Unless I do them the things you did don’t get done anymore.
So they don’t get done: bath and kitchen floors tracked, crusty pots, china, forks, spoons soaking in a greasy sink; spilled milk ignored, mold in the fridge, dust planting itself, growing everywhere; hampers overflowing, bed not made.
I don’t do them. Not that I mind, not that I don’t mind the swinish mess. I just don’t want by doing them to know-- finally but not fully even then-- the thankless labor of your love.
Northward they ghost, counting their seconds, clockhands ten past ten. Their wings mint silver coins, and their calls beckon from wasted days eyes not content with life. Geese dream high. Regrets reckon each moment flown with them well spent.
The hair of poets I have seen has never known shears or comb-- unruly stuff of birds’ nests, woven then pulled apart for another try. Some wear untrimmed beards, shaggy, swampland Spanish moss. Their eyes gaze into distances, at mysteries too far for me to see.
It’s all right. My poems and theirs have little or nothing in common. I refuse to let them shape my art.
Nearly broke, I can't afford a barber, and I gave up buying razors years ago. A faraway dream glazes my eyes, searching horizons for je ne sais quoi.
12/23/12 Rev. 1/12/13
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Where old Matthew wrote this earth is the Lord’s footstool, it makes me just a mite afraid He will put down his foot. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit. When I look at it all I see is my big boot heel about to smite a beetle. Don’t take me wrong. I like to think I’m not the kind to be smitten with bugs. Besides, I didn’t have them in mind.
On the frozen farm its young farmer moves at thrice his age;
with singing kettle, sizzling pan; aromas of smoky bacon, thick yeasty toast, the hot promise of coffee his wife warms her kitchen for his return from the barn’s summery odors of dusty hay, steamy droppings of animals, moist white fogs of their breathing.
A long day has begun. The sun still sleeps. Rev. 2/25/12
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I do not care what you believe, he said. There never was a Camelot or Avalon; your passionate Guinevere embraced no Lancelot; Arthur, Excalibur, Merlin, all unreal, all dreams, imaginings of poets drunk on mead, scribbling on palimpsests in their sleep. Not yet forged, the shining armor you clad them with, nor could they joust on caparisoned steeds before stirrup came to that old, dark land.
He never loved, your cocky Romeo, though romeos have, with hot blood and flesh; sweet , his Juliet did not die for love, though juliets do, their chests bled of hope. Stories all, tales tall, fictions all, with not a word of truth.
Your sainted George, his dragon seeming slain, who never flew nor breathed a flame, lived only as painting on a page of lies. Never born, your worshiped heroes, Gawain, Siegfried, Parsifal and Lohengrin, images only, and not in silvered glass.
Forget them! Drain them from heart and dream, charred devils quailing from white-winged angels, vengeful witches, moaning ghosts, hungry ogre and troll, leprechauns, magical fairies, elves, undine and nymph of your satyric desire, all the flawed gods of Greece and Rome and of this, today’s abandoned world..
I beat him with my fists. "I hate you, hate you!" I cried "Look at them! Look at them! All dead! "You’ve killed them, killed them all!" He flicked away my puny blows and laughed. I might as well have struck him with a feather.
6/2/09 Close, but still on the drawing board. Reminds me of a mystery: Before there were drawing boards, what did they go back to?
It was in his den, an elaborate enclosure, plastically furnished, you would say, with vertical tubes and horizontal tunnels, slanted ladders, slides and swings, tubs and trays, and a squirrel– hamster, my host corrected–cage,
a fairy Ferris wheel revved up to a blur. A mousy mite of fur had it whirring like your air conditioner fan when shade’s a hundred-ten.
I couldn’t believe he could go so fast so long and brake to a pendulum stop without even breathing hard or shaking it to clear his dizzy head; snitch a bite of lettuce, wet his tongue–or whistle, without a slurp or whisper– touch his swing and ladder in a single spring and squirt himself through a tunnel and up a tube like Santa Claus, then arrow himself from a high-rise shelf to his wheel again–and away he went or round and round he sent his upright carrousel.
Watching him go nowhere, for minutes that must be hours to him, gave me a nauseous blink of deja-vu: it wasn’t him in there but me, and I had to get out of there and hug a tree to keep my earth from spinning into space.
Beneath this ancient, sacred oak many fools before you dared and fell to stronger arm and greater skill with razored, two-hand blade, for an oath defending a domain. Now in his twilight have you come and have slain your aging king, taken for yours his purple robe, his red-stained, ermine cloak, and from his pruned third finger even the scarred gold ring, still warm, from behind that severed knuckle, swollen by long, malignant years, misshapen as those twisted oaken limbs.
True, the fight was fair–except, except that you were young and he old and, yes, faltered with sword beyond his strength. His was the last of generations born centuries before your dawn, destined, as you, to win and rule this hallowed shadow of a tree, and for a foretold destiny to yield to ambitious youth and quicker steel.
Yours now, this storied kingdom, this dark dominion of a sacred tree, its heavy blade and heavier crown, your sleepless nights and becalmed years of weary vigilance against a stealthy crunch of acorns underfoot, whispers of unsheathing doom. And the oath, inherited, eternal, scratched in blood on ageless bark, avowed loud in victory, irrevocable. Know now, you will long for sleep, curled among your tree’s rough arms; must guard till death what you desired. Grizzled and moss-bearded like the oak, you will waken from erotic dreams, mourn your abandoned youth and wait. Your turn will come.
Gabriel blows his impatient trumpet at the crack of dawn to awaken us, and Saint Pete, the caller, hollers, hump it folks. For this one, the last great exodus, shake a cakewalk leg through the pearly gate. (Tomorrow’s not coming, so rise and shine.) Don’t bring any luggage and don’t be late; check all your memories and get in line. From dawn till dark it’s a great circle reel, a sightless and musicless, lonesome dance– your partner can’t talk, her partner can’t feel-- and no sitting out this one–not a chance! If your name is human, this is your day. The party’s beginning, folks. Step this way!
(Might be as far back as 1970. Gosh, am I that old?)
There is no door. Behind it no secrets sleep. Search till blinded, you will never find it. Found, it will not let you pass, or see through, beyond its blackened glass. Kick then, and shout! Have done! You cannot go there anymore.
Anymore? I never did, never could.
I know. Just having a little fun. So take your heart out now and then and bounce it off that wall. The one without a door.
The trouble with flowers is their air of superiority, accepting the inevitable. Even as they fade and fall I have heard them laugh at me, fretting about a hair gone gray, the latest wrinkle in my brow, tracks that mocking crows have laid from the dim corners of my eyes. Did I imagine I saw roses sneer, arrogant princesses, fluttering petals like fingers at peasantry? They make me so angry sometimes I’m tempted to cut them off at the ground. But then I’d have to give them water, trying to prevent their doing what flowers know how to do.
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