Excerpts for Bucolics : Poems


I
boss of the grassy green
boss of the silver puddle
how happy is my lot
to tend the green to catch
the water when it rains
to do the doing Boss
the way the sun wakes up
the leaves they yawn a bit
each day a little more
for a tiny reason then
when the leaves outgrow their green
the wind unwinds them Boss
that's the way you go around
if you loose me like a leaf
if you unburden me
if I untaste the taste
of being bossed by you
don't boss me down to dust
may I become a flower
when my blossom Boss is full
boss a bee to my blue lips
that one drop of my bloom
would softly drop into
your sweetness once again
if I go round that way
I'll know the doing means
to you what it means to me
a word before all words

II
did you ever have a nickname Boss
a favorite color ever walk around
in a circle for the fun of it do you
snap your fingers hold your breath
do you put things in your pocket
do you notch a stick for every sparrow
is everything a little game to you Boss
a little peekaboo a ring around
the rosy Boss we all fall down that's
the funny part when it happens
do you keep a straight face or do
you laugh what's it like to always know
the answer never have to guess when
you rest do you ever fall asleep

III
the night is trotting toward me Boss
as if you tapped it with a switch
or clicked your tongue against your teeth
it's coming down the pasture soon
I'll hear the leather tackle squeak
I'll see your ankle swinging in
the stirrup Boss you ride the night
but you don't need to hurry no
you've been this way a time or two
before you've hauled your wagon full
of stars it's all old hat for you
you get here when you get here O
I guess you like the same old thing
it's funny but I like it too
I like it when you ride the night
across the sky as if it were
a nag a worn-out horse you don't
mind riding O you get along
your horse is made of silver Boss
it clips like sleep it clops like you

IV
what color is your collar Boss
is your backbone sore from bending over
when you clap your hand against your thigh
does a little cloud of dust fly off
do you wipe your face with your shirttail Boss
I'd bet my wages that you do
though I couldn't say for sure how much
my wages are they're probably
enough O I get by all right
a beech seed here a feather there
a locust wing a wing as light
as air besides it lets light through
I get a double portion from you
I tie my purse strings tight but put
this in your pocket all I have
I'd lay it on the table Boss
for you I'd bet you jerk your lines
you hang your salty harness from
a red nail in your barn you pour
your horse a scoop of oats you give
its tail a tug you say nighty night
you spotted nag it's funny Boss
I can hear you chuckle when
you shut the stall you're happy for
a good day's work a spotted horse
I wonder if that horse's spots are real
or painted on it makes me smile
to think about it Boss even
field hands need a laugh or two
a rusty riddle a twisty tongue
I wouldn't put it past you O
you sneaky devil you cutup Boss

V
you're the hay maker Boss
you light the candle in the sun
dip the water in the rain
O for the whole big picture
you're the painter Boss I know
it's you the biggest boss of all
you must have a sack full of wind
somewhere a barrel full of salt
a recipe for stone things like that
you keep them close to your chest
you keep your secrets Boss
you flash a yellow eye then crow
away you're like a rooster Boss
sometimes you're like a fox

VI
do you get happy Boss do you
get tickled by a funny bird
or doubled over by a tree
a lonesome tree less lonely Boss
because it has a horse beside it
it doesn't matter if the horse
is rubbing anything or not
as long as it's beside the tree
so simple Boss a horse beside
a tree it makes me happy just
to think about two things beside
each other the stick beside the fire
the rock beside the water O
the snow beside the sleepy field
O Boss the moss beside my mouth
when I bend down to say it's me
you mossy bank you happy piece
of green it's me beside you like
a bird I thought I'd let you know
in case you don't have eyes I thought
I'd tell you Boss what always leaves
me happy if you didn't know
already Boss in case you spend
a lot of time beside yourself

VII
do you have a table
Boss do you have
a lantern do you
leave a broom straw
on the mantel when
you blow into your hearth
does it glow Boss
do you touch the broom straw
to the coal do you
touch the lantern next
is that how you make light
like that with little more
than just a breath Boss
what happens next
once your lamp is lit
what happens after that

VIII
O Boss sometimes you take it all
you shuck the corn you slice the pie
in the sky O you're the onliest
the only word that's ever on
my lips I let it slip when I see
the sky lit up like sunshine scattered
on the river though it's nighttime Boss
O all those sparkles all that glimmer
my eyeballs never want to blink
away from you when I know for sure
you're up there making shimmer Boss
you're laying by a little light
for later on I wonder if
you have a wheel to shell the stars
the way you turn the sky I think
your hand is wrapped around a crank

IX
are you ever sorry Boss ever
have a problem ever get
shamefaced stuff your hands
in your big boss pockets
it's never easy is it Boss never
Boss ever get a slow start ever
feel like you're at the end
of the line the end of your rope
have you ever had it up to here
wherever that is on you I know
it's high up to your neck Boss
the top of your head you must
be tall to take it all the way
you do taller than the top
of the moon Boss O I wonder
what you see when you look up

X
you spread the nighttime Boss
all over me you tuck
me in you tuck me tighter
than a splinter in my finger
Boss you breathe a song
into the wind when you get
this close I wish you'd put
your ear against my mouth
so I could tell you something
I could tell you something
Boss if you would just
bend farther down I know
you know what I would say
Boss if you'd put your ear
against my mouth though it
would only be a whisper
I've got a secret Boss
it's burning up my lips

XI
I told that old dog he
could hush Boss I said
there now you're just having
a shaky little dream dream
a dream dream Boss how
about that talking to a dog
that way there there it's justa little dream dream you
don't have to whimper that's
what I can't stand Boss
to see an old dog whimper
what's in an old dog's dream
dream anyway some rabbits Boss
or barking up a tree say do
you ever have a dream dream
Boss are you running after or
away from me tell me sometime
if your big feet ever twitch

XII
why Boss why do the days drift by
like a leaf asleep on a bed of water
does the leaf forgive the tree that let
it fall into the water does
it know how stiff the river's face
can be how smileless rivers like
to be at least this one Boss not a flinch
or bristle bloomed on its glassy face
the moment the leaf lay down no joy
no breathy gasp from the river's lips
when all the leaf was trying to do
is cuddle Boss does cuddling move
the likes of you are you the river or
the thing that makes the river's face
so still if a thing so little as
a leaf decided to cuddle up
to me I couldn't stand it Boss
I couldn't stare it down like you
I'd have to say you hush now leaf
you hush your little mouth good night
 
 
Copyright © 2007 by Maurice Manning

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