Editor Whedon

- 1868-1950

To be able to see every side of every question;
To be on every side, to be everything, to be nothing long;
To pervert truth, to ride it for a purpose,
To use great feelings and passions of the human family
For base designs, for cunning ends,
To wear a mask like the Greek actors—
Your eight-page paper—behind which you huddle,
Bawling through the megaphone of big type:
“This is I, the giant.” 
Thereby also living the life of a sneak-thief,
Poisoned with the anonymous words
Of your clandestine soul.
To scratch dirt over scandal for money,
And exhume it to the winds for revenge,
Or to sell papers,
Crushing reputations, or bodies, if need be,
To win at any cost, save your own life.
To glory in demoniac power, ditching civilization,
As a paranoiac boy puts a log on the track
And derails the express train.
To be an editor, as I was.
Then to lie here close by the river over the place
Where the sewage flows from the village,
And the empty cans and garbage are dumped,
And abortions are hidden.

Lucinda Matlock

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed--
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you--
It takes life to love Life.

Anne Rutledge

Out of me unworthy and unknown
The vibrations of deathless music;
"With malice toward none, with charity for all."
Out of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions,
And the beneficent face of a nation
Shining with justice and truth.
I am Anne Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds,
Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln,
Wedded to him, not through union,
But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic,
From the dust of my bosom!

Fiddler Jones

The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind's in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to "Toor-a-Loor."
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill--only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle--
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.

Related Poems

the mother

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.

All Money Is A Matter of Belief

                    Adam Smith
 
Every poet glistens with the dew
of money, but surely only some of them
truly have it. Never enough, wanting to know
what enough felt like, I buy fake versions
of the things I want on credit, my shelves
laden with zirconia, Prada knockoffs, and
pirated Oscar screeners. I’m driven by envy,
and gluttony, the desire to consume better
than anyone else, but the pleasure is only half
of what it should be, and so on until my house
is filled with objects that belong to Chase
and AmEx. I’ve been relentless and I’ve been
lucky, but that’s never been enough.
I’d sell my soul, but there aren’t any takers. 

The Army of Truth

Words? Those sounds the world despises.
      Words in poems?
Even more to be disdained!
Ah, how feeble are your powers
      to defend
all the truth that man denies!

Thunder crack and lightning flash
      at its presence!
Hosts of angels should come swooping
down from heaven to the rescue
      far and wide
spread the knowledge of its glory.

Oh, why can it not come winging
      from on high?
Truth, that with a starry birth
wears a helmet brightly gleaming
      wielding swords
fiercely sharp instead of feathers.

Oh, why then does it not pitch camp 
      tent on tent
white on every mountainside?
Oh, why then are not its heroes
      strongly ranged
to keep mastery over life?

The fort of darkness is well guarded.
      Superstition
rests secure on stony columns.
Numerous as Egypt's serpents
      round truth's temple
range the black-clad guards of error.

Forward, though, you feeble lines!
      Words are armies!
On this earth your victory
was promised by the Lord, Light's father, 
      when you serve
Truth itself, his child, alone.

Onward, words, you sons of truth!
      En avant!
In the end the hearts of men
will be your victorious home.
      Then your light
will with courage bear them on.

Forward, with your boldest faces
      Words of truth!
For the greatest power on Earth
has been granted you by God:
      Because never
Could you die in Truth's pure mouth!

Courage take then, all you small ones!
      Truth's great cause
Only triumphs in defeat.
Storm the bitter heights of lies!
Raze them to the ground with Truth!