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EIGHT BALLADS

 

Columbus Stockade

            turned as we lay sleeping—our antiquities
            sent their herald with a letter
            harvesting new centers—they too turned

            from Genoa—followed by atrophy still
            some distance from headway
            unblinking as I believe they fought against

            too many mornings to waste a good deal
            their effect grossly mistaken
            for the ludic rest of a murtherous wildness 

 

Black Mountain Rag

            to cling to—smash—smallest thane
            burnished chance to spill
            bereaved so kind of a common world

            out there in the dark—we poor thing
            where were we all night
            who could at least come back for good

            on these poor legs—taken round
            long—into the black
            lashing blind at rock & thicket flung

            och skammen—affection is so often
            an unyielding thing
            maligned by a far more available fruit   

 

Early One Morning

            hazard ruine—combustion all sides round
            they do not deceive in the valley below
            when overwhelmed by the deluge they fall
            from sense to skies beating like hearts
           
            till then who knew grace could offer up all
            burning offal against ceiling cracks
            with adverse power opposed—yield unto
            a fixt sum masking settlement patterns

            stopping at a well to rest—durst dislike
            but settle for a place so far afield
            stunned by an unconquerable acquaintance
            squarely at the center of this cadence

            so it beats—blown away by redacted light
            how people feed themselves at night
            can else inform the blind force of token arms
            scouring settled land for branch or bone 

 

Billy in the Darbies

            his marrowbones shackled out
            (ignore paraphenomena
            patterned winds—cycloid—smile

            through the trauma in their hearts
            (auguries sound this hour
            so sleep fathoms deep—slake notes

            crossing unsurveyed surfaces
            (greasy hogs to brood
            on the collateral organs of others

            muted—signal bright derivations
            (disendowed questions or
            the congratulated weight of tongues

 

Joannie Works with One Hammer

            then—she goes to sleep
            glaidly to thoill
            n qhua is they hounggrie

            when they work with two
            devastated
            by the frost—taken to raise

            greit mercie on principle
            to lend—drains
            gude work instrumental to

            three hammers simmer
            in the hole
            overnight hotter than coal

            orchards link directly to
            four hammers
            quhais power is nocht theys
 
            secured—in the pit—for
            their fude they work
            with five when then to sleep           

 

Daybreak Blues

            an account told or enacted
            —tooled into an absence
            on the finest milling machine

            tomorrow belongs retooled
            take the dirt road home
            meet undiminisht what untold

            to avail though forget we feel
            often an instance to grieve
            do deceive under sovereign pact

            four at the foot six at the head
            suffer a surface like blood
            burned before us by permission

            we belong to an ordered design
            scaly rind—enraged
            but serving well to bring forth

            forthwith the backward slope
            in billows blind by right
            we run with force for morn delay           

 

House of Sad Retreat

            floating rates of exchange remainder 
            next of kin—an occasion

            intensified thereafter—an internal
            policy—this act of union

            fathom stroud waters convey the whole
            —bargaine among thieves 

            stable reserves—currencies desaturated
            by law—so prepared all treasons

            administered justice—fast misprisions
            —felonys—seditions—calumnys

            bullbaiting—cockfighting—bear beating
            contract out the public house           

 

Wabash Cannonball

            transpierced rounder gliding all
            oblivious at length to advance
            the jingle—the rumble—the roar

            struck do strike iron straight rail
            whosoever unknown raises
            cosmologies of scale—rippling fall

            indiscriminate on the first parable
            crying out to all—waving
            from the rapid Wabash Cannonball 

 

 

[Richard Owens is the author of Ballads  (Habenicht 2011), Embankments (Interbirth 2010) and Delaware Memoranda (BlazeVOX 2008). He edits Punch Press and Damn the Caesars, a journal of contemporary poetry and poetics.]

Copyright © 2011 by Richard Owens, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.