Blog Archives

Key Number 63/Stars and Bars

The grounds man walked up to the gate
And pulled out his Yale key numbered 63:
This day had been long in coming;
The end of a hard era of taut history.

A lost soul in Charleston
Killed nine in Mother Emanuel.
Whither go our children:
Do you seek Heaven or Hell?

The gate swung open and let in the man
Who reached up for the halyard,
And down furled came the Stars and Bars—
A breeze ripening out of the Southward.

94 thousand died under that proud banner
For their State, their God and sweet country fair—
But fairly beaten, fairly lost
With blasted angels, a long gray line climbed that tall stair.

A lost soul in Charleston
Killed nine in Mother Emanuel.
Whither go our children:
Do they seek Heaven or Hell?

The legislature cast their ballots
On the sure fait accompli
As would’ve been that final warrant
Signed by Abe Lincoln or by Marse Lee

The grounds man folded the crimson rag
Headed for a place of Honoured History;
Now wrongly tainted by hate and sorrow,
The cure a socio-psychological mystery.

A lost soul in Charleston
Killed nine in Mother Emanuel.
Whither go our children:
Do we teach Heaven or Hell?

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The Granite, The Bouquet, and The Sad

The light followed the star over the hill
As the fog rolled in with the cold
Twas a different kind of Christmas story
At least as far as I remember what I was told

A deep abiding affection afflicted the old man
And finally had the means to fulfill a promise
And many, many lonely miles he did trudge to deliver
A last bouquet of daisies to lay before his one fair miss

In younger, luckier days our man had paid fervent troth
To she who now dwelt in yon granite sarcophagus,
But a wrong spoken word had ended it all forever;
Such a piteous loss as to be endured by any one of us.

But our Vanity is a grievously jealous mistress;
And he could not, would not forgive, the slight by his true love.
Such tragedy our old man had scripted in a cold bile ink,
Disparaging of her and placing his wounded veil above.

Carole, the second beauty born of Marble Falls
On one lank Christmas Day between the great wars,
Loved above all Nature’s beauties the blue daisy—
She would fill her Mother’s pots, trestles, and jars.

Silas, our poor fool from a far crescent city east,
Would bring bouquets of blue daisies to ply his troth,
And won her heart, and a date sure was firmly set—
What could possibly set aside such as this Love’s oath?

A sorry, sad mistake came to undo our lover’s story:
Carole observed unartfully our Silas over harsh tone:
As blasted to the quick, Silas cast off his cheery mantle,
And demanded keenly by Carole to be left forever alone!

Oh, Silas! One word passed without art has chilled thee so?
And bereft of her future, our shaken Carole turned to leave.
Only alone, later in his poor ivory tower of hot wind and pride
Would he see his error and allow himself to grieve.

Carole, the second beauty born of Marble Falls,
Would later, at last, marry fairly well, if not too grand.
Silas, alone, tended to his vanity and found old age,
But twas Carole to first find her final rest at Death’s hand.

Silas, hearing of Carole’s passing, fell slow to his knees
And swore a prideless oath to take every Christmas Day,
In honor of Carole, his cast-off joy, a last birthday gift:
A simple arrangement in a pristine blue daisy bouquet.

The light faded over the hill after the star found its new home.
The old man had placed his bouquet when his heart beat its last.
The fog blanketed the granite and the bouquet and the sad.
Is loneliness the grand prize for a wrong word lost to the past?

Not all Christmases are all tinsel and cheer—
Silas and Carole speak to us in more mature themes.
Please, this Yule, find it inside you to forgive and forget
Or woe may scuttle your fonder, finer, future dreams.

[Shikoba]