There Were the Years 1935-1944


Ours is the spirit of a careworn vessel.
Misery is resilient.
We’re spelling ourselves
In a land of dust
With wrecks for chariots.


We gather in church and pray for rain.
Clouds spring, then vanish quickly;
Wind answers, erasing the sun with lightening speed.
In the harvest of our sorrows
Darkness cradles at midday.


Freedom is bait and there’s no place like home.
The radio
puts us all to sleep,
oh my beautiful A MER ICA.
I’d rather smoke cigarettes in Chicago than be forgotten.


Somewhere deep in the Mississippi Delta
Black gales howl and juke joints stir.
If you blow into the Ozarks
You’ll meet the mountain children there-
A lot which has remained the same.


On days dead dry
We drove the Mother Road,
Leaving cattle country far behind.
Mays Avenue Camp, Oklahoma
One sad place in history.


The cotton mills of Georgia
Are sweating prayers to gods;
Some folks play cards
In the center of town,
Wearing crisp white gloves.


Stop for service, boys!
Pearl Harbor
Liberty ships
Christmas 1941 – we’ll do our part.
Victory also rests on ladies and gardens.


Southerners waltz in twilight hours;
Only some are saved.
Plantations rest on Sundays and Iowa is a proverb.
And the Japanese?
Nobody really knows.


Coal, butter, sugar, paper, tin, brass, honey, copper, hosiery…rationed.
People live in abandoned churches.
Beauty parlor signs are scarce.
Crossing lines on the Million Dollar Highway,
Colorado beams my frontier dream.


In Tombstone Arizona,
If you die, you’re dead, that’s all.
The freight train stops at a sliding to cool its drawn wheels.
There’s a first-class God leading us all
….down this Road.

By M. Berenyi (June 2012)