An ancient lie
controls the world,
its flag unfurled
before the eye:
that might is right;
is that what light
the meagre flame
of truth reveals,
the winner steals
in a rigged game
won by a cheat,
claimed before birth,
so that true worth
seems like deceit.
06 MAY 2017
All brave words pale to whimpered, mewling sighs;
great structures crumble to their timber’s dust;
aged soldiers’ shouts turn into babies’ cries,
their heroism’s bread gnawed to the crust.
Proud governments dissemble into gangs;
philosophers’ grand speeches become babbles;
elaborate costumes rot where they hang;
the wise assembly reverts to mere rabble.
And what event precipitates this fall,
what monumental shift in time and space
wreaks havoc on the known, destroying all
to leave in Beauty’s stead a gruesome face —
some wild disruption in the cosmic scheming
that causes misalignment of the spheres?
a moment where the gods cease from their dreaming
and we are left alone when the mist clears?
What then? If our own actions make the future,
with no unseen, omnipotent control,
no divine surgeon to tie off the sutures
and seal the wounds we’ve rendered on the whole;
if we alone, frail humankind, have wandered
so far beyond our role, through pride and greed,
that any promise due us we have squandered
and have no promised land, no guarantee?
What good religions, if they do not teach us
to doubt our own ability to reign
or don’t allow the universe to reach us,
instead instructing to ignore our pain?
All brave words are for naught, if in our bravery
we fail to speak for those whose tongues are dumb;
should our great light cast the whole world in shadow,
what good is knowing whence the morning comes?
23 May 2005
Some things exist to turn perceptions inside out;
their presence tends to shift and rend to shreds the veils
and introduce, in even the most stable minds, some doubt —
by subtlety reminding pristine saints of crucifixion’s nails.
Despite all valiant efforts to resist the twist of time
that folds and spindles all the distance one has come,
in just a moment’s span the truth becomes much less sublime,
and the most eloquent tongues are left wordless and dumb;
while back in chasms of the tortured past
the mind is thrown like Christians to the raving beasts.
In just a fateful second the losing die is cast,
making the future, risked, become the very least
of measures to describe the scope of hope and life;
and in those frenzied fragments, when belief
has turned against the back of faith its traitor’s knife,
its mad aggression finding no escape route or relief,
the helplessness of childhood sinks upon the soul
and one is left to wonder how, at almost forty years,
the palimpsest illusion built up of great self-control
can vanish in a few seconds leaving only bitter tears.
From some things that wear old familiar masks
an energy of entropy and chaos seems to engulf and drown;
seeking to remind us as we struggle at life’s tasks
that to see us as we used to be, some will want to bring us down.
14 MAY 2004
“As Elba taught Napoleon, all men ARE islands; some are just in better climates.” — John Litzenberg, from The Secret Undertown Ministry
With William Butler Yeats I see a striking parallel:
of politics and prosody, a marriage made in hell;
each new idea casting an elusive, mastering spell
with only moments in between for time and space to gel
and being armed with will alone, in one’s own Book of Kells
to find only the missing pieces, husks and empty shells.
The tragedy of Poetry, perhaps, or an Irish Curse:
to reclaim places as your own that did not claim you first,
and seek beyond the shapes of things, to slake an inner thirst
that wrecks the lives of those you know, and your loved ones, the worst.
To know that which you think you know is only myth and verse
Composed by some like-minded fool lost in the universe.
In contradictions to define an image of a sage
who mirthless, hoards some trust of great lore, page by page
devouring through the night as restless demons, in their rage
rattle the bars that you now see, in corners of your cage.
Yet hoping, until that last breath
that as with living, so with death
a chain of endless counted days
extended, infinite, both ways.
With that vision in mind, there is no defeat.
There are countless stories to discover, tell and retell;
and somewhere on that line, that existential parallel
you actually find William Butler Yeats.
06 MAY 2004