Lope and Howl

When I was Eighteen,
My future was fertile ground,
And I had a pocketful of seeds.
So I laced up my boots and humped the hills of Appalachia, 
I spied a valley, verdant as spring
Walden’s Warblers, whistling
Waiting for me.
But soon, my feet sank into
The blood soaked soil,
A lex talionis tax: civil payment
For the sin of slavery.
I hiked through Harper’s Ferry, witness to
John Brown’s failed raid, failed yet faithful
to his God and to the dream of what would become the true America.

My dream too, revolution, not guns for slaves,
But revolution still, a liberation of spirit, of sinew and of flesh
Toothy dreams. . . like the lope and howl of wolves.
Elemental dreams: like water as waves, like air as wind,
like fire to burn the dross of civilization off.

So I pointed my ears north, listening, howling.
I paddled over Canadian waters,
Cut through heaven’s reflection to the lonely cry of loons,
I planted myself among towering pines.
They too, like brothers, listened to the wolf, breathed the wind,
Stretched arms toward sun and star.

Eighteen and. . .

My future loomed like the moon.
Tasting it, I uprooted, I clambered up the tallest trunk,
Clung to the topmost branches and leaned. . .
Reached out night after night as
It birthed in the east, kissed the west,
waxed and waned just out of reach.

And then. . . it set. . . over that piney horizon,
And did not rise again.

I still howl desire into the darkness of night,
Still lope down lonely roads, 
And still burn with a fire for freedom.

The moon shall rise again.

—Frank Scalero

[Editor’s Note: Poetry Super Highway included Frank Scalero in its Poets of the Week feature. “Lope and Howl” was first published in this feature, but Pismire used the poem with the permission of Poetry Super Highway and the author.]