Thaw

Unbundled, unbound and resuscitated,
as the hated freeze leaves us, we perambulate,
embracing first thaw, a date we’ve long contemplated
through the faded, dark months, here in New York State.
Savage winters force us to truly appreciate
thaws (early or late): these reprieves are consummated
by elated pasty wraiths watching snow dissipate,
our great warming joy pure, clear and concentrated.

(Copyright 2004, JES)

The Back Story: I wrote this during my 2004 “Poem a Day” project. There’s no more hackneyed cliche than the concept of spring as a time of rebirth and renewal, but I’ll tell ya, I know exactly why so many people write it, because going out in the sun when it’s almost 50 degrees for the first time after three or four months of bitter cold, wind, dark and snow is truly a revelatory, invigorating experience. The form of this poem is Irish, called a droighneach (each line can have from 9 to 13 syllables, and it always ends in a trisyllabic or longer word/phrase; there is rhyming between lines 1 and 3, 2 and 4, 5 and 7, 6 and 8; there are at least two cross-rhymes in each couplet and alliteration in each line; usually the final word of the line alliterates with the preceding stressed word, and this is always true of the last line). And I mean every word of this poem, man, do I and how! (Remind me to read this one when we get our next Arctic blast . . . it’s too early for us to be out of the winter for good yet, but I don’t care, I just need a day or two like this and I can go for another few weeks of cold fueled on its memory).

Labor, Organized

They cut the timber, we make it into pulp
They bring us pine trees, we grind ’em into pulp
Our machines eat up their logs in one big scary gulp

They work the west seam, we burn their coal for heat
They bring us black coke, we burn it up for heat
Watch ’em coughing up their lungs while drinking in the street

They grow the soy beans, we feed ’em to our pigs
Fresh corn and soy beans, we give ’em to our pigs
Come the holidays we’ll have some bacon with our figs

They’re in the garden, with pitchforks in their hands
Pitchforks and torches, and long ropes in their hands
We sit here in darkened rooms and wait for their demands

(Copyright 2004, JES)