Weekend Open Mic Poetry Reading That Has Nothing To Do With Either Tea Parties Or Occupy Wall Street

Oliver Wendell Holmes Senior will kick us off:

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then of a sudden it — ah, but stay,
I’ll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits, –
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
Georgius Secundus was then alive, –
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock’s army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on that terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

Now in building of shaises, I tell you what,
There is always a weakest spot, –
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In pannel or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, throughbrace, — lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will, –
Above or below, or within or without, –
And that’s the reason, beyond a doubt,
That a chaise breaks down, but doesn’t wear out.

But the Deacon swore (as deacons do,
With an “I dew vum,” or an “I tell yeou”)
He would build one shay to beat the taown
‘n’ the keounty ‘n’ all the kentry raoun’;
It should be so built that it couldn’ break daown:
“Fer,” said the Deacon, “’t’s mighty plain
Thut the weakes’ place mus’ stan’ the strain;
‘n’ the way t’ fix it, uz I maintain, is only jest
‘T’ make that place uz strong uz the rest.”

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn’t be split nor bent nor broke, –
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the the straightest trees
The pannels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;

The hubs of logs from the “Settler’s ellum,” –
Last of its timber, — they couldn’t sell ‘em,
Never no axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Throughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he “put her through,”
“There!” said the Deacon, “naow she’ll dew!”

Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren — where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; — it came and found
The Deacon’s masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hindred increased by ten; –
“Hahnsum kerridge” they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came; –
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arive,
And then come fifty and FIFTY-FIVE.

Little of of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there’s nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it. — You’re welcome. — No extra charge.)

FIRST OF NOVEMBER, — the Earthquake-day, –
There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn’t be, — for the Deacon’s art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn’t a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less or more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
 And the spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!

First of November, fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
“Huddup!” said the parson. — Off went they.

The parson was working his Sunday’s text, –
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the — Moses — was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet’n’-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill, –
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet’n’-house clock, –
Just the hour of the earthquake shock!

What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, –
All at once, and nothing first, –
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That’s all I say.

 

Consider this an Open Mic.

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17 thoughts on “Weekend Open Mic Poetry Reading That Has Nothing To Do With Either Tea Parties Or Occupy Wall Street

  1. Here’s a poem I used to read in my open mic days in Denver:

    To Mary from the First Grade:

    Because running was all, together we ran
    On the laptop at school, at recess and lunch
    Together we ran because running was all
    And we held hands

    The teachers all shouted for us to slow down
    But even five minutes was too long to wait
    Together we ran because running was all
    And we held hands

    After first grade, you moved away
    But I hope you remember that running was all
    I hope you remember we ran together
    And we held hands

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  2. When peaches were tart
    and strawberries were red,
    my head and my heart were
    raw, taken from what I saw
    with you, each and all
    of my friends had forsaken me.
    How did I fall if reaching
    to you was all you had to teach me?
    Teach me!
    Preach to me!
    You were all I had, my head
    in my hands,
    I thought we would reach all
    together
    but for you
    I
    fell.

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  3. Atop a hill,
    I stand in rarefied air
    Only a hint of rancid remains…
    bourne on the wind.

    Below, a reeking miasma
    a putrid yellow fog clings
    Pierced by a beam of red light.
    Sunshine tommorrow.

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  4. There came a giant to my door,
    A giant fierce and strong,
    His step was heavy on the floor.
    His arms were ten yards long
    He scowled and frowned
    he shook the ground,
    I trembled through and through,
    At length I looked him in the face,
    And cried ”who cares for you?”

    And then he hit me.

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  5. What is plucked will grow again,
    What is slain lives on,
    What is stolen will remain-
    What is gone is gone.

    … What is sea-born dies on land,
    Soft is trod upon.
    What is given burns the hand-
    What is gone is gone.

    Here is there, and high is low,
    All may be undone.
    What is true, no two men know-
    What is gone is gone.

    Who has choices need not choose,
    We must, who have none.
    We can love but what we lose-
    What is gone is gone.

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