— or —

            Shit Happens, Some of It Not So Bad —




So it happens, tale as old as time,
through channels of the above,
that a dame & a fella, by way
of their way in the world,
their burdened course,
crack out a hatchling,
wrap round its shape,
wake it & exhilarate it —
until that time arrives,
the season appointed goes by,
these young branches,
quick these limbs with living,
take up their burden.
And so they ferry it,
its father & mother,
and fare on forth,
feeding it & furnishing it.
God alone knows
what the winters will visit
upon it as it grows…



Some will set forth,
all youthful high spirits —
but what did the tally
of terminus tot up
here weepingly
for brother misfortunate?
A wolf, grizzled gaunt of heath,
will eat the poor guy.
And so the mother
despairs his departure.
These things are not for
humans to decide.



Some of them are to be
harangued by hunger.
Stormy times shoo away a few.
Spears spill out some number more.
A few will be shattered by warfare.
Certain others must navigate life
deprived of light, hands groping.
Others still go halt of foot,
hamstrung, hindered
bawling their sorrows,
ruing their wrought of way,
all anxiety inside.



One poor soul in the forest
might fall featherless
from a lofty branch —
falls but no less in flight,
flapping in the updrafts

      (wait! I’m gonna make it!)

Until he flies no longer —
the nut doesn’t fall far
from the tree, y’know —
and on the tree’s knuckles
he crashes, mind clouding,
soul bereft, left in theft:
he has fallen to the earth
and his life goes a-faring elsewhere.



Others set their fleetness
to the far-ways, forced
to go forth, out the nest,
bearing the rest,
tracing the muddy tracks,
hostile lands of strangers.
He can’t rely on many
to replenish him,
so light in life-givers.
Hatred is everywhere
for the friendless one,
bleakness of those breaks



Some guys will go galloping
on the gathering gallows,
pendant in perishing,
until his tin of soul,
bloody box of bone,
is gashed apart.
There the ravens reave
off with his sight-meat.
There the feathery dark
trash the soul-hollow,
slashing it, tearing it open.

How could this one
possibly ward away
such warfare with hands,
this loathly loft-scathren?
His life is to be scattered,
feeling shattered, breathing
no longer matters,
blanched on the beams,
counting down the end,
death’s cloudy swaddling.



Others will blanket
the brands in burning
wickedly gobbled up
lives of misfortunates.
There the life-shearing
quickly goes down —
in cruel crimson chars.
The lady crimsons
and cries as well,
as she watches
her own swaddling
blanket the brands.



The scything blade
shears away the soul
from some sotting
beer-bibbler, bashed
by a man remanded in wine.

He had it coming —
that asshole’s tongue
always been testing…

That one musta been
goblets’ deep in —
pourer kept on pouring,
glopped-off grooving with the gang.
Right then — the dumb-fuck
no longer found the full-stop
for his chuckle-buckery,
legend in his own mind, I guess…
So I know how ya feel, it sucks a ton
but —
fucker had to go down flat…
Boy earned his beat-down,
no matter how big —
routed in his revelry.

We all saw it, they said,
dude done it to himself —
his mouth revealed it all clear:
dumbass popped the top off
a raging he couldn’t quite quaff.



Some yob in his youth
must lose it all, big-time,
his pleasure cruise to misery,
with god at the helm 
yet soon thereafter
in his elder days, he
strikes it big & blessed,
whiling away his winsome days
snacking on the smackeroos:
hoards & horns honey-full
in this fortress for the family —
where any of you clods
ought to be able to
lock down your lives.



And so the lord-who-can
handles out to everyone
across the earth’s expanse
in so many different ways,
parcels out & provides,
keeps tab on their ownmost kind:
to some blessings a-bubble,
to some a whole mess ‘o troubles.
To this one, gaieties of youth,
to that one, going to war for its fruits —
just a tad of that war-playing.
To some others a toss or a shot,
their bedazzling of glory,
to still others, craft at hazards
slithering guile at the checkered board.
Certain of them become
book-certain, set in their wisdom
Astonishing gewgaws get
geared up for others
through gold-smithery:
he fits it & frets it, so often & well,
forged for gracious lords,
and that lord spreads around
spacious lands to them.
He accepts that gift graciously.



One’s given to gratify
warriors in their scrum
bench-cavalrymen, joyous
in their cups — where
there shall ever be the joys
of mighty mead-guzzling
Another must hover with harp
at the feet of his lord,
taking coin for it,
always ready to bend
the strings, ready to rock,
and he leaps to it, nails
growing the sweet sounds —
great is his care, great the need.



Some bring wild fowl to heel,
hawk haughty to hand, until
that blood-swallow becomes
pliable. He trusses up its jesses,
fusses over the fettered, boy proud
of his pinions, sliding it just
enough to keep it from
lift-swifting outta there.
Until the little captive,
rooked to wear & dare,
minds his minder, broken by
the hands of the warrior-band.



Flamboyantly flagrant,
divinity drafts & draws forth
this sweet dose to each,
across these middle grounds,
the habitus of human life
and steers their course
for the seeds spread from here
to there, all over the earth.

For all that & more, now’s the time:
let us, all of us, any of us —
each & every one of us 
give thanks to that one,
for all their mercies,
they who carved out
these channels for humanity,


  • This is truly lovely, Aaron. Thank you. Inspiring. I will share this and the original with my students tomorrow.
    Say, I like your Wulf, too, but I think you could polish it up a bit more. Take another look at it. I like your overall approach to it, but I think you need to tighten up a few elements of the modern idiom–but what do I know, I am a lame 59 year old professor whose ear for the vernacular is tinny at best.. Best Wishes, John Taggart Clark, Calif. State University, Sacramento

    • Hello, I’m glad you like “Fortunes.” She’s a fun one — I’ll probably do a revision (in a way you may not _wholly_ approve of) soon. As for “Wulf, everybody has an opinion & an idea of what sounds right. I’m of the mind that we really know nothing about early English poetry & have cast it all into a super-serious & stately light that is unhelpful & closes down interpretation. “Serious” approaches to “Wulf” have learned almost nothing about the poem. So, to keep beatig our heads against it the same way is pretty much the definition of insanity. Hope that’s helpful.

    • Glad to have saved you the trip. I’m guessing it’s hard to access the actual book these days…

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