Warmth in Winter

February 10, 2008 at 2:52 am (Poetry) (, , )

Crocus in Snow

Lay a blanket down and settle against the hill

To take in the blueness of the sky

Open a bottle of wine to celebrate

The fresh scent of pine on the air

Cool and soothing against the cheek

Like the memory of a kiss.

The whisper of a pleasant breeze in the trees is interrupted…

In the distance that lonely freight train from nowhere

passes slowly on its way to anywhere else.

Mournfully calling out, it exists inside a Johnny Cash song,

And knows full well you won’t follow along this time.

Anywhere else is a dream of swirling snow

Where overstuffed coats are pulled tight against near-frozen bodies.

Nowhere is a place you’ve been with tears in your eyes

Tears you shouldn’t be willing to shed

When they turn to droplets of cruel ice on tender skin.

You should smile at the warmth instead

Put your faith in the here and now

Throw rocks in the stream

Touch the warm golden light from the evening sun

And dance with the pleasure of life.

How lush life can be,

How calm it is

Where the green grass beckons

And flowers bloom against the odds

in mid-winter.


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Sackcloth and Ashes

November 30, 2007 at 5:00 am (Poetry, RefleXions) (, , , , , , , )


Bravely he dared to take his child to see what ignorance looked like in the flesh. Was there flesh or unearthly demons hidden beneath bright white hoods? Anonymous men pranced in the flickering glare of a bonfire in the moonless night. The wicked cross, never again a holy thing, was aglow with the Baptist minister’s promised brimstone. The surrounding woods  ghostly lit, the rounded hard steel cars reflecting fire, parked everywhere in straight lines like a simple drive-in. They were putting on a show, like a movie after all, weren’t they? With wide eyes and nose pressed against the window, my breath came fast and hard, to form innocent condensation that I wiped with lily white hand.

It terrifies me now, to think how close I stood to the oozing maggot-eaten decay that a clean white word like ‘prejudice’ fails to convey. This one-dimensional word sits on dictionary’s page and doesn’t kick ribs and thrust bitter blades into human flesh, then stand there smiling, self-satisfied.

Virile Nubian youth, simple gift to man and wife, a near-man of sixteen, had chastely kissed his date goodnight, they say. It was by chance alone that he was who chose to walk the railroad tracks whistling a happy tune, they say, at ten p.m. as the others hid, these white pillars, with hard-ons of anticipation, before they circled like hounds of hell determined to make a point. It was a warning, they say. Later no one squealed on anyone.

“There’ll be crosses burned in yards.” Even spoken softly his low voice rumbled. “Let’s hope there won’t be one in ours,” he whispered and Mama didn’t move or speak. There were times he’d been able to help, been more closely involved, and no one guessed, she knew. His sapphire blue eyes barely hid horror laced with shame, and with wide eyes I pressed my nose to the window to watch for the burning crosses he said would be there that I still see in every campfire’s glow.

© 2007 C. Harter Amos

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