A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
The November rain rat-tats, beads on the window.
I scratch words, anxious birds on a yellow pad.
In your cottage in Wiltshire, perhaps you are writing.
Your anguished Asiatic eyes almost disappearing in your full
brown face, your beard grey, grown long, like a mullah.
Not the fastidious elf-man of forty years ago, when I first met
your shattered expatriates. I hear your voice drop to a whisper—
Simple people write simple things. I am not a simple person.
What panic drove you, nearly killed you at Oxford? Just in time,
the gas meter ran out. You have been my eyes:
Mombai Karachi Buenos Aires Port au Spain Kampala
You called them half-made societies. How did you survive Trinidad—
There wasn’t even a proper general store.Years ago
you traveled the American South, taken with black churches,
rednecks, country music. What would you make of
our mud-green Monongahela, abandoned towns?
The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow
themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.
I think: apocalyptic dawn. An orange sun melts the clouds.
The leaves hang on for another day like gold doubloons.
Like you, I believe in no saviors, no holy men. I think of America:
our squandered riches, self-inflicted wounds. I hear your
icy riposte— Hate oppression; fear the oppressed.
For years, I’ve thought of you as my venerable distant uncle:
acerbic, edgy, master of disenchantment. You who wear
the world like a hair shirt. Your imagination, the cauldron
purging the dross, creating something pure, unholy.
Do you see the slick-black flight of birds? The yellow light?
Copyright 2018 Joan E. Bauer
Previously published in The New Renaissance. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.