Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Visiting Paris with Robert Bly

I visited Notre Dame Cathedral
and was taken to the Seventh Heaven,
where Saint Paul was mending tents.
He had made errors in his zeal to condemn

rattling, world-weary bones whose only sin
was to have eyes of cinder and rock.
He needed to make amends
by the sweat of his brow,

the long labors born of Eden.
A French waitress died in my arms.
It could have been from a broken heart.
No one really knew,

although the final verse
she offered as poetic prayer
to her cannon of observations
was, “The man in the beret!

The man in the beret!”
I saw a young boy with eyes
of robin’s-egg blue, pale,
launch a sailboat on the pond in the park,

sad that it sailed away to the New World.
It was there that shamans wearing beads
wondered if their lives were at an end
because a strange white cloud skimmed the horizon.

It certainly was. The moon died that day.
At an outdoor café, a comfortable cliché,
I read some poems by Robert Bly.
They were short and simple and very nice.

And so I wrote this one.
I hope you are in the Seventh Heaven, Robert,
but not stitching the sins of canvas tents
that housed a bit of soul.

You did not make the same mistakes as Paul.
Perhaps if he had visited Paris
and kissed a French waitress, sans beret,
he might have had a smoother edge.

~William Hammett

Site Map

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The Tribe of Dreamers

“Art thou not of the dreamer tribe?”
John Keats, The Fall of Hyperion

At their best, poets can see into the heart of a beggar,
his extended hand withered and bare like a sycamore branch in fall.

They can define the wherewithal of hookers and harlequins
as they go through the motions, painted and dressed to the oblivious nines.

Seers and prophets, they build a kingdom of syllables
that cannot be toppled by the Tower of Babel’s foreign syntax.

Their words flow from Hippocrene's pure and fathomless spring,
pens poised eternally above blank parchment, ready to bleed new wine.

They know whether Schrödinger’s cat is alive or dead,
particle and wave always dancing at reality’s elusive cotillion.

How vast and ingenious is the universe that the poet dreams,
where lovers always pirouette back to promissory schemes,

to the subatomic spin that entangles trivial and lofty things.
Their lines of verse run across pages to create a newfound scripture

so holy and divine, rooted in the earth yet also knowing
the glory of rhyme and reason, of untethered feathered wings
and the nightingale that forever in the dark our collective poetry sings.

~William Hammett

Site Map

Friday, September 8, 2023

Salvation Army Band

Fifth Avenue is festooned in Yuletide oompah
and shades of unpolished brass, faded blue swaddling and epaulets.
The soldiers on the front line of heavenly peace have thinned,

and joyous exhalations, streams of vapor, were once angelic wings.
Copper coins drop into the red kettle like so many bits of hale.
Old men and women wheeze into trumpets while the bass drum

fires a friendly shot of holiday cheer on the downbeat.
There’s the rub. The street corner is always going under
because the ragtag army has little ammunition.

Once again, Good King Wenceslas, fat as Santa Claus,
dines with meager winter fuel on the feast of Stephen.
Sunshine paints the intersection with yellow satin ribbons

until the mournful gray evening sweeps the street,
pushing the babe across pavement until it is tucked away
a thousand miles from the minds of men,

from demons in wool overcoats racing by the French horn
while ripping notes from the clef of military comfort and joy.
Bright lights die in the wake of dark zephyrs, Christmas past.

Noel, noel.
The manger on display begins to sink, wise men falling from the deck
while the band plays “Nearer My God to Thee.”

~William Hammett