A Song of Hope in Dark Times

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A poem of hope

I must find another Poem somehow,
A poem of hope,
Or else I’ll join the vultures of despair
Who, in our time, circle the wounded and the dying,
descending to squabble over financial fragments
Not so much to steal from others
as to not be numbered with the losers.

There is a carrion comfort for each time,
A way of witnessing the hopelessness
And roiling circumstance of each age,
The suffering sickness of our savage grasping,
A way of telling all that in our futile fix
Self-interest without restraint alone
Can answer for the strong,
Poulticing their wounds with wealth and influence.

But then, you look into a presidential face
and see a sad portrait there
A map of scars
Where every part of hope
Has been excised
And only plastic counterfeits remain.

Better to toil among our troubles,
Clutching our thin human mede of hope
than circling, deluded, there, among the raptors.

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Song of the Lost

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Lost Songs

Of once shouted poems

I hear the faintest echoes,

Just a murmur more than background noise today.

They sound a barely whispered chant

of ancient and confused distress

and if I try I can discern

a falling meter to it.

The Rubaiyat

rings with the harmonics

of all of Persia’s unremembered bards

but gone beyond all resonance

are those whose languages

as well as songs

are lost.

The Wind and the Hill

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The Wind and the Hill

That hill,

Out there,

Furred like a Persian cat,

Rippling as the wind writes hieroglyphics on it.

That wind, they tell us,

Comes whorling and scrolling,

As ocean currents do,

From the ends of the world,

Bringing news

Of suffering and celebration;

Carrying talk of me,

My hill, and more,

Back whence it came.

Through the wormhole of time,

I see my youthful self

And feel again that world wind

On my face,

Marvel at its paisley scrawling,

Across the smooth volcanic breast

That looms above our makeshift army camp.

It takes away my fears

And, small price to pay, for just a moment,

My hopes, too.

Launceston Train

 

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The Launceston Train.(1970)

The train pursues the logic of a snake
Bursting in and out of cuttings
And startled crows, ungainly,
Jink away,
while red hawks
Smoothly wheel above,
Impatient for the flickering run
of rodents
Panicked from their midday sleep
In hidden gold-grass nests
By the sudden roar of steel
and the vibrating earth.

In Vino Veritas

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In vino veritas (1960)

Why do the clouds lie so lazily,
sprawled across the evening sky?
Don’t they know the night wind holds their death,
flail to shred them, drive them all awry?

Why do dayflowers bloom in morning’s coolness,
when noon’s harsh heat will wither them away?

Why do we strive
to grow the sweet grapes of life
when life itself will one day crush them?

And will that yield a wine?
And, if so, who will drink it?

For Laurie Ball

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Outside Damascus.
(For L B)

High heart
Trembling in its trap of bone.
Eyes
Opaquely staring.
Ears
Ringing with the fleeing horses’ beat.
Feeling
The sand against his skin.
Sensing
The slow gather of threats about him.

And now,
The fire of wounded eyes,
The day-bright accusation.
Tongue
Not now fat with righteousness,
Articulates a dry rattle,
Tocsin for excuses fled
And arguments as empty as
The tomb.

The last flicker of earthly lust is ash
And dust the taste of treasured praises.
Blood on the winning steel
Has turned to rust,
The feast of self-esteem become a crust
And all joy,
Sorrow.

Waiting for Goddo…

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Waiting

Waiting is a subtle art
Learned through long apprenticeship.

Beginners merely pluck and scrape at time,
With all the racket of a tuning orchestra.

Journeymen start with an arrogant pianissimo
Which waxes with each note
Until, tripped by a passing arpeggio,
They fall into a premature melody, and thus,
Masters of waiting are few.

You know them by the measured rests,
The long and soundless deserts
Where the extravagant absence of music
Is foil to wild imagination of rhythms,
Mirages of symphony,
And ghostly whirls
Of non-existent fanfares and cadenzas,
Perpetual anticipation of which,
Orchestrates the studied power
That moves beneath their silences.