Copyright © July 20, 2014 by Douglas W. Jerving.
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I have wooden ships sailing off the shoals:
The bays they never leave beneath the frames
Of the solitary window, dungeoned,
Where daylight casts a dreary remonstrance
Upon the other auditors of eve and dawn;
The old canteen, the pink stone Labrador,
A second smaller ship who’s wings have long
Been broken; And the long old black Jamaican
Who sits hat on head with a drum of rum
His cigarette long extinguished; and her,
The voodoo doll-looking apple faced girl
(I got her from the sister of my wife)
With a strange smile on her face, who really
Is no threat to anybody but is strange
Beside the wicker basket that the cat
Finds refuge in upon occasion.
Below that balcony (really a shelf)
The pots and pans endure a place that fits,
But not so well, upstairs in the kitchen
For lack of space. They’re consigned below
The stairs, where they may threaten canned glasses
Of tomatoes and peppers who gave their lives
Years ago to populate the garden’s Hades.
“May we some day consume you in olive oil!
Or stir you with the basil fresh a-threshed
To make a sauce fit for a god or king
Or anything that brings us from our jars
To finally fulfill our purpose. Cooked!
This canning’s had the best of me you know!”
And like a Genie trapped a thousand years
They pray their escape to the fire of the pan
May come sooner than later so as to end
Confinement in my basement with a date
That, stamped upon them with their names
Reminds them of the Book of Life (or Death),
For it may be that long years and color
Or cloudiness dismayingly cast off
The possibility that they may come
To soup some day, or sauce, instead
Of tossings to the compost heap. They hope
In the dark of the pantry for the day
When they, like we of God’s own garden plot
Come forward to the service of our King.
And there, upon that third tier down, abides
The Nesco pan and an old crock pot stained,
Like the old canning jars beside them and low
Are the rows of their brothers and sisters,
Still boxed from antiquity, set forth
Like Ezekiel’s kings cast down to the pit
Who cry to each one his neighbor “We were
The greatest ‘ere we came to this place’s repose.”
But they are all empty. No gift to bestow
Beyond being filled after being retired
For so long, while younger are used ‘gain, again.
Jams and jellies and pickled beat and beans
All list for their rapture, await for grace
That calls them all forward for saving of face
Despising the beauty when they were on vine,
At least and last to serve a pancake or two,
Or some potato turned salad before
The end of summer and start of the fall.
The ships look out across the dark room.
The rocker has been here forever, unused
Since the wife long ago suckled her last child
A candle burns late in the night
While the books on the shelves all whisper soft,
Knowing that one day, no one else wanting,
Will Ebay them for less than they are worth.
The notes in them, from years of redaction,
Will be passed to a stranger. They will mean
Nothing but quaint blatherings though once
They were the very deepest and most profound
Of all the prayers and reminiscings
Of the underliner who’s notes they were.
An old telephone remains on the wall
Complete with a long gone number ascribed
That years ago ceased to exist. The old
Nineteen sixties radio still sounds good
If you wait for the tubes to warm up some.
It is still tuned to some tea-party station.
The cigar humidor still has at least
The one cigar dedicated to Lily,
To that firstest and dearest grand-daughter;
The one for whom poems were written about.
Here and about are drawings and paintings
Scattered; mostly junk. It is not true
That an artist is worth more late than alive.
Most live in anonymity and die
Obscure to those who follow them. Life
Is about the living, not the dead. Art
Recognizes the dead as if they were
Still here correcting our great mistakes.
History is the rudist form of art
Entailing to us things we will not have,
For having known them we become their slaves.
Yet art is history and philosophy;
Poetry is the most burdensome stepchild
Of all the arts because it prophesies
Yet leaves only the theologian’s mercy
To help us move from life to death.
The libraries filled with histories prove
This is the truth, and in them they proclaim
The lives of our Fathers before us, who’s
Documents, after years since their passing
My children may use them,
Who some day may decide that they
Require the knowledge I needed, though useless,
To help them, like the wooden ships
That still remain on my shelf, broken down,
But surveying after it all is long gone.
Doug Jerving is the publisher of the NewEdisonGazette.com. You may contact him at
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