“The Town That Didn’t Forget Sunsets” by Bob Rich

The town had its full share of sorrow,

For too long, they ate sadness like bread,

They longed for a sweeter tomorrow,

For a day without black clouds of dread,

Their hopes had been ground to a powder,

And their dreams: like a dazed wounded horse,

The birds wept with sighs ever louder,

And the dogs moaned with blue mournful force.

A painter who lived near a mountain,

Was struck down by an illness immense,

He gasped like a slow-draining fountain,

And collapsed while re-painting his fence,

He lied on his bed for eight hours,

With this unwelcomed guest called disease,

He’d touched souls with artistic powers,

Now this sickness brought him to his knees.

Then, after eight hours had finished,

He was far too exhausted for art,

His strength had so greatly diminished,

And he longed to feel life in his heart,

And, wrapped in bed sheets, green and yellow,

Then he staggered out to his backyard,

His mood was calm, languid, and mellow,

This malaise, he desired to discard.

It was then that the yellow light fell,

And the painter looked up at the sky:

There were clouds tolling light like a bell,

With a luminous music on high,

The orange sun: gradually sinking,

Like a fire-drenched depth charge lit up,

And regions of clouds were all drinking,

From the light spilling from the sun’s cup.

One cloud realm looked like a great ocean,

Like a vast rumbling red coral reef,

Bright flecks in the reef were in motion —

Glowing planes, hid in clouds like a thief,

Seahorses are what the planes turned to,

Horses searching, adrift, blazing, curled,

And one thing the painter learned brand new:

Each sunset’s an ephemeral world.

The painter stared up at the light show,

While the stages of time cycled by,

The clouds changed to a dark purplish glow,

One cloud pulsed with a copter’s bright sigh,

And, inside his eyes, all these lights shone,

Eyes reflecting the sky’s stirring sea,

And his heart felt high up, on a throne,

He could see an art project to be…

He’d paint a great series of sunsets,

Each one different and vibrant and grand,

And each picture would say: life’s regrets,

Should not keep us from destinies planned,

In days that soon followed, he made them –

These paintings of sunsets in awe,

The whole town – men, women, and children,

Were amazed at these pictures they saw.

And the city got into routines,

When the sun fell, they’d all go outdoors,

They would crowd roads and hills and ravines,

To watch the sky’s bright glowing shores,

The town’s moms, when their kids became ill,

Would take their kids out at day’s end,

And the kids would get well with the thrill,

Of a sunset, which made their health mend.

And a thief, whom the city knew well,

Soon got caught stealing bread from some trays,

While in prison, he wept in his cell,

Since he couldn’t view sunsets for days,

When released, the thief cleaned all his words,

He reformed all his ways for all time,

He took care of stray dogs and lost birds,

And, in verse, thanked the painter in rhyme.

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