrap
Or elles what you list, we may not chese;
                       choose
A Godde's halfpenny,  or a mass penny;
Or give us of your brawn, if ye have any;
A dagon
of your blanket, leve dame,                            remnant
Our sister dear, -- lo, here I write your name,--
Bacon or beef, or such thing as ye find."
A sturdy harlot
went them aye behind,                   manservant
That was their hoste's man, and bare a sack,
And what men gave them, laid it on his back
And when that he was out at door, anon
He *planed away
the names every one,                       rubbed out
That he before had written in his tables:
He served them with nifles* and with fables. --             silly tales

"Nay, there thou liest, thou Sompnour," quoth the Frere.
"Peace," quoth our Host, "for Christe's mother dear;
Tell forth thy tale, and spare it not at all."
"So thrive I," quoth this Sompnour, "so I shall." --

So long he went from house to house, till he
Came to a house, where he was wont to be
Refreshed more than in a hundred places
Sick lay the husband man, whose that the place is,
Bed-rid upon a couche low he lay:
"Deus hic,"* quoth he; "O Thomas friend, good day,"       God be here
Said this friar, all courteously and soft.
"Thomas," quoth he, "God yield it you, full oft       reward you for
Have I upon this bench fared full well,
Here have I eaten many a merry meal."
And from the bench he drove away the cat,
And laid adown his potent* and his hat,                       staff
And eke his scrip, and sat himself adown:
His fellow was y-walked into town
Forth with his knave,
into that hostelry                       servant
Where as he shope
him that night to lie.              shaped, purposed

"O deare master," quoth this sicke man,
"How have ye fared since that March began?
I saw you not this fortenight and more."
"God wot," quoth he, "labour'd have I full sore;
And specially for thy salvation
Have I said many a precious orison,
And for mine other friendes, God them bless.
I have this day been at your church at mess,
                      mass
And said sermon after my simple wit,
Not all after the text of Holy Writ;
For it is hard to you, as I suppose,
And therefore will I teach you aye the glose.
           gloss, comment
Glosing is a full glorious thing certain,
For letter slayeth, as we clerkes
sayn.                       scholars
There have I taught them to be charitable,
And spend their good where it is reasonable.
And there I saw our dame; where is she?"
"Yonder I trow that in the yard she be,"
Saide this man; "and she will come anon."
"Hey master, welcome be ye by Saint John,"
Saide this wife; "how fare ye heartily?"

This friar riseth up full courteously,
And her embraceth *in his armes narrow,
                        closely
And kiss'th her sweet, and chirketh as a sparrow
With his lippes: "Dame," quoth he, "right well,
As he that is your servant every deal.
                            whit
Thanked be God, that gave you soul and life,
Yet saw I not this day so fair a wife
In all the churche, God so save me,"
"Yea, God amend defaultes, Sir," quoth she;
"Algates
welcome be ye, by my fay."                             always
"Grand mercy, Dame; that have I found alway.
But of your greate goodness, by your leave,
I woulde pray you that ye not you grieve,
I will with Thomas speak *a little throw:
              a little while
These curates be so negligent and slow
To ***** tenderly a conscience.
In shrift* and preaching is my diligence                     confession
And study in Peter's wordes and in Paul's;
I walk and fishe Christian menne's souls,
To yield our Lord Jesus his proper rent;
To spread his word is alle mine intent."
"Now by your faith, O deare Sir," quoth she,
"Chide him right well, for sainte charity.
He is aye angry as is a pismire,
                                   ant
Though that he have all that he can desire,
Though I him wrie
at night, and make him warm,                   cover
And ov'r him lay my leg and eke mine arm,
He groaneth as our boar that lies in sty:
Other disport of him right none have I,
I may not please him in no manner case."
"O Thomas, *je vous dis,
Thomas, Thomas,                   I tell you
This maketh the fiend, this must be amended.     is the devil's work
Ire is a thing that high God hath defended,                  forbidden
And thereof will I speak a word or two."
"Now, master," quoth the wife, "ere that I go,
What will ye dine? I will go thereabout."
"Now, Dame," quoth he, "je vous dis sans doute,
Had I not of a capon but the liver,
And of your white bread not but a shiver,                   *thin slice
And after that a roasted pigge's head,
(But I would that for me no beast were dead,)
Then had I with you homely suffisance.
I am a man of little sustenance.
My spirit hath its fost'ring in the Bible.
My body is aye so ready and penible
                        painstaking
To wake,
that my stomach is destroy'd.                           watch
I pray you, Dame, that ye be not annoy'd,
Though I so friendly you my counsel shew;
By God, I would have told it but to few."
"Now, Sir," quoth she, "but one word ere I go;
My child is dead within these weeke's two,
Soon after that ye went out of this town."

"His death saw I by revelatioun,"
Said this friar, "at home in our dortour.
               dormitory
I dare well say, that less than half an hour
Mter his death, I saw him borne to bliss
In mine vision, so God me wiss.
                                 direct
So did our sexton, and our fermerere,
                 infirmary-keeper
That have been true friars fifty year, --
They may now, God be thanked of his love,
Make their jubilee, and walk above.
And up I rose, and all our convent eke,
With many a teare trilling on my cheek,
Withoute noise or clattering of bells,
Te Deum was our song, and nothing else,
Save that to Christ I bade an orison,
Thanking him of my revelation.
For, Sir and Dame, truste me right well,
Our orisons be more effectuel,
And more we see of Christe's secret things,
Than *borel folk,
although that they be kings.             laymen
We live in povert', and in abstinence,
And borel folk in riches and dispence
Of meat and drink, and in their foul delight.
We have this worlde's lust* all in despight
      * pleasure *contempt
Lazar and Dives lived diversely,
And diverse guerdon
hadde they thereby.                         reward
Whoso will pray, he must fast and be clean,
And fat his soul, and keep his body lean
We fare as saith th' apostle; cloth
and food                  clothing
Suffice us, although they be not full good.
The cleanness and the fasting of us freres
Maketh that Christ accepteth our prayeres.
Lo, Moses forty days and forty night
Fasted, ere that the high God full of might
Spake with him in the mountain of Sinai:
With empty womb
of fasting many a day                          stomach
Received he the lawe, that was writ
With Godde's finger; and Eli, well ye wit,
                    know
In Mount Horeb, ere he had any speech
With highe God, that is our live's leech,
            *physician, healer
He fasted long, and was in contemplance.
Aaron, that had the temple in governance,
And eke the other priestes every one,
Into the temple when they shoulde gon
To praye for the people, and do service,
They woulde drinken in no manner wise
No drinke, which that might them drunken make,
But t
Caroline Grace Feb 2012
Tedium brought them here.
Bored with routine head-counts,
museums and man-made landmarks.

Impulse told them
To flatten the silent fronds,
Blindly tear down the hampering vines,
Rattle the industrious cities beneath their feet.

Curiosity led them
To this patch of unkempt squitch,
This sacred space littered with clean bones.

No words came with them.
Only Observation...


... a leaping fire tended by savages
Polished teeth strung around their necks,
The bark-ridged skin,
The supernaturally piercing eyes,
Their ashen members grazing the farinaceous earth.

At the heart of this sacred place
Littered with the clean bones,
Condesention covered them with coats,
Misinterpreted grins exposing evidential remains.

Fear penetrated their too-white skins,
Their souls through the sockets of their eyes,
Their clattering teeth.

All this is true :
The scattered bones,
The brass buttons blinking through starved ashes,

The arrows in a glass case.



copyright © Caroline Grace 2012
Alexander Klein Oct 2011
The devil's speech say they:
Rolling, clattering, frolicking, hungry.
Billows of charred skeletons embrace the air
Black soot pumped straight from the pyres of Hades
Congealing to clouds of evil intent wherever it roam.
That charred old shell so terse,
Black as sadness and dead as a hearse,
Darling to death as he brings on the rain:
The dry rolling thunder of the funeral train.

In the coughing desert
Not a thing dares roam
Neither wind nor creature
And neither stick nor stone.
But then the silence disturbed by a horrible shriek -
The railway screams in horror and the train itself speaks, saying
   "Tell me, thou innocent,
       Why feel you special and best?
   For when all is done I take you
       And return you to my nest;
   Your world is bright and happy
       Full of high spirits and song,
Though soon you too shall step aboard
       And join my faceless throng."

Hot saliva on the heaving engines:
Weeping, groaning, ghostly, parched.
Rusted joints spewed onwards grinding resisting
Movement spat out like a violently beaded string of curses
Sloppily uttered as incantations of a malformed mouth!
From that charred old shell so terse,
Black as sadness and dead as a hearse,
Darling to death as he brings on the rain:
The dry rolling thunder of the funeral train.

That dark train cries out and all around
A mourning whimper rises like slumbering fog-
Bleak and yellow it obscures the land
Seeping out insidious in strange locales all:
The old lonely fisherman
Sleeping on his wharf,
The frustrated hawker's
Windblown barefaced booth,
Silent streets crying for attention,
Dark places hidden at the corner of every eye.

That solemn train cries out and all around
Her mourning whimper rises like harrowing fog
Calling all to upright attention and fear.
Looming like a spectre but a breath-span from your window
Slowly closing cold dread claws-
Naked numbness dumb as ice-
Cold dread claws upon thy waist.
And you,
You poor old thing,
Shivering in your pitiful shack of bones,
You never had any chance!
You were only human.
You were only human, you poor old thing.

Barreling on with brimstone slang:
Clang clang! Dang dang! Beelz Bub!
Sputtering an ocean of curses from turgid goat-flesh
Born of sadness to cause even more, yawning great maw
Jowls clanking with fresh hot oil drool steaming stark and lewd, and yet
That charred old shell so terse,
Blacker than sadness and slain like a hearse,
Is all that gives meaning to our every gain:
The dry rolling thunder of the funeral train.
I am the grand central
swirling vortex of the known universe

pathway of consciousness
a worldwide metaphysical interconnection

hub of modernity’s magnificent  metropolis
prime mover of it's empowered citizenry

eye of a Mid-Atlantic megalopolis
bridging an expanse from Boston to DC
trajectories of an Acela Express
accelerates time, coheres a region

magnetic compass axis
gyroscopic core
web of iron rails
touches all
transcontinental
cardinal ordinates

my constitution of chiseled granite blocks
manifests steadfast immutability

opulent terminus of marbled underground railways
subconscious portals to inter-borough worlds


the Zodiac streaks across my painted heavens
splashing aspirational mosaics of
bold citizens onto universal canvasses
my exhalations burst galaxies,
birthing constellations
promising potentialities of
plenteous abundance
as a right of all
global citizens

transit vehicle for mobilized classes
of fully enfranchised republicans

my tendrils plunge deep into
cavernous drilled bedrock
firming an unshakable edifice
-a new rock of ages-

rails splay out to the
horizons farthest corners
northern stars, southern crosses
nearest points on a sextants reckon

I am the iron spine
of the globes anointed isle
I co-join Harlem and Wall Street
as beloved fraternal twins

commerce, communication and culture
is the electricity surging through my veins

the worlds towering Babel
rises from my foundations
the plethora of tongues
all well understood

I open the gateways of knowledge
guarded by vigilant library lions

route students and scholars to
the worlds most pronounced public schools

beatific Beaux Art is boldly scrawled on my walls
in dark hued blues sung in gaudy graffito notes

swanky patrons sip martinis,
nosh bagels with a smear and **** down
shucked lemon squirted oysters

reason, discovery and discourse tango
to the airs of Andean Pipe flutes
with violence and discordant dissonance
deep within my truculent bowels

I am the road to work,
a pathway to a career and
the ride to a Connecticut
home sweet home

my gargoyles and statuary laugh
at pessimistic naysayers

I am the station for
centurions, bold charioteers
homeless nomads and
restive masses

I stir a nation of neighborhoods
into a brilliant *** of roiling roux

beams of enlightenment
stream through colossal windows
today's epiphanies of the fantastic
actualize resplendent zeitgeists

sipping coffee in my cafe's
the full technicolor palette
of humanity is revealed;
civilizations history is etched
forever upon the mind

eight million stories
of the naked city is bared
as splendorous tragedy
it's comic march
of carnal being
exalted

a million clattering feet
scurry across marblized floors
polishing the provenance
burnishing a patina
exuding golden footprints

I am 100 years young and
thousand years away from
the crash of a demolition ball

Doric Columns and
elegant archways
coronate commuters
each day with a
new revelation of a
democratic vista

I am the grand central
my spirit flows as
one with the mass
in the vibrant
heart of our
throbbing city

Music Selection: Leonard Bernstein, On the Town

written to mark the 100th Anniversary of Grand Central Station


Oakland
2/8/13
storm siren Jul 2016
Sh-shivering.

Shh,
Quiet.

Sh-shivering
Cl-clattering
Of te-teeth.

Shhh.
Quiet.

Sh-shivering
And cl-clattering
Of te-teeth
That sink into flesh
And I sh-shiver
Wanting your hands
To trace across mine.
And my te-teeth
Cl-clatter
Softly,
While I sh-shiver
When your hands trace across me.

And I'm so c-cold
But you seem to be
The thermodynamic equilibrium
I've needed
For a really long time.

Sh-shivering
Turns to
Elongated vowels (among other things),
And I'm not so cold,
Anymore.

And I want my hands
Held in yours,
And I want to be held,
By you,
And I want your lips
On my lips
My neck
My forehead
My back.
I want to feel your breath
In the crook of my neck.

I don't like
The physicality of it all,
I never have.
Take away what it means,
It's a little gross.

But lyrically speaking,
Elongating my vowels
And going back to my shivering form,
Is quite eloquently the best way to express
What I can't seem to say right.

Love isn't right enough. It doesn't feel like it's quite enough.

So I sit here,
Sh-shivering
Trying to think
Of the best way to tell you,
That beyond cl-clattering teeth,
And qui-quivering knees,
And sh-shaking words
That there's something more to this that makes me believe in something,
And I don't know how to show you
Or tell you
That flying with you is
The best decision I allowed myself to
Fall headfirst into.
"To love another person is to see the face of God." - Victor Hugo
E Townsend Nov 2015
I will drag my knife along your skin,
sharp blade down into your fragile, shaking canvas,
incising an increasing beat of whimpers and whines.
Please hold still. I promise this will hurt.

I will expose your clattering bones,
rip out your chattering teeth,
erase every impugned utterance
you muttered against me.
I will carve my letters slowly
on your unzipped frame,
sliding the burgundy blood across to
blot
       clot
              dot.    

This is only preparation for what is about to follow.

I will puncture your throbbing organs,
slash your stretched cartilage
with an unwritten script.
Before I press further,
I’ll assure you, you are still alive.

I will twist each phrase,
haunt you to believe it is your fault,
force you to beg the slightest escape.
I will permanently etch my name
deep in the frozen chambers
of your quivering heart.

I will open up the blueprint as a demolition expert,
remove whole fractions of your fractured soul,
leave you a horrid wreck in the abyss
of a mess you just made.

You will not get rid of me,
though no trace of evidence is left behind.

My hands have been clean from the start.
So I had this workshopped and I got so many good reviews, I'm still glowing
Martin Rombach Aug 2012
I’m not perfect. I’m far from it. A clattering engine of destructive vices, a body average under Adonis, a mind weathered by experience and paradoxical in influence.

It has taken a lot of work and luck to become who I am today, with that ****** in the mirror tripping me up plenty along the way.

But in this moment, amongst our grand but insignificant civilisation, amongst our beautiful but minute planet, in this relative scope I sit here with you in...
Somehow... things have finally worked. Fitted. Reached... some level of... peace.

As I indulge in your eyes there’s a lot to contemplate, speculate, agonise over.

There will be times between us where consequence will draw conflict, where our dividing, clashing aspects will build the intensity of how different we are, questioning whether we should know each other at all.
Moments where the reminders of the subtle magnetism amongst our personalities seem almost transparent.

Familiarity breeds contempt so they say.

What I hope, for us, for whatever this is, whatever it will become, I hope potential and positivity can develop.
Spontaneity.
Exploration.
Curiosity.

You once were... the goal personified. Amongst the trivial, the financial, the creative, a connection with you became... valuable. And now... my love, now the connection has filtered into my memories as something warm and reassuring, you have stepped from the centre of attention to a turn of my head from the perceivable forward.

In the drive of the day, you serve as a fantastical presence in my mind, a word repeating in the sentences rambling through the monologue, associated with an image that stirs a collection of emotion.
The words and images, the memories and ghostly echo of a voice straighten my back out, and knock my chin up a touch.  

We don’t depend on each other, we aren’t each other’s everything, instead we are friends in love developing ourselves in a way I can never fully express thanks for.

Life is a challenge, and at the same a beauteous opportunity and I’m glad you’re sharing it with me. The reassurance of you... helps me take it all on with pride.

So thanks.
A Child’s Story

Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

Rats!
They fought the dogs, and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cook’s own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking:
“’Tis clear,” cried they, “our Mayor’s a noddy;
And as for our Corporation—shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can’t or won’t determine
What’s best to rid us of our vermin!
You hope, because you’re old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease?
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we’re lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we’ll send you packing!”
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

An hour they sate in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
“For a guilder I’d my ermine gown sell;
I wish I were a mile hence!
It’s easy to bid one rack one’s brain—
I’m sure my poor head aches again
I’ve scratched it so, and all in vain.
Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!”
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
“Bless us,” cried the Mayor, “what’s that?”
(With the Corporation as he sat,
Looking little though wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Than a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous
For a plate of turtle green and glutinous)
“Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!”

“Come in!”—the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in—
There was no guessing his kith and kin!
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire:
Quoth one: “It’s as my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the Trump of Doom’s tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!”

He advanced to the council-table:
And, “Please your honours,” said he, “I’m able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep or swim or fly or run,
After me so as you never saw!
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole and toad and newt and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.”
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the selfsame cheque;
And at the scarf’s end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
“Yet,” said he, “poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampire-bats;
And, as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats
Will you give me a thousand guilders?”
“One? fifty thousand!”—was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

Into the street the Piper stepped,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled
Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser,
Wherein all plunged and perished!
- Save one who, stout a Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he, the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, “At the first shrill notes of the pipe
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press’s gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks;
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out ‘Oh, rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!’
And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce and inch before me,
Just as methought it said ‘Come, bore me!’
- I found the Weser rolling o’er me.”

You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
“Go,” cried the Mayor, “and get long poles!
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats!”—when suddenly, up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, “First, if you please, my thousand guilders!”

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For council dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar’s biggest **** with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gypsy coat of red and yellow!
“Beside,” quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
“Our business was done at the river’s brink;
We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
And what’s dead can’t come to life, I think.
So, friend, we’re not the folks to shrink
From the duty of giving you something for drink,
And a matter of money to put in your poke;
But, as for the guilders, what we spoke
Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!”

The Piper’s face fell, and he cried
“No trifling! I can’t wait, beside!
I’ve promised to visit by dinner-time
Bagdat, and accept the prime
Of the Head Cook’s pottage, all he’s rich in,
For having left, in the Calip’s kitchen,
Of a nest of scorpions no survivor—
With him I proved no bargain-driver,
With you, don’t think I’ll bate a stiver!
And folks who put me in a passion
May find me pipe to another fashion.”

“How?” cried the Mayor, “d’ye think I’ll brook
Being worse treated than a Cook?
Insulted by a lazy ribald
With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
Blow your pipe there till you burst!”

Once more he stepped into the street;
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling, that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by—
And could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper’s back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council’s bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However he turned from South to West,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
“He never can cross that mighty top!
He’s forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!”
When, lo, as they reached the mountain’s side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,—
“It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can’t forget that I’m bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me:
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles’ wings:
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the Hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!”

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher’s pate
A text which says, that Heaven’s Gate
Opes to the Rich at as easy rate
As the needle’s eye takes a camel in!
The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,
Wherever it was men’s lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart’s content,
If he’d only return the way he went,
And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw ’twas a lost endeavour,
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
“And so long after what happened here
On the Twenty-second of July,
Thirteen hundred and seventy-six”:
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the children’s last retreat,
They called it, the Pied Piper’s Street—
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labour.
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
They wrote the story on a column,
And on the great Church-Window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away;
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there’s a tribe
Of alien people that ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don’t understand.

So, *****, let you and me be wipers
Of scores out with all men—especially pipers:
And, whether they pipe us free, from rats or from mice,
If we’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise.
Raphael Uzor Jul 2014
Sometime today...

I look up at the sky
It is cloudy and dark
Flickers of lightning
And growling of thunder
Threatening the day's work
With uninvited wet showers
Bad for business, these rains
Keeping our customers indoors
Filling our potholes to the brim
Drenching our zeal to work
I look, as the drops fall down
In their multitudes
Clattering against my window
Bearing down on my roof
Intent on washing away my hopes
I miss the sunshine and its rays
I miss the warmth of sunrise
I miss the comfort of sunset
And with all my heart
I loathe the rain
Yearning for the sun
Soon a remembrance is awaken.

Somewhere in the past...

I looked up at the sky
It was sunny and dry
Debris of dusty winds
And a hot tempered sun
Worsening the day's labor
With unfriendly heat waves
Bad for farming, this heat!
Keeping our seedlings underground
Drying our boreholes to the bottom
Smoking our will to work
I sweated, as the rays blazed
In their fury
Burning through my window
Melting down my roof
Determined to roast my vision
I missed the rain and its showers
I missed the chills of the storms
I missed the drizzles of dew
And with all my might
I despised the sun
Praying for the rains
As if that would quench my thirst!

Yet I wish it away as soon as it comes...*


© Raphael Uzor
Insatiability of man's desires...
I couldn't decide on a title for this one, so I titled it undecided.
:-)
So the son of Menoetius was attending to the hurt of Eurypylus
within the tent, but the Argives and Trojans still fought desperately,
nor were the trench and the high wall above it, to keep the Trojans in
check longer. They had built it to protect their ships, and had dug
the trench all round it that it might safeguard both the ships and the
rich spoils which they had taken, but they had not offered hecatombs
to the gods. It had been built without the consent of the immortals,
and therefore it did not last. So long as Hector lived and Achilles
nursed his anger, and so long as the city of Priam remained untaken,
the great wall of the Achaeans stood firm; but when the bravest of the
Trojans were no more, and many also of the Argives, though some were
yet left alive when, moreover, the city was sacked in the tenth
year, and the Argives had gone back with their ships to their own
country—then Neptune and Apollo took counsel to destroy the wall, and
they turned on to it the streams of all the rivers from Mount Ida into
the sea, Rhesus, Heptaporus, Caresus, Rhodius, Grenicus, Aesopus,
and goodly Scamander, with Simois, where many a shield and helm had
fallen, and many a hero of the race of demigods had bitten the dust.
Phoebus Apollo turned the mouths of all these rivers together and made
them flow for nine days against the wall, while Jove rained the
whole time that he might wash it sooner into the sea. Neptune himself,
trident in hand, surveyed the work and threw into the sea all the
foundations of beams and stones which the Achaeans had laid with so
much toil; he made all level by the mighty stream of the Hellespont,
and then when he had swept the wall away he spread a great beach of
sand over the place where it had been. This done he turned the
rivers back into their old courses.
  This was what Neptune and Apollo were to do in after time; but as
yet battle and turmoil were still raging round the wall till its
timbers rang under the blows that rained upon them. The Argives, cowed
by the scourge of Jove, were hemmed in at their ships in fear of
Hector the mighty minister of Rout, who as heretofore fought with
the force and fury of a whirlwind. As a lion or wild boar turns
fiercely on the dogs and men that attack him, while these form solid
wall and shower their javelins as they face him—his courage is all
undaunted, but his high spirit will be the death of him; many a time
does he charge at his pursuers to scatter them, and they fall back
as often as he does so—even so did Hector go about among the host
exhorting his men, and cheering them on to cross the trench.
  But the horses dared not do so, and stood neighing upon its brink,
for the width frightened them. They could neither jump it nor cross
it, for it had overhanging banks all round upon either side, above
which there were the sharp stakes that the sons of the Achaeans had
planted so close and strong as a defence against all who would
assail it; a horse, therefore, could not get into it and draw his
chariot after him, but those who were on foot kept trying their very
utmost. Then Polydamas went up to Hector and said, “Hector, and you
other captains of the Trojans and allies, it is madness for us to
try and drive our horses across the trench; it will be very hard to
cross, for it is full of sharp stakes, and beyond these there is the
wall. Our horses therefore cannot get down into it, and would be of no
use if they did; moreover it is a narrow place and we should come to
harm. If, indeed, great Jove is minded to help the Trojans, and in his
anger will utterly destroy the Achaeans, I would myself gladly see
them perish now and here far from Argos; but if they should rally
and we are driven back from the ships pell-mell into the trench
there will be not so much as a man get back to the city to tell the
tale. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say; let our squires hold our
horses by the trench, but let us follow Hector in a body on foot, clad
in full armour, and if the day of their doom is at hand the Achaeans
will not be able to withstand us.”
  Thus spoke Polydamas and his saying pleased Hector, who sprang in
full armour to the ground, and all the other Trojans, when they saw
him do so, also left their chariots. Each man then gave his horses
over to his charioteer in charge to hold them ready for him at the
trench. Then they formed themselves into companies, made themselves
ready, and in five bodies followed their leaders. Those that went with
Hector and Polydamas were the bravest and most in number, and the most
determined to break through the wall and fight at the ships. Cebriones
was also joined with them as third in command, for Hector had left his
chariot in charge of a less valiant soldier. The next company was
led by Paris, Alcathous, and Agenor; the third by Helenus and
Deiphobus, two sons of Priam, and with them was the hero Asius-
Asius the son of Hyrtacus, whose great black horses of the breed
that comes from the river Selleis had brought him from Arisbe.
Aeneas the valiant son of Anchises led the fourth; he and the two sons
of Antenor, Archelochus and Acamas, men well versed in all the arts of
war. Sarpedon was captain over the allies, and took with him Glaucus
and Asteropaeus whom he deemed most valiant after himself—for he
was far the best man of them all. These helped to array one another in
their ox-hide shields, and then charged straight at the Danaans, for
they felt sure that they would not hold out longer and that they
should themselves now fall upon the ships.
  The rest of the Trojans and their allies now followed the counsel of
Polydamas but Asius son of Hyrtacus would not leave his horses and his
esquire behind him; in his foolhardiness he took them on with him
towards the ships, nor did he fail to come by his end in
consequence. Nevermore was he to return to wind-beaten Ilius, exulting
in his chariot and his horses; ere he could do so, death of ill-omened
name had overshadowed him and he had fallen by the spear of
Idomeneus the noble son of Deucalion. He had driven towards the left
wing of the ships, by which way the Achaeans used to return with their
chariots and horses from the plain. Hither he drove and found the
gates with their doors opened wide, and the great bar down—for the
gatemen kept them open so as to let those of their comrades enter
who might be flying towards the ships. Hither of set purpose did he
direct his horses, and his men followed him with a loud cry, for
they felt sure that the Achaeans would not hold out longer, and that
they should now fall upon the ships. Little did they know that at
the gates they should find two of the bravest chieftains, proud sons
of the fighting Lapithae—the one, Polypoetes, mighty son of
Pirithous, and the other Leonteus, peer of murderous Mars. These stood
before the gates like two high oak trees upon the mountains, that
tower from their wide-spreading roots, and year after year battle with
wind and rain—even so did these two men await the onset of great
Asius confidently and without flinching. The Trojans led by him and by
Iamenus, Orestes, Adamas the son of Asius, Thoon and Oenomaus,
raised a loud cry of battle and made straight for the wall, holding
their shields of dry ox-hide above their heads; for a while the two
defenders remained inside and cheered the Achaeans on to stand firm in
the defence of their ships; when, however, they saw that the Trojans
were attacking the wall, while the Danaans were crying out for help
and being routed, they rushed outside and fought in front of the gates
like two wild boars upon the mountains that abide the attack of men
and dogs, and charging on either side break down the wood all round
them tearing it up by the roots, and one can hear the clattering of
their tusks, till some one hits them and makes an end of them—even so
did the gleaming bronze rattle about their *******, as the weapons
fell upon them; for they fought with great fury, trusting to their own
prowess and to those who were on the wall above them. These threw
great stones at their assailants in defence of themselves their
tents and their ships. The stones fell thick as the flakes of snow
which some fierce blast drives from the dark clouds and showers down
in sheets upon the earth—even so fell the weapons from the hands
alike of Trojans and Achaeans. Helmet and shield rang out as the great
stones rained upon them, and Asius the son of Hyrtacus in his dismay
cried aloud and smote his two thighs. “Father Jove,” he cried, “of a
truth you too are altogether given to lying. I made sure the Argive
heroes could not withstand us, whereas like slim-waisted wasps, or
bees that have their nests in the rocks by the wayside—they leave not
the holes wherein they have built undefended, but fight for their
little ones against all who would take them—even so these men, though
they be but two, will not be driven from the gates, but stand firm
either to slay or be slain.”
  He spoke, but moved not the mind of Jove, whose counsel it then
was to give glory to Hector. Meanwhile the rest of the Trojans were
fighting about the other gates; I, however, am no god to be able to
tell about all these things, for the battle raged everywhere about the
stone wall as it were a fiery furnace. The Argives, discomfited though
they were, were forced to defend their ships, and all the gods who
were defending the Achaeans were vexed in spirit; but the Lapithae
kept on fighting with might and main.
  Thereon Polypoetes, mighty son of Pirithous, hit Damasus with a
spear upon his cheek-pierced helmet. The helmet did not protect him,
for the point of the spear went through it, and broke the bone, so
that the brain inside was scattered about, and he died fighting. He
then slew Pylon and Ormenus. Leonteus, of the race of Mars, killed
Hippomachus the son of Antimachus by striking him with his spear
upon the girdle. He then drew his sword and sprang first upon
Antiphates whom he killed in combat, and who fell face upwards on
the earth. After him he killed Menon, Iamenus, and Orestes, and laid
them low one after the other.
  While they were busy stripping the armour from these heroes, the
youths who were led on by Polydamas and Hector (and these were the
greater part and the most valiant of those that were trying to break
through the wall and fire the ships) were still standing by the
trench, uncertain what they should do; for they had seen a sign from
heaven when they had essayed to cross it—a soaring eagle that flew
skirting the left wing of their host, with a monstrous blood-red snake
in its talons still alive and struggling to escape. The snake was
still bent on revenge, wriggling and twisting itself backwards till it
struck the bird that held it, on the neck and breast; whereon the bird
being in pain, let it fall, dropping it into the middle of the host,
and then flew down the wind with a sharp cry. The Trojans were
struck with terror when they saw the snake, portent of aegis-bearing
Jove, writhing in the midst of them, and Polydamas went up to Hector
and said, “Hector, at our councils of war you are ever given to rebuke
me, even when I speak wisely, as though it were not well, forsooth,
that one of the people should cross your will either in the field or
at the council board; you would have them support you always:
nevertheless I will say what I think will be best; let us not now go
on to fight the Danaans at their ships, for I know what will happen if
this soaring eagle which skirted the left wing of our with a monstrous
blood-red snake in its talons (the snake being still alive) was really
sent as an omen to the Trojans on their essaying to cross the
trench. The eagle let go her hold; she did not succeed in taking it
home to her little ones, and so will it be—with ourselves; even
though by a mighty effort we break through the gates and wall of the
Achaeans, and they give way before us, still we shall not return in
good order by the way we came, but shall leave many a man behind us
whom the Achaeans will do to death in defence of their ships. Thus
would any seer who was expert in these matters, and was trusted by the
people, read the portent.”
  Hector looked fiercely at him and said, “Polydamas, I like not of
your reading. You can find a better saying than this if you will.
If, however, you have spoken in good earnest, then indeed has heaven
robbed you of your reason. You would have me pay no heed to the
counsels of Jove, nor to the promises he made me—and he bowed his
head in confirmation; you bid me be ruled rather by the flight of
wild-fowl. What care I whether they fly towards dawn or dark, and
whether they be on my right hand or on my left? Let us put our trust
rather in the counsel of great Jove, king of mortals and immortals.
There is one omen, and one only—that a man should fight for his
country. Why are you so fearful? Though we be all of us slain at the
ships of the Argives you are not likely to be killed yourself, for you
are not steadfast nor courageous. If you will. not fight, or would
talk others over from doing so, you shall fall forthwith before my
spear.”
  With these words he led the way, and the others followed after
with a cry that rent the air. Then Jove the lord of thunder sent the
blast of a mighty wind from the mountains of Ida, that bore the dust
down towards the ships; he thus lulled the Achaeans into security, and
gave victory to Hector and to the Trojans, who, trusting to their
own might and to the signs he had shown them, essayed to break through
the great wall of the Achaeans. They tore down the breastworks from
the walls, and overthrew the battlements; they upheaved the
buttresses, which the Achaeans had set in front of the wall in order
to support it; when they had pulled these down they made sure of
breaking through the wall, but the Danaans still showed no sign of
giving ground; they still fenced the battlements with their shields of
ox-hide, and hurled their missiles down upon the foe as soon as any
came below the wall.
  The two Ajaxes went about everywhere on the walls cheering on the
Achaeans, giving fair words to some while they spoke sharply to any
one whom they saw to be remiss. “My friends,” they cried, “Argives one
and all—good bad and indifferent, for there was never fight yet, in
which all were of equal prowess—there is now work enough, as you very
well know, for all of you. See that you none of you turn in flight
towards the ships, daunted by the shouting of the foe, but press
forward and keep one another in heart, if it may so be that Olympian
Jove the lord of lightning will vouchsafe us to repel our foes, and
drive them back towards the city.”
  Thus did the two go about shouting and cheering the Achaeans on.
As the flakes that fall thick upon a winter’s day, when Jove is minded
to snow and to display these his arrows to mankind—he lulls the
wind to rest, and snows hour after hour till he has buried the tops of
the high mountains, the headlands that jut into the sea, the grassy
plains, and the tilled fields of men; the snow lies deep upon the
forelands, and havens of the grey sea, but the waves as they come
rolling in stay it that it can come no further, though all else is
wrapped as with a mantle so heavy are the heavens with snow—even thus
thickly did the stones fall on one side and on the other, some
thrown at the Trojans, and some by the Trojans at the Achaeans; and
the whole wall was in an uproar.
  Still the Trojans and brave Hector would not yet have broken down
the gates and the great bar, had not Jove turned his son Sarpedon
against the Argives as a lion against a herd of horned cattle.
Before him he held his shield of hammered bronze, that the smith had
beaten so fair and round, and had lined with ox hides which he had
made fast with rivets of gold all round the shield; this he held in
front of him, and brandishing his two spears came on like some lion of
the wilderness, who has been long famished for want of meat and will
dare break even into a well-fenced homestead to try and get at the
sheep. He may find the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks
with dogs and spears, but he is in no mind to be driven from the
fold till he has had a try for it; he will either spring on a sheep
and carry it off, or be
A Gouedard Jun 2014
At least three times a week
Thumps, bangs, a loud crash,
Doors slamming, metallic echoes,
Bumps, thuds, sharp edges, smash
I hear shouting, muffled, no words,
His voice booms and beats against the walls.

Hushed stillness after, as i wait to hear him slam out
Clattering feet on the stair to the street
Airless, exhausted relief as they fade.
Everything echoes in empty impersonal corridors
Magnolia walls, polished floors, plain blank doors.
The room behind one containing locked fear and silence.

I sense it there
Hear it breath through the walls
It enters my room, far more than the noise
A pounding, held in fear
So loud that it keeps me awake
As I listen, long after.

Next morning, so aware of silence,
When I hear a sound near my door
I jump, as alert as a hunted animal.
I hear her heart clench
So linked to this stranger by sounds
Though I have never imagined her face
Camilla Peeters Jul 2018
there we were
we were just like water so close
me perhaps being a bit brusque
correction: crashing unto you
you soft flowing
you still taking me in asking for a sip
we were so thirsty both of us dry
our little rain kingdom in a month
changed became a desert barren

i am sorry for wanting all different streams
me being queen oceaan
all the different streams to come out
near me i still want you near me
i am sorry for not knowing how
and i see your water running deep low foundation
warning: he has sudden currents inside

not sure if i want to swim against
still i do know about dipping the tip of my fingers
i want to hear you clattering when i sleep being safe
Olivia Anderson Jul 2014
My favorite feeling is coming out of a restaurant
cheeks are flushed, and eyes are lively
everyone is high on a strange syrupy feeling
how it makes you feel so sleepy, yet so awake
clattering of plates, clinking of perspirating glasses
the soft glow makes everything seem more beautiful.

It’s there I see you, for the first time, I really see you.
Small smile and all, amid the roar of conversation
time doesn’t stop; it become preserved in memory
it becomes a part of how I will always remember you

Your breath lulls me in, calls to me
sweet words pull out of your mouth
like bubbles escaping languidly
for a moment, all is dampened as if we’re under water
sanguine, hearty, I am happily trapped
in this space with you
May 2014
LA Hall Nov 2013
America on a map!
Imagine the northeast corner.
I am in Vermont riding the Amtrak southbound. It's raining.
The clattering of wheels tearing through rusty iron tracks.
Forehead against the cold window's glass,
I hear a steam whistle.
I look out the window: grey, drizzling.
We roll,
past the barbed-wire fences that crown the prison fence,
past great, soggy fields littered with old tractors, and misty mountains far behind,
past brown silos that rise up, thick and crowned with silver heads,
past a deer leaping through a rainy field,
past a propane company--five great, white propane tanks,
past a marsh, harpooned by a telephone pole--a sparrow jumps off the wire,
a cemetery on a green hill,
little brick towns,
the Interstate--rainbow colored tipi in a field behind,
past a great, charcoal cliff, hard with sharp creases like a crumpled piece of black construction
        paper buried,
past a Sunoco station--green dumpster in the parking lot,
into a thick wood--past the cold rocks,
past brown leaves poking through the dusting on forest floor,
past all the pines, which have dandruff,
past twiggy sapling branches, only leaves withered and curled like dried jalapenos,
over a bridge--the great, cold river, wide and glassy--islands of ice and snow--the riverbank dirt is
        hard.
The bell dings thrice.
The train begins to slow.
It stops, jerks me back in my seat.
The steam whistle blows.
I look out the window.

Concrete platform, dark red station & roof,
a crowd of boys and girls, standing with perfect posture in sharp blue uniforms, hats adorned with
        golden crests,
they march on the train
and fill up the seats
of The Great Metal Snake: hollow and in it people sit,
The Great Metal Snake: slithering down the state,
It will leave me in a small city soon,
at an overcast station,
and slither down to D.C.,
and slither back, with the oily clatter of spinning iron wheels . . .
We took the snakes,
out of of our nightmares,
slimy green sliding through cupped hands to jump and bite your cheek, hanging like a lanyard,
or sliding through the sweat of jungle-floors waiting to bite ankles,
or coiled in redbarns, on piles of hay with spiders dropping down cold open windows in front of
        full moon,
full moon: silver train wheel.
I hear the steam whistle.

We took the snakes,
out of our nightmares,
dissected them with scalpals,
nodded and walked to the drawing board then built.
Decades later, the unveiling:
The platform crowd leans over the tracks and looks,
the bell dings thrice,
the steam whistle hisses,
the engine is coughing,
wheels are chugging--
around the corner He came,
with great, clear eyes like glasses:
black, iron Anaconda of Industry.
His brothers are barreling
From New York to Sacramento,
Siberia to Stalingrad,
Italy to France,
under the English channel,
down Africa.
From Burlington to Brattleboro--
barreling down the state--
I am riding His brother home.
Moon Humor Oct 2013
Gasping, whispering, teasing wind
billowing my clothes, messing my hair.
Calm and still before the world is
deafened by the groaning cries of incoming
thunder rolling across the sky.

We watch the storm blow in
wind scattering angry tear drops to the ground
from rich purple clouds crowding the horizon.
I run one step behind you
dodging hail that pelts the soft earth.

By the time we reach shelter
my hair is slicked down, stuck to my skin.
Safe inside from the ever stronger wind
in dim light we wait for our clothes to dry
I’m wishing you would stay the night.

Rattling windows sing in chorus
with my clattering bones
and your deep, soothing voice.
Wind shakes the stucco house
your steady breath becomes my lullaby.

The morning comes with dew
bright light touching down from the sky.
Still steaming ground smells of petrichor
strewn with branches
the only hint of last night’s wind.

Clear blue skies in morning light
hide the storm that was so angry last night
stillness concealing violent winds.

{177 words}
onlylovepoetry Mar 2017
~and for Harlan, who loved this one best~

"for tandem is the ever-changing, graying color of their fierce attached tenacity"

waking/walking in
careful pacing regular lock steps,
like new cadets, counting cadence,
in perfect silent, almost motionless,
except for the minuscule quivering of
slightly parted moving lips

these two elders,
still now plebes,
freshmen
but of a latter, graduated stage,
demonstrating robustly
the slow shuffle-along,
a well practiced dance conjured
'in tandem'

her arm, crooked in his,
his other hand,
in protective custody of a
knight's armored chain glove
encasing hers,
he, shuffling just,  
a precise, intended half-a-beat slower
lest she ever think
that she, ever be a drag upon him

hair, his,
threaded with daily,
new arriving grays,
proudly accepted
as the privilege of
graceful aging

hers,
disguised with periodic outings,
outings for the hidings of life's bookmarks,
conceding nothing ever to
time's lunatic desire to separate them

modest in dress,
styling hints of  pasts' elegant,
the man's hat defiant,
daringly jaunty angled,
a small scarf to handbag knotted,
matching his Windsor knotted tie

the passers-by, all smile,  
the signal charm of an
end game processional,
thinking so sweet,
yet mine eyes detect more,
something
hardy and radical

a fierce, fierce fierceness,
both fighters in the resistance,
armed with tandem tenacity,
ground given,
but only inches surrendered,
wounds resisted by
scar skin toughened
by the caress of ions bonding
under the pressure
of atomic level mutuality

worn out,
well past Purple Hearts,
no capitulation feared,
to the ever changing,
enemies' new disguises,
they,
a two person platoon,
each,
having the other's back

and I burst into tears on the street,
a train of out loud moans,
even groans emitted,
like a string of perfect pearls
breaking,
clattering on an asphalt terrain

weeping
not
from visions of the inevitable,
sighing
not
from the certitude of a
cycle's uptime ending


but jealous furious by this reminder delightful,
angry at myself, for having lost so many wasted years,
mine, the loss greatest, for absent was the
fierce tenacity of tandem
for my aussie prof:
you will know me well
by the color of
my happy brimming tears
AmberLynne Jul 2014
Put a price on yourself.                                                                                     
Tell me, what's the value of your life?                                                               

When did metal become your god,
slithering upon your wrists
and enveloped within the confines
of your lips.
You practice your idolatry,
revering the cold embrace
of stainless steel.

Put a price on yourself.                                                                                       
Tell me, what's the value of your life?                                                               

How did you get here,
teeth clattering on your god
of false hope?
Put under so much pressure
to leave a mark on the world,
make a difference, be different
(but not too different)
that instead you settle
for leaving scars in your wake.
The marks on your skin
and the ache left in their hearts-
is that the target you were aiming for?

Put a price on yourself.                                                                                       
Tell me, what's the value of your life?                                                               

Stop.
Breathe.
This is about the consequences brought about by societal pressures.
7.13.14
Don Bouchard Feb 2012
My father,
Who never marched a drill,
Nor fired an angry shot,
Recounts fond memories
I've heard so many times:
How long ago, when I was very young,
He and our neighbor,
Up before the sun,
Engaged in tractor battles
(He's very sure he won).

My father woke those mornings,
Early 1960s,
With the popping cough of
Diesel International tractor cylinders
Clattering out white smoke...
Then blue and black,
As engine heat and friction
Tightened gaps and sealed compression,
And the motor steadied into an even roar.

Across the county road
Our only neighbor led or followed suit,
Sending smoke and sound
To drown the morning songs
of robins and meadowlarks.

Fifty years later,
Dad laughs in recollection,
"We started rising just a little
Earlier each day.
Starting up our tractors
In a sort of game
Called, 'Who's out earliest?'"

Six became a quarter of,
Then five-thirty backed to four.
One tractor or the other roared,
Early and then earlier to pull
Into the waiting fields.
When three-thirty came around
My mother shook her head,
But if she said a word,
I haven't heard.

They even started engines up
Before they ran,
Milking buckets swinging,
to their barns to chore.
As early became earlier
In the little farmers' war.

One day in town,
Entirely by happenstance,
A meeting came between the two.
My father, being younger,
Had energy for more,
But the neighbor shook his head,
Grabbed his hand and said,
"Let's stop this foolishness.
I don't know about you,
But I need my sleep."

The farmer battle ended then.
A hand shake and a smile
Between two farmer friends,
Created country lore,
Remembered here a while,
As "The Early, Earlier War."
Sebastian Jan 2019
I favour the deep, impenetrable truth of the jungle
Over the smooth ride over sleek black rubber;
The *****, disturbing, demented disorder;
The distortions of the lights we bathe on,
Over outward alignments and the staleness of systems.

I favour the cheap, rugged, bittersweet taste
Of a late night's substandard drink,
In the midst of true lights and shadows
And the uncertainty they cast upon us,
Over the orderly and satisfactory--
The dead pleasures and securities that
Exist nowhere but in feeble projections.

I favour the basic, primeval, animal grunt--
The dirt, the dizziness of true treading
Across the muddy shallows--,
Over the clattering of an overflowed,
Certain mind.

I favour doubt, earnest doubt,
Unpalatable doubt, inescapable doubt--
A smile in a pitch-black room,
A journey on a lukewarm air balloon,
A half-finished sentence in a half-serious gloom--,
Over hasty conclusions and tainted allusions.

I favour the endearing messiness of reality;
The chaos of light and dreams;
The mystery, so out of reach,
Of you and me and the space in-between;
The stained, torn, shattered, burnt,
Twisted texture we find ourselves upon,
Over the smooth, marble-white,
Sterile surface where false certainties
Slide, grinning, before they find themselves
On an impending collision with the infectious hesitation of the ground.

I favour the acknowledging look
Straight into the eye;
A ladder with one step;
A race with no competitors;
A contentment without resentment;
A bread on your table that's good enough,
That doesn't tease you and promise you more,
And more,
And more,
So that you forget what you should really care for,
What lies deep under your skin,
What stirs up the dormant contents of your guts--
You climb to the hilltop
Which finally allows you to have
A peek at the next one.

I favour uncertainty and risk,
And walking too close to the edge;
I favour barely enough,
And cutting it too close;
I favour throwing all excess over the board,
And lowering standards;
I favour the taste of imminent failure
And the adrenaline of a heart-wakening sprint;
I favour meagre means
And big dreams, free of currencies;
For they all remind me what the world
Really looks like,
Who I really am,
And what the winter-night winds
Really feel like.

I favour the ways of nature, often erratic,
*****, ugly and convoluted,
Often dumbfounding,
Unintentionally intelligent and mysterious,
Over the ways of fear-ridden constructions,
For there is no such thing
As a straight line.
Jonny Bolduc Nov 2014
I wonder what language you were speaking.
Was it pure ******-babble?
Were the words pure? Were you
reciting the words to a song?
Were you singing?
Could I see your beauty?

Were you even cognitive, were you thinking
underneath the muttering, heavy clamor of words
that jail-broke from your mouth and streamed into existence,
flooding the men and woman
carrying bags and carts under the
artificial lights and long lines

Did you think that *****-mumble-speaking all over a single Korean mother
and her young child
was imposing or threatening in anyway?
If you’d have taken a step closer to her I would have had to step in,
but she quietly left her place and dragged her shy looking
boy with her as he stared at the ground-
and we did our best
to turn you into a ghost, clattering pipes in the empty walls-

I wonder how many rugs you’ve been swept under.
How many times people have tried and failed to plug up the holes in
your leaky brain.
How many times you’ve tried help yourself.
How many times someone has failed you-
how many times you’ve failed someone else.
How many occasions
exactly like this
people ignored you as you rambled on about nothing in a Superstore like a broken record skipping unpredictable sick scratched torn
Kimberly Clemens Oct 2013
Clattering clashes of confused cacophony
Secretly sweep myself from sanity  
No one knows of this nonsense
That's viciously veering away my vanity.
But bursting bottles bubble over
Then transform from thick to translucent
Succumb to swallowing my insecurities
Like little lies luring your loneliness
Making moments your own meaningless movie
These hallucinations hear hoarse laughter
That tricks time into ticking towards timebombs.
Sam Temple Jun 2014
the vastness of an empty soul
demystifies the Grand Canyon
and shrinks the universe
to microscopic molecules
barely able to manipulate energy
matter that doesn’t matter
madder than a hare in March
balance skewed
undue pressure
seasonal disfunction disorder
ordering medication
naturalization
seeking citizenship
in an isolation township
serving only self-pity
to the self-destructive –
squatting, gargoyle
surveyor on the job
soaking in the loathing
basking in the glow
caused by the discontent of others
opioid android locked in the void
unemployed
laughing at misery
in mercy centers
meticulously mimicking the miscreants
impersonating pain
seeking to blend –
ostracized miser in designer jeans
obscene in drag queen regalia
“whiskers from under his pancake make-up”
wake-up Godiva, locate the paraphernalia  
mammalian musculature
hide the heart of a snake
as she slithers across the floor
searching for the perfect surfactant
….her scaly skin itches, uncomfortably
tearing my lip skin
in the din
of her poorly lit closet –
together in terror, the admission seems worth the cost
lost in the sweet melody
of sobbing children
and clattering dishes
shattered visions
misgivings
estrangement entangled with commitment
obligations
oblivion and orange peals
appealing to a higher power
unanswered questions hover inconsequential
adding to the ozone depletion
and altered climate
owning blame
for all the world and her problems
I sit with shoulders slumped –
KiraLili Sep 2016
Down
Dirt
Roads
We
Walk
Clattering
Fallen
Maple
Leaves
Pungent
From
The
Days
Heat
As
Noses
Fill
With
The
Smell
Of
Fall
Day hike #fall

— The End —