Humanities legacy

For a moment I felt panic,
reaching in mankind’s pocket I found,
not a spiritual coin there,
not a cent to our name,
thus it occurred to me,
how will humankind be valued ,
what decides its weight in gold,
a child collecting for the hungry,
a minister begging for his church
a greedy banker holding forth for more,
a politician sending youth to die in war,
corporations queuing up for contracts of death,
what stain decides our existence value,
how does life weigh the human soul
is the evil of mankind more weighted,
than the purity of love and kindness,
has humanity so lost its way, that
it has become a pox upon life.
and what will give worth to it,
what will weigh its soul against destiny,
will nature turn her back on us,
lack forgiveness for our transgressions,
humanities castigation of lesser creatures,
defiling creation the essence of the eternal,
how can we find the worth of humanities name,
how will we be defined by the Celestial,
will our name become parasite, pariah,
carnivore of the cosmos, succubus,
vandal of the weak, the less fortunate, poor,
I fear our name is Dante’s king,
I fear we have grown cloven hooves,
the defilers of all that is good,
perverting spiritual beliefs,
and yet, there is a dime left,
it shimmers in the pool of tomorrow,
waiting to be grasped and spent,
a dime for our salvation, redemption,
will we spend it wisely, give it worth,
will it decide how mankind will be remembered,
finding value on the scales of the universe,
or will we be come curious fossils,
studied by our world’s next experiment.

©2014, Donald Harbour


Slaming the slam

this night is cold and wet,
an ice water rinse of clothing.
parts of me curse my inability
to find shelter, leading me to
a lapse in judgement, it is
an illustrative life event.
my only solace, a dimly lit beer tavern,
it is a  rain drop caught on the tongue
quenching a drought of understanding.
there thrust into amateur night chaos,
finding a poetry slam pit of confusion.
in a grungy corner perched on a stool
presumed poets are preaching,
spewing out denial, these floundering
disciples of expressionism, railing
against men, women, war, peace,
a rambling dirge of complaints,
they are puppies barking at nothing,
cats piteously crying for recognition.
words strung together, randomly
searching for cognitive thought,
limited by their experiences, they are
lost lunatic poetic apostles ,
wandering a wasteland of thought,
the poems dried fish divided
for the masses. their vinegar will
never be made into wine, their bread
offered is stale, pitted by the weevils
of claustrophobic boredom, the  voices
self searching plastic soul surgery.
the  beer is flat and tasteless, untouched
I return back  into the drenching night,
thankful for its companionship, once again
wrapped  in the comfort and warmth of its misery.

2014, Donald Harbour

Where there were green fields


Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg

On a ridge, astride my horse,
A scene of hell spreads before me,
An acrid pall hangs over a valley,
Wild flowers no longer grow here,
Their splash of colors erased,
Where green grass grew, mottled grey,
What the eyes see, the ears refuse,
Sounds that no human should hear,
The metallic rain and thunder that fell,
Replaced with the rasp of suffering,
A constant wasp stinging the mind,
Burrowing into the body’s soul and sinew,
What madness possesses men to so struggle,
What insanity this sacrilege to earth,
Religion, ideology, imagined boundaries,
If there be gods what must they think,
What punishment greater awaits us all,
And yet we pursue, we choose sides,
Never really understanding why,
Reason clouded by ones heated passion,
Later in reflection, supping a bitter cup of regret,
I turn away riding into the fog of time,
The lesson is never learned, never realized,
It is a continuously spinning many-sided dreidel,
We are all doomed by its predictable choices,
Our only salvation is tomorrow, let it not be another today.

©2013, Donald Harbour

These shoes

what feet have walked in these shoes,
where have they traveled untold miles,
have they trod a hot dusty plantation road,
bruised and burdened by years of burden,
have they felt the blisters of the field,
the pain of the long hoed furrow,
what misery have they withstood, these shoes
wading the rising stream of history,
stumbling across conflict’s slippery rocks,
crossing the granite steps of destiny,
have they trampled over barbwire,
heard the whistle of bullets, death’s sting,
their soles sodden and soaked in blood,
tripping on the remains of fallen heroes,
have they followed the path of freedom,
marching in the name of righting wrong,
washed by the fire hose of ignorant bigotry,
what do these shoes know that we should know,
has their leather and thread held,
binding the resolve of a nation to be better,
to be something more than religious zeal,
weathering the greed of the money counters,
patching their wear with a people’s conscience,
have they taken up the challenge to leaders,
demanded that what is written will be truth,
that all that exist are equal in life, in creation,
is it only for poets to ask where they have been,
will others find the answers in their soul,
who will pick up these shoes and repair them,
who will continue this magnificent human journey,
who will believe in the brotherhood of all creatures
who will wear these shoes

©2011, Donald Harbour

The Irish chase

nix and nots
bones will brattle,
dirt be dirt
’tis dirt the battle
boiling sky
over greened hill
the grave be deep
with dirt thus fill
danced about
the rags and skin
those that left
are kith and kin
kilts will fly
plaid pleated skirts
though all will be
returned to dirt
you may mock
with callow voice
the takers box
’tis not your choice
though dirt you are
and thus you return
to heavens grace or
in hell you burn
go on then laddie
lift yer pint of ale
toast those fellows
you love who fell
they wait you now
with fetid breath
expect you there
when you tempt death

©2011, Donald Harbour

That smell

it is recorded in a brain cell
that one particular scent
the bouquet of it stains
as wine on a linen dress
an ambrosia of memory
carrying its own fetidness
that stench awakens consciousness
a cloddish backhand of the past
one only need savor its tang
the rankness of remembrance
is not the perfume of passion
nor the musk of desire
no it is the foulness of battle
searing nostril burning smoke
the odor of fear of stale sweat of pain
the stink of the jungle
the rancidness of the rotting earth
all nature returning to dust
the sounds can be dismissed but
never the malodorous carcass of death
an unwanted smirch upon life
the vial is opened so easily
bacon cooking on the stove
the smell of a gun oil rag
acrid Fourth of July fireworks
a red fluid reeking of iron
road kill baking in the sun
the obscenity permeates the nose
that offending orifice of breath
then like a passing bullet
it is gone until some noisome finger
pulls that mentally stored trigger
to fire that one overpowering sense
wounded by the mind again

©2011, Donald Harbour

And he died

Written in 2008 at the posthumous award of The Medal of Honor. The poem speaks for itself.


Today the President of the United States
Awarded a Metal of Honor,
To a young man,
Who fell upon a grenade,
Blowing his body parts,
Into oblivion.
And he died…
He saved four persons
From his fate.
A blaspheme of living,
A travesty of truth,
Not the act of valor,
Rather the presentation posthumously.
And he died…
His sacrifice two years past,
What took you so long?
Political grandstanding
On the stage of leadership,
Trod by the feet of insanity,
And he died…
Please, tell me Mr. President!
And he died…
The stain of lies
Are permeate with ignorance.
And he died…
Reason has been eclipsed,
By hypocrisy,
The rhetoric of misguided
And he died…
The worms of ego and greed,
Feed upon our politic,
The road to perdition,
Is paved with this nation’s
And he died…
What would he have become?
What magnificent contribution
To the world could he have achieved?
We will never know,
And he died…
Four thousand and counting,
And he died…
Bravery wasted in a nation
Wallowing in the cesspool
Of religious dogma,
And you thought democracy,
Would change this?
Hundreds of years of inbred
And he died…
Their blood is on the hands
Of each vote cast.
And he died…
How did his life defend
What you believe,
When you spew belief
Out of both sides of your mouth?
And he died…
At nineteen,
He stood on a great adventure
Of life,
Of promise,
When will we ever learn?
And he died…
Our nation is bleeding.
And he died…
Our leaders blinded
By political party vacuole existence.
And he died…
As a creature caught in a trap,
We are indentured to national psyche
As our youth bleed for our sin
Of complacency.
Each of us dies with each of them,
Their blood is our blood,
And we will be damned for it.

Copyright: 2008, Donald Harbour

The cause of Killing Times

The hand that clutched the sword,
The one that cleaved men apart,
The arm that fought for right,
Drew blood from a strong brave heart.

Across the dank moors green,
To the peat bogs down the glen,
The fog crept ‘or them all,
Eating the souls of fallen men.

But one stood above it there,
In Ferguson kilt and shaggy mane,
A warrior of the blue plaid clan,
Fergus Prince of Galloway was his name.

A Jacobite from the highlands,
The Scots Ferguson King from Ayrshire,
He raged against the English,
With steel and stone and fire.

Twixt the rivers Givan and Stinchar,
From the south to the Firth of Clyde,
It was the cause of Killing Times,
Stuarts were want of British hide.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

Unanswered battle prayer

Helping a buddy, photographer unknown.

Helping a buddy. Author: Unknown.

God, I once saw your face,
in the burning corpse of a child.
The incense of flesh, your fragrance,
haunts my senses, my memory,

God, I saw the pieces of your creation
posed in scattered blasted bits, blood of life.
They spilled across the jungle green
a backdrop to my constant dreams.

God, I heard the cries for you,
in the hell of cordite and hot metal.
Prayers to you to help, to heal
to stop the pain, the hurt, the madness.

God, you did not answer or care,
you turned your back, hid your face.
Death hypocrite, unanswered plea for life,
unanswered,  silent, apocalyptic deaf mute  .

Copyright: 2008, Donald Harbour

The Battle of Germ Alley

A tiny flu germ found me the other day,
As through the air it floated on its way.
I didn’t ask it with me to abide,
But with in hours it was at home inside.
Now I’m not rude nor am I a bore,
Though it out stayed its welcome as my throat became sore.
It seems it was a germ geologist by trade,
And being rocky ground my throat is where it stayed.
I coughed and sputtered in an effort to move it out,
It invited headache and fever to help with the bout.
They decided to start a new country, a germ colony,
Their unexploited kingdom they voted to be me.
In panic I ran to my bottled army awaiting on the shelf,
To put an end to this upstart kingdom with in myself.
I sent out Sir Aspirin – he charged through my heart,
They rusted his armor before he got a good start.
Then puny stomach showed up in the feud,
So into the fight came a potion I brewed.
“Ah ha,” cheered the germs as my brigade came to sight,
“Fresh meat, our settlement really feasts tonight.”
Down went my soldiers without even a dent,
On those unwelcome strangers, no blood could they vent.
In desperation, lest I be consumed by the germ tide,
Penicillin and teramiacin were invited inside.
They flanked my gullet, their charges were fast,
Over the foe they soon trampled in triumph at last.
Now where a colony in shiny mucus once lay,
My body has awakened to a far brighter day.
No words were spoken for the germs that were smote,
You see, the doctor on his bill the germ’s epitaph he wrote.

©1986, Donald Harbour