Maybe It’s Because We’ve Lost Our Way
A Regular Man’s Prayer
Sunset at Saltaire
Poetry!! Poetry!! Poetry!!
The Road Not Taken
Little Orphant Annie
Once to Every Man and Nation
My Promenade Solitaire
America, my country’s still of thee
Oh great land of opportunity.
I have fought for you and I have taught for you,
But now I wonder, and suspect too that others must,
Do you still stand tall, and strong, and just?
Is it for the right you labor still,
Sacrificing daily for a united will,
Or do you worry just for your daily crust,
And scheme of ways to get over
On your neighbor’s trust.
When you vote – and I assume you do,
Is it for your pocketbook you choose?
Or do you think about the greater goods,
The things for which our soldiers stood:
and yes, the girl back home.
Not just for some, but for all.
Not just for now, but for tomorrow
And tomorrow’s tomorrow too.
Do you ever stop to think
Why so many are in trouble with the law;
Why so many are in-debt up to their maw;
Why so many kids drop out of school, and;
Why so many forget the Golden Rule.
Why is it that we can never seem to win:
The war on Poverty
The war on Illiteracy
The war on Cancer
The war on Crime
The war on Drugs, and now
The war on Terror?
And why is it too that we call all of our problems wars?
Have we not learned yet that some cannot be won
And that, by fighting them, we only make things worse?
Why is it that health care,
Not even always the best,
Costs us more than all of the rest?
Maybe it’s because we’ve lost our way,
Our consumer lifestyles addicting us to stay.
We’ve realized the American Dream,
Many of us have — or so it seems,
The two-car suburban home that means
Both mom and dad must now slave away
The kids at home left to play all day.
And what games do they find amusing to play?
Maybe it’s because we’ve lost our way,
The rule of law but a speed bump now to sway.
Alternatives aren’t considered by our chosen ones to lead,
Once the leader has his mind made up
The rest of us must heed.
Our rights! Our rights! The people cry,
Don’t our opinions count?
Not here, not now, the judges sigh.
Our jury is still out.
LORD, let me live like a Regular Man,
With Regular friends and true;
Let me play the game on a Regular plan
And play it that way all through;
Let me win or lose with a Regular smile
And never be known to whine,
For that is a Regular Fellow’s style
And I want to make it mine!
Oh, give me a Regular chance in life,
The same as the rest, I pray,
And give me a Regular girl for a wife
To help me along the way;
Let us know the lot of humanity,
Its regular woes and joys,
And raise a Regular family
Of Regular girls and boys!
Let me live to a Regular good old age,
With Regular snow-white hair,
Having done my labor and earned my wage
And played my game for fair;
And so at last when the people scan
My face on its peaceful bier;
They’ll say, “Well, he was a Regular Man!”
And drop a Regular tear!
Oh I wish I were a boy again
and had the things that I had then.
To love, to play, to grow, to learn,
Oh, yes, for these I yearn.
But I’ve grown up and must now be
the man my childhood made of me.
1Lt. Kent J. Garry,
Written while reflecting on going off to war, 1968
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
Sunset At Saltaire
Far to the east, beyond the busy city,
Darkening shadows fill the canyons with despair;
Above, the snowcapped peaks gleam white and cold.
But as I turn, a path of golden glory gleams before me,
Leading to that enchanted cloudland where a goddess I know of,
Enwrapped in slumber, dreams of love.
J. B. Miller
Read by me at my grandmother’s funeral
Why are we addicted to Poetry?
We Poets who write, all day or all night,
That Poetry! ! Poetry! ! Poetry! !
There’s scarce a moment in time,
That thoughts don’t find words in rhyme,
To put into verse, whether better or worse,
In that Poetry! ! Poetry! ! Poetry! !
Why do we write all these Verses?
We must have better things to do,
But whatever we try,
And I don’t even know why,
We write Poem upon Poem for you.
It’s funny how my style has changed,
It’s a Limerick today I’ve composed,
It wasn’t meant to be, but it is — you can see,
Just Poetry! ! Poetry! ! Poetry! !
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
INSCRIBED — WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION
To all the little children:—The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones—Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.
Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,—
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wuzn’t there at all!
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an’ roundabout:—
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;
An’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there,
She mocked ‘em an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care!
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away,—
You better mind yer parunts, an’ yer teachurs fond an’ dear,
An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!
James Whitcomb Riley
This was one of my mother’s favorite poems. She read it to all her kids — often. When I read it now, I can almost hear her voice.
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
James Russell Lowell
Up and down in my garden fair,
Under the trellis where grapes will bloom,
With the breath of violets in the air,
As pallid winter for spring makes room,
I walk and ponder, free from care,
In my beautiful Promenade Solitaire.
Back and forth in the checkered shade
Traced by the lattice that holds the vine,
With the glory of snow-capped crests displayed
On the sapphire sky in a billowy line,
I stroll, and ask what can compare
With the charm of my Promenade Solitaire.
To and fro ‘neath the nascent green
Which clambers over its slender frame,
With white peaks lighting up the scene,
As snowfields glow with the sunset flame,
I saunter, halting here and there
For the view from my Promenade Solitaire.
In and out through the silence sweet,
Splash of fountain and song of bird
Are the only sounds in my lov’d retreat
By which the air is ever stirred;
It is like a long-drawn aisle of prayer,
So hushed is my Promenade Solitaire.
Onward rushes the world without,
But the breeze which over my garden steals
Brings from it merely a distant shout
Or the echo light of passing wheels;
In its din and drive I have now no share,
As I muse in my Promenade Solitaire.
Am I dead to the world, that I thus disdain
Its moil and toil in the prime of life,
When perhaps a score of years remain
To win more gold in its selfish strife?
Am I foolish to choose the purer air
Of my glorious Promenade Solitaire?
Ah no! From my mountain-girdled height
I watch the game of the world go on,
And note the course of the bitter fight,
And what is lost and what is won;
And I judge of it better here than there,
As I gaze from my Promenade Solitaire.
It is ever the same old tale of greed,
Of robbing and killing the weaker race,
Of the word proved false by the cruel deed,
Of the slanderous tongue with the friendly face;
‘Tis enough to make one’s heart despair
Even here in my Promenade Solitaire.
They cheer, and struggle, and beat the air
With many a stroke and thrust intense,
And urge each other to do and dare,
To gain some good they deem immense;
But they look like ants contending there
From the height of my Promenade Solitaire.
Backward and forward they run and crawl,
Houses and treasures they heap up high,
Hither and thither their booty haul…
Then suddenly drop in their tracks and die!
For few are wise enough to repair
In time to a Promenade Solitaire.
Meantime the Earth speeds on through space,
As the sun for a million years hath steered,
And, an eon hence, the entire race
Will have played its part and disappeared;
But what will the lifeless planet care,
As it follows its Promenade Solitaire?
John L. Stoddard