Other Poems by:

Lee Evans

MADE IN TAIWAN

You stamp it on your t-shirts
You slap it on your cars
Display it in store windows
And on your mug in bars
 
You crumple it on napkins
Upholster it on chairs
You soil it on your tee shirts
And on your underwear
 
You drape it on your altars
And flex it on tattoos
You blow it full of speeches
And fly it on balloons

You stamp it on your sodas
And leave it in the rain
You pledge allegiance to it
For freedom from your pain

ALTER EGO

The man I was looms over me,
Like a father teaching his son to read.
     Like a shadow cast 
     From the fateful past,
He haunts me with his deeds.
He wants me to carry on his seed.
 
This man is more than history--
His inmost core a mystery
     That he disowns.
     I reap what he has sown.
My passion flows from him;
And where he ends, I must begin.

But when his folly shall no more
Delude me, and the Other Shore 
      At last I’ve reached,--
      And from that beach
The undulating waves
His errant footprints have erased,--
 
That man will be a Parable
Of human destiny, as well: 
      A lesson learned,
      Not to be spurned
By those who seek to free
Mankind from self-made misery.

PHIL OCHS ON THE ISLAND OF BARREN MOUNTAINS

The compact disc is spinning in the dash
Of the Grand Am we rented for our tour.
Your voice becomes the spirit of these shores,
Surrounding us in waves that roll and crash
About the crags whereon your face is splashed
In cubist planes and cracks--a technique old
Of landscape painters such as Thomas Cole,
Who dramatized that elemental smash.
 
Your songs are like the mountains and the plains
Of this exploited land that we consume.
Yes, even now the verses of your pain
Are as prophetical as when they sprang
To life from your twice-strangled vocal chords,
Declaring the defeat of hate and war. 

Child Of God

“O Jesus, Lord Jesus,
Be with me today,
And comfort and guide me
So I may not stray.”
 
The prayer of the child
Reached the ears of the Lord,
Who came down from Heaven
As good as His Word.
 
The boy went to church
And held Jesus’ hand;
And after the service
The deacon, a man

Whom everyone trusted,
Asked him to stay
And help with the cleaning--
We left him that day.
 
But three years later
He broke down and cried,
And told us what happened
The day Jesus died.

TO THE LIBERTY TREE

Four hundred years of history are now
Concluded in this Tulip Poplar’s frame,
Which cracked and splintered with a hurricane.
Thus past to present times are made to bow
With rasping teeth of chainsaws, viewed by crowds
Whose liberty has won for them no peace.
Two score and fifteen tons of thick concrete
Were poured inside its hollow trunk, and shrouds
Of cables strung to constitute its state
More perfectly in union with Man’s laws.
As scientists experiment with fate
To clone it into fifty replicas,
Its massive stump will grace the College lawn,
While underground its roots disintegrate.

IMPERIAL MOTH

Within an earthen chamber they pupate,

Then crawl toward the light in their next phase 

As horned and dotted caterpillars, lured

By sunshine beckoning them to leaves and warmth--

To die again one day, having stretched out

Their speckled yellow wings marked purple gray,

When still they are attracted to the Sun

Though born to be nocturnal.

                                               They are fooled

Not by the simple daylight, but by signs

Illuminated by man’s artifice:  

Street lights and floods that stay on through the day.

 

I saw a moth one sunny afternoon

Upon the wall of a convenience store,

Where driven by the glare of gaudy bulbs

He’d flapped his five inch wingspan through the dark

And worshipped there well past the break of dawn.

Displayed so well in all his panoply, 

Did he become the morsel of some crow? 

For I have read that where such sleepless light

As lured him is abundant, his species

Has fast become a rare phenomenon. 

TOO MUCH BLUES

Too much freedom,

Too many choices;

Too much to heed

From too many voices.

 

Too much consciousness,

Too much thinking;

Too many hunches

And too many inklings.

 

Soon you lose touch:

Too much is too much.

 

Too many factories,

Too many plans;

Too much supply

And too much demand.

 

Too much to buy

And too much to sell;

Too many doors

With too many bells.

 

Who can you trust?

Too much is too much.

 

Too many applicants,

Too many jobs;

Too many options

For too many mobs.

 

Too many values,

Too many lifestyles;

Too many roads

Stretching too many miles.

 

Ashes and dust:

Too much is too much.

 

Too many visions,

Too many schemes;

Too many ways

And too many means.

 

Too many channels,

Too many clues;

Too much to gain

And too much to lose.

 

You gasp and clutch:

Too much is too much.

AN ACADEMIC MILESTONE

Congratulations, Sir, on the Degree

For which you leaped through circus hoops to gain!

At last you are a Doctor; and that name

Will be a mantra for you as you seed

The field that you have labored in for years

As toady to a Tyrant whom you fear,

And yet whose office you intend to seize.

Your strategy is cold and circumspect;

For human intercourse is just a game

In which you score while others smart with shame,

Defeated by your scheming Intellect.

Your Title would make good the hurt they feel,

If you were but a Doctor who could heal.

ISLE AU HAUT

We paused at the summit of Duck Harbor Mountain,

Beside a small cairn that marked the trail,

And followed the blue squares through the spruces,

Among orange mushrooms, shelf fungi, rotting trees;

Past a log cabin on the banks of a stream

That flowed into spacious Moore’s Cove, 

Where a harbor seal watched as we sidled towards her,

Attempting to get as close as we dared.

Before long the hiking trail bisected a roadway,

Which we took, though it wandered out of the park.

We strolled past the lobsterman’s houses,

Over a brook that decayed in the long drought;

Glimpsed the lighthouse at Robinson Point,

Its bed and breakfast without electricity.

Suddenly, the spruce forest parted in a vee,

Revealing a valley of oceanic Heaven

Where a radiant white cloud hovered,

Poised like a Buddha blessing all beings. 

But when the photograph was developed,

It seemed drained of that moment’s suchness--

When we were high on the Isle au Haut,

Scattering bright thoughts o’er the Gulf of Maine.

NEW BOSS AGAIN

So you’re the New Boss!

Well, I do declare:

I guess I should cross

myself, and say prayers.

 

You’re just what I need:

A Seer to define

Reality for me--

It’s all in your Mind!

 

You’ve come out on top,

at least for your turn:

The cream of the crop,

with Visions to burn.

 

But what you don’t know

can hurt you: I’ve seen

each Boss come and go,

like slides on a screen.

 

But you’re the New Boss!

Without any doubt,

no time should be lost

in finding you out.

WALTER REED

He teeters on his new prosthetic legs,

His forehead on his father’s shoulder laid.

His robot arm is held up by the hand

Held underneath his armpit, to keep him

From falling forward on the concrete floor:

One arm and two legs blown off in Iraq,

And shrapnel riddled through the rest of him.

Sometimes he spits a piece out as he eats

A grilled cheese sandwich or a slice of pie.

His father whispers something in his ear,

Remembering the infant he once held

In quite another hospital, so bright

With promise for the future. Cameras flash:

Their picture made the front page news today.

TO THE WARMONGERS

O ye of little faith who fan

The flames of fear and ignorance,

And throngs of patriotic masses guide:

I stand here watching the parade

On Main Street, where the flags are waved;

My ears are ringing with your shouts of pride.

 

Forgive me for not joining in

The chorus of this manic din

Extolling all the heroes of your wars:

For cowards are they every one

Who fail to cast aside their guns

When ordered to oppress a foreign shore.

 

I shout no praise: instead I bring

Bouquets of funeral offerings,

And pity--for they die as rich men’s pawns.

You preach that they our rights defend

By trampling on the lives of men

Who wrong us not. What demons urge you on?

 

You prate of heroes. Watch them there,

Pushed forward in the ranks by fear,

Too craven to gainsay your wicked will.

For should they halt and shout “No More!”

The vengeance that you hold in store

Would hunt them down as felons to be killed.

 

My heroes are a different breed:

They flout your false authority,

Refusing to wage war when it is wrong.

They willingly would go to jail,

Be beaten, cast out from the pale,

Than serve as cowards the unjustly strong.

 

Did not the Man you praise as God

Defy the zealots as His blood

Ran down to wet the Roman soldiers’ feet?

Did He not rise to bear the loss

For men who died upon His cross--

Who scorned all wars and loved their enemies?

BY THE ROADSIDE

(after Chuang-Tsu and Bunan)

 

One evening on my way back home,

I spied a human skull

Bleached ghostly white, retaining still

Its former shape, wherein the will

To live had swelled its bones.

 

I tapped it with my walking cane,

And asked it, “Did you, Sir,

In all your greed for life, bestir

The twisting fibers of your nerves

To come to this in vain?

 

“What brought you here? A civil war,

Perhaps? or just old age--

Your grand finale on this stage

Of losing battles, where the wage

Can never compensate the scars?”

 

This said, I took it in my hands,

And underneath my head

I made a pillow for my bed

Among the weeds and trash that hid

My sleep from beast and man.

 

At midnight when the town clocks tolled,

That skull became my dream,

And whispered, “What you said to me

More like an orator beseems

Than one who sifts for gold! 

 

“Your words described the way of life

Of men who drew their breaths

While in pursuit of happiness

And liberty, in spite of death

Preventing all their strife.

 

“But in the grave those baits and lures

Can never satisfy the Saints

Whose deaths take place without a taint;

Who wipe away the foolish paint

That masks a hollow core.

 

“Perhaps you’d like to hear me speak

About the end of woe.”

“Oh, tell me everything you know!”

The skull resumed, “In Death are no

Distinctions that men seek.

 

“No seasons waste each other there

With changes soon undone;

No phase of moon or fire of sun

Surpasses Wisdom’s light for ones

Who move beyond your sphere.”

 

I heard his words with skeptic doubts,

And said, “If magic arts

Could somehow cause you to depart

From your abyss, and take your part

Once more in your own house,

 

“With mother, father, wife and child,

And all your wealth and friends,

Would you refuse the chance to blend

With what you loved, to live again,

If only for a while?”

 

The skull stared fixedly at me,

And said, knitting its brows,

(This was a dream, remember now!)

“No one who casts away life’s shroud

Regains that misery.

 

“While living, be a dead man, then;

Be dead so through and through

That anything you think or do

Will be as though there were no you--

And dwell here as my friend.” 

HIGH ABOVE THE TOWN

After four days of clouds and rain and cold,

We bounded out of bed at four-thirty,

The alarm having failed to work on time.

I groped across the room and pulled aside

The curtain: yes! The day was bright and clear.

A half an hour later we had wound

Around the five mile road of the ascent

Of Cadillac, the highest mountaintop

Upon the east coast; not a place to miss

For people who appreciate sunrise.

And even as we drove across the lot

Just moments ere the sun peeked from the cloud

That was its bedclothes, young Apollo waved

And smiled at us, a camera in his hands,

Returning to his car to get more film.

We stood upon the mountain’s eastern slope,

A freezing wind tormenting us; the sun,

The sun was rising, and his long sought light

Suffused the barren stone and sparse spruce trees,

The sparkling bay and misty Schoodic Head.

A voice came from behind us. “Do you mind

If I take a few pictures of you two?”

Apollo had returned; the lad explained

That he was studying effects of light

In photographs, for class. And so we posed,

My wife and I, upon that summit’s brow,

Two thoughts joined arm in arm. Ascending still,

The glorious divinity revealed

Himself before us, circled by his robes

Of rainbow effulgence; as he eclipsed      

The earth, the wind became his clarion

And woke us to ourselves. As we drove back

To town, we saw that cheerful youth once more,

His camera full of images; and waved, 

As though he and ourselves were oldest friends.

BLUE ANGELS

One day I as set out to roam

About this town I once called home,

I chanced upon a herd of sheep

That stumbled through the city streets

With stupid, gaping gaze toward

High angel bands that dove and soared

Throughout the bright and poisoned sky.

 

The sheep, I swear, had bulging eyes

Like mirrors, convex in their heads,

Reflecting Glory’s lies instead

Of holes that they were stumbling in.

With downcast gaze I studied them,

Incurious of higher things;--

For I was sure I’d hear them sing

In rapture, as their Paradise

(Which certainly was not of Christ)

Revealed to them their hearts’ delight,

Supreme, as Military Might:

Blue Angel planes that dropped the bombs

Of fantasy’s narcotic balm,

Translating patriotic sheep

To mess halls, for their heroes’ feast.
 

**Copyright 2007-2009 Lee Evans, all rights reserved Send us your comments on this article
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