Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WOODEN WHEELS, by LOWELL C. BALLARD

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WOODEN WHEELS, by            
First Line: A fleet of schooners slowly respond
Last Line: Of wooden wheels.
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Work; Workers

A fleet of schooners slowly respond
To the leaning weight of obedient oxen.
The dull musical chuckle
Of wooden wheels pervades the stifled air,
As through pools of powdered, churning dust
They splash.

Along the rim of deepened ruts --
Between the crackling, cloven hoofs
Of laboring oxen --
Small puffs of earth explode
And choke the heavy-laden air.
Close beside,
Thin blades of gray, stark grass
Lie bowed beneath a scorching sun.

The swollen lips of man and beast
Wax parched and dry.
Plaintive cries, hoarse shouts,
Enduring songs -- a tumult
Moves across the desert waste.

Erupting dust begins
A devil-dance above the tortured ground;
A mocking circle of dust that spirals
Far into the blue.
Intent, a buzzard . . . wheeling . . . whirling. . . .
Looks down through the shimmering veil of heat --
His distorting spectacles of hate --
Upon the mute spectacle below.

Heedless wooden wheels
Follow serpent trails of liquid dust
That lead toward the flaming western rim.

A hub, a spoke, a tire, a pin, a felly or spindle
Marks a hazard halt or lonely grave --
The grim insignia
Of wooden wheels.

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