Thursday, August 18, 2011

Friendly Gatherings

When it was still early morning,
Came some in curiosity and some with needs.
Ah, I like this.
Me, too.
And they shared in the bounty of the seeds.

Over the season in the sunrise,
There is friendly gatherings a-twitter.
Ah, this is life.
Some flew
When in bound some unfamiliar critter.

But even the beast from the hedgerow
Was soon accepted at the table,
Among the feathers of many color and hue.

I wish I could belong to this congregation,
But as a human I am not able.
I can only watch from a concealed view.
The wrens rush in rapid flights for their ration,
While the grackles gather about the edges.
The mourning doves, in moving pairs,
Come early and earnestly ignore
The in and out swooping sparrows.
Blue Jays and Cardinals add brightness to the gang,
And a squirrel, switching his tail,
Peels a nut to the rhythmic caws of a crow.

In the hours before the sunset,
When the seasons are turning their collars to the cold,
Oh, how I wish
I could
Sprout wings and fly south with that friendly fold.

Beware of the Blob

In the dark, sticky recesses of our only such repertory.
In the flicker of the screen and the screams
Of some girls who sat not silent beyond
I, in utter fascination, watched the Universal uglies,
The makeup formed fantasies on the faces
Of Bela, Boris and Lon.

But in the lonely, looming dimness
Of my bedroom in the midnight minutes,
I cringed in fear and loathing reliving
Mummy, monster, bat and beast.
Would a vampire wing in through my window?
Would the Mummy unravel my restraints?
Would, oh horror of it all,
Frankenstein’s creature crash my hall,
Smash through my confines
and drown me in the sink
Like the flower and the child?

I had a few defenses against these imagining of mind.
What did they have in common
That could provide me escapes?
Slowness of step and ungainly gaits.
Why the Mummy moved like molasses
And the Monster stumbled in outsized shoes.
I could outrun both as if they walked in glue.

Oh yes, the Wolfman was quick,
But restrained by the moon.

And you get enough garlic and the ghastly Dracula
Will fall into a swoon.

Besides, I reasoned, in my bed and my room,
I dwelt safely in the center of the streets
Of our tiny, tidy town.
By the time these hobbling horrors hop from the gloom,
They would have satiated appetites and want no more of eats.
So safe in bed I’m found.


The Blob “glides across the floor,
Right through the door
And all around the wall…”
Not only would nothing stop it,
As it slid in through some crack,
It was never satisfied,
Eating its never-ending snack,
As it creeps,
As it leaps,
To a tune by Bacharach.

NOTE:  “The Blob” starring Steve McQueen came out in 1958. It was made by Valley Forge Films, which normally made religious films.  I saw The Blob on its first run at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, a somewhat bizarre situation watching a monster in a film eat the theater you are watching the film in.  Those who fled the theater and then ran into the diner must have been quite athletic. The theater is in Phoenixville and the Diner is in Downingtown, around 16 miles apart. I have also eaten in that diner.

It the scene from the film that I have inserted at the end of this poem also has meaning for me. The fireman dressed in white is Tom Ogden. More correctly, Reverend Thomas Ogden, who was my minister when I attended the Downingtown Methodist Church as a boy. He played the fire chief in the film.



Let me sing, like poets before, of the land and working poor,
Of crops sown, the new mown, the buildings built on vacant lots,
Of the shirts of blue and shirts of white, the every day commuter flight,
The backs bend forth over field or desk, the drip of brow and the drops
Of sweat; the sighs, the ruined eyes, the muscles strained, those who die
Creating the economy that taxes our credulity as well as our wallet and soul.

Ah, the jobs I’ve held, or should I say, the jobs that held me.
Bound to the clock on another’s sleeve so have I spend my time,
Being there at beck and call, doing little or doing it all.
It mattered not in the scheme of things, not to the rhythm or rhyme
Of what was in my mind. No, the necessary daily grind was a wall
You beat upon or clawed with nails, banged your head, tried to climb.

Honest work I do not disparage. I’ve fulfilled my own with honest pride
In achievement and accomplishment. But all in all I would have rather been
The underfed artist burnishing the blazing pen of truth dramatized,
Than those deceived by the glittering fa├žade of success and wealth.
Now the wasted youth, those stolen hours, what have they gained of worth?
A crumbling society of grasping greed, cheap thrills and broken health.

Here I stand behind a lifetime of labor and where is the monument?
It was just make work after all, a putting in of the time, a clog.
Most places that paid me my wage to make their gears turn
Are footnotes in the history of industry, a jotting in a log.
That I was soon not missed each time I left is probably quite true.
I’ve broke your clock and falled your wall and miss you not at all.

Photos from some places I worked: Atlantic Refining Company (later ARCo), Philadelphia Gum, Welded Tube Co. of America, Wilmington Trust Co. (2 Photos), Mercantile Press and Chicos.

This poem could almost be a companion piece to the essay I recently did on my "Drinking of Old Men" Blog entitled, "A History of Work".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Change of Hope

Once were nights that seemed less stark
You saw stars shining, each hopeful spark
Showing there still was light.
Now all I see is starless night
And dark upon dark.

Each week on Sunday the Monkey Man gives a challenge to write a poem in only 160 characters. Like writing a tweet – it takes some doing to convey thought in so few words. Come join the fun!

Photo by the author, Talley Day Park, Delaware, 2007.