Like me, the day resembles an empty vessel,
empty of all that radiates outward,
all that intends malice or desire,
that winks a hundred wishes onward,
holding only God accountable,
leaving any sense behind,
out where there is no boundary,
where edge melts into center,
where all becomes nothing,
where stellar wind washes light
from the first Nothing screamed aloud,
down to the yearning of stars to be born,
to the thin layer of life
astride the cosmos.
You have given us like sheep for eating
And scattered us among the heathen.
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
Seems absurdly redundant
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 first appeared in this blog 12/7/14. It 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.
I do read your work, telling me
to be a decent sort, which politician
to love, which to despise,
how one kind of suffering
is better than another, or one
rude remark worse than another.
The ponderance presses relentlessly,
huge pendulous images of right thinking,
until I no longer feel I own my own
uncertainty, that my heart can so much as
break without first checking your litany.
Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.
Now I must be on my way or miss
the chance to do it again.
Between sun and rain
A steam bath.
Frogs sing their approval.
Change is our native land,
Our birthright, and yet,
We cling to a past like
An old winter coat,
Threadbare, stained, useless,
Well into summer, to keep,
I suppose, from disappearing
Our so-called future, bright,
Burning, always impending,
Half beautiful, half terrifying,
Like sunlight slowly creeping
Toward our vampire lives.
Who said it was going to be easy?