Marble Icebergs Words engraved on monuments resound from the mouths of our chosen leaders. But these words, when laden with deceit—crater, and our trust descends along with them. Monuments are more than mere marble gleaming—buffed by the sun; their spirit can be fragile as glaciers the warmer the earth becomes. When facades of Statecraft undermine hope, monuments’ foundations erode; statues become like icebergs that lose their grip and float away in the fog. Camp of Dreams Dreams at dawn fade like voices in the woods from a gathering of hunters at the end of their trail. There, they huddle in the mist to trade one last tale of stalking game— stitching vapor into legends as full of stuffing as animal heads mounted in a dusty den. Then, as the coals of their fire hiss and the nest of ashes dies, the hunters recede into a glen past the bog of the mind, just before one’s eyes open wide. Rural Auction The caw and cadence of the auctioneer cuts through the din as dust swirls ‘round farm wives, daughters, cousins, friends. Jawbone to ear, they nudge and whisper. Their strong arms stretch as they pick through and gauge the hodgepodge of housewares on display: pots and dishes and the many evening hours gathered in boxes of hand crochet. Ringed behind them, young farmers listen as fathers swap gossip, weather and news. Their clay-red faces are outcrops of rock jutting under ball caps, atop denim and plaid. Afternoon long, they mill and mingle, their ears keenly tuned to the auctioneer’s call. They see, but never watch, the objects they want: that newly-painted tractor, a tiller, a plow, that old sleigh and harness—just for kicks, or maybe those bibs lined with woolen fleece. About the yard, children frolic. They weave their families into cloth made whole, except for the one kid who sits by the road, draws in the dirt and counts the autos that brake for a look and drive on. Under the oaks, the old folks totter in wooden rockers not yet sold. Their faces relax and offload worries. Humming soothes them, as watches lie stopped on their bed stands at home. Cattle graze in summer pastures. The corn grows fatter as the harvest waits. Toil is tempered with patience and tactics to outwit markets and partner with nature. These Confounded Desires I felt at ease with my desires undeclared— I didn’t want their objects all the same. But they kept lining up like autos in used car lots, lies on their meters and paint layered over their hungry scabs of rust. With so little difference between them, it took years to see them all.
My home on the web is www.johnmiddlebrookpoet.com, and here, you can find the details of my publication history. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I manage a consulting firm focused on non-profit organizations. I have been writing poetry since I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where I also served on the poetry staff of Chicago Review.