EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Rejection, Bus Poem: Hard Times, Hap

Here’s the latest submission of poetry from the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.


The same stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.

Psalm 118:22

 The great American poet was gravely ill.
Confined to home, he was game enough for an interview.
As I was ushered into his august presence,
I noticed letterhead papers taped to the walls
of the rooms, corner to corner from floor to ceiling.
Each was a version of, “Sorry, not for us.”
Of course, I started to laugh, which was the point.
The old man’s voice was soft but clear:
“The rejection letters keep me humble,” he said.
“I often wonder where the editors and publishers—
these gatekeepers—are today with their insights.
The uncharted path is hard to follow at first.
I get that. Sometimes it takes a while
for the world to come around to the unforeseen reality
that a loathed new idea despised by the authorities
will be the conceptual capstone of the coming age.”

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~

Bus Poem: Hard Times

Her long and pallid fingers
grip tight an impish pair
of toddler boys
as she climbs onto the bus.
I lift my eyes to a stretched-long face
as white as chalk—
a face evocative of the Great Depression
when hard times were black and white.

Her photo-flash whiteness indicates
the final stage of terminal fatigue.
Translucent skin,
sanded smooth from toddler work,
is the thinnest possible film
over a blue vein near the collarbone.
Thin lips are drained of color.
Fatigue’s garment is the absence of color.

Her large protective hands
caress the boys.
The three of them form
a triangle of touching and soft murmuring.
The boys are rested,
well-behaved and full of color,
but she is black and white,
a bright dust-bowl face of exhaustion.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~


A lost transcript was the beginning
of my life-altering event when I hoped to go
to the University of Oregon in Eugene.

I enrolled instead at a smaller school in Idaho.
Leaving home was past due,
but little did I know

this chance course correction would acquire
such salience. As a scullion in the kitchen crew
at Sun Valley when the school year

closed out, I was quite sure
my floating world would persist,
but then, there she was, traveling through

as a guest. Fifty-seven years have passed
since we met at the Lodge.
Who knows which moment is meant to last?

Who knows! From the vantage point of age,
I could be looking back with ruefulness
at a listless river in a featureless landscape

or a hellscape of conflict or a life of emptiness
like the wave-polished shell
abandoned by the creature who used to dwell;
or enjoy a different contentment with someone else.

Devil-may-care at the time of first action,
my initial moves belong
to a thousand-piece puzzle near completion.

We make informed decisions, but life is long.
For happiness, there is no map,
and often it is simply the result of hap.

Dave Baldwin

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dave Baldwin retired in 2017 from the Walt Disney Company after more than 40 years as a technical writer and editor. He lives in Lake Stevens.


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