The color of truth is grey. – Andre Gide
This blithe country where massacres are discreet
and shot in slow-mo has, at last, opened
its blue doors to the spiders and the ravens.
Embarrassed by our greed, the poor disavow their last rights
and crawl towards the homesick alleys.
Elsewhere, the patio furniture is deserted, the beach umbrella
furled, and the belvedere longs
for the ivory cruise ships to once again
flag the rolling horizon.
There are ashes sifting like snow
at the foot of the heritage fort and
and ranks of taxis smoke and idle
as if in Casablanca before the movie.
The deeper virtues lie hidden out beyond
in the waste ground where, littered
with thistles, vetch and a phalanx
of stalwart daisies, they man the barricades.
The chances depend on madness, the gray beauty
of Gide whose doubts might yet open
a way out through the sweet ruins
we now find before us.
Harshman’s WOMAN IN RED ANORAK, won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize and was published in 2018 by Lynx House Press. His fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-author Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan in 2017. He is also co-winner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. He has been poet laureate of West Virginia since 2012.