Burlap Time

What sins have we committed, what unpardonable crime

To have brought such desolation to this once fertile plain?

(The only times we’ve ever known has been this burlap time.)

 

We receive no epiphanies, no glimpse of the sublime;

Just great black walls of dust and grime again and yet again.

What sins have we committed, what unpardonable crime?

 

The wind and dirt makes madness of our days and our nighttime

For reasons that our governors and preachers can’t explain.

(The only times we’ve ever known has been this burlap time.)

 

We’ve topped the dead with crosses and covered dead stock with lime.

From whom should we seek redress—and to whom do we complain?

What sins have we committed, what unpardonable crime?

 

And so we’re left this Sisyphean peak to try and climb;

There’s no rainfall to save the crops, no cash to purchase grain

(The only times we’ve ever known has been this burlap time.)

 

We’ve lost interest in the answers, the reason or the rhyme;

God has, it seems forsaken us, has forsaken the rain

What sins have we committed, what unpardonable crime?

(The only times we’ve ever known has been this burlap time.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Tortuosly cobbled together for this Toad Challenge, though it’s more than a day late and a dollar short.)

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7 thoughts on “Burlap Time

  1. The villanellish repetition works well. Being a bit autistic, I struggled with accepting the mixed tenses of the ‘burlap times’ line – but it evoked a strong, tolling mood. Better late than never!

    1. I’ll admit there’s the grammatical inconsistency, but when people talk about “hard times”, they’re often talking about a particular moment in time, so I felt comfortable in taking a bit of license there.

  2. This poem could be the opening of the book, “The Worst Hard Time.” I’m guessing you’ve read it. If not, it’ll be right up your alley.
    “We’ve lost interest in the answers, the reason or the rhyme…”
    Yes, in the end, the worst loss is hope.
    Also, rhythmically speaking, calls to mind Tom Waits’ “Closing Time.”
    Very nice work,
    Bill

  3. i’m sure you see that ‘hard times’ are coming in biblical proportions…unfortunately for believers, they’re going to do the lemming leap with the rest…the ‘mistake’, it seems to me, is that we did not come to terms with the beast in us…if you stick enough rats in a cage, they’ll go insane…it just took us a while to fill this big old round cage…my old friend, we are fortunate to have lived our lives in the last of the good times, when there was hot baths and only Natzies and JIhadists on the horizons, and we did not spend our days scratching for grubs and a piece of rotting fruit

  4. I read the above comments and was amazed to see that your poem evoked Tom Waits for another reader. I thought just that. And I thought that you and Leonard Cohen seem akin. Hard times are felt, here.

    1. Kim, Glad to hear you’re a fellow Tom Waits fan. He’s been one of my favorites for around 25 years now. Also, I certainly agree with you that the writing evokes Leonard Cohen as well. Kortas always writes great stuff.

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