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Nest Egg

The things for which I hoped have come and gone:
The power to express a cogent thought;
Ability to wake at break of dawn;
Approval from a nearly perfect wife;
And will to execute what I’ve been taught.
But this is not to say that all is lost
Within the precinct of the twisted life
I’ve lived, for many turns are yet to come.
Eventually—I keep my fingers crossed—
I’ll realize a windfall benefit
From old investments that I made.  In sum,
I’m less dependent on my bank accounts
Than on tenacity and native wit,
Which I possess in copious amounts.

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The Weight of Uncounted Blessings

You worship weekly and you always tithe
To keep aggressive clerics off your heels,
But this will not forfend the Reaper’s Scythe,
Which suffers no exceptions nor appeals.

You look to Heaven as you stoop and labor
As though you were expecting some relief,
But you must carry on, just like your neighbor,
Accepting your allotted share of grief.

Somewhere above, your just reward awaits,
A dwelling where the pantry’s never bare,
Yet nothing you have witnessed indicates
That such a pleasant home is really there.

Travail, it’s said, will only make you stronger,
Prepare you for Communion with the Saints,
If you can just hold out a little longer
And not indulge in venting your complaints.

No virtues lift you up like faith and hope,
Two mental states in full divine accord.
If all you ever do is moan and mope,
Then don’t expect sweet mercy from The Lord.

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How Low the Sweet Chariot Swings

Caught up in our humanity,
We’ve all become obsessed with things:
Expensive cars and diamond rings
Inflate our native vanity.
Imbued with faux urbanity,
We foster thoughts that have no wings,
But when the doughty bluebird sings,
Its chirp restores our sanity.

What’s been foretold shall come to pass,
And lies shall nevermore be spread
In service to a darkened heart.
Bright green will be the living grass
That grows above the silent dead
Who had good reason to depart.

                                     First published in The Rotary Dial

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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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23 Responses

    • C.B. Anderson

      I’m always happy to provoke a thought, D.P. But from over here it sometimes seems like my lifetime has been spent doing stupid things.

      Reply
  1. Brian Yapko

    These three poems are very enjoyable to read, each one imbued with wisdom and sadness tempered with a decidedly unsentimental, wry wit. I especially like The Weight of Uncounted Blessings which skillfully articulates an important message about discipline and its connection to faith and hope. Thank you for sharing these memorable poems.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      You may have noticed, Brian, that a good number of my poems have a vein of what I call speculative theology running through them. I’m glad you enjoyed reading them.

      Reply
  2. Paul Freeman

    I enjoyed all three of these poems.

    I liked ‘Nest Egg’ especially for its positive turn, though I’d maybe consider changing ‘twisted’ to ‘winding’ – another connotation of ‘twisted’ initially entered my mind first and had me a bit perplexed.

    The second poem really does leave the reader thinking about stopping and counting their blessings rather than giving in to negativity.

    How Low the Sweet Chariot Swings brought to mind the quote ‘Getting and spending we lay waste our powers’ and is a timely reminder, as with the second piece, that we should stop and count our blessings.

    Thanks for putting a shine on an otherwise tarnished day, C.B.

    Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    “Twists and turns” was how I looked at it, Paul, but maybe you are on to something when it comes to the more unsavory connotation that entered your mind. I think “entered my mind” is a strange and interesting phrase, and that there is probably a poem to be written using it as a point of departure.

    My wife has little signs posted all over the house that read: Spend time counting your blessings, not airing your complaints.

    Tarnished? Did something happen today that I haven’t heard about yet, or is it just raining where you are as it is here?

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Colleagues at work needing my help on my first day of leave and Covid curfew re-introduced (I remembered just after getting ready for a midnight run), etc. As for rain, it rained for the first time in about a year yesterday, which was very nice and a blessing to count.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Rain is often a blessing, and at its worst it is still better than drought.

  4. Norma Okun

    Lovely expressions of regrets. Musically put it all makes sense.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Regrets are worth but half a pence;
      Unmusically put, it won’t make sense.

      Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    These three beautifully crafted, engaging and spirit-lifting poems are brimming with wisdom, wit and wonder, and I thank you for them.

    Reply
  6. Julian D. Woodruff

    I especially like the wry humor in the 1st, and its unusual, but I suspect very deliberate rhyme scheme (rather Schoenbergian, I think).
    the 2nd reminds me of a good joke, which I may try to turn into a poem, remembering Susan Jarvis Bryant’s challenge of a while back.
    Congratulations, CB, on a distinctive, excellently crafted trio.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Thank you, Julian. For a fact, I often find it difficult to come off completely serious when I write a poem. I should address such a work to whom it may amuse.

      Reply
  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    “Nest Egg” has an amazingly intricate rhyme scheme — I had to map it out on paper before I could see what was going on. Apart from the ABA of the first three lines, and the GFG of the last three lines, the other rhymes in the poem are separated by two intervening ones, so you get BACB, CBDC, DCED, FEGF. This arrangement “mutes” the rhymes, so to speak, while allowing them to tie the poem together with unseen stitches.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      This rhyme scheme is something I came up with many years ago. I sometimes refer to it as “rolling interlock. It’s basically an extension of the ABACBC stanza, which we see now and then, and can be used for any even number of lines. It does “mute” the rhymes, and it also gives the writer more time to find suitable follow-up rhymes. I used this scheme in “Sibling Revelry” from Iambs & Trochees and in “Bosom Buddies” from Trinacria, among man other poems.

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Thanks, Jared. I’ve never known you to utter a false word.

      Reply
  8. BDW

    as per Wilbur Dee Case:

    The iambic pentameters run smoothly, with grace notes of Kipling and others, joined with the casualness of Millay and Frost.

    As an aside, I prefer “twisted”, for its connotations.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      I don’t know much Kipling, but my nickname is Kip. Iambic pentameters run smoothest when they run smoothly. Nowadays we are asked to force ourselves to use metrical substitutions.

      Reply

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