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Do you see
how I risk
the ladder
and the chance
of another freeze
to prune at last
our old pear tree?
I am not so sure
of the rungs
as I once was
and cling for life
with my left hand
while sawing
with my right.
The gaps left
where I lopped
crooked limbs
dead twigs
I leave to spring
to deep roots
with the promise
of bud, branch, ring,

-- Lou Masson
Portland, Ore.

Old Socks

Old socks
have forgiven you
your ludicrous bunion,
the creepy feel of fungus
caught at the pool,
your slimy-toed tennies,
abandonment in the wet cycle,
blood, ugh,
the woof, woof, woof
of warped threads
which threaten their integrity.
Old socks have
warmed and cosseted you.
They have borne the feet of the day.
May they finally
rest in the peace
of your regard.
“Bless old socks,
oh, my soul.”

-- Margery Frisbie
Arlington Heights, Ill.

The Not So Good Times

They gathered in little groups
on waste land around two wells
the nomads were finally forced in.
the drought had rounded them up
they who were by nature fully atuned
to the silence of the wilderness
were forced to the edge of Babel
the confusions hurt their soft ears

the droughts were the worst ever
helped on by urban eco-damage
camels, donkeys, goats dried-up
and gradually died in their tracks
it was easy to find the way forward
they just followed the dead bodies
of those too weak to continue on
which was worse, the city or death?

the government supplied some tents
and one minimal issue of dry rations
for the rest they became scavengers
in the twisted laneways of the slums
the city was the most alien concept
here they live twix shame and fear
‘Lord have mercy on us’ they prayed
‘the God of all peoples is everlasting.’

-- Pat Mohen
East Victoria Park, Australia

August Fireworks

(for Sandy and Richard)

Summer stars light up the
timothy grass in the field,
beckon little hands to
capture them in jars

while the August
Perseids shoot at
random through the sky
as we three lie on the hammock,

watch -- count -- ooh -- aah --
giggle on a balmy night
that will twinkle
in our hearts forever.

-- Karen Gillman
Winslow, Maine

1999 in POETRY

2000 in POETRY

Poems should be limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed. Please send poems to NCR POETRY, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City MO 64111-1203. Or via e-mail to poetry@natcath.org or fax (816) 968-2280. Please include your street address, city, state, zip and daytime telephone number. NCR offers a small payment for poems we publish, so please include your Social Security number.

National Catholic Reporter, October 27, 2000