early hope and early meaning
called the troops, begat convening
varied tales of buried treasure
sacred fear and golden measure
once a fortnight, once a year
variance betrothed to fear
weak reaction, different levels
thugs for Jesus, heaven’s devils…

friend or foe will fawn in glory
often spoiling pretty story
for the meek or for the lesser
sent in fear the dark confessor…
oh the water, boil with sinning
fake remorse and false beginning
real potemkin, how it teaches
spread the light to outer reaches…

sadder visage borne in failing
mother weakened, infant ailing
where to rise a force of saving
all the while the shadow braving
bring the coaches, bring the carriage
now encroaches fatal marriage
joining now are form and thinking
start parading, start the drinking…

pardon me for vast illusion
dress me down for this intrusion
silly me to speak of honour
at behest i’m now a goner…
tune the ear to different drumming
something chilling this way coming
is the heartbeat now a warning
riding shotgun for the morning…?

hurting head and walk in thunder
reputation sliding under
younger woman, girlish dreaming
desperate man with birthday screaming
ticking, tocking, loving, blurting,
lying, saving, mocking, hurting,
running, looking, almost praying,
always watching, always paying…

maybe next time i’ll be “dancer”
pull the sleigh and fly with “prancer”
could be worse reincarnations
might be awful complications
could be steeped in dark disaster
could be serving evil master
rather be the flying reindeer…
wouldn’t you…?

About Burton Cummings

Recipient, Order of Canada & Order of Manitoba. Voice & Songwriter: American Woman (6m+ plays), These Eyes, (5m+ plays) & Stand Tall.


  1. Christine Campbell says

    You really are spoiling us with so many poems. I am very much looking forward to the release of vol. II of your poetry.

  2. Christine Campbell says

    I enjoy reading and re-reading this poem. I especially like the fourth verse with the lines “pardon me for vast illusion, dress me down for this intrusion”. I hope it, too, be in The Writings of B.L. Cummings, vol II.

    Will vol II have the same design as vol I? I hope it does. When I first ordered and then received your poetry book in the mail I was so impressed with how beautifully constructed it was. The embossing, the gold lettering, the paper used…it was a joy to behold. And, of course, the poems were an absolute joy to read.