Billy Ray King Takes a Wife

vsvcr2s

Wayne Michael DeHart  (August, 2022)

Are you still there? Are you okay?
Do you rue the day? Have you gone astray?
Do you have someone to light your way?
Is it a he or a she, or maybe a they?
What can I do? What can I say?
Are your skies blue? Or shades of gray?
If I deal the right cards, will you play?
If I say the right words, will you stay?
And the clock ticks fast, taking time away.

Why don’t you answer? It just isn’t fair.
I’m here for you. All’s forgiven, I swear.
I’ll do anything. I’ll go anywhere.
If you won’t come here, I’ll go there.
I’ll travel by train. I’ll get there by air.
We can find a bench in the city square.
Sit close and hug, get take-out to share.
Whatever it takes, to show you I care.
And the clock ticks on, no time to spare.

Why won’t you call, why don’t you write?
Tell me, please, what you’re doing tonight.
Are you sick? Do you hurt? Are you alright?
Can you see my face when I’m out of sight?
My nights are dark, the stars aren’t bright.
My colors surrender to black and to white.
Don’t want to quarrel, don’t want to fight.
You left. You’re gone. Turned off the light.
And the clock ticks forward, while I sit tight.

You primped like a Queen, spurning her King.
You took what I had without giving a thing.
Do you heed what I say? Hear when I sing?
Cruel words cut deep, and yours still sting.
Was I shelter in your storm, a passing fling?
You sold me a story, so I bought you a ring.
You promised we’d marry in the early Spring
Then flew away fast, like a bird on the wing.
And the clock ticks wane, play out the string.

You flaunted the role of a runaway bride.
Shunned the sun for the moon’s dark side.
Said you’d come back, but again you lied.
Took me for granted, took me for a ride.
Yet I always pursued, swallowed my pride.
Searched every hole, where you might hide.
Now I’m turning the tables, turning the tide.
I’ve opened my eyes, I’ve opened them wide.
And the clock ticks not. Our time has died.

“Are you still there? Are you okay?
What can I do? What can I say?

Can I come play, Billy Ray?
I’ll stay, won’t run away.
Say ‘Yea,’ I pray.”

Hey, no way, you’ve become passé.
Just too risqué and bound to stray.
Nope to “Yea.” I’ll go with “Nay.”
A happy yay and a hip hooray.
Time’s up, Mae. Adiós. Olé!

“But Billy, I’m lost. I’ll do anything.
My only dream is to be Mae King.”

Awww, Mae, my love, yes, come back.
I miss your smile and I miss your rack.

“Hold on Billy, I’m coming anew.”

Gotta say, angel Mae. I am too!

  • The End (of the poem, yes, but wait . . .)

Writer’s Note:  Thirteen years after their 1976 wedding, and ten years after she divorced him for messing around with Molly, a female waitperson in Baton Rouge, Billy Ray King disappeared while aimlessly roaming the salt flats of Utah, in deep despair. Never did get his mojo back and Miss Molly had already moved on to a bigger and better tipper. The increasingly magnificent Mae remained a King because it carried a more refined and less cringey vibe than her maiden name, “McSnottery.” Lady got her head straight, earned a business degree from Florida State, and settled in Lake Delford, Florida, where she made a name for herself and got quite a bang out of it. When time allows and if your curiosity is piqued, you can catch up with her improbable goings-on here:

Mae King, Out at The Kabb Inn

Minnie Smart’s Mini-Mart

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (June, 2021)

Grabbed bread and milk and some orange juice
and asked for a six-pack of bananas for the road
but Minnie snorted and said a no-use recluse
should stay out of sight, not leave his abode
(so I wouldn’t be subject to verbal abuse
from a mean-spirited, spiteful nematode?).
My response was brisk, blunt and profuse:
“Milady (a title befitting this ominous ode),
I’m going home to seduce chocolate mousse
and then double down with pie a la mode,
giving you some time to produce an excuse
for the way you’ve let your manners erode;
to reflect on your words, conclude and deduce,
you crapped on me like a commode overflowed.
She recoiled in anger, said “Get out – VAMOOSE,”
calling me everything from a turd to a toad.
She slammed her size 12 right up my caboose
so hard and so swift I felt my innards implode.
Still, I returned one night for gas and produce,
but my butt once again got firmly steel-toed.
Minnie Smart was combative, her lips too loose.
Her anger flashed fire and her rage was a load.
Then came the night she booted Mayor Bruce;
he fell on his head and his heart soon slowed.
They took her away, she cooked her own goose.
Her weak side showed and her tears free-flowed.
She played her last ace, dropped her last deuce,
checked out in her cell, ducked the dues she owed.
The store was sold and razed, but the land’s in use –
a park for the people, that the buyer bestowed.
The widow of Bruce
had honored his code
of living life’s truce
in true giving mode.
#

Incoming

Wayne Michael DeHart ( September, 2021)

 

Fear

cannot

be ignored.

It mauls my mind

and torments my soul,

brutally, through the night.

Vicious, venomous, vengeful,

the Beast backs off at day’s first light.

 

Sleep

drops by

for a spell.

Does not settle

or stay long enough

to calm stress or ease angst.

Sandman moves on, in search of

tired, restless souls in safer spaces.

 

Clouds,

lonely,

wander past.

The poet’s gaze

fills with sparkling waves

of rays dancing, glancing

off watchful, weathered windows.

His eye light dies, and dread draws near.

 

Throat

spasms

choke me hard

come twilight time.

Winter’s early dusk

prolongs night’s terror siege.

Fret festers. Fright fills this room,

where madness wins and mayhem rules.

 

Fierce,

frenzied,

fire attacks

blister my brain.

They rage in hot bursts;

flaring fast, flaming out.

Enough, can’t take any more.

Then comes Hell, and burns down my door.

 

Crushed,

consumed,

for so long.

Shake it off, boy,

it’s all in your head.”

Panic reigns, peril rains.

The Beast bites deep in the dark;

where no one sees, when no one hears.

#

 

 

 

A Bit Bizarre

Wayne Michael DeHart  (September, 2021)

Though none were inclined to agree, the brash braggart boasted he’d be
a man in command; leading the band, living his life so high and so grand.
A weed devotee, at eighteen he was free, to chill and get stoned by the sea.
He tanned, and rolled reefers by hand, as he manly-manned a lifeguard stand.
Five years into a toking spree, he was busted, mistrusted, at age twenty-three.
Canned, banned, he split the sand of the strand to seek and seed fertile land.
Due west from Myrtle Beach he did flee, past the lea, to Big Tree, near Elloree,
to try his hand (poorly planned) at planting and growing his very own brand.

This jobless jackal named Jake, a snippety snake, a claim he did stake
on an expanse so divine – eight acres of pine, or perhaps it was nine.
He hoped for fresh water – a pond or a lake – befitting a Walden remake,
but away from the brine, his stars didn’t align, and his moon didn’t shine.
Told he could neither borrow nor make the big bucks that would take,
said, “okay, fine, if but one acre be mine, dinky and dry I cannot decline.”
A fake, a flake, a walking mistake, hallelujah, the dreamer was finally awake.
He dragged his own line, hell-bent to define, to design, a brand he’d refine.

Sharing here what I hear, he and John Deere, they launched into high gear, 
felling trees left and right, till sunlight took flight, giving ground to the night.
He pledged to persevere, and in just one-sixth of a year, he was able to clear 
a feasible, functional farming site, the prize for his fight, a freewheeler’s delight.  
Jake toasted himself with beer and a cheer, and Ms. Mary Jane abuzz in his ear.
“A joint venture bright, airtight,” mused the mock, mythical, modern-day knight.
Then from his rear did appear a doe-eyed dear, a damsel top-tier, à la Guinevere,
attired purely in white, to excite on sight, so slim and slight, a spellbinding sprite.

His eyes were aglow, this swaggering schmuck/schmo, as he hungrily hollered hello
to the enchanting young maid who coyly displayed genteel jewelry of genuine jade.
He could not know what quid pro quo this vivacious vamp/vixen would deem apropos,
but the guy never frayed, stayed stoic, stayed staid, smugly sure he couldn’t be played.
She sipped Bordeaux, he slurped Merlot; when they gave it a go, she snatched his dough.
He strayed and got meekly Miss-laid. Dismayed, disarrayed, the fated flier felt his fire fade.
The faux Thoreau became a kept beau, a weak bro, a punchless putz in her puppet show.
Unforgiving, unafraid, on a crusade, “Jen” disparaged his doobie till he sadly “oy vey!”-ed.

But wait – what was his quo, and what was her quid? Jake didn’t know, but Jen sure did.
From whence had she come, with her cute little bum, bearing a pear as sweet as a plum?
Well, think back to your time as a kid, when your ego was battered, and twice so your id.
Remember the boy who called you dumb, and tangled your hair with goo, glue and gum?
Milady didn’t
forget, so heaven forbid, what havoc she’d wreak, way out here off the grid.
By nine Jake had become a nastily numb, callously caustic, cruelly crude, sick sack of scum.
Transfigured, the now lovely, lithe lassie let loose her lid, and into her quid, his quo she slid. 
She gave the crumb “some,” then watched him succumb to her cunning game of zero sum.

The chump learned the tables had turned. His bread was gone but her butter got churned.
That acre he bought, financed without thought, was part and parcel of her father’s woodlot.
Jake hadn’t worried and wasn’t concerned, that his payments were twofold what he earned.
A “man in command” he proved to be not, because lessons unheeded are lessons untaught.
Once he discerned his buns had been burned, his botched bid for a brand stood adjourned.
She had cached all his cash, leaving him naught, then Daddy foreclosed on poor Jake’s plot.
He sat sadly spurned, his life overturned. The dope never returned for that which he yearned.
Jen at last got the revenge she sought, wielding her wiles, while lampooning his lance a lot ! 

UPDATE: 

Almost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   forgot:
Jenny hooked up hot, to trot, with King Artie “Wart”, a royal big shot.
They tied a knoble knuptial knot, in a most congenial spot,
where by her own hand, she bred her own brand – “Jen’s Jerky” pot,
before happily-ever-aftering . . . there . . . in . . . Cam-e-lot.

A bit bizarre, sure – but Richard Harris himself says “IT’S TRUE !!!!!”  . . .

Eager beaver Jake flexing for the camera in the act of “felling trees left and right” …

And a quick word from our sponsor:                                                                                                                                          

Safe in our homes . . .

vsvcr2s

Wayne Michael DeHart  

(Written July 4th, 2021, in anticipation of the observance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11)

One
they were,
unbroken.
Dark-dazed, dismayed,
enshrouded in haze,
these lionhearts emerged
as shadows from the rubble.
Fueled by fate, faith and fury,
they breathed in fumes from the maelstrom, then
pulled from the ashes – America’s soul.


Safe
in our
homes we watched
our countrymen
unite on the ground.
Citizens of the world
paused their own woes, felt our pain,
as borderless empathy reigned.
The ache and the hurt never lessened
– ever – but the path to healing began.


Rise
from the
deep anguish
to the challenge
was the call we heard.
Unwavering, nameless,
faceless first responders mourned
their silenced brothers and sisters
present on the roll call of lives lost.
We stood with them as they had stood for us.


Some
signed on,
took up arms,
in those first years
after the planes came.
Wars ensued, burdens were borne.
Though worry weighed heavily
on loved ones back home, undaunted
men and women nobly gave back to
their country, their allies, as one, as all.


Time
has taught
us – you, me –
to remember
the day the earth moved
as more than a datemark
for flags that gallantly streamed.
Those who served then, those who serve now,
and those who served in-between hold fast
and firm, fervent among compatriots.


We
honor
The Fallen.
Lament their loss,
each in our own way.
The deceased from that day,
and the uniformed thousands
who followed, await our salute.
Though the dust now be settled, the light
back in our days, still, the memory stays.


On that day of chaos that blocked the sun,
the peerless, the fearless, second to none,
raised themselves up, said “there’s work to be done.”
September eleventh, two-thousand one.

Finalist: US Army Veteran, Wayne Michael DeHart

Said the Lad to the Lady

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (June, 2021)

 

May 17, 1811, City of Leeds, England

 

Said the Lad to the Lady:

Dearest Elise, the blue in my skies,
I bring to you this birthday surprise.
It’s neither silver nor gold,
but this day I’ve been told
it will bring tears to your emerald eyes.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

Dear Aidan, the light in my darkest of nights,
the one who has turned my wrongs into rights,
any gift you bestow
will delight me I know,
you’re the finest of my acolytes.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

Please my lady, please my love,
I fervently pray to the gods above
that you not think of me
as just one of the three
who serve the needs that you speak of.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

But what would I say to your peers in grey
if I took for granted what they do each day?
Your heart is pure and true
and I highly treasure you,
and so I wish not to lead you astray.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

What am I hearing, what might you mean
when your words cut like daggers, swift and keen?
I delivered each time
you searched for a rhyme
when you wrote that poem for the wake of Colleen.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

My sweet lad, for that I’m in debt to you,
your words so tender, offered on cue,
but Colleen would feel so sad
if she knew her young man had
used them to barter, used them to woo.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

When my mother abandoned me at the age of four.
It was you who found me outside your door
and welcomed me inside,
though my spirit had died,
and I couldn’t have been blessed any more.



Said the Lady to the Lad:

Then listen and learn from the one who knows
why a woman with the love of a Burns red rose
chose this place, this face,
she knew would embrace
her laddie when her ill-timed sickness arose.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

My father died in the war before I was born
and mother Colleen cried every morn
missing his courage, his grace,
missing the smile she couldn’t erase,
near the end, most cheerless, lost and forlorn.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

Ten years have passed and it’s time you knew
that Colleen had a sister and a brother too.
His name was Alec Erick
and when Colleen got sick
he came from Scotland to bid her adieu.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

I have an uncle, is that what you say?
Where is he now? Will he come this way?
And an aunt as well?
Please, I pray you tell,
why at fourteen, do I learn this today?

Said the Lady to the Lad:

Dear Alec Erick, I must sadly report
has gone to his Maker, his life cut short,
not unlike his sister Colleen,
he left the earth at only nineteen,
leaving you here for me to support.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

My mother was nineteen at the time she departed?
She gave birth to me when her life had just started?
I arrived here at four,
she lived eight years more,
This news is not for the fainthearted!

Said the Lady to the Lad:

No, I meant like his sister, he died far too young,
Colleen was twenty-five when her church-bells rung.
He was seventeen, in Glasgow for school,
when he came back that day to Liverpool
to hear once more, her song left unsung.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

Well, that’s a relief, her age I mean,
that she didn’t die when she was nineteen.
Would have had me at twelve,
a thought I’ll just shelve.
Go on, and I won’t intervene.

Said the Lady to the Lad:


You are so young and it’s confusing I know.
So prepare yourself for an emotional blow.
Colleen and her brother,
from one to the other,
once viewed their older sister as foe.

Said the Lad to the Lady:


Though it’s still far from clear, it would appear
that this sister is someone I don’t want to be near.
I’m glad she went away
to no one’s dismay,
at best insincere, a woman to fear.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

Dear Aidan, she never left, she’s not gone.
The poet would say she’s hither, not yon.
Colleen saved you for her
and lost her own sir
when he left one morning at dawn.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

You mean he left for the war, a hero so brave,
a man for his country his life he gave?
It’s sad I never knew him at all,
still unborn at the time of his fall.
She lost her sir – my dad – when he went to his grave.


Said the Lady to the Lad:

Colleen wasn’t married, nor did she bear a child.
She was a maiden lass, pure, undefiled.
Her sir walked away
when you went to stay.
She made you her life when her sister last smiled.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

My mother Colleen did not give me life?
The man who died at war- she was not his wife?
Those tears that she shed
when she lay in her bed,
pierced my heart, like the blade of a knife.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

The brave man was not his wife, but he was your Dad.
Her tears were for you, so don’t feel sad.
Abandoned you were,
but not by her.
Your Dad was another woman’s Sir Galahad.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

So for ten long years, I held hate in my heart
toward a woman who saved me from some cheap tart?
The world is cruel
and I played the fool,
I’m young but I’m strong, I’ll tear her apart.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

Cast aside your anger, it’s ill-mannered and wrong.
You were birthed by her sister, alone and not strong.
Just six weeks after his flag was unfurled,
you picked up his mantle and entered the world.
And now at this hour, I’m singing his song.


Said the Lad to the Lady:

You knew him before Colleen left me here?
You know where she is, this woman I jeer?
Tell me straight out
what’s this all about
and please be perfectly clear.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

I’ve no place to hide, no place to run,
I am your mother and you are my son.
Your peers are your brothers,
from unknown young mothers
who gave them up when their demons won.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

So it wasn’t fate I was left at your door.
Colleen did for you, what you’ve done twice more.
In time I’ll be proud to be
an equal as one of the three,
but how do I fare, losing the one I live for!

Said the Lady to the Lad:

You’ve not lost a thing, you’ve found your mother, a friend,
A new book has opened, its ending yet to be penned.
When you see me that way
in the light of the day
you will find fitting presents to bring and to send.

Said the Lad to the Lady:

Dearest Mother, the blue in my skies,
I bring to you this birthday surprise.
It’s neither silver nor gold,
it’s my heart that you hold,
seeing the tears in your emerald eyes.

Said the Lady to the Lad:

Dear Son, the light in my darkest of nights,
the one who has turned my wrongs into rights,
this gift of your heart
is a true chance to be part
of your Galahad dad, the finest of Knights.

#


The Kids of St. John’s

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (March 7, 2021)


From nineteen fifty-four through nineteen sixty-two,
we roamed those halls, and that schoolyard too.
Some years a lay teacher, but most with a nun,
some years a split class, but all remained one.
As we grew up together, we lived by one rule:
this fortress, these bricks, were more than a school.
Discipline was swift and the homework took hours,
as lessons were learned, their values became ours.

The public school students threw us a glance,
as we engaged in our pomp and our circumstance.
Though we learned with grace in that parochial space,
Sacred Heart School enlightened at much the same pace.
The “Irish church” (St Joseph’s, right next to the school)
and the “French church” (Sacre Coeur) were utterly cool.
That’s what we thought, so that’s what we said,
when asked by others if we saw transfers ahead.

Green was our color, gold were our stars,
we led with our right, and we left without scars.
Some departed, some came, (“Hey, what’s your name?”),
but most stayed the course, the bond stayed the same.
Some struggled to keep up, to fit in, to belong,
but we weathered the storms and we all got along.
At some point in time, grade five or grade six,
we knew we’d be fine and we knew what to fix.

The nuns seemed more gracious as the years passed by,
and we all got smarter, as we reached for the sky.
Crushes were born and notes would soon pass,
as flirting at recess became flirting in class.
Our last two years we learned compassion and care
but that life could be daunting and not always fair.
The eighth-grade teacher, Scholastic and stern,
pulled me aside, told me “write what you learn.”

We graduated and moved on to Laconia High,
with new friends to find, with new things to try.
We brought memories born of eight years a team,
but were starting all over, swimming upstream.
Our academic foundations served us quite well,
we knew how to think and we knew how to spell.
Some of us went one way, and some went another,
but she stayed my sister, and he stayed my brother.

What strengths will we have, which skills will we lack?
What point might we miss, if we never look back?
“You reap what you sow”, “You are what you know”,
“To fail is to grow” – perspectives gained so long ago.
So we turned back to the books, heading into the turn.
We had courses to conquer, and a diploma to earn.
Some days tested our mettle, but none brought us down,
thanks to family and friends and the good folks in town.

Our grammar school home from those formative days,
now renamed and relocated, has evolved in its ways.
The students are fewer, but the same standards apply.
Do your best, help the rest, and still reach for the sky.
I’ve heeded her words and written down what I’ve learned;
respect is earned, trust returned, and bridges get burned.
I walked the halls of the decayed building before it was locked.
Felt their presence, heard their voices, as they listened and talked.

We choose to remember things we’d rather forget,
because we treasure the triumph of challenges met.
The forty-seven students who shared their last days there,
have traveled different pathways, have breathed different air.
But one thing has stayed constant, across life’s many lawns,
whether I’ve stood up with knights, or stood down with pawns.
From so many sunsets, through so many dawns,
I’d still see the faces of the kids of St. John’s.

#

(Writer’s note: “The eighth-grade teacher, Scholastic and stern,” – the word “Scholastic” is capitalized for a reason, i.e., the 8th grade teacher was a nun who chose the vocational name Sister Scholastica, who truly was both scholastic and stern, yet a true and dedicated educator with a passion for music on the side.)

The 47 faces of the kids of St. John’s School, Class of 1962, Laconia, NH:
To those who have passed, may their stars burn bright.
To those who remain, keep reaching for the sky.
In spirit, the bond remains intact, and the 47 remain as one.

Screenshot_2021-03-06 Facebook



Ode to the Widow Franklin

vsvcr2s

Wayne Michael DeHart  (February, 2020) 

I

A learned yet awkward soul seemed he.
Never seen with a smile, never seen with a frown.
New to “The Rivers” in May of Eighteen Sixty,
with shoulders so broad and eyes so brown.

He kept to himself, for the first several days,
before venturing out, before walking the town.
He addressed a young lady as she passed him by,
but his voice betrayed him, slurring the sound.

She did not understand the unsteady words,
so she kept on walking, kept going around.
Embarrassed he was to cause her concern.
He first looked back, and then looked down.

But Susan Daniell, noting the stranger’s dismay,
turned and stepped forward, onto his ground.
She could see he was nervous, and his tongue had been tied,
and knew right away that his graces were bound.

His shoulder she touched with outstretched hand,
turning him gently till his courage was found.
She smiled and asked “Your name please, Sir?”,
and his head lifted up; his graces unbound.

II

Alvah” spoke he in his clearest tone,
as his presence in town he tried to explain.
The river he said was a powerful tool,
a force of nature, fueled by the rain.

Confused was the lady but curious too,
“Farming you mean? A man of the grain?”
“Making, not growing” he was quick to say,
“I learned it in Enfield, it’s become my domain.”

Susan studied his face and liked what she saw,
his words now just noise as they began to wane.
For she was distracted and starting to tire,
cramping and wincing with a familiar pain.

She tried to dismiss it, to stay the course,
but he sensed her stress and he saw her strain.
“May I help you, M’lady? May I see you home?,
May I walk with you? May I see you again?”

She removed her glove and extended her hand,
taking his in hers, telling him to remain.
“I live close by, it’s just down the street,
so come by tomorrow, to 10 Webster Lane.”

III

Four years his junior, a gentle seventeen,
she greeted him warmly, in the morning light.
Her mother watched over, uncertain at first;
he had to be good, he had to be right.

His disheveled appearance belied his virtue.
This, Susan had sensed the previous night.
They talked and he loosened and even once smiled
at this pretty young lass, clothed entirely in white.

He told them both of his plans for a mill
he would build, sturdy and strong and watertight,
with a man named Aiken, who knew hosiery well
and had proposed the idea that they unite.

Miss Susan, she knew in her gut, in her heart,
that this man would become her forever knight.
They soon became close, over the months and the years,
and as he worked his dream, she remained in his sight.

Though that first enterprise struggled and closed –
it was revived in Sixty-Five in a union so tight.
A brother of Susan then partnered with Alvah,
creating Shaker half-hose to the town’s delight.

IV

A year into that venture, their finances secured,
each pledged to the other “I will” and “I do”.
As Alvah matured into the pride of this town,
he thrived in his role – the man everyone knew.

His time was shared ‘tween the mill and his wife
and he melded with both beyond his purview.
Susan readily, reliably, stood right by his side
as Fortune smiled down and the mill trade grew.

He traveled the state and brought Franklin renown
as a welcoming place for folks to come to.
Good jobs for the masses in buildings of brick
bettered the lives of the old and the new.

The couple fit in – liked, respected by all –
by neighbors and merchants, and workers too.
Simple yet elegant with their very own style,
they worked and they weaved and delivered on cue.

For themselves and the people who helped them succeed,
they stood steadfast and strong and saw everything through.
With three children to light up their darkest of nights,
the couple often were tried, but always were true.

V

With the mill standing strong with a life of its own,
Alvah moved on and enhanced his career.
A banker and a railroad man, he was also elected
to the Legislature in Concord, not far from here.

Through each of his callings, each of his roles,
The Man of the Mill remained focused, sincere.
While others gave speeches and danced to the drum,
Alvah kept to the task, and kept Susan still near.

His party ran him for Congress, more than one time.
At Nominating Conventions, three times he’d appear.
Back home in the town that had taken him in, he
championed and cherished the church he held dear.

The decades passed by and Susan passed on.
She stared down her fate without fright, without fear,
with stature and station, with status and strength.
Alvah granted her wish – that he not shed a tear.

Though three years later he took his rest by her side,
their spirit, their presence, did not disappear.
Their vision lived on ’til the day the mill died.
Farewell and goodbye, in its eighty-eighth year.  

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Screenshot_2021-03-26 Sulloway Mills, Franklin, NH

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In Remembrance – A Reassurance

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Wayne Michael DeHart  ( July, 2019 )

It seemed so simple, such an easy task.

Clear, concise, with no questions to ask.

Leave them a message, let it be read.

Let them know. that I’ll never be dead.

Must not exceed – three lines of fifteen.

Write what you feel, say what you mean.

My forever farewell, my unspoken word.

A final chance to be seen, to be heard.

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Can’t make it fit. Not quite enough space.

I’ll adjust and adapt. Revise and replace.

Remember the gold. Think of the green.

I’ll capture it all. In three lines of fifteen.

It’s where I’m going. It’s where I’ve gone.

It’s how I began. It’s how I’ve moved on.

It’s what I believe. It’s what I can see.

It’s my endless path. It’s my destiny.

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Here …

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IN … FIELDS … OF … GREEN … AND … GOLD … WE … WILL … ALWAYS … BE.

YOU … JUST … HAVE … TO … LOOK … CLOSE … AND … LISTEN … HARD.

TO … SEE … US … TO … HEAR … US … TO … FEEL … US … TO … BREATHE … US.

TO … BE … THERE … WITH … US.

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(the path leads home …)

The Bumper-to-Bumper Blues

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Wayne Michael DeHart  (March, 1997)

Out of the office, into my car;
four miles from home, not very far.
At the turn of the key, the engine’s alive;
the clock lights up, it reads 5:05.
Into reverse, backing out of my space;
workday is done, getting out of this place.
Then into drive, and I’m on my way;
music is playing, it’s the 1st of May.
Now that it’s over,  I can finally relax;
I made it through, without getting the axe.
The sun is shining, and the sky is blue;
payday’s tomorrow, too good to be true.

Out of the parking lot, onto the street;
can’t wait to get there, can’t wait to eat.
Maybe a chili dog, and a bottle of brew;
a bag of chips, and a doughnut or two.
Not really healthy, but it is what I like;
and I’ll burn it off, with a ride on my bike.
(Soon to be home, in my own little heaven;
three miles to go, clock sits at 5:07.)
Maybe I’ll read, or write a long letter;
watch some TV, that might be better.
Perhaps solitaire, or lift a few weights;
or call up some ladies, and plead for some dates.

Work was a hassle, but now I’m released;
my nerves are relaxed, my panic has ceased.
Soon I’ll arrive, at my castle for one;
the suit will come off, the tie be undone.
(Car’s running smooth , oil pressure’s fine;
two miles to go, clock reads 5:09.)
On my way home, feeling elated;
glad that’s not me, with that tire deflated.
Poor guy is sweating, and looking so down;
I’ve been in his shoes, and I know that frown.
But today is today, and I’m sailing along;
the wind’s at my back, and nothing is wrong.

So good to be free, from the boss and his stare;
from the inbox that’s full, from the outbox that’s bare.
From the fax that screams, from the phone that shrieks;
from the desk that wobbles, from the chair that squeaks.
I’ll find another job, I vowed that today;
a perfect position, with much higher pay.
(My tires are hummin’, my engine’s a-revvin’;
just one mile to go, clock beams 5:11.)
Then reality strikes, and I daydream no more;
a new job’s unlikely, no change is in store.
So each time I leave, each time I arrive;
I remind myself, “well, it IS a short drive!”

Hey, why all those brake lights, appearing ahead;
so many, so quickly, so bright and so red?
They dazzle my eyes, they blind me so fast;
my senses are numb, my mind is aghast.
An accident maybe, or a stalled truck;
darn this route home, my life and my luck.
I almost made it, without a hitch or a glitch;
but now I’m stuck, and starting to twitch.
I’ll have to stay calm, blood pressure’s too high;
a mind trip to Europe, eyes closed I’ll just fly.
And I’ll pretend I’m in Paris or Rome;
curses to gridlock, when I’m so close to home.

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Eventide on the Granite Coast

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Wayne Michael DeHart  (May, 1998) 

Settling onto the smooth surface of the rock nearest the edge,
I took my rest in the sheltering shadows of those who came before;
seeking answers in the splashing symphony of the Emergent Sea.

Northeast winds gathered and guided the sun-glistened swells,
adorning the vibrant waters with brilliant diamond sparkles
not unlike those that danced across her eyes at touching time.

The hours drifted as the gulls grew accustomed to my stillness
and coasted in to reclaim their roost and take a closer look
at the encroaching stranger staring vacantly into the distance.

The autumn afternoon faded gently into unwelcome twilight,
obscuring the horizon and enshrouding both vision and view.
The dusk lingered, intruding upon my thoughts and solitude.

The shoreline withdrew its welcome when sundown retired the day.
Disrupted and displaced, I rose to bid the Emergent Sea goodbye,
then tarried long; uncertain of my future, unsure of my return.

How striking was that first step back toward the weathered cottage
as my sudden turn revealed a moon immense and full, brilliant and swift
in its sudden ascent and capture of the silent star-struck sky.

Its luminous glow returned the diamonds to the surging sea.
They glittered softly upon the black surface behind the breakers;
undisturbed by the fury and the passion of the powerful tide.

The smothering darkness had surrendered to the lucent lamp
and resettled in places far away and unknown to me that night;
my only selfish concern being the illumination of the pathway.

When next we met I told her about the skylight and my awakening
midst gales and gulls and writhing whitecaps on the Emergent Sea.
It was a full and familiar moon that exposed her knowing smile.

As her words remained unspoken, my thoughts remained unbroken.
Then, in a musing moment, she asked why I had not seen it all before
in forty years of days and nights and suns and skies and seas.

I realized it was because my eyes had looked inward
each time I sought refuge on a soothing sunlit rock;
too secure in the daylight and too afraid of its passing
to reach out and grasp the grandeur of the sunset
and understand its place in the circle and cycle of my life.

Today, my eyes look outward, and upward, and afar.
Now, my vision is unveiled, my view is enlightened.
I transcend the darkness and embrace the essence of the night.
My heart pulses to the rhythmic tides of the Emergent Sea
and my spirit sings the silent song of the emerging moon.

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eventide

ired, I Said.

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (May, 1997)

Fired he said, you’re fired he said,
so drop what you’re doing and clean out your desk
and be gone by noon without disturbing the others
with shallow goodbyes and stuff like that
because you’re f ired , he said.

Six years of coming in early and leaving late
and skipping lunch and busting my butt for him.
Six years of showing up when I was sick
and missing vacations and covering up for him.

Tired he said,  I’m tired he said,
of your wrinkled shirts and worn-out suits
and Walmart shoes that don’t present
the proper image to our clients but no more
because I’m t ired , he said.

Six years of working at home at night
and neglecting my wife and kids for him.
Six years of waiting for a “reserved for” space
in the company parking lot for him.

Required he said,  it’s required he said,
that you turn in your name–tag along with your keys
and fill out some forms and aren’t those company pens
I see in your pocket so best hand them over
because it’s requ ired, he said.

Six years of concessions and wounded pride
and loss of self-esteem for him.
Six years of cheap motels and burger joints
to lower expense accounts for him.

Retired he said, Black’s retired he said,
without warning at mid-morning
to move to Scranton or some such place
and now the reports won’t get finished
because Black’s ret ired, he said.

Six years of torture in this terrible place
had greatly increased my disgust for him.
Six years of suffering in submissive silence
had nurtured a nagging contempt for him.

Expired he said, White’s expired he said,
dropped down to the floor at ten forty-four
clutching his chest and gasping for breath
without giving notice so we’re short one more
because White’s exp ired, he said.

Six years of timid yes-sirs and no-sirs
to display the proper respect for him.
Six years of flattering his unsightly spouse
so she’d always be in a good mood for him.

Re-hired he said, you’re re-hired he said,
it’s been a long morning of stress, strife and tension
but there are Black and White issues that need your attention
and  you’ll be forever indebted to me for saving your pension
and work even harder,  so you’re re-h ired, he said.

(How the tables had turned! I wanted to smirk.
Too often scorned, now I’d deal with this jerk.
Whatever the cost, it was my time and place.
But … valor was lost, when he snarled in my face.)

Inspired I said,  I’m inspired I said,
by your faith in me and this second chance
to prove my worth in this wonderful job and great career
to a man I trust and revere, respect and hold dear,
and I’m so incredibly insp…

ired, I said.

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The Gray Two-Story Across From the Park

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (May, 1997)

A Home Becomes a House Again:

The last boxes of this and that have been laid to rest
in quiet scattered solitude on the hardwood floor,
awaiting only a lift from the Mayflower man.

The hallway closet where our coats used to rest,
now stripped of the garb it stored by the door,
mourns the transfer of treasures to a moving van.

Deserted hooks and naked nails hug walls undressed;
relieved of their duties, bearing burdens no more,
they loiter and litter each bland plaster span.

The gas range fumes at the loss of its pilot blue heat,
its burners absent their fire, missing their light;
tempered door open, oven breathing at last.

Powerless, the fridge sits stripped, silent in defeat;
fortress in white –  lifeline by day, beacon by night,
provider, safe harbor, its presence now passed.

As comforting sanctuary, as reassuring retreat,
the safe kitchen oasis offered exile from flight,
a nest that felt right, when life moved too fast.

Now just a building, idled realty,
abandoned forever by my family.
devoid of domain and dignity,
a rest stop in time, soon to be
nothing more than a memory.

A House Becomes A Home Again:

U-Haul unloaded at the first light of dawn.
Contents in place before morning is gone.
Kids running barefoot across the lawn.
Parents inside with curtains drawn.
They’ve moved in; we’ve moved on.
Makes them hither, makes us yon.

(Yawn)

#

(Aging nicely, some 60 years later,  though no longer gray,  no longer a home,  nor even a house – now simply a soulless, sterile structure, i.e., law offices.)

view from a hole

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Wayne Michael DeHart    (September, 1996)

i look up and around as i slip down,
the light of tranquility fading

i scratch and i claw till my fingers are raw
losing my grip and my strength

i try hard to think as i continue to sink
to a depth too many have known

i curse my plight but continue to fight,
though my resistance mournfully wanes

my limbs are now weak and i can hardly speak
as the cylinder narrows its gauge

my will has expired and I’m so hopelessly tired
that i pray for the bottom to rise

but my descent is not done  (it’s just really begun)
so i resolve to shut down my mind

it’s my way to cope and cling to the hope
that my fall is really a stumble

and that i’ll awaken again
to a smile from a friend

illuminating . . .

this darkest of views
from this deepest of holes

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