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Time's Flail

Text of Poem

A scraggly corner, maimed by brush and weeds,
a broken maple, rolls of rusty wire,
a hay rake on bent wheels, a surly box,
a confusion of rotten boards,
the ground stirred up in mounds
as if a giant gopher out of spite
had marred earth’s body.
Here I come for comfort, to repent
my need for order, here where weeds
cover the skeletons bedded in decay.
My ax and scythe lie naked by my side
while in my veins I feel the pull
earth makes on trunk and stem.
It feeds a hunger or delight, this rage for rest.
Time hammers bones to dust as I dull blades
and wear my muscles thin to raise new towers,
glue eyes to fences as if faith in lines
kept guard and made the boundaries permanent.
Plows eager for their furrows find soft earth
wears down stiff tongues of steel, so all our plans
dissolve like webs under the massive flail.
I grow tired of making sense of my own words,
I crouch and wait, my rust-found tools
deep in the assurance of the grass,
in a junkyard corner listening to the wind
for sounds of an older language.

First Line
A scraggly corner, maimed by brush and weeds
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
A Single Focus. Iowa City: Prairie Press. 1967. 34.
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Twitter Quote
It feeds a hunger or delight, this rage for rest.