Paris, 15:42

Stuck.
A small desire
(coffee, maybe pastry)
A Herculean labor.
Such histrionics,
A drama worthy of greatness,
And I, jet-lagged, ordinary at best,
Blindly stabbing.

Yet, it arrives:
Mousse au chocolat
Crème brûlée
Je n’sais quoi

And coffee,
A small, unassuming demi-tasse,
Ordnance as yet
Unexploded.

I spoke in riddles

I spoke in riddles
Indecipherable even to myself
Especially myself

All these words made real
Made manifest

In the beginning
–It said –
Was the word

Indefinable useless
A meaningless jumble of
Sound unless

That hunger not yours but mine
Is the meaning of all of it
Or the infinite cosmos
Of conscious beings

Until the face in the mirror
Sweeps past me into the distance
Unable at last
To recognize the original

I always thought I was some kind of Gypsy
Racing from edge to edge
Never stopping never asking
Weariness my goad and my goal

All will good or bad
Known and unknown
As deep and suspicious
As an autumn breeze in April

Where is it exactly you want to go?
Don’t you know all places are the same?
All contain your ghosts
The dead can’t help you
Any more than the living
You are yours alone

I lived riddles
Myself indecipherable
Especially myself

Physics

Light streams in, cold as stars
At midnight
You feel the deepest humming
Of the universe
The unguessed throb of its
Unraveling

A star collapses
A photon flies into a black hole
A moon pulls itself apart
Planets spin and collide

And our lives stream outward
To unknown ends

The faithful depart

You have given us like sheep for eating
And scattered us among the heathen.
Psalm 44

Out here, no stars for guidance
No hope for subsistence
The sky meets the open sea
Searching for a horizon

Out here, the wail of utter
Lack of direction
Of pointlessness
Seems absurdly redundant

Whatever happened
To the long ago gamble
That pushed us here
So vainly game?

The compass needle swings
Madly from one point
To the next, oblivious,
Wanton, unable, unwilling

And yet, we’re such dogs
As lap up the small gifts
We find on the wayside
Imagining meanings for them all

Our lips cannot form
The word “sever”
Our hearts cannot forgive
The love you bore us

Our souls cannot grasp
Your cruel mercy

This poem was inspired by a passage from Gildas’ De Excidio et Conquestu Britannie, written in 540 CE. It describes the slaughter and deprivation of Britons at the hands of Saxons after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  Ironically, the earlier barbarians had become Roman Britons, and now viewed the Saxon invaders with the same revulsion they had suffered at the hands of the Romans.