Charles A. Swanson – Three Poems


On the Way to My Beige Office

I step out of doors,
hear geese and spy them flying—
the wild things are home.

If he talked, he’d boast—
this Angus bull with rump brand—
“My name is 20.”

I pass a bungalow
tucked in green fields, leafing trees,
Moore, the mailbox says.

I ease along. More.
Though I want dawn’s chartreuse air,
a school bus tailgates.

Oh, this mix of sun
with swales of mist—promises
of shine and shadow.

In the smallest of boats

in imagination,
I’ll paddle a coracle
and you’ll barely breathe

dreaming by my side.
The fish will not notice us
touching the surface.

We won’t turn turtle
because, light as dragonflies,
we’ll kiss swift water.

We’ll breast river side,
a lush meadow, and I’ll hoist
the withy vessel,

lift it bonnily,
across gay blossoms—we’ll spread
a lunch of kippers

on red-checked gingham
where the willow drapes its shade
and green lasts for aye.

Make a Noise

Life-long song,
I try to sing.
I joined the choir.

I sang to stars
in the cattle chute
alone at night.

I sang with corn,
a bucket full
to fatten hogs.

I sang in barrels,
scooping feed
to give the cows.

I sang in stair-wells,
no one looking,
for the echo.

I sang at Grandma’s
in the basement
shaving my face.

I joined the choir,
singing at church
and even tried

singing solo.
People at church
are always nice.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

I once wrote an Ars Poetica comparing poem writing to the proverbial snipe hunt.  The infamous quest puts the dupe into the wilderness at night looking for an animal that doesn’t exist (although real snipes—wading birds—do exist).  He’s given a game bag, and he eventually comes home, bag empty, trying not to look the fool.  The search for beauty is something like that.  Certainly, game is out there—perhaps the supposed furry animal is really a bird, perhaps a certain “slant of light,” perhaps a small child picking blueberries.  The bag is not necessarily a poem—but certainly a set of words, some artificial construction designed to capture and contain the glimpse of beauty.

My concept of beauty, at least in written form, started with the image that made me tingle, that made me want to stop right there and read the words again.  The next fascination for me was the discovery of meter.  How do the two go together?  The meter is the bag, the image is the wild wonder of the thing captured.  Every once in a while, I think I’ve brought home the snipe.


Charles A. Swanson teaches dual enrollment English in a new Academy for Engineering and Technology, serving the Southside region of Virginia. Frequently published in Appalachian magazines, he also pastors a small church, Melville Avenue Baptist in Danville. He has two books of poems: After the Garden, published by MotesBooks, and Farm Life and Legend, from Finishing Line Press.