June 27, 2009

Like Men

by Lex Runciman

Though I knew them in homes and work,
In argument and quiet, and loved them,
They were inarticulate and they liked to hit.
Born to absorb punishment like men,
Born to dish it out--even as little boys
They were sex-driven, the losers and the winners.
For five or six generations (which was longer
Than they could remember), they worked hard
To become cogs, gears, the grease or the machine
At salary, hourly, or piece rates.
If lucky, they bullied others; if not, they went surly
And in their perversity never missed a day.
They spent long hours learning numb,
Learning repetition, learning boredom.
They were befuddled by the idea of beauty
Until they saw it, until they were seized by it,
Weak-kneed by it, mute and sheepish
And then probably angry. They used women,
Children, dogs as they were used, and the nameless
Remorse they felt drove them to rage, to drink
Or bowl or shoot birds they loved to see flying.
They could be smart about any number of constructions
Including faucets and all the ball sports but tennis.
They could even know what they wanted for others,
What they worked and worked for, though emotion
Embarrassed them: they sent cards
Or bought freezers as surprises.
The paycheck--never enough--was proof
Of love, that word they could not quite
Get in their mouths. They saved
For education for their children, who
If successful, they did not understand, who
Thinking of them, wished them ease
And thanksgiving, and thought pity.

June 16, 2009

Original Sin

by Wendell Berry

Well, anyhow, it preserves us from the pride
of thinking we invented sin ourselves
by our originality, that famous modern power.
In fact, we have it from the beginning
of the world by the errors of being born,
being young, being old, causing pain
to ourselves, to others, to the world, to God
by ignorance, by knowledge, by intention,
by accident. Something is bad the matter
here, informing us of itself, handing down
its old instruction. We know it
when we see it, don't we? Innocence
would never recognize it. We need it
too, for without it we would not know
forgiveness, goodness, gratitude,
that fund of grace by which alone we live.

June 12, 2009

Where To Sit

by Kathleen Kilcup

And so I sit on this damp bench,
on an island of arching bushes,
and quivering buds,
humming and dangling in the rain,
and all around the edges
stretch war-torn arms
of asphalt,
a dead army of imprisoned pebbles,
then up above,
windows suffocating in their frames,
and up above,
sooty roofs,
then all those gauzy clouds,
and twirling wind,
and I think of the lips of orchids
and oceans,
don't lash themselves,
like we do when we splinter
into parts that love,
and parts that don't know how,
and parts that roll in the mud
because it's easier to stay dirty,
and how we say that is like the animals,
how we say that people don't sit in the mud.