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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day

My Mother and Grandmothers
are cooking Thanksgiving at my home today
Oh my no they aren't in the same kitchen
but their own kitchens that have expanded
beyond the walls of the place I live
The rain awakened me this morning
and the clattering of pans
in between the smells of cooking turkey
and pie oh yes pie
All the cousins aunts and uncles
everybody I ever knew in my family
and some I never met until today
arrive in this magic
as a great table begins to expand
in my living room
Why they chose my place is beyond me
and beyond the small walls of these rooms
that seem to explode with the arrival
of family and friends
Such a table has never been seen
It grows each minute
when someone remembers another
who belongs with this group
Out comes the bottles of wine
with grandchildren begging for a taste
More cousins arrive
Brothers sisters wives husbands
hundreds now chattering a roar
that outdoes the rain on a metal trailer roof
I see my children when they were little
playing with their own children
in an impossible scene of hilarity
that spawns a sandbox in another room
that expands suddenly before my eyes
as little hands steal olives
and a chorus of mothers and grandmothers
sing in multi-part harmony
their age-old song
“Now don't spoil your dinner”
that seems to have been written by Bach
and Sondheim all at once
an amazing chorus that seems to last
through many curtain calls
dripping with applause

Now from a hundred ovens
dancing turkeys browned to perfection
drop on platters for the fathers and grandfathers
going back generations
to feel important as they strop and steel
their fancy knives used only on this day
The table expands beyond all walls
in a star shaped explosion as if July 4th
just became a day for furniture to detonate
with more and more chairs filled
with friends family and the ones
who need such a party
as they've never seen before

Soon there are soldiers from every war
home to hug their moms
tears flow into barrel-sized gravy boats
Dancing down the middle of every section
the finest silverware jumps into hands
as platters float silently in front of the family
for we are all family today
doing justice for our freedoms and our gratitudes
As I walk from my bedroom
into this circus of Thanksgiving magic
someone yells for me to say grace
words I now stutter with my radio-trained voice
whose ending is the loudest amen I've ever heard
breaking windows and sending clouds away
to seize the light of a distant sun
that now surrounds each member
of this golden table
Happy Thanksgiving everyone I yell
and all at once it seems
every silver serving dish
and platter of slabs of perfectly carved turkey
show up before me
Such a day I think

Now where's the gravy
I have stuffing begging
with outstretched arms
to be drowned in thickened rapture

Barry G. Wick

Saturday, November 21, 2015

T. E. Lawrence-- Two Paintings by Augustus John

Forget the movie
forget the actors
forget the desert
forget the Arabs
played by an Englishman
and by an American
forget the handsome Egyptian
forget Omar Sharif
forget Peter O'Toole
though they probably
are the elephants
that create themselves
inside our heads
forget the oil beneath
the sand thousands of miles
away beyond the curvature
of a boiling earth engulfed
in a new world war
to see the man
an Englishman who was himself
dressed in the clothes of a nomad
the handle of his janbiya or Khanja
sticking out of the belt
his thobe and tassels
the kufeya, ghoutra and igal
if you want to blame someone
blame him for being a man
who opened the Bedu
to the 20th Century
so that now every one
has a Lamborghini or Ferrari
with a Kalashnikov
in the back seat

Here a wide-eyed crazy painter
or so how he looked
still creates the images
now long after both are gone
as if these two flat creations
could see into this future
where we experience a locked door
afraid of the neighbors
shy of the others
who shop like us at Walmart
where the greeter wears an hijab
in an Iowa city
who smiles as she checks
the receipt
for her corporate bosses
certain you might be deceitful
with unpackaged
toilet paper
and cases of bottled water

A painting sees more than its subject
It often sees the people
who many of us can't see
and don't want to

Barry G. Wick

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Henry's Dream

There comes a point
yes a time in space
when the realization
comes to pound down
the doors put up for show
It's not the game anymore
It's not being in it
Every wind has its wall
a line of trees without leaves
purpose without play
It's all gone
ideas drip into pools
on bare floors
when even the mops
can't be alerted
fingers follow the same paths
on soundless keyboards
whole tone after whole tone
white black black black white
white white white black black
no melody erupts from silence
no creation gets an ear
every action seems foolish
every attempt to fit
becomes thin milk
through a plastic sieve
the butter already churned
from each hour
better to extinguish the lanterns
than to pretend to show
there is light
settle back now
don't try to talk
a thumb finds the hard edge
on an unprocessed board
that isn't sharp
where is a good plane
a sharp plane
when one is needed
to take off just enough
to make this kingdom look good
just one more time
once more into the breach
or just close the wall
for the wind
the always blowing wind

Barry G. Wick

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Last Trail for Big John (for John Miller)

Step by step on gravel
dirt or pavement
one foot goes in front
He is lucky enough
to have one leg
Age can make a leg
heavy as a roped beef
that bawls out
grounded in the branding
His last saddle
surrounded by food
and medicine bottles
Back and forth
one grabs this or that
to leave
to save a later effort
along the way
To pass the laundry
sister folded
a towel is grabbed
to dry the dish of the day
or to drop off a dirty towel
of a forgetful nurse
This path is way beyond
the year of rowdy youth
who wasted time and energy
on a ranch or at the bar
to make fences for his body
Some paths are scratched
by a false appendage
that tears at floors
No edges of danger rugs here
Sometimes the bones
in the last knee
click like a dead battery
in an orange and white taxi
adding pain to the meter
TVs are heard outside
for ears who trace
a softer path
Spots grow on skin
with livers blamed
who claim false accusation
The trail to here
fades in dimming eyesight
This chair raises a foot
and lowers a head
until the sun sets
as the last ride
puts two ghost feet
in the stirrups
It could be Fruita
the Hart Ranch
or Blackhawk
where this cowboy
ropes an angel
that flew in front
of his saddled lightning

Barry G. Wick