Friday, July 24, 2015



It's always been coming,
this over-heat in the system,
burning sea waiting, cracked starving plain
naked mountains racked with slabs of falling Thule,
since we made our first rock a mortar
to pound our brother's skull.
It's a question of numbers,
advice beyond the conquests carefully kept forgotten.
 Oil must be drilled to put in the machine
for each sovereign's puppet-show, each flicker of a golden age
subsumed within deep night: our most lively fear
that someone might have more; 

and our love, the ink
with which we write these prison sagas, 
 the color of spilled blood.

~July 2015 

posted for     real toads

Challenge: Get Listed with grapeling
Michael (grapeling;it could be that) gives us a word list inspired by the great cynical Beatles song, Taxman, but I've wandered a bit. This may be more Eleanor Rigby with Maxwell's Silver Hammer.

Image, top: via internet search, author and title unknown
no copyright infringement intended
Image, bottom: Olduvai Chopper, dated at 1.8 million years
British museum, photo by Archeomoonwalker  via wikimedia commons

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bound For Glory

Bound For Glory

Fire showed him young there are some servants
you can't trust, like the machine
of mind, a servant wanting only
to be master, to take more
than it could ever give; even giving life
each day, and all the things of life,
its dear ambitions always yearn
towards your disaster.

It took his home and sister
as a child, when mother's hands
left off tucking in and washing clothes
and turned to burning rafters
when mother's mind
turned to burning coal
in fire her father
drowned  but
couldn't quench.

Later he ruled the road
by having nothing, sleeping cold
on the floor, no trust for the soft
trap of a stranger's bed.
He came to live on Mermaid Avenue,
played, wrote, sang, laughed; he held his children.
But fire and madness chased him
just the same, from town to town,
woman to woman, bed to bed, and found him
and found him.

At last they took his daughter, his songs, his arm,
burned to bare bone at the drunken campfire.
He never played guitar again, the machine
would never kill another fascist, though
behind him he dropped
a thousand flowering bombs;
still, in the end
stiff and locked in his head
in the hard white hospital bed,
I wonder what else he could have done
but sing and run.

~July 2015

"Some will rob you with a six gun
and some with a fountain pen...'

Process notes: Woke up thinking about Woody Guthrie today. He was a hero of mine, the original Dust Bowl refugee and troubadour, and the reason I came to Oklahoma. He was born in Okemah July 14th, 1912, named for Woodrow Wilson, who at the time was a candidate for president. His father was a small-time business man and would-be politician, a possible member of the KKK. His mother, who bequeathed him Huntington's disease, was confined in an insane asylum when he was 14, after burning down their homes repeatedly; in one such fire, his sister died. His grandfather died in a drowning incident also a result of the pattern of the disease. Woody dropped out of high school and took to traveling and playing the guitar, learning every Scotch and Irish and traditional folk ballad extant at the time, and writing many of his own. 

He was a lefty to the bone, and worked tirelessly and with great humor and grace in the cause of justice and fairness for all. He wrote hundreds of songs which have become part of our common sense of who we are as a people, (most famously This Land is Your Land) and which influenced a generation or two of musicians. He married three times, loved children and had 8, including Arlo Guthrie and his siblings, who escaped the disease (children from his second marriage to Marjorie Greenblatt Mazia, a dance instructor at the Martha Graham School in New York.) There also were several from his first and last  marriage who died in various accidents at a relatively early age, possibly due to the effects of of Huntington's, and one, a young daughter with Marjorie, who died at 4, also in a fire. 

His best and most productive years were spent on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, with Marjorie (who, though divorced,later came back when his third wife left him, and tended him till he died) and their four surviving children.  In the early fifties, the disease was eating him up, and his arm was burned so severely by gasoline used to start a campfire that he never played the guitar again. He was hospitalized in 1956 and spent the remainder of his life institutionalized, until he died in 1967.

Woody's autobiography, published in 1943, was titled Bound For Glory. The legend that he never slept in a bed while bumming around as it would 'make him soft' is verbal and may be apocryphal.

via google image search

Images: The Guthrie house in Okemah, Oklahoma, where Woody was born
Public domain via wikimedia commons

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Concerning Grace

Concerning Grace
(Two Sonnets, with an Optional Epilogue)


So here's the one whose time has almost gone
who plays in ashes wishing they were fire
who plays with leaving, wishing to linger on
who never knows a quickening desire  
except to rue that sunset follows dawn,
(sleepless, the dark brings out a red hot wire)
where all night's horses trample Hyperion
where every hope is gutted for a lyre.

Grace would be a welcome thing to save
as a thousand mouths split open at their seams,
all bored but quite unable to stop the screech.
Grace here would be a welcome thing to have,
dividing dark from light in separate dreams---
but grace is grey and dancing out of reach.


All things have a radiance at the start
when life is burning like a star that falls
when passion is a door that swings ajar
to a room that never was a room at all.
But I am a thing whose time is almost done
a seed that shattered back on the recoil
that spent its force in cracking mountain stone 
put down its root in dead indifferent soil
thinking it could color and unfold
like Eos blooms her brother's fiery ball
from horizon to horizon, red to gold,
its petals scented jasmine as they'd fall.

Life yields a withered stalk, but gives me grace
to die and leave some richness in my place.

~July 2015

Process note: In Greek myth, Hyperion is the Titan of light, father of Helios, the sun, Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn.

posted for    real toads

Weekend Challenge: Goodness Gracious

Karin Gustafson (ManicdDaily) asks us to say grace, or at least to speak of it, think of it, and perhaps even write a poem about it. I have chosen to do a couple of sonnets, as grace seems a topic suitable to such. (The first is Sicilian, the second, Shakespearean, hopefully.) 

And for STRICTLY OPTIONAL reading for those who prefer free verse, or who are gluttons for punishment, to complete the theme of 'Three Graces,' I include as an Epilogue my egregiously long, semi-free verse, fragmented pre-poem these sonnets came from (*definitely* a draft!) below: 

Epilogue: Broken Notes on Grace

A thing whose time is almost gone
must look for grace to stop its lingering on;
each moment spent within that lingering
groping for the finick'd forgotten fingering
mocks the spark it once knew how to burn
in ashes of what's gone and all in vain,
for that will never give its light again.


Grace eludes in this clamoring dream
where a thousand mouths split open their seams 
bored but unable to stop their screech
as it dances by, out of their reach.


All things have a beginning
when they are radiant
when for a moment
they are potent
when grace falls open
like a well thumbed book
to the favorite mark
when grace is a door
without a handle
without a hook
that opens to
no room at all.

But I am a thing
whose time is done,
spent seed that once blew
too dry and far, that
spent all its force
to crack the stone
put down its root in poisoned soil
thinking still it might somehow unfold
instead grew spindly, twisted,
finally cold.

Now in the time of withering
I look for grace
to untie each starveling leaf
and let it fall--
some richness for this tight atomic dust
before the coming winter takes it all.

Images: The Three Graces, 16th Century, by Corregio
Public domain via wikimedia commons
Winter Sunflower, copyright 2014 joyannjones