Poetry / Poets

3 poems by Brian Le Lay

For the Cause of Peace
 

For the cause of peace, the aging bomber
Absorbs a nothing village, its ancestral oaks,
Greek statues wrapped in a latticework of Italian vine,
Engulfed in tufts of Scandinavian-gray smoke
Which blossom from the seeds he drops.

For the cause of peace, the toy soldiers,
Hands to hearts, send the poets to war
With Holy Books, ammunition belts, black tar
In aluminum tins. They chain reluctant converts
At the ankles, cram them into cattle cars,

Carted over the ribbed dirt road,
The low canopy, to the spotlight
In the clearing, center stage,
Where durable knots are made
By figures in flouncing black robes.

At home our discarded papers litter the sidewalks.
The rains wash the ink into the sewers,
Into the river, where buckets line the shore.
The children they spared, drinking our water,
Will know what was done for the cause of peace.

 
First Words: A Brief History of Modern French Poetry
 
 France blooms in all directions
From the banks of the Seine
Like feathers from the shoots
Of a baby bird. At full maturity,

In first flight, their quills
Come unfastened, shiver off . . .
A young Apollinaire collects
These stray feathers from a field.

The rippled blue diamonds on the surface
Of the tilapia pond pull shut.
The world darkens. Dawn. Show blue
Again as though cloistered

In the hollow of an uncurled palm.
He dips a quill in the Seine. First words
Inked on a tablet of chestnut bark:
The mountain over there is an exposed bone.

The sun-shimmered folds of the dorsal fins
Are a taffeta gown that billows
As a woman faints. Light curves
Through the ever-changing waves.

River, blood. Grass,
Mallard feathers crushed
By million-year stampedes.
What am I?

 
The Slaves
 

For centuries the slaves of villagers
Have mined these fine fire diamonds
From clumps of coal, like the golden
Mammoth husks pulled from melting glaciers.

The slaves are said to be less than the goats
That are sacrificed over fires lit
By the diamonds they mine. The slaves
Sleep on cold dirt under the high canopy.

In shifts, a pair of watchmen listen
For the slither and hiss of the black mamba;
Gorillas howl their freedom
On the distant mountain.

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