"Winter Landscape" by George Henry Durrie‘With Boots On’ and Other Poetry by Lionel Willis The Society April 21, 2022 Beauty, Culture, Humor, Poetry 3 Comments . With Boots On Soon after break of day an old man comes Trudging along the thawing roads of Cottage Country (the common land of day and hope) Considering the analects of Spring. At every unploughed drive where frozen slush Prevents all ingress of the motored sort He pauses, then, with an observant eye Takes it all in with one brief sweeping glance: Whether to climb whatever barricade Winter has raised, or shrug, and gravely pass. Sometimes he enters and bequeaths his prints To rouse some cottage owner’s brief disquiet Whether his or her privacy remains Inviolate. He’s not the sort of fellow Who gives a hoot for pride of ownership. But, on the other hand, he wouldn’t break A lock or force a jamb. Even a door That hangs ajar he notes as evidence Of someone else’s carelessness and closes. He’s not trying to sneak off people’s pasts. He’s focused more on reading future needs. He notes the blackened stalks of Viper’s Bugloss Sticking through drifts around one unmowed lawn And wonders if the man was taken ill. Elsewhere a sun-warped shingle in the yard Suggests a meeting with the roofer might Reward a second visit. A hanging line Of draggled mens’ and womens’ swimwear puzzles. A lot of driveways look like they’ll need patching. And so his survey lengthens day by day. He keeps his own snug shack in thick-set woods Beside a spring-fed rill that floods a pond Where mink frogs bask on lily pads. His ten Acres of old growth trees provide enough Dead wood to keep him warm. His wife’s long gone. A still strong healthy aging handiman Who sees the way ahead, he maps his neighbors’ Careers like watersheds and creeks and will Go on selling cheap help until the morning One of them finds his gaunt stiff in her drive. . . A Rose One rose had opened to the ardent sun That smiled upon the chance that brought me where Such prodigies of buds arched up to bare Their hearts to the warm light, that this first one Persuaded me that if, my day’s work done, I came again, like clouds that mount the air East as the sun sets west, massed blossoms there Would crowd. At dusk returning, I find none. The morning’s bloom droops black. Its shivering kin Await a more auspicious breeze than this That underscores a leaden sky. They’ll freeze Tonight, I fear. Tomorrow they’ll begin Again, of course, raised for another kiss. Meanwhile hearts must survive on memories. . . Lionel Willis was born in Toronto in 1932. He has been a mosaic designer, portrait painter, watercolorist, biological illustrator, field entomologist and professor of English Literature as well as a poet. His verse has appeared in A Miscellany of Prints and Poems, The Canadian Forum, Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, Descant, Dream International Quarterly, Harp Strings Poetry Journal, Hrafnhoh, Iambs & Trochees, Light, Romantics Quarterly, The Classical Outlook, The Society of Classical Poets, The Deronda Review, The Eclectic Muse, The Fiddlehead, The Formalist, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, Troubadour and White Wall Review, and in two books, The Dreamstone and Other Rhymes (The Plowman, 2003) and Heartscape, a Book of Bucolic Verse (EIDOLON, 2019). NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 3 Responses Brandon Jowell April 21, 2022 Your imagery was fantastic. I could see through the handyman’s eyes. God bless! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant April 22, 2022 For me, “With Boots On” (great title) speaks of all those hardworking earth angels who go the extra mile to make sure others’ lives are comfortable… I have been privileged to know a few in my time. Your beautifully crafted poem, which flows smoothly and seemingly effortlessly, focuses on the things in life that mean the most. In a world where everyone seems to be at loggerheads, this poem brings a touch of the heavenly to harsh reality. “A Rose” could well be a metaphor for hope. My heart always sinks after the cold bite of a freeze kills the budding beauty of a blossom. These words have touched my heart, “Tomorrow they’ll begin / Again, of course, raised for another kiss. / Meanwhile hearts must survive on memories. I’m drawing on those memories more and more in these frosty times. Thank you very much, Lionel. These poems are lovely. Reply Margaret Coats April 22, 2022 Very nice work, Lionel. The first poem paints a scrupulously detailed picture of a country man, showing what it means for him to intend to die with his boots on. The plain, tough last line is a bit of a shock, showing how that death may happen. The language seems rough rather than flowing, with occasional quirky features like the odd enjambment of Cottage/Country, that might be problematic in another poem, but contribute to the colloquial effect here. Your secret to good flow is maintaining five beats per line in this blank verse piece. There’s one line I think could be improved metrically: “He’s not trying to sneak off people’s pasts” has four beats anyway I read it. “He doesn’t try to sneak off people’s pasts” would seem better, unless you intend to logjam the meter here at the halfway point of the poem. “The Rose” is a fine Petrarchan sonnet with which I can sympathize. Last night we had a squall of heavy rain that beat the petals off most of the pink roses outside my back door. Only the ones on straight-up stems look good today. I like the typography that clearly shows the turn of the sonnet by breaking line 8 in two. Again, well done. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.