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.
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.