What Put the Lines On the Old Man’s Face

WHAT PUT THE LINES IN THE OLD MAN’S FACE?

In the punishing peace
Ghost heroes’
Practiced chants
Bloom and shrivel

Children divided
with words and
encumbering devices
Their lives framed
From cradle to cloak

Men from the grave
Claiming children
With drunken stories
Teaching them
To chide things
They never learn to see

Like blind seers teaching
With each passing hour
Of each passing day
Always to look forward
To something new,
Something stimulating,
Never knowing,
Never seeing,
Forgetting
How came the lines
on the old man’s face.

Ronald Hoffman from The Ballads of Barnabas Collins

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