The Poetry of John E. Cashwell


Widows and children
fresh with shock and trauma
eyes beyond expression

part of the crowd

Black mourning band
on a shiny badge
ignored in the crowd

waiting with great dignity

A final salute amid
black shrouds and glasses
and gut-wrenching silence

then a piercing shrill
bagpipe band.

A grassy knoll  
empty caskets
maybe a single body part

silently lowered

©2009 John E. Cashwell [All Rights Reserved]

“Till The Cosmos Runs Dry”

When I was a child
I dreamed I could fly
Had no wings
No machines in the sky
I’d just sail on my imagination
Till the Cosmos runs dry.

When I was fourteen
I dreamed of nothing I’d never try
Invincible at everything
My days just fast-danced me by
And I’d sail on my imagination
Till the Cosmos runs dry.

When I was a father
I dreamed my children could fly
On the wings of their mother
High upon the horizon, they passed me by
Then I’d sail on my imagination
Till the Cosmos runs dry.

When I was an old man
I learned how to cry
Had no more dreams
No wings in the sky
So, I sailed on my imagination
Till the Cosmos ran dry.

                                                       ©2012 John E. Cashwell [All Rights Reserved]

        “Qing Ming”

A Festival of Pure Brightness you are
One of twenty-four seasonal stars
The one hundred sixth day
Following winter’s solstice
Raising temperatures and the rainfest
Making a right time for plowing and sowing
And a bright time for a proud occasion
Devoted to reverence and commemoration.

A new spring day
For all to see
Green seasonal changes
And colored boiled eggs broken
A symbol of the beginning of life
The pure and clean attracting
To athletic contests, dancing and singing,
And on the green
Picnics and kite flying
While in the capital
The Emperor does plant
His delicate cherry blossom trees.

Beginning humbly at one’s home
There offering elegant and delicious foods
Of beef, onion, chicken, eggs,
A spicy new sauce and rice—
The favorites one’s ancestors did cook—
To please their spirits
Lifting the most nutritious elements
On a soft wave of incense
All dishes and eating utensils carefully arranged
To bring good luck.

This time to remember
Those who came before
Making one’s path smooth and pure
There to honor and pay respect
To one’s deceased ancestors
A pilgrimage now for the whole family to save
Leaving one's home to perform
A filial sweeping
Of their graves.

Drawing nigh to a perfect feng shui—
The sounds of a quiet stream
Running through it—
A soft and grassy knoll facing south
Blessed with a grove of pin trees nearby
All comprising a lasting synergy
That creates a most excellent flow
Of cosmic energy.

Pulling weeds by their roots
Then dirt is swept away
Placing new offerings of flowers and food
Dry and bland now so not to please
The ghosts of others
Who might be at play
Burning new incense and paper money too
Before the memorial tablet
On this High Holy Day.

Till evening comes        
Upon a magnificent orange
And falling sun
And children do the darkness chase away
With their kites of delicate bamboo paper
So frail to fly
A string of little lights forming each tail
Loosing God’s Lanterns
Into the night's sky.

                                                         ©2009 John E. Cashwell [All Rights Reserved]
About The Author:
John E. Cashwell is  the author of four highly imaginative
novels, twelve short stories, fifty short poems, and the new,
acclaimed six-book epic poem Toishan. He has over forty
years advertising, marketing and copy writing experience,
most notably responsible for helping to launch the
Panasonic brand to consumers in North America. A former
US Marine and a graduate of Duke University, John lives  
on the Albemarle Plantation in Hertford, North Carolina,
where he enjoys writing, fitness training and golf with his
wife of fifty-two years, Ann M. Cashwell.
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