01 August 2015

august morning villanelle

so long a silence covers up much pain
we can rejoice but we must still recall
this sun of freedom rises through the rain

why they were taken we need not explain
for weight of shadows on us casts a pall
so long a silence covers up much pain

of those who suffered for other folks’ gain
whose battered bodies hung against the wall
this sun of freedom rises through the rain

and still we dance our every hope made plain
elsewhise we’d stoop and crouch and bend and bawl
so long a silence covers up much pain

they won their battle and their long campaign
whose time of servitude was not so small
this sun of freedom rises through the rain

with words of justice sung in no wild strain
by men and women proudly standing tall
so long a silence covers up much pain

this sun of freedom rises through the rain

17 June 2015

mastery

to travel takes us back to where we start
all journeys have good learning as their end
but no one can go further than their heart

we seek a place from which pain must depart
leaving us healthier and with a friend
to travel takes us back to where we start

where all our bags are piled upon the cart
yet we can see those folk who will not bend
but no one can go further than their heart

so we have gone unto a place apart
to understand but not to reprehend
to travel takes us back to where we start

into the torment that must make us smart
beyond the certain hope which we defend
but no one can go further than their heart

therefore we master the creative art
that teaches us the ways in which to blend
to travel takes us back to where we start

but no one can go further than their heart

15 May 2015

come wind or weather

across the silences these words are true
that answer sorrow with a worthy smile
but will not pause to soften nor revile
your efforts nor the feelings that are due
this passing day what is it we review
among the many sights that might beguile
each voyager who reaches this last mile
is that the known provides us with a clue
some would be said to answer that the day
is not sufficient for all that we need
but we must struggle onwards into night
actors and viewers of the self-same play
not certain if our desperation’s greed

but ever hopeful we can get things right

30 March 2015

the guilty party

too many answers come down to the same
non-explanation of the simple fact
we are the ones who always bear the blame

for all the anger we have one hard name
clear and precise both noble and exact
too many answers come down to the same

wave of exhaustion so that we must claim
not what we earned but all the goods we lacked
we are the ones who always bear the blame

for what was lost and for the constant shame
that was included in the lost compact
too many answers come down to the same

inauguration of the truth of fame
which we can neither add to nor detract
we are the ones who always bear the the blame

for those who come when we call the right name
but have no thought of what it means to act
too many answers come down to the same

we are the ones who always bear the blame

23 March 2015

no winners at the end


to speak of valour is no great mistake
when each of us confronts the howling gale
those who are ready when the sandbags fail
know what is meant when city turns to lake
each of them is that moment wide awake
while in their corners all the cowards quail
left with no benefit save their own stale      
as even stoutest bodies bend and shake
words that are spoken in the autumn sun
lose all their purchase during winter's turn
but are the currency of many schools
repenting of their choices no one's done
before they see their youthful wishes burn

and know themselves for ordinary fools

24 January 2015

crossing rivers

where crossing rivers can be made to count
against the value of all we hold dear
in spite of all that’s known at the frontier
where hope and learning are held paramount
no one would wait on those who’d dare remount
for the long journey of the pioneer
made by the awkward and the most sincere
who have their truths to keep and to recount
no voyage matters this at last we learn
except to those who never need the map
the ones excepted from each changing trend
those are the masters who will always yearn
to hear our answer yet not give a rap

since all must come out equal in the end

12 January 2015

dessalines at vertières

our meanings come from choices handed down
by those who built the towers and raised the sky
the folk who farmed the fields and filled the town
who'd made the horrid trip and did not die
their long hope was back to lost home to fly
but all the horrors made their footsteps slow
while home was lost in the far eastern glow
they had their duties and their constant care
and all the many pains we cannot know
all changed with dessalines at vertières

so much depends upon a simple frown
a gesture or a winking of the eye
to  make disaster or to grant renown
turn all our wishes into one great lie
or  send us each to the last great good-bye
by means of one most massive mortal blow
that bursts the normal cheery human flow
and sends us hurtling to the upper air
until that moment all had seemed too slow
all changed with dessalines at vertières

the human is a move from verb to noun
a chance to prove that we can best rely
upon the one who could not play the clown
but was the stalwart soul who did not cry
under the lash but rather chose to fly
with the fresh dawn and the new morning glow
the day of history when all would know
just what we were and how much we would dare
to do when we came up from down below
all changed with dessalines at vertières

prince you have heard your men were far too slow
to face our wrath and take the angry blow
that meant our freedom in the open air
do not be angry for you could not know
the outcome would be more than a tableau

all changed with dessalines at vertières