Lorenzo Thomas





It was an act of stealth
    And troubled pleasure

The Prelude (1850)



There may be other roles you recognize
   Sailors at nightwatch
Soldiers on picket


But we are shepherds now
And it is Spring!


      And we are talking . . .


OK, so we're not shepherds
But this is useful play


Like shepherds on a dark hillside
Drawing lines between the stars,
   We reach beyond ourselves
To meet ourselves


Or are we talking
Just to fill the space between us?
   To get over
A century that ends
   in fireworks
And worldwide efforts
To undo the future?


    Then we were dancing . . .


This is my real life.
The day is still wet
   from the morning's rain
Pavements begin to steam


Killer 1970s guitars
   rattling the dash
Driving west into a majolica landscape
The city in the rearview
   clasped by night
Abandoned by the sun


At best, a graveyard chance
   "Time to get your grip
& move on . . ."


¡O preach us some pleasant nonsense,
    Por favor!


Amuse us, O Lord!
    We are the audience
For your sneak preview
    of Heaven!


Thrust into this florid maze,
Trust curiosity
To find its way
To cleverness


A long-awaited legion of idolaters
Arriving after giddy pilgrimage


   Then came the prismed vision
As we saw the world through tears




No, it is Spring!


Three days of rain,
   not Biblical
But more than this ground
Could take


Standing water everywhere


After 3 days of rain
They look like lakes
These fields near Hockley
   fields waiting for cotton
Corn or soy
Tract homes or condominiums
   Or little malls
Glimmering like fish-scales in the sun
As a sheet of egrets settles in
   beside the lakes
That will not be here
   in three days
In fields that will not be here
   in three years


    But we were talking . . .


Or boys at useful play


You find the married men at 4 o'clock
Leaning against their trucks
   beside the road
Sharing halfpints or 6-packs
Or, in the city, at a cocktail lounge
Trying to prolong the day's escape


But there are others
   who are not here
Who have years to speak of
Farmers, retired mechanics


Old men gather at breakfast
To direct the day into its starting gate
Booting the sun along a slotted course
Above the never ending shadow puppet dance of power
The energetic pettiness of mundane business


These high priests of expected disappointments
Raise their polyphonic song:
Life is unpleasant      but predictable


If this is solace,
   These men standing
up against the wall
These are the guardians
Of future pathways –


     But it is Spring!




You feel like skipping
But the costume
Wants a more processional step


Will there be ruins where we walk?
Will our footfalls echo purposes?


Talking together as gray-haired men
   with the guy
You looked up at the stars with
When you were boys


And wondering if there's a God
   a girl, a goal
A meaning to the universe
& knowing now
   you really do not know much more
Than you did back then,


These conversations
Like a diamond's facets
Like sunlight on fields suddenly made lakes
The subject always the same
Yet seems transparently
Deflecting something deeper
More personal – demanding
More attention
When you think it over
As you will, inventing
What you should have said
Too late for that now
And next time will be deceiving


A boy's job
To listen to the old men's lies
And learn the music . . .


      A boy's job is
     To listen to the old men lie
    & learn the music . . .


I never been nowhere
Where the old Blues singers been


But I swear to my soul
I don't want to go there again