Dreaded, the sounds you make at morning, of departure; the slam of your car’s door, its engine’s snarl, the gravelly growl of tires. Hearing hurts, but touch remembers your breast fitting itself so happily to my hand till its fingers stirred, impatient to trace the curve of your hip, explore the radiant heat of your thigh, return, listening for yes.
Now there is only warmth where you slept, your scent, intoxicant; I dare not breathe, nor wake to coffee you made, still hot, but missing now, and cold, the cup you held.
Our paired sparrows, reassured, resume their noise. Come soon! I know a song I cannot sing alone.
Chivalrous, finding her harmless, they filled her bucket from the well, offered a pound of corn, a week of life. They decided not to burn the house, leaving it for her to haunt at night, to grope among yesterdays for sons and husband, who would not return, a daughter, bewildered by distant guns, the closing in of flaming horizons, becoming nurse to dying men and then another–Oh! That other thing! At night she wandered empty rooms. By day she slept while awake, sipping tepid water instead of tea, chatting with callers who never came, and softly singing unwritten songs. They found her, at last, sitting still at her table. On it lay an empty plate.
Tall and wild in his world, he stood, noble and beautiful, the horse, watching the approach of the small creature man and reared, screaming, and ran faster and farther than the man could. Yet, when he stopped, there stood a man with a rope. However fast, however far he ran, there waited a man with a rope. Long last he bowed his proud head, noosed the great arch of his neck, and offered the rope to man.
Gone, my strong husband, my two sons, to serve their duke, or pay with life, or die and rot in a foreign ditch. Our good king wears his holy crown. His present queen sleeps warm, in fur. Laughing nobles, taking my daughter, left alone a woman, not so old, in a frozen hovel, a colder bed, listening to winter’s wolves snuffle and scratch at a broken door.
Come, walk with me a little way. I have not far to go, and few more chances for me to say, come, walk with me a little way. We’ll only go to the end of day, then part. When? Ah, you will know. Come, walk with me a little way, I have not far to go, 7/17/09
Let them be born. Let come all those Its, screaming out of miraculous mother-homes, to the nest their forebears fouled, have, with words and works and wars of generations. Let them come, honoring familial vows, better and worse, sick and well, broken or whole, idiot and wise.
Already asthmatic earth gasps for air, wobbles, untrued by the weight of uncountable dead and dying, long-forgotten, nameless Its. By all means, now and forever, let them come. Let them live if they might, and should they live and neither starve nor perish nor wither unwatered by love, let them multiply and grow to suck from this plundered earth what measure of blood they may. Then they shall be food to fecundate new killing fields, littered with Its.
So inconsiderate of them, and such inconvenience, having so little tea. One afternoon a week, at best. One would think, would one not, that for us at least they could find some way... They said the last ship from the east went down. All hands. Dare we trust the news? With all their proud technology why can’t they sink those submarines?
And these biscuits! Hardly worth the name. I do so miss the marmalade cook made. But even she can’t manage without oranges– not to mention sugar. Oh, my sweet tooth, hush! Are any oranges left in the world, I wonder? Really, these artificial sugars make me ill. And the coffee! Absolutely barbarous. I daresay the Americans get better than ours.
Perhaps she should be let go, having so little to do. So little to do with. But as you know, I am totally useless in the kitchen and Reginald I doubt has ever set foot in it. Poor man, how he misses his evening pipe. They have their cigarettes, I’m sure.
No, she manages to come up with something, when really there’s almost nothing to come up with. There I go with my terminal prepositions. Should be nothing with which to come up. Right? Proper tea would be so nice, with real milk and edible biscuits. In the gazebo’s shade. Overgrown a bit, I’m afraid, with gardeners as scarce as oranges. Where have they got to, do you suppose? The capable always seemed so old. Surely at their age not at the front. What use there for their shears and shovels?
What do those common soldiers drink, do you think? Whisky, I don’t doubt! Can you imagine them stopping their war for a spot in the afternoon? And where would they get it when we have next to none? I do miss it so, don’t you?
Oh, dear! There’s a spot on your blouse. Here, let me help. How dreadful! Such a lovely thing to ruin, and no way to replace it. Our better shops these days are virtually empty.
Please, Grace, don’t bother. My Millie will get it out. She’s plenty of time, you know, now that her Charlie and her sons are gone.
when blood not frozen creeps under skins of ice, trickles frosty adagios, when sleet-grain bells whisper on thin glass, shattered to crystal dust, snowing, scattering gossamer largos on paths that lead to night, falling...
Hungry December winds prowl among paralyzed trees, hunting leaves for stolen playmates. There are no leaves to steal. Lifetimes ago the leaves died, let go, fell; now, at their own pace, dig themselves into moldy graves.
In white storms, on blue feet and deadened toes, with numbed fingertips, the old men crawl through winters, tracing fugitive memories, tunneling their dreams: autumn’s leaf-smoke, hearth-warmed embraces. They limp toward Aprils and Mays, seasons that will never come.
1/2/13 Here, after 37 days, and not yet abandoned.
Ah, those drear, bleak years with no summer days of green grass and green-shadowed kisses! Well done, Jim, depressing as hell for all us oldies, but a wonderful poem. Fortunately we are of the poet persuasion, which makes us oldies but goldies!
Astride his verdigris stallion, exalted, the bronzed old warrior thrusts his pigeon-roosted sword toward long-dead men he swore to kill. Today he exhorts no follower to die. His brave, green, obedient beast has brought him here, as far as history’s victories permit. In the blaze of forgetful sunsets the great horse’s lifted hoof drips dark red, as red as blood. 6/4/11/ Rev. 1/4/13 More, probably, to come.
Wow Jim! A powerful piece! Very analogous to this time of year, so the metaphor carries across vividly. Well done. It's a cold reality that seeps into the bones, the older, the more porous and brittle! PP
In generosity and helping others be like a river. RUMI
If you must go-–when finally you go-- remember, please, how we have been one sheet of paper magic made of two. Don’t rip it apart with that hated noise of tires screaming on rainy streets. Fold it with care, where you think best-- after all, you were always more than half. With your thumbnail sharpen that crease, then tear it there, gently, without a sound.
May all the women who were ever burned as witch return with smoke and fire and stench of flaming hair and flesh melting from bones. May they come to those who kindled the wood at the stakes, self-righteous and animal; may they for lifetimes harrow their dreams, and afterwards with smiling witchery conjure sleepless hells for their eternities.
The war was over. I had survived that school. Then my battle began. I became a sophomore, knowing everything about everything. I found the answer to the question everybody was asking and never gave it to anyone.
Nearly a century wiser, I know nothing about anything.