After many years in Texas, in the computer services industry designing mainframe systems and tuning their performance, I am now retired and back on a portion of the old family farm in west central Illinois. Early on I wrote poetry, all that formal richness waiting to be broken was just so enticing. As it will though, life veered in another direction and while following my profession, I took up painting and sculpture. I will continue to pursue them.
But recently the urge to write has re-emerged.
a slow so long
and moved among the trees its
copies. its green efficiency
each aspect of a blade of grass
has remade earth’s face
hides its finest stratagems in the open.
in its budshoots, rolled or folded,
in its arrangement of the blade on
noded stem. it’s here
or there, hopped up, took flight
parts newly created slightly altered
since it appeared, roughly around
spreading their duplicates, or its seeding
the juncture of blade and sheath
the rhizomes, strong or weak, around
the time the dinosaurs died
wrapping around and clasping
time to change, it first appears.
and moves off in new directions.
as the environment whispers,
assortments of twists and braids, the
funnels and shoots, traps and catches,
ignore the ordered workings
in green fueled cells, the odd
life from atoms’ bonds.
now needing only minor modifications,
slight nudges to the rudder,
that limber proteins engineered to pump
this was work done long ago,
we hear around us, hear it in the air,
trees prattling to grass, grass to birds,
the fat field mice hide under? that
roiling boiling field of wind bent grass,
red-tail hawk riding the air above,
parts in balance. can we hear it,
just this much, no more? each
is certain to get its share.
can we hear that voice in the voices?
birds to the seeds and berries
a new protein bends differently
and a camel shuffles off, forested plains cover
and obviously look good doing it,
and thriving by new advantage.
as they waltz, shrink and expand,
blackbirds as a million dusty days go by,
by their smaller, gracile cousins, the sloth
changes, adapts to the basin’s rise,
elk shrink down, great cats replaced
follow it in the larks and red-winged ones
give way to open grasslands,
ice advances and retreats, bulldozes
if you fail, you fail forever. time,
inevitably changing or not,
is coolly indifferent to the outcome,
is never rescinded. no going back.
it’s offspring numerous as an
ocean’s basin. endless days go by.
of this game and wagers nothing
old mountains fall slowly
on those that think they’re victors
or run faster or jump higher,
pointing at different stars,
slowly, one step at a time
some leg grows longer,
swung around this variable star. slowly,
the five great lakes, pulverizes
the mammoths, come, then go, giant
time has the patience to wait things out,
the earth’s axis circling about
up and down, in and out
the sweeter success is
the irony of it is, if you succeed
it is because of change. you
from that you started as. as ever
change irrevocably away,
a slow so long.