Sunday, May 15, 2005

They Are Yet Roses

The driven nails back slowly
from their nestled places in
old wood, bearded now with
flowing rust from many seasons

The concrete, poured in days
before our easy remembrance,
poured in dead summer and
allowed to dry too fast, cracks
beneath our feet, expectorating
chunks of chalky stone conglomerate
for us to kick down these
hushed and forgotten streets,
the traffic moved further from
the rail lines and the ruinous
leavings of the mined-out hill.

Rusted chain link, held up as
much by overgrowth and
the mutated hulks of shrubs
once decorative, lays, sway-backed
against gravity's ever loving
saw horse, but twisted ends still
stand up beyond those top
bars, sharp enough to wound
the casual hand, carrying
tetanus enough for all the
ill-dressed neighborhood
children, their eyes dark
and sharp enough for such
things beneath their
home-cut hair.

The new and sleeker cars
don't stop here, but leave
only their exhaust as their
engines wind and the
winds whistle against the
antennas that receive
radio from satellites,
and especially at night,
the police use these
lesser roads as access
to crime scenes beyond,
doubling the posted
limit with no lights
or sirens...who would
see or mark such
abuses in this slowly
dying quadrant?

Shingles warped with
long sun, long soaking
of winter's snow, long
forgetfullnes of one owner
growing old and dying
in the dim rooms of little
houses, the antiseptic
smell of hasty cleaning
submerging that ending
scent before the younger
dozens move in, too
many for furniture, too
many for anyone to
really feel the home
feelings, and so all is
allowed to go slowly to

Roses gone wild now,
years since the last
clipping, buds grown
huge with seed and
the big blossoms eaten
brown, tall as men and
leggy, yet roses, unlike
anything built and
sold on, redeem with
the tenderness of
fertilizer and the care
of the pruner...they are
yet roses when lessened
by disuse, not threatened
by the elder nothing like
these places, once vital
but now surrendered to
that long, hushed boat
ride across the last river,
earth gray as ash, piled
debris no longer recognized,
memories rooted in no living
mind to be recounted, even
the trees old and core-rotted
as they fall, spent too far
for recovery.


Bill said...

Damn firehawk... I grew up *there*!

Or in one of a thousand small old mill towns just like it... that one is a classic already!

swiftboat said...


What a poem! It transcends the rational while making perfect sense – I guess that's what a good poem does. The earth is covered with evidence of human habitation long since forgotten. But ancient sites lasted hundreds and thousands of years. Somehow not as pitiful and transient as our post industrial landscape: fishing boats in dry lake beds, subdivided and trailer park infested farm land, mined out hillsides, the ocean bed dredged for every last barnacle, tropical rain forest completely denuded. And yet despite our environmental assault, your rose implies that nature may not be as broken as we. The earth in the end will recover it's lost glory, even if it takes millions of years. Brilliant hominids will however continue to shot ourselves in the foot – it seems to be our greatest talent. We can do calculus but it hasn't made us wise. I fear you see the arc of times arrow a bit too clearly. With words you make high resolution photographs.

Both thoughtful and thought provoking work. Thanks.

Braleigh said...

You definitely have the ability to leave the reader with the impression that the lyrics were accompanied with a field trip, a la magic schoolbus, into some alternate universe created from your mind to be completely immersed in the scene.

I am going to track down your muse and steal it/him/her.

Firehawk said...

Thanks, everybody, for your great comments.

Bill, I live in that part of town now, so it's not hard to bring it to mind.

Swiftboat, what a great comment! I'm honored.

Braleigh, my muse says she's available Tuesdays and Saturdays. Good luck with her...she's a real handful.

Stranger Ken said...

And you compliment me for writing about potatoes! It's the scale of your vision I admire most. amazing and powerful work! Truly.

Mushster said...

Not only your words, but the visuals those words brought to me whilst reading this are, as Ken said, amazing and powerful.

Firehawk said...

Ken and Mushter,

Now I'm blushing. Thanks.

Mushster said...

Pics of blushing please *grin*

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