POETRY

AFTERNOON SHADOWS

A day may come,
when long afternoon shadows
run down the street
faster than you can.
And,
if only for a moment,
your courage will desert you.
I will be ready, then,
to hold you
like the caress of nightfall
so that your fear can exhaust itself
in my arms.

-Max Vollmer
5-25-98

 

OREGON MISTS

Days pass like Oregon mists;
speaking in sotto voce
of the endless cycle
of being and ceasing to be
of cataclysm and aftermath
of awkward instants and
long afternoons.

-Max Vollmer

 

NIGHT

Darkness,
it is so relentless
its transparency belying its grip
on my transcendent self.
I am drawn like the February lamb
untainted
unsuspecting
to the mother’s milk of night vapors.

-Max Vollmer
11-27-97

 

THE LILAC

We see and we say
Oh, look at the long arms of the lilac
waving.
When in truth
it is the wind.

-Max Vollmer

 

BUDDHA’S  TREASURES

A life
by itself
is a small thing.
One of Buddha’s treasures.
But a life
that touches many lives
with love
is the Buddha.

Max Vollmer
5-28-98

 

SNOWFALL

I awoke to the silent deluge . . .
falling
headlong
the bleached blood of martyr and rogue
spilled without regard
. . . by cruel Edict!
And as naturally torn from the maiden
wrapped in fear
a sacrifice to newborn gods
who wear it like rouge.
Yea, it is the blood of all
that falls
milky white
upon our mother’s breast
sup and sustenance
sap and soul
the phantom of redemption
made whole.

Max Vollmer
3-3-98

 

WHERE BEAUTY LIES

I seek to create beauty,
I would collect beauty,
that I might live surrounded by beauty
juxtaposed.

Outside, I look upon the moon,
calm, softly radiant,
lighting the sky, the madrone and oak,
and beauty enters into me.

I knell down and smell the body
of our mother, the earth,
and her many children riding upon her back,
and beauty enters into me.

I close my eyes and hear the soliloquay
of the cricket
and the communal chorus of the night frogs,
and beauty enters into me.

And I know where beauty lies.

Max Vollmer
9-12-00

 

THE FOUNDRY

The massive hammer blows beat a steady rhythm, refining, transforming the white hot bloom . . . the devil’s flesh . . . and devil’s work it was. It took possession of the souls of men who worked there. Wages? Something for wives and children. No, it was the fires of hell, the searing heat of the river of iron pouring from the furnace, the cacophony of foundry noise, the knowledge that their lives depended on the uncertain sobriety of the furnace master. That’s what held them.

Max Vollmer

 

WHY AM I HERE

As I crouch here
One thought hangs like crepe on the walls of my mind
One thought that those with me dare not sound out
For each knows all are thinking it
And the painful silence will not be broken.
Why
O why am I here?

Why am I here!
I am not here for gain
For in each moment I am in danger of losing all.
I am not here for justice
For war is not just
It robs all sides of thinkers, leaders, fathers, and lovers.
I am not here because I want to be
For I do not.

Why am I here?
I am here for two reasons
One personal
And one inevitable.
I am here so that you may sleep at night
Knowing you are free tomorrow to work or play.
And then I am here because fate has sent me
For just as the wave breaks on the beach
And some straining molecules must strike the sand
So that others may rush over
So too, I will wear down the enemies of man
That the human wave may roll on.

– Max Vollmer
Vietnam 1970

 

IN MEMORIAM

Instant bird sound!  half remembered
I hold my ears
Brief screech of violent death
Pierces.

– Max Vollmer
April 1973

 

FIRST STONE

This first stone
stone upon which
stone shall rest
until the wall
shall be a sight
for all to behold
must be set straight
by loving hands
when it wants to fall back
into primeval slumber.

– Max Vollmer

 

WHITE WARRIOR

White warrior
adrift in aquamarine
shoots soft arrows
in another time.

Tribesmen in dark robes
stand mute
awaiting
a new council fire.

Mothers of the multitude
stand guard
over innocence
shedding bright colors.

All
wrapped in echoes
All
wrapped in stillness.

– Max Vollmer