Amethyst, poor innocent, said that she’d like to read some of my poems. And I love her, so I’m posting a few here. Just so you know–I know they’re terrible. I like what I felt when I was writing them, and I managed to catch a glimpse of what I was reaching for. But don’t expect good poetry.
I saw him today,
The little old man, bent with age.
He had a water hose,
And was washing down the pavement.
Rivulets of water trickled between my feet
And the smell of dust pervaded my nostrils
As he carefully attended to his work.
I watched the people waiting for the bus.
They avoided him, stepping around him,
Noses lifted high in disdain.
The man wandered up and down the sidewalk,
Dragging the heavy hose behind him,
Impervious to everything but the water
And the dust. He paid special attention
To several clumps of dirt. His glasses
Gleamed with satisfaction as the dirt
Was washed away into oblivion.
The bus drove up, and in the rush to board
I forgot the little old man.
When I looked back, he was still there,
Still attending to his task. And then
I got busy with the incessant ringing
Of the telephone and the beeping of the
Computer and the humming of the fax
And the hordes of androids
Coming to me for information and assistance,
And life was back to normal.
But still I think of that bent figure
Washing down the sidewalk.
The background of the canvas
Was first painted an improbable blue.
The artist rapidly sketched in great pines,
Leaning sideways, branches drooping tiredly.
Majestic mountains, great rocky crags,
Towered behind the wave of trees.
Next a gauzy grey was used to
Dim the sky’s brilliant blue.
Deepening swirls of grey and black
Created a massive cloud cover.
As droplets of misty paint shivered off the brush,
Frigid drops of rain spattered the canvas.
Large, moist flecks of white dotted the pines with snow
And iced the ridges of the hills.
One tree branch, heavily laden with white, drooped too far,
And its wet load slid fatly onto the ground.
A quick breath of wind,
And the landscape was finished.
With an almost inaudible sigh,
The artist put away his masterpiece,
Took another canvas, and began anew.
Still-life is a misnomer
Life is not
Still is not
The gentle rise and fall
Inhale exhale in bed
In sleep next to me
The teeming of my mind
Through ethics and assignments
And what to fix for dinner tomorrow
He’s still breathing I place
My hand on his chest
To make sure
The fan is blowing
The flowers whisper in the breeze
Fruit is rotting
Even while you paint it
Life is not
Still he sleeps
Still is not
Wax fruit not life
Silk flowers still
Sleeping still he breathes
High proud forehead.
Finely chiseled face.
Fiery eyes flashing.
I look at you and
I watch your mouth as
You tell me tales
That make me shudder.
My blood runs chill.
Sparks fly from your
Glowing eyes as you
Weave your enchanted web
Around my spirit
And hold me captive.
I try to escape.
Your sculpted face
Haunts my dreams.
Take me with you
Through the realm of your
Fantasies and half-told truths.
I live through your words.
Speak to me,
And I’ll finish off with one that I wrote for a class, and even though it’s awful, it delights me every time. I based it on a story my grandfather used to tell me about something that happened when he was a boy.
Chickens Under the House
Your mama looked mad when she dropped you off.
What’s wrong this morning?
Oh, you don’t have to say it out loud,
Come whisper in Granddad’s ear.
OH! YOU WET YOUR BED LAST NIGHT!
Now, there, stop your squirming.
What? It was too cold to get out of bed?
Well, there’s worse things than walking
Down a carpeted hall to the bathroom on a cold night.
When I was a little boy we didn’t have bathrooms—
We had to go to the outhouse.
That meant putting on boots and a coat
And walking outside, just to go to the bathroom.
Well, honey, Granddad felt just like you do.
It was just too cold to go to the outhouse.
Well, our house was built on little legs,
So it stood about a foot off the ground.
Come winter, the chickens used to roost under it.
All us kids—all twelve of us—slept on the floor,
Warm and cozy, snuggled under Mama’s quilts.
Shoot, I didn’t want to go outside and freeze!
Then I noticed the knothole in the floor.
Well! Being an enterprising young boy, I figured out
Real quick that I didn’t have to go outside at all during the night.
It worked well. I moved my quilt over by that knothole.
When I woke up in the night, I’d just roll over and use the bathroom.
Then one night our ornery old hen, roosting under the floor,
Grabbed hold of what she thought was a tasty little worm.
Honey, she would not let go! I screamed so loud everybody woke up.
They were laughing too hard to help me get loose.
When Papa finally quit laughing, he told me it was my own fault
And I deserved it for being so lazy.
After that, no matter how cold it was,
I always went to the outhouse.