Monday 5 May 2014

1 Poem by Walter Bargen


This spring afternoon two shovels booted into the soft ground near the house,
their handles vertical,
exclamations at the end of a sentence no one wants to hear.  Too soon digging a hole,
waiting for a wife
to declare the depth adequate, the bladed sides steep enough, smooth enough, wide enough
for the bundled root wad.
She holds the thumb-thick trunk vertical, soil scooped and dragged
as ashes
are spread in two layers, starting at the convex bottom. She chants, “This is what he wanted.
This is what he wanted.”
No one needs convincing─none of us want this and yet we do.  In this nuclear-
hydrogen-fissioned, already eight-minute old stale sunlight, there’s not a red wood growing
within two thousand miles
of these plains.  Our upturned heads see 300 feet in a thousand years.
What photons aren’t banged,
blocked, absorbed, diverted by our distracted attention, pass on and on.

[author's note: the poem is dedicated to Martin Stech (1947 - 2005).  It is describing the burying of his ashes.]


Walter Bargen has published sixteen books of poetry.  His  two most recent books are Endearing Ruins/Liebenswerte Ruinen, Liliom-Verlag (Germany), 2012, and  Trouble Behind Glass Doors, BkMk Press-UMKC, 2013. In 1991 he was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts writing fellowship in poetry.   In 1996, he won the Quarter After Eight prose prize, and the Chester H. Jones Foundation prize in 1997.  His book, The Feast (2004), won the William Rockhill Nelson Award in 2005.  He was appointed the first Poet Laureate of Missouri, 2008-2009.

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