The fortnightly book should be out tomorrow; I want to give myself time to listen to the radio adaptations. I confess that the entire second poem grew out of a desire to use that most splendid of contractions, all'y'all'd've. I am unrepentant.
Amid the stones an ancient well stands;
druids, perhaps, once did their rites there,
or some fair nymph gave it sacred gifts.
Through long years men and women travel,
across barren lands, across the seas,
through forests deep and dark, wild wastes,
wholly that they may find the well
to cast their kingdoms into it.
One day you, as well, will seek it,
with all your heart's unwavering desire;
you, too, will cast inside your treasures.
Of all wells, it is the well most sought,
the unwishing well, which takes back a wish.
We 'scuse oursel's so o'ermuch,
"All'y'all'd've done it, too" 'n' such;
we take the easy way;
we ain't what we pretend we are,
'n'we're ne'er quite so distant-far
as when we think we're near.
"But ne'er fear; you're just as wrong" --
we'll make sure of it 'fore long,
'n' define a way you are!
For "you ain't better'n oursel's",
'n' if we're headin' to our hells,
we'll drag you with us, too.
But brother, God's no truck with pride,
'n' nary a hill's a place to hide
from comin' judgment day.
So when we think to point 'n' shriek,
let's remember the earth's made for the meek,
'n' be quiet a bit, 'n' still.
City Light and Darkness
Beneath the moon-sphere city lights
in foggy halos cast like stars
their asterisks upon the night
and make the concrete glow, and cars
in speed, unheeding moving scene
like blur upon the movie screen,
make motion, growling, headlights bright,
and slice their way through starlit night.
Beside the road, and unremarked,
a sidewalk-walker travels home,
with step on step through rushing dark
that he may shed his long-spent roam
like shoes on floors of well-lit rooms
and, reading, bunker from the gloom
until, now tired, a card to mark
his page, he thence to dreams embarks.
And weary now, with aching feet,
and all the world like to a dream,
I walk with steady march of beat
to final glimpse of homely gleam;
Of lights I see, what light can shine
upon my heart? They none are mine.
But yet I march without retreat
to window-shine and light most sweet.