Friday, March 22, 2013

Red Sky

By Tom King

Red sky; red sea,
    When the sun came up today.
Sailor take warning,
    The wind is high,
        And red is the sky,
            And crimson the sea.

Along the sullen streets
    An old man plods his way,
Hobnails clicking against the worn cobbles;
    The watching walls echoing more shaply than usual
         The purposed stride
             Of something pent up inside the graying head.

Overhead framed in a soot-stained window
    An elbow resting on the sill,
A small boy – an early riser
    Intently flips a handful of tiny stones into space
        One by one from a secret store
            He’d stashed the night before beneath his bed.

A cold-eyed hulking great bear lumbers in the street
    Hiding everywhere
Wearing crude disguises.
    Everyone knows it.
        No one’s seen it yet. but dull angger
            Has stretched its steamy canopy over the brooding breaking day.

Grim-faced women, weary-eyed,
    Peer from kitchen windows
After sturdy men drifting away,
    To factories and fields and shops.
        No one stops to say “Good morning.”
            For it is not.  Indeed it is not.

Red sky, red sea,
    Gray-green towns.
Work-stained faces grim and proper.
    A steel trap underneath that springs without warning
        And set this red sky morning…………for bear.

© April 1984 

Written in Keene, Texas after reading stories about Lech Walesa’s solidarity movement and the Russian crackdown on the Poles. In the news, I saw in these events, the seeds of the end of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

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