Erik Nelson


Crossing Willow Creek

Parts 1-4

Parts 5-8

Parts 9-12

Part Thirteen: Going Nowhere

Though once a hub condensed and packed

With people far and wide,

Behold the city’s pavements cracked,

Each one, from side to side.


Her loyal subjects slaved and shopped,

Where commerce slowed but never stopped,

Where prophets and saints were slain in the land,

Like Brother Abel by Cain’s sinful hand.


Looking in vain for a brook where the crane,

Raven, heron and owl lay low,

These offspring of Cain are clouds without rain,

Blown and carried by winds to and fro.


They’re waves of the sea that no one can tame,

Raging and foaming unnatural shame,

Wandering stars for whom is reserved

The blackness of the darkness they serve.


They’re late autumn trees, barren of fruit,

Commoving over a desert of despair,

Dead and groundless, pulled up by the root,

In a pinch, inch by inch, going nowhere.


Part Fourteen: Throughout the Land of Nod

Will they ever find a home,

A stable place to lay their head,

Or will they always have to roam

And more or less beg for bread?


Underneath the starry dome,

Will they someday make their own bed,

Or will they always have to roam

And fight death till they are dead?


Will they always bear the curse

Of their distant ancestor Cain?

Will their lot keep getting worse,

Until nothing of them remains?


How long will they have to traverse

This most treacherous of terrains,

As wretches who suffer the curse

Of their distant ancestor Cain?


Part Fifteen: Running Themselves to Death

They don’t want to remain on the brink

Or spend all their days buying time

But long for aught higher than instinct,

Some end both profound and sublime.


They try to placate, although in vain,

The ghosts that haunt their minds;

They try to scrub and blot out the stain

And break the chains that bind.


They’re haunted by all they left behind

And can’t make out aught ahead,

Without footprints to follow or find

And no track to take instead.


The people are on their downtrodden way

To build a brand new mess;

They keep plugging along, each doleful day,

Through barren wilderness.


The dead don’t sleep but keep coming back,

At least in the people’s guilt-ridden minds

Who wander eastward, without a track,

Trying to see ahead while going blind.


Folks start falling down, at first one by one,

And passersby stop and stoop to lend a hand,

But under the heat of the beating sun,

Debilitated by thirst, they disband.


The dead are left to bury themselves,

As they drop down, one by one;

The soil receives their empty shells

While to death the living run.


Part Sixteen: The Primal Eldest Curse

Grass is growing on the street,

Which a pack of dogs polices;

Moisture builds within concrete,

Until it splits it to pieces.


From wind and rain, from cold and heat,

The building blocks expand;

The elements achieve the feat

Of turning them to sand.


The weather cools and then warms,

Termites sap both ridge and wall,

Fires start from lightning storms,

Wires snap, and bridges fall.


Brother Abel Cain felled with a thud,

Where brute force reigned supreme,

Where streets were stained with human blood

And paved with broken dreams.


Here flaming swords hid paradise,

Where multitudes crowded en masse,

Though most were just a sacrifice

To a sky all clouded with gas.


This is where the cars sped by,

Where hosts of homeless plied the streets,

Where everything was a lie,

To which the rich had front row seats.


Here slaves dispersed in waves and floods

And off their feet shook dust

Because the city needed blood

To satisfy its lust.


The ending of the play was bad,

Without time to rehearse:

The center-stage, the city had

The primal eldest curse.


Part Seventeen: The Line of Confusion and the Stones of Emptiness

Now stars and moon brighten the sky

And are not nightly dimmed;

Migrating birds know where to fly,

And whales know where to swim,

For buildings that confused the birds

At night with all their lights

Are powerless, since no one stirs

Inside these empty heights,

And the ships that plowed the sea

And drowned out mating calls

Are as silent as can be,

As town and city halls.


The window-glass begins to break

And hit the ground below,

For nothing lasts, and all it takes

For all the glass to go

Is rain getting in caulking cracks

And rusting the metal clips,

Which cannot hold gravity back

Long after the caulking chips.

So sheets of glass from windows fall,

Shattering on streets below.

Soon the buildings themselves, so tall,

Won’t withstand another blow.


All castles and kingdoms of pride

Are attacked and then sacked, bit by bit:

Time was not on history’s side

But was stacked, with the clime, against it.

As grass spreads over the urban sprawl

And anonymity nears,

The last still-standing skyscrapers fall,

And history disappears.

Now the serpent cannot bruise

The heel of man at night

Nor a bird’s flight be confused

By artificial light.



Erik Nelson was born in Madison, WI, in 1974, grew up in British Columbia, Canada, as well as several states in the United States, before obtaining a Masters degree in Literary Theory from the University of Dalarna, in Falun, Sweden; he then taught English at the college level in the deep south of the United States for ten years, before moving to the high plains of Colorado, where he currently lives, lucubrates and works as a librarian.

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