Thursday, July 26, 2007

Panhandler Poetry

One of the things I’ve been doing since traveling the path is collecting signs from the panhandlers I see on Main Street, just south of the Plaza. I like to think of the signs as short poems. Here are three of my favorites.

Remember that tonight is KC Snapshot's second event, Time to Work, 5:30 at the Art Institute. And speaking of poems, here’s one on tonight’s topic--work. Poet Laureate Donald Hall was in Kansas City a few months ago and read this poem at the KC library. They’ve been putting on some outstanding programs, it’s well worth taking a look at the schedule.

Hope to see you tonight.

Ox Cart Man

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
counting the seed, counting
the cellar’s portion out,
and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather
tanned from deerhide,
and vinegar in a barrel
hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.

He walks by his ox’s head, ten days
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,
and the bag that carried potatoes,
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose
feathers, yarn.

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year’s coin for salt and taxes,

and at home by fire’s light in November cold
stitches new harness
for next year’s ox in the barn,
and carves the yoke, and saws planks
building the cart again.


kirk said...

These sessions are coming together nicely. regarding the upcoming 'free time', i hope the discussion really gets going on what it takes to make a community whole. As Dana Gioia (head of NEA)was saying when in town last week, the dividing line in most of America is on a line unsuspected - those who read for pleasure and those who do not.

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