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.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

XXV. American Knife

Written for the occasion of the giving of a WWII knife to my brother, Jacob Isaac Mannan, on Christmas, 2009.

This knife was born in America,
from a son who is now long gone,
from a American iron press,
Son of Remington, Son of Pal.
From the bellows and blows of American coals,
‘twas forged from the colonies of our Nation’s birth.
This knife has seen things it will never tell,
been a million miles it's soul will never tell,
though we might try and shake it loose.
This knife was held in sweaty palm,
by a father, by a son- by a Jimmie Johnson, be he old or young.
This knife came forth from fire,
from the hardened hands of man,
bent and twisted in the fire,
hammered gleaning clean by
gnarled and blackened hands,
hands of the American sons.
This knife was sent to soldier,
who went out to save the world,
and he wore it on his hip,
in that now broken sheath, one of the dragon's teeth.
The handle leather is now darkened
with sweat and oil and grime,
and by its wear it tells the time.
This knife has seen many things
that it can never tell,
50 plus years and still going strong,
maybe it was harmless, maybe it was hell.
But this old knife it aint telling,
it jest sits silent and sharp,
knowing that it will never rest.
And of all the things it has presided over,
only one shall be our death.
So brother-
I give you this American knife,
and you give it to your sons,
and they will give it to their sons,
as a sign of what was and is and shall be,
even as the ghost of the wielder fades.
Take pride in this American Knife!
For it was forged by America, upon the
earth’s gravest hour, and it is standing still!

And in the heft of this American knife
we shall know what was and is and shall be.

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