Paul Grayson

Paul served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942 to 1944 as a weather observer assigned to Anchorage, Umnak and Adak Islands, and the Aleutians. Paul has a Ph. D in Agriculture and Economics.   He worked as a statistician and economist during his career with the Census Bureau, the Social Security Administration, and the IRS. Paul's life long hobby is botany and he ran a private weather station more than 40 years. Paul is still very active in the Washington area poetry scene and he sings as well.




Aleutian Song



Here idleness, the plod of hours,

            The shift on and the shift off;

Here sweep of storm across the roof,

The torturous breathing, the occasional cough.


Here pondered stillness and the glance at books,

            The rasp of saw, the cards flip,

And the stars turn on and off,

            And the flesh hurts in the sleet’s whip.


Watch how the hands hang heavy

            And the listless eyelids sag,

Teletype and cipher chatter,

Rattle papers with their clatter,

But the heavy haggard minutes slowly drag.


The shift on and the time off,

Spent blissfully in the sleeping sack;

Gun in the corner, boots under the bed,

And against the wall the dusty haversack;

And overhead the dirty coats and jackets

Hang from the rack.


We are forgetful of the sun

And life comes to us all diffused,

Diffracted, broken, and disjoint,

All disconnected and confused.


The shift off and the shift on,

The weather in and the weather out;

Interrogate the sky and find:

Something certain, something doubt…



The sun and rain engage the soul

            And there produce their counterpart;

This vantage point enforces one

To follow storm and follow sun

And understand what they impart

            To the beating of the heart:


Here between mountain, grass, and sea,

            We watch the blackening overcast,

And see the ceiling plummet down

And hold out breath till the storm is passed.


Subject and student to the air,

Pushing high and winding isobar,

We watch the parade of weather pass

Through the near islands and the far:

While the gleaming fronts advance

Cutting like a scimitar.


And the storm’s procession moves

And the air in currents flow,

And the mountains catch the clouds

And the valleys catch the snows,

And they watch the new storms coming,

While the old one goes.


These are the grassy hummocked plains,

These are the crags the Aleut knew,

Tenanted now by fox and raven,

The soldier and the caribou;

Bomber and transport now alight

Where monkshood and geranium grew.


The huts are laid in earth embankment,

Across the mud the wires trail,

The ash is torn from restless hill;

Up slope and through the rapid vale,

On swamp and beach, an army poises,

Shaping hard steel.


This drizzling fog is not for us,

And we will have no part of it;

Our way lies toward a Hupeh town

And that is at the heart of it;

That is our will, our aim, our plan;

This is the chart of it.


Westward and south! The continent!

Our goal (no little off-shore land!)

Is a silent town by a yellow stream

Where white shall hold a yellow hand,

And grey eyes look in black and see

A stranger skin and a similar man.


Then steel our soul against the ebb

(-- Which flux is always found to come,

An echo of the distant post

Drowned in the cicada’s hum): 

It matters not that we may not

See the millennium.


The spirit in and the spirit out,

The foggy day is shot with blue,

The rosy sky will have its mist,

The sun and rain are intertwist

And there will always be the two,

And there must always be the two.





Memorial Day in the Aleutians, 1944


These are the sad tokens of remembrance,

These sprigs of anemone that had not flowered,

These were the best they found for this score of graves.

This bunch of dots of white,

These crosses and these stars

In the little white square that overlooks the

land and the sea,

They were remembered today

They are forgotten tonight.

            --that they shall not have died in

            vain—that they lived for freedom

            everywhere—that theirs was a sacrifice—


Who says this?

Which of these twenty would say this,

And which of these do I violate when I say


(Forgive me oh unknown fighter, oh dreamer

whose hand I have never clasped.)


In an Aleutian sod,

Whose shoots arise with ill-expressed urgency,

Through this slow summer, this non-existent spring,

These bodies have been laid,

Where soothing words were spoken today

And unblossomed blooms of the anemone of the Aleutians

Were laid in their untimely greenness.


Poor pitiful ideals,

Who were once so green with growth.

Your buds too once promised bloom;

Limp flaccid stems, lean over these poor graves,

Lean and lie low,

Be silent.


Yet your time will come

When a deserted traveler will find your beckoning blooms

Massed in bright patches on a distant hill,

And will approach you,

To study and wonder

And love and worship you among the lonely hills.


Trying to propagate you thro the world,

A deadly knowledge pierces his heart,

Feeling, knowing, suspecting,

Your blooms live only on grassy slop,

And die in distant valleys.

Here will his feet return,

Faithfully turn,

Softly to tread your stems,

Quietly stay.


Thus will your time come.

So long as Anemone lifts its white face

through the summer mists

And hyperborean lupine and lily rear their

beauty to the filtered sun.



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