glean: 1. to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. 2. to gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers. 3. to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly. 4. to gather what is left by reapers.

Graffiti Scrawled By Choirboys, St. Mary's Church, Oxford

June 30, 2016

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section

GRAFFITI SCRAWLED BY CHOIRBOYS, ST. MARY’S CHURCH, OXFORD

In the presence of reverence,
boredom. Even this
beautiful obligation
they will remember years later,
their voices gone
hoarse, merits mockery.
And so the choirboys
of a hundred generations
have scrawled their initials
and shapes only they knew
to be lewd in the wood
with penknives concealed
in their white robes
and with furtive glances
towards men who were once
choirboys themselves, and
whose initials are scrawled here
also and thus
must understand the impulse,
amidst all this
carved stone and stained glass,
to cut one’s name
in the blank grain
before sloughing off the self
and soaring into song.

Oxford

June 29, 2016

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section

OXFORD

These three college girls laugh loudly
as they walk by, but here too
are three women who laughed in spring
and knew for certain they’d never die.

These three college boys, a little drunk
already, feign punching one another
on their walk between pubs. But here
too are three men who drank at The Bear,
and punched one another, and knew
for certain they’d never die.

This father walks a few paces behind
his wife and young daughters, gazing
now and then at the sky, but here
too is a father who followed his family,
wondering at the weather and their life together,
and knew for certain he’d never die.

Only his younger daughter turns and sees
the graves through the wrought-iron gate
and weeds, and waves.

The Coffin Road

June 22, 2016

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section

THE COFFIN ROAD

These flat stones were where
the pallbearers, on their way
from Ambleside to Grasmere,
set the coffin down, a hand
or two still touching it
just in case. They breathed
as if they were taking breath
for the dead, too.
Maybe a little girl
they remembered hearing
sing only a few days before
while bringing the cow in.
But more likely a woman,
who weighed nothing in life
but in death felt like a few
sacks of black river stones.
Maybe a flask was passed
but more likely not.
Only a moment’s rest
so the old man
she was always kind to
and the son who insisted
he come along
could catch their breath
until the man whose hand
had never left the coffin
nodded and they carried on.