Blesok no. 40, January-February, 2005
Poetry


How These Words Happened

William Stafford



Yes


It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That's why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.




Ask Me


Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.




My Name Is William Tell


My name is William Tell:
when little oppressions touch me
arrows hidden in my cloak
whisper, “Ready, ready.”




For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid


There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot—air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That's the world, and we all live there.




How These Words Happened


In winter, in the dark hours, when others
were asleep, I found these words and put them
together by their appetites and respect for
each other. In stillness, they jostled. The traded
meanings while pretending to have only one.

Monstrous alliances never dreamed of before
began. Sometimes they lost. Never again
do they separate in this world. They are
together. They have a fidelity that no
purpose of pretense can even break.

And all of this happens like magic to the words
in those dark hours when others sleep.




Poetry


Its door opens near. It’s a shrine
by the road, it’s a flower in the parking lot
of The Pentagon, it says, “Look around,
listen. Feel the air.” It interrupts
international telephone lines with a tune.
When traffic lines jam, it gets out
and dances on the bridge. If great people
get distracted by fame they forget
this essential kind of breathing
and they die inside their gold shell.
When caravans cross deserts
it is the secret treasure hidden under the jewels.

Sometimes commanders take us over, and they
try to impose their whole universe,
how to succeed by daily calculation
I can’t eat that bread.




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