The Poet In His Twilight Years

I have watched the black and white interviews
with the poet on his ramshackle farm,
quoting himself, word for word, his old muse
near-suicidal, disposed to self-harm,
and how dark are the later, silver years
when the laurels clutter the poet’s head;
it is enough to bring a man to tears,
if only allergies when eyes are red.
He writes so little verse, but acts a script
writ daily, with what life he may muster,
his mask such as is in a pharaoh’s crypt,
sometimes lacquered, sometimes just lackluster.

The Youthful Dead, And Useless Old Men

O, I hear the bean sidhe—she is shrieking
in schoolyard and school hall, the fell, bleak thing
sounding an alarm for the many deaths
when goodly youths shall draw their final breaths
while old men diddle and dither, at odds
with one another, and their bloodfed gods.
The gruesome Redcaps dip their dripping hats
into crimson puddles like vineyard vats
and a murder of crows descends anon
from the shoulders of grim-lipped Morrigan
and all youth is squandered in misty vale,
blooming anew with rot and maggots pale
till the ancient echoes of pagan song
be sated in surfeit of age-old wrong,
the wrong of wrongs such were long forgotten
when clans clashed fiercely, each chief besotten
with the blood-debts accrued in times before,
that fateful geas that binds forevermore.
Do nought for the dead but ponder and pray
and be grateful that the capricious Fae
demand no more than the youths hereby piled
for their burrows and mounds and woodlands wild,
for the Land of Youth needs our youth to bleed
ere Tir na nOg be a place old men heed
when nodding at their thrones as if glamored
and impotent, their weak hearts enamored
of the Cailleach, that old baleful elf
who enchants to think only of the self
as the long winter of old age reigns on
in those resentful of youth, their youth gone.
O, our country is as the headless wraith, the Dullahan, that runs forth with a faith
steeped in blood, cracking a whip made of spine
as if backbone is enough to consign
the peace hungered for in our times of grief,
times when blood-stained blade oft slips from the sheath…
but we’ve lost our heads, and the youth their lives,
as old men nod, ignoring Elphame tithes.

Lost In Sand And Surf

Born at hightide, buried to the chin
among countless others on the beach,
shouting, coughing, the froth surging in
to drown all within its lounging reach.

Openmouthed to sing my song aloud,
I receive a swig of salty surf,
sputtering words, too much like the crowd,
our voices a chorus without worth.

Where are those who dig free from the sand,
those who escape the insensate tide?
They rise from these deep holes and can stand
in sunlight, moving with a strong stride.

Still, the rest of us remain entombed
while waves wash over the thoughtless trend,
never heard, never seen, each one doomed
to scream into the surf without end.

Ah, but could I not dig myself out
by merit of my mouth and its bite,
by my teeth, by grit and bit and bout
to lessen the sand that holds me tight?

Or is that sand not of the hourglass
and, so, the holding hole that is Time?
Do those who are dug out truly pass
beyond, or are those lands but birdlime?

Red Ribbons In Knots

Raindrop down the window pane,
slow-sliding upon the glass,
as a teardrop spent in pain
after storms have come to pass.

Two birds hop along the lawn,
cardinals singing acclaim,
two red birds praising the dawn
and the youthful Springtime’s game.

Raindrops are infrequent now
and the wet cows chew the cud,
the thunderhead calms its brow,
though the fields are still aflood.

Somewhere downhill water flows,
cresting like a Sunday hymn,
singing of what loose silt knows
when taken from where it’s been.

Silent, the old farmhouse squats
within the vale, near the stream,
while the widow ties in knots
two ribbons within a dream.

The ribbons are scarlet red,
once entwined—now unraveled,
undone by the restless head
in which they twined and traveled.

She tries to knot them anew
with sleeping, that act which frayed
the bond between brothers who
never thought such love would fade.

Tossing, turning, she ties knots
with the sheets she shared with men
whom were foremost in her thoughts;
both together, now as then.

The cardinals sing no more,
but claw at one another
for a lady they adore—
tearing brother from brother.

Routine Regrets

Lingering ghost, wraith without a head,
standing beside the four-poster bed,
reminding us of the missteps made
and things left undone, the bitter trade
of thrills for comforts from a routine
to thwart the unknown, the unforeseen
so our lives are secured by the rite
of habit, of caution, day and night.
She stands there, as headless as our lives
while steadfast in scheduled nine-to-fives,
the ritual headless, saying nought,
yet we know she would say that we ought
to have done more when we had the chance,
but each night we lament circumstance,
for she attends us at our bedside—
attends forever, our deathbed bride.

Song And Dance Man

There is a man dancing for the crowd
and they cheer his dancing, cheer him so loud
that the boy can scarce hear the soft song
of the dancing man as he kicks along.

Afterward, when the dancing man’s done
and the crowd dissolves beneath the high sun,
the boy still wonders how the song went;
it seemed he said, “Please…I…am…innocent!”

Perspective

The impact of a small raindrop
on the mirrored face of the lake
makes tiny rings, a silent plop,
with wavelets fleeting in their wake.
Was it similar to the rock
that struck the earth, that asteroid
which the ancient gods watched, their talk
calm as ancient life was destroyed?
Perhaps the great gods did not care
about rings so small in their eyes
that they did not see the lives there
burnt and buried, or dead elsewise.
How will they look on the event
that will destroy the human race?
Will it appear as how it went
when the K-T event took place?
Will we pollute our lands and seas
like yeast feeding on corn and rye,
distilling poison like whiskeys
to succeed so well that we die?
Perhaps the end will come to pass
like faintly flaring warhead fire,
a will o’ the wisp of swamp gas
making of us a firefly pyre.
Whatever end awaits us then,
their eyes will pass over our death
as mine do now—so peaceful, zen,
as billions die between each breath.

Envenomed

Black spiders dwelling in the dark,
weaving webs from their spinnerets—
unheard, unhurried, unseen…hark!
The bedposts are their minarets.
Hourglass upon fat-fed bellies,
crimson warning and silken spools,
their prey melted unto jellies,
kneeling husks becometh all fools.
Creeping midnight venom-vigils,
black prayers and turban-wound prey—
the adhan signal, the sigils
of an ancient faith here to stay.
The imams rub their steepled claws
in devotions to their venom,
hunger and death the only laws
that govern the soul within them.
And their congregation trembles,
the hollowed, hallowed husks bent low
on rugs beneath bedspread symbols—
what dreaded truths the husks must know!