A Poem for You

“Hello dear. I wrote you a poem.”

“Gerald, that’s so sweet of you. Let me read it.”

Who cast the stone, who first the deadly blade
Did forge and sank it deep into my soul?
Who made these chains I wear, bound hand and foot?
Who caused this torture terrible, the heat
Of countless suns burning my charred eyes blind?
You, you have left my sundered body torn
to pieces—

“Jesus, Gerald. I just asked you to clean the garage.”

The Curse of Polyphemus

The words Odysseus had spoken rang aloud
as Polyphemus heaved the boulder high
and heard the splash that drove the ship to shore,
a sound devoid of splintered timbers and screams
of men. And so he cursed his fate, his lot,
and shook the hills with lamentation grave,
grieving his loss of sight. And lamentation
now turned to rage, he clawed the empty socket
and down his cheeks, viciously scoring them,
and said, ‘That I, far greater than lord Zeus
and all the blessèd gods, should be made blind
by such a squat and ugly man, a fate
already known to me by prophecy,
is more than I can bear, a Cyclops
removed from gods and men. What need have I
for Zeus’s laws or rules of feeble man?
No guest was he. A brigand come to steal
my flock. My might did make it right to smash
their heads upon the floor, to spill their weak
blood and devour their slackened limbs, still warm.
Such men deserve neither respect nor honor
nor life, nor does their god on high Olympus,
the tyrant Zeus.’ He raged, uprooting trees,
elm and tall ash, and cast them out to sea.
He smashed the mountain’s crumbling sides and beat
his fists against the rocks til bloody, bruised,
and broken. Turning to the sea he roared,
‘Poseidon, father, hear my prayer,
that great Odysseus should die at sea
by waves titanic, drowning ship and men,
and roll in shallows of forgotten shores,
not buried, grieved, lamented, or remembered.’
The Cyclops sat on hardened sand and cursed
his lot, lamenting sight and shame of loss
but most of all his flock and dearest ram,
companions, friends of lonely life and time.
His life for them and theirs for him, sustaining
with milk and cheese. But gone was joy and care
of tending flocks, of watching the great fleecy
ram run at once from the dark cave at dawn
to lead the flock to hill and glen and run
the river’s course, outpacing every other
before he led them home again at light’s
last glimmer when the Cyclops made his bed
and borrowed woolen warmth through cold dark nights.
And grief then shook the giant’s frame, as waves
upon the shore their rhythm beat in time.
Said he, ‘Where are you now, sweet ram so dear?
A lamb, so little once, then great and proud.
O Krios, taken by an evil man
to slaughter for uncaring gods and eaten,
a meal for No-one, who has earned his name.
Dear Krios, never will I feel your horn
so gentle nudge my hand to pet your head
or scratch your fleecy back. Never again.’
And Polyphemus, tired and alone,
sat watching a new sun he could not see.

Where are you?

Where are you wand’ring and where did you go?
Why have you gone so soon? A brief moment
among the living, never seeing daylight.
And now, forever closed, your eyes milky
and gray, not ever opened by your will.
Where are you wand’ring? Under some distant
alien sun? Or by the moon’s pale light?
Perhaps you linger down among the great
multitudes under the pall of the dead.
Or do you walk an endless road between
the serried cypresses that nod in time?
Have you come back to us across Lethe’s
dark banks or yet wait, only to return
long years hence when I have joined that dim herd?
Do you exist only in my black mind
as firing charges of memory, as
mere flashes bursting in the inky black
illuminating the ghosts of the past?
My boy, where are you? Who have you become?
What do you want or need? Do you have dreams
or do you dream forever only in
my mind, to be extinguished when I die?
Not while I hope a selfish hope, a fool’s,
a hopeless hope to see you once more though
you have gone where I cannot follow, where
one day when time has turned to dust I will
find you and you will open your new eyes
and I will see the light within and know
you, where imagination dwells and gives
false hope to the anguished and the hopeless,
like honey on the bitter cup of life.

Losing Now

I once believed that we have things our own,

a life that’s long with many years to go,

and love that’s full to outlast the ages

and wealth accrued by constant yearly grind.

But what is life when it’s behind you now,

and shining youth is lost in old age?

But where is love that’s lost to endless death,

and not to be reclaimed from cold despair?

But what is wealth that gilds a gray coffin

and builds a mausoleum marble-clad?

That all will end, that we will have nothing,

for past is gone and future is not yet,

that losing’s constant, ineluctable,

I know this now, both is true and certain.

Despite what we have lost there still remains

now, now is all we have, the sum total,

the only remedy is living now,

the recognition of the present time.

Though we are always, ever losing now,

there always is another now, once more,

and we need not lose now ever again.

The Hunter

He comes for all, the hunter stalking prey,

Lying in wait, a wolf among the sheep,

To wrap its jaws around the gentle throat

Quickly. Or, creeping, gnawing, ever near,

Time, relentless, now until, in halting old

Age she demands her loan be paid in full.

Forever drinking the draught of deepest

Sleep, you he takes in his loving embrace,

To breathe, to dream, to laugh, to hurt no more.