I had never heard of Bill Holm until I ran across this poem the other day. It’s entitled “August in Waterton, Alberta”::
Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off
the aspen tree a month too soon.
No use wind. All you succeed
in doing is making music, the noise
of failure growing beautiful.
I really like this poem, and wanted to find more by Bill Holm, so I was saddened to discover that he died recently. I did find this, written after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone in 2003:
On a gray sleety October day
The plane goes down in the north woods
With the large-hearted senator
Whose decency and respect for old ideals
Made half the citizens almost happy
To be Americans in a dark time.
Down went his wife and daughter too,
Three campaign workers, two pilots,
Eight in all, the radio says
Neglecting the ninth seat where Death
Dressed in an ordinary suit
Sat watching for his chance
To do a morning’s harvesting.
Do you think he wasn’t there
Hitching a ride, invisible, just as
He sat in the box at Ford’s Theatre,
Held open the convertible door in Dallas?
He sits in the front seat of your car too,
Or waits feigning sleep with his head
Resting on the next pillow in your bed.
So we go on to write the same poem,
Sing the same sad song yet once more
Not for the dead who have gone
Over to the insensible kingdom
But for us who must now carry on
Without them. This time, as so often
Before, Death snatched a big one
Just when we could not stand to lose
His voice, that spoke, not just alone,
But for us millions who longed
For a world green, alive, about to bloom.