For Harry Chapin

We rise and fall,
Seeing the Beatles into middle age,
Feel the edge of the grave
As Lennon falls by the assassin
We always knew was there.

Members of our tribe also fall,
Far flung on the earth’s wind.
Some are locked in,
Some locked out.

Dreams burn,
The wheel turns.

Dave returned to Maine,
Customs were perplexed as he stated
He was smuggling freedom.
Freedom was his home.

Flesh and bone are no armour against pain,
Winter black trees in rain
As the world ripens
On the temper of its name.

Words flowed like honey off our tongues,
Travelers on the night road to Asia.
We were there in the streets,
We were there in the halls
As seasons changed
And life rearranged.

Ed went up a mountain to find truth.
It was said to lurk up there
In the form of an old man,
But he only found himself.

I call them to this room for a moment:
Wayne, Nicholas, Jacqueline, Sue,
Silent in the faces,
Distant places.
The years are stealthy reminders
That we don’t control the turn of events,
Invited by rumour,
We are its guests.

You, too, have your own names,
Reminding you of what you knew
When you walked in the ruin
Of splendid summers.

Dreams burn,
The wheel turns.

And so, we are all travelers, whatever the form of transport we might use at the time, or where we might travel in our mind.

At this moment I am on a boat.

Friends, I am a passenger at the rail.
I am the believer.
I am the doubter,
Watching the moon return to the sea,
Holding the faces of you who I have known,
Briefly, as though singing in the place
Where dreams are born.
I wait for the sun to raise the dawn.

from 4 Ships (Randolph Press, 1982), © Gary Langford 1982, used by permission of the author

Gary Langford in the Poetry Store

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