Category Archives: calling

People come and go so quickly here

People come and go

Our town is criss-crossed by rail lines. Visitors who stay here sometimes say they cannot sleep because of the train whistles in the night.  Locals can’t hear the sounds – we’re so used to it. I wrote this one after a busy weekend at the theater working tech crew for The Wizard of Oz.

 

People come and go so quickly here

Nothing seems strange under these skies,
even a thousand tons of steel rolling through the
back yard. Like cancer or good fortune,
the dull grinding is so familiar we do not hear it.

In the old days, housewives would rush outside
on days like this, to pull the laundry
when the wind changed so their
linens wouldn’t turn black.

Oblivious, my grandfather would rush to the station,
bags falling open for his latest trip
while the great iron horse strained
between its traces on the Main St crossing.

Tonight, Colin and his lover are steaming upstairs
while the rest of us are sacked out on the couch,
words slurred and walls swaying in time.
And none of us thinks this strange.

But the trains keep rolling, the soot
turning in the sky like a Kansas storm,
and I know I must leave the warmth
of this hearth, but only after I sleep some more,

lulled by the rocking of the room, the
cares of the day, the wheels and rails,
the song of the night as the eleven-fifty-five
waits on Main Street. And my bags are barely packed.

 

Advertisements

Our real work

Over at Poetic Asides, the November Poem-A-Day challenge is in full swing. Last Thursday, the prompt was to talk back to a poet. I chose to respond to Wendell Berry, not in disagreement but rather in appreciation. His poem The Real Work begins:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work.

This slightly awkward rondeau is my response.

 

Our real work

Our real work puts on a hat and knits
outside a café, takes a drag and spits
into the wind, grinning like it can see
something we don’t – about mortality,
futility, about the shoe that fits

so perfectly we love it while it splits
our soul like weathered skin, until it hits
us in this stranger’s gaze – this cannot be
our real work!

And we are empty, scared out of our wits
by ticking clocks, by love, by snake-filled pits
we never chose. The figure strikes a knee
and we both laugh at our absurdity,
and then trade hats, while on the table sits
our real work.

 

Don’t ask me

Don’t ask me where it is I am going
Tonight. Some things go best without knowing
Every detail. I am a small shell
Whispering the waves, wishing I could tell
You who I am. The surf song is calling

Me inexorably, its tide writing
My name on some distant shore. This gnawing
Sense of being “not-from-here” I know so well.
     Don’t ask me

How, but it has always been there, lying
Nautilus-curled within my stumbling
Soul. I want to love this red land as well
As you do, but I cannot fall under its spell.
Someday I’ll say, but for now I’m begging,
     Don’t ask me.

%d bloggers like this: