Storage and Retrieval

In the dank cellar of the human mind
Are stored a lifetime’s worth of rusted tools
And strands of uttered words, both cruel and kind,
That molder in the moil of golden rules.

There, too, are hogsheads of untasted wine
Maturing in the clench of oaken staves
While millipedes and spiders form a line,
Like soldiers standing watch at open graves.

In dusty bins are valued scraps of copper,
Collected from a hundred junked machines,
Which raise the question: is it really proper
For salvagers to live like libertines?

So lay your heavy weapons down, and strike
Your colors, showing you no longer pose
A threat.  Prepare a banquet, if you like,
Inviting to your table all of those

Whom you have disrespected.  Share the wealth,
And let your own good fortune thus expand.
Decant your finest vintage, toast the health
Of guests who then will praise your open hand.

Remember, everything you’ll ever need
Is held in storage down those basement stairs.
Be not afraid to modify your creed
If sudden kindness takes you unawares.

A change of heart is never automatic,
And there may yet be treasures in the attic.

                                                              First published in The Orchards



The Seasoned and the Green

   … [D]ream of the soft look
   Your eyes had once …           — William Butler Yeats

A million summer somethings flood the town
And spread to all the nearby working farms,
Where boys and girls are busy plucking down
From geese too firmly held to sound alarms.

Another crop of summer corn is sown,
And early greens are harvested before
They go to seed.  The fenced-in lawns are mown,
And flowers planted just outside each door.

Fair swimmers test the water in the pond,
To ascertain that winter’s chill has flown
And that the time for games of which they’re fond
Has come again, when they’ll be on their own.

The sun seems disinclined to leave the sky;
The days are long, the nights are rather brief,
And older folks take stock and wonder why
The growing warmth no longer brings relief

From winter’s pall the way it used to do.
The summer is a season for the young
Who still expect bright futures to ensue,
But not for those whose songs have all been sung.



Still Falls the Rain

with a nod to Dame Edith Sitwell

When the vast sky at last begins to darken
Over the gently undulating plain,
The farmers, done with work, are wont to hearken
To distant rumbling auguries of rain

While resting underneath the roofs of porches.
And so they contemplate the labor spent
On wresting sustenance from soil.  Like torches
That flicker from some far-off regiment,

The stars appear and slowly march across
The heavens.  Gentle sadness moves the hearts
That weigh the counterpoint of gain and loss,
Of love and fear, of triumphs and false starts,

Bringing about a sudden keen desire
To face again the stern demands of morning:
The tasks of which worn bodies quickly tire,
And acute pains that come without a warning.

Though life is good when lived close to the land,
And generations prosper all in all,
It’s sometimes difficult to understand
The way of things, till rain begins to fall.

                                First published in The Lyric



C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press

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8 Responses

  1. Daniel Kemper

    “Storage and Retrieval,” what can I say: exquisite. My favorite though, was “Still Falls the Rain.” I’m edging towards the seasons those poems unfold and the latter strikes the deepest of the three. Thanks for these.

  2. David Watt

    “Still Falls the Rain” is my pick of these three descriptively rich poems. Rain is definitely a precious commodity for those on the land. Although, like sweet desserts, a regular moderate helping is best.

    • C.B. Anderson

      And rain, David, like fat, is best when it is well marbled.

  3. Cheryl Corey

    What are the titles of the Yeats and Sitwell poems referenced, so that I may look them up?

    • C.B. Anderson

      Cheryl, the Yeats poem quoted in the epigraph is “When You Are Old”, though its connection to the poem at hand is tenuous. The Edith Sitwell poem is “Still Falls the Rain”, probably her most famous poem. I stole the title, though the two poems themselves could scarcely be more different from one another.


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