Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This Voice, This Arm, This Heart

This voice, after speaking
loudly and long, unhinging
silence and throwing it aside

This voice, that shook the
trees with its sound and
force in its time

Has now reduced to a rasp,
a pitiful whisper of the
desert survivor with
blood dried in rusty
circles below his
nostrils, and skin
so burnt it will never
again regain its
pallor and the
hollow look of
wandering saints
in his eyes if that
can be called wisdom.

This arm, after swinging
the heaviest of hammers
upon the stone and breaking
it by the ton

This arm, whose prowess
laid in the roadbed and
guided the team of horses
across the wilds

Who stretched these thin
and winding ribbons further
outward, remaking the
horizon for those who
lacked the will of their
own, and who were timid
of this crushing burden,
and the stinging of
sweat rolling ever into
their eyes, and the
blinding sun at the
declivity between sky
and earth, whose very
point was ever his destination
until it turned into sea
for he was no sailor
but a landsman, the
waves with their
momentary gold
none of his concern.

This arm, upon whose
force has moved
generations of people

Is now weathered and
robbed of its power
and it shakes when
his hand grasps a
drinking cup and
brings it to sick and
purple lips in the
slow and pungent
afternoon, this
deathbed that
stifles the sounds
of children playing
outside and renders
their laughter hollow
and the quiet house
rings with a constant
echo of things past

But in amongst the
great deeds and glory
of this one who was
once mighty on the earth
is the aching salt of
those things sacrificed
and forgone, and no
less acidic for their
mundane scope

For if he can remember
the hard, slick, solid
haft of the hammer
against his palm
in better detail than
the tiny hand of his
baby daughter, if
he can remember
impersonal accolades
better than the
soft whisper of
his loved ones on
a holiday morning,
if he can have a
plaque dedicated to
his service in the
public square, but
lay here dying all

This heart, once having
beat as true and deep
as any marching drum,
loses its rhythm and
grows ragged, nearing
the end, regretful as
we all must be, frail
as anyone, his hour
upon the stage full
expired, and no less
left unfinished than
we timid folk who
have not striven for
such great heights.


MB said...

and no less
left unfinished

Are we ever finished, until we are?

I like how this starts so loud and vocal and gradually dwindles to something like a strain, a whisper. The arc of a life ending.

Mushster said...

I have no words. Let's just say you have me deep in thought, once again.

drthunder said...

Thoughtful, articulate, knowledgeable, and soooooo sensitive.

Firehawk said...


I don't think we are ever finished at the end. Maybe we're finished somewhere in between, but we have to take up new pursuits or perish with a whimper.

I wanted to start with the strength of a marching band and end with the dry rasp of a funeral drum. Glad you saw that in the rhythm.


I guess bringing up thoughts and emotions in another is really all you can hope for in poetry.

Thanks for coming by. Hope you're doing better than last time I dropped by.

Doc, one does what one can.

Bill said...

"But in amongst the
great deeds and glory
of this one who was
once mighty on the earth
is the aching salt of
those things sacrificed
and forgone, and no
less acidic for their
mundane scope"

These arethe thoughts that haunt me at times. Have I paid too high a price, sacrificed those things I'll find more valuable ten years from now?

Once again you've cut to the core of it all... are we measured, do we measure ourselves... by the business/professional deeds we do, or do we seek our satisfaction from within our intrapersonal lives...

I think there's truth in the saying no one ever wished they spent more time on the job, on their death bed.

I think you also captured the rhythm of life, in the rhythm of this poem.

Another good one Patrick

Firehawk said...


I'm glad you liked it, and had a chance to come over with your busy schedule. I know I've been slacking on the whole blog thing lately. I had a momentary urge a few days ago to post saying "closed up for summer" but I relented, and now I'm trying to work up a new piece to post. Hopefully, I can think of something...

Thanks, everyone, for coming by.

Anonymous said...

It would make me very sad to think if I should die, I wouldn't be missed... Make each day count and touch one person's life.