Saturday, July 7, 2012

Three Poems by William J. Joel

Pausing to think

I’m neither young nor old enough to say,

“I’m old”; I’m somewhere in the middle, old

enough to render judgments to the kids,

yet young enough to listen closely to

my elders, who are getting fewer as

the years accumulate. I feel I need

a few more years to keep on learning, pick

the low fruit from the tree of knowledge, read

the bitter tea leaves in the bottom of

the cup, and think of actions left undone;

the sweet and sour scent of bodies, gaunt

or slightly overweight, that form a troupe

of players, waiting in the wings for cues

that may not ever come, or if they do

they come too late to make a difference.

What’s one less act, when measured up against

the works of Will, so plentiful in all

respects? Yet he died well before he wrote

that final script some say he tucked away

so no one else would ever know how good

a writer he’d become. And here I am,

residing somewhere in the mist of words

that fall upon a page. What can I say?

What splendid golden thoughts have I to paint

while waiting for my turn, while others speak

with eloquence, and I become, like stone,

a fixture in a park, where children come

to play while parents sit, pretend to watch,

their lives too fragile for the sun. They think

about the things that skip across their brains,

and wait their turns to speak, obedient

as children are supposed to be. And me?

I’ve yet to find my turn; my place in line

is so far back I think I’ll never make

it to the front before it’s all before.

Pausing in mid-step

The army has arrived, in yellow trucks, with cherry pickers
hanging off their backs, to battle with detritus left by nature
as she rumbled cross a landscape squared and mitered.

Who's got power? Who's still waiting, waiting? Will they
keep our kids away from school, or let them sit in classrooms
warmed as much by body heat as from the fuels we excavate?

Coffee tastes so good, on days like this, when heat becomes
a precious gift; let's share it with each other. Hording warmth,
though, seems a very human thing for us to do.

"Look! They're showing mounds of salt and sand, and trucks
lined up to be our sacred legions!" That was just before
the picture blinked and walked away; the world turned quiet.

Where were you when the lights went out, when the coffee pot
stopped brewing, when frozen foods began to thaw and spoil,
when wint'ry laughter chuckled, belly-full, with robust chill?

Caves are what we dwell in, wooden caves that mime the stone
we mined, like actors, paper-thin the way they try and fail
to emulate the speech the playwright left for them.

In days, the way we navigate will right itself, and this, of which
we chaff, will sail beyond the sight of memory, leave us unaware
of who or whom we had become, of what we could attain.

And that is that

“Life is what happens to you
while you're busy making other plans”
- John Lennon

Somewhere near the end of August,

or in September, one leaf falls, to show

that autumn’s soon to come and winter’s

waiting in the wings.
We went to high school

as honor students, it's hard to believe;

sat through the same classes, same tests,
and same homework, then graduated
and that was that.

And now he’s gone, at 56, from cancer says

the obit. John is gone; just like that,

and we’re still standing, spread out across

the country, living lives, some full, some not,

but living none-the-less, and John is not.

And that is that.

No comments:

Post a Comment