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   unpublished poetry
The muse of Unimportant Men
I

Here comes
the muse of mostly
unimportant men.
She rides her pony
down into the little
palomino town where
Christmas only comes
on even years.
And where no angel
is allowed past sundown.

Of course, the rain has
started in to rein again.
Would it be springtime
otherwise? Past midnight
once, a comet saw this
place but did not land.
Not worth the time, it
must have figured.

On alternating Aprils
there is green enough
out here to cause
the larger animals like
deer, the wolves and
buffalo to feed and not
go empty. Will some
one halt those daisies
getting crazy over
there? Thank you.

II

God runs his fingers
through the grass and
wipes his forehead with
a willow branch. Some
clouds are tied up in
a knot out in a sky
a little calmer, bluer,
than the lake below.

If you were God would
you stop long enough
to roll clouds out across
that non-believing
always doubting grass?

I only ask because
a God all merciful is
rare these times,
these days. And
mercy seems to be
the brightest chip
heaven ever plays.

A misdirected life
is always seen as
someone else's life.
Is that a hyacinth
or has the setting sun
been wasted in a coups?

III

In the far west
boys have emptied
out their bedrolls,
rolled them out,
doused their fires.
Now they stretch
along the open
moonlights' road.
Eyes to stars.

The nightingale
always means to be
hospitable but never
is. She sings while
others only sleep.
Try to sleep. Lie
awake. The boys
are doubling up. In
dreams they rodeo.
In life they redo
every dream until
all dreaming ends.

When we are young
we know no better,
so we take the moon
as moon. I think that
Summer only stops or
comes around again
because there is too
little room left
on these ebbing hills
for any more spring.

IV

Behold this branch
of cedar, drenched
and bleeding, blanched
from deluge gone
along to other valleys.

Stray thunder comes.
But it is only echo of
a final soldiering
some other year.
The year the older
trees gave up.

Intelligence will
do you in, as surely
as the little lie. For
simplicity it offers
up capacity. It says
see shades, instead
of black and white.

In love there are
so many choices.
For the educated
who can choose?
Look, a sparrow.
Gone now, it might
have been a finch.

Far too many stars.
Too few telescopes.
Do the best you can.

V

Some man over there
is making coffee and
a life unlike his neighbor
to the left. Beside him,
to the right is one lone dog
who roams the morning
street, Verlaine lights
another candle, Rimbaud
fans yet one more flame.
Words are carried by
a hummingbird who
happens to be passing.

Oh love, why did you
let me taste the passion
when I could never own
the prize. This bright
procession passing is
a swarm of bees, off
to find the truth about
a recent hollyhock.
A yard of ribbon would
be nice, a bolt of silk
a little better. The
letter never came.

Because the letter
did not come, she,
we. they did not
wait for others

VI

Stars may be able
to be counted, but
surely they can not
be counted on. Some
constellations keep
the cowboy company
enough, but all the
younger stars are busy
tooling, scampering,
out where none can
chase them but
the other stars. Each
to each and according
to his own kind only.

Hard times
for cowboys now,
bad times for lovers
too. The plague
is going on too long.
An event no longer,
only backyard rodeo.

I wonder if
the human cannonball
goes on hearing cymbal
crashes, drum rolls.
Are pre-cotillion
serenades by upper
classmen
still obligatory.

VII

I was reading
Or I was making up
Love's obituary
and it said:

The square root
of everything he did
or touched was eros.
It was the sum and
total of him, ranked with
moonlight and with stars
inside universal universe.
Nothing touched him or
went by him that was not
better from proximity.
Histories of old were
made brand new
by brushing up
against him.

Pretty
heady stuff
these NYT obits.

VIII

Summer ends and
with a rare but happy
belch of wind takes
every leaf that meant
to go, a little early
anyway, but didn't..

Nothing is as planned
once lilacs and the rose
go by. Some fairies
gamboling in the wood
are heard to speak about
a lack of hazels this year
and much too many
beech and brier.

Bring some sycamore,
some vine, I heard
one say. They must
be building rafts to sail
the autumn rapids
out of here.

IX

Some lilies have come
back despite another
early winter. They
struggle from behind
a row of meditations
not yet said aloud.
Sentimentalists still ask
but no new sentiment
is given.

Goodnight love,
I always wondered
where you were.

Who knew that light
and dark were always
one, that milky way and
sol's ray had a touch alike.
That one more hollow
in an ever tender back
would drive the cold
forever forward and
away? When I went
crawling through your
arms back into mine I
should have realized
that streams run dry
or break. Alas. Alas.
No new lineament
to heal old wounds.

X

Oh, Muse
where is it
we are bound?

There may be peacocks
over there or in some
other place, but don't
these colors qualify?

Copyright 1998 by Rod McKuen & Stanyan Music Group. All rights
reserved and no part may be reproduced in any form without written
permission of owners.
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