Don Thompson


Nothing has been as it ought to be
                                    for how long now
            time clattering by on its rails
                        the years hitched to each other like boxcars
                                                and my life the
                                    graffiti defacing them
            intriguing intricate illegible half-insane impossible

Not since
they took cabooses away from us

Engines are obvious
                        all that noisome power-tripping
                                    we get it

            what we need is resolution
                        that little red wagon
                        with its redundant conductors
                                                so wise and
            compared to hair-in-the-wind coked up engineers
                        and its red lantern
                                    still visible far
                                                far down the tracks
                        after all the uproar is over

A long goodbye

Now when the end comes
                        nothing is there
            the barrier lifts and we get on with it
                        feeling cheated somehow
                                                I think
            because the passing of the freight train
                                    so abruptly is
                        too much like a sudden death



Tumbleweeds huddled in gullies
                                    to keep out of
                                    the wind
                        are not at least

            cold comfort that is
                                    for us
                        and for those other
                                                wannabe roamers
                        snapped off
                        so easily from
            their weak roots


Yes but only until
            they fetch up against any hindrance at all
                                    barbed wire perhaps
                        or another bush with
            deeper commitments

It's because each has its own
                                    prickly individuality
                        that they stick together if
                                                by chance
                                    they touch
            like us

Though no one wants to acknowledge
                                    such a trait
                        huddled here in
                        our gullies
            snagged entangled hung up on each other

            while the wind goes on without us
                                    as it has always
                                                and will









Recently I made some notes for a friend as a kind of manifesto for aging scribblers. The second point (after "Entertain yourself" ) was, "Take another look at poets you've never connected with before: The time might be right." Following a year or so working in rhyme and meter and another year or so of reading no one but Mary Oliver and writing nothing but nature poems, I decided to start looking this year at Black Mountain and the Beats, of all things, poetry which has never interested me much, although I own a first edition of the Donald Allen anthology, which I bought when it came out in the sixties and is now a stack of yellowed loose pages with a rubber band around them. These two pieces are early responses to that project, which continues. And I am entertaining myself.