The grit between her bangs and bonnet
Scratched her scalp
Every time the wheels dropped
Into a new gopher hole.
There had been deaths along the way
From snake bites, raids and consumption
But each evening, in a circle
They would sing merry songs.
She had no way of knowing
By these dusty, hungry, sunburned months
That she would die old and at peace
In a mansion overlooking the Bay.
TIBERIUS II *
It is all we can do to grasp at our straws and
is all we can do to play the game.
the expert strikes with skill to leave us only
part of what we brought to the table
of green felt and sacrifice.
a foolish wind continues to grow until
good citizens rise again to
shepherd the downtrodden
to yet another tea party.
shear luck will be our only comfort.
the wind has gone out of sails of those who
flock to the complaint window and beg
not for justice but for mercy
to return to the trench of our labors.
skin and bone and rags on our back
it will forever be.
The time has come for the distant
traveler to make his appearance
with no need of introduction.
the laden coffers are less important than
empty coffins and a
purse full of curses for the kings.
will the magpie still fly and
sing for a pie while the rich
in their basements cower from
the clouds that march across the
presence of the horizon?
of all the swindlers seen
the traveler is the
robber of the ones he knows.
* Note: This is a word acrostic poem. Read the first word of each line vertically for two ancient quotes.
The Golden Day is done
In this uncreative canyon cut by feet and wheels,
An age ago with the steam of industry
And the drive of hope that soured
In the breeze of intellectualism.
The poorly pitched boulevard betrays
The hand-laid cobble below.
The abashed underlayment finds company
With storefront walls that shade
The dawn of promise and the eve of beauty.
Behind unthreatening plaster facades
Stand cliffs of marble, stone, brick
Of black and brown and red, pilastered up
With government help and government waste.
The showroom windows look only outward.
There is certain sophistry in the street
And fecundity on alternating corners-
In a bush or a bench, but JOSEPH & SONS,
EST. 1834 and SLEZAK BUILDING
No longer hold any meaning.
I am tired of the urban renewal covering.
I am tired of seeing the face and not the heart.
I am tired of hearing the logia
That every store has a label
And every label has a price.
Bitter gutter weeds thrive
As do the dusty thoughts from each door,
Born of hate and not of pride.
The proprietors know no heroes,
But victims are cherished, like a silver gun.
The Golden Day is gone
And blame is heaped upon the founders
Who laid the street, made the gold
From dreams and sweat and went their way
To the rails or to the grave.
The rat sneaks out at dusk to glean a morsel
And clean his face thoroughly.
I came along in Fifty-One, among the blamed.
I’ve been told to bow to my environment
And hop back in the dumpster marked, “White Trash.”
Richard D. Givens, is a resident of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and started reading and writing poetry by the 6th grade. He holds a B.A. degree in English. He published a small volume in 1975, but continued to get printed in various periodicals, anthologies and contests over the years. Richard taught "Creative Writing With the Tools of Poetry" at the local community college and has done readings and a workshop in his Valley home. Now retired, there's more time to write. He can be contacted at: richardthehammergivens@gmail.