The Poet

who walks in a stony field behind his plow
turning up old flints
adze-heads and the bones of ptarmigan,
who lives in terror of tea-leaves
ink-blots and mendicant feathers,
who spends his tears on jujubes
and on feastdays
pulls coins from dirty ears
to the applause of grassblades;

whose overcoat is specked with the dandruff
of alphabets; a salamander
born in the hospitable lava, he
traffics in scoriac mysteries
and scalds the hands of those
who put trust in him:

arbiter of waters, nuncio of the wild iris,
Ishmaelite among the tenements of eyes,
you salute each morning the flags
which flutter in the cottonwoods
and bear in your lung the deadly flower
of recollection.



throw away the traffic charts say
goodbye to the queen of podiums she
won't miss you her microphone
has leukemia it leaks neckties
cancel that date with the ortho-
dontist forget the chalk talk and
the air-conditioned interview

listen to the wind admonish
the leaves its daughters
cultivate the combustible
lark in the sky the cicada
with its brash fiddle the blue
ventriloquist in the pinetree

your absence won't really
be noticed the directors
are on their third martini
so set your clock back
a dozen years and
take a deep breath

--- From Turns and Returns
George Hitchcock
©2002, Philos Press
524 Palm Street
Santa Rosa CA 95404
[Illustration by George Hitchcock]

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