Wednesday 5 February 2014

4 Poems by Joseph Farley

Arrest These Words
Arrest these words before their noise
disturbs the world from its slumber.

Arrest these words before they pollute
the minds of the weary and broken.

Arrest these words before power can be seen
as the naked beast that claws its way through our dreams.

Arrest these words that they may sound
louder through the prison walls

amplified by stone and conscience.

Politics and Prophecy

Two politicians campaigning for office
stand at opposite ends of the railroad station
pressing the flesh and shouting loudly
how wonderful they are and what they will do
given an opportunity to rob taxpayers blind.

Meanwhile, closer to where passengers board,
an old man in disheveled clothes
is ranting about Jesus and the end of the world,
and passing out hand printed tracts
describing in bad grammar his personal theology.

Liars and mad men. Take your pick.
Who knows who to follow or where each will lead?
Just board a random train and let it pull out
taking you to parts unknown,
because in the end who really knows
where we are heading anyway.


We shall sing the songs our fathers taught us.
We shall speak the words drunk down with mother's milk.
We shall become learned in the ways of the elders,
and rejoice in what we were and what we are still,
and we shall raise painted shields and spears
and rage against sea and sky and all those who would dare
to take from us our souls' patrimony.

Crushed and Broken

Some days you feel like a beer can crushed under the feet of God,
or a grappling dummy pummeled, twisted and thrown,
lacking the skill of Jacob and the patience of Job.

All you can do is catch your simple breathe,
deep as you can,
and exude the inner calm you wish you had.


Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, Her Eyes and Crow of night.

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