Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing on Walls


When the guns come with the warlords of the world
As they have through the corridors of history
And burn the books and strip the shelves of words,
We’ll carve points upon the shards of charcoal
And do our writing on the walls.

You can shoot the poets and praise the politicians,
But all the ammunition of the armies and their arms
Cannot implode the ideas of the idealistic
As we scamper tunnel to subway to sewer
And do our writing on the walls.

If the fools who follow folly
Drop the final destructive bomb
And blast mankind to the Stone Age
We will do as the cavemen could
And do our writing on the walls.

Photo is of the Freedom of Speech Wall in Charlottesville, Va. taken by the author 2007.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Laughter and Loneliness

I’m posting this for One Stop Poetry's, “A Saturday celebration – Your Past”.

I wrote this in 1959, not long after I turned 17. Most of my earlier poems had been parodies or generally had some element of humor. This one was more serious in nature. I was about to start my senior year of high school. There had been some sobering events in my life. I was thinking back to my childhood when my cousins and I would visit overnight and share the same bed. Sleep was always difficult because we would get to telling jokes, get the giggles and eventually get the attention of my parents.  I was beginning to realize those innocent nights of childish laughter sometimes hid other realities of growing. That was what the poem was about.


Full-footed, thunderous childhood laughter
Comes crashing recklessly through bedroom walls
In voices gay, happy; even terror-
Fied, and full of nothing but youthful awe.
Young blossoms reaching bloom has laughter softened,
As in every flower garden, rain
Showers’ soft wet kisses at times, often
Indiscriminately leave behind some pain.
With age, reality grows its weeds.
That sprout, choking naive laughter
And drooping the blossom and the leaves
And planting loneliness in the root thereafter.

Full-storm, thunderous childhood laughter
Comes crashing through the bedroom wall,
Sometimes gay, sometimes terrified,
Gales and squalls of youthful awe.
As every flower so often
Finds, the exhilarating rain,
With its moist, unrelenting kisses,
Can cause indiscriminate pain.