Friday Poem

My Quaker-Atheist Friend, Who Has Come to This Meeting-House since 1913
Smokes & Looks Out over the Rawthey to Holme Fell

what do you do
anything for?

you do it
for what the mediaevals would call
something like
the Glory of God

doing it for the money
that doesn’t do it;

doing it for vanity,
that doesn’t do it;

doing it to justify a disorderly life,
that doesn’t do it

Look at Briggflatts here . . .

it represents the best
that the people were able to do

they didn’t do it for gain;
in fact, they must have
taken a loss

whether it is stone next to stone
or a word next to a word,
it is the glory
the simple craft of it

and money and sex aren’t worth
bugger-all, not

solid, common, vulgar words

the ones you can touch,
the ones that yield

and a respect for the music . . .

what else can you tell ‘em?

by Jonathan Williams
The Language They Speak Is Things to Eat
University of North Carolina Press, 1994