Tuesday 31 May 2022

Five Poems by Duane Vorhees




When the ones we want to love us 

leave no doubt they’ve left us behind, 

should we loll around, scavengers 

of leftovers lying around? 

Or should we collate our losses 

like alarmed lieutenants behind 

the lines, wannabe avengers 

of honour lost on our naked routs?





My fellow knaves and wenches 

--and saints, knights, and laureates too -- 


relieve your wrath and tensions 

at the city park near you. 


Listen to jazzy finches, 

throw a frisbee, read a book, 


choose among the paths and benches 

that determine our life's look -- 


benches that accord us rest 

on the paths that fix our quest.




My sweet sweet sun. 

Every day you sport your saffron robe 

and leaven my starch with your butter. 

You honey my room by daylight 

and bower it by night, flower and feed me 

all the year. 

If you were gone 

even the moon would 



I recall writing this one 

and working another two 

when the night was black like tar, 

hours before the morning's light 

would colour sky with new dyes. 

We can't look long at the sun, 

but you're so unlike the sun. 


You said you wanted cashews 

to refill your empty jar, 

a healthful snack at midnight 

for better sleep by and by. 

I, instead, proposed almonds. 

And I can't help but see you 

though I cannot look at you. 


So you got into your car. 

You waved, turned on the headlights, 

switched your beam from low to high, 

and gave the engine the gun. 

Out of the driveway you flew. 

Though the sun's just one more star, 

you're my only superstar. 


I resumed work on my writes 

and lost track of time and sky. 

With no warning, you were gone. 

Blackness never became blue, 

and your nearness went afar. 

The sun hides away at night,

you're with me through all the nights. 


That was when I learned to cry 

and forgot a race is won 

through union with a new crew. 

I can't accept that life's char 

can help me cherish the white. 

In the end the sun will die.  

To me, not ever will you die.



In the Hard Times 

of my chequered past 

I played ruthless checkers. 


Now I'm doing hard time 

in punishment for getting kinged, 

while the Warden whets the guillotine.




The challenge is strongest at the mountain’s base, not its peak. 

But, oh! the climb! 

The thin invisible air on the treacherous slopes, 

the uncertain Sherpas, 

The shortness of breath and the tallness of the fear of  



to the valley's belly far below. 

And then the summit. 

The camera captures the sky-raised fist and the fluttering pennant beside. 

A final upswell of the breast 

and then begins the long 








Duane Vorhees lives in Thailand after teaching in Japan and Korea for many years. He was raised in Ohio and received his PhD in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. Hog Press of Ames, iowa, recently published tree collections of his poetry, THE MANY LOVES OF DUANE VORHEES, GIFT: GOD RUNS THROUGH ALL THESE ROOMS, and HEAVEN. 

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