A REFUGE FOR POETS WHO WRITE IN THE LYRIC TRADITION,
WITH RHYME AND METER, WITH OR WITHOUT MUSIC
OUR SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN
I was partly raised
In this very mountain range,
Where even as a child I used to roam.
So I saved up what I could,
Explored these lovely woods,
And bought myself a rustic country home.
It has no heat, it has no light,
It has no running water,
And I have to board the door shut with a nail.
The realtors wouldn’t show it,
But it’s perfect for a poet
Who can’t afford the trophy homes for sale.
That’s how it is on our side of the mountain.
Our homes are in a state of disrepair.
We struggle to get by,
But we’ll live here ‘til we die.
We’re not leaving, we’re not going anywhere.
The mountaintops look down upon
The shoreline of the lake,
Where the wealthy live in million dollar homes
For a few weeks of the year,
Then they go away from here
To even bigger mansions that they own.
I fail to understand
What draws them to this land
That they populate in ever greater numbers.
They have no appreciation
Of the need for preservation,
And the trees are valued chiefly for the lumber.
That’s how it is on their side of the mountain.
Their arrogance is more than I can bear.
They look at us with scorn,
Just because we’re native born,
And they only worship money over there.
But the wealthy do not like to pay their taxes.
They complain that their assessments are too high.
So they register up here,
Where they visit once a year,
And outvote us at the polls,
So that they can take control,
And all they have to do
Is to swear they live here too,
But every single one of them has lied.
They could not survive the winter if they tried.
There is a county government.
They are required by law
To investigate each voter registration,
But I know they never do.
Every one of them sails through
On the day that they receive the application.
An out-of-county address
Is acceptable to them
For where you get your homestead tax exemption,
Or where you work, or get your mail,
Or register your car.
They never question anyone’s intentions.
That’s how it is with government officials.
They never seem to want to do their jobs.
They are nothing more than clerks,
And we have to do their work,
Enforcing public law against the odds.
We know what people wrote
When they registered to vote,
And where they really live throughout the year,
And we never fail to mention
They could lose their tax exemptions
If they try to claim their residence is here.
And maybe they’ll decide
That they never should have lied.
They did it all for power and control.
We will take back our town,
And we never will back down,
Until we purge them from the voter rolls.
That’s how it is on our side of the mountain,
Where we fought a revolution long ago.
So leave us all alone
In our simple country homes,
For we’re a whole lot tougher than you know.
Canton, New York, 2007