David Gilmour is the host of Sound Poetry on 101.9 Radio Tacoma
The days of acorns, walnuts and horse-chestnuts--
The husks, shells, and cups we bored for use, then,
Eight of us, if memory serves, we smoked as pipes,
As clear as yesterday in an old and beautiful world.
The fields, we walked through the fields to woods,
The countryside spread out for miles, far out
Beyond construction sites and smoking factories,
Leaving behind slag dumps and rock hills
Bulldozed and ready for new roads out of town.
Out by the shire farms where trees still stood wild,
A bull watched a tribe of boys tramping through
Its grasses. There was a house, a dark gamekeeper
And his dangerous dogs--so long ago, folk tale time.
The trees, those ancient oaks we spiked to climb
When tawny autumn gave its sign the nuts were ripe.
Old gaffer and his dogs just couldn't grasp the why.
We would risk to climb the oaks, to join the birds
And squirrels in their nests. He'd scratch his head and
Hang his bent pipe in his jaw and keep the dogs at bay.
‘Twas pipes and the sheer beauty of filching golden acorns.
Conkers he could suss the need, the game was all the rage.
Stiff straw was pierced into an acorn cup, old fag-end crumbs
We’d stuff into the bowl, and puff in awe till black like gold
Cut from a stub of Uncle’s choicest briar-pipe Turkish plug.
Oh, the heavens so filled with aromatic spice, gods laughed.
At home I'd raid the trays about the house for longish ends,
Even stole the odd one or two, Senior Service navy cut,
Or beauteous packs with names like Passing Cloud,
Familiar Players with the Jack Tar pictured on the face.
They smelled so sweet before the smoking and then came
The choking horror of the smoke. Dead hard to get used to.
But there was nothing, nothing sweeter than the camaraderie
Of two or three bosom pals with stolen tobacco having a choke,
Pretending to smoke, cupping the lit end in the palm
Or flailing the hand sideways from the lips, longing to savor the smoke in throats,
In their lungs, through their noses, casually releasing it in streams
As we had seen our brothers, our parents blowing plumes
Into the blue foggy night air. How important to start young.
To start the silent drawing of breath in acknowledged secret,
Forbidden togetherness in which talk was all you had,
Big talk, things that needed to be said together
While the air was thick with awful breath and the face changed
To its new mask and stopped the clock.
A Significant Thud
At present the ink is not flowing true.
The blue ran out two days ago
And the red cartridge I loaded
Has yet to come through in its own flow.
I am sitting at the round table on the deck
As I used to years ago; in those days
The table was yellow; now a faded green,
The very same table we sat at, you and I,
When you just knew us in Seattle, the times
When we dined on simple fare, drank cheap wines.
The same table we recently sat around
For breakfast, coffees, and smokes
And at dinner for laughter, with the Pinch
And paté and the crude rolled doobies
Pushing our humors to ludicrous limits.
These days are bogged down with quandaries.
The wedding is past; the nest is --- oops!
--Out back there in the deep shady green,
Under the trees, a significant thud --
The pears and the apples are dropping ripe. Out there
Out in the grass, I see another golden lump
Has been added to the mass. --Where was I?
--The table—on the table before me—yes,
I return to the original theme.—On it
Stand two golden pears on end,
Next to them, the 400 milliliter beaker
That held the three top heavy flowers -
Blue hydrangea blossoms.
The candles we burned were obliterated
By a night’s catastrophic wind and rain,
Sunday or maybe Saturday night.
I’ll light one - there!—They’re both lit now.
At my right elbow rests a book,
Against The Grain - wouldn’t you guess it?
Mmm! The pears gleam in the candlelight—gilded almost...
Shit! The hurricane glass just shattered.
Well, after all, what’s glass for?—but breaking.
The monotony: it’s a void, a blank, emphasized
By the intermittent thuds of falling fruit.