Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Winter’s Canto (A Poem out of Minnesota—1950s & ‘60s)


When I was a young lad and then some, with a little
Spit and vinegar in my soul—
When I was a young lad and then some—
I was well branded and lived it too!
The long and bitter winters of Minnesota
I braved, I braved them all, under deep and heavy snows
I walked to St. Louis Ecole School,
Down on 10th and Cedar streets:
A mile or two.
I roamed the back streets, and the main streets,
Of the Capital City of St. Paul…
And once winter come, there was no escape!
For a Minnesota winter has no mercy for man, bird or beast.
I caught the winds and snows, and loved it all!
All the woe that had no mercy to all living things…

In my youth, I hammered through the snows, year by year;
A racial, a roustabout, I was back then, and then some,
Half man, half boy, I rushed with youth, time and joy,
Against the winds, the atrocious winter winds!
Watching everything, everybody back then!

In the horrid winters, my feet and legs breached a path through
The slush and sleet, listening to the scrapings of shovels,
On sidewalks and streets!
More often than not, frosty tears would fall from my eyelids
Past my nose, to my cheeks, down to my lips and chin—
Then freeze in the wind: yet, I kept my cheers, by and by.

Alone more often than not, with God and me to talk:
I made my way, footprints and all, frozen in the snow.
That was when I was a full boy, and perhaps a little more man—
Winter served me well, young and sturdy I was like a brave colt,
Bright as a peacock, stubborn as a mule; hence, I’d tugged my way,
Whichever way, like a bull in milky grass.

Back then, I roamed the wooded empty, a man, and then some.
Thereafter, I roamed the world, nothing weighed me down:
Life was like heavy ice, and packed snow, like those tall clouted down
Weeds in the empty, yet I pushed on through…!
I was no longer like the perched crow, on the nearby tall trailed trees—
Waiting for spring, and then summer, —on gauntly bending branches,
Legs like stilts— wings frozen to the bone!
I set off to travel the world, on my own, alone! And then some!

NO: 4284 ((4-6-2014) (revised, 3-2016))