Poetry Archives Bio

The Knife Sharpener Comes

January 11, 2020

Can you hear the bell?
Can you hear the bell?
That familiar call,
That familiar knell,
The jangle and swell,
The jingle and drawl?

The knife sharpener
Is at the city wall.

He comes once a month
With his horse and cart.
For the townsfolk he will
Practice his art.

From afar and from near,
From each hut and house,
All the townsfolk will come,
Each son, man, and spouse.

Can you hear the toll?
Can you hear the toll?
That familiar knell,
That familiar call,
The rattle and clang,
The clatter and blare?

The knife sharpener
Is at the city square.

The children run homeward
To chatter at parents.
The mothers wipe aprons
And leave all their errands.

The fathers all gather
All things sharp and pointed
And carry them, singing,
To the place once appointed.

Can you hear the chime?
Can you hear the chime?
That familiar call,
That familiar knell,
The clang and the peal,
The tinkle and groan?

The knife sharpener
Is now wetting his stone.

The townsfolk queue up
And bring to the fore
Blade, carver, and cutter,
Sickle, skewer, and sword,

Dagger, machete, scalpel, and lance,
Ripper, stiletto, and sabre,
Cutlass and scimitar, switchblade and shiv,
Bayonets still attached to persuaders.

Can you hear the cry?
Can you hear the cry?
That familiar knell,
That familiar call,
The holler and wail,
The yell and yelp?

The knife sharpener comes
And no one will help.

First, he sharpens his wits
By braining the brave.
Next, he sends every child
To a cobblestone grave.

Every person he blesses
Fills with his blood
The teeming town square—
A vermilion flood.

Can you hear the howl?
Can you hear the shriek?
That newly born wail
Of the dying meek,
The screams that abate
As the lives are lost?

The knife sharpener
Is thanking his hosts.

He packs up his cart,
On his horse a harness.
In his chest he feels
His old heart's stone hardness.

As he exits the town,
He changes his shape
From a man to a beast,
Hooves show from his cape.

Can you hear the wind?
Did you hear this tale?
The knife sharpener
Is in the next vale.
Don't open the gate,
Pray you save your lives,
And tomorrow and after
Sharpen your knives.

Can you hear the bell?
Can you hear the bell?