Daily Archives: July 10, 2004

Message in a Bottle

If you read this, you take something
made of flesh and bone,
a piece of time and space and breath
not quite a gift, or loan

or even money down upon
some future equal trade,
but more, one part of dialogue
unanswered, thus half-made

To read it and absorb its lines,
then move to other things
without an answer, move or gesture
clips its hopeful wings

Like showing at a picnic
without bringing your own dish,
yet piling high your plate with food
as often as you wish

Without an equal partnership
of muse and write and read
there is no purpose in creation,
just a void that feeds

on what is drawn from single souls
and cast, like nets, to sea
but comes up empty with the trawl.
This then, is my plea:

Who knows how many countless times
this bottle’s come ashore,
been uncorked, contents scanned
unheeded, corked and tossed once more

without a single line appended
to its simple verse?
Without some answer, though
it cross the whole wide universe?

If you read this, add something;
a kind of coin, or praise,
it need be no more than a word —
then send it on its way.

Restuff the contents through the neck
and push the cork in tight;
then watch it float off with the tide
until it fades from sight.

A message in a bottle, sent,
and now, its purpose known:
to speak with those on distant shores
so none may feel alone.

10 JUL 2004

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Notes from Icarus

Daedalus, my father, tried to fashion me for wings
but I, who treasured heresy, had no use for the things
or for the cliff that he had labored at for many years
to leave for me a fortune or a basis or career.

He shoved me off the edge the day I turned a young eighteen,
not knowing really who I was, or what the drop might mean;
to some gods quite unknown to me, he might have said a prayer
then watched with blended pride and sorrow as I beat the air.

Of course, because the wings were made to fit his arms, not mine,
after a brief respite of floating, I made a decline,
and found in sharp perspective with the looming of the ground
no use for most of the great knowledge he tried to pass down.

The sun above shone as it does, both bright and hot that day,
and my sire’s mix of wax and feathers sought to melt away;
while from the cliff-side, he looked on, still hoping for the best,
like any fledgling’s parent does when they first leave the nest.

But though I am my father’s son, his dream was not my own,
that all the miles he ran and walked instead he might have flown,
counter to training, expectation and man’s hallowed laws,
I sought to regain life on earth, despite its glaring flaws.

And so we parted company, old Daedalus and I,
my view along the cliff’s rough base, and his toward the sky;
and the hard lessons for us both that we tried to avoid
came, in their time, despite the ruses that we each employed.

Now many years have passed, and I’ve recovered from that fall,
though in some places I’m still bruised and sometimes have to crawl;
my father, disappointed, has retired to his death bed,
and I, instead of flying, have learned how to walk, instead.

10 JUL 2004

for James Joyce

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