Monday 28 November 2022

Three Poems by R. W. Haynes

The Wheels

Let the Platonic dialogue spin its wheels

Sometimes. Let the claim of verbal satisfaction

Defer respectfully to that of action,

Leaving peace to operate its deals.

Do not worry overmuch for ancient lies,

Glittering theories or complacency

Born from the smugly-captured victory,

Which time’s own conscience fervently denies.

So spoke the youthful sage, his counsel bold

Enough for foolish youth, his heart

Untested by being slowly pulled apart

In a hurricane and left out in the cold.

Smiling at these words, his friend replies,

I know you, friend, despite this brave disguise.

If wisdom were salvation for the mind

We’d luxuriate in cordial content,

Never wondering where courage went

Or why debates all leave us nearly blind.

Here you float on formula again

In hope your blithe defiance is in tune

With cosmic operation’s vast cartoon,

A game you plan to roll the dice and win.

But doesn’t real wisdom hesitate

To shed its secret tolerance of pain?

Do not its contradictions render plain

A simpler tension than you obfuscate?

I like the fact that art makes Justice blind,

And so should Truth be in the groping mind.

Not Enough Betrayal

For Billy Joe Shaver

So you can throw a brazen spear through

A sea of marshmallows you have decorated

With lovers’ livers crushed and desiccated,

And feed them to your crocodilian crew,

And you can fly down quickly at warp speed

To tear off ears, gouge eyes, and maul

And fly back safely, tickled pink by it all,

And laugh insanely while your victims bleed,

But guess what, honey, guess who doesn’t care,

For in my mental bar-room I’m immune,

And all your malice, all your evil action,

May give your foolish mind some satisfaction,

But in my ears I hear a magic tune,

Turn up the drama, then, Miss Jezebel;

Stoke up the fires of your imagined Hell.

So if this looks like buffoonery,

Think again. However serious we were

And whatever gaudy mask you prefer,

I ask that you take this play seriously.

But then of course that’s where the fun comes in,

And as you race to organize your face

A noisy little clown car pulls up in place,

And all the mad hilarity begins again,

As frantic comedians dash about,

Confetti cascades in a mock hurricane,

And a mob of foolish firemen in this rain

Pretends to put the fires of passion out.

Buffoonery? Nah, this is normalcy.

And I’m not laughing. Can you be?

Demanding Humiliation

Demanding humiliation again and again,

He bounced like the ball in a pinball machine,

Graciously shiny, elusive and mean,

Resisting gravity as if it were sin

And virtue burned bright in mere mobility.

As green birds wrangled with family outside,

Their clashing inspired in him a kind of pride

That aged at last into philosophy,

And, as his eyes focused, he saw at last

A vast train of miracles barrelling

His way and heard the birds begin to sing

Hosts of alleluias for future and past.

What was he to do? Go or stay?

Get plowed under or jump out of the way?

R. W. Haynes
is Professor of English at Texas A&M International University, where he teaches early British literature and Shakespeare. His recent publications include studies of playwright/screenwriter Horton Foote. In 2016, Haynes received the SCMLA Poetry prize at the Dallas conference of the South Central Modern Language Association. Two books of his poems (Laredo Light and Let the Whales Escape) appeared in the summer of 2019, another (Heidegger Looks at the Moon) in 2021, and, forthcoming in 2022, The Deadly Shadow of the Wall.


  1. Three cheets. Professor. Haynes. You certainly have a unique
    Poet’s voice. Kudos.

  2. Three cheers Prof Haynes. You certainly have a unique poet’s voice for 2022! Kudos from M. Duda!


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