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Thomas Rain Crowe

while on vacation and seeking silence
i end up in the middle of a harley davidson rally

Even in the middle of hell
there is a heaven.
A refuge tucked away
amidst virgin trees and
ancient spring-fed lakes.
Haven for disrupted nature
and the lovers of God.

At night, you can hear the Harleys
racing up and down the streets
that, with the fireworks
exploding against the roar of the ocean surf,
sounds like another greedy war.
"Is this karma, or just some Sufi joke?"
I think as I settle in to my cabin
and my only week away from work each year.

But the peepers and the pond frogs
sing harmonies to the dissonance of 200,000 2-cycle hogs.
The morning roar of the gator
more impressive than the grunt of
engines and exploding light.

Before we leave, my wife and I will
renew our vows of commitment and undying love
without speaking a word.
And some stranger will approach us and say:
"Silence is the only truth. Are you going to the beach?"
It happens every time we are here.
The same as each winter will turn into another spring.

As we drive for the last time from the gate of our silence
and away from this retreat--
from the pristine woods
into a world of obscene gestures and hellish noise
that would love to send us cursing
all the way back home,     we laugh.
All the way to Florence,
past the Pee Dee and Galavant's Queer--
at names of places and the lack of Harley hogs.
Leaving the hell behind.
Taking with us only silence,
the coat of sea-salt on our skin,
and the memory of cool wind blowing over the bridge
on hot evenings in the lagoon
to soothe the heavens and a billion South Carolina stars.

Meyer Center,
May 19

- for John Edwards Lane

I have come to this land,
how many years.
Alone, and for many months,
I have built this saw-mill shack.
Stone stacked and mortared on stone,
logs laid and joyned in joints,
rough oak boards nailed to beams and rafters
with 9" spikes.
Eat lunch each day listening to
rushing stream running over rocks,
through rhododendron, off Doubletop Mountain.
Sound of grouse wings drumming in the woods --
With roof on, windows in,
and woodstove sitting in the hearth,
I stand outside gazing at what
these hands have done.
(An old chimney, still standing and covered in vines,
now a place to live.)
Tired from labor and a body
too old for work.
Lay another flat, smooth stone into the outyard wall.
John's Creek
Jackson County, NC
December, 2001


I have spent my life
like a servant,
scrubbing your floors,
taking out your trash...
during time of homeless & unemployed,
when rich get richer, poor stay poorer,
I wash your dishes.

America     I wash your dishes
Bankers and loan sharks     I wash your dishes
Gov't pimps and drug lords     I wash your dishes
Judges     I wash your dishes
Teachers, professors     I wash your dishes
Politicians     I lick your plates
USPD     I scrub your pots
Yuppies     I shine your silver
Editors     I wash your dishes
Publishers     I wash your dishes
Bardomaniacs     I wash your dishes
Owners of every square inch of good land     I wash your dishes
Beautiful Hollywood women on the make     I wash your dishes
Gossipmongers, backbiters     I wash your dishes
Pious pedophile priests     I wash your dishes
Fameseekers, cop-outs     I wash your dishes

I wash your dishes, America,
I scald my hands in boiling water
so that you may eat in style.
I brillo my fingers     raw to the bone
to keep you fat.
I scrape the tasteless belches from the platters of your gluttony.
Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, and
I wash your dishes, America.
But I'm fed up with your garbage,
with your mind that belongs in the garbage,
promises and lies--a different fork for every bite.
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
I wash your dishes, America,
  I shine your shoes.
I plow your fields.
I lay your track.
I pick your grapes.
I build your homes.
I pump your gas.
I dig your coal.
I fix your roof.
I print your books.
and get no thanks, no love.

United States of America, in a united state of ignorance and greed,
I wash your dishes.
Inside, I am crying.
When are you going to wash and dry these tears?


THOMAS RAIN CROWE was born in 1949 and is a poet, translator, editor, publisher, recording artist and author of eleven books of original and translated works. During the 1970s he lived abroad in France, was editor of Beatitude magazine and press in San Francisco where he was co-founder and Director of the San Francisco International Poetry Festival. In the 1980s he was a founding editor of Katuah Journal: A Bioregional Journal of the Southern Appalachians and founded New Native Press. In 1994 he founded Fern Hill Records (a recording label devoted exclusively to the collaboration of poetry and music) and his spoken-word and music band The Boatrockers. In 1998 his books The Laugharne Poems (which was written at the Dylan Thomas Boat House in Laugharne, Wales with the permission of the Welsh government) was published in Wales, his ground-breaking anthology of contemporary Celtic language poets Writing The Wind: A Celtic Resurgence (The New Celtic Poetry) and his first volume of translations of the poems of the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz, In Wineseller's Street, were released. As a translator he has translated the work of Yvan Goll, Guillevic, Hughes-Alain Dal, Marc Ichall and Hafiz. Following six years as Editor-at-Large for the Asheville Poetry Review, he is currently writing a memoir in the style of Thoreau's Walden based on four years of self-sufficient living in a wilderness environment in the woods of western North Carolina from 1979 to 1982. He currently resides in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. His literary archives have been purchased by and are collected at the Duke University Special Collections Library in Durham, North Carolina.

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