Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"Nowhere to Nowhere," from Stark County Poems, appears on Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry"


Poem as it appeared in a newspaper in Portland, Indiana

 One of my Stark County Poems, "Nowhere to Nowhere," has been selected by the former US Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser (regionalist poet from Nebraska), for publication in his weekly column, "American Life in Poetry," which appears in hundreds of newspapers across the country and around the world.  It will also be archived in the Library of Congress.  The poem & Kooser's comments about it can be seen here: 

https://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org/columns/detail/814-1




A few of the newspapers where "Nowhere to Nowhere" has appeared are:

~~~Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska),

~~~Commercial Review (Portland, Indiana),

~~~Transcript Bulletin (Tooele, Utah),

~~~Ames Tribune (Ames, Iowa),

~~~Shawangunk Journal (Shawangunk, New York),

~~~Bell Times Courier (O'Brien County, Iowa).

~~~Story City Herald (Story City, Iowa).

~~~Lake County News (Clear Lake, California)


Some thoughts on poetry in newspapers

Mr. Kooser's accomplishment of reintroducing poetry to local newspapers across the country, and around the world, cannot be praised enough.  Before his  "American Life in Poetry" project, poetry in newspapers had almost entirely died out.  But it used to be very different.  Nearly every newspaper in the country printed poetry in nearly every issue.  

My grandfather, who had only an 8th grade education, clipped poems from newspapers all his life.  He sent them to my grandmother when they were courting in 1916-17, and he could recite many of them from memory.  Poetry was very much a part of daily life all across America.  

Mr. Kooser's quest to return poetry to newspapers may seem a quixotic one to us today, but it has had a surprising degree of success so far, with his column appearing in 72 different countries around the globe, and reaching  over four million readers.

But that is only the first step.  Now it is up to the editors of regional newspapers to take the next step: soliciting and printing worthy works of their own local poets.  It is time for ordinary people to reclaim poetry from the ivory towers, poetry that is theirs by right.  They should not settle for always being spoon-fed their poetry by professors.   

When Spoon River Anthology was published in 1915, readers did not feel they had to rely on professors or critics to tell them what the poems meant, or if they were worthy of being read.  Readers purchased the book (it was a national best-seller), took it home and read it in their own parlors and on their own porches.  They didn't consult with specialists; they made up their own minds about the poems.  They cut out the middle-men.  They thought for themselves.

I would like to mention one instance where a contemporary editor stubbornly revived the old tradition of publishing poetry in a local paper.  Jim Nowlan, the recent editor of the Stark County News in the Spoon River country of Stark County, Illinois, inherited his position from his father, who in turn had inherited it from his father, who was editor of the Stark County News in the late 19th Century.  The two elder Nowlans, following the practice of their time, consistently published poetry in their papers, and it was from these same newspapers that my grandfather clipped so many of the poems that he sent to my grandmother, and pasted in his scrapbook.  

The practice of printing poems in the News slowly died out after WWII, but several decades later when Jim Nowlan (third in the line of Nowlan editors-in-chief), oversaw the Stark County News into the 21st century, he printed several selections from my Stark County Poems.  Those few early appearances in my hometown newspaper meant more to me than all the later ones in literary reviews and journals combined.

The possibility of publishing one's poems in a local paper used to be available to poets everywhere in this country, and it should be again.  Homegrown poets should have local outlets for their poems: local papers that are read by  family, friends, neighbors, and the surrounding community.  

Poets outside the university system, who have not followed the prescribed route of graduating from a writing program---  but who may possess intrinsic talents worthy of encouragement---  cannot hope to compete with all the well-credentialed and well-connected university poets who dominate literary reviews and journals today.  Such publications may claim complete impartiality when assessing their heaps of submissions, but 99% of the time the poets they publish are just more students and professors.  Moreover, these journals and reviews have minimal ties to their communities, and no regional loyalties to speak of.  The literature they tend to foster-- products of claustrophobic workshops-- are more like root-bound houseplants, insular and internalized, than hardy native trees wrought by the elements into gnarled idiosyncratic forms. A nation's literature should grow up naturally from its soil, or its urban neighborhoods; it should slowly emerge from the local terrain like native hickory or oak.  

Literature should not be imposed upon us from the top down by specialists, by critics and professors.  Such specialists have a necessary and valued place, to be sure, but their appropriate function is to analyze and assess, not to prescribe and shape.  Nearly all of America's very greatest writers and poets prior to WWII were self-taught.  Today, by comparison, it seems, you cannot hang out your shingle as a poet without an officially approved license and union card.

Newspapers once provided a platform in this country for up-and-coming, self-taught poets.  William Cullen Bryant, Edgar Allan Poe, John Greenleaf Whittier, Walt Whitman, Phillis Wheatley, Ambrose Bierce, Emily Dickinson, E.A. Robinson, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers, Gwendolyn Brooks (and who knows how many other self-taught American poets), all began their poetic careers by publishing in local newspapers.

Newspapers could provide such a platform again. It's not too late.  It's simply a matter of individual editors setting aside a few column inches in their back pages where a poem could be tucked in every so often.  It would be a small but significant way for them to foster the culture of their communities and their country.






Another two poems from "Stark County Poems" appear in "Illinois Heritage"

 Another two poems from Stark County Poems have appeared in Illinois Heritage: the Magazine of the Illinois State Historical Society:  "The Aging Widow in the Third Pew" and "Populism."  The latter poem is closely based on the lives of my great-grandparents, who lost a farm in Pike County, Illinois to hog cholera, lost another farm outside of Leoti, Kansas to drought and the '93 Panic, and finally ended up back in Illinois, in Stark County, where they started over again in the mid-1890s, not far from Spoon River.  

Both poems are printed below.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Aging Widow in the Third Pew

               

Her faith had little to do with church
and even less with the long succession
of ministers who had come and gone
since she was a child. It had to do
with the wind from which there was no relief,
that carried the rain and gave teeth to drought
and tore the roof from the barn and haunted
her nights with wailing. It had to do
with the cooling summer breezes that turned
the pages of scripture without a touch
and caressed away the sweat of her brow.
That the seen is shaped by an unseen force
was something she never thought to doubt.
In church, when she was told in the Psalm
to lift up thine eyes, and she turned to see
through the open window a falling leaf
suspended a moment, then lifted away
on the wind, the tears welled up in her eyes
and she picked up her purse and slipped away
through the basement door and out on the grass
and lifted her face to the cloudless sky.


~~~~~~~~~~


Populism

 

In the autumn of 1893,

   Alpheus Wheeler Appenheimer

and his wife Olive arrived in Stark County,

   Illinois, after having traveled

from their earlier Illinois home in Pike County

   by way of Leoti, Kansas.

  

They arrived in a covered wagon drawn

    by a pair of worn-out mules conveying

a girl and two boys, a kerosene lamp,

   a plow and scythe and a chest of clothes,

tinware pots, some kerosene lamps

   and a Mason jar of seeds interred

 

in early May and exhumed in August,

   still unsprouted— it’d been that dry.    

They almost starved on their journey back.

   In Missouri they stopped at a lonely farm

and asked at the house if they might pick a few

   ears of corn to boil for supper.


Go ahead, help yourselves, the woman barked.

   No one else even bothers to ask.

It was hog cholera that had wiped them out

   and sent them westward to make a new start,

and it was drought and the ’93 Panic

   that wiped them out for the second time

 

and sent them back east to begin again.

   They’d gotten their fill of living in sod—

dirt in your soup and dirt in your bed. 

   Their youngest son was born on a night

in January that covered the state

   in three feet of snow as the mercury plunged

 

to twenty below.  He was kept from freezing

   by his mother’s warmth and a crackling stove

that was fed from a pile of unshucked corn. 

   At three cents a bushel it made more sense

to burn it than sell it and, anyhow, 

   the buffalo chips were long since gone.

 

In later years, when anyone asked,

   old Alpheus never had much to tell

about losing two farms in two different states.

   In an unguarded moment he said aloud,

You can pray to God.  You can vote for Bryan.

   In the end it don’t matter a hill of beans.


 

 


 

~~~~~
"The Aging Widow in the Third Pew" and "Populism" from Stark County Poems (Monongahela Books, new enlarged edition, 2020).

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Two poems from new edition of "Stark County Poems" appear in Illinois Heritage

Two poems from the new enlarged edition of Stark County Poems have appeared in the latest issue of Illinois Heritage, which is the magazine of the Illinois State Historical Society.  The poems are "The Proverb of the Three Hotels" and "The Boy Who Climbed a Tree," both of which concern the visit of Abraham Lincoln to Toulon, Illinois in October of 1858

Both poems are based on true minor details of Lincoln's visit.


~ ~ ~ ~ 


The Proverb of the Three Hotels               

There was a time in Toulon, long ago,
when the number of wayfarers passing through
was so large it required three hotels
to accommodate them. Jeffrey Cooley,
a loyal Republican through and through,
was the owner of The Virginia House
which, on a chilly October day
in 1858, was favored
by a country lawyer named Abe Lincoln
and his entourage. Across the street,
the hotel of Democrat, B.G. Hall,
found favor with Senator Douglas and
his entourage. The remaining hotel,
Elias Stockner’s The Toulon House,
with no party loyalties either way
but a first-rate saloon in the basement,
found favor with both political camps
and prospered for many a year, long after
each of its rivals had bitten the dust.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Boy Who Climbed a Tree

When eight-year-old Thomas Shallenberger
was introduced by his old grandmother
to a big homely man on the courthouse square
in Toulon on a cold October day
in 1858, the big man
invited the boy to sit on his knee
and helped him up and, in a grave voice
(playing to his audience), asked the lad
if, come November, he could count on his vote.
“I’m a Douglas man,” retorted the boy.
Abe Lincoln guffawed and put the boy down
and said if his own supporters all knew
their own minds as well as this youngster did,
he’d be sure to win. Then, leaning way down
until he was eye to eye with the boy,
he said in a kindly whisper that he
should be a good lad and run along home.


 

 


 

~~~~~
"The Proverb of the Three Hotels" and "The Boy Who Climbed a Tree" from Stark County Poems (Monongahela Books, new enlarged edition, 2020).



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

New enlarged edition of Stark County Poems released

Consisting of over fifty poems, from short lyrics in a variety of forms to lengthy blank verse and free verse narratives, "Stark County Poems" portrays the history of a small rural county in central Illinois, along the upper Spoon River valley. 

Chronologically arranged, and incorporating letters, newspaper articles, obituaries, family stories, early county histories and diaries, the poems cover a century of the county's history, from the 1830s through the 1930s. 

Map, illustrations. 59 poems. 225 pages. 

BJ Omanson was raised in the Spoon River valley of Stark County, Illinois, where both sides of his family have lived and farmed since the mid-19th century. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Closing Inventory

                                                    Along the upper Spoon River, 1935


When they found him at last, he was face down
in a pool of milk out behind the barn,
an empty tin pail against his boot
They summoned the doc, who declared him dead,
then they laid him out on the bed of the truck

and carried him back to the funeral home.
The following day they returned to the house,
where none of them had been for years,
intending, as well as they could, to put
his affairs in order, collect his receipts

and documents, and close his accounts.
Upstairs at the back, they found his bed
as neatly arranged as if he were still
a married man, although he had been
a widower now for some thirty years.

A plain wooden cross was hung on the wall
beside a window that looked out across
a quarter-acre of derelict trucks
and discarded implements choked in vines.
On his wife’s dressing table, undisturbed

apparently, since the day she had died,
a brush and mirror, a porcelain vase,
a photograph of her younger self
in a marquetry frame.
The men stood silent, taking it in,

then solemnly descended the stair
to his officer, in what must have been
the parlor once--- a roll-top desk,
a clamshell lamp and a telephone,
red-cornered ledgers, a spindled stack

of bills and receipts.  A horsehide chair
was positioned beside a bookcase filled
with old tractor manuals, several shelves
of history, bibles, household hints,
hymnals and westerns, seed catalogues

and the odd issue of Breeder’s Gazette.
And on every hand, the desultory
detritus of an aging man’s life—
a half-empty tin of horse liniment,
a box of shells, a pouch of Old Whale,

a jar of assorted matches and nails.
One of the men bound up the ledgers
another removed some folders from
the file cabinet. The rest of the men
moved down the hall to the kitchen where,

beside the sink, the remains of egg
and toast on a plate, a coffee-stained mug,
a folded page of the Stark County News—
an old Regulator clock on the wall
emitting a steady tick, tock,

as it had for years, a window propped up
with a butter knife and curtains that seemed
to rise and fall of their own accord.
The men filed out by twos and threes
to stand on the porch for a cigarette

before making their way across the yard
to the barn to feed and water the stock.
And then it was late and, however much
remained to be done, it was time to leave.
After the dust of their truck had drifted

across the field, the house became mute
as a mausoleum, shadowed and shut
against the world and even against
the passage of time itself,
except

in the kitchen where the window still
stood open to the evening sky,
allowing a touch of damp from the fields
and the faint, uncertain
scent of rain.

 

 


 

~~~~~
"Closing Inventory" from Stark County Poems (Monongahela Books, new enlarged edition, 2020).



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A new book by BJ Omanson on the American WWI poet, John Allan Wyeth

The first full-length study of the recently rediscovered American poet of the First World War: John Allan Wyeth. Contains a wealth of new biographical information, plus several extensive essays on Wyeth's technique and his relationship to the major British war poets.

Excerpt:

“More than any other English-language poet of the war, Wyeth’s language is stripped clean of 19th-century tonalities and devices. A contributing factor to Wyeth’s modernist style might have been that, during the years immediately prior to the publication of This Man’s Army, when he was almost certainly composing his sonnets, Wyeth resided in the American colony in Rapallo, Italy, where he was known to be friends with Ezra Pound (see “Notes on Wyeth’s Years in Rapallo,” p. 99).\

While it is impossible to know the nature, or extent, of Pound’s influence on Wyeth, there is no denying that Wyeth’s stringently honed descriptions—where every word contributes to the presentation and every image is distilled to its essentials—accord closely to the Imagist principles which Pound espoused in the years before the war. Even the Imagist stricture that the rhythm of a poem should possess the fluidity of a musical phrase rather than the beat of a metronome, is not violated by Wyeth’s sonnets, which display an unprecedented metrical freedom within the general constraint of the form.

Whether Wyeth developed his acute descriptive powers under the influence of Pound, or from earlier influences, is a matter of conjecture. It is at least as plausible that the minutely observed and needle-sharp descriptions of Henry James provided the primary influence on Wyeth’s technique. According to Edmund Wilson, only he and Wyeth—of their literary circle at Princeton—read James seriously while they were there, and it was Wyeth who led Wilson to a full appreciation of James’ technique.

Wyeth’s reliance on chance, on working with whatever objects circumstance might provide, even when they serve no apparent thematic or metaphoric purpose, has a basic affinity with a precept of another major theorist of Imagism, T.E. Hulme, who was a direct influence on Pound. Hulme’s contention was that it is not the object itself that matters, but only its description. Any object will do as well as any other, including random objects served up by chance.

The idea of employing randomness as a compositional principle may have been unusual in literary theory in those years, but in the visual arts the notion of the objet trouvé (“found object”) had been in the air since well before the war, from Picasso’s Still-life with Chair Caning, to Duchamp’s “ready-mades,” to Dada’s reliance on whatever the artist happened to pick up in the street.  It is certainly no stretch to assume that Wyeth, with his years spent in New York, London and Paris, and his lifelong interest in contemporary movements in art, would have keep well abreast of such developments.

Wyeth’s reliance on circumstantial subject matter might tempt a less well-informed critic to dismiss Wyeth’s sonnets as mere documentary reportage, but if that were all his sonnets amounted to, they would lie flat and lifeless on the page.  What we find instead is a body of work where the unsettled randomness of actual events infuses each sonnet with an élan vital, a vital spark. Far from being the equivalent of old newspapers fit only for wrapping fish, Wyeth’s sonnets are living vignettes, rich in chaos, chlorine, and all the random particularity of war.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

Two new books of poems by BJ Omanson







Old Locksley among the Ruins

A long meditative poem describing an old man’s final days living in solitude in a decrepit stone manor as cold as a crypt. He divides his time between library and garden where he "considers and contemplates the melancholy decline of the year,” watching the falling of leaves, and succumbing to reverie as the ivy winds slowly around ankle and knee, and autumn gives way to the darkness of winter.

Illustrated in color throughout, on heavy high-gloss paper.

Two Nocturnes on Arnold's "Scholar Gipsy"

Two complimentary poems ("On Port Meadow near Oxford" and "Embers of a Gypsy Fire") inspired by Matthew Arnold's pastoral elegy, "The Scholar Gipsy"— written in the same stanza, and describing the countryside outside of Oxford along the upper Thames at the close of day. A meditation on mortality.

Illustrated in color throughout, on heavy high-gloss paper.



Each book can be ordered from Lulu by clicking on its title.




Friday, March 30, 2018

Stark County Poems receives its first review.




Stark County Poems has received its first review: "Meditation on the Past," by J. Robert Baker, in the current issue of Kestrel, A Journal of Literature and the Arts.

Note: Since this review was published, a new enlarged edition of Stark County Poems has been issued, with thirty additional poems.






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Reminiscence: My own private Arcadia

It begins with my grandfather, Alpheus Appenheimer, who was born in a one-room sod dugout on the western Kansas frontier in January of 1891, during one of the most severe blizzards in the state's history.  Later, as a small boy in a one-room school-house in the Spoon River valley of central Illinois, Alpheus was in continual trouble with his teacher, who maintained discipline by the enforced memorization of poems, the length of the poem corresponding to the severity of the infraction.   Only when the miscreant had the poem by heart, and could recite it without error, would he be permitted to leave his desk.  Given this state of affairs, it wasn't long before Alpheus looked ahead to the longest poem in the book, Bryant's "Thanatopsis."   He figured it was only a matter of time before one of his pranks would warrant that supreme punishment, so he set about memorizing it in advance. Once that was accomplished, he was impatient for a chance to have some amusement at his teacher's expense. Waiting until she was in an exasperated, vindictive frame of mind (which she frequently was), Alpheus gave the pigtail of the girl seated in front of him a hard yank, at which the youngster shrieked Alpheus's name and cried out for justice. The teacher marched straight back to Alpheus's desk, opened his Reader to the dreaded page and planted her finger squarely on Bryant's poem. "That should you keep occupied for a while," she snapped. Then she marched back up to the front of the classroom with Alpheus right on her heels, matching her step for step. When she turned to sit down and found Alpheus standing in front of her desk with an angelic smile on his face, she nearly fell off her chair. Before she could say a word he launched into the poem, reeling out the entire verse--- all eighty-plus lines of it--- at breakneck speed like an auctioneer. After which the teacher just shook her head and murmured, "All right, Alpheus, you've had your fun. Now go sit down."

Vaches paissant dans la Clairière (detail)
c. 1840 by Constant Troyon


My grandfather had memorized what seemed to me, as a child, an inexhaustable store of nineteenth-century poems, and would recite them to us grandchildren whenever the mood took him, much to our delight. His favorite, in addition to "Thanatopsis," was Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus," but there were numerous other lyrics, wayward stanzas, ditties and songs from the war, and a ready supply of nonsensical doggerel. His slightly high-pitched, musical voice reciting poetry in an amused tone, was as much a part of my boyhood experience of the farm as the bellowing of steers along the ridge, the soughing of wind through the rafters of the barn, or the reassuring vista of oak-shaded pastures sloping down to Indian Creek. They were all somehow of a piece, my own private Arcadia, through which I ranged freely during the years of my boyhood.

Long before that time, in the Spring of 1912, as soon as he turned 21, my grandfather set out alone from his father's farm with ten dollars in his pocket to see the American West. He spent a year on the road, doing farm- and ranch-work along the way, even working for a time in Mexico where he almost married the ranch-owner's daughter--- then up the  coast to Washington State where he operated a combine during the wheat harvest, driving a team of over 30 mules. His occasional postcards home to his parents were famously stingy, such as the one that read simply, "I am not dead or crippled but am awful busy." Finally, after a year's solitary travelling, he made his way back to the family farm.

Sixty years later, at 23, I emulated his example, hitch-hiking out west and working on and off for a year as a mill worker and logger on the Washington coast while camping along the Hoh and Calawah rivers, taking off a month during the summer to hitch-hike with my cat through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon. My grandfather liked to say that he left on his journey with only ten dollars and returned a year later with ten dollars still in his pocket. I told him that I had done him one better, hitting the road with only five dollars and returning after a year with no dollars in my pocket. That amiable conversation was one of our last, for he died soon after, in December of that year.


Alpheus Appenheimer at 21, on his 1912 Western excursion.



     Al Appenheimer’s Sight-Seeing 

                            Tour of the Vanishing West

 

      In 1912, when he turned twenty-one,

      because he had always wanted to see

      the Old West of legend before it was gone,

      Al Appenheimer packed a canvas bag

      with a change of clothes, wished the folks so long,

      and walked off into the sunset.  Apart

      from his bag and hat, all he had was a pair

      of five dollar bills in his shirt pocket. 

      It was all he needed.  Whenever he

      was down to a dollar, he just stopped off

      at the nearest ranch and got taken on

      as a seasoned hand for however long

      it took to replace the pair of fives,

      and then hit the road.  In this way he tramped

      all the way from Illinois to Texas

      and down into Mexico and then up

      the coast to Washington State just in time

      for the start of the harvest season where he

      was hired to drive a 30-mule-hitch

      combine across an ocean of wheat.

      It was just outside of Walla Walla

      that he thought to send a postcard home.

      Given the size of his loopy scrawl,

      there was only room in the space allotted

      for about ten words.  He got straight to the point. 

      “Am not crippled or dead,” he reassured them,

      “am just awful busy.”  There wasn’t much else

     that needed saying.  Somewhere along

      the line he took a notion to visit

      a photographer’s studio where he sat

      for his portrait in a big Stetson hat

      to show the folks.  He spent the winter

      working his way across Idaho

      and Montana, stopped in at Old Faithful,

      worked through Wyoming and the Great Plains

      and made it back to Stark County in time

      for spring planting— a year to the day

      since first leaving home.  And when he stood

      unannounced and unexpected in

      the kitchen door, his features obscured

      by the brim of his hat and looking for all

     the world like a con on the run, his mother 

      dropped a platter of biscuits to the floor

      while his father slipped from the room and returned

      with a four-ten pointing straight at his head. 

      Al took off his hat with a rueful laugh,

      made a joke about the warm reception,

      and wondered if there was any cold milk.

      As he emptied the glass, his mother ventured

      to ask him about his journey out west

      and how it had gone.  Al thought for a moment.

      Well, he offered, he still had the extra

      change of clothes and he still had a pair

      of five dollar bills in his shirt pocket

      but he couldn’t say he had the same shoes

      as he’d had them re-soled about six times. 


At his death in 1974, the family farm was broken up and sold off, and I could no longer roam at will through the pastures I had known all my life. An uncharted region in the deepest part of myself was lost forever, and it is this loss that I have spent much of my life, ever since, attempting to come to terms with, and in some sense recover--- partly as an historian, partly as a farm laborer, but primarily as a poet. My grandfather's enduring presence thoroughly haunts the first two books of my poems. 

The first poem I wrote about him was actually less about him than about his house, just after he was gone.  I had to wait over fifteen years before I could write it, though once I started, it came all at once, for the potent image of that empty house had long since become one of the abiding features of my inner landscape.


      In Stark County, in his eighty-third year, 
      my grandfather died.  The tall gabled house 
      overlooking the creek and bottomland 
      from a rough oak ridge stands empty now, 
      but nothing changes.  The west-facing pane 
      of the window-bay where he watched from his desk 
      again glazes red as sunset crowns 
      the rim out beyond the timbered slopes 
      and, again, a raw wind sculpts the snow 
      into curving drifts across the back yard. 
      A familiar hour: the graying edge  
      of a winter evening, when day and night 
      walk the same bare fields.  An ice-refracted 
      ray of rose imperceptibly moves 
      among old mementos lying upon 
      the darkened oak of his desk, igniting 
      the interior of a glass paperweight 
      and warming the copper of four old coins. 
      In a matter of days, we will all convene 
      for the sorting out and dividing of goods, 
      the auctioning off of machinery, 
      of cattle and parceled land, the settling 
      of last accounts.  But for now it's as though 
      my grandfather's only just left his chair 
      and wandered off somewhere along the hall 
      or down the darkened stairs to the cellar. 
      Nothing has changed.  Once more, as in all 
      the uncounted winter days of his life, 
      the early dusk haunts the empty house, 
      the quiet rooms darken, the furnace kicks in.

 

 


 

~~~~~
"Al Appenheimer's Sight-seeing Tour of the Vanishing West" and "The Graying Edge of a Winter Evening" from Stark County Poems (Monongahela Books, new enlarged edition, 2020).