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Ancient Daze: “Nothing like us ever was.”

Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind by Carl Sandburg

The past is a bucket of ashes.


The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.


The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.


It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, “Caw, caw,”
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,”
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.


The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David August 21, 2022, 7:38 PM

    In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother Hugh Ever; and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace. Amen.

  • Children Of The Cornpone August 21, 2022, 7:41 PM

    Bisons are a construct of the French male patriarchy and the barbarians already entered the gates.
    Commodus won’t be able to save us from swirling down the egalitarian equity drain but at least all will be equal…digging for scraps in dumpsters for the people’s burn barrel café.

  • jiminalaska August 22, 2022, 9:54 AM

    Ah, for the good old daze…

  • Jack Crevalle August 22, 2022, 11:11 AM

    That dead gentleman with all the gold is from the Varna excavation, the world’s oldest known gold hoard. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varna_Necropolis

  • Joe Krill August 22, 2022, 2:24 PM

    Ezekiel 16:49-50

    49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty (Hebrew gabahh-to be lofty, exalted, proud), and committed abomination (Hebrew tow bah) abhorrence, especially disgusting, idolatry) before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

    Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham, is quoted as saying, “If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”