Friday, February 26, 2021

The Books of the Dead

 for Stuart James

Jesus, Stuart, look
What we have come to, thick
And tired, brought to book,
Brought to ground, and sick
With authors. I had read
Every single one—
Recited them in bed
And taught them to my son.
Now they look away.
It’s just as they had said,
They never meant to stay.
Jesus, they’re all dead.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

The Men Who Would Be Kings

We were a caravan, the score of us,
Camels and dogs and rugs. We infidels,
We passed for what we were, a flea-brained bunch
Determined to be wise, and if we failed,
Experienced at least. We heard that the sands
Turned ruby when they were wet, but they were dry.
Advised that the womenfolk were glorious
Beyond appraisal, we saw only men,
And they saw us and were not over pleased.
Far, far too many stars for urbanites:
We missed our meals and thought that we were brave.

Perhaps we were. A little foolishness
Is necessary for the gentle born.
Four of us returned, we four who returned,
We held our tongues and spent a year or two
Deciding what was dream and what was not.
It all was dream, the four of us conclude
And watch TV and nod our grizzled heads,
And some of them were probably attached.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Anything Goes


Some of the souvenirs began to squirm
As hibernating gods shook off their sleep.
Their naps had been profound, their dreams so vague,
They didn't know where parts of them had gone;
But shelves in Indonesia and Brazil
Let down their severed heads; and in Duluth
And Lower Slaughter little shiny coins
Twirled. It was more than mildly disconcerting.

Poseidon had a charley-horse and Dis,
Occluded vision. Iris saw her dress
Change colors, as the label, Roy G. Biv,
Turned inside out and backwards. Down below,
A village suffered instant disrepute
When all the hausfraus ran away with birds.
In Rome the statues changed their legal names,
And some converted. Venus wept real tears,

The tiny tears of dolldom, small and briny.
Green, like the eyes which they obscured, they fell,
But raised no fruit. It was her elder name
Which founded Paris, where the horses reared,
And no one knew what anything meant or cost.
The souvenirs dissolved, and mighty Zeus
Stroked his oiled beard, but did not wake. The heads
Of headless torsos speechified from dust.