Verse by Caleb Mannan

If you like Robert Service, Longfellow, Tolkien, Milton, Robinson Jeffers, Whitman, Poe, The Bible, Tennyson, Ray Bradbury, life, death, Untermeyer, Pound, Donne, joy, sorrow, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, children, beauty, Dante, Tom Waits, then set yourself down beside this fire.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

XVIII. The Dawn of My Manhood

The dawn of my manhood came and went
Ill as it was, ill it was spent
Long maned was I, and full of intent
But the dawn of my manhood came and went

The youth that I flouted withered away
The smoke I boasted began to fade
A god was I, in my own eyes
But the dawn of godhood was my demise

The dawn of my manhood came and went
Arrival foretold, arrival my intent
Hell bent was I, on my hellish bent
While the dawn of my manhood came and went

So sad was I, to see the day
The morn of my youth no longer in play
Atoss was I, upon my lies
And upon this sea sped my demise

The dawn of my manhood came and went
Quick as it came, quicker it went
Shiny was I, and always well meant
But the dawn of my manhood came and went

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

XVII. And Now to Give Thanks

I have come over windswept plane
In the valley of no name, and you have kept me.
Whilst I huddled beside my fire, alone and cold,
You sent your angels over me( I saw them in the sky).

In the crags of the devil’s back,
That turned my heart black, you have lead me.
Whilst I cowered, broken and bitter,
You laid your hand upon me, you did not forsake me.

In the creeping shadow o’er my door,
The blood crawling ‘cross the floor, you have girded me.
Whilst I shivered, horrified and spent,
You hunkered down beside me, and you were steadfast.

In the crash of battle, over the screams,
That rent my very heart’s seams, your song was constant.
Whilst I hacked in a red rage of bloodlust,
The angel’s tongues gave me peace in this everpresent battle

In the land of cleaving death,
Where the shadow steals my breath, you comforted me.
Whilst I sat in morbid darkness,
You set a light upon me, so that I could find my way.

And now to give thanks,
From 'cross the bloody banks, I call to you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

XVI. I have a song

I was a boy, and still I am, according to my mother
I was crazy, and still I am, so say my sister and brothers
I had a song, and still it I sing, though it is louder
I have a song, and still it I sing, though it does grow shorter
I have a calling, it lures me on, according to my spirit
I have a future, and I am content, for I know that I am in it

Thursday, December 17, 2009

XV. The Philosophy of Fire

There in the moonlit meadows and sun tanned streams
This wild man hears his drumming dreams
With ceiling high and temple wide
The mountains rise up as my guide

Who may know what huddles in my heart? That aching, glowing, lumbering heart
“Go forth and be set apart,” aches within my heart of hearts
So as a child(in childish fervor and manner wild) it is within my heart.

Who can know the pioneers? Toiling for some unseen years
That beyond horizon at them peers, the wild, the free, the beckoned seers
So as a pioneer(with less guts and feeble fear) so I go to unseen years.

I long for forest and fire, where prying eyes may not inquire
“Go forth my son and there retire,” into the land I name and sire
So as my children grow(Lo! How they grow!) I long for land that I may sire.

XIV. Bolt Action Man (unfinished)

I am the bolt action man
Don’t give a knife’s edge damn
Living the hoboe’s lam
Unable to live a sham
I am the Lord’s good son
Carrying His name in a gun
Saying his name on the run
My prayin aint never done
I am my mother’s son
She don’t love me cause what I done
I am my daddy’s son
He never loved no one
I am a flash in the pan
Lion or lamb, none give a damn
I am what I am
The bolt action man

XIII. The Hardest Lesson

The hardest lesson of a man is thus:
I do unto my family as I do unto myself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old Friend at Work

XII. I Came From Dark Brew

I came from dark brew, just as you
All the boiling bubble toil and trouble I came from just as you.
I came from the sludge stew, just as you
With an eye for trouble, infectious bursting bubble, I am just like you.

My past is palsied, my lineage ruined,
My empire crippled from fathers exhumed.
My gait is hobbled, my stride a hitch,
Throughout my veins runs the blood of a bitch.

I came from dark brew, just as you
All the war and silence chaos and violence I came from just as you.
I came from the muck slough, just as you
With a heart of darkness, inveterate carcass, I am just like you.

My hands are wicked, my heart is grave,
Of blood and lust does my flesh crave.
The ash is settled, sackcloth demise,
And yet from ash did the phoenix arise.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

XI. A Father's Love

For Violet and Tennessee

My daughter, I’d give her princes,
My son, I’d give him queens
And palaces and lands that span
From sea to shining sea.
My children, I’d give you wisdom
And a vision to conquer life-
A happy, healthy existence
Free from natural strife.
But my children, all I’d give you
Would one day burn away
And what use is a limb
If it knows no pain?
So then, I will give you
That which I am of:
A humbled heart, my wicked hands,
And a father’s love.

X. Darkness Overcomes Me

Darkness overcomes me Lord,
For I am but a man.
From the watchtower I see the sky’s waning light
With the advance of the grotesque.
Let me be still oh Lord,
Let me then be quiet.
Gird me for my family
And even for myself.
Not to falter in the coming battle,
I cannot stumble in the least.
I grip my rifle tight,
And pray for quick salvation.

Darkness overcomes me Lord,
For I am but a man.

IX. Who may know what moves me?

Who may know what moves me, who may know my heart?
Who may know the strings that play me, or pluck my soul apart?
Am I a such a righteous man, that I can withstand my wicked heart?
I assure you in the face of sin I stand to fall apart.
Am I such a craven, that I’d tear a man apart?
If you heard the strings that play me, you’d see ‘tis in my heart.

VIII. I am a son of the earth!( unfinished)

My Queen-
I am a son of the earth!
Crude ‘n crass m’ lass,
but a son just the same.
I came unto with dirt under m’ nails,
And shall return with dirt on m’ boots.
I regard myself manly, bent n’ broken,
But a son just the same
I’s formed of clay by mygoodmaker,
Aye, he made me well.
With spittled beard I rush into fray,
Into the fray for you go I.
I will not be cowed, I will not be broken,
Until the dust it leaves m’ lungs.
For you I will wrestle the wolves,
And ford the fjords,
They are nothing to me in you,
nay, nothing to me in you.
I've the strength of legion for you momma,
I've hellbone in m' strength,
and I charge any man to come on hard,
and I will meet him in the middle
with a thundercrackbonebrokenbrittleaxerattle,
and I will stand over 'is fallen form,
and holler out to heaven and hell:
"I am a son of the earth!"

VII. Music

Music doth soothe my soul,
Soothe my soul the music doth.
The angels foresaw my birth within their songs,
Within their tongue of tongues.
And now it cradles me gently,
Ushered by my invisible brothers,
Whisper wind of Hayyoth’s hymns.

Friday, December 11, 2009

VI. As I Stoop, He Rises

For Tennessee Jedidiah Mannan

As I grow old, he grows stronger.
As I become bent, he grows straight.
As I grow hard, and dull,
He comes alive with fire.

I see in his eyes the fires of great wars
And the ships of civilizations I will never see.
I see foolish bravery, and unkempt strength.
As I walk on, he follows behind me,
Just now at a bumbling run.
I kneel next to him, and caution him of the smoke upon the horizon.
He heeds my words, and throws his arms about my neck,
For he knows that I love him.
I tell him he shall be a great nation, as the stars,
And he laughs as he sharpens my spear.
One day, I tell him, I will be gone,
And so now I must tell him all I know.
Then we carry on, across the mountains,
Along the path we see laid out.
And in just so short a time, I turn to see him,
And he is grown, and a man,
And he smiles at me.
I smile, so that he will not know I am old, and tired.
But we both know that as I stoop, he rises,
And because of this, my heart is at peace.

V. These People

These People,
They live until they die, no more, no less.
They raise their children, and their children’s children,
And return to the earth whence they came.
They weather the winter, and laugh in the sun,
And weep for their sorrows.
They live in a familiar house, with overgrown yards,
And they toil as best they can.
They cannot see beyond the screen door,
But for the great green oaks that shade their yard.
They are as the children who rise everyday, and go to play.
And for this, I commend them:
For no God, nor Demon, nor war, nor poverty
Shall keep them from this life,
Just as the oaks that shade their door.

IV. The Old Soul of the Long Lost Child

The old soul
of the long lost child shall I ever be.
The great gasp smell
of the smoke of train shall I ever breathe.
The toys I have lost in the tunnel of man
Have clearly marked my way,
The dog eared lore of children’s fare
have held me from the fray.

My children's tears, my children's laughs
With them I weave a magic raft
And sail from this smoking land of death.

The old dreams of eternal youth
are an isle affixed for me.
And I visit with the ghosts of past
And live in magic means.
Anon anon I hear a cry
from my children across the shore
And I leave the isle with a smile
To search for it no more.

My Children’s tears, my children’s laughs
They are but a magic craft
To keep me in this land of death
And I shall weep no more.

The unforgettable fire

III. The End

I live in this constant state of sadness, this constant realm of madness,
Trying to write you out of the trouble you're in.

Of Beast, and man, and death’s right hand, I write.

I wake in a constant state of turmoil, the grinding axe of turmoil

Trying to chase you to the end.

Of God and man, and angel’s hands, I write.

When will this ever end?

II. Laurels

Resting on your laurels
Is never a wise to-do
For resting on your laurels
How shall they rest on you?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I. Wheat and Wildflowers

One day we will meet
on the other side of the twilight of the gods,
or the gods we thought we were.
We will sit under an ancient pine,
looking out on the wheat and wildflowers
where once was a bloody plane strewn with our brother's bodies.
We will speak in quiet tones in the smoke of our fire,
and never our hearts will tremble.

We will then be mild men in the manner of our father,
our arms unscarred, our minds untroubled.
We will have forgotten the battles and blood,
only a whisper in the wheat.
The sons of god will lay down their threshing tools
to hail us in a greeting:
'It is finished!’

And the beauty of it will bring tears to our eyes.