A Peddler’s Rounds

A VILLAGE IN MICHIGAN

A sign at the edge of the village reads
‘Home of the 1989 Cherry Festival Queen’
twenty-five years after the end of her reign.
I’ll pass through a dozen villages
on my peddler’s rounds this day.

I wonder if she’s still here,
her court now consisting
of regulars at the Legion’s fish fry,
where they profess their pride
but share her secret shame:
for all her gifts, she never left this place.
They would leave –
of course they would –
if they only had the chance.

I cheer myself by deciding
she founded a home for children,
somewhere with a lot of orphans,
and made love with rock stars
before breaking their hearts.

Warming to the task,
I’m sure she sips
champagne with royalty
and brings beautiful children
here each summer,
happy that friends no longer fear
her somewhere-else beauty.

These thoughts are filtered
through memories of my own,
and I murmur a quiet prayer
that time has not stood still for her
as it has for her hometown,
as it sometimes has for me.

Just let her be happy, I pray,
and drive on to the next village
with stories of its own.
__________

(There really is such a sign, and I hope she’s well.)

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A New Poem Every Monday
(tho’ sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved

One thought on “A Peddler’s Rounds

  1. Joe, this is beautiful. I am not a poet, but am really impressed by your poem that expresses reminiscence spurred by a chance encounter. Your peddler happening upon a sign at the edge of a random village reminds me of a song that my old music partner, Brad Easterson, and I used to play in our Celtic duo in Northfield.

    The song is called “The Green Fields of France,” and it’s about a worker who happens upon the gravestone of a young soldier killed in The Great War, WWI. He sits down to rest in the graveyard and is soon lost in thought about the sadness of life lost in war. An anti-war song, for sure, but done in a similar style to your poem. I get misty eyed whenever I hear it, maybe because it reminds me so much of my old music partner, lost to a stroke when he was younger than I am now.

    Here’s a link to a YouTube of the song being performed by the High Kings

    Here’s the lyrics, found on the internet:

    The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land)

    oh how do you do, young willy mcbride
    do you mind if i sit here down by your graveside
    and rest for a while in the warm summer sun
    i’ve been walking all day, and im nearly done
    and i see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
    when you joined the great fallen in 1916
    well i hope you died quick
    and i hope you died clean
    oh willy mcbride, was is it slow and obscene

    did they beat the drums slowly
    did the play the fife lowly
    did they sound the death march as they lowered you down
    did the band play the last post and chorus
    did the pipes play the flowers of the forest

    and did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
    in some loyal heart is your memory enshrined
    and though you died back in 1916
    to that loyal heart you’re forever nineteen
    or are you a stranger without even a name
    forever enshrined behind some old glass pane
    in an old photograph torn, tattered, and stained
    and faded to yellow in a brown leather frame

    did they beat the drums slowly
    did the play the fife lowly
    did they sound the death march as they lowered you down
    did the band play the last post and chorus
    did the pipes play the flowers of the forest

    the sun shining down on these green fields of france
    the warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
    the trenches have vanished long under the plow
    no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing down
    but here in this graveyard that’s still no mans land
    the countless white crosses in mute witness stand
    till’ man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
    and a whole generation were butchered and damned

    did they beat the drums slowly
    did the play the fife lowly
    did they sound the death march as they lowered you down
    did the band play the last post and chorus
    did the pipes play the flowers of the forest

    and i can’t help but wonder oh willy mcbride
    do all those who lie here know why they died
    did you really believe them when they told you the cause
    did you really believe that this war would end wars
    well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
    the killing and dying it was all done in vain
    oh willy mcbride it all happened again
    and again, and again, and again, and again

    did they beat the drums slowly
    did the play the fife lowly
    did they sound the death march as they lowered you down
    did the band play the last post and chorus
    did the pipes play the flowers of the forest

    Like

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