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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’


Standing Outside Belwing Turkey Farm

I walked down to the bottom of the street
And across the road, ‘til I reached the fence
And stood there watching them, huddled
In the darkness of the night and the hutch

White bundles of breast, leg, gizzard, wing
Large footballs on stilts hunched to the cold
Unknowing and clueless to the fate awaiting
Them in the next forty eight hours

No more meaning given to this day than any other
No genetic memory, though properly earned
Over several hundred years of ritual feasting –
Each football the end of the genetic line

My son wants us to liberate them and I have
A picture of five hundred turkeys running across
Route 44, stopping on the yellow line, unsure
Just why they should cross the road

What would they do? Where would they go?
What other purpose do they have but the one
They were bred for, like another widget or bolt
Or jujubee made to be consumed by our gnawing hunger.

I am glad I have no purpose, or none discovered
No plan laid out for me by genetic splicing
No idea of where I should go, what I should do
Except that given to me by the gift of the day.

Don’t forget gang – enough is a feast.

Bill

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I’m back from the National Storytelling Festival. For all the confusing issues surrounding the festival and the International Storytelling Center (more on that in some future post), it was an amazing experience for a performer. Those of us who get to tell stories there end up feeling a great gratitude.

In the last session, I recited a poem I had just written. The response was really positive and people asked me how to find it. I just wrote it. But here it is:

Nothing for granted

Let us take nothing for granted
Not the water coming out of the faucet
Nor the smell of bread
Nor the call of the lone crow overhead
Late in the afternoon

Do not take for granted the shoestring that does its job every day without complaint
Nor the way the fingernail clipper responds when asked by squeezing thumb and forefinger
Do not take dark roast for granted
nor the smell of its brewing
Nor chocolate
(Especially chocolate)
Nor the rain predicted with certainty by Eyewitness news
Do not take for granted the leaf, pasted upon the windshield
Its puckered body yellow
Its spidery veins green
Which even the wipers cannot remove

Especially, do not take the venality of those in power for granted
Nor the callousness of those intent upon teaching a lesson to someone else
while not learning it themselves
Instead, be taken aback
And don’t take your indignity for granted either
Indignant at the insensitivity of the privileged
Mistaking their position for their worth
Do not take the hunger of the poor for granted
Nor the drum’s tattoo that summons the dogs of war
Do not assume inevitability
For at this moment things are still evitable
And we do not know what there will be an outbreak of

So, embrace surprise

For it is in our surprise and what comes of it that we embody the possibility of something else
In our surprise we remind the world of what it might be

The trick is to take the moment
Out of the cardboard box
Or picture frame
Or digital byte
Or philosophical system
Or the story we have put it in
The equating of this for that
The alchemy of life into metaphor
When in fact nothing equates with anything exactly
For it is this space between where we think something fits
And what the fitting leaves out
That life breathes

Refuse boredom

Do not let the continuing
Recombination of genetic material
Blind you to the beauty of its expression

In not taking things for granted
We will appear a little daft
Apparently obtuse and dull-witted
As if we are only realizing something
Everyone else has known since the day before the first day of middle school
(The last day to learn something before you were pilloried for your ignorance)

When we do not take things for granted
People will be embarrassed for us
And for themselves

Let us be masters of the obvious
Of what everyone knows but seems to have forgotten
Because they do not name it
And in not naming it, lose it

Let us be known for saying
“The sun came up this morning”
“The stars are coming out”
“The leaves are turning colors”
“The firetruck is red”
“Someone emptied the dishwasher”
“This food tastes good”
“This system is unjust”
“Things will change”
“You are my friend”

Let us be masters of the repeated appreciation
Let us be the masters of the redundancy of affection
Giving more gifts than necessary
Over and over
In the knowledge that the slippage in the universe requires
Us to give more than we think we should have to give
Let us be masters of appearing foolish
Masters of the obvious insight
Masters of the wisdom everyone already holds
Masters of what is known
Only to be found again and again
And delighted in each time at its discovery

copyright 2011 by Bill Harley and Round River Productions

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Thanksgiving prayer

Now in thanks we bow our heads
With grateful words before we’re fed
Turkey for all, except Aunt Marian
Since she’s become a vegetarian.

My brother drools here right beside me
My stomach rumbling deep inside me
Aunts and uncles , gramps and grans
With settled hearts and folded hands

My dog is here and he prays too
“Drop that turkey, oh please do”
And I say thanks, no ifs or buts
For all those here who drive me nuts.

– Bill Harley

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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