I was brought up and still live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia so I rely on imagery derived from the natural landscape to explore human relationships. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have two daughters and three grandchildren. I have been an architectural woodcarver for over 35 years and have written numerous articles and three books on the subject. My poems are forthcoming in Able Muse, The Chariton Review, Plainsongs, Poetry Quarterly, and Snowy Egret among others.
Consulting a . . . map ensures that far away is always close at hand. Jerry Brotton, A History of the World in Twelve Maps
It is not down in any map; true places never are. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
As a spyglass, my father’s map is rolled,
but dead, he is now too far distant to see.
So swearing, I struggle to rule the unruly
and weigh corners with bean cans, bold
as castle towers waiting for a king.
Over conquered curves, my regret flies--
patchwork fields, villages— as any map implies.
Gravity’s blue signature is quietly snaking.
Maps do not render any real place
nor fathering days of his life. Folding torn
edges, halves to quarters, I notice the true
arrow, and my penciled name in the white space
that divides the unknown from what he knew--
he has circled the river town where I was born.
My serenades have been the broken voice of the crow. -Seamus Heaney
As much as words are tiny sacrifices, he reads between the lines
to extrapolate meaning from impish doodles snooping there--
crows beg him fly with them though he is desperate not to notice.
They tease him toward open sky, but he mistrusts their autumn clarity.
His heroic homilies are storm smudged, redacted.
What music there is his deafness only pretends,
like touching angels with less than himself.
Remembered songs are milestone memorized in youth,
but he has left a trail for assassins, echoing end notes,
arias of ignorance. Forgiving the ruckus among scribbled trees,
he measures distance with definitions and gambles on nuance,
gambles on humble harmonies that ignore the lonely voice.
The crows coax him toward evening, crying their libretto.
They joke and snicker about the parables of his life, those secret wars
fought in the heart. So by dirges, he fools myself with notions of flight.
They banter in rain while ragged autumn lets itself down
to within a feather of the truth. They fly in couplets
meaning less than he would give them. They mock
the victory of silence, wing deftly through his ribcage
like signs of an afterlife, a possible promise of paradise.
Eulogy for an Ipad
You can’t hammer a nail over the internet. Alan Blinder
Even with the plastic smell,
you named it Ignacy Paderewski
and after, as the lime green cover
got grimier, nicknames evolved,
never in anger or sarcasm.
You muttered pet names no self-respecting
teenager would admit to,
that age-out as does any fashion.
Iggy took you to birthday parties,
to battlefields in ancient Greece,
and sundry other facts-on-demand,
received your e-mails,
obediently ordered your obligations.
A companion, you conversed constantly
on your way to Paris and Rome,
to Flagstaff, New York.
You trusted its maps, its calculations
like a brother-in-law professor.
Even read the Great Books together,
comfy in bed with careful coffee.
And like anyone’s cat, one day
it refused to wake up, blank-screened,
and though the button clicked, clicked, clicked,
there was no response, no vitals.
For months you carried it around, you had intentions,
but it is still on the sideboard in the hall,
like a reminding memorial
of the relief it has finally given you.
2018 Frederick Wilbur
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