Public Broadcast Poem by Philip Booth
Sunday, late. The winter dark already coming down.
Inside the woodshed door, an early FM tuned to Bangor.
Half as old as the backyard oak he’s felled—felled,
fitted, split—an old man mad for music lugs the chunks in.
He turns the volume up, up full: an opera he never saw
rises through light snow and marshals its triumphant march.
He marches, lifting stiff knees into highstep, marking
his own bootprints, shooting his victorious fist
against a stand of second growth ranked naked
against the sky. He lets the music take him as
he assumes the music: entering the city gates
he feels the blaze of banners, the shine on breastplates
and the women’s hair. He marches near the column’s head,
in his just place. The sun on the lead car is hot,
the horses sweat with victory, a victory
he hasn’t felt in fifty years. Measure upon measure,
the music pumps him higher. He marches, marches,
through his deep backyard. The chorus soars:
the women’s voices open every street, their smiles,
are wide with glory, their lips already moist.
from Lifelines: Selected Poems, 1950–1999