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Winter Coat Poem

"I Concur" and Others
by John Andrew Durler

the wind closes
the door of heaven,
and wails it's loss
of faith in the brotherhood of man.

It sucks, given its potential.
There should be more to it.
as cardinals and ravens know,
without the ability
of abstract projections
from and to the now--
bringing altar and grave
on a raft of sin from Eden;

Dignity in paunchy pants 
holds up the promise
to deliver an envelope
of pain if you don't
cough it up and spit it out.

You won't-- holding it in
until your brain balloons --eyes bulge. 
Your fire-red complexion
matches sour blood
that sprays out in rainbows
over white sheets, white coats
and you disappear in a fog--
that muddles your life,
clouds your dreams,
creeps over your desires.

You drink your dreams.
Your great passion--the bottle.
A bottle holds many things....
Yours holds all the wrong....


A dollar for your winter coat.
I have no more to pay?  
I asked a man wearing one,
another under his arm.

It's promised to a holy man
who burned his wooden leg
to warm his sick friend, 
who died anyway.

Now he uses him
since rigor mortis set in, as a crutch.  

A man with one leg, 
a dead man crooked under his arm 
hopped out of the alley, 
chicken soup frozen on his beard.   

Another meal when it melts, he said,
reaching for the coat.  

I said.  I have no wooden leg to halt the cold.
Mine is freezing bone.  I need a coat to live.  
Share it with me, and I shall be your friend. 
I had many coats, a blight of moths ate them all.

He said, I had a bed of seven, 
stolen one by one as I slept.  
Share my coat.  
We shall talk, friend I never met
and see if we can be kin of a kind.

We, wrapped in the coat 
in step, hopped back to the alley.  
With chattering teeth I talked of my life past, 
and he in turn told his, propping his friend 
in a frozen part of his alley.   

He said I could have saved the world,
but it didn't want saving.   
God keeps saving for himself.   

He warms me, coats me in cloth.  I said.  

The world is a testing field, he said
where weapons of learning and ignorance clash.

I said.  A mind is the greatest weapon I know.
Mine is chipped--covered with rust.        

Humanity is an image of itself, it cannot see.  
If it did it would die in its own denial.  He said.

That was too profound for me.  

What is your name?  I asked.

Solomon.  Yours? 


I was a cantor, he said.  If you heard me sing, 
my voice would touch you.

I was a priest in a primitive garden.
I said.  My altar, smooth stones, 
congregation, sparrows and chipmunks.

Will you sing?  I asked.
Someday.  He said.

It was enough, he believed in someday,
I folded my arms and slept.   


I want to travel the world. 
It will probably
be in a bottle, 
or on a wooden nickel.

I'd work my way
a tramp steamer,
but I've got a bad back.

I figure in other places
I can write,
be more
than here,
like Frost and Elliot,
maybe get a job
in the London
Library of Parliament,
dead letter office
sweeping floors
putting letters away,
stacking them 
one by one
working my way up
to a book keeper's
degree in English Letters.


Swift is the hawk in indellible blue, 
a rocket in flight in the fired eye
of the hare in the field,

A swipe of the claws, 
the fury of wings, 
the air a spray of bubbly red.

The heart at the stop
in a rapture of fear 
in the slack of the rope 
in the lifeline of hope, 
tendons at rest in the calm
of a frozen brain's pulse, 

as a feather clings
to a tuft of fur
stuck on the thorn of the thicket.

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