November 2021

Structural Anthropomorphism

© Matthew Word Bain

buildings with character return my gaze
as I look back on the ground I’ve covered
and ponder the possibilities of my return
always asking the place I’m in to guide me
and counting on characters like these
to advise me on local culture
and perhaps invite me in
to the singular experiences
only locals can provide

From Chesapeake to Ohio

© Matthew Word Bain

I walked these freight yards as a child
my mother’s cousin worked for the railroad
and he led us around when we came to visit
almost almost heaven out this way
up in the Allegheny Highlands
long before Driver 8 rolled in
I was counting boxcars
reveling in engines
taking cabooses for granted
as one did in those days…

Reflected Light

© Matthew Word Bain

sunset clouds dispersing
from the bank that gave them rise
illuminating the sky with the last light of the day

even as the shadow of the horizon
has left us on the ground in the dark
these slow moving reflections of the sun
give us cause to crane our heads and smile

The Dream Continues

© Matthew Word Bain

looking down across this dead end alley
to where the road disappears in shadow
I can hear a freight train rumbling
just beyond the screen of trees
this view is from a dream
where the past was present
and the future paid attention
as the dissolution of chronology
made many more things possible
than one would find in waking life
I could feel the stories in this space
as close as the warm evening air
and all those who ever walked
or rode or drove or wandered
and knew this place in their time
were there with me in the gloaming
as I watched in my drowsy revery
and we eyed each other warily
unsure which of us was real

Chthonic Creek

© Matthew Word Bain

they built a bridge downtown
to let this creek flow through
they did not divert its path
and they did not pave its bed
while it no longer sees daylight
for the last several hundred yards
of its journey to the river
it has been allowed
to remain intact
to keep the ground
it has covered
for longer than
anyone can recall

Where Have all the Horses Gone?

© Matthew Word Bain

a mere block from the courthouse
not exactly the heart of downtown
but hardly two blocks away from it
this is where the horses step into town
beside the village blacksmith shop
with its collection of carriages
now serving a more specific
demographic than when it opened
a transient segment With deep pockets
who most days keep the horses busy
if not exactly off the streets…


© Matthew Word Bain

gray stain as a global treatment
something like nominal maintenance
although certainly effective, at that
this old house is just hanging out
waiting for the opportunity
to be in intimate relationship
with people once again
not just the occasional visit
to make sure the roof’s not leaking
and mice haven’t gnawed through wires
but the sort of relationship that brings warmth
and laughter, even sadness – the whole emotional range
that people inevitably move through over time
in the presence of such an invisible entity
as a house, which makes available
the space that becomes a home
in which people live and even rely
on the walls and roof and foundation
that hold them, and keep them
dry, warm, cool, and in which
they make their food, their beds
their memories, their lives
what stories a house
holds over time
so patient


© Matthew Word Bain

looming up starkly
and bulging out against
the surrounding vegetation
on a small, raised lot downtown

in full sun it seems rather cheerful
this house, for all its want of attention

the details once lavished on a house
in times gone by and the more recent care
of bright yellow trim offer balance
to the rusting roof
and the peeling paint
and the disheveled hedge

a large, elegant, simple house
while wanting a little room to breathe
seems still to be fully self-possessed
confident of its place
and rooted in the ground