10
Jul 2013
A New Poem by William Hathaway
Posted in Conte Presents by Tavel at 1:29 pm | 3 Comments »
Bloody Run at Gettysburg
 
Because I’d never seen the stately hardwoods
that once broke up the dips and swells
of sweeping meadows with shady copses,
I could only sympathize with my friend’s
angry lament for their feckless slaughter
to restage scenery as seen in ghost-gray photos
from days of ancient carnage. Peering through bifocals
I’d seen how they’d propped corpses up
on boulders or hauled them into parallel lines
to affect a field symmetrically strewn, then shrouded
their heads—Poof!—a puff of smoke diffused
into indifferent atmosphere, as Lucretius
said souls give up as ghosts inside us.
 
The sun warming our necks as we rested
on a railing over the lily-choked ditch
was the same sun Akhenaten called God
three thousand years ago, but like the creek
we can’t step into twice, its flaming flares
had roared to nothing long before their caress
licked our napes. And it’s true the photo
of our blue ball alone in infinite blackness
proves it’s true that the way up is the way down,
as Heraclitus said. Down here, we gazed down
on a green turtle’s two tiny nostrils
barely poking up through a skin of black water
as it stretched tippy-toed in bottom muck,
much as a first snout might’ve sniffed
a new world seething under an old sun.
 
There, for one hour seven score and ten years
ago this brook ran bloody red, and on day
four in a summer gully-washer drowned
a Confederate soldier left to groan himself to death.
He clutched, no doubt, a spectral apparition
of a gaunt woman, thin-lipped and stiffly staring
with her hair pulled tightly back. Or so
we so often read, squinting into glass casements
at cardboard placards  that explain no one
dies in vain when cherished things they carried
are thus displayed. Or when bus tours pause
in season at eventides for psychic cicerones
to summon spine-chilling ghosts, or if even we
had paused to read names and numbers
on profuse memorials cluttering macadam lanes
like Appian tombs, death could not dominate.
 
“Bold warrior, never, never, canst thou bash,”
I’d quipped to the bronze soldier charging
Pickett’s pointless charge, his musket forever
raised to club. Truth is sour iron in our mouths.
Hither then thither we wandered lonely as clouds
that ghost otherwise empty blue cenotaphs,
pausing to watch a woodpecker flounce
his crimson head and finely checkered back
in new green peach saplings. Not tourists
to this, or any other, battle. Xenophon’s
long crawl home, one betrayal after another,
was as right-there real to us as a steamy slog
through paddies on rotting feet, hate
and fear indiscernible from humidity, the sun
a hazy white disc in a white sky, drawing
fire to call in the strike killing anything alive.
 
Anyone who’s pulled brook trout from pasture
rivulets could see this creek is damn near dead.
The government, that these war tourists despise,
costumed up as rapist thugs in gangs to feel free
as lone outlaws as they roared motorcycles
muffler-free two feet behind our backs across
the little bridge, will have to backhoe it clear.
Yet in a deeper silence they left behind
a blood red cardinal chirped his eternal cheer
and the sunlit meadow smeared mustard yellow
with winter watercress stretching before us
into haze seized me with momentary gladness
that I’d lived from change to change, feeling love’s
pain that I cursed all my life, burning furiously
to its end in unchanging blackness, marveling
to look ahead to the ever-looming end.
 
William Hathaway’s latest book is The Right No (Somondoco Press, 2012). His poem "Martin Points" appeared in Conte 5.1 and his poem "Sun Flares" appeared in Conte 6.2. You can visit his website here.


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3 Responses:

Polymyositis Methotrexate and Lupus said:

Polymyositis Methotrexate and Lupus…

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Brian said:

Por poner un ejemplo, las puertas no funcionan bien con casas de estilo victoriano inspirado.


http://gallery.baschny.de said:

http://gallery.baschny.de

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