home table of contents richard harter email
main poetry page morning songs interlude evening verse
collected sonnets zhandivar The Raven King Keeper
Wild Flowers
Wild Flowers

The accumulation of verse in Evening Verse is about as large as a web page should be so I have created this page which contains verse written since January 1, 2000 until such date as still another page is created.

My poems are commoners; they have no titles. There is an index of first lines if you want to skip around.

index

I don't know who this dog person is but I've known more than one like him.

Dog person went to town last night
Hit the bars, got himself tight
Picked a fight in the usual place
Added a scar to his ugly face

Stumbled home, howled at the moon
Fixed a meal of possum and coon
Slept it off, went to work
Dog person drunk, what a jerk!

January 2000

index

This is very short; it may be too long. For those not up on Eastern mysticism the first line says that someone with a small minded focus will have small minded wisdom - alternately, the stupid will be foolish. The second line says that someone who has achieved "no mind", i.e., are not attached to the illusionary world, is not obsessed with wisdom, e.g., does not stink of holiness. Alternately, wisdom is irrelevant for those who do not think.

Small mind, small wisdom
No mind, never mind

January 2000

index

This was written for a friend who woke in the moonlight before the alarm rang and liked it very much.

Before the dawn creeps o'er the hill
And spills its gold upon the sill
The mother moon, she rules the night
Her shadows fall in softer light

The hours that tick, they slowly creep
As angel face lies fast asleep
Moonlight spills upon her face
And angel wakes to moonlit grace

January 2000

index

This is an expression of the sensation of drawing up on a car and passing it on the highway.

Closing for the kill
The hawk plummets from the sky
Red eyes ahead grow near
There is a moment
When size explodes
Then the hawk makes its kill
And you pass the car.

January 2000

index

The prairies are, perhaps, entirely too large a canvas for people.

If you are on the prairie
Close your eyes and crawl away
Go hide within some people place
This land's too broad, its sky's too high
It was never meant for people eyes

September 2000

index

Prairie skies are powerful.

A molten disc all wrapped in lavender
Rested briefly upon the world's edge
Before it disappeared.
Sunset.

Overly large, overly orange
Hanging low in the East
I thought it was a neon sign.
Moonrise.

September 2000

index

I recently moved from MA where I had lived for 40 years to SD where I grew up. It's a bit of a culture shock. This is a poem that expresses that sentiment.

I was born a Martian,
Born and raised within the nests.
The nests were all I knew.
My heart cried,
"I don't belong here!
I'll never belong here!
This isn't my home!"
So I left ...

... to dwell among the human folk
In their cities with brick above
and brick below,
Where minds were honed by wit and book,
And voices sang the songs I'd never heard.
My heart sang,
"This is it!
This is home!
This is where
I belong!"

I took root like some great old tree
With roots below, far and deep,
And limbs above, high and wide.
So it went for many a year.
And then the blood said,
"These are the days of the withering time.
Go back, you Martian, return to your nest."
Roots died. Leaves fell.
Great limbs crumpled to earth.
So I left.

I live among the Martians now.
I wear the masks I knew of old
As though I were a Martian too.
My heart cries,
"I don't belong here!
I never belonged here!
This isn't my home!
But the blood says,
"You were born a Martian."

November 2000

index

This poem was inspired by someone else's poem on the same theme.

We held the center once;
We were large in our world
And God was near.
We grew small
As the Earth shrunk before the Sun
And smaller still
As the Sun shrunk before the stars.
Horizons run away from us
Into the distance that never ends
And God has disappeared
Into the vanishing point.

January 2001

index

I tossed off the following quatrain as a sardonic comment on the Ashcroft nomination.

All those things I said before
All those things, please ignore
Never mind those oaths I swore
Behold me now, your unctuous whore

January 2001

index

This is a windy comment on life within dreams.

The architects of reason
Build doors in houses without walls.
They catch the dreams
That seep beneath the sills
And pin them onto canvas;
A lacquer of words and narrative
Preserves the form of dreams
Against the sun that eats the mist.

Other dreams, unseen,
Pass through the empty walls.

April 2001

index

This is a short limerick - very short.

I.
I?
Si.
Me?
I.

November 2001

index

This is a short reflection on the nature of love and its imperative.

Love, no matter how pure,
Is the most selfish of gifts.
For that reason
It is the one gift
That must be given.

January 2002

index

The quarrels of siblings can be terrible and are all the more terrible because they have so much in common.

There is a cemetery on the edge of town
Where two brothers lie, side by side
United in death as they never were in life.

One was rich and one was poor
One was fat and one was lean
They disagreed on everything
Save this: Each one knew
That he alone was in the right.

Side by side they lie, with but one stone
For the pair of them. On that stone
Are grave these lines:

Unlike my brother
I lived as a man should live
And died a happy man.

April 2002

index

A small note on the perils of prophecy

Leaves fall
Omentasters
Read redes in fallen leaves
Of castles, kings, and emperors.
The wind blows
And more leaves fall.

April 2002

index

This really is a very simple poem; I just don't happen to understand it. There is the idea that we wear masks to conceal our true selves and the wonderering as to what is beneath the mask. There is a hint of the thought that we perform actions that we conceal from ourselves. There is the echoing of alternatives around every action that are not completely suppressed. It's all very postmodern; I haven't the slightest idea of what it is about.

I gazed into the mirror
... of his regard
... of their regard
... of your regard
... of my regard
I beheld a mask,
My old familiar face,
And then, quite unexpectedly,
And yet, not surprisingly
... I removed the mask
... The wind blew it away
... He lifted it off
Beneath the mask
... A face I never knew
... A face I always knew
... A stranger's face
Utterly familiar
... His face
... Their face
... My face
... Your face

April 2002

index

God isn't exactly dead

God sits on a knick knack shelf
In a corner of the room.
They dust Him now and then,
But they never pray there, any more.

August 2002

index

Distribution lines carry kilowatts across the prairies. It is a striking image.

'Tis an endless marching line
Of six-armed ladies,
Wire frame ladies,
Who carry kilowatts
To the electric world.

Fantasia in the prairie.

December 2002

index

Jack Frost is a poet.

Late last night the frost flowers bloomed,
Filling barren trees with crystal lace.
In morning sun their petals fell
In little flurries of silent snow

March 2003

index

Junk food is so good for you.

Fat person, eating chips
Fat person, eating dips
Fat person, eating pie
Fat person, you eat to die

April 2003

index

Most of my poems have no title. This one, however, does. The title, naturally enough, is:
Waiting for Godot

Who are these people
Waiting for Godot?

That man standing in a queue,
Clutching his umbrella
While he waits for his bus -
Is he waiting for Godot?

That woman in the bakery,
Clutching her number
While she waits to buy a birthday cake -
Is she waiting for Godot?

That poet staring at a blank page,
Clutching his hair
While he waits for inspiration -
Is he waiting for Godot?

Just who is this Godot, anyway?
Is he God,
Or the meaningless mumbo-jumbo
Of the bureaurcratic state,
Or compulsions we impose upon ourselves,
Or even the Messiah?
Just who is this Godot, anyway?

Do we have to wait?
Can we walk away
Whenever we choose?
Or are we waiting
No matter where we are
Or what we do?

Hard questions these,
Seeking answers
I do not have.
So I sit here and write
Another poem
While waiting for Godot.

June 2003

index

Since 1984 has come and gone quite some time ago, the significance of room 101 may have faded. Some of us, however, remember.

I looked in room 101,
Where my secret shame and fear was hid.
I purged myself of that fear and shame
I owned it, acknowledged it, ended it.
And banished it from that cursed room.
Alas, to no avail; when I looked again
In room 101
I saw
My secret shame and fear.

July 2003

index

Pleasant Hill is a cemetery upon a pleasant hill.

When with all I've had my fill
Then I shall sleep on Pleasant Hill
I'll sleep there on a pine board bed
Who needs a mattress when you're dead.

August 2003

index

I am sure that there is an explanation for this limerick. I'm not sure that anyone wants to hear it.

There once was a tree in the quad
Where students would question their god.
He was a dreadful old wheeze
Who served wonderful cheese
So students ate brie with their cod.

June 2004

index

There is a large black dog named Bridger who is part of my life. He does dog things.

Come back, you big black dog
Come back!
That rabbit will never feel your teeth;
He's faster than you,
And he's running for his life.

Come back, you big black dog
Come back!
That pheasant's flown away.
You'll never catch him now,
And hunting season's months away.

Come back, you big black dog
Come back!
Get your nose out of that hole you've dug.
There's nothing there, anymore,
And if there is, it'll bite your nose.

Come back, you big black dog
Come back!
Those ducks will always be ahead of you
No matter how fast you swim,
And, God, dog, you really are wet.

Come back, you big black dog
Come back!
Leave that black and white kitty alone.
This is a battle you can not win,
And, God, dog, you really do stink.

May 2005

index

This is a pair of images reflecting mortality.


On a hill beneath a tree
An old man sits,
Reading a book.
He is old, that man,
Ancient beyond belief.
A ragged white beard
Crawls down his chest
And over his knee.

It is autumn there.
It is always autumn there,
And golden leaves drift down,
To lay a golden carpet
Beneath the tree.

High in the tree
Sweet birds sing,
In rhapsodies too beautiful
To be heard by mortal ears.

The old man listens not;
He is rapt in his book.
It is large, that book,
And leather bound.
'Tis richly illuminated,
And its ancient script
Was formed ere Babel fell.

As he reads the old man's finger
Follows each line of script.
When all is read he turns the page
And as he turns
It withers and turns to dust.

It is the Book of Life he reads.
Each page but a single life,
Each life a single page.
When lives are done they turn to dust,
Dust that falls on golden leaves
Leaves that fall from high above,
Endlessly, from the Tree of Life.

May 2005

index

Flowers are nice.

Petals that fold in a delicate way
Closed by night, open by day
Dabs of color in floral blooms
Life renewed in floral wombs

May 2005

index

This was inspired by a chap who thinks that he had found human fossils in coal. I doubt that this one should have been saved, but maybe it will inspire me to write another poem someday.

There once was a Conrad named Ed
Who had too many rocks in his head
    He thought ordinary rubble
    Put evolution in trouble
But it's Ed that's in trouble instead

October 2007

index

I wrote this some time ago. I suppose it is not very profound, but it is true. Truth wears better when it lies in verse.

Eyes were never made for naked truth
The mind doth need a pattern book
To shape the forms of light and dark
The past will guide the eye to see

We see the world through a scrim
Patterned with our views of yesterday
Each day we paint the scrim anew
And on it add another scene

The eyes of youth will see a pool
And only see the pool they see
The eyes of age will see a pool
And in it see a thousand pools

The baby looks and does not see
The ancient sees and does not look
The scrim begins with naked gauze
And ends with painted filigree

October 2007

index

I was writing a review of a book about the history of life on Earth when these lines occurred to me.

The living stones died long ago.
And those who stole the sun
Wrought death with every breath.
The bones of ancient beasts;
Are stones within the Earth.
The old order passeth.
All that was no longer is,
And never again shall be.

July 2009

index

Actually these are words to a song I wrote. I can sing it, but I don't know how to write notes. Make up your own tune if you like.

Down below
Down below
There's a place for sinners down below

Better change your way of livin'
If you want to get to heaven,
There's a place for sinners down below

Down below
Down below
There's a place for sinners down below

The devil is awaitin' down below
Oh, the devil is awaitin' down below
The devil, he's awaitin'
As you keep on hesitatin'
The devil is awaitin' down below

Down below
Down below
The devil is awaitin' down below

There's a fiery pit awaitin' down below
There's a fiery pit awaitin' down below
There's a fiery pit awaitin'
As you keep on hesitatin'
There's a fiery pit awaitin' down below

Down below
Down below
There's a fiery pit awaitin' down below

August 2009

index

Sentiments of what might have been

What would have been is not.
What could have been is not.
What should have been is not.
And we do not know the reason why.

What were the choices we never made?
Where were the roads we never took?
What were the words we never said?
We do not know; we shall never know.

Those who know do no speak.
They are the ghosts of might have been
And they have no words for such as us.

August 2009

index

I suppose I have gotten too involved in community affairs.

Dust blows across the streets
Of little towns in the prairies.
Men sit in cafes drinking coffee
And watch the dust that blows outside.

They talk about the weather,
And whether the crops will make,
And who did what with whom and why.
Old stories are told once again.
That's what they talk about
As they drink their coffee
And watch the dust blow.

Time moves slowly here.
Yesterdays fade into tomorrows
As though today will never end.
And, still,the dust blows.

Death by death numbers fade.
One by one shop doors close.
The end is not yet, but it looms.
Decades more will pass but in the end
Nothing will be left save memories.

The end need not be,
But surely it will be
When people only face the past
While the dust blows.

September 2009

index

Within our lives there are always tantalizing possibilities never quite realized.

I've seen her once
I've seen her twice
And many more times than that
But always in the shadows
And never in the light
She is My Lady in the Dark

Slender is her figure
And graceful are her ways
I think she is a beauty
Though I'm never really sure
The shadows hold the mystery
Of My Lady in the Dark

I do not know her name
I doubt I ever shall
We never speak within the shadows
And we never share the light
There are no names in shadows
For My Lady in the Dark

December 2010

index

Well, what would a dinosaur think.

What would a dinosaur think
If we ripped it out of its time
Into our world of automobiles and roads,
Our world filled with mechanical beasts
That fill the air with mechanical stink

And what would that dinosaur think
Of our world of fields and farms
A world once wild,
A world now tame,
A world filled with people nests
Cities dense with steel and stone

And what would a dinosaur think
Of our restless technology,
A technology that's eating the world
If that dinosaur were you or me?

March 2011

index

Retreat in the sanctity of one's thoughts.

Twas grand! Oh, how the party was grand!
Uniformed servants walked in the crowd
Bearing platters of food
And platters of drink.
The guests were all dressed
In the finest of garb.
Oh how the party was grand!

A guest was there who didn't belong.
Drifting here, drifting there,
He passed from group to group.
Alone with his thoughts
In the midst of the crowd
He was there but not really there.

When asked how it went he replied
"Twas grand! Oh, how the party was grand!"
What else could he say,
When he'd been there
But not really there.

March 2011

Index Of First Lines

Dog person went to town last night
Small mind, small wisdom
Before the dawn creeps o'er the hill
Closing for the kill
If you are on the prairie
A molten disc all wrapped in lavender
I was born a Martian
We held the center once
All those things I said before
The architects of reason
I.
Love, no matter how pure,
There is a cemetery on the edge of town
Leaves fall
I gazed into the mirror
God sits on a knick knack shelf
'Tis an endless marching line
Late last night the frost flowers bloomed
Fat person, eating chips
Who are these people
Fossil footprints in the snow
I looked in room 101
When with all I've had my fill
There once was a tree in the quad
Come back, you big black dog
On a hill beneath a tree
Petals that fold in a delicate way
There once was a Conrad named Ed
Eyes were never made for naked truth
The living stones died long ago
Down Below
What would have been is not
Dust blows across the streets
I've seen her once
What would a dinosaur think
Twas grand! Oh, how the party was grand!

Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Richard Harter
This page was last updated February 26, 2011.