In A Quiet House (poems from old notebooks, 2001?)

This is a long one.

In A Quiet House

There have always been MacDonalds
Living along this shore.
Working the land to feed their guts,
And making music through the night
In the long winter cold.

There have always been MacDonalds,
This house was always full.
Hymns and mournful Scottish ballads
Always filled the spaces stretched taut
Between the jigs and reels.

Break out the bagpipes, boys,
There’s been a death today.
Pump up the bagpipes, boys,
The fiddle has nought to say.

The sun came up as it always does.
The wind was from the west.
The grass was green, the dew was wet,
The rosebush had a spider web
Stretched between its thorns.

The apple tree had not grown heavy,
It was only late July.
A fishing boat lay off the point.
A bluejay called. Inside the west window,
The blood began to dry.

Break out the bagpipes, boys,
There’s been a death today.
Pump up the bagpipes, boys,
The fiddle has nought to say.

In the quiet house the flies gathered,
They ate and lay their eggs.
The sun shone down on the grainfields;
Green began its turn to gold on land
Stretched between road and sea.

Dan MacDonald was dead on the floor,
whose hands knew more than work—
Though grained with grease, they’d pulled a bow
Across years of strings and drawn
Legs into frantic dance.

Break out the bagpipes, boys,
There’s been a death today.
Pump up the bagpipes, boys,
The fiddle has nought to say.

In Charlottetown the bank was dark and cold
Where Dan’s loans lay in state,
Missed payments marked (in fading red)
For seed drills and fertilizers,
For fuels and pesticides.

At ten a.m. the doors would open,
And the air conditioners hum,
The tellers stand inscrutable
(As time never stood still for Dan,
As his bills stood unpaid.)

Break out the bagpipes, boys,
There’s been a death today.
Pump up the bagpipes, boys,
The fiddle has nought to say

No seventh son of a seventh son,
Dan still had magic in his hands.
But only when he held a fiddle—
His trucks broke down, his crops failed,
His Mary died with child.

In the quiet house the flies remained
The only source of sound.
Dan’s fiddle neither wept nor wailed
While the hands which once drew its song
Drew silence from the floor.

Break out the bagpipes, boys,
There’s been a death today.
Pump up the bagpipes, boys,
The fiddle has nought to say.
The fiddle has nothing left to say.

Amazing Grace – Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

About John MacKenzie

I'll mumble for ya. Poetry, plus most things quantifiable: science, neuroscience, memory, epistemology, baseball. And so on.
This entry was posted in Art is lies, Capitalism, Corporate Capitalism, Death, John MacKenzie, Poem tweets, Poems from old notebooks, Poetry, Political Commentary, Poverty, Social Commentary, The Earth, The Sea and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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