Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poem Time

Here's one from Jim Harms, just in time for homecoming and football, autumn and the election.

Kennedy Wins West Virginia!

He started out
a friend of Kennedy’s,
though he started out
a Texan.  Today
he swings
on the porch next
door and sings “Someone
to Watch Over Me,”
as dusk thickens
in the street and
grays the day
down to shouts
and T.V.’s mumbling
through open windows.
Twice he’s talked
of Texas as all
horizon, the sort of
promise that slips
as evening wears away
the light, of coming here
to mountains so old
they ache and drift
beneath the weight
of sky, the way day
ends in hill shadow
and dust, smell of slag,
of water.  He delivered
Hancock County
in a locked box, shook
J.F.K.’s hand, and
went home.  But home
is an accident
of calculation or birth,
is where you run out
of money or grace or find
yourself standing still
too long.  L.B.J. sent him
back and Elaine
came with him; she liked
the virgin hemlocks,
the rhododendrons,
so they stayed.
He watches swallows
smoke from the glass
factory’s cold chimney
and waits.  Maybe home
is where purpose falls
in love with the light
settling in the trees
at dusk.  L.B.J. called
once more to say
thanks, to say
Come on home.  But Elaine
liked the chances
of her garden better here,
even when Carter
didn’t need him, even
when summer turned
south and drought
fell on the hills
like a burlap blanket.
There’s no end
to the Texas range
and no horizon here
to remind him what’s
out of reach.  He likes
to hear the roar
on Saturdays
from the stadium
across town, the crowd
noise bending in the silver
autumn air like
a train whistle entering
a tunnel.  He likes
the way the river implies
an ending.  So maybe
home is where we don’t
mind ending, or rather
don’t mind thinking
about ending, or don’t
reach to flick on
the porch light
when afternoon is ending,
ending early, the sun
surprised by the hills. 
How easily
the hills surprise us.

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