The Truth as Well

/ /

Vermont: roads, rivers do-si-doed.
Now water runs where once was road,

and Harry’s Hardware Store’s back room –
the plumbing department – is a flume.

The torrents passed.  They will return.
On Greek islands, hillsides burn.

The sky is orange, dark, and dire.
Between the water and the fire

tourists wait till help arrives.
And others – babies, husbands, wives –

have for how many years now been
trapped in a hellish in-between:

war and drought and poverty
or – also unrelenting – sea.

The Aegean, Aeschylus wrote,
blossoms with corpses. He was right.

Blossoms: the scarlet of bee balm,
lavender hostas, dewy calm.

Not far from here, they’re pitching tents
in cemeteries.  It makes sense:

cheek by jowl a house/a tomb.
They’ve had to leave their motel room.

The pandemic is almost over.
Why should the state provide their cover?

Empty houses in every town;
nowhere for families to lie down.

So distribution should undo
excess?  Gloucester in Lear hoped so.

Tourists huddle on the beach.
Solutions seem out of reach.

Under a bridge on the rail trail
a homeless man lives, fierce but frail,

barefoot and bearded, so they say.
Watch out for him.  My thoughts segue

to this screened porch, the steady croon
of busy bees all afternoon.

Foxglove, hosta, and snake root –
tempting targets, tall and sweet

flowers the humming birds attack
avidly with their needle beak.

A humming bird sideswipes a bee
and zooms away too fast to see,

its buzz in harmony with the bees.
A man emerges from the trees,

crosses Route 2, comes to a halt
in Marty’s parking lot, asphalt

glistening with rain.  And who is he?
Nobody knows his history.

The Muses help us poets tell
lies like the truth, but truth as well.

Such was the poet Hesiod’s claim.
The muses spoke to him by name,

taught him a song to glorify
both what was and what would be.

Would be…now?  What to celebrate?
Fire and flood and people wait.

Elemental apocalypse:
tourists are herded onto ships.

Migrants packed in a leaky boat
rock to and fro to stay afloat.

In the woods by the rail trail,
rain clouds lower, grim and pale.

Rivers and streams will overflow
once more.  Where should the homeless go?

Under a bridge or in a park?
The days are shorter.  It’s getting dark.

Cemetery?  Rail trail?  No.
All these are against the law.

Fire and flood and ruination:
what will be our celebration?

Listening daily to the news,
I keep an ear out for my Muse,

who inspires us to tell
lies like the truth, but truth as well.