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  James Hutchings

Published on: 2/10/2014
A Cool and Green and Downward-Sloping Path

A cool and green and downward-sloping path
invited me to walk. I never asked
if sly and secret mute malicious wrath
lay leering under shady sheltering mask.
How restful ran the plunging path, how soon
came time to trudge the high and homeward way.
The still, serene and slumbering air of noon
blew bitter with the dying of the day.
The towering trees that broke the burning beams
and stopped the sun as spear is stopped by shield
were courtiers whose cold and cruel schemes
were early laid and all too late revealed.
How quick and cool the downward path and then
how hard and slow the struggle home again.

Published on: 2/5/2014
The Death of Pan

As I was sailing on a starlit sea
a voice cried out across the waves to me.
A grieving, golden voice, wine-wracked and broken.
I saw no ship, and knew a god had spoken.
It spoke but once, and this is all it said:
"At Palodes, cry out 'Great Pan is dead.'"

We came to Palodes at break of day
and sailed into a darkly-wooded bay.
Who dares defy the gods? And so I spoke
though all that I could see was ash and oak
but from those woods came wailings of despair
of grief too great for human heart to bear.

One man went mad, another fell down dead
and we who lived took up the oars and fled.

Published on: 2/3/2014
They Say the Sirens Left the Seas

They say the sirens left the seas
for other suns and skies than these
to hook the hearts and maze the minds
of sailors of unearthly kinds.

They say the sailors searched in vain
from Baffin Bay to Port of Spain
and seagulls swarmed them as they crossed
to shriek in mockery of their loss.

They say, they say, but who can tell?
They say so many lies as well.
The sirens left, no matter how
and all the seas are silent now.

Published on: 1/29/2014
Saranac Prison

Well, morning has broken. The men have awoken
and terrible slow is the journey
as I shuffle in line for a meal fit for swine
and I curse at that Goddamn attorney.

Well there ain't any cheer to be found in this year
of our Lord Eighteen Seventy Eight.
When you're done with your slops then the day sorta stops
and you sit in your cell and you wait.

There's a worn-out old drunk has my cell's upper bunk
and nine tenths of the time I can stand him.
Now he wants me to know if the law let him go
he'd be back to the wife he abandoned.

"Oh, I'd no longer shirk from my share of the work.
I'd be faithful and never would stray."
Why you lying old toad, you'd lie drunk in the road
and be back behind bars in a day.

Well a preacher was sent and he bade us repent
and he had a whole passel of reasons
but I sit in my cell and I hanker for Hell
for I'm getting damn tired of freezing.

It appears that in Maine they're real fond of the rain
and I wish I could get up and run
where it's hot and it's dry and there's blue in the sky
and the world could forget what I done.

I can wish as I may but I'm here anyway
with the rain and the cold and the snow
so I sit on my ass as the day doesn't pass
and there's eight hundred more left to go.

And at last darkness falls and it hides the high walls
but the drunkards and cowards and me
hear a hammering hail on the roof of the jail
to remind us we ain't going free.

Published on: 1/27/2014
The First Verse of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" as a Shakespearian Sonnet

You smile, and shine as if in glory garbed
Yet virtue is not cut to fit you well
For, like the rose, the root of you is barbed
And you who promised Heaven furnished Hell.
Now I am chained—nay, more than chained, am sealed
Within a dismal prison, buried deeper
Than secret sins, nor will my captor yield;
How bleak a hope, when Passion is my keeper.
You face me like an arrow poised to fly
And I a stag at bay, with no escape
Nor any will to fight, and so I die
My murderer a fiend of fairest shape.
How Love must blush, to hear herself defamed!
I die, shot through the heart, with you to blame.

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