DayPoems: A Seven-Century Poetry Slam
93,142 lines of verse * www.daypoems.net
Timothy Bovee, editor


Absence

Thomas William Heney

Born 11/1862



Ah, happy air that, rough or soft,
May kiss that face and stay;
And happy beams that from above
May choose to her their way;
And happy flowers that now and then
Touch lips more sweet than they!

But it were not so blest to be
Or light or air or rose;
Those dainty fingers tear and toss
The bloom that in them glows;
And come or go, both wind and ray
She heeds not, if she knows.

But if I come thy choice should be
Either to love or not --
For if I might I would not kiss
And then be all forgot;
And it were best thy love to lose
If love self-scorn begot.




The Dust of No Return

Paul McCann

21st Century



After the war was over,
I returned to Australia and wed,
with severance pay to kick start,
we looked to be getting ahead.
We checked out this land in the country,
then borrowed to build our dream.
Proud owners were we of a cottage
in five hundred acres green.

With seventy head of cattle,
and bottle fed yearlings to keep,
we worked day in and night out
sometimes without getting any sleep.

Then the kids all arrived on steps,
one after the other they came,
but so did the drought that broke us,
and we had no insurance claim.

I prayed hard for a break in the weather,
but it always looked the same,
the blue sky had no silver lining,
and no sign that it would rain.

Lord have mercy,
they took everything that they could buy or sell.
We left our farm to the flies and the dust.
We said goodbye, farewell!

Too hurt was I to work the land,
't was a city job I found.
Though home was in the country,
to the city now we all were bound.

The job fell through in a week or two,
it was hard to pay the rent,
we looked for a cheaper house,
but it was the same each place we went.

We had nothing and had no where to go.
We begged for charity.
I felt helpless.
My wife cried and I had to comfort her daily.

"Don't worry" I said,
"In good time you'll find depression it does lift."
The children started school,
the wife got a job - I worked the night shift.

Except for the love in our family,
all that I had was gone.
We walked everywhere together
as the soft summer sun shone.

We moved into a caravan
in the winter of a big freeze.
It took us a while to adapt,
but we all got used to the squeeze.

Each day at work I was treated like dirt
because I pulled my weight
I kept my nose clean all the time
in jobs I had grown to hate.

The heaviest cross I carried
was the long standing debt I bore;
with years of hard work I cleared what I owed
then the wolf left the door.

Although it was easier to sleep
when my debts were all paid in full,
thoughts at times did haunt me,
I had to learn control, and keep my cool.

Each night as I closed my eyes,
I returned back to a shattered dream,
back to our country cottage
where the cattle gave only sour cream.

We left the van and moved into
a rented house in the suburbs
I cut the grass, dug a veggie patch
and grew lots of greens and herbs.

I found working with the dirt had a therapy,
but all the same,
I kept thinking about all that land we left,
time and time again.

The children grew up and were married
just as we hoped one day.
My wife and I wrinkled well,
our hair now was more silver than grey.

We settled down in this quiet home
in the twilight years of life.
With the children gone we were alone,
me and my good faithful wife.

Simple things in life come free,
like who you are and all that you know.
Common courtesy costs nothing
it's just a smile or a hello.

Though these old bones of mine may ache and break,
I sometimes find a smile,
for it sure is a wonderful world
and we're only here a while.

I've started writing things down
as I forget things so easily,
these days I don't know if there are jobs to be done,
sometimes I just can't see.

I can't hear that good either
but both of us together understand.
I drift off to sleep still thinking
of the day we left the land.

It's hard to forget where your roots have been set;
dust's stuck with the plough.
After drought and the famine no doubt,
I feel down right hungry now.

I still thirst for water in the summer,
and sweat rolls down my face.
As I sit down to feast
I always give thanks to God for his grace.

They say you must give to receive,
I've gave my life to you.
I've taken the good and the bad,
and have loved somebody who's true.

So when my times has come to leave this world ,
all that I'll take is my soul ,
you won't see me for dust,
my remains, bury deep down in a hole.

Copyright 1998 Paul McCann. All rights reserved.




Stung Right

Joe Hill

1879.10.7-1915.9.19



When I was hiking 'round the town to find a job one day,
I saw a sign that thousand men were wanted right away,
To take a trip around the world in Uncle Sammy's fleet,
I signed my name a dozen times upon a great big sheet.

CHORUS:
I was stung right, stung right, S-T-U-N-G,
Stung right, stung right, E. Z. Mark, that's me
When my term is over, and again I'm free,
There'll be no more trips around the world for me.

The man he said, "The U. S. Fleet, that is no place for slaves,
The only thing you have to do is stand and watch the waves."
But in the morning, five o'clock, they woke me from my snooze,
To scrub the deck and polish brass, and shine the captain's shoes.

One day a dude in uniform to me commenced to shout,
I simply plugged him in the jaw, and knocked him down and out;
They slammed me right in irons then and said, "You are a case."
On bread and water then I lived for twenty-seven days.

One day the captain said, "Today I'll show you something nice,
All hands line up, we'll go ashore and have some exercise."
He made us run for seven miles as fast as we could run,
And with a packing on our back that weighed a half a ton.

Some time ago when Uncle Sam he had a war with Spain,
And many of the boys in blue were in the battle slain,
Not all were killed by bullets, though; no, not by any means,
The biggest part that were killed by Armour's Pork and Beans.




Quis Separabit?

Philip Joseph Holdsworth

1/12/1849-1/19/1902



All my life's short years had been stern and sterile --
I stood like one whom the blasts blow back --
As with shipmen whirled through the straits of Peril,
So fierce foes menaced my every track.

But I steeled my soul to a strong endeavour,
I bared my brow as the sharp strokes fell,
And I said to my heart -- "Hope on! Hope ever:
Have Courage -- Courage, and all is well."

Then, bright as the blood in my heart's rich chalice,
O Blossom, Blossom! -- you came from far;
And life rang joy, till the World's loud malice
Shrilled to the edge of our utmost star.

And I said: "On me let the rough storms hurtle,
The great clouds gather and shroud my sun --
But you shall be Queen where the rose and myrtle
Laugh with the year till the year is done."

So my Dream fell dead; and the fluctuant passion --
The stress and strain of the past re-grew,
The world laughed on in its heedless fashion,
But Earth whirled worthless, because of you!

In that Lake of Tears which my grief discovered,
I laid dead Love with a passionate kiss,
And over those soundless depths has hovered
The sweet, sad wraith of my vanished bliss.

Heart clings to Heart -- let the strange years sever
The fates of two who had met -- to part;
Love's strength survives, and the harsh world never
Shall crush the passion of heart for heart;

For I know my life, though it droop and dwindle,
Shall leave me Love till I fade and die,
And when hereafter our Souls re-kindle,
Who shall be fonder -- You or I?




An Upper Chamber

Frances Bannerman

19th Century



I CAME into the City and none knew me;
None came forth, none shouted 'He is here!
Not a hand with laurel would bestrew me,
All the way by which I drew anear--
Night my banner, and my herald Fear.

But I knew where one so long had waited
In the low room at the stairway's height,
Trembling lest my foot should be belated,
Singing, sighing for the long hours' flight
Towards the moment of our dear delight.

I came into the City when you hail'd me
Saviour, and again your chosen Lord:--
Not one guessing what it was that fail'd me,
While along the way as they adored
Thousands, thousands, shouted in accord.

But through all the joy I knew--I only--
How the hostel of my heart lay bare and cold,
Silent of its music, and how lonely!
Never, though you crown me with your gold,
Shall I find that little chamber as of old!




A Nun

Odell Shepard

1884-1967



One glance and I had lost her in the riot
Of tangled cries.
She trod the clamor with a cloistral quiet
Deep in her eyes
As though she heard the muted music only
That silence makes
Among dim mountain summits and on lonely
Deserted lakes.

There is some broken song her heart remembers
From long ago,
Some love lies buried deep, some passion's embers
Smothered in snow,
Far voices of a joy that sought and missed her
Fail now, and cease . . .
And this has given the deep eyes of God's sister
Their dreadful peace.




The Blind Boy's Pranks

William Thom

1798-1848



MEN grew sae cauld, maids sae unkind,
Love kentna whaur to stay:
Wi' fient an arrow, bow, or string--
Wi' droopin' heart an' drizzled wing,
He faught his lonely way.

'Is there nae mair in Garioch fair
Ae spotless hame for me?
Hae politics an' corn an' kye
Ilk bosom stappit? Fie, O fie!
I'll swithe me o'er the sea.'

He launch'd a leaf o' jessamine,
On whilk he daur'd to swim,
An' pillow'd his head on a wee rosebud,
Syne laithfu', lanely, Love 'gan scud
Down Ury's waefu' stream.

The birds sang bonnie as Love drew near,
But dowie when he gaed by;
Till lull'd wi' the sough o' monie a sang,
He sleepit fu' soun' and sail'd alang
'Neath Heaven's gowden sky.

'Twas just whaur creeping Ury greets
Its mountain cousin Don,
There wander'd forth a weelfaur'd dame,
Wha listless gazed on the bonnie stream,
As it flirted an' play'd with a sunny beam
That flicker'd its bosom upon.

Love happit his head, I trow, that time
The jessamine bark drew nigh,
The lassie espied the wee rosebud,
An' aye her heart gae thud for thud,
An' quiet it wadna lie.

'O gin I but had yon wearie wee flower
That floats on the Ury sae fair!'--
She lootit her hand for the silly rose-leaf,
But little wist she o' the pawkie thief
That was lurkin' an' laughin' there!

Love glower'd when he saw her bonnie dark e'e,
An' swore by Heaven's grace
He ne'er had seen nor thought to see,
Since e'er he left the Paphian lea,
Sae lovely a dwallin'-place.

Syne first of a' in her blythesome breast
He built a bower, I ween;
An' what did the waefu' devilick neist?
But kindled a gleam like the rosy east,
That sparkled frae baith her e'en.

An' then beneath ilk high e'e-bree
He placed a quiver there;
His bow? What but her shinin' brow?
An' O sic deadly strings he drew
Frae out her silken hair!

Guid be our guard! Sic deeds waur deen
Roun' a' our countrie then;
An' monie a hangin' lug was seen
'Mang farmers fat, an' lawyers lean,
An' herds o' common men!




Mater Dolorosa

William Barnes

1801-1886



I'D a dream to-night
As I fell asleep,
O! the touching sight
Makes me still to weep:
Of my little lad,
Gone to leave me sad,
Ay, the child I had,
But was not to keep.

As in heaven high,
I my child did seek,
There in train came by
Children fair and meek,
Each in lily white,
With a lamp alight;
Each was clear to sight,
But they did not speak.

Then, a little sad,
Came my child in turn,
But the lamp he had,
O it did not burn!
He, to clear my doubt,
Said, half turn'd about,
'Your tears put it out;
Mother, never mourn.'




Eidolons

Walt Whitman

1819-1892



I met a seer,
Passing the hues and objects of the world,
The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,
To glean eidolons.

Put in thy chants said he,
No more the puzzling hour nor day, nor segments, parts, put in,
Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,
That of eidolons.

Ever the dim beginning,
Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,
Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)
Eidolons! eidolons!

Ever the mutable,
Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,
Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,
Issuing eidolons.

Lo, I or you,
Or woman, man, or state, known or unknown,
We seeming solid wealth, strength, beauty build,
But really build eidolons.

The ostent evanescent,
The substance of an artist's mood or savan's studies long,
Or warrior's, martyr's, hero's toils,
To fashion his eidolon.

Of every human life,
(The units gather'd, posted, not a thought, emotion, deed, left out,)
The whole or large or small summ'd, added up,
In its eidolon.

The old, old urge,
Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles,
From science and the modern still impell'd,
The old, old urge, eidolons.

The present now and here,
America's busy, teeming, intricate whirl,
Of aggregate and segregate for only thence releasing,
To-day's eidolons.

These with the past,
Of vanish'd lands, of all the reigns of kings across the sea,
Old conquerors, old campaigns, old sailors' voyages,
Joining eidolons.

Densities, growth, facades,
Strata of mountains, soils, rocks, giant trees,
Far-born, far-dying, living long, to leave,
Eidolons everlasting.

Exalte, rapt, ecstatic,
The visible but their womb of birth,
Of orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape,
The mighty earth-eidolon.

All space, all time,
(The stars, the terrible perturbations of the suns,
Swelling, collapsing, ending, serving their longer, shorter use,)
Fill'd with eidolons only.

The noiseless myriads,
The infinite oceans where the rivers empty,
The separate countless free identities, like eyesight,
The true realities, eidolons.

Not this the world,
Nor these the universes, they the universes,
Purport and end, ever the permanent life of life,
Eidolons, eidolons.

Beyond thy lectures learn'd professor,
Beyond thy telescope or spectroscope observer keen, beyond all mathematics,
Beyond the doctor's surgery, anatomy, beyond the chemist with his chemistry,
The entities of entities, eidolons.

Unfix'd yet fix'd,
Ever shall be, ever have been and are,
Sweeping the present to the infinite future,
Eidolons, eidolons, eidolons.

The prophet and the bard,
Shall yet maintain themselves, in higher stages yet,
Shall mediate to the Modern, to Democracy, interpret yet to them,
God and eidolons.

And thee my soul,
Joys, ceaseless exercises, exaltations,
Thy yearning amply fed at last, prepared to meet,
Thy mates, eidolons.

Thy body permanent,
The body lurking there within thy body,
The only purport of the form thou art, the real I myself,
An image, an eidolon.

Thy very songs not in thy songs,
No special strains to sing, none for itself,
But from the whole resulting, rising at last and floating,
A round full-orb'd eidolon.




De Massa ob de Sheepfol'

Sarah Pratt McLean Greene

1856-1935



De massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guard de sheepfol' bin,
Look out in de gloomerin' meadows
Whar de long night rain begin --
So he call to de hirelin' shephe'd:
"Is my sheep -- is dey all come in?"

Oh den, says de hirelin' shephe'd,
"Dey's some, dey's black and thin,
And some, dey's po' ol' wedda's --
But de res', dey's all brung in.
But de res', dey's all brung in."

Den de massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guard de sheepfol' bin,
Goes down in de gloomerin' meadows
Whar de long night rain begin --
So he le' down de ba's ob de sheepfol',
Callin' sof': "Come in! Come in!"
Callin' sof': "Come in! Come in!"

Den up t'ro de gloomerin' meadows,
T'ro de col' night rain an' win',
An' up t'ro de gloomerin' rain-paf
Whar de sleet fa' piercin' thin --
De po' los' sheep ob de sheepfol'
Dey all comes gadderin' in.
De po' los' sheep ob de sheepfol',
Dey all comes gadderin' in!




Harbury

Louise Driscoll

1875-1957



All the men of Harbury go down to the sea in ships,
The wind upon their faces, the salt upon their lips.

The little boys of Harbury when they are laid to sleep,
Dream of masts and cabins and the wonders of the deep.

The women-folk of Harbury have eyes like the sea,
Wide with watching wonder, deep with mystery.

I met a woman: "Beyond the bar," she said,
"Beyond the shallow water where the green lines spread,

"Out beyond the sand-bar and the white spray,
My three sons wait for the Judgment Day."

I saw an old man who goes to sea no more,
Watch from morn till evening down on the shore.

"The sea's a hard mistress," the old man said;
"The sea is always hungry and never full fed.

"The sea had my father and took my son from me --
Sometimes I think I see them, walking on the sea!

"I'd like to be in Harbury on the Judgment Day,
When the word is spoken and the sea is wiped away,

"And all the drowned fisher boys, with sea-weed in their hair,
Rise and walk to Harbury to greet the women there.

"I'd like to be in Harbury to see the souls arise,
Son and mother hand in hand, lovers with glad eyes.

"I think there would be many who would turn and look with me,
Hoping for another glimpse of the cruel sea!

"They tell me that in Paradise the fields are green and still,
With pleasant flowers everywhere that all may take who will,

"And four great rivers flowing from out the Throne of God
That no one ever drowns in and souls may cross dry-shod.

"I think among those wonders there will be men like me,
Who miss the old salt danger of the singing sea.

"For in my heart, like some old shell, inland, safe and dry,
Any one who harks will still hear the sea cry."




The Farm

Sherry Asbury

21st Century



If you hike in the Oregon outback,
You will come across it unexpectedly.
Old scabrous house is a lonely site.
crooked and rotted, under a tree.

The land around the house
Is a landscape both alien and eerie.,
of things gone to seed long ago,
Painting the old farm weary and dreary.

Nedda Scott called the house home
For nearly 80 years, living with husband Hank.
Nearly lost it many times over the years,
Because the farmer, Scott heavily drank.

You will hear her humming in the wind,
The Old Rugged Cross in fervent tones.
Listen, and Nedda will introduce herself,
Even though she is a crumble of bones.

Sheets still flap on the line outside,
Or is it a trick of an errant bough?
Maybe Nedda and Hank never forgot a farm
where they made their wedding vow.