Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jim Moreno


He's x-marine, one hundred per cent disabled,
Got full vet's benefits from the V.A.,
He's x-marine working in this hardware store
Cutting dog house wood, helping me beat the pet store price
130 bucks - a custom doghouse for my husky pups,

He's x-marine, and I, x-sailor; you can tell
He's a hero because he tells no stories
about being disabled― there's no swagger―
The real heroes, the real ones, never say they are,

He's x-marine, x-cellent artist, shaping the cuts
As the wood falls, the smell of sawdust
Steady hand, thick muscled, skill quick,,
Makes the saw fall, cutting one piece in two,
Like choices a man makes in life
What he doesn't choose must be split in two,
To be kind or cruel, to forgive or abuse,
To live or die, to walk or stay,
Or simply run away― leaving
The piece that won't fit behind,

We talk about our children and
He cuts another piece, 4 foot long, please,
One more choice, in one more lean, lonely life,
Live in the Sunshine State or the Left Coast,
Marry the slender dancer, or answer the call of the road,
Drink yourself to death, or get a leg up on the wagon―
He tells me he's not smart in math
Couldn't hack it in school; but his son's
So savvy with sums, he admires; a father amazed.

He's x-marine and cuts more wood,
Shaping the sides of my doggies' home,
Shapes another secret side of me,
Asks me what I do and I take off my mask,
I tell him I'm a poet and he takes off his mask,
He tells me he loves poetry, loves Robert Frost,
So I recite Stopping by Woodside on A Snowy Evening,
The magic, like a fresh cut golden sunflower
Turning on tabletop to face the sleepy, morning sun,
The magic, like the silent moon rise
In the hot, summer desert,
The magic, like a magician pulling
A dancing dragon out of his hat,
The muse magic happens again,

He's x-marine, blue collar, salt of the earth,
Frozen by Frost's rhythmic flow,
Or is it the love in my voice for magic memorized
40 years now, 50 years after my youth,
He's x-marine, frozen, transformed,
Holding dog house wood suspended in time,
Transfixed by shared reverence for the sacred,

No longer x-marine, no longer disabled―simply human,
No longer the grunt cowed by math―simply human being,
In love with the sound of spoken word,
In love with the sounds of here-and-now,
He moves back to the wood and, in silence, moves the saw,
He helps me cut the wood; shaping a house for my pups,

Woodcutter of the semper fi,
Woodcutter of the hardware store,
Woodcutter of this house for Huskies,
Brother woodcutter of the artful cuts,
Humble hero: changed, transformed,
Reborn in my house of sacred words;
Shaping a reverence for words, nor world,
Never wooden.

1 comment:

  1. from Phil Turner:

    That's a real poem. It's hard even for a master poet to compose something like this unless it is really a long-time part of himself. There's a quiet power in it that exists even beyond some of the weaker phrasing. I would say that toward the end things can be pared down somewhat. Many poems, I've found, if they have a good heart, can do with compression and if they don't, then a soul must be implanted with extra lines! A sad detail is that the title of Frost's poem is famously 'Stopping By *Woods* On a Snowy Evening' not 'Stopping By *Woodside* On a Snowy Evening.' Even so, I cannot recite it or any other poem in full, except a translation of one by Basho Matsuo: "O the silence / The song of the cicadas / Penetrates the rocks."