Words engraved on monuments
from the mouths
of our chosen leaders.
But these words,
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
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
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.