Hey Hum Hey: 4 Vagrant Verses for a Kansas Day



These revised poems Copyright © 2010 by Michael Smetzer


A Kansas Anthem

The wind and dust blew up the hill,
the dust from the wind fell down.
And I awoke on the windless side
all clothed in a fine dust gown.

“Oh see,” said I to a passerby,
“my suit of Kansas Gray.
Come feel the loft of the down so soft
our sky has thrown away.”

“I swear,” swore he, “by a cottonwood tree
run through by a fencing foil,
your Kansas dust smells sharp as rust
and feels like tractor oil.

“I’ve been to Maine and I’ve been to Spain
and filled my sight with riches,
but my eyes are filled in Kansas land
by dirt blown out of ditches.”

Oh hey hum hey for a Kansas day
when the sky is gray and swirly.
Oh naw de naw for the gritty jaw
that turns bright strangers surly.

(First published in Midwest Quarterly.)


Blonde with Fingers

In the rain a passing car and in the car
one blonde head and a white hand waving. Who? I wonder.
Who is waving?
A red car, maroon red. One blonde, smiling head.
A waving hand, fingers spread. Slishing north.
Who’s the girl with that blonde head?

The rain that ripples down the street
at the corners ripples feet.
The drops that dripple from my ears
trickle down my underwear.
My heart is damp and soaked with care,
but my mind can only stare
After that girl with that blonde hair
waving those fingers in the air.

(First published in Mostly Maine.)


The Letter

By a hydrant where a postman
Dropped a letter on the ground,
Sat a vagrant being vagrant
When the letter fluttered down.

On the battered, buttered vagrant
Dropped the letter falling down,
But the vagrant only muttered
And the postman kept his round.

Now a vagrant and a letter
Are both vagrant on the ground
By a noble fire hydrant
That the postman steps around,

And the vagrant often mutters
Of such matters that astound,
But the letter knowing better
Only flutters up and down.

(First published in Mostly Maine.)


Sailboats in Winter

(Clinton Lake, Kansas)

Sailboats in dry dock are chorus bells
on a windy hill.

Through two winter miles of osage woods,
branched low and sheltering,
A hiker comes stumbling down crumbling
limestone hills, wandering
in and out, skirting lake-flooded creeks,
boldly sauntering

across boat ramps and silent roads,
side-stepping hillside seeps,
leaping on fallen oaks, and laughing
At the deadfall’s creak.

Then wind in rigging, and through the trees
the sight of mast-bells fills the sky,

tinkling tinkling

like nothing else on a Kansas hill.

(First published in Mostly Maine.)



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