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Long Autumn Poems

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Long Poems
Long poem by Greg Barden | Details

Of Winks and Wings - Part 2

     "Oh, indeed she was, young man ... I mean Greg. It IS Greg, if I recall correctly?"
     "Yes. Or you can call me True Friend if you like." I turned to him and smiled, and he returned it, though he kept staring ahead. I reached over and gave his arm a little bump, to accentuate the friendly intent of the comment.
     "She was a survivor," he said. "A NazI prison camp survivor. Lost all her family and friends to Hitler's SS, and though she was very young, she was strong and did her best to stay healthy while interred. It was only six months after her capture that the war ended, so she was freed by the allies and came here, via Ellis Island, at the age of eight. She didn't remember much about the camps ... that was a good thing, I imagine."
     "Yes, I'm sure it was," I added.
     He went on, "She loved to feed the birds and ducks, you see, because it reminded her of the little German girl who snuck food and soap to her at the camp. A little blond girl who helped her father, a baker, feed the soldiers at the camp ... she would collect scraps of food from the kitchen and soap, and sometimes even chocolate, and meet Grace every morning by the latrine. She would wait until Grace was alone and throw little bags over the fence, then wave and disappear. Grace never found out her name, but she remembered her face. She painted a picture of her some years ago - it still hangs in our kitchen."
     "Wow ... what an amazing story," I said. "Such hardship each day, fighting to just stay alive."
     "Yes," Clarence said. Then, much softer, "I get tired of fighting."
     "What's that?" I answered.
     "Oh, never mind that ... an old fool's ramblings." I let it go, but I knew I'd heard it correctly. "Anyway, that's why we came here, to remember that girl each day - the one that kept Grace alive - and to do her a bit of honor, in our little way."
     I waited to make sure he was finished, then said, "I think that's wonderful! Paying it forward, so-to-speak, and keeping the memory of that girl alive at the same time as helping God's creatures ... not enough of that these days, if you ask me."
     "Oh, there are still plenty of good folks around," he replied. "You just have to look a little closer, because the world is going by so quickly now."
     "That is so true!" I followed. "Everything is too fast for me," I added, "Too fast and too loud!" Just as a teenager passed us with a blaster on his shoulder, scaring the birds off temporarily. We both chuckled a bit at the timing. "I've always wished that I'd been born much sooner - in YOUR generation, for example."
     "Oh, no, you wouldn't have liked things back then, much too simple, and no cell phones!" He laughed at that, and I joined him, reaching in my pocket and flashing my iPhone at him, supporting his theory. "Besides," he added, "You'd be sitting here now wishing you weren't."
     "Wishing I wasn't what?" I queried.
     "Wishing you weren't." And his face went blank. I knew then what he'd meant by the comment.
     We sat in silence after that for a couple of minutes, letting the weight of his last sentence dissipate. That was the third thing he'd said to me that wasn't quite ... right, and I kept mulling those statements over, hoping they weren't as tragically motivated as I thought they were, but knowing otherwise, deep-down. I didn't want to think on that long, so I let it go.
     Some of the birds had come back by then, and I noticed that the ducks and geese had finally returned from the other side of the little island in the pond, (where their "house" was), and were headed our way. It didn't take them long to find out when someone was there to feed them, so the race was on, geese leading the way. The swans always stayed in the water, for the most part, but I had fed them to bursting earlier anyway, and I would save a little to take to them before I left as well.
     The geese and ducks reached the edge of the water below us and bolted up the little hill to where we were sitting on the bench.
     "You see that one, the duck with the little stripe on her leg?" Clarence asked.
     "Yes, I do!" I answered. "That's kind of odd, isn't it? A mallard with a striped leg?"
     "I've never seen another," Clarence replied, "And I've been feeding ducks for a lot of years!" He made a couple of clicking sounds with his tongue to emphasize the rarity of it. "That duck showed up the day after ...", and he hesitated as if wondering whether or not to finish, "Well, it was the day after Grace passed," he finally finished, though a bit more quietly.
     "Oh ... I'm very sorry to hear that," I responded. "My condolences."
     "Oh, don't give it no mind, but thank you anyway," He said. "It's been over two years now, and she was in a lot of pain, so it was a blessing, all-in-all."
     "Still, that doesn't make it any easier ... those holes never fill, do they?" I asked, again, more rhetorical than anything.
     "No, they sure-as-heck don't," Clarence said softly, "The pain of losing those we love never goes away ... well, not until WE do, anyway." Another long silence, then, very softly, almost under his breath, he added, "I've had enough pain now ... I'm ready."
     "What's that?" I said quietly, not wanting to push too hard.
     Another long silence, and then, so softly I almost couldn't hear, he said, "I'm ready ... Grace." And as he said this I noticed that he was staring straight ahead again, at that phantom he'd been focusing on earlier, when I arrived.
     Just then the ducks and geese, (AND pigeons), had reached us and were bustling around our feet, a couple pecking at our shoes in expectation. "Well, we'd better get to work, eh?" Clarence declared in a new, happier tone, and I concurred. So we set to feeding the birds and fowl and enjoyed the silence for a bit. A couple of cyclists rode past, scaring our winged friends away briefly, but they returned right away, food being the priority it was, especially that time of year.

Copyright © Greg Barden | Year Posted 2017

Long poem by Greg Barden | Details

Of Winks and Wings - Part 1

     I have a little story to tell you ... it's absolutely true, of course, at least as far as I'm concerned, but you can take it as you wish - as a tale, a fact, or just the musings of a hack writer - no matter.
     It happened about ten weeks ago, late in October, and while it's probably nothing very earth-shattering on the surface, if you give a bit of thought to it, it just may deserve an extra question-or-two. But that's just MY opinion, you should find out for yourself.
     It all began when I went to the park to feed the ducks.
     As usual, stopped at the market for day-old bread to break up, then made the ten-mile drive and parked under the oaks where the car would be in the shade ... it was a cold autumn day, but the car still got too hot if it was sitting in the sunshine for any length of time.
     As I got out and pulled the bread bag out of the back seat, I glanced in the direction of the park pond to see where the ducks and geese were at the moment and saw a familiar hat atop a figure sitting on the bench. It belonged to an old man named Clarence who I had talked to briefly a couple of times ... he always sat on the same bench, in the exact same spot. I didn't sit there myself very often, as I liked to go down to the water's edge and sit on a big, flat rock there. From that spot, I could throw the bread into the pond, that way the ducks would get some water along WITH the bread, and digest it properly. But sometimes, if it was really cold, I'd sit on the rod-iron bench and let the birds come to ME.
     Though I'd never thought about it LONG, I had noticed that about a third of the bench's painted seat had been worn down to the bare wood, and public works clearly hadn't been around to check on it or re-paint it, for many years. No biggie - it was quality hardwood and was worn quite smooth, so there were no splinters, and people used it continuously without concern.
     When I got near the bench I said hi to Clarence, and though he replied right away with his usual kind voice, there was a break in it, and his smile was not nearly as broad as it usually was. I continued down to the pond's edge and fed a couple of the swans, but the ducks and geese were not there, (most likely on the backside of the little island in the middle), so after the long-necks had their fill, I went up to sit on the bench for a few minutes, as it was cold that day, and the bench was still in the late-day sun.
     I said hello again to Clarence, but this time he didn't answer, so I glanced his way again and saw him wiping his eyes with a handkerchief, (a beautiful embroidered one that I'd seen him use before to carry crumbs in, or pat his forehead with on hot days, though he never used it for his nose, and kept a small package of Kleenex in his pocket for those duties). I didn't want to disturb him in a private moment, so I avoided asking him what was wrong, and just sat down on the end of the bench and made a soft comment about how nice the sun's warmth was, again with no reply, though I could see peripherally that he was still wiping his eyes.
     Since the ducks and geese were still nowhere to be seen, I decided to try Clarence one more time ...
     "You OK?", I asked, casually. Still, no reply, though I knew he'd heard me, as his face was turned my way. This time I looked directly at him as I spoke ...
     "Hey, Buddy, are you alright?" And while he'd just wiped his face, another stream of tears ran down his cheeks, and he looked at me quickly and then away, blotting with the handkerchief as he did so. I could tell he WANTED to speak, but was just unable to at the moment, so I looked back toward the pond and let the last question hang in the air.
     "I'm ... I'm ok," he finally answered slowly, with another crack in his voice. "I've just been here too long, is all." And with this, he straightened up a bit and seemed to not be dabbing his cheeks as often.
     "Why don't you head home and get warmed up then, Clarence?" I said to him, more a suggestion than a question, "It's late in the day and the birds will be tucking in soon, anyway."
     "Oh, no... no... that's not what I meant," he replied, though I didn't press for him to elaborate, more out of awkwardness than anything else.
     Still no birds around, so I sat silently and fidgeted with the bag of bread crumbs, breaking them into smaller pieces. Clarence wiped his face one more time, then ceremoniously flattened and folded the handkerchief on his lap, (I could see then it was decorated with hearts and love messages, his name in the center), all the while handling it as if it was the finest lace, ever-so-tenderly tucking it into his jacket pocket. I thought this was probably a sign that he was heading home, but he sat still, looking into the air in front of him, as though he could SEE something there that I couldn't.
     "Fifty years. Today," said Clarence.
     "I'm sorry, what's that?" I replied.
     "It would've been fifty years ... today," he answered. "Fifty years that Grace and I would have been coming here, every afternoon ... to feed the ducks and geese and swans. The swans especially ... Grace loved the swans."
     "They're beautiful ... Grace was your wife?" I asked.
     "My True Love," he said with reverence, emphasizing the last two words. "Yes, my wife ... she didn't like the words 'wife' and 'husband', she said they sounded too much like ownership. So we always used 'True Love', that way people would know right away how much we meant to each other. Silly, I guess, but it was important to her, and I didn't mind."
     I made a mental note of the fact that I agreed with that view, that there had always been something a bit too "possessive" sounding about those labels, and that "true love" was much more specific and special. "I like that," I said, continuing, "She must've been very special ... to be so specific about what she wanted you to call each other."

Copyright © Greg Barden | Year Posted 2017

Long poem by Greg Barden | Details

Of Winks and Wings - Part 3

 "You see this here spot on the bench, where it's all worn away?" Clarence asked.
     "Yeah, I've noticed that a few times, and wondered why they didn't paint it again." I answered.
     "Well, that's from me and Grace, you see, our tushies sittin' here all these years," he told me. "And every year when the works department guys come around, I give them a hundred bucks to keep it the way it is."
     "For real?!?" I asked him.
     "Damn straight!" He said, proudly, then added, "You gonna do that for us from now on?"
     And I laughed outright at this, thinking for sure that it was a joke, but when I looked his way he was as serious as a preacher and turning red, so I knew I'd taken him wrong, or maybe hurt his feelings. But then I thought - why did he say that? And why did he say "us"? That's very odd. But I chalked it up to old age and let it go.
     I glanced over at him then and he looked like he'd been pondering, too, but then said, "Oh, don't mind me ... silly ramblings of an old man, you know! Nothing to take too seriously." And he gave me a wry smile, but one not quite convincing, and went back to feeding our feathered friends, as I did.
    "Come here, Grace - get your fill!" He said to the duck with the stripe. And I almost missed this, but it struck me as even odder.
     "What did you say? Did you call that one 'Grace'?" I asked.
     "Yep!" He answered, "That one with the striped leg. Well, I know it seems silly and all, but it showed up here the day after Grace ... well, you know, after she left, and the damn thing has a stripe on its left leg, almost like a wedding ring, kinda, and it's REAL friendly towards me, and ... well, I just started calling it Grace."
     I chuckled at this, thinking it was a fun sort of thing, or that he was teasing me a bit, but when I glanced up his face was very stern and getting red again, and I realized I'd embarrassed him. "Oh, I'm sorry," I said, "That's really very sweet, I just thought you might have been ribbing me."
     "Nope. Wasn't." Was all he replied, and another silence ensued, and lasted until we were both almost out of bread and seed.
     "You believe in that reincarnation hooey?" He finally asked, out of the long silence, "You know, where your soul sorta comes back in something else ... or someONE else."
     "I honestly don't know," I replied, after some thought. "But I have some very strong memories from being on a battle ship in the South Pacific in one of the wars, and it's not a dream memory or from a movie I've seen, but it's very, very strong, and seems as real as anything else I remember, so ..." I trailed off, and let the sentence hang there, then added, "I guess I'd have to say that I lean in that direction, though like with God and faith, I'll never know for sure ... at least not in THIS life." And I turned and smiled at him, and he smiled at me, and then winked, a real SLOW wink, so he could make sure I knew it's intent.
     "Well," he answered, "Always keep an open mind about those things, cause you just never know ... you know?" And I nodded my head. "I mean, that little duck there, the one I call Grace ... there's just something about her, something I can't put into words ... but she's special. Very, very special. And that stripe ... "
     And I noticed then that all the other birds had given up, (as we had finished with most of our feed and were just talking), but that one little duck with the striped leg, had sat down on the pavement beside the bench, right beside Clarence's foot, and was slowly closing its eyes to enjoy what was left of the sun. Now this struck me as very odd as well, and as a smile of interest and realization crossed my face, I slowly turned to Clarence, and he gave me a big, broad smile, and then that wink again, REAL slow, so he'd know I'd seen it.
     "Well, real nice talking with you this afternoon, Greg," says Clarence," I hope you keep coming here to feed the ducks and geese ... and don't forget the swans, you make sure you always feed the swans, too, ok?"
     And while I hadn't been planning to leave just then, I took this as a hint that he wanted to be alone, so I got up, shook his gnarled, rough old hand, and said, "Thank you so much, Clarence ... I really enjoyed our little chat!" And headed toward the pond edge to give the last few crumbs to the swans, as I always did.
     "Well, I had to pass the torch, didn't I?" Clarence called after me. "You have a good life, young man!"
     This also struck me as rather peculiar, because he said it in a way that sounded like he was sure he'd never see me again, even though it was a safe bet that I'd run into him eventually ... and soon. I decided that after I gave the swans their dessert, I'd go back up the knoll and ask him what he meant by that, but when I finished the bag of crumbs and turned to head that way, I saw that he'd gone, and though I searched everywhere with my eyes, I couldn't find him. But, strange as it sounds, the duck with the striped leg was still there, but now ON the bench with its eyes closed, right where Clarence had been sitting, enjoying the late-day sun - not a care in the world.
     Well, it's been about ten weeks since last I saw Clarence, though I now go to the park every single day, without fail, and feed the ducks and geese and swans. I feed the pigeons now, too, like Clarence did, because whenever I get through at the water's edge with the fowl, the pigeons are up there by the bench, waiting for me, like Clarence had somehow told them to come and find ME if he wasn't around, (thanks for that, Clarence, lol). But I don't really mind. I've asked the public works people if they've seen him, but nobody has ... not since that day in late October.

Copyright © Greg Barden | Year Posted 2017

Long poem by Greg Barden | Details

Autumn Atonement

Face to the sky,
Breath of the Caribbean
Woven with earthy Autumn,
Saturates the alveoli of my lungs,
Pouring raw impulses into the neurons of
My pleasure centers, so triggering a myriad of
Memories ... the demurring requiem to summer tide ...
The worries and joys of back-to-school preoccupations ...
Hours spent raking the crisp colors into sloppy pyramids, (only to
Ruin the chore with swan dives and somersaults) ... a pick-up game of
Football with the kids up the road, bones rattling with every jarring
Impact ... rekindled liaisons amidst a sea of oranges, reds,
Yellows, and browns ... sinking droughty teeth into
The juiciest of apples, born from the branch
In an algid tenth-month deluge ... the
Dreamy dance of costumed kids
Chasing the harvest moon
For a copious cache
Of candy treats.

The aroma of the air
Harkens all these thoughts
In an instant, and whisks me there
In a timeless surge of thoughts, then back
Again as quickly. Arms spread out to my sides
And hands dangling from the wrist as if on a cross ...
(A brief smile at that - crucified by self-pity - the irony is
Not lost on my odd sense of humor), eyelid-clasped face to the
Sky and perched barefoot on the rain-soaked deck, the tropical storm winds
Buffet me to-and-fro like a wooden puppet. I'm a child again, (it's not a long walk for me),
And I'm wishing THAT wish, the wish that if you concentrate hard enough,
And fill your heart full enough, and promise God sincerely enough,
That no matter WHAT you wish or desire, it WILL come
True ... you believe it with every fibre, and as long as
Your eyes are closed it might just as well have
Happened, (cuz like Schroedinger's cat,
Until something's observed to NOT
Be true, it's just as good
As the truth, right?).

But this time, instead
Of wishing for Santa Claus
To bring me that one present that
Seems outside the realm of possibility,
Or wishing for my bed to fly through the moonlit
Night sky, (electric blanket and all), or wishing for my
Family and pets to live forever, or wishing for that certain girl
To notice me at lunch or kiss me at the movies, or wishing for the
Pain behind my eye to go away, or wishing for the years to fly by so I can
Finally be called a "teenager", or wishing for the braces to be gone from my teeth
Forever, THIS time I'm wishing with all I am to be naught but the wind ...
Wishing to be dissolved into the very smallest, most insignificant
Particles possible ... wishing for the wind to sweep me up
As itself and carry me to nothingness ... wishing to
Become as much a part of the Earth as the
Earth itself ... wishing that I become
Nothing more than the aroma
In my senses, (a heavenly
Redolence born of the
Caribbean Sea.

Carried northward ...
Over the Atlantic and ashore
To mix wondrously with the crisp,
Earthy scents of Fall), as wispy and
Infinitesimal and oblivious, made only of energy
And nebulous matter, no conscious thought or care to
Tarry with ... no worries or expectations or responsibilities,
Yearning only for the sea whence it came. This wish is so pure, so
Visceral, so complete that it carries all my emotion with it, carries itself in
The water from my eyes that I squeeze out with the strength of my closed eyelids.
I am that child again, wishing with all I am, but my wish is not a childish, it
Is born of all of life's pains and losses and failures and yes, successes
Even, (for those successes are not of ME, they're of the wishes
Of others FOR me, and they are lies). But mostly they
Are born of YOU. You and all our words of the
Future, life together, music shared as
The same spirit, and the moon,
Wrapped around our skin, 
Our pale moon.

The same moon that
Baptized our love before we
Even knew what to call it, that
Bathed us in it's permissions before we
were even WE, that held us always after, that
Seduced me with the warm completeness of flowing up
Into your soul, being carried on a stream of passion that carries
Us as the same thought to that place unspeakable, where we are so
Close that there is no definition of who we are separately, where we are so
Much one being that we almost feel alone, where we are so joined that we nearly
Fear loneliness, but welcome all that has brought us here, and that sacred
Place where we are brought afterward, where the joy and elation of
Having been a singular soul holds us in the most blissful comfort
We've ever known, and wraps us, now once again you
And I, in a comfort and elation and peace that
Compares with no other, that is timeless
And boundless and hopeful,
That is filled with only
Us, you and I.

Bathed in that same
Moonlight that knew us before
We knew US, that knew we would
One day be here, and reserved these very
Beams for us, to wrap our bodies and our joy and
Our love in. This wish is born of all that, mostly that,
And more ... the little things like how amazing it was that
The spaces between your fingers fit mine so perfectly, how your
Smile warmed my heart with it's every appearance, many small sunrises
Throughout the day and night, that were even more hopeful and meaningful than the
Sunrise of morning itself. How the sound of your voice whispering my name
Sent an electric chill to my heart and my dermis, how every time we
Sang together we knew without speaking what the other was
Going to do next, and anticipated those changes with a
Timing that was as one, (another river we flowed up
Together, a river of music), and how our bodies
Fit together as though god had known
Before creation that we would one
Day know the perfection of
Each other's contours.

(continued)

Copyright © Greg Barden | Year Posted 2017

Long poem by Stephen Barry | Details

Reflections by Commodore John Barry

 “He fought often and once bled in the cause of freedom, but his habits of War did not lessen in him the peaceful virtues which adorn his private life.”  Doctor Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration

“In placing Barry at the head of the Navy I have special trust and confidence in [Commodore Barry’s] patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities” President George Washington

Reflections by Commodore John Barry (1745-1803)
 It’s been a long voyage, this life. Me, son of a poor tenement farmer, now Father of the American Navy. I feel as though I have not unpacked my trunk since I first walked aboard Uncle Nickolas’ fishing skiff back at Ballysampson, County Wexford in ‘55. Searching like a young lad does for adventure, understanding, and lust. Wanting to escape oppression and to feel worthy and alive, I left my mossy island it disappeared with the tide.

It has been a little over a year straight now back here at Strawberry Hill. I believe it’s the first time I’ve seen all the seasons change consecutively since my youth. Father, he loved the earth but for me it would be the sea. The British kicked him off his land; they planted a seed in me. Cromwell watered that seed when, “by Hook or by Crook”, he massacred me countrymen, thousands: three. My enmity towards the British and oppression took root, grew wings.
 
‘Boutez En Avant’ our family motto ‘strike forward’ seemed not to be ignored. So off to sea I went under my father’s brother’s oar. Cabin boy, Able Seaman then Mate, what better place to feed my soul, then blanketed in mother oceans’ wave. I made my way to the new land, up the Delaware to Phil-idel-ph-ia. Easy to be a Catholic there and many ships come in and out every day. It’s there I realized that females would carry me through day to day; ships and wives and love letters to keep me on my way.

My first Merchantman Command the schooner Barbados, for a time, the West Indies my second home, nine runs on her, she ran steady, steady as a stone. “Big John” Barry they started calling me. I stood a full foot over most. The Patty and Polly a grand one tripper, the Industry, she a good sloop. The Page was quite a plumb for a Captain as young as I. Better still the Black Prince, I set speed records on her: 237 miles dead reckoning in 24 hours, if not in the blink of an eye.

Alas, the Black Prince was an omen as well, for soon the fight would come. I’d been waiting for the time to seize freedom and avenge my people from back home. The woman that drove my heart, my dear Mary Cleary breathed no more; in ’67 I was at sea when she arrived on heaven’s shore. When brother Patrick was lost at sea on a French frigate the limey’s sunk, my rage only grew. Feeding the old roots buried but now in death this marrow renewed. 


Saved from despair [by wife number two], Sarah Keen Austin, as Sally she was known. I had a home again and a dandy, steardy women to guide me, letters to see me through. Things happened quickly after the Prince it was war, and we needed a Continental Navy. “Get Big John Barry here, get him here immediately.”  I oversaw the rigging and reinforced the bulwarks. I secured the powder and the canvas, the hard tack and the jerky.

They gave me the first Captain’s Commission, a fantastic brig. I took this cruiser Lexington, so strong was she, in one hour I captured the Edward, loyal to the Queen. Then the command of the Effington sprung new up from the keel. While I watched her grow, they tried to bribe me but I spurned the eye-dee of being a traitor. Instead, I did some soldiering to pass the time while she was being built. I was handpicked to work for General George Washington what a privilege and honor I had felt.

As the British descended on Phil-idel-ph-ia I would have to scuttle the Effington to save her from red hands, leaving nothing for the picking, only splinters in the sand. I fought many a valiant battle with skiff and small boats, too. Ah, the Raleigh, she was a 32-gun frigate what a beauty; I had to scuttle her too, put fire to her on the rocks but I saved two-thirds of my crew.

It was the 36 gun Alliance in ‘82 that was my favorite lass. I took metal in my body in one grand battle but persisted as my blood ran, and the colors flew through the smoke and the crunching, through the fog and the mist. After I sunk the Atlanta and the Tresspassy I gave the captain back his sword, because he was and honorable man and my lessons from the Lord. By ’83 we had beat the red coats pretty darn well but I sheared off the Sybil for good measure and had the cook ring the ships bell.

Back to a Merchantman for a while and the Asia took me to Oriental lands but my country came a calling and me, always willing to lend a hand. From President Washington in ’97 I received Commission Number One and the 42 gun Frigate the [USS United States]. Keen, thought I-this is the one. We did many a mission in her; changed many a man’s fate.

Father of the America Navy, my contemporaries call me. Now I sit on Strawberry Hill, looking down on the port. I rake leaves for my daughter, my grandson, he’s a sport. I have more time now for my association, “Charitable Captains of Ships Club”. So many sailors lost in the war, their widows and orphans need the clothes, need the grub. I get called to teach the young cadets. I guess I’m father to them all. Boutez En Avant; persist, strike up an onward, good motto for one and all.

Copyright © Stephen Barry | Year Posted 2015

Long poem by Robert Candler | Details

Legend of the Red October Run

Dedicated to the 2000 National College Football Champions, the Oklahoma Sooners 

--------------------------------------------------------------

Over fifty years, boy and man, I’ve been a Sooners fan
Watched and reveled in their glories, every one;
But there’s no more glorious “Sooner Magic” 
Than the Red October Run.

The new millennium's first football season,
Excited Sooners fans’ hopes did soar.
They had tasted victory in Bob Stoops’ first year;
Now, they wanted - no, expected - even more.

There was a glint of promise in Bob’s eyes,
Strength and confidence in his every word.
“Our Team has shown improvement”, is what he said;
“We’ll win!” is what fans heard.

By September’s end, the Sooners were 4 and O,
A “cupcake schedule” some anxious fans would say;
Twenty-two days in October would rule their destiny.
Texas, K-State, Nebraska, the teams they’d have to play.

“OU’s October is a gauntlet”, said ESPN;
“Play #10 and #2 and #1…and win”?
So, on a rainy Saturday morning in Dallas,
The Red October Run would begin.

The Texas State Fair at the Cotton Bowl,
Fans were welcomed by Big Tex.
They screamed, “Go OU!” and “Hook’em Horns!”;
But none could imagine what happened next.

Heupel was a dominating General;
The Sooners Offense, his relentless troops.
Calmus and the Defense assured a total rout,
The Coach of the Day was Bob Stoops.

Sooners fans were wild, delirious with glee;
But Bob seemed focused and sedate.
“We’ll enjoy this victory Sunday;
Then Monday, we’ll prepare for Kansas State”.

No time to revel in the Glory, #2 was tough.
Better than the Huskers?  The possibility was real.
The road to #1 went through Manhattan,
And the Sooners would have to win it on the field.

The sportscasters had a field day.
Last year’s “coaching coup” was news again.
Beasley versus Heupel was “The Match-up”.
Could Heupel evade K-State’s awesome defense 
   and find a way to win? 

Again, Heupel and his troops met the challenge;
And as the Sooners “D” assured a hard fought win,
Every Sooners fan’s heart was stirred.
Could our Sooners be “Big Red” again?

Mighty Nebraska, #1, was coming to Owen Field.
“Biggest OU - Nebraska game in years!” Corso said.
It would be 1 versus 2, a heralded gridiron epic
For the coveted title of…”Big Red”.

It was OU’s biggest home game ever.
The campus was alive with vendors and would-be 
   ticket buyers.
Every Sooners Fan’s heart was pounding.
Could the smell of #1 stoke the Sooners' fires?

The Huskers struck so quickly.
At 14 to nothing, Sooners fans were stunned.
It was shaping up to be a long, long day;
And it wasn’t going to be fun.

Quickly tho’, Heupel rallied his Sooners troops.
They scored and scored and scored again.
The Sooners “D” built a Wall at the 50,
And would not let the Huskers in.

Winners, the Sooners ran and jumped with glee.
Fans flooded Owen Field, milling all around,
Praising and hugging their Sooners Heroes.
They even tore the goal post down.

Now #1, the Sooners had won it on the field.
Their preparation had been well taught.
Bob Stoops, all his great coaches and assistants,
Took pride in how the Sooners fought.

Someone once said, “Everyone loves a winner.”
Everywhere you looked confirmed it’s true.
OU flags fluttered.  Decals, hats, and clothes abound.
Come November, the Sooners and their Fans
    had been renewed,

There’s no slighting the importance of Red October.
The Sooners came together as a Team.
No doubt too, without “The Red October Run”
Their National Championship would still be just a dream.

For the next five games, it was simply unacceptable
For the Sooners to even think that they could fail;
And, tho’ Heupel played injured, they won the Big 12 Championship;
Great Sooners Defense had prevailed.

But no one gave these Big 12 Champs the slightest chance to win
Against the mighty Seminoles of Florida State.
The Heisman Trophy Winner was their quarterback
And their defense was touted to be great.

At the coin toss, Team Captain Torrance Marshall
Said to their quarterback in words most serious and sure,
“You took our boy’s trophy”.  Then he smiled,
“Now we’re gonna take yours”.

The Sooners “D” was everywhere and completely shut them down;
And, when Quentin Griffin’s touchdown closed the door,
Their quarterback knew that Marshall’s words rang true;
The not-so-mighty ‘Noles had not been allowed to score.

Yes, Bob Stoops and his Sooners knew the challenge:
To win Each game ‘til Every game’s been won;
Win for Sooners and their Fans the unchallenged right
To revel in the Glory of being #1.

Yes, my Sooners Team goes on and on,
Different faces, different names;
But these Sooners Champions will be well remembered
For the Season they won Every game.

Undefeated National Champions!
Before October, who would have ever dreamed?
Why, just last year, we didn’t even know the players' names;
And now, they’re College Football’s Greatest Team.

To overcome all adversity and rise to every challenge,
The reward for such a feat is being #1;
Their path to Glory born of a Sooners Legend
Called The Red October Run.

-----------------------------------------


Copyright © Robert Candler | Year Posted 2014

Long poem by T Wignesan | Details

Unquotable quotes: Paris the last week of the August reprieve- XXXV Part Two

Unquotable quotes: Paris, the last week of the August reprieve – XXXV Part Two
                 II

The first signs reek tell-tale
Buffer-to-buffer parking lots choc-a-bloc
Long insistent hornblowing concertos announce the Yin’s arrogant blazè uppitiness
Electric drillers sink deeper into the unconscious stirring unconscionable beasts still dormant
Care-may-the-devil youths ride sputtering broncos rearing their muzzles revving their lawn-mower engines signaling their presences to their belles
Even lordly crows scare desert languishing lawns pavements quadrangles
Chinese crackers drop on the old and weary out to retrieve their morning baguettes
Indoors slam the doors drop loads of toilet slam-a-dam-slam
Skateboards grind parquets
Dark stealthy hands whip carpets down terrace butter-cups
Bumpy pubertied girls bounce basket-balls on every stilted cobble stone
Harsh threats hurled by gardiennes on some lone defenceless decrepit ricochet between grainy gravely walls
The monotonous neurotic beat of the rapper blares out of some open car door
Stately high wooden horse-shoed chairs screech-scrape naked parquets
The children upstairs take turns with parents to tap-tap with iron tongs your scalp trepanised by stilettoes
Lèche-culs gather favourite crowds at your doorstep to wail their concocted woes 
Mothers dragging loads of holiday-gossip on steel-grip chariots scream at children they enroll for the new-born kinder-garten year
Overhead cargo planes and pompier helicopters tie clouds in whirls of hurricanes
The Mairie sends forth its armada of grass-cutters branch-lobbers road-washers to churn the cité in a putrefying maelstrom of carbon-monoxide
Interminable garbage chariots bring lone scavengers looking for the mislaid meal their gastric growls louder than the grating wheels up and down the basement climb
Heavy metal garbage vans pound kitchen utensils discarded car parts used-up batteries spades paint tubs sloppy almeirahs in the still darkened dawn
Upstairs thick-skinned villains drop heavy spilling metal ball-bearings metal boxes their nasty bottoms on uncarpeted wooden resounding terrain 
Bulky chunky women stomp on high-heeled blocks all their way out of the entrance foyer down stoney stair steps to catch the early Metro
No less than four-hundred sore throats yell into the intercom on their way in or out
Late night revellers arrive in hitch-hiked cars to continue the yelling over the night-club din at the entrance patio never failing to rap on the first door
Distraught women yell their chagrin into mobile cases out in the midnight moonshine
Tiny tods drag school books paraphernalia through tarmac landing craft rumble
The lèche-cul terrors draw tight round their scents conspirators from far Slavic lands
Who said the Mediterranean didn’t flow into the Black Sea
Even the thunder over the lake recedes into the rear of the ear
At the Carrefour cashiers’ the queues thicken and stink longer	

                                                III

One dark perhaps failed actress, beer-can opened in hand, gives herself a captive audience:

“….I told him I’m forty-eight. He said: ‘What? Can’t be! (takes a gulp from the half-crushed can) You are thirty, if a day!’ He shook his head, looked me over. (She pats and smooths out her streamlined abdomen.)…What’s this world come to?
Prices keep going up and up! You work all day (takes another gulp), work all year (spittle spurt on the guy in front who dares not move, dares not look back, the fear - mixed with pity or sympathy - of those gone round the bend, the fear of what might stalk any one of us, the fear of being opted out of life, the wonder that is life keeping us all in check)…I told Mrs. Minelli, you know, my neighbour…
You know what she said? (takes another gulp, her protruding lips on an otherwise elegant classic African-mask of a face, pouts)…What’s this world come to? Who are we? One doesn’t get a fair chance in this life.” (her voice alternates between shouting and confabulating)…you give and give and see what you get in return?” 

The more she shouts, the more resounding the silence all over the shop-floor. A gathering cloud of grief grips those within ear-shot. Are all withdrawn into their own private shells? People avoid looking at one another. Some sort of guilt descends upon us all – a shroud  a winding sheet? 
Yet,  she’s aware of herself; she knows what to do, how to use the self-service cashier machine. She pays and leaves no yells behind her now, her false straggly dull-blond knotted chiffon hair thick with dust, her worn-out décolté dirt-pink blouse slouches over faded bosom, soiled loose dark brown pyjama pants sloppy over hidden canvass shoes.
Was the silence due to just one phrase, punctuated by curses?
“What? You want a PIPE?”
 
IV – Do turtle doves in love in the last week of August go where halcyons rendez-vous?

© T. Wignesan – Paris,  2016	

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2016

Long poem by T Wignesan | Details

Unquotable quotes: Paris the last week of the August reprieve - XXXV Part One

Unquotable quotes: Paris, the last week of the August reprieve – XXXV
 Part One                                            I

Even the turtle doves secretly in love in the sticky linden wake
In the still chill of the lambent dawn recalling halcyon days
The broods they raised gone to roost beyond the wooded lake
In wild terrain where the socialist sickle cut no customary hay

Where they told and re-told without halter nor sapping fervour
Their simple untrammeled joys hopping about fluttering insects 
Over over-grown wild scrub lawns fooling around a grass-hopper
Now old cockle-warming tales turn rumble-grumble no one forgets	

The short aptly-rhymed refrain rolling rough on gravel stone
The close-cooing couples’ complaint toss through sleep frantic  
The first leaves shed wilt down quilt shafts mementoes of bone
Brittle the worrisome air burnt oxygen neurotic cataclysmic

The Yin steal back in the witching hour of the frenzied night
Lèches-culs lèches-bottes and their official vaunting supporters
To hoist their flag still stewing in their murky muddy might
Roasted chestnut to their undies charred looks of brazen looters

Three months from June to hoist and foist their haunches
Now to stomp deep in the silt of their care-may-the-devil guilt
Rude thick the arteries pump up autoroutes to citadel ranches
To continue to suck the sap from a world other sweat built

The refuge of the kind who never seek to otherwise mind
If turtle doves too may make the most of what they built
Through the North and North-East passage of log-ice grind
Into the region of Southwest complaisance tomorrow may find

        
                                          II

The first signs reek tell-tale
Buffer-to-buffer parking lots choc-a-bloc
Long insistent hornblowing concertos announce the Yin’s arrogant blazè uppitiness
Electric drillers sink deeper into the unconscious stirring unconscionable beasts still dormant
Care-may-the-devil youths ride sputtering broncos rearing their muzzles revving their lawn-mower engines signaling their presences to their belles
Even lordly crows scare desert languishing lawns pavements quadrangles
Chinese crackers drop on the old and weary out to retrieve their morning baguettes
Indoors slam the doors drop loads of toilet slam-a-dam-slam
Skateboards grind parquets
Dark stealthy hands whip carpets down terrace butter-cups
Bumpy pubertied girls bounce basket-balls on every stilted cobble stone
Harsh threats hurled by gardiennes on some lone defenceless decrepit ricochet between grainy gravely walls
The monotonous neurotic beat of the rapper blares out of some open car door
Stately high wooden horse-shoed chairs screech-scrape naked parquets
The children upstairs take turns with parents to tap-tap with iron tongs your scalp trepanised by stilettoes
Lèche-culs gather favourite crowds at your doorstep to wail their concocted woes 
Mothers dragging loads of holiday-gossip on steel-grip chariots scream at children they enroll for the new-born kinder-garten year
Overhead cargo planes and pompier helicopters tie clouds in whirls of hurricanes
The Mairie sends forth its armada of grass-cutters branch-lobbers road-washers to churn the cité in a putrefying maelstrom of carbon-monoxide
Interminable garbage chariots bring lone scavengers looking for the mislaid meal their gastric growls louder than the grating wheels up and down the basement climb
Heavy metal garbage vans pound kitchen utensils discarded car parts used-up batteries spades paint tubs sloppy almeirahs in the still darkened dawn
Upstairs thick-skinned villains drop heavy spilling metal ball-bearings metal boxes their nasty bottoms on uncarpeted wooden resounding terrain 
Bulky chunky women stomp on high-heeled blocks all their way out of the entrance foyer down stoney stair steps to catch the early Metro
No less than four-hundred sore throats yell into the intercom on their way in or out
Late night revellers arrive in hitch-hiked cars to continue the yelling over the night-club din at the entrance patio never failing to rap on the first door
Distraught women yell their chagrin into mobile cases out in the midnight moonshine
Tiny tods drag school books paraphernalia through tarmac landing craft rumble
The lèche-cul terrors draw tight round their scents conspirators from far Slavic lands
Who said the Mediterranean didn’t flow into the Black Sea
Even the thunder over the lake recedes into the rear of the ear
At the Carrefour cashiers’ the queues thicken and stink longer

(continued on next page: Part Two of XXXV)  

© T. Wignesan – Paris,  2016	

Copyright © T Wignesan | Year Posted 2016

Long poem by James Long | Details

Morning Wheat - A Concrete Poetic Prose Work

~ Morning Wheat ~ (A Pros Poetry Works) ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ""Grace, faith ~~ patience, ~~ mercy joy belief, humility and true absolution, who themselves do not desire or cry out from within, for the solace and security of this... ?" ~~ ~~ "For I have felt and seen, that gracious, love exults the very principals ... and generous surrender for all eternity of their open will." ~~ ~~ Soaring higher, inspiring and relative to this; far beyond the normal a true originality stands alone, lives Honestly boldly, Openly Willingly, remains connected, centered and free, is confined never within itself, ~~ ~~ looks for a perfect home amid the mix revealing for all the goodness frosting the butter cake welcomes the test of time stays at home within the heart of what is real; challenges only itself offers its hope to another to live a life; as irrefutable ~~ ~~ Because I believe true humility is innocent and free; evolving through life continually aspiring before God and man to move in gratitude; and being Heavenly, and gracious, tenderly aware; it is always surrendering itself to the opportunity ~~ ~~ remaining unconditionally faithful to this principal; and overtly willing to abide in peace and passionate unity with the World around it; thereby being recreated; itself; before the brevity of it's days given whatever, the limitation; or matter". ~~ ~~ "Perfect innocence, hopefulness and liberty overt from the day they were born, raging winds could not defile because docile, they remain amenable, an endearing vision of truth, though however fragile." ~~ ~~ "No greater joy is there for me, nor anything more divine, bridging the expanse, between bitter abhorrence ... my own tendentiousness ... unbridled greed, a genuine ... injustice, and immeasurable peace." ~~ ~~ "So taken in by the wheat fields supplicating mid conciliate winds, teeming I tarried to view them as I did amble along amid the swaying stalks so very felicitous to be alive, and in quiet reverence, to my Father; ~~ ~~ touched by their faithfulness I offered again to Him for His promise culminated for me; ~~ ~~ my essence."" ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

Copyright © James Long | Year Posted 2016

Long poem by Greg Barden | Details

Autumn Atonement - Continued

How we loved the same
Foods, had the same dreams,
Wanted the same future, longed for the
Same life together, loved the same movies
And songs and books and colors and clothes
And people. How we knew what the other was thinking
Without a word being spoken, how I no longer worried about
Tomorrows, because I knew there was no day I couldn't get through
Without you in my life. How the most amazing times of the day were waking
And going to sleep, because I knew for sure that you would be beside me. How your
Family felt like mine, and mine felt like yours, and how the happiest times were
When all of our kids were together with us, and we felt like it should
Be that way, and should've always been that way. How we
Hated the same injustices and crimes, and longed
For the same peaceful world, and how the joy
And ease of our invisible connection was
Plainly visible to others, just by the
Matching glint and sparkle in
Our smiles and eyes.

But that sparkle is
Gone, with you. Now my
Eyes just seep with sadness
And emptiness, and that endless flow
Mixes with the warm rain pelting my face, and
Flows to the ground with the rest of the storm's sodden
Emanation. How I wish it would take all that I feel, and all that
I long for, and all that I am, WITH it, where it drips from my clothes
And feet through the spaces in the deck and runs into the soil, and then makes
It's way slowly through the ground into streams and rivers to the ocean, where it becomes
Part of the boundless elements of the Earth and Universe. How I wish I was no
More than that, the elemental stuff that has no form or life or thoughts
Or FEELINGS or ANYthing that has actualization and "Id" and
Emotion. But despite the power of all my resolve and
Wishful concentration, the wind does NOT pick
Me up and carry me off to nothingness,
The storm does NOT break me
Apart with it's strength and
Fierce actualization.

My soul is NOT
Carried away with my
Lachryma to the sea, and the
Aching chasm in my being that YOU
Occupied is as bottomless and black and
Excruciatingly sepulchral as it ever was. It's silent
Screams tear away and decorticate the inside of my being,
And leave my heart bloody, raw and adamantine. The purity of that
Childish wish is not sacred or magical after all, and it seems that my curse
Is my SELF, and the undeniable fact that I am a being incarnate, with far more humanness
And tangibility and manifestation than can ever be shed by emotion or intent alone.
But SOMEthing has changed in me during this little ritual, something has
Been purged with this tropical storm's affect on me ... the warm rain
And wind lashing my sodden frame, arms still outstretched
In mock cruciform, (a selfish irony - my punishment
For having loved you). There's an anger that
Is gone now, there's a angst and
Shame that has been washed
Away and offered up.

Not anger at you or
Us or action or choice or
Desire or devotion or passion or
Hatred or regret or even LOVE, but anger
At ME, for having been such an unmitigated FOOL
Again ... for having put my heart up on the chopping block
And said, all too willingly, "Do your worst with it" ... I even gave
You the axe, keen and precise and warm from the grindstone. I can
No longer hold onto that hatred of myself, and this liturgy has pulled that from
Within, and taken it without ... for that I am thankful. But am I no more foolish for thinking
This rite of anguish would alleviate the sting and torment in my heart? It was foolish
And immature, inane and desperate, and it has been time wasted on
Something and someONE who doesn't give me so much as a
Thought! Never, ever again will I repeat this pointless
Act of disconsolation! I am better than this ...
I am bigger than this ... and I will
NOT be a fool for you any
Longer! I ... am ...
Very ... done!

(Well ... maybe just a while longer).

Copyright © Greg Barden | Year Posted 2017

Long Poems