The Oracle At Delphi Falls

Not much happens in these parts, he would demur,

Although it’s unlikely he’d be asked in the first place,

The dwindling few old-timers that represent his demographic

Not being the types to pose such a question,

But he has seen quite a bit in some four score and change years

From the vantage point of his place just off the corner of the Penoyer Road:

Boom times and bust, snowdrifts that threatened to lick the roof lines of houses,

Boys running shirtless through the embers of fallen leaves

On improbably warm October days, young men in hay wagons and pickups

Laughing, confident and carefree, on the way to the old train depot

Down at Apulia Station on the way to show the Jerries or the VC

Exactly how Upstate farm boys took care of business,

Windows adorned with gold stars illuminated

By the light of a solitary light bulb at odd hours.

While he has seen enough not to be too goddamn sure about things,

He suspects that complexity and contentment rarely walk hand-in-hand,

So he keeps his needs simple enough to be met

By the grocery in Tully and the GP over in Cazenovia

(The squalid, sooty skyline of Syracuse, split in half

By six lanes of high-octane madness, being as remote

And slightly terrifying to him as Mars itself),

As he has learned enough from thickets of trees

Which seem to shriek with a surfeit of crows

In the dusk of late September, or the subtle changes of stream banks

Tinged by the stubbornness of frost on early May mornings

Or blanketed by the pig-iron forge heat of July afternoons

To know that there are sufficient and possibly necessary limits

To the places where two legs or four wheels can carry a body.


5 thoughts on “The Oracle At Delphi Falls

  1. Four score years will lend a body a sense of fatalism. What has come before can not be improved nor exchanged, what comes next is certain, and only the bare moment of the present to make sense of it all. You know how to plumb the depth of a man’s soul.

  2. I have reached an age where this whole poem resonates down to my innermost molecule–I have often tried to figure out how to express some part of the feeling of coming to terms with life that is aging gracefully, and here you do it four me in a few words: “needs simple enough to be met” That is a great gift, to achieve such a sense of how things work towards contentment if one allows it. Your descriptions are poignant without being cloying, your details every single one cogent and to the point of the piece. Once again, you blow me away with your writing.

  3. “some four score and change years….” Adored the play on words here…like some prelude to moving on from the conventional way of things. The title of the poem connects me with the legendary oracle of Delphi and I found that Delphi Falls is a hamlet in New York. A feeling that the poem is all about changing perspective.

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