I am a long-time resident of Austin, Texas, where I received my education at the University of Texas. Favorite quote: "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's" by William Blake, my mentor.
Breakfast With Marta
Marta has prepared a breakfast this morning;
Now pours our coffee into cups
and sits across from me.
I sip the coffee and Marta peels a tangerine.
There is Marta in a photograph on the table,
A ten year old smiling face;
And there is Marta peeling a tangerine
And there is Marta nursing her baby
And there is Marta watching her children play
And there is Marta receiving their letters
And there is Marta smiling through her wrinkles
And there is Marta peeling a tangerine,
And smiling at me.
The Old Baseball Field
Solemn old men gathered on the front porch,
Looking yonder at the old baseball field:
That same ball field their fathers built for them,
Cleared the field, mowed the grass, plowed the base paths,
Measured distances, built benches and backstops.
Before the chain link fence was constructed
A ball hit to the tree line was a homer.
In time came padded bases, uniforms,
A proper rubber for the pitching mound…
They in turn maintained it for their own children.
Too many children left for the city
And the field had lain fallow for some years;
Its face, like theirs, had deteriorated.
They sit silently on the distant porch,
Remembering glory days on the field.
Out on that field they learned to give their all:
They learned to play fair, with good sportsmanship,
With honor, maintaining the integrity of the game,
Understanding why "cheaters never win".
Complete success comes as member of a team.
To excel is the thrill of the game.
The exhilaration of a winning hit
Was later found in falling in love;
The satisfaction of a diving catch
Returned when buying the family home.
All the scrapes and cuts and twisted ankles
Are part of the game: you continue to play.
You want to play despite assured pain;
To enjoy the game requires courage.
Now they stoically stare at big metal
Excavators destroying the baseball field,
Preparing the new highway from the city.
Beyond the tree line is a new strip mall
Where boys shop at the video game store
To play as mafia and auto thieves.
In The Days Of The Sepoy Rebellion
Govinda Anandacharya hurried home
Across fields of rice through gentle rain.
A Himalayan wind from Nepal kissed
His face. His wife, Rohina, played with dolls.
He passed the water buffalo unnoticed.
His father sits on a cot, smoking a hookah.
Govinda tells of leaving to join the forces of Bahadur Shah at Lucknow;
“The British soldiers and their missionaries will he thrown into the sea!
Indians will no longer be slippers on British feet!”
His Father puffs on tobacco and says:
"The King of Oudh was never good to us.
Another ten autumns and you will want
The Marathas to throw out the Mussalmen.
All governments exploit their populations.
You swear allegiance to the talaqdar
Who acts as bad as British collectors.
Our village can be happy left alone.
Rely on yourself and you need no state.
One should but rule his self and leave others
Alone; all else can only be tyranny.
Each year I plow the fields and plant the rice;
I keep with caste, dance at festivals,
And take good company with friends; enjoy
My wife, help raise my children while I learn
To know Brahman. I reap the crops and when
I die a pyre will consume my flesh.
My ashes will be thrown into the Ganges,
And you will live the same - Mughal or British.
As words are lives: They leave from lips unknown,
Are heard, have meaning, then forgotten pass.
Famine or flood, the Ganges runs its course
And governments of men cannot stop it."
Govinda was not swayed and soon he left.
The news of Delhi's fall came in two weeks,
The British soldiers in Lucknow held firm,
And planting season had again returned
When Govinda came home, lame and sorry.
At Fort Davis
Jeff Davis County, Texas
Beneath the crags of Sleeping Lion Mountain
The baked remains of Fort Davis fall;
A crumbling brown brick adobe stream
Perceived in Time as if in stall.
Buildings fall, are restored, revert to ruin;
Foundations echoing imprints on Eternity,
Reverberating on the senses
That the past still is and will ever be.
Black-skinned buffalo soldiers still ride
On Limpia Creek, past bobcats’ call,
And swords hang loosely off the gloves
Of officers strutting to the Friday ball.
Dead excavators uproot the ground
Where dead horses stamp deserted stalls;
Alarms have sounded, sentries fire!
“Look here, children, these were corrals.”
Simultaneous time, time no more;
At the museum a slide-show begins at three,
Sergeants swear the muster for drill,
The hospital’s filled with dysentery.
All history exists in the present
But we the actors are not its care;
Each moment born can never die
Though we pass through and are frozen there.
©2014 Benjamin Pehr