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L B Nov 2017
What She Look Like?
  
…Like one
tenderly hushing
water in her lap
Elemental peace
No place to go
No more to be
…Like the ocean
in the background
of a photo on a warm spring day
belying
rage
and the random possible
thrash--

out!

at all guilty ******* in her path
Toss in the next sentient soul
who should happen to pass
within range
who should have seen
who should have known
what a storm could do….

Moody in the aftermath
and sorrier than rain
With the tide in retreat
grumbling excuses
Hiding out waist-deep in dusk’s Merlot
Waiting for night to sleep it off

to heal the rifts
cleanse the shame

Rising
yellow, bright— and

“What the hell happened, here?!”

____


Her hair
a winter’s tragedy of trees
upside down—
No wait— the wind has put her right
to ragged random branches
swaying, wet with intermittent hues
of dark and silver
caught in collar, flying inelegant and free
at the shoulders of the levee
tossed and softening shyly
sagging jaw and nose a stump of tree
All perspective changes…

if you watch a while—

She’ll raise her eyes
into the sunset
to catch an eagle
entering
flight

…and then you might…

___

She looks like—
a pudgy robin
querying grass
mud soaked
that hides the fire of her breast
tugging at a worm
more than half her length
“I will feed them, **** you!
Give it up, you son of a snake!”
_____

...Don’t miss her hour of music though
for anything
Encroaching darkness
from the rooftops
she listens to the hearts she breaks

Remember this in winter
she can give but she will take
it out on February
when you’re longing
for her
Only male robins do the singing; females do the choosing.  

There are very few recent  photos of me.  Thus this poem.
Siena Nov 2018
love is described as:
flowers blooming
sunlight shining
red lips perking
broken hearts mending

and maybe love is all that
but it can also be:

flowers sagging
rain clouds swarming
grey lips drooping
and the newly mended hearts
slowly
unstitching
themselves
love can break as much as it can heal
David R Oct 2018
Nag, nagging,
Finger wagging,
Shoulders sagging,
Victim slagging.

Oh beration,
Flagellation,
Irritating
Castigation.

Cutting hemlock,
On her chopping block,
Innuendoes
Spawning ad hoc.

Super-intending,
Condescending,
Never ending,
Insult fending.

Pointless rounds
Of empty double-talk,
Wife, your name is
Self-styled wise hawk.
P E Kaplan Apr 2014
First I spied the neck, sagging innocently enough,
one might even say blissfully, reflected in the glass laptop.
The phrase "whodunit" came out of nowhere,
and a low, silky, voice whispered,
"Aw, don't stop before the good part."

The villain left a few clues; the wispy hair strands;
some scattered age spots, skin tags, a few moles,
listless, crinkly, skin pale, lightly pimpled,
and a weird, wrinkly crevasse teased,
"Aw, don't stop before the good part."

Totally hooked, curiosity piqued; southward I spotted
where a once perky treasure "chest" was hidden,
two solemn, half-empty grain sacks, laying sideways,
basically lifeless they lazily muttered,
"Aw, don't stop before the good part."

The final chapter, the mystery solved,
no crime, no villain, nothing stolen, just flesh alchemy.
Where once a taut, flat, plateau of supple skin, resided
now a lumpy, bumpy, flabby belly, murmured sweetly,
"Boston Creme Pie and a cup of tea would hit the spot."
Logan Robertson Mar 2018
On the pier of life I sit,
dangling in my thoughts.
Days past I'd be fishing
for the stars,
happy in my thoughts.
A small fish here,
a small fish there,
it mattered.
I had something.
Now my eyes close
to the horizon,
to my reflection of the sea,
and to life.
Birds flock to the skies,
in harmony,
with the wind,
with each other,
over singing trees
and ryhming seas,
in communal and in chorus.
My dark eyes look up,
mournful.
For how I thirst the album of life,
fervent and epic.
Resigned I sit,
my shoulders sagging,
my closing feet dangling
at the end of the pier.
I close my eyes
and think of my pallbearers,
laughing.
I imagine their lips,
curt little whispers,
my epithaph,
he did get his feet wet in life.

Logan Robertson

3/30/2018
r Mar 1
Some in my family say
Uncle Sam was my salvation
when I was a young man
hell, maybe so, I don’t know
but he kept me out of jail
and paid for my education
which is how I found myself
in West Memphis, Arkansas
surveying Indian mounds
that some fool professors thought
were put there by the Choctaw
but I knew they’d got it wrong
all along, it was the Mississippians
which makes perfect sense if you think
on it considering where they put ‘em
but I digress, I must confess it
was my fondness for backroad bars
and blues guitars carved from wood
of crosses burnt by drunks in hoods
and strings plucked by calloused fingers
of old men with shoulders slumped
like sagging barns and Ford pickups
you find out in them parts, singing
songs about long gone women, all
kinds of aching age old pains lingering
enough to make a man’s heart rain
until the US Army Corps of Engineers
blew the levy’s to send those tears
out across cotton fields and mounds
I know the Choctaw didn’t build.
FlipThePoet Jan 4
I woke up this morning the crack of dawn and
now I'm yawning as I proceed to ask myself why
why the mess up?
All you had to do was the lineup,
instead you put the clip down and let it sagged.

Dawg, I had big respect for you
but you gonna let it fly.
I tried,
but recently your cut game caught weak
and it hurts.

The other day, you said
"things have changed, it ain't a 10 dollar game
mans have to pay 15 to get a sweet fade"
so I paid.

it's obvious now as
price goes up, performance goes down.
All I get is a messy fade,
and a sagging bearded line.

I think i will have to cut the beard
and let it grow back.
The cut game is an extreme sport,
especially when things go bad
This was an intricate one about a messy cut I got from one of my OG. To me, poetry is fun and I like writing about the smallest thing such as these
Graff1980 Sep 2018
Old blue jeans
haven’t faded yet,
still unblurred
as he moves
undeterred
by a painful past;

Slightly slumping,
shoulders sagging
like a soldier
who is dragging
his body back
from an unknown war.

Well earned
wrinkles on his face
are deeply ingrained
as deep blue eyes
shield a soft soul
from feeling
to cold.

Brown spotted skin,
but his hair is still black,
the pain is still there
in the past
as a matter
of facts
that others lack.

It is all superficial.
People can’t even see
the surface scars
that he hides
behind his sleeves.
Desert dry eyes
can no longer
sooth a parched heart.

Outside
of our ability
to perceive
is his grief,
strange subtractions
from his life
like his parents,
his friends,
and his wife,

All we can see
is a solitary
sad stranger.
FlipThePoet Jan 3
Crooked frame on a white wall
with its squared edge on all four sides
sagging to its left, lifting it right up
exposing its crookedness for all to see

Crooked frame on a white wall
why wasn't you adjusted?
wasn't your crooked stand exposed to every foreign eye?
or was your content so beautiful
that it captured the stare of all who glanced?

If so, it must have been content of pure gold
to have kept hungry eyes blindfold
Pretty much on this one, I try to convey a point which I hope y'all somewhat understand. The point being that even though crooked outside, the frame content inside attracts the 'hungry eye'. In essence, what's inside does matter and most times if not more, it matters more than the outside. So focus on making the inside 'pure gold', cuz that's what ppl(including me) look for.
Also, God looks at the inside too :)
n0r Nov 2018
Slipping into respite
Beneath the noon’s lights

Knowing tomorrow holds another dragging,
Cigarettes between lips, ignite
The tick tock’s sagging, bliss
Missed in tearful reminiscence.
Sip the sweet wine
And add a stain, a scraping
Away of the cerebellum’s folds
Every evening after waking
Drag this frame across
A few sharp blocks
To get a fix

That will **** the chattering
Forever, Someday.
Bryce Sep 2018
The loving puddle in the gutter off market street-- the one that fills with dirt and **** and damp newspaper, plastic soda cup, strange indecipherable Chinese pamphlets with bleeding characters. She smiles at the sun and renders its visions on her face, and with great tension attempts to demonstrate her willingness, her blushing consent to being totally subsumed by its whims. Of course she trembles at the diurnal stampede of feet, but is not afraid-- for she too speaks in eternity. She has evaporated before-- she has kissed the incessant sky over Marrakesh in the soft morning and dreams of the sparkling mountainsides in the night, when she is divided by callous rubber tires or cast below by competing distant rains. Yet she has always found her way back home; Nestled in the subtle indentation of road besides the brickway near Battery.

"Dewdrop, let me cleanse
in your brief
sweet waters . . .
These dark hands of life"

It was one of the waning days of winter, in the blurred haze of rains, when we left the coast and began our journey home. As she drove, I watched the pebbled streaks roll across the window into great vertical streams, to be cast off indistinct along the stationary road. Upon all our sides, Even the black-toothed mountain tops lost their grandiose summits into the fog. Off the road, next to the sagging remains of a gas station, a man sat beneath the naked fist of an old willow tree. He, with a teal umbrella, twirled the nylon circle so that the collecting sheen of water spun and spiraled centrifugal out into the bombarding camaraderie of fellow drops. The damp fields sat empty of life behind him, casting into evanescent black oceans of dirt. As we hurried past, I turned back-- and following him with my own watering eyes, I watched for as long as I could--until he too faded silently into the mist.
WA West Oct 2018
you of pharmaceutical lens,
Concrete handed
sharp edges rounded,
colours slandered,
you womb-safe,
blanketed,
bleeting sounds
non-threatening,
Shadow individual
Deodorant mojo,
the man-made park,
well governed hair
lips are moist and plumped up,
a conveyor belt human,
bowel movements and idle chatter are corporate losses,
Neglect that which is outside this Kingdom,
the office must remain hermetically sealed to ensure maximum shareholder profits
breathing in sand and time,
this here void of monotony,
numbly dispirited
poor food and no discipline (that's you),
face is sallow
sagging,
you are nothing,
not really,
your bonus will be paid at the end of this month.
In the reliquary there is the censer, and the book.
In the reliquary in the back, which is the fields and
the little place you know that nobody else does,
there is also a plant with plush green leaves, hung
from sagging twine, going yellow and ancient
in the native light. The word is a rebuke and the
plant is the rebuke of the word,
and the water that kept the plant
springing on the breeze is vanishing
and the plant can only be used when it is dry
and rid of it.

Buy them by the carton and smoke them
so when he sticks his fat head out of Heaven
we can catch his beard on fire.
Draw his fat head as if it is magnificent
draw it next to the lamb
and the word search in the children's Sunday amusements.
Remain quiet. Read instead about
the flight of the Jews and their wanderings.
There is smoke in Exodus. There is smoke in Leviticus.
There is smoke in every cell of your body
and if you are burned you will rise.
Remain quiet. The silence is a wall
you can beat against until you recognize yourself in it;
a sanctuary is any four walls that contain peace;
white panels hide the baptismal and
are the only way out of the sanctuary
we recognize our end in the quiet, warm water.
It gets in your ears like water does. When
the saints speak or the doves cluck you can only hear
choking, like a storm drain ******* at leaves. What color
is the water that is not the River Jordan: clear unto the tile.
What color are his eyes that are not
the River Jordan? What color are his eyes when
he looks at you bowing and scraping
in the closet with the believer in a spaghetti strap top
she cannot wear to school? What color?

The hand on the bell is profane so the sound of the bell is profane;
better to hold what is already ruined and ruin it further
says the land that was given
to those who use it
and the stars misconceived
smile at those going North
and are silent in cities.
Alaynah Sep 2018
Being black
Being LGBTQ
Being muslim
Just being me
Or you just being you

We’re all supposed to be on the same team
At least in my head
But some people are close minded
And want to see some of our teammates dead

Here’s something Jermine Hodge, a young black man said
“I’m just like you
a human
red blood
Emotions
a moving figure
Why should you treat me
Like I’m about to pull the trigger?”

Over the centuries blacks have been discriminated
Because of the color of their skin
Causing a whole population of HUMANS to become sadder
But at the end of the day we all bleed the same color
So why should what’s on the outside even matter?

Being black, that automatically means you deal drugs
And all the homies you hangout with, they’re just a bunch of  thugs
Who play with guns and are thieves
Who gets chicks knocked up with their baby and then just leaves

Black people are the ones who walk around with sagging pants
The ones who get bullied by the police over “suspected suspicion” and not remaining a “proper stance”

If they walk around in the wrong neighborhood it gives that scared white woman a good reason to dial
But really it’s just a good opportunity to flash the blue lights and racially profile.


People say brown kids were born to end war between the two races
But people who are racist at heart, won’t stop their cruel ways
just because they see more brown faces

I don’t experience racism?
That’s what they think
But I’ve gotten called the N word ‘cause
My skin isn’t like milk, it’s kinda like a mixed drink

And being ***? Nope “that’s a sin”
God forbid us to love who WE wanted
but little did he know love always wins

If you’re a man in love with a man,
You’re obsessed with fashion and have a high pitched voice
You see? We didn’t ask you we just insisted without giving any other choice.

And you’re a lesbian if you have tattoos, piercings and short hair
And act like you have nothing to lose
If you are in love with the same gender you don’t love god!
Imagine what it’s like to be in his shoes!

You can’t judge someone because of who they identify as or who they love
If it’s not affecting your life, it’s not something you should be concerned of

Now, Muslims.
I guess they’re all terrorists huh?
But I guess we judge an entire nation of people
Based off of a few unfortunate attacks and call out the whole religion. DUH

If you’re wearing a Burqa or Hijab you get judged and looked at because you’re
an assumed terrorist
Yes 9/11 was a tragic day but we can’t blame all Muslims because of it

People will criticize no matter what
But I can tell you what one of society’s errors is
The muslim that sleeps in my house every single night
IS NOT A ******* TERRORIST

White people get looked at as the racists ones
But I can tell you that this stereotype isn’t true
Because my white mom has many brown daughters and sons
And my white grandmother on my dads side has 21 children 18  of them being adopted black kids, she took them all in because they were so beautiful and held her heart captive.

Negrophobia, Xenophobia, Homophobia, and Racism
These are all made up things for glamorizing human criticism.

The point of this poem was to debunk what stereotypes do
Also to remember never let lies and other people’s beliefs stop you from being unapologetically you
Ryan May 25
Boy
my pocket   has     one nickel    &      Mason's has     a dime;
    a   transient,   red rubber ball ping-ponging  deep  faith with    & for  
        carnival             trash   is what    falls from the
raccoon's mouth    past three;      the      midnight   tour, troupe, &
    egret     have plucked    my eyes out     before    petit dejeuner    
         &    have all booked     residence    with   lush   vagabonds from
   some oasis    on the     curb of Suburbia,   the ottoman wet       where
        lore      slumps the backs of the        fairest;   where,  
  beyond     equanimity   there  boons & beckons  
            tightropes,   slacked tension;     and where     folklore  swells
     arteries       like   King Cake;    the  swamplands  have my    pocket
            picked;   pock-marked    truants    (BOY)    fiddling in fours
  during    school hours,   cakey     margarine  spread all
       over      their    legs         as they      eat grilled cheese and
become,      ****,
           in the    ambrosian   daylight fogged out with    figgy shade
   by thick,   carpet-fondling    curtains, sagging with secondhand soot.
The warts are ****,
  the wrinkles deep

The flesh now sagging,
  deprived of sleep

The eyesight failing,
   with hearing gone

But words still call
  —from tomorrow’s song

(Villanova Pennsylvania: June, 2016)
      'From The Book Of Prayers'
zebra Mar 29
you need each other like a vampire needs blood
you've always loved her ***
those long legs
unexpected arguments
the word no
fantasies of make up ***
make up ***

late night sneaking farts
off spring
springing
debt and drudgery
till half dead
weight gain from a sagging liver
and retching love

labyrinth's of desire and anger
divorce; the sword of Damocles
a mad hatter chandelier

seeing stupid through her eyes
my face like a vitrine of broken masks
the way she looks in floppy slippers
or dressed up in black and pearls

snoring with a gaping mouth
of floating spirits in intricate patterns
of  darkness made of nothing

making believe your with someone else
*** fantasies I've never spoken of
in sultry dioramas of glistening leg shows
mosaic starred
baiting Shanghai nights

on my knees again
eating thorns
and she is more adorable than the rumba
a hot arsonist setting me on fire
canopy of flowers
golden apples and blood
pouring down shade sun and rain

decades of the same sentences
and the same dead sea silences
in claustrophobic tangles
of devotion

seeing who dies first
and left desolate;
with a legacy of remembrance
that chews like a moth to cloth
lantern of vapors; weeping
flicker heart

it beats the hell out of being alone
at the end I go back to the beginning

the marrying kind
Onoma Mar 31
--shall April be the cruelest month?

as that praying mantis poet Eliot proposed--

to begin with implosive foolery.

sagging rains that will shatter stained glass

windows, to reveal another station, of

another cross.

forgetting to joke about dead-seriousness.

the air will carry roses flustered by the

bloated piety of clouds,  soaking the earth

for worms to break surface.

stirred crazy into beaks that glut, then sing.

more than arthritic bones, the forever growing

pains of a scowling soul...ah April.
John Gallant Nov 2018
Behind crazed glass, a foreboding silhouette looms.
What new torment lurks beyond this trepidatious classroom door?
Flakes of milky green paint drop on logo-clad shuffling toes.
Bravery oozes from the pores of all who dare enter,
this oven-like torture chamber of enlightenment.

Fresh recipes of discovery, are being cooked-up within.
A pinch of sociology, a dash of economics, a few pounds of history,
all chucked in the bubbling cauldron.
"Students, take your seats.", reverberates sagging paper sheets,
that line these pin punched holey walls.

Dutiful pupils assume the learning position,
while screeching chalk strokes, and rubber sole squeals,
startle awake their absorbent minds.
Tasty seasoning, renders unappetizing information morsels palatable.
Flavorful data eased into hungry memory, and psyches.

Scholarly skills abound, within teachers lecture resound.
Though these lessons are no substitute for experience.
ConnectHook Feb 2016
by John Greenleaf Whittier  (1807 – 1892)

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits which be Angels of Light are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun, but also by our common Wood fire: and as the celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”

COR. AGRIPPA, Occult Philosophy, Book I. chap. v.

“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow; and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.”


EMERSON

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The **** his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingàd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, —
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.

A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: “Boys, a path!”
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp’s supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse ****** his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The **** his ***** greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt’s Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.

All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art

The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks’ heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: “Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.”

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where’er it fell
To make the coldness visible.

Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, —
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.

We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o’er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!

We sped the time with stories old,
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
Or stammered from our school-book lore
“The Chief of Gambia’s golden shore.”
How often since, when all the land
Was clay in Slavery’s shaping hand,
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
Dame Mercy Warren’s rousing word:
“Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
From the red scourge of ******* to fly,
Nor deign to live a burdened slave!”
Our father rode again his ride
On Memphremagog’s wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper’s hut and Indian camp;
Lived o’er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. François’ hemlock-trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away.
And mingled in its merry whirl
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury’s level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
We shared the fishing off Boar’s Head,
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
With spoons of clam-shell from the ***.
We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
And dream and sign and marvel told
To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
Adrift along the winding shores,
When favoring breezes deigned to blow
The square sail of the gundelow
And idle lay the useless oars.

Our mother, while she turned her wheel
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Concheco town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, —
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard’s conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
The loon’s weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
The ducks’ black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild-geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply, with a look more grave,
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel’s ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley’s Journal, old and quaint, —
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! —
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
And water-**** and bread-cask failed,
And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
His portly presence mad for food,
With dark hints muttered under breath
Of casting lots for life or death,

Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
To be himself the sacrifice.
Then, suddenly, as if to save
The good man from his living grave,
A ripple on the water grew,
A school of porpoise flashed in view.
“Take, eat,” he said, “and be content;
These fishes in my stead are sent
By Him who gave the tangled ram
To spare the child of Abraham.”
Our uncle, innocent of books,
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
The ancient teachers never dumb
Of Nature’s unhoused lyceum.
In moons and tides and weather wise,
He read the clouds as prophecies,
And foul or fair could well divine,
By many an occult hint and sign,
Holding the cunning-warded keys
To all the woodcraft mysteries;
Himself to Nature’s heart so near
v That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes, who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
Whereof his fondly partial pride
The common features magnified,
As Surrey hills to mountains grew
In White of Selborne’s loving view, —
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle’s eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold,
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed i’ the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink.
In fields with bean or clover ***,
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell;
The muskrat plied the mason’s trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.

Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
And voice in dreams I see and hear, —
The sweetest woman ever Fate
Perverse denied a household mate,
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love’s unselfishness,
And welcome wheresoe’er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income
And womanly atmosphere of home, —
Called up her girlhood memories,
The huskings and the apple-bees,
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
Weaving through all the poor details
And homespun warp of circumstance
A golden woof-thread of romance.
For well she kept her genial mood
And simple faith of maidenhood;
Before her still a cloud-land lay,
The mirage loomed across her way;
The morning dew, that dries so soon
With others, glistened at her noon;
Through years of toil and soil and care,
From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
All unprofaned she held apart
The ****** fancies of the heart.
Be shame to him of woman born
Who hath for such but thought of scorn.
There, too, our elder sister plied
Her evening task the stand beside;
A full, rich nature, free to trust,
Truthful and almost sternly just,
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
And make her generous thought a fact,
Keeping with many a light disguise
The secret of self-sacrifice.

O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee, — rest,
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
How many a poor one’s blessing went
With thee beneath the low green tent
Whose curtain never outward swings!

As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Against the household ***** lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed in the unfading green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: —
The chill weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where’er I went
With dark eyes full of love’s content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June’s unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life’s late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
The master of the district school
Held at the fire his favored place,
Its warm glow lit a laughing face
Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
The uncertain prophecy of beard.
He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
Played cross-pins on my uncle’s hat,
Sang songs, and told us what befalls
In classic Dartmouth’s college halls.
Born the wild Northern hills among,
From whence his yeoman father wrung
By patient toil subsistence scant,
Not competence and yet not want,
He early gained the power to pay
His cheerful, self-reliant way;
Could doff at ease his scholar’s gown
To peddle wares from town to town;
Or through the long vacation’s reach
In lonely lowland districts teach,
Where all the droll experience found
At stranger hearths in boarding round,
The moonlit skater’s keen delight,
The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
The rustic party, with its rough
Accompaniment of blind-man’s-buff,
And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
His winter task a pastime made.
Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
He tuned his merry violin,

Or played the athlete in the barn,
Or held the good dame’s winding-yarn,
Or mirth-provoking versions told
Of classic legends rare and old,
Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
Had all the commonplace of home,
And little seemed at best the odds
‘Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
The guise of any grist-mill brook,
And dread Olympus at his will
Became a huckleberry hill.

A careless boy that night he seemed;
But at his desk he had the look
And air of one who wisely schemed,
And hostage from the future took
In trainëd thought and lore of book.
Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
Shall Freedom’s young apostles be,
Who, following in War’s ****** trail,
Shall every lingering wrong assail;
All chains from limb and spirit strike,
Uplift the black and white alike;
Scatter before their swift advance
The darkness and the ignorance,
The pride, the lust, the squalid sloth,
Which nurtured Treason’s monstrous growth,
Made ****** pastime, and the hell
Of prison-torture possible;
The cruel lie of caste refute,
Old forms remould, and substitute
For Slavery’s lash the freeman’s will,
For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
A school-house plant on every hill,
Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
The quick wires of intelligence;
Till North and South together brought
Shall own the same electric thought,
In peace a common flag salute,
And, side by side in labor’s free
And unresentful rivalry,
Harvest the fields wherein they fought.

Another guest that winter night
Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
The honeyed music of her tongue
And words of meekness scarcely told
A nature passionate and bold,

Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
Its milder features dwarfed beside
Her unbent will’s majestic pride.
She sat among us, at the best,
A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
Rebuking with her cultured phrase
Our homeliness of words and ways.
A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
Swayed the lithe limbs and drooped the lash,
Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
And under low brows, black with night,
Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
Presaging ill to him whom Fate
Condemned to share her love or hate.
A woman tropical, intense
In thought and act, in soul and sense,
She blended in a like degree
The ***** and the devotee,
Revealing with each freak or feint
The temper of Petruchio’s Kate,
The raptures of Siena’s saint.
Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
Had facile power to form a fist;
The warm, dark languish of her eyes
Was never safe from wrath’s surprise.
Brows saintly calm and lips devout
Knew every change of scowl and pout;
And the sweet voice had notes more high
And shrill for social battle-cry.

Since then what old cathedral town
Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
What convent-gate has held its lock
Against the challenge of her knock!
Through Smyrna’s plague-hushed thoroughfares,
Up sea-set Malta’s rocky stairs,
Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
Or startling on her desert throne
The crazy Queen of Lebanon
With claims fantastic as her own,
Her tireless feet have held their way;
And still, unrestful, bowed, and gray,
She watches under Eastern skies,
With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord’s quick coming in the flesh,
Whereof she dreams and prophesies!
Where’er her troubled path may be,
The Lord’s sweet pity with her go!
The outward wayward life we see,
The hidden springs we may not know.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood,
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Perversities of flower and fruit.
It is not ours to separate
The tangled skein of will and fate,
To show what metes and bounds should stand
Upon the soul’s debatable land,
And between choice and Providence
Divide the circle of events;
But He who knows our frame is just,
Merciful and compassionate,
And full of sweet assurances
And hope for all the language is,
That He remembereth we are dust!

At last the great logs, crumbling low,
Sent out a dull and duller glow,
The bull’s-eye watch that hung in view,
Ticking its weary circuit through,
Pointed with mutely warning sign
Its black hand to the hour of nine.
That sign the pleasant circle broke:
My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray,
And laid it tenderly away;
Then roused himself to safely cover
The dull red brands with ashes over.
And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love’s contentment more than wealth,
With simple wishes (not the weak,
Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
But such as warm the generous heart,
O’er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
That none might lack, that bitter night,
For bread and clothing, warmth and light.

Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores.
Of merry voices high and clear;
And saw the teamsters drawing near
To break the drifted highways out.
Down the long hillside treading slow
We saw the half-buried oxen go,
Shaking the snow from heads uptost,
Their straining nostrils white with frost.
Before our door the straggling train
Drew up, an added team to gain.
The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
From lip to lip; the younger folks
Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling, rolled,
Then toiled again the cavalcade
O’er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
And woodland paths that wound between
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
From every barn a team afoot,
At every house a new recruit,
Where, drawn by Nature’s subtlest law,
Haply the watchful young men saw
Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
And curious eyes of merry girls,
Lifting their hands in mock defence
Against the snow-ball’s compliments,
And reading in each missive tost
The charm with Eden never lost.
We heard once more the sleigh-bells’ sound;
And, following where the teamsters led,
The wise old Doctor went his round,
Just pausing at our door to say,
In the brief autocratic way
Of one who, prompt at Duty’s call,
Was free to urge her claim on all,
That some poor neighbor sick abed
At night our mother’s aid would need.
For, one in generous thought and deed,
What mattered in the sufferer’s sight
The Quaker matron’s inward light,
The Doctor’s mail of Calvin’s creed?
All hearts confess the saints elect
Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
And melt not in an acid sect
The Christian pearl of charity!

So days went on: a week had passed
Since the great world was heard from last.
The Almanac we studied o’er,
Read and reread our little store
Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
One harmless novel, mostly hid
From younger eyes, a book forbid,
And poetry, (or good or bad,
A single book was all we had,)
Where Ellwood’s meek, drab-skirted Muse,
A stranger to the heathen Nine,
Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
The wars of David and the Jews.
At last the floundering carrier bore
The village paper to our door.
Lo! broadening outward as we read,
To warmer zones the horizon spread
In panoramic length unrolled
We saw the marvels that it told.
Before us passed the painted Creeks,
A   nd daft McGregor on his raids
In Costa Rica’s everglades.
And up Taygetos winding slow
Rode Ypsilanti’s Mainote Greeks,
A Turk’s head at each saddle-bow!
Welcome to us its week-old news,
Its corner for the rustic Muse,
Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
Its record, mingling in a breath
The wedding bell and dirge of death:
Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
The latest culprit sent to jail;
Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
And traffic calling loud for gain.
We felt the stir of hall and street,
The pulse of life that round us beat;
The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;
Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
And all the world was ours once more!

Clasp, Angel of the backword look
And folded wings of ashen gray
And voice of echoes far away,
The brazen covers of thy book;
The weird palimpsest old and vast,
Wherein thou hid’st the spectral past;
Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
The characters of joy and woe;
The monographs of outlived years,
Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
Green hills of life that ***** to death,
And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
Shade off to mournful cypresses
With the white amaranths underneath.
Even while I look, I can but heed
The restless sands’ incessant fall,
Importunate hours that hours succeed,
Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
And duty keeping pace with all.
Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leave his dream midway
For larger hopes and graver fears:
Life greatens in these later years,
The century’s aloe flowers to-day!

Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling’s eyes shall gather dew,
Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends — the few
Who yet remain — shall pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
To warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown
From unseen meadows newly mown,
Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
The traveller owns the grateful sense
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare
The benediction of the air.

Written in  1865
In its day, 'twas a best-seller and earned significant income for Whittier
fiachra breac Aug 2018
oh to sink into the earth!
sodden and rancid with rain;
sagging under the weight
of too much
after too long. Drowning,
under more of the same
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