Sunday, March 6, 2011

Poetry 21 & 22

Why four blog posts in one day? you ask. Well, let me tell you, I reply (and if you were here in person, you'd hear the reason in my hoarse and scratchy voice). I stayed home from church, trying to recover from bronchitis, and needed something to distract me from the oppressive gunkiness. Now you know.

I came across two poems I liked in a book by John Sterling Harris. Here's the first one:

by John Sterling Harris

God distributed gifts.
To some he gave strength.
Others he made handsome
Or swift or let sing
Like larks at daybreak.

A last little boy asked,
Is there something for me?
God handed down an ivory box.

The boy saw the lid was curiously
Carved in a cryptic design--
It would bear some later study.
The hinges were ingeniously
Wrought, and the latch moved
With a satisfying click,
But there was nothing inside.

He stroked the surface
And looked up inquiringly.

You will have to fill it, God said
With bright pebbles and sea shells,
Maple leaves and June bugs
And red-shafted feathers.

It's a pretty thing--
I hope you find it much too small.

This second poem made me laugh. It's a confession of sorts (an unrepentant one).

The Culvert's Rise
by John Sterling Harris

Utah irrigation ditches
Have sovereign right of way
Sacred as the king's highway.

Thus Main Street accommodated--
For its hundred foot width--
The Settlement Canyon stream
With an elegant culvert.

But long culverts clog
With leaves and branches,
Apples and kids' boats.
They require poles
And fire hoses to clear.

For access this one was roofed
With cast-iron plates
So heavy the end of one
Was all a man cared to lift.

One hot night a coffee can of carbide
Floated into the culvert--
In its bottom a metered nail hole
That let it sink halfway through.
Carbide and water produce acetylene--
A smelly flammable gas.

From half a block away another can
Floated down, with a lighted oily rag--
Like a fire ship under full sail
Into the anchored frigates at Brest.

Blue flames squirted, riding a dull boom
And the heavy clang of plates
Lifted and fallen awry.

It was glorious and satisfying.
Investigators could not find the cause,
Though there was talk of sewer gas.
The miscreants were never caught--
And there is the statute of limitations.

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