Toilers at the Trench
Plunging, lifting, plunging –
as wind blew ashes all around –
the shovels' blades incised
the cold and black encrusted ground.
Attached to shovel handles
were the arms of skeletons – of men,
who pausing, hacked and wheezed;
then bent and smote the dirt again.
With bruised decrepit bodies –
and coerced – they struggled on
beneath a sky from which
the sun for them had long withdrawn.
And seeping into nostrils
came that too familiar stench
when shrieking had died out,
and still – they toiled at the trench.
Perhaps they dreamed of tunnels;
that the cracks within the earth
inflicted by their shovels
formed a path to their rebirth.
What horror in the knowing
there were no more tears to cry
or that their crumpled bodies
might, in graves they'd dug, soon lie.
Poems are copyrighted by Andrea Dietrich
In Strangler's Wood
In forest dark where trees bend low
beneath a slice of half moon's glow,
silent shadows waver there,
chilled by gusts of autumn air.
Quavering, as if afraid,
they fall on stumps from trees decayed.
Among those stumps the shadows creep
and shroud a form that seems asleep.
Lightening flashes . . . Thunder peals.
A sight forlorn the light reveals—
a man, quite dead, in woolen coat,
with scarf of death left on his throat.
The shadows saw, and now they quake,
lone witnesses in murder's wake.
They cannot speak, but if they could,
they'd tell all travelers of the wood:
"We're not the foe. It's one of you
that makes us tremble as we do.
Although we loom and cause you fear,
something worse is lurking here."
Then Thunder echoes in accord
as from the sky cold rain is poured.
And silent shadows start to shrink
into a night of blackened ink.
Comes a Wind
Thirsting, thirsting. . . shriveled earth
suffocates in summer's dearth,
yearns for rain clouds' forthwith bursting:
Shriveled earth. . . thirsting, thirsting.
Browning, browning in their beds,
flowers parched hang low their heads.
Daffodils once bright are frowning
in their beds, browning, browning.
Dying, dying — every field,
withering, to fate must yield.
All the world is sadly crying,
Whirling, whirling, comes a wind
arid and undisciplined.
Stagnant heat, pent-up — unfurling,
comes a wind, whirling, whirling.
Whipping, whipping through each plain
(while ignored are prayers for rain),
final blows come swiftly ripping
through each plain, whipping, whipping.
Burning, burning. . . August's lust
leaves us nothing but the dust,
and soon to dust we'll be returning:
August's lust — burning . . . burning.
The Phantom Horse
A phantom horse came galloping
beneath a silver moon
across a field of recent war
where corpses' bones lay strewn.
With thunder in his hoof beats,
again and then again,
he raced along a river which,
like blood, ran through that plain.
Though frightful he appeared to be
on land that reeked demise,
a sole intent gleamed strongly
in his sad and ghostly eyes.
Then finally, as dawn began
to paint the broad stretch red,
the unrelenting stallion stopped
and seemed to bow his head.
He briefly knelt, then stood upright
and bore away, with speed,
the spirit of the knight for whom
he'd been a trusty steed!
I stood as though reborn on mounded dirt,
which seemed so moist it strangely could assuage
the ache from bowels that howled from so much hurt.
Would ground then be my cure or a mirage?
Enticed, I deeply pressed each foot through soil
till they took root and fixed me to a spot.
My ever-thickening trunk served well to foil
the plots of those who’d cut me. . . they could not!
My limbs, though mighty branches, could not bend;
stubbornly I fought my transplantation.
I weathered storms that God or man might send,
sightless, living long in desolation.
Self preservation did this much for me-
old loved ones passed and I remained a tree.
The Wintered Soul Among Wisteria
One need not read her horoscope to know
this woman's fate, and though wisteria
cascades sweet blooms of lavender like snow
outside her door, it's still Siberia
pervading the dimensions of her mind,
for not one fickle thought or patch of moss
can thrive where bleakest shadows are enshrined.
No bittersweet, no dew drops. . . only loss
surrounds her heart. She tries to reminisce,
but like a barren continent grown cold,
she can't perceive one particle of bliss.
She's clasping grief and cannot be consoled!
Wisteria's perfume is in the breeze,
but in her soul remains a winter's freeze.
The Queen On Emerging From Her Refuge
She’d dwelt within a palace, and outside
it, geese and brilliant peacocks used to strut
inside a fragrant garden. As a bride,
she’d said her vows beside the roses, but
today no scent of blooms perfume the air.
The terrace sculptures, rubble now, are strewn
across the floor. She gazes eastward where
the mangos’ branches danced beneath the moon
when zephyrs softly blew. Like poison, now
a vapor comes, beginning to enwreathe
her husband’s realm. There is a smell so foul
her heart wells up with dread; she cannot breathe.
As ashes drift around, she hangs her head
with certainty her one beloved is dead.
Of Honeysuckle Days
I stand here by the lakeshore, and I smell
the honeysuckle in the morning rain.
A memory that I cannot curtail
wafts bittersweetly to me, and again
it’s May. . . when you came to me by moonlight.
The night was fair and in the air - perfume
from blossoms colored innocently white.
It’s summer now, and yellow is each bloom.
When ripened on the vines, the berries, red,
will be swooped up by birds and carried away.
I stoop to touch a stem. How soon has fled
my flowered youth replaced by grayer day!
I bow in downpour like the vines bent low
while raindrop tears, down glistening leaves, now flow.
How intricate your mind. How it can vex!
A labyrinth that offers no escape,
its walls are glazed with patterns that perplex.
I glimpse inside. At times I stop and gape
at murals which reveal an iridescence.
But shallow are the joys you sometimes feel.
I turn to find I’m facing evanescence.
Intense emotions swell; become surreal.
They swirl with thought; descending, they exude
through dark partitions winding through your head.
The maze becomes a spiral to seclude
you from the world and me. I feel your dread.
Dark angel, trapped in strange and endless gloom,
to stay with you would mean to share your doom.