So this is what we know:
The fairy tales don't come true.
Our childhood's tales are lies,
We know this, all of this. We do.
How can it not be so, in this world
Where death is the only sure thing:
The vows - unconsciously defiant -
The gown, the adamant ring
(Diamond is forever, ask DeBeers,
But Love, like us, is mortal,
It falters under weighty fears
And also under hopes - it's hard to say
Which weighs the most, which cripples first -
And then collapses, shudders, dies.
Or else - and this indeed may be the worst -
It changes, into hate or dull indifference.)
The flowers, dying even while the cheers
Still shake the air outside the joyful hall
And the song trembles in the air inside -
These are the most perverse of all
The symbols we employ to say that Love,
Sweet Love, will conquer Life and Time.
We lie, though we will not admit it.
The flowers die, their beauty turns to slime,
The stone comes loose within the golden band,
Moths eat the gown, and every vow is broken.
No fairy godmothers come with gifts:
No magic wand, no charm, no token
Is that can delay the world.
The sun unpausing courses through the sky,
Youth falls to age, age yields to death.
Happily ever after is a lie.
And yet ... And yet ... Sometimes
It goes like this: All trials past,
All duty done, all missions carried out,
The happy ending comes at last.
No fairy tale, but love deferred
In days before duty, long bygone.
Sometimes what we know is wrong.
The evening star burns brighter than the dawn.
A mourning dove walked inside my apartment today,
Following a trail of sunflower seeds the finches left,
Who sit high on their feeder and eat with tossing heads,
Scattering seeds onto the deck below them, seeds left
For them themselves to eat, but the doves come too,
Walking with pigeons' grace and stabbing beak,
Amongst the hopping little bits of red and streaky brown
Seeming like dowagers or diplomats, larger but somehow weak.
At any rate, one walked inside this afternoon.
Realizing her mistake -- perhaps the warm on a cool day,
Perhaps the lack of breeze, or the carpet underfoot --
She turned to flee, and lost her bearings and the way.
She beat herself against the glass with flailing wings,
Throwing her broad buff breast into the sudden crystal air
Through which, she must have thought, she had just walked,
Threw herself again and yet again in panic to be out of there.
I heard those muffled thuds: the cat did, too,
Leaping from my lap to grab the dove with both her paws.
I was a step behind, and grabbed the cat, who sullenly let go
The lawful prize -- it's in the house, it's mine -- and from her jaws
Released one miau of protest, then hung limp and waiting.
The dove still beat herself against the glass, still tried
To force her way back whence she had come, still hoped
Her beating wings would this time carry her outside.
They say that birds can kill themselves that way.
I couldn't drive her, she only beat against the glass.
I took her in my hand--such still yet frantic eyes,
Such little weight for size, such tiny heart to beat so fast.
A finch the cat had brought inside once, who'd fled,
Leaving behind his tail, beneath the couch to hide
'Till I got home, had bitten me when I picked him up
Hard enough for blood to still be welling as he flew outside.
The dove's long beak, though, didn't move, nor she.
She was now panic frozen, was as still as death,
Except that beating heart, so fast against my fingers,
Except that frantic, panting breath.
Limp cat under one arm, still bird in one hand,
I walked back to the opened door, reached through my hand, then
Opened it as well: a little, little push against my hand,
Wings opening like a tiny thunderclap, and she was gone again.
I know this dove: she and her mate come daily,
Dignified among the finches, to sit like grownups at their meat.
She's back again, sitting on the railing by the flower box
Watching him and waiting for her turn to eat--
They do swap off. Any minute now he'll heave himself
Up off the feeder onto the rail, awkward yet assured,
And she will plop herself down into the sunflower seeds
And eat, while he watches and murmurs his co-ah coo coor.
Ah, now they've swapped off, she's eating now
With bobbing head, while he sits by the purple flower.
Her time inside, the cat, the glass, the fear,
It hasn't kept her gone beyond her time by even an hour.
I don't know if birds think, or what, or even how.
They must have memory at least, or how'd they know
To come back that first time for the sunflower seeds,
Before it was habit? She must remember something, even so
The dove who came inside has not stayed away.
Is it courage or stupidity that keeps her on her track?
Or is it simple hunger? She's walking on the balcony again,
Eating the seeds the finches scatter, looking ahead, not back...
She always comes with wings of thunder,
Sliding down through the dark and starsmeared skies,
A crisp and sharp and almost alien wonder.
Her navigator stares from dark young eyes.
A tall slim girl with eyes of jade
In deep brown skin has drawn his smile,
But he withdraws, surprised, dismayed.
He asked if he could be with her a while,
And she, with eyes demurely to the ground,
Told him he was her father's father's sire.
They'd told him relativity was sound,
But only touching tells cool light from fire.
A year, to them, has passed since she was here.
But over ninety passed for us who stayed,
At speeds not nearly-lightfast, on the dear
And darkish land, the home their brothers made.
And now they stand and blink and stare
As though, like fools, they'd raised their eyes
And looked into the bright, actinic glare
Of that white sun which doesn't pale our skies
But etches shadows blacker than the Fall
Across our dearloved landscapes, stand
And realise, again, how sure the wall
That lies, invisible, between our outstretched hands.
Feet of the dawn stallions who come bringing the day--in you
Rings out the promise of hopes known, dreams come true, goals attained:
Time to begin again, time to start once more building our
Homes in the heavens.
Feet of the twilight grey geldings, unsought for, unwanted,
You who come swift as death down to us in our strivings and
Trials, in you sounds the end of time to try plans unborn,
Feet of the night black mares, come now! You it is bring us the
Time to recover from pain and failure of all of our
Plans for the new way, bring time to sleep and to dream our new
Dreams for tomorrow.
Old men on Russian Hill
The old tongue sweet in their ears:
American newspapers held in their hand,
Old and alone in an alien land,
They gather together and speak as they stand--
These old men-- of their motherland.
"Did you see, Sasha, here in the paper
they say that in Moscow--"
"I was born there, in Moscow..."
"And, too, that in Rostov-on-the-Don--"
"I was one time in Rostov-on-the-Don,
when I was a soldier, fighting for our Tsar..."
"And I remember summers in St Petersburg,
All the white nights in St Petersburg;
Although they now call it Leningrad,
I remember the days it was Petersburg..."
Ah, Petersburg, and old days...
Old men, with older ways;
No longer Russians-- and yet all the same
Blessing her each time they mention her name--
So far away in the miles, and the years,
Just yesterday in the smiles and the tears.
Once they were young, not admitting to fears;
Now they are smaller, bent down by the years,
And what are these old men to do?
Mighty magics Mordred made there
At Camlann the crooked, where he killed Arthur:
Bought with his breath's end a bride-price for Death--
The soul of his sire, slain with his dying,
A royal ransom to reign in hell.
Bastard begotten, brought into being
By lust unlawful, love forbidden,
Son of his sire and sister-son too,
Doomed to die the day of his getting,
Singly escaping a ship-load of slain
Innocent infants offered up to the sea:
Hate was his hearthstone and anger his meat.
Morgan made sure of that, shading his mind
With hatred of Arthur and all of his ways.
So came he to Camelot, Camlann thence.
Destiny drove him, doom was his burden.
Arthur the honoured awfully fell there,
And Kay the courageous, king's companion,
And others in dozens that hour of darkness,
Bathing bright Britain in rivers of blood.
Still the sweet singers sing in their songs
The pride and the prowess that perished that day:
The defeat of Pendragon, the dark doom descending
At Camlann the crooked, where they killed Arthur.
The man's dark eyes are burning bright,
His being is a flame.
A torch to light the shades of night
Is kindled by his name.
Behind him from the shadows
A people forward run
Across the moor and meadows
To chase the dying sun.
Bring forth the faded glory,
The Roman purple bring,
The old Imperial story
To clothe the new High King.
In with the twilight comes a cry
"White Dragons from the sea!"
A sword at sunset lifted high
For Britain must be free.
He died before his task was done,
And Arthur's name is better known,
But in his heart it was begun
And by his hand the seed was sown.
Bare is back without brother behind it:
Hollow the heart that homeless must live,
And sorrowed the soul that single must travel.
Fair is the face of family to see.
Kith and kindred are kindest to carry
High in the heart like hallowed thoughts,
And he who has helpmeets is aided in trouble.
Not alone or unloved lies he in illness --
Back by his brothers he bears his misfortune,
Stayed by his sisters he stands in his sorrow;
And when to wealth or to wonders he wins,
Mightily merry he makes with his family,
Praise of the purest passing between them.
Full and flowing, the feelings are fairest
At meat with one's kin, the makers of comfort.
Wide is the way that's wandered companioned
By brothers of blood, the best of bright friends.
Clear is the road ridden by kin.
But thorned and thankless is the thoroughfare lone travelled,
Fallow the field crossed without family,
Weary the wounding when one is alone,
Hateful the hurt unhelped and unheeded,
Piercing the pain unpoulticed by kin.
Dark is the death that's died alone:
Sorry the slaying that summons no vengeance
And grim the grave grubbed by a stranger.
But more weary of living are the lone wanderers,
Roaring their rage unreined by their reason.
Heedless of danger whom death has made homeless,
Fain would they follow their families to darkness;
For lorn and lone is the landless man,
Feckless, fey, fell, friendless:
Bare is back without brother behind it,
And doom becomes dear, and darling, death.
|Original Poetry: Various|
|Baseball | General Fantasy | Fantasy Legends 1 | Fantasy Legends 2 | Various|
|Ridges | Walden | Pine | Black Oak | Little Pine | Chestnut | Haw|
|Greenbelt | Emory Valley | Pellissippi | Key Springs | Snapping Turtle Pond|