WitGlass Original Poetry: “Long Ago”

I’ve been promising poetry, and here is your first original poem introduced exclusively on WitGlass. This poem is the longest poem I’ve written to date, and because of its length, it seemed the perfect way to introduce poetry here on WitGlass, not just in written form but in spoken form, as well. So I live-recorded a spoken word performance of the poem, as well, and broadcast it is part of an episode of my podcast WitGlass Unfiltered. Here is a link to the podcast episode with the first-ever public performance of “Long Ago”: WitGlass Unfiltered, Episode 19.

Long Ago

I loved a lady long ago. In white
She walked the weary road that wound around
The bleary bend beside the river, right
Beside the rapid, rolling river, bound

By bracken, burned and blackened by the flames
That found it, crowned it, cracked and charred it, breezed
Around it, climbing, clambering, laying claim
To lively, little, lower limbs of trees

That stood nearby, in stands that stood the test
Of time and tears that trickled, trembled, clear
And free, as fickle as the fears that rest
In battered breasts, these fallen crests of years

Ago, so long ago, that crumble, tumble,
Falling forward, tailing toward the mere
Remembrance of those things long past that rumble
On and on and ever on—careers

That end before begun; and loves that end
When one is done, though two are not; and those
Unbroken, taken, shaken, made to bend
And stretch and crack and die because they chose

To stay intent on purity, secure
In their commitment to their chosen one,
So unrepenting, unrelenting, sure
Of what, of whom they honor, clarion,

Declare supreme, and carry on their minds,
Their hearts, their heads, their molded badges, marks,
And emblems, symbols, written in a kind
Of rhyme and rhythm, simple system, stark

In contrast to the cold-conditioned, fine-
Precisioned, complex, man-made system, Sage
Tradition, which has ruled the battle-lines
Of faith and hope and charity, and aged

Itself the bastion of Berea’s gain,
The Victor’s train, the Lion’s mane, and held
The reins of life, of death, and still remains
Intact, though straining, struggling, as it melds

With modern modes of marketing, and tries
To keep command by silencing the dumb,
Oppressing thumb suppressing them that cry
And hold, despite the pressure to succumb—

Ever on, into the future full
Of unknown knights who know that now is when
The call to arms is called for all who pull
The plow, push the sow, pluck the hen,

Who harvest harried, hardened heads of wheat
And other grains they grind to give supply
To those in need, who, heedless of the fleet
Of workday warriors working well, reply

Their self-sufficiency, which future days
Will show for what it’s worth, in all its dearth,
So empty, void, and vacuous, always
Secure and rapturous, so full of mirth,

Because it’s never seen a test, a trial—
True temptation—never been without
Its comforts lavishly displayed in piles
Placed by princes, paupers, gadabouts,

And simple wise men who foresee the need
To save and scrimp and set a store aside
For days when workers shirk their worthy deeds
And neighbors plead for their continued strides

On their behalf, because they see what they
Refused to see before, while those who saw
Return home to their fields to plant their hay,
To gee and haw, to see and saw the raw

And unadulterated elements
Of homes and houses, shirts and blouses all
Untucked and flying, flapping, evidence
That bills and cents won’t pay the rent or call

A wall into existence, since the town
Around has fallen down—as much in head
And heart as infrastructure—and the sound’s
Still heard of timbers tumbling onto beds

And chairs and tables, all unstable, like
The social system—roads and networks, trains
And boatworks, iron bridgeworks, levees, dikes,
And waterways—designed for easing pain,

Creating gain, and soothing strain, and for
Encouraging the free and endless flow,
The interchange, of information or
Ideas that can help a culture grow

And thrive, not just survive, and when the minds
Are disconnected from the weave of wills,
Whose crafted quilts of faded fabric line
The streets, all torn and tattered, then the still,

The quiet, intervenes and fills the scene
With broken dreams and silent screams that die
And slowly settle, as the cool, serene
Reality resolves: the sun is high,

The day is long, and Bessie waits to feel
The snap of reins again, as many friends
Who still remain begin the waltz, the reel,
The jig—the dance—of life that never ends,

But always on and ever on and on
And on it steps and stumbles, bumbles, and
The dancers start to mumble that the lawn
They once thought much too humble, much too bland,

Has all the grace and charm a site should have
To host the feet that felt the marble floors
Of palaces not long ago, with salve
To soothe the tender toes that traipse outdoors

Now on the lawn, remembrance fading of
Those grander times, as tender tears trail
Slowly down their cheeks and disappear like gloves
And hats and cummerbunds, those pale

Reminders of a better time that lie
Beneath the lower limbs of towering trees
Still tender from the fire that found them high
And dry, encouraged by a balmy breeze,

And kindled by a solitary spark
Soon sharing solidarity with fans
Of flame, their light encroaching on the dark,
A widening wall and growing gall to bands

Of bracken all around the rugged, rough,
And rolling river, winding by the slow
And sleepy road where once my lady love
Walked dressed in white so very long ago.