Out of Time – by Jack D. Harvey

Out of Time – by Jack D. Harvey

This is the final installment of our to-date collection of Jack Harvey’s work. It is a fitting sendoff. Take time to read it–it’s more worth it than you may realize.

___

Out of Time by Jack D. Harvey

The old man rose and

wiggled his toes

in the light of the faltering fire;

the season was Lent

the bent trees starting to bud;

the long procession

of providential days,

like pretty children,

drew a bead on his heart.

 

At the open window

the old man looked

at the season’s last snow,

scrappy birchbark

black-patched,

the spokes of a

wagon wheel

poking out of

a pile of rubbish.

Open fields

ungreen and mute,

their strength to discover

spring’s breath still

puny and remote.

 

The old man spoke,

muttering to himself;

some holy place,

shriving, I shall go,

like Noah, send from

the lost ship a dove,

over the flood, a raven.

 

More and more his

lips move;

whispering, his breath floats,

aimless,

his spirit faltering,

becoming less and less

as day ends,

as the sun, bleeding like a lamb,

redeems itself

for the umpteenth time,

setting in the west.

 

A prisoner of the sunset

the old man peers out at the sky.

Beauty and life and the end of life;

all debts forgiven in this moment,

in the ribbon of red spreading

from the sun’s defection,

in the blood of redemption,

in the coming of the dark.

 

Nearer my God unto thee

and never so near;

never near enough.

 

Lonesome and lost

the old man, like

all of us;

his faith gone

like a runaway balloon, or

is God going away?

Already gone for good?

 

Our good, His goodness,

moon and sun

set in a heaven

that never was;

an illusion, a dream.

We grapple like fools

with a sky

real as the rain

that falls,

forgetting the very rocks

beneath our feet

are shadows

no more, no less

than the face of heaven.

 

Made and remade,

our God, our goodness,

blaze anew in

a Promethean sky

of blessed stars;

Newton’s, Einstein’s

imperfect space

keeps time and tune

with God’s enterprise,

paradise confined

to the garden of Eden.

 

On high,

seraphs, saints, sinners,

the fruit of good and evil,

dancing cheek to cheek,

brushed by some unknown purpose.

 

Yet down below,

simple and solid,

the dark holds,

 

tightfisted.

 

Have we mortified our flesh

for the ten commandments?

Tenderly slaughtered

too many innocents

too many times?

 

Stabbing and saving,

sowing and raping,

our eyes show the compassion

our hands belie.

Jacob and Esau,

Abel and Cain

compelled by breakneck time,

did better than we think

and worse.

 

Knights-errant all,

long gone on the quest,

God only knows

what guides us

to our best;

God only knows

what glimmering

in the gloaming

leads us

through the forests,

the mountains,

the high plains,

riding, riding, like Parsifal,

like Tristram,

eager hunters

riding to war.

 

The romance of life,

the vitality, the blessing,

whatever it is,

against the background of violins

speaks violence;

the plucked string

signals the slaughter to come;

the brave and the meek,

the indifferent, the corrupt,

go about their business;

in the loom of catastrophe,

in the belly of leviathan,

don’t know or care

and that is God’s grace.

 

With no thought for the morrow,

sans passion or sorrow,

those who survive the longest

sit by the fire

and wait for spring

and the least desire,

are subject to love

and love’s reminders

are touched to the quick

by the turns and twists

of unforgotten luck

and disaster…

 

Short of breath and temper

they offer hunters’ wisdom

in broken weather,

present for inspection

trembling heads,

candid and flimsy

as cherry blossoms.

 

Holy and intractable time,

short and sharp

as a knife

cuts the thread;

legions of the living

fall and break

like waves on the shore.

 

The old man rests;

rests and waits

for the last inning,

the last call to arms.

At the ends of

his gnarled feet,

still wiggling,

his toes signal

their steadfast devotion

to movement.

 

And,

at the window,

final plenipotentiary,

the merry rising sun turns

his thin white hair

to straw-

 

alchemist’s final gasp!

 

Discovering gold.

_____

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

 

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.

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