Monday, February 8, 2010
Borek and baklava; breakfast in Istanbul
Tenets of Islam amid spires and domes
The Fajr before the rising of the sun
Morning prayers to Mecca; sacred Sunni songs;
The glorious orb of day burning bright
Welcomes pilgrims from near and far
Constantinople at night
Drifting scents from the spice bazaar
Tourists tired from their travels
Turkish coffee thick as the heat
Colorful carpets artistically crafted
Hang in the shops along the street
Ancient and modern collide
Yesterday and tomorrow meet
Remnants of the Ottoman Empire
Mixed in the shuffling of weary feet
With a knapsack on my back and a rifle on my shoulder
I joined with General Johnston in the February cold
My brothers died at Harpers Ferry fighting with A.P. Hill
I had only turned thirteen when both of them were killed
Papa kept me home to work the farm and plant our corn
I was itching to kill some Yankees and eager to go to war
Then I finally got my chance in the winter of sixty-five
A fifteen year old confederate soldier marching off to die
Yankees came through Charleston butchering what wouldn’t burn
Sherman took Columbia and continued marching north in turn
We put up little struggle with just our troops and the home guard
It was mostly out of fear. South Carolina was hit so hard
Shot twice in the skirmish; in the hip and in the chest
They sent my body home to papa where I was laid to rest
Now a broken headstone bent with letters bears my name
Mold and dirt have settled in engravings with the rain
The farm and house are gone, only parts of the barn remain
High weeds grow in rocky fields and round the rotten planks
Gone forever are the crops; cornfields, tobacco and cotton
Gone forever, glory days where old times were not forgotten
He scratches a scruffy cheek with dirty fingernails
Squints into the steam of his fresh black coffee
Bending stiff extensions on brown calloused hands
He loops two securely through his favorite mug
On a computer screen run little characters like black ants
His tapping fingers send them scurrying all in one direction
He spent the day cultivating fields; wheat and barley
Now he fertilizes a crop of words with weary sighs and caffeine
Thoughts tumble through his mind like hay through a baler
These; tied and stacked, are put aside for livestock feed
The animal of creativity bellows from the fence
The good poet farmer answers to its ever growing need
Fields begin to blossom on the liquid crystal display
Fruit is hanging on the vines; hopefully full and lush
Wonders as he often does when hauling produce to market
Who will partake of his sweat, tears and sometimes blood?
Weary yawns come longer with greater regularity
The field brought to harvest, his sunburned neck is tired
He looks despondent into the cold dregs of his cup then up
And smiles at a new creation laid out in perfectly printed rows
Saturday, February 6, 2010
There are crows in the wheat field Vincent.
There are black misshapen bodies above the waves of golden grain.
The dirt path is littered by weeds along the way.
Manic marks of madness thread their winding walk through nature.
The grain is leaning heavy in the husk, away from a sky of cobalt blue.
Dark wings blot out heaven with shadows as they pass.
Who will remember now? Will Theo even come to be here at the last?
What did we do to deserve this; that you bring us here?
Did we let your starry sky pass us by like sunflowers on a summer night?
Your eyes can see right through the paint and pain.
The clouds all swirl; ballerina girls in a dance of awkward shame.
Not the maids of Degas but the craft of culminating chaos.
The cool steel of the pistol feels leaden in your hand.
I am another traveler through this distant nowhere land.
The world grows up around us as we reach to capture time
from the palette to the canvas or from the quill to the written lines.
The ladies come and go. They gaze with lust at drawings by Leonardo.
I heard them talking of you and how they pity what they do not know.
Reluctantly they admit there is finesse in such genius.
They do not see. The field is full of crows.
The tarpapered shack sits crumbling in the high weeded wood;
Boards missing from the dilapidated porch; windows broken
Reflections of joy are faded in jagged shards and shadows;
Etched by the afternoon sun in smoky layers of yesterday
A few dozen feet from the creek; one hears the gurgling stream
Whispering river stones sing; worn round by tumbling time
Tiny paw prints track across the sand leading up the grassy bank
Beneath a fallen log is the deep hollow recess of a fox’s den
Behind the makeshift cabin are broken remnants of ancient toys
Sunken prow of a handmade ship rises from the shifting sand
The smell of damp earth, moss and honeysuckle lingers heady
Mixing with the forest perfume of moist and rotting wood
Standing silent and still, one can almost hear children screaming
A girl in a calico dress running from a boy with a lizard in hand
“You younguns best behave and stay away from that crick!”
“You’ll git on a snake down there, don’t make me git my switch!”
The pursuer drops his captive and the refugee goes free and safe
Wind catches and rattles a loose piece of tin on the slanted roof
Reminding of stormy nights pelting raindrops in firecracker snaps
Lightning flashes memories across the mind in a locomotive rush
How the water roared and trees bent low for the passing of giants
They tramped down from the mountains to the valley in the rain
Wading the rapid waters like the beast from Jack and the beanstalk
A dirty faced, barefooted sinner sits scared, holding his sister’s hand
Upon the white and cedar mountain the eponymous author wrote
His tales of life before black and noisy cities choked his dreams
The ghost of Thomas Wolfe is whispering among living pines
You can go back! You can! But then, you can’t go home again
So far from home; yet there are tracks
left leading to house and barn
On the leaning hill across the field
yellow grasses by sun are warmed
The pink pastel of a twisted form
looks back longing for the past
Her broken body echoes dreams
and hopes of love that did not last
Christina’s sky is grey and far
without a pillow of comforting cloud
The sun in heaven sets behind her;
her shadow cast upon the ground
Wayward wisps of unruly hair
flutter in the evening air; astonished
Malformed hands that clutch
the land for sustenance; admonished
September stretches out the day;
endings tied by industrious October
When the harvested grain and human pain
of labor in this life are over
Crippled by pain, reach for home;
though heaven may seem far away
In hours of adversity; crawl if need be,
like Christina, to a brighter day.