A seed pressed hard in iron clay
Red and slick like his brow that day.

Awaiting some fire the woods to clear
To free my rise from deep in depths
All the way to way down here.

An ice-filled chest caves in on me
While I lie in wait for air to breathe.

I came so close the light to see,
When the limb from whence I came
Thudded dead, down on me.

So, I bided more until the boy
Made the branch become his toy.

Moss sets in behind my ears,
While the men inter their kin
Born since when I had some years.

The slow lag of a scorching world
Dries my little leaf yet furled.

Now to one side I stretch and strain
The way detours the path to light,
But closer moves me to the spot to gain.

Deer and rabbits nibble my try,
Still, I look aloft to sky.

And now the blade of beauty cuts
Me low near to where I'll never go.
Dreary drips the sap of my deliberate must.

A thousand knots, will dot my grain
But I'll not rot, not yet I pray.

Smells tickle the sweet air surrounding,
Letting me in or nearly, they laugh and
Dance with bubbles from my drowning.

Pecks and feet they trim my head,
Fail they all, that think I'm dead.

Of wood and angles they're sharp and hewn,
Roots of hope on limbs of life stole my
Pain with blood on earth so gladly strewn.

Drink I deep, and live I long, all healed and calm.
From God's Gilead, still flows a balm.

They cut me up and nailed that man
With thorns and stripes, right to my spine.
The clans of all he now commands.

I live despite the sinner's axe
His pain now gone, but still he hacks.

George Henry Plaster, Lebanon, North Carolina. 1998.



“You need to ask again, Jack,” The thrasher double phrases
In the tree outside, she harps on still the more.
“I don’t deserve it. I work slow, my nose ain’t brown
I’m not as slick, sales are down.” Cindy, come around.
Laces tied, gig line set, coffee poured, laptop slung.
“Please ask again. I can’t live like this.” Out the door.

My Dad would be ashamed to live in a house
Closer to seven figures than not-quite six, thirty foot foyer,
And his wealth exceeded mine and sweet tastes of his
Wife receded those of mine. Bless her heart.
Dear old Mom, frugal soul, but still Mema
Thought her lavish. My Mercedes is a C-Class.

The gate closes me out the house, the guard greets
Fred behind me. Cindy notes his Mercedes is an S-Class.
I turn, join the antline, carrying ten thousand times—
Is that it? Maybe a hundred thousand times—my body weight
In fret. I don’t have an exoskeleton. I’m flesh,
My heart has ears and words pierce deep. Defenseless woman?
Frail? Most men die of heart disease, thousand years and running.

Steel and glass solace me less than trees.
My field of thorns. “Ask again, Jack.” We lack
No needed thing, but the need for wanted things lures.
And ask I must for fear of what awaits
Behind the new-bought wreath on my front door.
It cost six hundred I saw the florist’s bill.
“Mr. Bigg, got a minute?” I start, “No, and the answer is no.”

She stays in bed longer today, which is fine.
I prefer talking to Bobby, anyway. We horse around.
You too will not be enough for a pretty girl someday,
I almost say. He’ll know sooner than I want to think.
Beer and sports are nice comforts, though. Beer and sports.
Even now, I wish I could somehow. Somehow prevail.
Somehow impress. Be enough. Have enough. Behold the unfaked smile.

Fred’s ahead today, with that S-Class on his ass
To rub it in. Guard, gate, go already, you sonofabitch.
He turns back once through, but I move on.
His rung is higher, mine remains at the level
Where you cannot be late. Someone behind me
Never has been late and never would be.
I turn and join the antline of cars. Scott Slade checks off my name. Right on time.

Stop and go stay in line hands to yourself do your time,
Click and clack along the track you can’t go back.
Can’t go back. In time, but high above, a circling hawk
Laughs his shrieking laugh. I imagine. With up-rolled window.
I can see. He circles me. We look like prey, God,
I pray another way may I find today?
I jump out early, reenter on the other side, against the tide.

Jack is back.

My heart beats fast as through my door I spring,
To greet my boy and wife my rib my love my joy.
I’ve seen a vision, from above. Hello? Little dove?
A vision of life rethought, rekindled love, close to earth, Hon?
Growing things, chickens, three; soaring high, you and I,
Untethered from the grind and hopeless marching to ends so bleak.
Silence. Bobby’s gone, and so is Cindy. “Dear Jack,” I find the note.

Fred traded up, and Cindy too. Bobby and Jack were just standers-by
Jack went back, and out altogether, with mule and collards
Heirloom hens in two houses. Fred spoils Bobby with toys now.
Till death Jack did not part from chicks or garden tilled, at peace,
If not quite happy. Lonely. Free after a fashion, to ignore the fashion.
He ate his own food. Died. Left to Bobby a hundred acres, free and clear.

Bobby built condos there, and bought a wife with his profit.

George Henry Plaster, Lebanon, North Carolina. 2018.


“I have seen it, son,
“I have seen it all.”

“I know, diddy, but I ain’t seen
“What’s-to-come, since I don’t know when.”

“But, I have seen it, son,
“I have seen it fall.”

“Yes, sir, I hear all you say,
“ ‘Seen it all,’ and ‘seen it fall,’ but you just one man.

“That’s not all, dear boy,
“My sight is not yours to destroy
“What I see will bring you wins, and all the joy.”

“I love you, so, don’t get all mad,
“Even when I kill you, you’re still my dad.”

“Son, your feet, your feet they slip.
“The rock is wet, you lose your grip.”

“S’Okay, old man, the flame’s not hot
“So shut your mouth, they’re all I got.”

“I seem them snakes slidin’ up to bite you.
“Grab my hand, my strength’s not through.”

“No one else I know is, so I’ll stake our name.
“Bless me, pops, I’ll share my shame.’

“Give it here, boy, but you go on
“The trail that’s right to get home upon.”

“Dang, that’s close, my flesh it drips.
“The conflagration twinkles with its ripples.
“Hold me, father, don’t let me fall.”

“I see you slidin’, but that’s not all, hold firm my ol’ paw,
“But, hold you? Never! I can shove, that’s all.”

“Crazy! Sulfur! I die! I’m sick!
“Give me holt’a that there stick.’

“My hand don’t hold no more,
“It jus’ steers and shoves is all.”

“What? I die, don’t you care at all?
“Can’t you care even at all?”

“Boy, I have seen, so hear me now
“You must heed ever bit, and digest it all.”

“I listen, I hear…them birds over yonder
“Is loud. They’s loud, at’s’all.”

“You take what I seen, go on.
“It’s here in my hand that I shove you with.

“What? Where? I need it now.
“Hang on, I’m coming. Why go ye down?”

“To move you yonder, my gig’s nelly done.
“You got more to do than me. More to see than this old one.”

George Henry Plaster 2023, Woodstock, Georgia

Untitled 100

Cold blue the pain, and a thousand crickets weep.
Injun red and my love spills through and through.
My eye to the rear of days now full and gone.
My ear to the ground, the albatross glides full bloom.

Where oh where nests goonies nestled jewels?
By the bye I boot dust from the lane for air.
Beaten and screwed by things called tools,
The petal of moon floats by and laughs at them there.