Nomad Feet

Cinch the reins, calm him down,
Knot tight the bags that hold my things,
Throw the grass to test the breeze,
First gently trot to test his knees,
swift,
Borne of wind and of the wind, no regrets no memories,
No time to think, no backwards glance, no heed to rain or snow or sleet,
Frost of dawn on barren towns, diving hawk, tempest blast on fallen crowns,
Banner flies, shadow of the peregrines – as children of the wind we move to live.

The Litany

I fear not the raft of styx, messenger of wrath brought quick.
I fear not the battle’s pitch, flood, famine, or pestilence,
Pale osiris, eris, nyx, demon furies, and the succubus.

Give me not nepenthe nor opiates, all they do is enervate.
My will is epic.  Bitterness bestows me gruesome strength.

I fear neither death nor judgement, I fear never having lived:
A small room, a mighty chalice.  The judge who points and says,
I filled your cup to overfloweth.  And all you did was take a sip.

Prufrock’s Bad Friend

Let us go then, when the evening is spread against the sky like a circus tent blooming orange trees and maples, under this raging blaze to our first stop where we will feast on these victuals: tender steaks, warm crispy bread, heapings of cheese and salad, a pitcher of absinthe, maybe I’ve ordered too much?  No, our young hunger is monumental.

Stuffed, we’ll watch the smoke from our pipes curl sinuously indigo, singed by the orange lamps that will light one after another, glowing in adagio.  We will wait, counting the bell toll ten times, until the galactic city beneath us starts looking flammable.

Think no longer of the girls speaking pretentiously of Michelangelo, or was it Mario, or Luigi, forget them, because here in our own savage town I bet you’ve never seen the taverns or the speakeasies, set amidst the broken lanes and skewered crossalleys.

Let us go then, because there we will meet your mermaids, lots of them, and you will no longer worry if they come and go or deign to speak to you, for it will be dark and hot and rank with youth, and they will show you matters in which there is no use for so much anxious thinking, much less underwater speaking.

Germination

We need not caverns to grow.

We love the dark loam surrounding us with nowhere else to go,

No more than a whisper or a moment’s glance, no more space than a shifting of an elbow,

Inspires us to crack our seeds and grow.

My Guide My Soul My Shepherd

The moon is my guide my soul my shepherd.

The air was thin and cold, my heart was big and bold, when I packed my bags to leave my home.

I followed the spring, a brush and tumble with love, and wet with the taste, thought it was all and it was all enough.

Staking it all, I lost it all, and I took what I could to hit the road, dreaming about the warm lights and hearths of home.  There the lights would glow, just like the moon I know, my guide my soul my shepherd.

Under the torrid sun, and endless din of work, I lost my youth but gained a place, for I shared bread with princes, merchants, and rogues.

My bags grew heavy as I grew old, my legs grew weak and slow.  I paused a while, and it was quiet dark, and cold.

I emptied my bags by the light of the moon, my guide my soul my shepherd.

To whom do I owe these memories of laughter, love, and life?  To whom do I owe the ones of shame, regret, and bile?

Do I need these things, these things that compose the measure of my being?  These stories of evil and schemery, these stories of strength and hope?

I took them out and chose, and chose to leave some there, under the light of the moon, next to my glowing home, by the side of a snowy road.

I chose to explore, under the light of the moon, my guide my soul my shepherd.

The Adventurer

When he left the city, he thought it would be loyal.

So he set off across the plains, over the mountains, and tumbled through the treacherous seas.

He thought the city would wait for him – that the people would keep celebrating his memory, that the dusty streets and buildings would stay as they were, pointed in the same direction, casting a familiar shadow.

He thought the old hill that led to the places of his great fears and torment, and place from which his story began, would stay the same.

And he treasured the city in his mind, for its loyalty and faith.  In his mind, the city never changed, it was always the same, with the same cast of characters, the same friends, and shopkeeps, and little children playing in the streets.

In his memory, it was home.

When he returned across the plains, the mountains, and the treacherous seas, he found that the city had completely changed.  He found no familiar faces, and new contraptions filled the streets.

A city doesn’t wait.

In confusion he walked to where the old hill had been, which was covered completely in large buildings of terrifying height, formidable now in strangeness, and asked a kid where his old home had been.  He described it as he remembered it.

The kid shrugged and ran away, smiling.  An old woman tottering by looked at him, squinting.

There was a building that you speak of, she said.  It stood where you now stand.

It was strange, the feeling he now felt.  Untethered, like he no longer had a home.

The Retired Warrior

He is sitting in the park.

The memories of shells and mortar explosions, firefights in the mud, blown-off fingers, ugly faces of abject terror in the face of the angels of death – these are all gone now.

He liked taking walks in this park, looking up at the gently undulating buildings, looking at their mix of easy, geometric shapes.

Nothing flew in the air.  He liked it that way.  The sky was always the same color of blue.

He liked it that way.

He spent hours following the outlines of the buildings, which were spaced apart at predictable intervals, and there were no alleyways or long shadows where assassins might be hiding.  The park burst with colors.  He liked it here.  On sunny days, it gave him hope.

They called it sterile.  And he liked that.

But, sometimes, just sometimes, he would get an itch.  Just once, he thought, he’d like to go berserk again, to be dropped in that frenzy of primary fear and violence, the attenuated consciousness of just his breath and pounding heart the only thing he could sense as he unleashed on those around him.

No, he told himself, no.  I like this.  I like this park, he told himself.

Young in LA (Part II)

Mia: Maybe I’m not good enough!

Sebastian: Yes, you are.

Mia: Maybe I’m not!  It’s like a pipe dream.

Sebastian: This is the dream!  It’s conflict and it’s compromise and it’s very, very exciting!

La La Land

During the days, you’ll strive and sweat and cry.  During the nights, you’ll look out the window of your apartment or car and see the indigo darkness draped over the hills, the street lamps glowing in adagio.  They’ll look like souls huddled in fervent prayer.  Your dreams.

But here’s the thing.  The dreams dreamed in the City of Dreams, are tricky.  The City of Dreams is an illusion, a mirage in the desert.

What you dreamed of at 22, will come true.

And having what you once wanted, you’ll look back, your youth spent.  You’ll think back on the City of Dreams, the feeling of being young and hungry, and every so often a desert wind will evoke false memories of bittersweet paths taken if not for a single gesture, word, or action, and you’ll wonder where the time went. 

And you’ll wonder if what you got, was what you really wanted.

Or if you’d be happier young, having nothing but dreams again.

Cemetery

Rest in the shade of my boughs, and look out over the hill.  In the distance, a calming sea, an ocean breeze.  Once there was nothing here.

The first fishermen arrived.  They grew in number, they built huts, and the habitations grew in size.  Feasts were had.

When they were laid to rest, the most powerful among them sought the shade of my boughs.

Then the invaders came, wearing fierce expressions and loud explosions.  Overcoming the natives, they took from the land, extracting from it what they could.  They grew fat and jolly, they schemed in devious ways and built stone mansions, imported, from the spoils of their trade.

And yet – they all met the same fate, and now seek the shade of my boughs.

The next invaders were not of the overpowering, physical sort.  They came, full of ideas about how the world should be arranged and rearranged.  They are gentler, not given so much to violence, yet they do fight – and fight – over pieces of paper and the acceptance of ideas, about how best to arrange the resources amongst them.

And those who grow fat among them still grow smug, and satisfied, in their concept of wealth.

And yet – when they meet their ends they find solace in the shade of my boughs.

They are alike, all of them.  They laugh and cry, and they strive.  They do not stop striving, and in this they are alike and equal.

They don’t know that the rains wash their remains away to the foothills where everyone else is buried, where their bones mix with those of the sparrows and hogs and fish, to mix and form the loam in which my roots clench deep, to strengthen the trunks and branches for the shade – the shade of my boughs.

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