Tom Thomson's
Poetry Page

This manuscript is copyrighted (© Tom Thomson)
email info@shortnorth.com
 

Good Morning America!

The band strikes up Hail to the Chief,
the crowd roars and I bound across the platform,
waving my arms, smiling, pointing to familiar faces.

I am the picture of the guy who lives next door,
blue cotton shirt open at the neck,
sleeves rolled up, ready to do the job
that needs doing! I grab the microphone
and wave and smile some more.
Oh, how I love these moments!
The pomp and the pagentry!
I am floating on air,
I am transformed.

 

 

 

Laura

Phi Beta Kappa Laura
Studied her flora
So diligently
She never had any fauna

 
 

Tour of Duty

If ships are like women.
Then my loss is the greater
Since there was only the one
That I really knew, and
In youthful naivete, or
In a peculiarly perverse way,
Loved. So if that analogy
To a female is correct,
Then the salt water sailors
Are right, and
Like the country boy
Back on the farm for years now,
I nourish the old memories.

 

 

On Leaving Idlewild

(At 8:15 pm, July 4, 1962 aboard a jetliner.)

We literally chased the sun westward;
Elusive, the burning orb would hide
Behind the towering cumulous
Only to burst forth again,
a burning beacon,
Edging the horizon's clouds
with fiery lace.
And, for a while, a short while,
We seemed to be winning
the race, so it appeared,
Or, at least, forcing a draw,
Compromising time,
Making of that sun
A burning bubble on an earthly level.
But suddenly it is gone,
There was only the remembered glow,
And I knew we had lost
This one game.
The power pods changed their tune
And, imperceptibly,
We dropped
Down in the night,
Good losers.

 

 

Camus

I want to weep
But the tears won't come,
I would gladly die,
If you could be reborn.
If all were black and white,
Dear Son, how stupid
Life would be.
From down the dark dome,
A bird cries for Camus.
Clouds weep, winds sigh,
Sun stands at half-mast.
Old tarnished moon wanes,
Hides its face.
A leaf drops.

 

 

Death Is A Blessing

(From conversations with Emersonu Burkhart)

Death is a blessing,
A peaceful sleep,
An earthly organism's
Usefulness over.
Living is nervous cells,
Eyes, bellies, and
Millions of organs
Working in conjunction
with all nature.
I have seen that it is
Heaven and Hell,
It's everything and
It's nothing.
It's pain greater than Job's,
Hate stronger than Melville's
Ahab, and love
As serene as Poe's
Annabel Lee.

 

 

A Midnight Garden

The candlelight flickering on the wall
Brought to life the roses there
And made of them a midnight garden
With leaves of ivy going up the stair.
But when I snuffed that tiny flame,
It was as if winter had laid its claim
And tthat tiny sun had gone to rest
Beyond a miniscule horizon in the west.
And of my garden, not a bit was left,
Just the memory, which, perhaps is best.

 

 

High Priest

pileated woodpecker,
black, white; red-crested
cock of the woods,
yelping and bounding
through tree patterns
of sun-shafted air
he pursues the female
stops short
suddenly
at dead beech station
peers about
surveys he domain
crow-big
again he yacks
that he is the carpenter
from Naxareth
then satisfied
he savagely shatters
dead wood
chipping and dusting
the forest floor where
waterhtrush creeps cautiously
while from the shelter of the sky
another visionary
the red-shouldered hawk
pretends not to notice this imposter

 

 

Corinthian I

If you speak the tongues of men

(or angels),

But have not love,

You are a noisy gong,

A clanging cymbol.

If you can remove mountains

(or people),

But have not love,

You are nothing.

 

 

Four Moods

I.

Now the daytime's shattered bits
I lay aside in resignation,
Surrendering to sleep
What I sought in assignation.

 

II.

Discretion is wiser,
But kisses are nicer.

 

III.

 

Discretion is wiser,
But kisses are nicer.

 

IV

June showers
Bring July divorces.

 

V

Love is a snowy trillium
Fragile blossom of the dark woods.

 

VI

Love is a sweet legend
Never destroy it.

 

 

If I Were a Loon

If I were a loon
and you were a fish
under a summer's moon
you'd be my dish

 

 

 

What Do I Do?

realists getsome
crooks are jetsam
gamblers betsome
teenagers petsome
what do I do?
I letsome.

conformists require
idealists aspire
millionaires acquire
gossips inquire
what do I do?
I write satire.

 

Here I am presenting my poem "The Young Chief Has Returned Home"
to Columbus Mayor Jack Sensenbrenner.
To read the poem, click here

 

Of All the Voices

Of all the voices
I ever heard the one I least
Understood
Was the one
I denied
And
Then
I came to realize
The nature
Of my crime
Knowing this
I stood alone
My back to the
Brassy clamor
And pondered
What to do
And pondered
What to do.

 

 

Thirty-nine

 

Thirty-nine really isn't so old, you know,
Shy of forty by 365 days or so;
But, still frightening, when doubled, you state:
Twice thirty-nine is seventy-eight.

Counted by tens, it's just a sortie,
Ten, twenty, thirty, forty;
Minus one, of course, a year of grace,
One remaining, one for the race.

 

 

Sophistication

light a cigarette with a taper
in a salad put a caper

 

 

Clear Creek

 

Tet Lantern

The moon is a Tet lantern
Pasted in a tropical sky;
The fisherman's buoy bobs
In a serene sea of hope.
The moon is the face of a child;
No, it's a tear slowly rolling
Down the face of Vietnam.

 

Chanson de Cafe

Said I to the pot,
"Ahhh, cafe!
Steaming aromatic elixir,
Awakener of souls,
Turn me on."
Replied the pot,
"You'll have to
turn me on first."

 


With Emerson Burkhart at his house.

 

 

To My Friend Emerson Burkhart
Go to the Burkhart Gallery

 

He ruffled his fine, white thatch of hair
Until it took on the effusive appearance
of a bursting milkweed pod,
And he stalked about the old house
Talking out the early morning hours
Over cups of Herculean black coffee,
Amid canvasses still fresh with paint.
At times like these
Nothing in the world escaped the golden cage
Of his intellect. Rather, the rare, wild
Bird of wisdom fluttered about his head
(Until he mischivously replaced it
To talk of things more mundane),
But we secretly blessed him his prize so rare
And felt, briefly, his brush had touched us.

 

 

What Kind of God is This?

What kind of god is this

Who finished his work by creating man,

The most murderous of all his creations.

Then touted the commandment

"Thou shall not kill,"

What kind of god is this

Who spurned Cain's gift of grain

And accepted Abel's sacrificial lamb?

What kind of god is this

Who saved the entire Noah's Ark-

Full of bloody, flesh-eating beasts,

What kind of sick sense of humor

Does it take to say, "Thou Shall not kill,"

Or I will bow your shoulders with guilt?

 

May 19, 2002

 

 

 

 

BANKS

When I walk into a bank
I experience many feelings;
I'll be perfectly frank,
I've walked on their ceilings.
Cloud Nine I've danced upon
In my beloved treasure palace,
When the capital I've drawn on
Left even a pittance for a balance.

On the other hand, I've trod Dante's land
When I feared I was overdrawn,
With the bookkeeper forcing my hand
Making me feel pale and wan.
And when I crossed that cold marble floor
With worry etched upon my face,
I've wondered what the game was for
And damned the entire financial place.

I'd prefer to remember the happier times
When the pockets of my jeans
Were full of dollars and dimes
And I was a man of means;
Then, how I'd whistle like a bird
Just thinking of my wealth,
And my every passing word
Reflected my joy and and my health.

 

 

The Test

 

When this earthly life is over
And I lay my head down to rest,
The only regret I might have
Is that I failed to pass the test.

The test I speak of is not the one
You might think of offhand,
But, rather, what I left undone,
And the failure to understand.

To understand that love and respect
Extend to all of what we call life,
And if, perchance, I failed that test,
Then I failed all others in this strife.

And, if that test I happily passed,
Then the larger lesson I learned:
To know oneself is all well and good,
But to know one's brothers is hard earned.

Somersaulting

Somersaulting,
That's what I do best,
Up and Down,
Then over my head,
From beginning to last,
Looking for you.

You always hide
As I do my act,
Over my head
Onto my back.

Somersaulting,
That's my thing,
going through life
In no sane way,
Like a clown,
Upside down.

You always hide
When I look for your hand
To help me up,
There I go again.

 

 

Bittersweet
(In memory of James Thurber)

Menageries of seals and puppies,
Frightened people, little lost guppies,
Paraded and parodied before our eyes,
Our crass and tarnished eyes.
You drew a very simple line, like this,
Turned a fable into a magic kiss,
Wherein you found the saddness of man,
The lonliness and maddness of man.
You told a tale about the human race,
Of old Columbustown with extragant lace
And, found forthwith, laughter and tears,
The bright, light side, yet with tears,
And always, a nostalgic regretful glance,
A hesitant, bittersweet sideways glance.

 

 

 

This Forboding

This forboding,
For the perils that are known
To animals and plants,
From the dizzying human dance
and the foppery of the drill.
My mind turns, rather, to man,
To man, you understand,
The thunder and plunder of man,
As he rapes and bulldozes the land,
Then, at last , stands alone
The hunter surveying his kill.

 

 

When Desire Dies

When desire dies,
the whole house comes
tumbling down,
and the moon,
the sun, and the stars.
they fall,
in a senseless heap,
until nothing makes sense
any more,
when desire dies.
but, hey, that's just
a man's viewpoint.

 

 

Talking to a Dead Man

I had heard about you, Doctor Snook,
way back,
when I was a journalism student
at the great Ohio State University,
on North High Street
in Columbus, Ohio,
the home of the Battling Buckeyes.
I heard all about how you were head
of the Department of Veterinarian Medicine
at the great University, and how
you were an Olympic Gold Medalist,
and married, with a family.

And later, rubbing shoulders with
veteran newspapermen, your name
kept cropping up, like some kind of
attractive weed - like dandlions or chicory -
popping up all the time.

I even knew one newspaperman
who saw you executed, Doctor Snook,
behind those grim gray walls
that used to grace West Spring Street.

He saw you strapped in that unforgiving
electric chair, likes a throne,
because it was going to take you
to Kingdom Come, or maybe
a lower abode, where you might feel
more at home, and he watched in horror
as the electrodes and wires were attached
to your body, and then they fried you,
Doctro Snook, until you turned
Scarlet and Gray.

That was your earthly reward
for killing young Theora Hix,
your student and your lover.
And after the jury found you guilty,
You were executed, and
They buried you in a secret grave
Forlorn. forsaken, and forgotten.

Nott long ago, Doc, I found out where
You hang out, and I made my way
across the monument-studded cemetery
Searching for you,
Looking for your eternal trysting place.

Now, I stand above your unmarked grave,
You, there, unknowing, beneath my feet,
And I shake my finger and tell you
What a bad person you were, and to
Behave yourself, wherever you are.
You, a professor, a department head,
How could you be so dumb?
How could you be so cruel?
How could you throw so much away?

Before I leave, I console the folks
Buried under the handsome monuments,
All around, close to this unknown intruder.
Keep your eyes on this guy, I advise them,
Watch your womenfolk, and
If he makes a move, tell them to
Run like holy smoke!

- May 26, 2000

 

 

 

The Distributor

 

It is odd, my life and soul are so tarnished,
While yours, God, become more garnished.
Every day. And, of all the ill deeds
To us attributable, mine are so local,
While yours are so distibutable.

Well, Big Boy,
You go your way, I'll go mine.
But as long as this is my abode,
I strive to follow this code:
To fair ones and frivolous,
It pays to be chivalrous.

 

Boo!

There is just this one,
Our universal foe;
He flies from out the sun
And disappeasrs in the snow.

 

Oh, Foolish Love

 

about here, my dear,
i held your hand,
as along these streets
we ate of sweets
and talked of love,
oh, foolish love/

 

 

The Censor

Murder can be outlined and plotted,
As many a writer has jotted,
But sex? Oh, heavens no!
Nobody engages in sex, you know!

Sex is life, gay and fertile,
Wise like the centenarian turtle;
Death is sad, lifeless and sere,
But how account for the censor's stare?

 

 

My Greed

My country, my race, my creed;
My family, my job, my greed . . .
I don't like to ridicule,
But why are people so hypocritical?

 

BLOSSOMS

In late May
Carawaba blossoms
Litter the ground
Around Thurber's grave,
And there;s not
A dog-gone thing
I can do about it.

 

JUNE 5, 2004

Dear God,
It was a bad day in Baghdad,
what with five soldiers killed,
three wounded, and
only you know why we are doing this?
Is it to enhance
your name?
To prove our deity
is better than theirs?
Why don't you
show us the light, Big Guy?

 

IS THAT SO?

A heavy-set woman
Sits on a nearby bench
As I eat my lunch,
A chicken sandwich
And a paper cup of cola.
She asked me a question
That I tried to answer
With my mouth full.
The truth is
I never really heard
What she said,
So I answered,
"Is that so?"

 

SITTING IN A CEMETERY

Sitting in a cemetery
By a wooded pond,
I write of life's frailties
As I listen to a choris
of American toads,
The sonorous honking
Of Canada Geese,
And perceive
The silence of the dead.

 

ON A TINY ISLAND

On a tiny island,
A mallard duck
Sits and stares
At a turtle.
Companions, they,
Stranded in time,
In their little kingdom
That only I can see.

 

The Honeysuckle

The honeysuckle,
Yellow and white,
Ubiquitous,
Luring bees,
Perfuming the air.
A blessing,
Or a curse?

 

 

At Thurber's Grave

Coumbus boy,
reveler,
spinner of yarns,
wake up!

There are deadlines to meet!

Then, let's go have a drink.
and give me your opinion
of how the world's doing.
I badly need to know.

 

Under a catawpa tree

Under a catal pa tree
I thoughtt I saw a dog,
Under a dogwood tree
I thought I saw a cat.

Now I am very confused
and I sit under a pine tree,
very sad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Circle

Weep when the young life is cuffed,

Laugh when the old one is snuffed, but

hold on! Shed one sad tear for a birth.

Then drink and add to the mirth,

For in the years that intervene

The answer is plain to be seen.

There will be laughs and tears aplenty

When the cicle closes again in twenty.

 

 

Original Sin

 

Pain is what we inflict

unintentionally on those

who love us the most,

thereby creating anew

original sin

 

 

 

 

This Delicate Soul
(In memory of my maternal grandmother,
Lulu Tuck Page)

When my maternal grandmother passed away a few years ago, I inherited a beautiful mirror that dated back to Civil War times.

Hanging on a wall, it was four and a half feet high and two and a quarter feet wide, set off by a hand-carved gold-leaf frame.

Shortly after she died, I wrote the following poem which I will share with you"

 

This delicate soul has
at last severed the thread
of remembered times and
now has quietly fled
to greener Kentucky fields
and magnolias in bloom,
serenaded by the strains
of darkie banjo tunes.

 

She has forsaken and left
the world of today
for the sweeter blessings
of a childhood at play.
Now mirrored in this glass
beyond all revoke
are the figures and faces
of her gentle folk.

 

The men in high starch collars,
like in the old photographs,
with beards and waistcoats,
not daring to laugh;
And the women with bustles
and rare bird plumes;
she has left us to inhabit
those more familiar rooms.

There she waltzes and laughs
and does the Virginia reel.
"Momma has made fudge" and
there are cookies to steal!
And, oh, on lazy days when
Southern sun spangles the earth,
her bare toes trace hearts
in the dust, with gentle mirth.

 

 

Morning Song

It is five o'clock in the morning,
I see nothing wrong walking alone
This old Appalachian road - Tucked
In by hills - listening to birdsong.

The entire ensemble is playing:
Timpani by ruffed grouse and chat,
Thrushes' silver notes accompanying
The vireo string section in e-flat.

A Carolian wren, cheerful bard,
Yodels from a wooded rill,
Accenting tanager, oriole, bunting,
And a prairie warbler's rising trill.

Other than myself, the only listeners
Are a flying squirrel in his loge,
and a trio of deer gowned in beige,
Volunteer ushers, I suppose.

The genius composer, though unknown,
Hints in dark ways I am unaware,
Of ice ages, corridors of time flown,
Of secrets unsuspect in music so rare.

 

 

From Eight to Five

Sir, when I'm dead and gone,
What will they write on the stone
That covers my grave?
What will they engrave?

"Understand, my lad, that the daily grind
Brings in the bread and all of that,
But the way it crumbles the mind,
Is it worth the price at that?"

But, sir, that's no answer you've given.
I ask you again: "When I'm in heaven,
What will they write beside the dates,
What will they say of my loves and my hates?

"For most, my boy, they chisel your name,
But wouldn't it be truer to life
To have listed the corporate game,
The clock we punched through all the strife?

The company name and all of that,
And when we finally throw in our hat,
Let them inscribe the stone "from eight to five,",
That's what he did when he was alive."

 

 

The Homicide

Did Crucifixion
Become a glorious act
Of jubilation?
Did he
See himself
Crowned a martyr?
We look back
In innocence;
We pretend
To ask ourselves
How such a thing
Could have happened,
Knowing full well
We keep up the tradition.

 

 

The Radioactive Cat

Shall a last bird in some distant time
Sing a requiem over this earthly cenotaph?
Shall a radioactive cat repent
He swallowed the bird?

 

 

My Conscience if a Cat

My Conscience is a cat
Unknown to me that
Stalks in the very core
Of the unexplored night,
Then claws at the door,
Begging to share my light,
And once in, complacent, fat,
He shoozes by the fire,
My slave? Or my sire?

 

 

This is Sam, my cat for many years (Not really mine because he was beholden to no one but himself). He was named after Samuel Clemons, because I found him the year Haley's Comet came around. Clemons was born on a year of the comet and he correctly predicted he would die when it came around again. Two freaks of nature we were, he observed. We came in together and it's only fitting that we go out together. Same died in 2001, not a comet in sight.

 

 

 

 

SOMETIMES I"M NOT SURE
I WAS CUT OUT FOR THIS WORLD

 

Sometimes I'm not sure I was cut out for this world.
At least, in the cloth that I pretend,
The quality, you know, and the show; oh, the show,
you know.
Oh, that I was a thousand things and all,
And that all talent were mine,
Wouldn't the world be fine!

Oh, that my smile was winning, my dance step spinning,
to allay my discontent.
I'd be the gent!
But what's my bent?

I want to be a Scottish piper,
I hate to be a gripper!
I want to be a football star
and pass that ball far, far
Down the field, and wield
a flying mallet on my polo pony,
And, yes, deadly in the ring - Tony
Galento wouldn't stand a chance.
As it is, people hardly glance
At me. I want to be a magician
To fix this fix I'm in.
I want to be, I want to be
A lover, a Casanova, a gypsy,
A vagabond, a lovable tramp
Telling the best stories
And, yet, with the stamp of genius
On my classical face -
With wide-spaced eyes, large, just a trace
Of tragedy, much of wisdom and,
They'd say, veriably, the Kingdom is hisdom.

Oh, to be the man in the glimmering spotlight:
The drummer, a blur of arms; or, in flight,
The easy-going, yet determined, jet pilot
Puncturing the sound barrior. What's my lot?
Fifty miles and hour in a ten-year-old sedan.
Doggone it, wouldn't a T-Bird be grand,
Carrousing along the French Riviera,
Arm around a naughty nymph
In a diamond tierra. Then
On to the film festival at Cannes,
The glorious sun tanning our tans.

Well, maybe it might grow tiring,
People stopping, pointing, admiring.
But wouldn't it be fun? Better
Than so little; working, being a debtor?
No? You like me the way I fend?
Even though these things I pretend?
Even though
I know
That sometimes I was not cut out for this world!

 

The Cult

I remember when I was pubic
Life seemed crazy and cubis,
But now that I'm an adult
Everybody belongs to the cult.

 

Adieu

 

Some tomorrow I shall die:
I know not which, or where, or why.
Some tomorrow I shall bid adieu
And, my friend, so shall you.

 
 

The Choir

A chorus of toads
Fills the air,
Paying homage
To some elusive power
Beyond my perception.

May 19, 2004

 

 

Siting in a Cemetry: 2

 

Sitting in a cemetery
On a hard stone bench,
Thinking I might communicate
With any dead souls lurking about;
Or perchance, a god looking down,
I try to write a poem.

Taking a deep breath,
I write a line,
Then another, and another,
Until I am finished.

My intended audience is silent,
Except for an upside down nuthatch
Running up and down
A nearby tree trunk.

 

Eternal Mystery

Why does sex
permeate our lives
the way it does,
it being so gossamer,
intangible and fleeting,
barely remmebered,

My friends complain
about it constantly.
either too much,
or not enough,
Or something else,
usually nit enough.

Their wives are either
prudes or sluts,
so my friends go out
and have a few drinks
To forget about the whole thing.