COLUMBIA GORGE: DIRGE
Reputed as a world wonder,
the old gorge
of volcanic authenticity, whetted keenly
for geologic transgressors, river musicians
and wind surfers boring into upstream winds,
greets us with heat, 95°, and torpid, thick air.
We miss the adventure boat by a millennium;
we trudge to Hood River to pick wizened fruit,
(bings), burn as holy gifts to the alluring gorge,
air inverted with dog-day smoke and haze: we
“smile” at joy, “laugh” at miles, ill absent repose.
Birds scar every cherry swollen by rain, all hard,
all split. Often in the past we found mercy here:
welcoming orchards, terrain writ large on our map,
adored by locals who repeat their juicy gospels.
Although we still urge our dance of hot circles,
we gawk at other pickers of inferior preparation
and breeding who appear at orchard perimeters.
Laden with scavenged fruit abandoned to sere air,
yet needing ladders for height, at risk to rip down
branches, they swear like gluttons of sweetness
and drench with sweat to reach a heavenly prize.
INDEPENDENCE DAY, WITHOUT LICENSE
Fireworks may fizzle their failure to light the path
but squeeze a button on annual rites of liberty,
often licentiousness in rowdy pursuit of rights;
Common Sense juiced rebellion’s pain, firewords
ignited the independence-minded: John Adams
loved his Abigail but sorely lusted for saltpeter.
Moderation (known as loyalty) sphinctered common
sense with detractors mourning their loss of income.
Breathe some gunpowder. Play at freedom in the park.
Appreciate soldiers or sailors, although often shattered,
for their re-entry into Hobbesian honeymoons belated.
You may hear gutter hearts thundering Mount Suribachi,
or old minds that curse above solemn oaths to the flag.
Or you may wonder at their plumped progeny, as beached
as whales, slobbering cheers from curbs at holiday parades.
I demand the freedom to muse, often far beyond license:
to pursue happiness while taking an inch, another there,
then a mile; without ever marching a foot toward risk
to defend, but never rushing to promote, freedom for all.
It's four o'clock local time. So far, no bulletins
announcing assassination, nor any attempts. Too light
for cowardice, too pleasant a day for ideologies
preaching annihilation or self-immolation. But
one more night of celebration, short moments really,
when the hot day finally cools way down –
the small and new ones shiver –
and patriots look for benefit in the general welfare.
GREAT FALLS IN SUMMER
WHEN GREATNESS HAS GONE
Mama whirs like a hummingbird on the bank,
not with a stout, tiny heart, but pizzicato flit,
pulse back and forth along the edge, capriccio,
lifted by a pounding heart as mamas should be.
Sonny sprawls obtusely by the Missouri's rise,
rushing silt back above the dam's mean whirl,
fertility lost to dark eddies, eddies swallowed
and tumbled upward by re-emerging spouters
more numbered than Sonny's progenitors tears.
What do next generations learn? Must they
risk their futures to footing on a muddy bank?
Will turbulence inspire their neophyte souls?
A mother expects more loss, no matter what.
Sonny goes a little dizzy, untutored in history:
the hot prairie air surrounds his head, the sun
dements his vision, the river beckons brown
and cool as escape seems only steps beyond.
Mandan chiefs and Lewis invigorate the spot.
Older sons quit the place. Mama had assented.
Sonny and siblings beheld the falls contained,
pleasure boats gliding on water calm as gauze.
Alarms may sound, crisis or test, echo off hills,
unheeded down stream where more local folks
devote their minds to new crafts' ill-fated design.
Commerce fuels hearts of manly boys, yet to go.
Mama's tantrums? Just talk. Mama's heartache?
Hysteria, more than likely. We'll seek adventure
for a wage, even wages of sin if the job is open.
A flood catapult that so intrigued dries to apathy.
Keith Moul, Port Angeles, Washington