Blue Ruin

--“I could forgive you if you were crazy. But you’re not. You’re weak.”

In normal times, we might 

examine our condition

and do better by some

standards, recalibrate  

 

our global systems, raise

rusty pitchforks against 

all the gouged prices. We

would surely individuate 

 

children, rafts of souls  

limned in ice-cold patterns, 

empty outlines on the seas.

Reclaim our hands—unify!

 

Craft sky-blue plans for incar-

nation, not incorporation. Pause 

in the rubble for flits of spirit-

breezes, and more, if things 

 

were normal. But now they are. 

It seems that we are normally 

both crazy and weak. Some more 

than others, no doubt, but what 

 

can we say to beg forgiveness? I 

didn’t mean it? I lost my head? 

Not my fault? History in a fog 

now, smoky glass as memory, 

 

that napalmed girl, Kim Phuc,

or that kid who sniped another

suspected of a bomb, and all 

those trudging bearded men

 

behind their grocery carts

flying flags and begging

as if they were guilty, some

few with personal trainers

 

coming to their lofts to keep

them svelte and coiffed as

if to meet today the greatest 

of them all, all alike. It is a ruin 

 

we have made. Imagination 

might have prepped us for crazy, 

if not for evil; it might have 

stretched our thews enough 

 

to strengthen, as that trainer 

might have said. We might 

have bent our backs toward joy, 

not dark regrets, oblivion. 

 

We might have imagined

down a long, dim runway

flights gone inward, silver

worms to unruin ourselves.

Born in Anniston, reared in Charlotte. Have resided in Birmingham, Norfolk, New York, Chapel Hill, Spartanburg, Clemson, Urbana, Marietta, Nanjing, Carrollton, Huntington WV, Westminster SC. Taught at Converse College, Clemson University, Tri-County Technical College, Erskine College, Furman University, Kennesaw State University, SUWG, Marshall University. Think well of some preachers (Roger Lovette, William Barber, Karen Kagiyama, Bishop Talbert Swan, Luke Smith, Ben Garrison). Temporarily in despair over politics (2019). In no despair about being married, with three children, three grandchildren (another on the way), three godchildren, and three dogs. Pleased to have published poems in Appalachian Journal, Ascent, Birmingham Poetry Review, Broad River Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Cold Mountain Review, Davidson Miscellany, EMRYS Journal, Grand Central Review, McNeese Review, North Carolina Literary Review, Old Red Kimono, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Shenandoah, South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Southern Review, and others. Co-authored James Dickey (Twayne, 1983) with Richard J. Calhoun. Articles/interviews on Beattie, Bottoms, Colonial preachers, Captain Cook, Dickey, Frost, Hannah, Hopkins, Hudgins, Nemerov, Steadman, Yeats, et al.

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