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The History of a Point

Walking through a fallow field,
I found an arrowhead
more lovely than I’d ever seen,
upon an earthen pedestal
not packed by rain
but sheltered by the point itself.
Caressing it, I let my mind race back to when
a chief’s son wore it as a charm,
but somehow lost it and then feared
calamities would come;
or when, nowhere near this place,
a hunter made a shot, close-up,
sure his matchless arrow would not miss,
but then the deer escaped,
later to reach here, and die;
or when, in war, it struck a brave
who pushed it through to save his life
and never saw it, hidden in his blood;
or perhaps this arrowhead
had such a beauty it was buried
with the artist who had shaped it.
Or none of these.
Without a trace of wood or bone
the point seems always to have lain alone.



It Can Fool the Sun

Some people never say, “Let’s go home,”
not having one, except a plastic sheet;
when cold, they try to find a warm air grate;
an empty doorway’s better than the street,
and two share one refrigerator crate.
A shack that decent folks would ridicule
is where some others live, and don’t complain.
They look up through the roof, smile and sigh,
“It can fool the sun, but not the rain!”



Considering the Void

When I behold the charm
of evening skies, their lulling endurance;
the patterns of stars with names
of bears and dogs, a swan, a virgin;
other planets that our Voyager showed
were like and so unlike our own,
with all their moons,
bright discs, weird rings, and cratered faces;
comets with their streaming tails
bent by pressure from our sun;
the skyscape of our Milky Way
holding in its shimmering disc
an infinity of suns
(or say a thousand billion);
knowing there are holes of darkness
gulping mass and even light,
knowing that this galaxy of ours
is one of multitudes
in what we call the heavens,
it troubles me. It troubles me.



A President Expresses Concern on a Visit to Westminster Abbey

Poet’s Corner had no epitaph
to mark the Welshman’s
sullen art or craft
because, they said,
his morals were below
the standards there.
I mentioned the ways of Poe
and Byron,
and the censored Joyce’s works;
at least the newsmen listened,
noted my remarks,
and Caitlin wrote.
We launched a clumsy, weak campaign,
the bishops met
and listened to the lilting lines again.
Later on, some Welshmen brought to me
a copy of the stone
that honors now the beauty he set free
from a godhead of his own.


Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States. He has written numerous books, including Always a Reckoning and Other Poems.