Old Images by Joel Fallon
How cumbersome the camera was,
the tripod too and box of plates.
The fuss to get the light just so,
to make the whole thing straight and true
was almost more than they could stand.
Important too that everyone
be still, not thrash or mill about.
Regardless, trees moved in the wind
and water flowed and smoke
wafted where it would.
But it was worth the fuss because
it froze the women – dark dresses,
with their shoe tips peeking out and
mustached men in unpressed suits,
with vested bellies fobbed and chained.
All so unhurried, simple and
everybody seemed to know that
you and I would study them and
so they wore their Sunday faces.
Strong and plain – sure and beautiful.
Now that you’ve read the poem, here is a commentary by Benicia Patch Poetry Maestro Jeff Burkhart:
Today’s poem is by Joel Fallon, Benicia’s first Poet Laureate. The piece is appropriately titled, “Old Images”, and deals with the haunting experience of looking into the faces of people long past. Weathered sepia photos of people, always seeming to be so serious. They never share a carelessly frivolous moment of laughter. They stare into the camera transfixed and committed to being properly represented for all time on this new medium. I always find myself wondering what they are thinking. I wonder what they had just done, or were going to do later the day the picture was taken.
I think these types of pictures remind us that life in days past, although simpler, was no picnic. People lived in houses they built and ate food they grew or killed, off plates they ordered from New York, Chicago or Europe. That china had to last. It was destined to be passed on from one generation to the next. People lived close to the land and life was real.
Until next week,
As an added bonus, here's an extra poem written by Jeff. Thursday was his birthday, and this is his birthday poem to himself:
A life in Review by Jeff Burkhart
Arrives today I fear
Reminding me my age increased
By one more long hard year
The trouble with a birthday
Is that life’s not meant to last
Less are in my future
Than have happened in my past
I’ll reflect and raise a glass
To long lost friends and lovers
Remembering how my life is now
Without my folks and Brother
Maybe I should handle it
Just like my loving wife
She contends she’s 39
And will be all her life
As I look back two things stand out
Inside my realizer
I know I’m getting older
I just hope I’m getting wiser
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