Formerly a professor of English, William Ruleman now devotes himself to writing and painting. His most recent books include the poetry collection From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books, 2016) and his translations of Hermann Hesse’s Early Poems (Cedar Springs Books, 2017) and Stefan Zweig’s unfinished novel Clarissa (Ariadne Press, also 2017). More about him can be found at http://www.williamruleman.com
Autumn’s glory has not lasted long.
Wind and rain have torn the gold medallions
From the branches with the bitter song
Of winter’s hardiest advance battalions.
And if a few last bronze and gold flags cling
To rain-black boughs in bold yet vain defense,
We still anticipate that dawn will bring
Us skeletons shorn of all their ornaments.
But I am wrong for now. Next morning, I
Awake to find, resplendent in the sun,
More trees enraged, enflamed against the gray
And umber sticks that rise to a now-blue sky,
And I am grateful winter’s not yet won,
Relieved to see such splendor one more day.
The Very Old
And now they knew the winter of their years.
Familiar streets now met them like a maze.
They could not face the foes who ruined their days
Without collapsing into sobs and tears.
Every hour sprouted fresh new fears.
No more for them, parades of cheer and praise.
Their work was like some tune a fiddler plays
In his own head: a crazed song no one hears.
But God could hear, they felt, at moments when
A light wind stirred the trees in mild reply
To idle thoughts that made them smile or laugh
At all the mad ways of the world: of men
And raging shrews who made them long to die
With faint hopes still of some kind epitaph.