width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses


Francis Masat
Somewhere in This Blend

          - for Marjorie Wilson Wheat 1914-2005

Gran'mum walks with me to the edge of her town -
a one-story one-room white clapboard building sits
empty, unlocked, inviting us in some elementary way.
In its entry hall hangs a dusty frayed flag, decades old.
Standing in the door of the museum, we look to the end
of the building where sits an ancient black iron stove
in a single aisle between old wooden ink-welled desks.

We stop in the center to listen to the silence, but hear
instead the puttyless panes of stark windows rattling
in the strong constant prairie wind of central Kansas.
We wait, silent - grasping hands - trying to understand
rattling panes, creaking rafters, meadowlark calls,
the smell of wood smoke, old iron, chalk -- and books.
Somewhere in this blend is love - a love of knowledge,
a love of sharing, a love of hope and faith and trust.

"I was your age, fresh out of high school, when I first taught
in this very building."  “Gran'mum, this was your school?"
"Yes.  Only back then, it was on a flint crest, out beyond
the pasture lands, on a dirt road ten miles south of town."
Leaving, we close the door, but we cannot close the past.
Its past - Gran'mum's past - holds on, coloring our day,
running through our evening, spelling out our tomorrows.

© 2006 Francis Masat

Different Roads; Different Speeds

Mud spattered through tropical rain;
Packages and fowls stacked high -
the cadence of foreign words.

Down Broadway at rush hour;
Missing cabs and potholes and cops -
the din of shouting voices.

Like breaking the tape, arms raised,
To work in pre-dawn light and mist -
the echo of hard-won goals.

His best friend on the handlebars;
Her basket filled from shopping -
the laughter of private thoughts.

Coasting past a farm and orchard;
Gasping on another mountain pass -
the whisper of unwritten histories.

Around a corner and up a drive;
Once more in a last-rays silhouette -
the sigh of secure feelings.

© 2006 Francis Masat


Hot, excited, leaning on the front seat,
peering past my father's jaunty head,
through a windshield to a future time.

We drove along fence-lined lanes,
down an old black twisting road
to vacations full of cold clear lakes
- early morning fishing with my Dad.

An arched portal of windswept trees
welcomed us back each year
to a golden time of wonder.

Blue-white light at that portal's end
held the dreams of going, of making
memories, of having been - and done:
one can never take that road again.

But another portal beckons now,
ending in the light of dreams –
of fishing with my Dad again
in cold clear lakes and streams.

© 2006 Francis Masat

Hard by a Sandy Prairie River

Hard by a sandy prairie river,
a flour mill took root and grew
a rawhide town in its surrounds.
Fields goldened with grain –
trails blackened with cattle.
Banks, rails, and people came;
schools and parks were planted.

Wars, drought and bruising winds
all failed to break the town's life.
But planes and highways came
erasing its rails with trucks,
vanishing its schools with buses.
Progress was the fateful force -
luring its bright young life away.

Big dreams and claims all aged.
Corporations spread the plague
of farm-consuming greed,
leaving a small dwindling town
to set up the mill's old stones
as trophies on dying lawns.
Little now is left - except whiffs

of bricks and weathered wood.
Stony skeletons stare at empty
sidewalks receding under weeds
in a heartland heart-broken.
The last residents sit watching
views from rest home windows -
hard by a sandy prairie river.

© 2006 Francis Masat