Poetry by Patrick Moran

APRIL 2008: POETRY

by Patrick Moran

go this wayyou have nothing to lose

there are trees
there will be a river
don’t pretend to know their names

there will be a farmhouse
a light for a traveler
it’s not for you

wait to be seen
it will be better this way
they will have time to choose

time to examine their conscience
recall the kindnesses
the cruelties

it’s the story of mouth and eyes
it’s the story of bodies
gathered and bound

speak of hope
speak of better times
then leave as if you knew

where it was you were going

ill-tempered man lives herethese are the eyes
of the ill-tempered man
who is of two mindsthey know each other’s ways
they have battled over his soul

one mind is the mind of tenderness
the other cruelty

one mind is the mind of action
the other stillness

between two worlds
between two loves
the ill-tempered man moves
a pilgrim of sorrows

these are the eyes
of the ill-tempered man

may you never come to know
his fury

this is NOT a safe placebut you knew that already
you knew because you made these marks

one for the law one for the crime
one for the jail house doin time

one for the chicken one for the pot
one for the water boiling hot

one for the fork one for the knife
one for the man who beats his wife

there are thieves about

this is true

believe or disbelieve the others
they have time to fade
time to lose their meaning
time to change
into something else

this is always true

think of everything
you can steal
then know this
there is always more
there is always someone
who will deprive you
as you have deprived them

the smoke of memory
is the smell of loss

road is spoiled full of other hobossomething tells you
they are following the warm weather
something else tells you
they can suck pity from a stonemeeting them you felt nothing
resembling pity or misfortune
but instead a feeling of dread
you couldn’t explain

something tells you
to watch the birds for a sign
something else tells you
there is much to fear

the road has not changed
the trees have not moved
there is only the birds’ message
the faint music of sorrow

something tells you
it is a message about yourself
something else tells you
you are one of them

Patrick Moran teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has published poems in The New Republic, The Indiana Review, Quarterly West, and Chelsea. Here his poems employ hobo signs and symbols–the titles transcribe what the symbols mean. Henry Dreyfuss, an industrial designer, collected forty-five of these standard symbols in his influential text, The Symbol Source Book.