Poems By William Barney Lifting an Eye to the Hills Near Glen Rose, Texas Stopping off on the shoulder here where the highway skirts the cedar hill, we see the dam. Squaw Creek builds deep to cool the squat plutonium still jutting a tooth into Texas sky. In a long life I’ve heard old tales of Somervell moonshine. No such brew comes to this kettle in the brush when the great undivining rods heave to and the fury of fission is laid by. But here by the road, a thing to see a barbed wire fence, pulled taut, freshstrung, the metal thorns sharp, cocked in the sun like waiting fangs. And a shrike has hung his dinner along the strands to dry. Not one only, but a whole array: a miniature frog, a moth, a bee, grasshoppers, beetles, cricket, fly. As far downfence as the eye can see the slaughtered stick, the slain hang high. What bloodthirstiness drove a bird to post such music on such a staff? a lust to pike whatever breathes, hoist foolish heads on a ready gaff? some keen instinct to crucify? The mind of the shrikehow was it flawed, schooled in such science of overkill? which, once unloosed, obeys no curb he cannot harness his bloody will, the small cannot shun his skewering eye. Bathing in a Mountain Stream and Not Singing Madly Some of it comes from melting snow, and some out of the cold bowels of the Sangre de Cristos, a chill seep of aquifers that strain and steep their liquids till the deep rock crawls. Under the rush of water the stones round into a cobble for my naked soles; the turbulence whitens where it writhes over a ledge. And while it seethes, I push pale skin until it squalls. It stings. It numbs. It burns. It freezes. Why am I dunked like a fleeced sheep? Nobody forced me into this sluice. It is only a witless form of abuse; yet here I am, awash in my dip. I would not have a languider bath! My shivering flesh, let it say praise for the icy Pecos. I cannot sing though my pores cry out with uttering the glory of touch, the nerve ends’ daze. A Flotilla of Coot Those homeless, homely obstinate little birds helming against great gusts and the slosh of the long combs of white overscrolling waves like almost swamped tugs, their black decks awash they have been paddling furiously now for hours and who can guess why it is vital they keep going? It would be easier far to find sanctuary: a sand bar or beach, a slough safe from overthrow . I ask myself, do they do it only for ecstasy? now one is shot upward at a roller-coaster clip, another, suddenly swallowed by a driving slop, bobs up unperturbed, a stout, unsinkable ship. They make no exclamations, sound no hymns of joy, but hang on doggedly to their sierra of lake. Hang grimly, publishing to both wave and wind a will not to surrender what was theirs to take. Given a niche, they intend to fill and keep it: their chosen position in the chain not to be blown to dispossession because of elements hurtled against them. They mean to hold their own. William Barney’s latest collection of poetry is The Killdeer Crying \(Fort He is the Poet Laureate of Texas. PI donation is, of course, tax-deductible and entitles “two representatives of your company to attend all program related events . . . Exclusive to Gold Patrons and their guests, a private cocktail party in their honor will be hosted by the Governors prior to the State Dinner on Tuesday evening, September 27.” Companies donating $5,000 to the cause can send one representative and are called Silver Patrons. ri Boston Observer editor Steven Pearlstein came up with an interesting slant on the question he says has been “most often whispered” in Massachusetts political circles over the summer: “Who will run against Senator Paul Tsongas next year?” If there is an opening at all, Pearlstein suggests, it is for a nonpolitician, and that nonpolitician just might be that man with a Texas past, Boston University President John Silber. Silber, according to Pearlstein, “has arranged for his day-to-day duties to be transferred to a trusted former assistant while he spends much of his time in Washington these days, angling for a Cabinet appointment and taking seriously his new duties on the Kissinger Commission on Central America. When he is not in Washington, Silber is criss-crossing the country in search of money for a university whose rapid expansion has left it with operating expenses it cannot sustain. The same financiers attracted by the way John Silber ‘turned BU around’ might be just the people to finance a Silber Senate bid.” Pearlstein also notes that the two issues Tsongas seems to have chosen for his own in 1984 Central America and education are also pet issues of John Silber. “On Central America,” Pearlstein writes, “he takes the hard line that plays to the jingoistic spirit in every American. His is the unpopular position now, but if the Kissinger Commission is able to galvanize public opinion around a new Central American policy, Silber will be in the catbird seat. “On education, John Silber has led the charge against lazy students and indulgent teachers and has been an early foe of 20 SEPTEMBER 30, 1983
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