Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A couple of poems

For Michaela, who wanted me to share a couple of poems I've written.  These are both from 1993.

Donna Wood
No one can really own the land: the Indians knew it best,
And laughed to see the settlers, as they moved from east to west;
They'd watch them build their homes and clear the land till it was bare
While birds flew in unhindered, for no man can fence the air!

No one can ever own the land: the Indians had it right;
You may as well hold back the sun, or parcel out its light.
Though fence surrounds a property, it will not stop the deer
From moving freely to and fro, at different times of year.

No one can truly own the land. The Indians knew it well.
Yes, you may write up deeds, and even boldly buy and sell,
But talk to all the earthworms and the garter snakes and moles:
Tell them the land is yours, and tell them where to dig their holes.

Enclose your precious property and hoard each blade of grass;
Post signs that warn, "No Trespassing", but they will never last!
This earth belongs to everyone who ever drew a breath,
And someone else will claim it when you close your eyes in death.

I seem to hear the Indians, in my spirit, laughing still.
The white man claims to own the land, each valley and each hill;
He plows and discs and harrows it, and sows his precious seed---
But after he's asleep at night, the deer and rabbits feed!

 Donna Wood

An oriental peasant in a far-off, ancient land
Had neither monetary wealth, nor slaves at his command.
He owned one horse, while all his friends and relatives had none:
That was his wealth --- that, and his handsome, healthy teenaged son.
Unexpectedly, his horse broke loose and ran away;
They vainly searched for him, and neighbors gathered 'round to say,
"What bad luck, for our friend to lose the only horse he had!"
The old man stroked his beard and murmured, "How do you know it's bad?"

Time went by, till one day thundering hoof-beats filled the air;
The horse came home: behind him, he led twelve unbranded mares.
"Ah, good luck's come your way again," said all those loyal friends.
"How do you know it's good," the man responded, with a grin.
The horses needed breaking, to be any good at all.
As his son rode a bucking mare, his leg broke in a fall.
The neighbors said, "What bad luck to befall this handsome lad.
The old man stroked his beard and answered, "How do you know it's bad?"

A war broke out, and all the youths in every little town
Were sent to fight oppressors on a bloody battleground.
One youth was left behind because he couldn't stand, or run.
I'm sure you've guessed it: that one youth was our old peasant's son!
You see, what looks like bad luck may be good luck, in the end;
Sometimes a loss is just another chance to start again!
So when misfortune comes along, try hard to not be sad:
Perhaps bad luck? But wait a minute --- how do you know it's bad?


Margaret said...

Your poetry is excellent!! I especially love your first one.

Midlife Mom said...

Both poems are very good!

We have renters and you wouldn't believe some of the things they do to the property. We have apartments in a college town nearby and have a lot of college kids renting. If only their parents could see the things that they do with the money being sent from home. It's disgusting. Some of them leave everything but the clothes on their backs at the end of the school year. Some parent worked hard to provide those things.


I'm not a poetry expert but I'd like to tell you those poems of yours are darn good. Really, truly they are.

Jon said...

Wonderful poems!! I love both of them!