Tag Archives: poetry

Quotation: William Stafford (1914 – 1993)

“The more you let yourself be distracted from where you are going, the more you are the person that you are. It’s not so much like getting lost as it is like getting found.”

Poetry: Liberty Brass by Edward Hirsch

I was sitting across from the rotating sign
For the Liberty Brass Turning Company

Automatic Screw Machine Products

And brooding about our fathers
Always on the make to make more money

Screw Machine Products Automatic

Tender wounded brassy unsystematic
Free American men obsessing about margins

Machine Products Automatic Screw

Selling every day of their God-damned lives
To some Liberty Brass Turning Company

Products Automatic Screw Machine

Until they were screwed into boxes
And planted in plots paid and unpaid

Automatic Screw Machine Products

(From the March 15, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.)

“Who am I?” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Near the centennial of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s birth in 2006 I happened across a documentary on PBS about his life and the events that led to his martyrdom. I have forgotten many details but I do often reflect on the poem below which he wrote in prison.

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

Short Verse Friday: Free Will

We slip the inborn straits of fate
like exits on the Interstate.

The Insomniac and The Vigilante: nearly finished

Still tweaking to do but very close now.

Quotation: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 – 1892)

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

from “Maud Muller”

Short Verse Friday: No Escape

We spend our cash to flee despair
Then board the train to take us there.