Barry MacDonald

Barry MacDonald

Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:36

June Poems 2015

1.

Abraham Lincoln

He was moved with compassion for the slaves

Declared the nation must choose slavery or

Freedom when none wanted to see the truth

He knew the choice could not be evaded —

 

Thoughtful and grave with a far-away gaze

Burdens settled on him so he became

The master of himself and of many

Hot-tempered men contesting Civil War —

 

The north fought to preserve union and law —

Not to free slaves — Lincoln understood the

Temper of his people knew not to waste

The slaughter of soldiers so he waited

 

Until emancipation could succeed —

He was the only one fit for the job.

 

Sadness troubled him

compassion moved him to lead

strength sustained him through

thousands of battlefield deaths

may he be honored always.

 

2.

As the years are accumulating the

Seasons are becoming precious to me

And in the transition from winter I

Watched the tips of trees begin to bud

 

And noticed the vulnerability

And the beseeching posture of the limbs

Rising up to the sun but now in the

Summer their forms are concealed within

 

Luxuriant foliage and I’m attuned

To the ascending and dissipating

Sound of the wind in the leaves just as if

The trees are sighing and I remember

 

These voices from childhood — resonating

Communicating succoring soothing.

 

The invisible

undulating in the trees

the inaudible

arising within the leaves

communicating soothing.

 

 

3.

Crossing a threshold and absorbing light

There’s a connection to be imagined

In a baby seeing swirls of color

And hearing startling and soothing sounds

 

Experiencing taste distinguishing

The warming power of a smiling face

A comforting voice with an embrace and

As leaves of the trees emerge and absorb

 

The light as the roots consume nutrients

From a thawing soil the tree will never

Know it’s a tree but when the gnawing of

Hunger comes the baby discovers how

 

To manipulate others by crying —

Nurturance arises magically.

 

Before the things of

the world acquire names there’s

no distinguishing

within a baby’s thinking

between inside and outside.

 

 

4.

George says hello with a quivering chirp

As I’m entering the room as he’s

Leaning his head on the piano leg

With his back legs sprawling as lazy as

 

Possible — a portrait of nonchalance —

He’s not a kitten anymore and not

A grown-up either as there’s not a thing

He does but eat and sleep but he knows my

 

Habits during the night and leads me to

The necessary room but he ambles

More slowly than I want to go so I

Slow down because I can’t get around him

 

Because George is large and doesn’t hurry

And I’m the one who’s being disciplined.

 

 

George hasn’t a mane

isn’t on the savanna

doesn’t have a pride

but he is brown and does have

a complacent majesty.

 

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:34

April Poems 2015

1.

In a “half-faced camp” a shed with three sides

They lived not much better than bears in a

Cave because that’s the best Thomas could do

Hewing a shelter from the woods with an

 

Ax and saw — they arrived after fourteen

Days in an oxen caravan to a

Fork on the Sangamon River to a

Place without obligations and to a

 

Site where Nancy his mother would die of

Milk sickness where Abraham learned to do

 Sums of arithmetic by writing on

A wooden shovel and shaving it off —

 

He had a year’s schooling but he absorbed

The Bible and Robinson Crusoe.

 

Weighing his words and

speaking dispassionately

Abraham Lincoln

would present his arguments

sincerely and precisely.

 

 

2.

Is there a triter subject than a rose?
They are mostly just stems and little leaves —
Yes their velvet petals are enchanting
But the contrast with their thorns? Overdone —

 

As common as the sun or moon in verse
Who hasn’t read poetry belabored
With roses? I’d rather see some other
Flower — peony or chrysanthemum —

 

Yet I adore the resonance of “rose”
And the certainty that every human
Has beheld the sun and moon and roses
So to become one with humanity —

 

What everyone has beheld I behold
Too what everyone has loved I love too.

 

Yellow rose petal
evanesces —
thorn

 

3.

There are raindrops in this piece of paper

And the clouds from which the rain came reside

Now within this white form that was once a

Tree that has become a poem because

 

Without the drops to nurture the tree the

Expression of the tree the paper and

Poem could not be and the minerals

In the soil also live in the paper

 

Because without minerals soil has no

Potency and the magic of the sun

Rises off the paper to warm your face

As I communicate to you with words —

 

The logger the road maker and the mill

Worker have all labored for this poem.

 

Metamorphosis

is a fact and the magic

is a mystery

and the mystery is deep

though it happens every day.

 

 

4.

Such things too
the smudges
and slabs
take part in
the bloom —
row apartments
and vine roses.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:33

February Poems 2015

1.

My mind is a bowl pondering why my

Friend would say he has no one he relies

On because he’s never said such hurtful

Words before and my mind is a bowl of

 

Frustration as I’m plotting to persuade

A woman to submit to my way of

Managing our meager finances as

I consider her quirky reactions

 

And my mind is a bowl seeing the sun

In a brilliant sky amidst moving clouds

And there suspended is a crescent moon

And for moment I’m just watching as

 

My mind is a bowl and an opening

Offering good intentions this morning.

 

Crescent moon in the

blue sky of morning —

a hole in the day

 

 

2.

The swallow bursts before me snatching my

Sight swooping rising diving and turning

Turning as if it were a whirling blade

Turning and then vanishing into sky —

 

But the bumblebee lumbers in the grass

Plodding and bumbling and purposeful

Desirous of nectar to return home

Serving the manufacture of the hive —

 

I can’t resist the urge to grab the toad

Squeezing and turning it as I wonder

Is it toads or frogs that give out warts and

I suppose it’s either but I don’t care —

 

I’ve spent an hour playing in summer

And so escaped a dreary winter day.

 

These blasted winter

days have frozen my toes and

I’ve worried about

my constantly frozen toes

until this morning’s thawing.

 

 

3.

Only banana

tastes like banana

only a tongue

can taste banana —

I have the joy.

Thursday, 04 February 2016 08:13

February Poems 2016

1.

Asphalt Driveway Co.

 

I was lucky years ago to work on

The crews that put in asphalt driveways in

The summer and we came in tall trucks with

A tractor a roller and a paver

 

And we were young men exercising our strength

And honing our skills and learning what was

Necessary — like standing on a load

Of asphalt while the soles of our boots burned

 

And shoveling from the truck down into

A wheelbarrow because that is the

Only way to get the asphalt to an

Odd place — there was no use in wearing

 

Gloves because they would be worn out very

Fast so our hands developed calluses.

 

I used a maul

a shovel

and a pickax

and grew a

capacious heart.

 

2.

Willie’s appearance might not impress you

Because he was too thin and tanned almost

Black and the sun is not kind to exposed

Skin — he was silent unpredictable

 

And volatile — but as the chief on an

Asphalt driveway crew he was a master

Craftsman working from his tractor seat at

Timing the arrivals of the trucks and

 

The moving of the grunts and at tearing

Out the old driveway and sculpting the ground

With an eye for the drainage of water

And he was good at raking stones into

 

Place and once the asphalt was flowing he  

Knew how to lay an impeccable mat.

 

Willie was wicked

in his rages over

carelessness or

stupidity or

for no reason.

 

3.

Grunts

 

Davey folded the six plastic rings that

Connected a six-pack of pop into

A single ring and with his hands grasping

Behind his neck he tore it apart and

 

Joey franticly shoveled the stones

In the correct general direction

And Joey drove hastily weaving

Around the traffic with a hot load of

 

Asphalt and there came a day I had to

Prove myself so I swung a pickax like

John Henry and the next day they let a

Surplus guy go and kept me and with my

 

Boot I balanced on an empty pop can

And with my fingers tapping crushed the can.

 

The crew chief mastered

all the necessary skills

and he sits in the

tractor seat and he

determines everything.

 

4.

A tamper is a steel pole with a square

Ending that is used to put a raised edge

Alongside an asphalt driveway and I

I had a good eye for tamping a straight

 

Line and the chiefs selected me because

My tamping was a fine finishing touch

And I was happy because I could keep

Working and I had a skill setting me

 

Apart and I enjoyed riding to jobs

In the back of a tall dump truck wearing

A bandana but not a shirt feeling

Like a pirate and encountering the

 

Curious expressions of passersby

Because I was a member of the crew.

 

It is easy to

encourage a young man

and entice him to

work like a raging demon —

give him some belonging.

 

5.

A roller uses two cylinder wheels

That we filled with water and it’s about

Twice as big as a golf cart and I went

Forward by pushing a lever forward

 

And backward the same way and one day I

Was rolling pressing a just laid driveway

Going right to the edge of a ten foot

Drop enjoying an easy interlude

 

Between hard labor and I pulled back on

The lever but the roller kept on so

I jumped and down it went boom boom and like

A cat I landed with my heart going

 

Boom boom and I might have been dozing a

Little beforehand but then I woke up.

 

Synchronicity —

a mechanical failure

a ten foot drop and

vigorous dexterity

produced a happy ending.

 

6.

It was a joke we enjoyed — four of the

State government road crew were leaning on

Their shovels as one was shoveling — though

There might have been a little envy too

 

Because we were like skinny feral cats —

And from the moment we arrived at the

Yard there was ceaseless motion before dawn

And through the heat of summer days until

 

Returning past the evening twilight and

The only occasional rest was if

There was room for me in the cab to doze

On the way to the next job otherwise

 

I’d stand in the dumpster part of the truck

With my arms over the sides holding on.

 

Such a test of pride —

to lift a wheelbarrow

and hurl it up and

over the side into the

dump truck about ten feet high.

Thursday, 12 February 2015 09:39

Stillwater

When the native peoples walked for water
This same valley was here, resonating.
They called a section “Stillwater” because
The water spread between lime stone bluffs.
 
Iced-over river and overcast sky,
Slopes of bare trees and snow, the clean cold air,
The quiet settling among the bluffs,
Prepare this place for reverberations.
 
Sioux and Ojibwa fought in a hollow;
Lumberjacks floated rafts of logs down steam;
A frontier prison held the Younger Gang;
And Steamboats plied the townsfolk with supplies.
 
Pioneer Park has a southward view
For sunrises and sun speckled water.
 
In Pioneer Park
old people
free balloons
empty sky
 
Sun, river
Eagle soaring —
Seeing
 
 
—Tekken
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 11:42

Editorial

Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit . . .

Ronald Reagan's Faith and Optimism
Barry MacDonald - Editorial

11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative, by Paul Kengor. Beaufort Books, New York, NY, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., ISBN 978-0-8253-0699-0, pp. 157.

It is obvious in many who engage in or watch politics and governance: cynicism. My hero/commentator, Charles Krauthammer, is an admittedly proud cynic, expertly honed to see underlying motives. Charles sees motives, goals, and likely results: self-promotion predominates, solutions ignored, Americans without power suffer, and problems accumulate - the veterans who die waiting to receive medical care while VA managers hide waiting lists so that managers win bonuses is a poignant example. The Veterans' Administration is not being run for the benefit of veterans but for the benefit of VA managers, which epitomizes the nature of bureaucracies.

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