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scooby Nov 2017
Eldest,
You are cruel by nature
and not knowing better,
but you will come to learn that is no excuse.
An unfilled form,
you're a hand
half in a glove,
and it makes you careless.
You will later apologize for coming first,
Eldest.

Eldest,
you are a stand in.
See what responsibility looks like stretched over adult bones.
Stretch out yourself.
Pull on it.
You idealize a lighthouse.
You chart a course,
some careless and rambling march,
that well,
isn't really supposed to look like that.
Slowly,
you grow to resent your stretch marks,
Eldest.

Eldest,
always guilty,
you wish you’d known that you’d been responsible all along.
Eldest,
dwell on this, as to make sure it won’t happen again.
Teach your eldest child this lesson and hope
they do better than you.
Blindly feel the yoke’s pull,
Eldest.
old poem i'm dragging up again, alas it didn't age as well as others
Patrick Austin Sep 2018
Our Backgrounds before we met...

I'm an only child born in Montana in 1983, from a divided home. Parents divorced at seven, Mom was unstable and unfaithful. Dad obtained custody of me and we moved to Oregon Coast to live with my Grandma. I had unhealthy visits and relationship with Mom thereafter. My Grandma died at 12 and at 13 my Dad remarried an alcoholic woman, I had a strained relationship with them until adulthood when she stopped drinking. I had exposure to trauma; alcoholism, mental illness, verbal abuse and juvenile troubles. I rebelled by using drugs in my late teens and early twenties, I lived on my own for a few years after high school but had little direction.

My bride is the eldest with two little brothers, parents stayed in same area of Portland during childhood with lots of family support and her parents stayed married. They had Christian values but some anger and anxiety issues at home. She was sexually assaulted at 17 and never had good closure with this. She told me her parents didn't provide her enough help with things like this growing up. Status quo was the backbone of the family dynamic, challenging emotions were discouraged. She rebelled by being reckless with herself, financially and sexually. She decided to join the Navy at 19. She lived alone briefly, but mostly with Grandparents & Parents before our marriage.

I loved how we both grew up reading Archie comics. No other girl I had ever met had that in common with me. I think we wanted a surreal life like the one in Riverdale.

2002

She and I were 19 when we first met in my home town on the coast at an arcade. We became friends and secretly liked each other. I was too nervous to ever make a move on her. We traveled together, she stayed with me, we used drugs together and drank at times. One night she drank too much and had *** with a guy I knew at a party. I was devastated by this. She was Navy bound and I didn't see a real future for us. The next morning she left and I didn't talk to her again for two years. I figured she would be gone with the Navy soon and that she must not have been interested in a relationship with me despite the time we spent together.

2003

I was depressed about this rejection. I dated an older woman who was interested in me but was no substitute. I eventually moved to the Portland area to work and live. I still had few plans and was lonely, in or out of the few brief relationships I attempted. I never found someone that I felt safe with or had a true connection, let alone true love. She ended up not following through with the Navy and continued working her way up in her job at the call center. She attended community college and dated a few guys. She dated one guy for a couple of years who was not a good match for her but stayed with him off and on despite issues. His family was wealthy and treated her well. He slept around on her as did she. At one point he gave her an STD. She also had an ongoing affair with a married man in the military that she went to high school with. He had a child and a wife with mental health issues. She was still hurting a lot at times and not always doing well.

2004

She reached out to me via email after two years of no contact. We emailed back and forth a couple times over the next few months. We talked about meeting up. We spoke on the phone and eventually met up in Portland. We had an amazing night getting to know each other again and work past the confusion of our earlier days of friendship. I realized that she did in fact like me before but since I was timid and trying to be proper and take things slowly she didn't understand my motives. She apologized for her actions at the party as well. She claimed she was in a really messed up place and was making bad choices at that time. Getting our feelings out in the open was good and she appreciated my attitude towards being slow to make moves on her when we first met. I was worried about falling for her based on our history but eventually I was determined to give it a shot. We soon after starting dating and being intimate. Our love was extremely powerful and beyond all others we had both experienced. She broke ties with other suitors and shortly after we talked about marriage and started planning a wedding for the next year.

I remember when we first held hands. We were so shakey and she was quivering on my couch as I had my arm around her. We felt so safe with each other. We could finally be ourselves and do what our hearts desired. We knew we were on to something new and so amazing. We were so patient with each other as we navigated our new love and emotional thresholds.

I remember when we saw Matisyahu in concert together. That was a once in a lifetime experience and a life-changing moment for us. I feel it set the tone for things to come in our future.

I remember how creative my proposal to her was, in the Arcade where we first met. I hid the ring in a prize container from one of those claw machines. Pretending I got the ring from inside by reaching into the machine on one knee I was so nervous and wasn't sure if I could pull it off before she caught on. She looked so shocked and surprised. I was so excited she said yes! We took pictures in the photo machine and had burgers afterwards, I'd do all of it all over again just to see her face in that moment.

2005

We found an apartment for us in Portland. I moved in while she was still living back with her parents until the wedding. She had to change her number because the married man she was previously involved with kept calling her about changing her mind about marriage and continuing their relationship. She was offered a job in Denver and we decided to move away together after our sandy wedding in Cannon Beach. I still had a very hard time and was embarrassed with my past history with her. Many of my friends knew what had happened at 19 and how much it hurt me but I was so crazy about her I think I tried to pretend it didn't happen or that it was not a big deal because we were younger. We got married and moved to Colorado soon after. We made friends at a church, I became more active as a Christian and really loved being married. We were very involved in keeping spirituality in our marriage. I began to notice her poor financial decisions and practices more. This caused conflict but we always tried to communicate and work on things.

I remember when we went down to my folks for New Year's in 2005. We sipped tea in my Datsun as we drove to the coast over the snowy mountain pass. We told them of our engagement. We were all so blissful and excited. We never knew what was to come. We didn't even know about the opportunity in Denver yet. Our story is amazing!

I remember when I wanted to go see her in Portland and the roads were iced over. I left my car at a park and ride before I caused a wreck. I took the light rail across town then rode a bus to the Eastside shopping mall. The bus to her house was not running because it wasn't safe so I walked the rest of the 4 Miles sometimes having to crawl on my hands and knees to make it up hills in the ice and then I finally made it only to just spend a couple hours with her and fall asleep on her parents couch. Her Dad drove us back the next morning to my car so I could get to work. It was all worth it just to see her for that little extra time. I would have done anything for her.

I remember when she was interviewing for the new position in Denver? I drove all over Portland trying to find little toy cars to help with her illustration about how a team is like a car having all four wheels and how they work together to accomplish a goal. I was so proud of her for giving it her all and succeeding at earning that position. Now that I think of it, that car analogy applies to our family and us. We all need each other to be better and keep on track and be a team. I am so motivated by that and our boys. I lose my way without that and I want to be her reflection and motivation as she has been that for me. I truly thought we brought out the best in each other when we were together.

I remember when we were given tickets to see Fiona Apple. That was so spontaneous and a great way to kick off our time in Denver together. We always used to watch our same movies over and over again. Like the Friends DVDs and White Christmas every winter break and The Wedding Singer. We walked everywhere and lived simply. "I wanna be the guy, who grows old with you"

I remember in our first Denver apartment when we took baths together in our claw foot tub in the big bathroom. We put a board over the top and played cards. I liked playing Uno with her in bed too. She was so funny being slightly color blind and in the dark, mixing up the greens and blues. We played Uno in Breckenridge too at that cool bed and breakfast in the fall.

2006

We had continued fun and adventure in our new home of Denver. She was doing well as a trainer for the bank and I started working in health foods. We went camping in New Mexico a couple times with friends and we both took individual trips to Oregon as well as one together for her uncle's wedding. We had marital spats on occasion but always bounced back. The issues we had seemed like part of a normal marriage and were far better than what I had grown up around. I realized that marriage was a lot of work but I was up for the task. She occasionally became aggressive throwing things at me or breaking things during conflict.  I believed I was the problem and tried to change for her in many ways. With two incomes we still had trouble making our bills at times. She had debts that I never knew about that started to catch up with us but I took care of getting them settled and we paid off her car and traded it for an older Volvo Wagon that we both loved, I even had it repainted her favorite color for a birthday gift. Overall things seemed like they were progressing in a positive way.

I remember when we saw Midnight in concert in Boulder. That was the peak of our hippy days. We were alive with pleasure in our healthy vegetarian diets and practices living in a time and place like no other. I want to be like that again. Reggae was our music. We had much in common.

2007

We really fell into our roles in our marriage and the community; church and culture, friends etc. Things seemed very balanced and appropriate for us at that time and that age (24-25). We had separate bank accounts and jobs. I had money in savings. We started the process of buying a house so we could invest in something. She became pregnant shortly after. I embraced the challenge with positive energy but we were both in for a big change. We started having more fights. I didn't have many friends and would write to old friends via social media just so I could to catch up and tell them things were going great with being married to make myself feel better than I actually did. She hated the dawn of social media and also felt isolated I'm sure. She felt I should be doing more for her and I didn't know how to do what she needed but I failed to ask a lot of the time. After one argument, she left the house. My instinct told me to look at ******* and ******* as a retaliation. I had not done this much once we were married because she always met my needs but when things were difficult between us I felt more emotionally isolated. She walked in and realized what I had been doing. She was very upset, and because she was pregnant, thought I was not attracted to her. The truth is I found her even more beautiful and in fact when I looked at ******* I tried to look at women I found less attractive than her so that I feel good about what I have. I mostly fantasized about how these women were more submissive and loving than her. That is the part I needed to feel good about and feel better about myself with because I felt very dominated and controlled. She has never forgiven me for this and I will never stop feeling sorry to her for my brokenness. During one particular argument that year she was getting close to being violent towards me again and I pushed her away on the chest with my fingertips. She got very mad and said I hurt her. I immediately felt terrible and apologized. I never let something like that happen again. I have always avoided violence towards others especially women and of course her. I was defenseless against physical and emotional abuse.

2008

Our eldest son was born at the beginning of the year, it was a traumatic birth for everyone. We wanted a natural birth with a midwife but we were transferred to a hospital and she ended up having an emergency C-section, nothing went as planned. We had a really hard time coping with the emotions of this experience. A lot of buried feelings and trauma from both of us started coming out. We moved a month later into our new home outside of town. No more walking or biking to places, we had to drive everywhere. This house was next to our friends from church. We thought this would make us feel less isolated but we didn’t really have the community with them that we had hoped for. They were upset that they didn't have a child of their own yet and being around us might have been hard for them. My wife stopped working and stayed home with our son. All these changes made for a very difficult time. I did my best to support them but this was the first time we shared a bank account and needed to follow a budget more than ever before. We had no debt at the beginning of the year with money in savings but then the hospital bills put us down about $7,000 and rising with new home and moving expenses and baby needs. My job could barely keep up. She and I had a hard time adjusting. We could not afford to travel home to Oregon and visit family as much and we felt more and more isolated. She started showing me more signs of instability, locking herself in the bathroom with kitchen knives and scraping her legs which continued off and on for years to come. Talks of divorce and suicide threats seemed to happen more than before. I felt responsible and tried to fix her ever changing issues with me.

I remember when herr ******* were full and swollen with milk. It is so beautiful the way she could feed our babies. I wanted her in every way, our bodies belonged to each other. I was there for her and our shared pleasure. I loved it when she told me that she was mine in the heat of passion. This spark could only be a bandage for so long but I didn't know that yet.

2009

I tried to promote within my company but was not selected, they were cutting budgets and employment all around me. I felt worried about our future. I had always thought the military might be a good opportunity and could move us closer to family back home. My father-in-law encouraged me to look into the Coast Guard. I felt this would be a good way to get moved closer to Oregon.  I ended up joining the Navy because we found out we were pregnant again with our second son and that was the only way I could join a military branch. She worked off and on as a nanny and later in the year at a coffee house working nights. We barely spent time together and when we did it was a lot of hard conversations or arguments about finances with making up intimately in the middle of the night between times of caring for the baby. She once scratched my neck with her fingernails during an argument. People I worked with noticed. It was a hard time and we knew change was on the horizon with jobs and moving. We did visit Oregon that summer though and had a great vacation at the beach with a borrowed 4x4 and staying at a hotel and picnicking out of a cooler as well as going to her brothers wedding. I was 26 and about to join the Navy to provide better for my family at all costs sacrificing myself for their benefit because I would have rather died than look like I didn't try my best for them.

I remember when our babies would kick and move around inside her belly. I loved laying by her and feeling her tummy. I would hum to the baby and hear them move and squirm. I loved giving our boys baths when they were babies too. We had our little bundles of our love, wrapped in a towel in our hands, so tiny and vulnerable. I miss those days and want to remember them with her, aside from this state of melancholy.

2010

The Navy recruiters would only take me if we rented out our home and had her stay with family during boot camp and training. We moved to a furnished apartment in Denver and put our things in storage. She was 5 months pregnant and our eldest was two. I shortly after was let go from my job. Our second son was born in April. I got a contract with the Navy at the last minute but didn't leave until August. We sold our beloved vehicles and lived off retirement funds for six months and moved down to Florida where her parents had just moved out of the blue for work, to stay with them until I left for boot camp. I applied for temporary work in Florida at a dozen places but had no luck in my three months there. I took care of our eldest a lot while she took care of the new baby. Being in Florida was a culture shock for us but we had our moments of romance and made the best of it. Eventually I left for boot camp in August. It was really hard and sad to be gone. She stayed in Florida and came to visit me with the baby at boot camp graduation in October. I then went to Connecticut for five months of training. It was also hard but at least I could call home every day and be in the same time zone. I visited Florida during the winter break and saw my boys and her. We went to Disney world and had a great time on her parents. We also made a romantic home movie I could enjoy while away from her. I flew back to Connecticut and tried to make the best of things. My roommate was very abusive of substances and I resisted the temptation for a long time but the threat of being submarine service bound and missing my family pushed me to drinking every weekend and getting messed up to escape before I left.

I remember when we drove to Key Largo, Florida and stopped at a crazy bird wildlife center. I remember our oldest was so amazed hearing a bird say hello back to us. It was so foreign and fun there. I am glad we all shared that experience together.

I remember our trip to the citrus grove in Florida. That was such a great day for our family. I always look back on that with really fond sentiment. I felt like I was in a beautiful family music video with them.

2011

I finished Submarine Training and got orders back to the Northwest. The plan was all coming together. I arrived first and bought a car and got our items moved from storage in Denver to our townhouse rental in Washington. She and the boys joined me a month later. I didn't report to my Sub for another month as they were at sea. She became pregnant again with our third son right after arriving. We had just bought a small car and were not planning on another child. Towards the end of the year I was working a lot and having a really hard time, being bullied and treated poorly at work plus our financial situation was still very difficult. Adjusting to the military was hard among younger men being 28. I dreaded each day in that environment but I tried to endure it for my family. I went to sea for a couple months at the end of the year stopping in Hawaii and California. During this time She reached out to her ex married affair partner after six years of no contact. She didn't tell me until later. She said she needed closure with him, we were not in counseling yet but she decided this was appropriate. I flew home early from sea and wanted to surprise her. The stress and trauma of this quick transition home after being to sea for the first time (which was also traumatic) made me want to drink and get messed up before flying. I arrived home and surprised her but I seemed off to her which I was but didn’t explain why, I have never done that since. I got to be home for two months almost work free while we celebrated the holidays and prepared for the new baby to be born. She started getting more involved with a church and building a community for us which was great. Our financial struggles almost led us to foreclosure of our home back in Colorado but by the grace of God we got it sold with a short sale just in time.

I remember when I came back from Hawaii and brought her a beaded necklace and she wore it naked with her big beautiful pregnant goddess belly and we made passionate hippy love together. I want to grow out my beard again and spend my life making hippy love and feeling free again.

2012

Our third son was born in January. It was a very positive birth experience and much less stressful than the other two. Shortly after I flew out to finish the other half of the deployment I had missed. I really focused on being positive and spiritually connected by reading my Bible at sea which was helpful. I called her when I arrived in Japan halfway through being gone. She was upset because she tested positive for an STD while trying to get on birth control. I became suspicious of her yet she was suspicious of me. We both got tested again and I was clean, she told me she had a false positive after all. This put a big strain on our trust, especially being so far away. This forced us to be honest with each other about some things such as her contact with her ex lover and my drinking to cope. We were both very upset until I returned home and we could start some counseling to work through things. Forgiveness seemed to be difficult for us. It brought up hurts of the past when we were 19. She also had severe postpartum depression that became worse after each birth. I was still having a hard time with work and the submarine environment. Our church friends tried to counsel us but it was not the most helpful. My submarine was scheduled for extended repairs and not going to sea for three years, I would be transferred before the end of that period. I used this time to bond with her and my boys. I wanted to get better involved in our community and do volunteer work and side jobs to earn extra money. Our boys were all given diagnosis's for autism which begun to fill our lives with appointments and challenges for years to come but we were a good team in dealing with all of it. It gave us something to work together on but took our focus away from working on our own personal issues and relationship with each other as much as we should have.

2013

We had new years with both sides of our family in a snowy mountain setting in Oregon. It looked like it was going to be a great year until her Grandpa passed away suddenly. It ripped our entire family apart but especially her. He kept the family grounded and she was very close to him, he really loved all of us. She and I started going on dates again because we had Navy sponsored child care. It was the beginning of a really good thing for us. Tragically one night after a date we were dancing with the boys on the patio and I tried to pick her up and I lost my balance and fell on her, breaking her collar bone severely. She needed surgery and was very mad at me for years to come. She has a scar, a metal plate and numbness in her chest. We worked through it with our community from church but she still is very mad at me. I feel more terrible about this incident than she could ever know. I would lose a finger in place of that incident if I could. I continued having a really hard time in the Navy and I didn't want to stay in but She insisted our boys needed care only the Navy could offer. She also said she would divorce me if I ever left the Navy. I took this threat seriously even though she assured me later that she would never actually do that. Against my own convictions I reenlisted because I wanted to do the best thing for my family. We moved into base housing at the end of summer and didn’t go out to do things as much anymore. The house was nice but it ****** us in, we also had less community with people around our home. I started volunteering at church more and doing work with special needs people. I felt like I was doing good things and that I had purpose all around. I think she appreciated this about me.

2014

We started seeing a professional counselor together and individually. It became a regular event. I worked on myself and she worked on herself. I had a lot of issues with my Mom and eventually broke off communication with her for my own well-being and the betterment of my family. I got past a lot of the bad feelings I had. She worked on her traumatic experiences and our relationship dynamics. Just when things were going well I got a new boss who made things hard for me and others at work and I started messing up more. I got in trouble for messing up a job at work and was given strike one on my record. She lost respect for me as a provider but I tried to stay strong showing her that I would continue to do my best.

I remember when we had an appointment in Tacoma and we had a brunch date together afterwards. She looked so beautiful that day, I took her picture and was so proud to enjoy  huevos rancheros and momosas with her. I remember going to the Tacoma Art Museum seeing the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, we have a great time together doing new things and feeding each other's interests. I loved laughing with her too, sometimes we just bust up like nobody's around. I loved the sound of her laughter. I loved watching Portlandia with her, it is so funny to remember the funny place where we became close and be able to relate together.

2015

I kept working hard and being involved with family and appointments for my boys and her. I still maintained my volunteer work and part time side jobs. I got strike two with the Navy for messing up again... I had just gained orders to leave the sub for local shore duty. I could not get out of the extended repair situation soon enough. She was very disappointed in me and not so understanding. I worked through this situation with our counselor as did she. He always told her I am a good man and that I do a lot for her and the boys. It's true, I care more than anything about them, I made mistakes and I feel bad especially when I cause my family stress. I left for shore duty in April. It was a hard time adjusting to the new routine but eventually we seemed to make it work. That summer we took a trip to visit Texas where her parents had just moved from Florida. We spent a great night together for our 10th anniversary in a hotel in Texas and went dancing. We had a lot more time together as my work schedule was less. The more people we had in our home working with our kids on issues the less useful my input seemed. I was not included as much in making family decisions because they all seemed to happen while I was at work, despite my objections. We tried to get our budget under control but she still had anxiety discussing spending. She continued to struggle with depression and was put on medication because she had still been harming herself. She was put on Prozac daily and anti anxiety medication as needed. He family members were not very supportive of medication which upset her but I always tried to be supportive in seeking help and continued care for both of us.

2016

We had a busy routine of kids in school now and home school and preschool and appointments for all of us. She wanted to go to church less and less. I started drinking a couple beers at night almost every day. I tried to mask my stress from her mood swings. She decided not to go to church at all anymore and focused teaching the boys about Jewish traditions exclusively which was hard for me to adjust to and confusing for the boys. I loved her and wanted to be supportive. As usual I was submissive and removed myself from the Christian church and some friendships. I feel like we lost our community at that point. We searched for a good place to have a new community with Jewish people but it was like starting over. I felt like I converted to Christianity for her when we got together and now I had to convert again, either way I would have done it for her because I loved her that much. The kids were confused by this change. After trying and failing at many synagogues we finally found one that seemed right for us.

2017

We finally had some money in savings because I kept it a secret and ended up planning a trip to visit her parents in Texas but it fell through due to lack of military flights. Instead we spent three nights away in a nice hotel resort as a family in February. We had three days of pure family time. Playing Battleship and other games in our room as a family, watching movies and eating at all the different restaurants and getting room service. Going swimming everyday in the foggy pool. I love our family and how we can have a great time together doing nothing but at the same time so much. That was so peaceful and relaxing. I wanted to keep doing things like that together as a family before our boys got too old. Shortly after this vacation she wanted to go back to school, then we bought a third vehicle so she could. Shortly after this she changed her mind about school and wanted to buy another house instead. I went along with it to please her and we practically killed ourselves trying to get the move accomplished with not much help or money. We had a good year over all. We got away for a romantic anniversary together in the summer. Just before the boys were going to start public school in the fall, her parents moved back to the area. She had anxiety with this and cut off contact with her parents and brothers for a while. Her Dad called me very upset and I tried to keep the peace until they reconciled. I was doing better with work and made up for lost progress as well as making arrangements to change jobs in the Navy to something more fitting. Since the boys started public school, I planned on leaving for Navy training in my new position after the beginning of the new year when they would be at a more settled place in their routine.

I remember when we went to the Olympic Club for our anniversary and we stayed there for a night away. We drove the long way through the countryside talking about new music that she wanted to share with me and she made notes of it on my phone notepad. We brought our own cooler and picnic that included Session Lagers and chocolate. We checked in to our room and made noisy bohemian love on the edge of the creaky bed in our small European room inches from the door. Then we went to the theater downstairs and watched the late showing of a really interesting Sci-fi movie "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets". We took showers and slept sweetly together. We made love again in the morning before we had a delicious brunch outside on the patio. We took the long way home and drove around on new roads and found our way out of cell phone reception. We figured out the road less traveled to get back to our home. We loved being alone and away together, just one night can make such a difference and mean so much.

I remember going to the Forest Theater to see Tarzan with our boys. That was such a great time. I would love to get our boys into theater and go see them someday. I wanted to keep our dreams and goals together alive and not lose opportunity and fall short by losing our partnership.

I loved going camping in Seabeck. Loading the truck with all our gear and getting away. Archer got sick from the cowboy caviar and I had to clean him and the tent up in the night. I was glad we had each other to be a team in our marriage in that situation as with all the other times. These sorts of things are what escape a person's mind when they are determined to get a divorce.

2018

We had a lot less money than the year before, again buying a house took its toll on finances as did the boys school and after school activities. I stayed very involved taking the boys to appointments and sporting practices. We stopped going to synagogue but tried to practice Judaism at home as much as possible, which I was very supportive of and involved with. She was still depressed and talking about suicide at times. I encouraged her to get help as I always had. Eventually she was diagnosed as Bipolar 2 and manic depressive by a new provider. She started taking new medicine for this and was worried I would want to leave her. I assured her I would never leave her and that I always wanted to work on things with her and help her. I left for training in Mississippi February 8th. It was going to be hard but I thought it might be good to have some time apart from each other to miss one another and reflect on things as well as prepare for times when I would be away at sea. I got in trouble in Mississippi for giving junior personnel a ride and being negligent of people who might be underage and possibly drinking, this became strike three. I never thought this could happen. I became recommend for separation from the Navy shortly after and was stuck in Mississippi for six months instead of six weeks. She was supportive through most of it but seemed to fall into hopelessness. Money was spent by her that we didn't have without discussion. She quietly leased appliances and tires and purchased a vehicle as well as having a secret bank account and email address. I discovered through our insurance company that she wanted to leave our policy for divorce. I didn't know this and she had even told the boys she wanted a divorce before I even knew. I was caught off guard and confused. I kept trying to communicate and reason with her but she didn't want to talk. I refused to give up and wrote emails and a letter but it only seemed to push her away further. By the time I left Mississippi she had filed for divorce and a restraining order against me saying I was unstable and a threat. I couldn't return to my home. My whole life fell apart in just a couple months. I found out she had been talking to other men in the Navy and keeping more secrets. I assumed this was her way of taking control during a difficult situation. I really needed her support during this hard time of transition out of the military. I became homeless, jobless and without my family in a month. I prayed to God that given time things might change between us but it was of no use. Bipolar had consumed whatever was left of my bride and there was no turning back.

I felt that our love was not one to be cast away. Other people might not understand or agree but what we had was truly special. We may have surely needed some time and space to get counseling as well as reconfigure and repair our marriage but I didn't feel like our relationship was irretrievably broken. She was so important to me and I thought she was the love of my life and would always have my heart. I wanted to be her partner in love and life, watching our boys grow up and being there to support each other. Being that she is Bipolar I knew she will need a lot of help and I was more than willing to assist her in making sure she was taking care of herself and not throwing herself into harm's way, ensuring she sticks with a plan we agree to for consistency. I cared about her deeply and had much compassion for her. I didn't believe she was thinking this through or thinking about the future. I really wanted to look at the long and short game with her, neither seemed appealing to me if we progressed but here we are. Things are not going to be easier. She will still have to face her problems and deal with me on a regular basis for the rest of our lives no matter what happens. She can believe her lawyer when they promise she'll get the moon and stars out of this in the end but they only see half of the story. Above all they want our money. It would have been good for her to face me in person and tell me she wanted to divorce and we could have started talking about it with a counselor to figure out how that could even work. Instead she chose to avoid as much responsibility for her actions as possible by doing everything in my absence as if I am not a real person. I had to find out about it from our insurance company and was last to know.

Immediately after I hear the word divorce I looked into her cell usage history and find she has a new military boyfriend that she talks to 20-30 times a day. She felt she owed me no explanation for this and it was none of my business. A mature person would have let me know about this months before and I would have seen it coming but there was no sign until it was seemingly too late. She strayed down a dark path and never turned back.

Her proposed parenting plan was cruel and had no thought put into it. Two hours a week with supervision, no holidays but father's day? She said she’s not trying to keep me from the kids but this is the exact opposite of what she’s saying with the paperwork she filed. She seems very mixed up and still you continues to make rash and sudden choices. Like a completely bogus restraining order against me that contradicts so many facts she has stated herself on record during my Navy retention process. She was so bold as to want to change her identity and even put it in ink on the divorce paperwork as well to a whole new name. That is not the actions of a stable person. She has since changed her mind again on that just as quickly as everything else in her recent life choices. I can't trust that any decisions she is making right now are for the right reasons or that she is of sound mind. I have never seen her so conflicted and confused, grasping at straws and running scared from herself.

Using the legal system so carelessly and going back and forth makes me feel like she is not ready to be making big choices and changes for her and our family. It is very unfair that she can’t consider my feelings on things and what I wish for the boys as well. Very reckless behavior. She can’t anticipate that the day would come where she has to face me and talk to me like an adult. She wants to hide behind the legal system which only leaves much to be unresolved. Ghosting me is not really an option in a marriage of 13 years with children.

Having relationship conversations is too difficult for her at this time and she would rather avoid it and skip to divorce because she thinks that will somehow be easier. I suspect she knows she is making poor choices, possibly out of fear and lust for something new and less painful than the reality of things right now. Our marriage was nowhere close to divorce when I left. She was sad to see me leave and woke with me at 3:30 am to say goodbye, making me coffee and cookies for me to take with.

Our community and accountability seems to be gone due to the continued trend of isolation that she is drawn to. The God fearing loving committed wife I thought I had is gone or trapped inside a terrified shell of herself. She cut me off from her family members and I can't discuss my concerns about her with them either. She only seems to have community with those who are not going to discourage her from these destructive choices.

I understand we have had issues and struggles but we are no worse off than other couples during challenging times. I think that because we loved each other so much it just hurt more when things got hard. I can't accept or believe this is justified or the right choice based on the positive trend we were on before I left. This was the longest break we have ever had from each other and I think she just needed someone to be there more for her, no matter who it was. Time can heal all wounds and I hope that is true for our relationship as co-parents.

She still refuses to tell me about why she wanted a divorce or talk about anything beyond caring for the kids. I have fought the restraining and I can see my boys again but I am still not allowed to my home without her permission.

I have risen from the ashes in just a couple months. I rent a room from a nice couple from our old church and obtained a good paying job while I continue paying the household bills.

This is a really hard time, this difficult spell could have been a tool to better our relationship. I wanted to experience more beautiful memories with her. We had so many more beautiful memories and dreams left to create. This is what marriage looks like to me now as I lower the casket.
This is a timeline of the major events during my 13 year marriage. Amidst the reality, I injected all the lovely memories that refuse to leave my mind.
Xaela San Jul 2018
Dancing under this beautiful moonlight

My wings brought us high as the mountains could reach;

Listening to the songs of the wind whispering in our ears;

As the stars illuminated us with its light

And through our hearts beats in unison

Our love grew strong as time passed;

For I looking in your ever green eyes shines

Our memories, our histories of hardships

Like raging waves of ocean's wrath upon us;

Like you looking in my ever violet eyes

Brings back memories of how we hold our hands

Under those cherry blossoms in spring's time

Of the time we survived the stormy seas;

Of us looking up in the night's sky starry view

And of us looking through our own breath in the winter's cold night

Like you said "you are my darkness and i am your light"

It is a fate of two lovely souls of opposites

Truly one and extraordinary yet never old;

Yet the story of our love was heard from the heavens and hell

Eldest, my master, the God of Gods was disgraced;

Hades, your father, the king of the underworld was disgusted;

For I an angel, a guardian of Eldest's kingdom

Fell in love with the darkness' son;

Our love caused chaos and wrath in the heaven's peace;

And made hell burn a thousand times its self in anger;

Eldest, whom was displease, cast my death

Upon my soul and separated us with his command

Like I, a flower dying with its own roots

Withered and had slowly losing its own life;

Yet as we stand forth and supported each other

Our hearts connected even after death's command

As the reaper stand and awaits to take your soul,

To take you back to the place you belong;

There is nothing we could do but accept this inevitable

As our beating crimson heart cries silently;

For even the Wraths and the Gods do us apart

Our fathers and masters hated this love;

Like the night meets the light at dawn;

Our souls will find its way back in each others arm;

Even us can not cease this burning desire

To never let go of our ties;

In this world or in our illusions

It is our story worth dying with;

Even the history goes on, we shall live in eternity

As the story of the night that meets the light at dawn.
Victor D López Dec 2018
Unsung Heroes

Although I stand on the shoulders of giants,
I fail to see much farther than the bridge of my nose.
The fault in mine. The shame is mine.
For I am unworthy of you, my beloved dead.

Emilio (Maternal Grandfather)
Your crime was literacy,
And the possession of a social conscience,
That made you yearn to see your beloved Spain remain free,
And prevented you from suffering fascists lightly.

You did not bear arms,
For you abhorred all violence,
You did not incite rebellion, though you
Rebelled against the foreign and domestic enemies of freedom.

As best I can tell you were an idealist who,
In a time of darkness,
Clung passionately to the belief,
In the perfectibility of the human spirit.

You would not abide the lies the regional papers carried,
And translated news from American and British newspapers,
About the gathering storm,
Sharing the truth freely with all who would listen.

You gave speeches, and wrote speeches delivered by others, in support of a doomed
Republic collapsing under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption.
You were warned by friends of your imminent arrest and offered passage back to the U.S. or to
Buenos Aires where so many of your friends had already found refuge.

But they would not get your wife and nine children out,
And you refused to leave them to their fate.
They came for you, as always, in the middle of the night,
These cowards with stern faces hiding behind machine guns.

They took you prisoner, not for the first time, to the Castillo de San Anton,
A fortress by a most beautiful, tranquil bay,
Where they tore out your nails, one by one, and those their
Gentlest caresses while they asked you for names.

You endured, God knows what there, for months,
And were sentenced to be shot as a traitor at La Plaza de María Pita.
But the Republic had friends, even among the officers of the fascist forces,
And one of them opened your cell door on the eve of your execution.

You had contracted tuberculosis by then, yet, according to grandmother, you
Managed to swim miles across the bay in a moonless night, to safety in the home of
Another patriot who risked his life and the lives of his family to hide you in
His root cellar and made a trip of many miles on foot to find your wife.

He found your home and told your wife of your unexpected reprieve,
And asked her to send some clothing and some shoes to replace your ***** rags.
You eldest daughter, Maria, insisted on accompanying the stranger back on foot, taking
Clothing and what provisions she could quickly gather and carry to you.

From time to time you accepted the hospitality of an overnight stay
In the attic or hay loft of a
Republican sympathizer as these were not hard to
Find in the fiercely independent
Galicia under the yoke of one of its own. But mostly you lived in the woods, with active guerrillas for years.

You lived with all the comforts of a hunted animal with others who would not yield,
Your only crime consisted of being on the wrong side of a lost cause.
I hope it brought you some comfort to know you were on the right side of history.
It brought none to your wife and none to your youngest children.

As you paid the long penance for your conscience, once a month or so, after some
Time passed, you visited your wife and children. You were introduced to the little ones
As an uncle from afar. They did not know the bearded wild man who paid these visits
In the middle of the night and left wearing dad’s old, clean clothes.

The older ones, Maria, Josefa, Juan and Toñita, all in their teens, told the little ones
That their “uncle” brought news of their dad. The younger children, still wearing the
Frayed cloaks of their innocence, accepted this, not questioning why he stayed in
Mom’s room all night and was gone before they awoke the next morning.

Your grief at playing the part of a stranger in your own home, of not embracing your
Children on whom you doted, one and all, for their protection and yours, as there were
No shortage of fascists who tried to ply them with pastries and candy,
Seeking to use their innocence as a weapon against you.

Your parents were relatively wealthy business owners who farmed the sea but
Disowned you—perhaps for your politics, perhaps for choosing to emigrate and
Refusing to join the family business, or perhaps for marrying for love in New York City
A hard working girl beneath your social station in their eyes.

You lived just long enough to see Spain delivered from war,
Though not freed of her chains.
You were spared the war’s aftermath.
Your wife and children were not.

No books record your name. Most of those who knew you are dead.
Yet flowers have long perpetually appeared on your simple above-ground burial site in
Sada that holds your ashes, and those of your eldest son, Juan, and second-
Eldest daughter, Toñita, who died much younger than even you.

Your wife has joined you there, in a place where
Honor, goodness, decency, principle and a pure,
Broken heart,
Now rest in peace.
You can hear my reading of this poem and some sample sonnets from my Of Pain and Ecstasy collection in a simple YouTube book trailer by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FXkhtOltEc&t=6s
‘To bed! To bed!’
Said Sleepy-head;
‘Tarry awhile,’ said Slow;
‘Put on the pan,’
Said Greedy Nan;
‘We'll sup before we go.’
        (from Mother Goose)

They sat at the kitchen table as
The candle flickered low,
And Greedy Nan put on the pan
To indulge her sister, Slow,
While Sleepy Weepy Annabelle
Blotted her book with tears,
And thought of her Beau from long ago
Who she hadn’t seen for years.

‘Why doesn’t Roger notice me,
Why doesn’t Alan Dell?
I’m wearing the dress cut low for me
And I’ve hitched my skirt as well.
I’ve a pretty turn to my ankle, so
You’d think it would drive them wild.’
‘But men are a mystery,’ said Slow,
‘And Alan Dell’s a child.’

While over the pan stood Greedy Nan,
Was cracking a turkey’s egg,
A lump of yeast and a slice of beast
And a single spider’s leg.
With a wing of bat and an ounce of fat
And a toe of frog for the spell,
She needed to turn her sister off
From her crush on Alan Dell.

For Greedy Nan was the eldest girl
And would have to marry first,
The other two would wait in the queue
Or their fortunes be reversed,
The omelette sizzled, and in the pan
She added before they saw,
A piece of some Devil’s Trumpet plant
For the mating game meant war.

She sliced the omelette into half
And she served them up a piece,
‘Didn’t you want?’ said Annabelle
But Slow enjoyed the feast.
‘I’m not that terribly hungry now
I’ve cooked it up in the pan,
I think I’ll just have a slice of bread,’
Said the scheming Greedy Nan.

They finished up and they sat awhile,
And they mused about their fate,
‘If Greedy Nan isn’t married soon,
For us it will be too late.’
‘I’ve set my sights on a country squire,’
Said Nan, without a blink,
Lured them away from her secret fire
To confuse what they might think.

‘The room is woozy, spinning around,
I’d better get me to bed,’
Said Annabelle, while Slow with a frown
Saw Dwarves dancing in her head.
But Greedy Nan was cleaning the pan
To clear all signs of the spell,
Her back was turned to her sisters, spurned
For the sake of Alan Dell.

And when he came in the morning
Greedy Nan was sat by the door,
While Annabelle and her sister Slow
Were lying dead on the floor,
‘I didn’t mean it to **** them, Al,
It was only a simple spell,’
But as he cuffed and led her away
He frowned, did Alan Dell.

David Lewis Paget
DEW Jun 2016
Into the folds of the dress and the mold.
Though he is old and he has no more sense.
You've never heard this, it hasn't been told,
Of the babbling coot: his all-seeing eye.

Drooling over his woodcarving he waits.
The boys find him, his eyes rolling circles.
Old man! Tell us. What's in this box of dates?
Another box, old mans says, just a box.
And within that box? A little boy grates.
Another box, the old man says, just a box.
The boys chatter with glee at what truth sates.
They run off, "Old man ain't crazy! Just old."

Talking to a black bird, the old man sat.
The boys find him: bird nodding agreement.
Old man! Across the sea! How old's old Pat?
A scratch of the chin. "Why, she's fifteen, boys."
The boys, perplexed, walk away; that was that.
"They'll bury him there," old man said. Bird squawks.

Rocking in chair, whistling his old, old tune.
The men find him looking young than ever.
Old man! Been years! Where's the pirate's treasure?
The men drunkenly wait for the magic.
Old man whispers in the ear of the eldest.
Eldest pulls out map; his eyes almost burst.
The men run off as if chasing the sun.

A shovel shakes off its last bead of dirt.
Tears, precious pearls of sorrow, ease burdens.
The men, swathed in finery, mourn for friend.
"Old man!" New eldest asks, "You knew didn't you?"
Old man titters, "I only saw, boys, see?"
New eldest grabs old man. Birds squawk in trees.
Black clouds ooze across the sky overhead.
Winds rattle the old man's house... death rattles.
The men pull new eldest away from there.
Old man drops to ground. He stands up to stare.
The spooked men run off back to their home town.

A black bird swoops onto old man's shoulder.
" 'Twas my box of dates they showed me that day.
Twas my great grandchild Pat who they spoke of.
And 'twas my gold they were all looking for.
My eye only sees what belongs to me!"

The old man sat down in his rocking chair.
In the moonlight, a glimmer of gold eyes,
spoke of a soulless pirate king's riches.
I hope this is exactly what you were looking for, or a pleasant and haunting surprise, hahaha.

Enjoy! :)

DEW
Andrew T Hannah Jun 2013
A Surreal Epic of Existence

Prelude to the Journey…

I smiled yesterday when I beheld the morning’s brilliant colors,
Etched with gold, across the canvas of the heavens, hanging…
High above all those mountains of the world, gigantic brothers,
A wilderness of clouds, where there can be no human taming.
I did not always smile when I looked up to that noble height…
For I have seen how terrible goodness can be, when untamed.
Once I thought my sojourn in this flesh was from a divine spite,
But now I know it was a gift, and for it I need not be ashamed.
God once walked as I do now, and suffered the same stress…
Betrayal, love, and passions too, though no Church shall admit,
The true nature of divinity, lest all their secret sins they confess!
You are told you are alone in the universe, by leaders so unfit,
That they themselves are fed a diet of lies and stories invented.
But we walked amongst you since the very dawn reincarnated,
Having lost our first flesh in conflicts long past and unlamented.
We guided the steps of ancients, as monuments demonstrated!
And yet we are born as children: your own, and live our span,
The better to remain hid, in plain sight, our faces clever masks.
I am the eldest, and I remember still my kindred’s lofty plan…
And though I wear the human face, I am beset with alien tasks.
Helping they who lack the knowledge to see what lies outside,
You have seen me in the darkness, blazing upon my own pyre.
Where I am waiting to lead the way, where the angels glide…
Anyone can follow, if they are dedicated enough never to tire.
Ironic, since I myself have known helplessness and still oft do,
It is only human after all, and in your form I was so re-forged!
The image of God, whose own blood is in all of us hither unto,
From the first to the last, alpha to omega, like a sharp sword.

Prologue: (My Mask is Slipping)

As a child: I was a servant at the altars of the heart so sacred,
Singing hymns of the immaculate: without seeing the depravity.
It was only when I myself wore the crown of thons, naked…
My spirit exposed through my pain, that I realized the gravity.
What man believes is sacred, is profanity disguised as graces,
And those who lead the sheep to slaughter are mere butchers!
Forcing innocents to wear porcelain masks to hide their faces,
They rob children of their childhood, bound with crude fetters.
As a teenager: I walked in nature, disgusted with all humanity,
My exodus was from those who had defiled all I cared about.
Finding faith in an angel fallen, I discovered my own sanctity,
And in her name I found the means to cleanse my feral doubt.
Then came marriage, and betrayal by a wife I gave up all for,
The dissolution of our union then loneliness without cessation!
A mortal had pierced my flesh, leaving me to bleed on a floor,
My heart was torn from its’ moorings without any elaboration.
But the angel remained to calm my anger and ease my agony,
My only light in the blackness that has overcome my waking!
Reminding me, that I was more than this flesh and mortality…
The angel tries to keep me from harsh trembling and quaking.
And then I see: I am more than my tears and life’s traumas…
I let slip, the mask behind which the scars of my tears etched.
Then I sense the heat of the night more intense than saunas…
As I long to dance with abandon, until time itself is stretched!
Mortals may betray one another with impunity, but never I…
I do not betray; rather I pour my heart and spirit forth whole.
Creating a phylactery, of all I am, and with an innocent eye…
I demand to be loved as I am: pearl white and black as coal!

Canto 1: Sacrifice of the Doll

Part the First: (The Bleeding Shores)

Do not call me, doll, for I have departed your ancient cavern,
You are lifeless, a mere toy, and not a real child in any form!
A boy’s red ruby lips I spy drinking in the dreariest tavern…
Whilst true children singing, frolic in the fields filled with corn.
I am going home, upon the wings of the great silver griffon…
Far from the shores now bleeding red from defiled memories.
There is no return, for me, to the glories of the first ignition…
When the mind eternal, was ignited all with pleasing ecstasies.
In the stars, there are words unheard that I do want to recall,
For I came down so very long ago, among the first to so fall!
Eldritch nightmares born of the stuff of the pure chaos of old,
Are waiting for signs at the threshold to be released by magic.
The forbidden incantations return to my spirit, aflame so bold,
That my spirit nearly forgets: the origins of this time, so tragic.
When children drink, and true children hide themselves apart,
Whilst the waters bleed and the corn withers upon the stalks!
That is a sign that change must come, and so I work my mind.
The face in the moon is a grimace of tormented fear, horror…
Whilst I stand upon the precipice with my hand over my heart,
And amongst the long rows of corn, my black shadow walk!
Watching over the innocents whose souls are of my own kind.
The summer heat turns orange, the moon: in celestial corridors.
My mournful cry can be heard in the sound of the lonely wolf,
And in the wild abandon of the lion when he is on the prowl…
I feel the pain of nature, I long to bring back paradise craved.
I have seen the terror of the land, as the blood ran in the gulf,
Black blood of the earth: which causes living things to howl…
As man has the foolishness, to say what is or is not depraved!

Part the Second: (The Crucified Souls)

The doll is laid lifeless atop the altar, prepared for a sacrifice,
In the cavern where the limestone shapes the wettest arches!
A thing un-living, but with living souls trapped still, as if in ice,
Within the cold porcelain shell that so never with feet marches.
Serpentine blade held high, it drops precise into a doll’s neck,
And it cannot call out, because a doll has not any voice to cry.
A boy walked out of a tavern then, looking like a vile wreck…
Whilst as a man I attend to higher things, my body full purified.
In the voids beneath the spaces, witnessed in the rugged rock,
Voices echo loud in the darkness, calling up names unspoken.
The ferryman brings the souls delivered to him, to a far dock,
Where each must pay the copper coin, the old desired token.
So they come to drink those waters that cure all of life’s ills…
Freed from their porcelain prison to feel death’s darker chills!
Whence came those souls into captivity, no mortal may speak,
But I freed them in an instant, removing the nails that pierce…
Every man is he that was put up on the cross of old Golgotha.
And every woman too, as all were made to feel such torture!
I was there when the primal sacrifice was implanted so weak,
And yet so strong that it endured in the psyche all these years.
That doom was sealed behind a wall of fire long ago in Terra,
So that the stigmata of it might endure, even in the vast future!
Mine was the hand that signaled that doom, mine to release…
Yet, still old illusions persist, and I cannot awaken a multitude.
I, who devised the iron web that enfolds much of what is real,
Cloaking it in unending trickery am, myself, longing for peace.
For I too was entrapped, until my liberation rough and crude!
An angel freed me, and now I strive to break each cruel seal.

Part the Third: (The Return of Light)

Risen from the slumber where colder, electric dreams reside,
The forgotten intelligence is invoked, the arcane spells cast…
The eldritch nightmares return to thence amongst man abide,
Reminding us of the things banished to Hell in some age past.
Mine the hand that raised them up, light in the dagger’s glow,
The stuff of my power left to flow, like blood run swiftly free.
Out of the abyss, rises the girl-child of a lost millennial flame,
She who is the angel reborn lets her illumination clearly show.
And all are blinded who have not the innermost eyes to see!
The unbelievers are, in a single instant put unto lasting shame.
From the star of six points, a goddess works her sacred will,
And as she crosses the scarlet threshold, she brings the light.
For a single instant, all in Heaven and all upon Earth are still,
As the long day ends, bowing before the coming eternal night.
In the darkness, radiance far fairer and so perfect descends,
Whilst those who gather in my name: have lost my true path.
The wrath of angels descend upon their minds, closed shut…
Entrapped in the iron web, they cannot flee of such a prison!
The light blinds them for they never truly saw it, and it rends,
Tearing away the churches built for naught but mortal wrath.
There, the unfaithful ******* themselves: like a wanton ****,
Inventing dogma to pass on, forgetful of logic and of reason!
Faith need not be a fearful thing, yet some have made it thus,
And look for an end to come before they seek their reward.
Whilst they should be creating the paradise they left behind…
But in an image of freedom: rather than of servitude and fuss.
Too much time had been wasted in converting by the sword!
Mankind looks to the light for salvation, their eyes long blind.

Interlude Alpha:
This age is one of barbarism cloaked as gentility to sell lies…
Did you purchase some today by design or mayhap chance?
You should know this era to be neither intelligent nor wise…
Else you would not march, when you would prefer to dance!
My nights are filled with nightmares; my days are too much…
I used to dance with one I loved, and bask in purple sunsets.
Now I am haunted, by so many memories I can never touch,
That it fills me with ****** anger, and countless cold regrets.
I recall how once in desperation, my wrist rode a razor edge,
If it were not for my family I’d not thence have lived beyond.
A man abused as I was, and used like cutters upon a hedge,
Must rise higher than it all in order to survive it all, my friend!
I survived, I transformed, I ascended and in the end became,
So much more than I was, until no more did my spirit erode.
But still I wait in loneliness for a maid to awaken my flame…
And I burn, oh gods I burn until I think that I might explode!
The skies darken more and more, and bright forks crashing,
I hear the drums of fury in the heavens, giants of old winters.
The gods grow angry and I behold trees uprooted smashing!
Angels are trampling the grapes of man; they, the vintners…
I am reminded of when the battleship that sailed all galaxies,
Descended one day amidst clouds boiling with its’ steam…
To lay waste to *****, and Gomorrah, for their indignities!
I was there, when the wicked did perish with a final scream.
And as people mock me, wishing me ill because I am good,
I ask God how long I must be forced to bear such suffering.
But I am not alone, and to many I am in fact misunderstood,
So God forgives, for now; but I have not, his understanding!

Canto 2: Sacrifice of the Spider

Part the First: (The First Smile)

Black skies boil with rage unrepentant, and in righteous fury!
A being made flesh I am, though not of mortal understanding.
In cavernous places I have walked, where demons oft scurry,
And worse places still: in search of a love not too demanding.
In the stucco halls wherein my unmoving throne was raised…
Upon a hill of sorrows where lost souls labor in mundane toil,
I wait and plan to transcend the bonds the faithful so praised.
To my right hand is the altar where fire and sulfur always boil!
I force a smile upon my face, for one will not come as willing,
As in the hours when I was a golden youth filled with ideals…
Which I have paid for dearly, beyond the price of any shilling!
Now I long to pay back those who know not how this feels…
The madness born of solitude, the anger born out of contempt,
For you who despise me without cause, provoking my wrath.
What impunity has man, to think that he might ever be exempt!
When wiser civilizations than yours did sink: in the fiery bath.
Do I speak of Hell, which the faithless do not realize is come?
Nay, for their eyes have been gouged out by their own nails…
I speak of torments, far beyond that which devils have done.
The first smile shall me mine, when every cruel wish so fails…
To save the flesh of those who spit upon me as I walked on,
Never realizing that my face was just a mask, hiding another.
Only the fool pays no any attention to the piper’s lonely song,
Thinking it only a melody passed from a sister unto a brother.
But in what celestial ****** has been born the thing alchemical?
It dwells within me, the secret sin of a bonding long forgotten.
Would that I could force the world to hear music whimsical…
Like unto that which guides my spirit in all that was begotten.

Part the Second: (Cold Revenge)

The blood roses bloom in gardens where desire plants seeds,
I, the hand that waters those hungry beasts whose thirst rises!
In my search for love, I have fed the beasts of desire’s needs,
And what would cause you to blush has, for me, no surprises.
Oh human, with what impunity did you dare to exclaim aloud,
That you believe love to be beyond my reach; and you smile!
Like a coward, you degrade me and run to hide in the crowd,
In your feigned superiority, you make yourself an animal vile.
Conjoining your words to your tongue, like a web to a ceiling,
You become a spider; then flee on eight legs to a filthy nest…
Having already become unworthy of any warm human feeling,
In thinking yourself better, you sink lower than all of the rest!
That means my life is worth, a thousand times, your very own.
I become a creature of the night, and wait for you, oh spider!
Think not that I cannot hear. the creaking of each leg bone…
Your odiousness goes before you, the horse before its’ rider.
And in your own web I catch you, my sharper claws immune,
To your toxic poisons, as cannot ever save your eight eyes…
Which I dash from their sockets, without a fear, and so soon,
That your own pain consumes you, like fire lighting the skies!
Forcing you to recant all that you say, lest pain overcome all,
The powers you thought did not exist do manifest ever visibly.
And I ascended still higher, all the more to relish of your fall…
You should never have resulted to any such childish mockery.
The clocks of your house all melted, for time is not your ally!
In abandonment of the chaos that is joy, your order is ended.
A new order rises in its’ place born of chaos none may deny,
Whilst you sink lower into perdition, for all that you offended.

Part the Third: (The Last Laugh)

An angel appears before me and so thinks herself a goddess,
But to call her an angel is to imply that she holds any beauties.
Those whose ego is larger than their grasp are oft the oddest,
For they fancy themselves perfect, ignorant of their cruelties!
You think love a prize and I a beggar for mere crusts so stale,
That lesser men than I have eaten heartier meals than yours…
But your kitchen is so bare: as your oven goes cold and pale,
Making you prize yourself beyond the worth of your chores!
Like a harlot who charges a fortune for her meager charms…
If you think love a prize, and I a beggar, you are so mistaken.
What you call love is a disease that shames one and harms…
Both mind and soul alike, making the body at last to weaken.
You saw only my mask, and would not dare look beneath…
Making me a phantom in the darkness, lurking in the shades.
Round your neck, your false esteem hangs as a dead wreath,
As I leave you to your barren world, awaiting my handmaids.
They rise from the ashes you leave in your wake, my kindred,
Their hands take me far from where your feet stumble about!
Lie in the cemetery that awaits those who live as though dead,
I cannot raise you incorruptible; you have far too much doubt.
Carried hither by the silent maidens who weep ****** tears…
To my castle, where I shall brood again upon mankind’s way!
I cannot feel regret for those who give in to their foolish fears,
Any more than I can transform a leaden night into golden day!
Such is the power of the alchemist who knows his true limit…
And in the dark arts I was schooled by beings from the abyss.
Thusly, am I set about to transform my creation as I see fit…
We are the demiurges of our realities wanton for any hot kiss!

Interlude Omega:
T
I found this one in my basement. Seems I wrote it a year or two ago but lost it.
Paul S Eifert Jan 2013
It having been decided, herein is pronounced.
Let them know the number of days; let them count the number of days
and the count shall be 180.
Day 1 let him strike his head with his fists and call it "stupid".
Day 5 let the vomiting begin without surcease.
Let him dress for work as if he can.
Let him park and never drive beyond Day 10.
Let him pass out at the toilet.
Let him shed 100 pounds and all his hair.
He shall suffer such indignities as appertain
until he is brought to tears before his eldest son
of whom he shall ask, "Do you believe in miracles?"
Let there be no reprieve, neither for the holidays.
Let him wander out into the snow without a coat
and utter, "So beautiful. So beautiful."
All this in due course to precede the final 3.
The son and he shall smoke a last cigarette on the porch.
He shall proceed to the gurney and not see home again.
Let them gather at the hospice room.
Let him suffer terminal rage
thus shall he be manhandled by the sons.
On that day he shall be bedridden by narcotic.
Let him fall into persistent incoherence.
They shall play the New World by Dvorak.  
He shall not hear.
They shall gather for the Rosary over him.
He shall not hear.
The eldest son shall vow to stay at his side
nor shall he sleep for 72 hours.
The son shall not permit the end to come.
The son shall take his hand and say
"Only God takes it away."
And when the room is empty but for them he shall sing softly
"Today While the Blossoms Still Cling to the Vine"
He shall not hear.
Let them all tell him it is okay to die.
Let the eldest son protest, "It is not okay to die."
In the final hours he shall struggle again
thus to be manhandled by the sons.
Then amid his incoherence he shall look the eldest in the eyes
and solemnly say
"I love you."
These shall be his last words.
Let them check his toes for signs of life.
Let the breathing come infrequently.
Let the breathing cease.
Let the son remain until they pull away the sheet
and display him in his nakedness at last.
All this to be accomplished January 15
in the year of Our Lord.
Remembering you dad. I love you.
Yenson Jul 2018
A while ago in East London, in an area called Poplar
a black man lived with his wife
Quiet, hardworking, law-abiding they both were.
never courted a scandal, never committed a crime
Just went about their business, working for  better tomorrows

Then next door a Scottish family of five moved in
and immediately started borrowing from couple next door
Do you have sugar, do you have bread, can I borrow a fiver
till our Giro arrives next week, please another tenner for Jim
He has to pay a fine.

Empty beer cans littered their doorway, they all drank like fish
fights and arguments rang late into the night
Police visited twice, thrice weekly and it was known Jim burgled.
and was always doing time, when not drunk and fighting
Joan eldest girl was pregnant at sixteen and Tom fourteen had
done two stretches in juvenile detention
Last daughter Kelly was also to end up in the duff at sixteen

Amounts borrowed was now sizable, the odd fiver repaid
stolen items regularly offered and rejected by quiet couple next door
Invites to the black man to visit while Jim in jail politely declined
Come and have a drink with me and my young daughters
No thanks, got to go and cook, my Mrs would be returning soon.

The family from hell has turned the neighborhood to hell
constant break-ins all around
strange men coming and going, fights and noise, beer cans
for carpets, stairwells reeking of ****, Tom and friends and
Marijuana fumes graced the stairs and veranda.
Mrs Scottish and two young daughters constant smiling invitations
to black man next door, duly always deftly rejected.

Black man and Mrs decided to stop lending money
it was all going on beer and smoke and never paid back
By the end of the week, their car had been vandalized and four
wheels removed, racist leaflets started appearing on veranda.
No more smiling coyly invites, now just loud music and loud
intermittent bangs on walls from next door.
We must complain, we most report all this to the Landlords.
No, lets just ignore them, not worth the hassle.

Then it happened, black man arrives home one afternoon
and finds his front door ajar, they had been burgled.
Seething with anger he stormed next door to be met by Mrs S
'you ******* thieves have robbed me, how can you be so low,
after all we've done to try and help you. None of you work, You are a bunch of lazy
workshy, welfare scroungers, you are pathetic lowlife. why don't you go and get a job instead of burgling houses and getting drunk all day long
I will start a petition to move you away from the neighborhood.
You no-good non working class scums'  a disgrace and an affront to the hardworking working classes. You ******* racist bullies, I will show you, you can't
mess with me'

Mrs S smiled wickedly and said, you will see
'character assassination, public humiliation, we'll ruin your life and you'd wish you are dead by the time we finish with you and your chicken legs wife. I will show you who runs the manor in East London.'
You can't do that, black man replied, I have done nothing wrong, you are the bare-faced thieves, you shameless woman. We have had enough of you and your anti-social behaviour. You are not going to mess with us no more!

OH, YES! they can and by jove, they did.
Mrs S retorted' You are the foreigner here, you are the one that would be leaving the country
and going back to your Jungle'.
Black man called wife to tell her, she came home immediately
the police came, no evidence, here's a crime report, get your door
fixed. How about searching next door, we can't, no witnesses.
And then Black man's life changed FOREVER.

Should I write about the intimidation from other white families
in the neighborhood, should I write about how the Local Socialist
Party got involved, and launched a propaganda campaign about a black Conservative member dissing the Working Classes,  should I write about how one of his beloved dogs was
killed, should I write about a rumour campaign that black man was a wife-beater, a ****, a con man, a greedy parasite, should I write about sudden hostilities and bullying at his work place, how his wife was also sacked, about being randomly insulted and abused in the streets, about kids spitting on him, about being shunned inexplicably by locals
he's known for years. Should I write about outrageous fabrication, smears and humiliation.
Should I write about political victimization, about the black man 'who thinks he is better than us all,' about how a wedge was driven between him and his wife, till she broke and upped and left without warning,
should I write about how strangers shouted 'solidarity with the working Class' at him, should I write about daily torments and constant harassment everywhere he goes, should I write about Criminal gang stalking,
should I write about being informed they were going to ruin his career, ruin his marriage and ruin his reputation, check, all done. S I write about how they said they were going to chuck mud at him everywhere he went and blacken his name forever, should i write about pure isolation, about being made a target and being  hounded and stalked and disrespected everywhere. Should I write about how they stated they were going to drive him insane and drive him to suicide.

If so, WE WILL BE HERE ALL DAY.
Just  know that somewhere in London, a decent, law-abiding progressive, and innocent black man, is now on his own, broke, in debts and on Welfare benefits, unable to find a job, friendless and isolated, discredited and shunned.  He is still being stalked, harassed and hounded, round the clock. All for daring to stand up to CRIMINALS.

IS THERE JUSTICE IN THE WORLD?
IS THIS WHAT ENGLAND HAS BECOME?
JP May 2015
I saw you staring blankly in your room
You were lying down, like energy has nowhere to bloom
Mama always deliver you food
You don't eat with us anymore

I heard you cried, Mama told us about it
I understand why and my heart wrenched
I wish I can do or say something, anything
But I don't know what act or words will be soothing

I know your body misses to puff that smoke from a cigarette
It is hard to stop, friends who've been there told me about it
But you had to, we've been telling you to
And because your body is also disappointing you

I wonder where your sweetness has gone to
Maybe they literally seeped into your blood and runs through
Maybe I had inherited it in my veins too
Don't worry I am proud, because this is from you

Worrying has been your hobby lately
Because our youngest still has one more year 'til she finishes her college degree
The house, electricity, water expenses, and the money
Because you could work no more, as per your exhausted and old body

I wanted to tell you that everything's gonna be alright
But, Papa, I cannot lie
I honestly don't know if it will
I am also doubtful, I am also worried

But Papa, as your eldest, I am ready
To take on the responsibility you carried
I know, I know, it'll be heavy
But I can do it, don't worry about me

You have worked hard enough
See, we already came this far
If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have had
The best family I can wish for, and the best of life

So please, be energetic again
Please eat with us again
Please dry your tears
Please get well

Please tell us those sweet-nothings
Or the corny jokes that had us laughing
And we'll tell you, you're still the most handsome being
Our eyes have ever seen

So get a lot of rest
This is just an obstacle, a test
Sit back and relax
Just watch your eldest, just watch
From,
Your eldest
Now about my eldest son; he is strong in many ways.  He is very wise, in the words he says.
My eldest son, as a child; he was very smart.  He had his head on his shoulders; a coward he was not.
One day he became angry with his father, just before it was dark.  He became another son, more like the Incredible Hawk,
After my husband lifted him up off his toes, respect is something he knows.
By, Sandra Juanita Nailing
Victor D López Dec 2018
Victor D. López (October 11, 2018)

You were born five years before the beginning of the Spanish civil war and
Lived in a modest two-story home in the lower street of Fontan, facing the ocean that
Gifted you its wealth and beauty but also robbed you of your beloved and noblest eldest
Brother, Juan, who was killed while working as a fisherman out to sea at the tender age of 19.

You were a little girl much prone to crying. The neighbors would make you cry just by saying,
"Chora, neniña, chora" [Cry little girl, cry] which instantly produced inconsolable wailing.
At the age of seven or eight you were blinded by an eye Infection. The village doctor
Saved your eyesight, but not before you missed a full year of school.

You never recovered from that lost time. Your impatience and the shame of feeling left behind prevented
You from making up for lost time. Your wounded pride, the shame of not knowing what your friends knew,
Your restlessness and your inability to hold your tongue when you were corrected by your teacher created
A perfect storm that inevitably tossed your diminutive boat towards the rocks.

When still a girl, you saw Franco with his escort leave his yacht in Fontan. With the innocence of a girl
Who would never learn to hold her tongue, you asked a neighbor who was also present, "Who is that Man?"
"The Generalissimo Francisco Franco," she answered and whispered “Say ‘Viva Franco’ when he Passes by.”
With the innocence of a little girl and the arrogance of an incorrigible old soul you screamed, pointing:

"That's the Generalissimo?" followed up loud laughter, "He looks like Tom Thumb!"
A member of his protective detail approached you, raising his machine gun with the apparent intention of
Hitting you with the stock. "Leave her alone!" Franco ordered. "She is just a child — the fault is not hers."
You told that story many times in my presence, always with a smile or laughing out loud.

I don't believe you ever appreciated the possible import of that "feat" of contempt for
Authority. Could that act of derision have played some small part in their later
Coming for your father and taking him prisoner, torturing him for months and eventually
Condemning him to be executed by firing squad in the Plaza de Maria Pita?

He escaped his fate with the help of a fascist officer who freed him as I’ve noted earlier.
Such was his reputation, the power of his ideas and the esteem even of friends who did not share his views.
Such was your innocence or your psychic blind spot that you never realized your possible contribution to
His destruction. Thank God you never connected the possible impact of your words on his downfall.

You adored your dad throughout your life with a passion of which he was most deserving.
He died shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. A mother with ten mouths to feed
Needed help. You stepped up in response to her silent, urgent need. At the age of
Eleven you left school for the last time and began working full time.

Children could not legally work in Franco’s Spain. Nevertheless, a cousin who owned a cannery
Took pity on your situation and allowed you to work full-time in his fish cannery factory in Sada.
You earned the same salary as the adult, predominantly women workers and worked better
Than most of them with a dexterity and rapidity that served you well your entire life.

In your free time before work you carried water from the communal fountain to neighbors for a few cents.
You also made trips carrying water on your head for home and with a pail in each hand. This continued after
You began work in Cheche’s cannery. You rose long before sunrise to get the water for
Home and for the local fishermen before they left on their daily fishing trips for their personal water pails.

All of the money you earned went to your mom with great pride that a girl could provide more than the salary of a
Grown woman--at the mere cost of her childhood and education. You also washed clothes for some
Neighbors for a few cents more, with diapers for newborns always free just for the pleasure of being
Allowed to see, hold spend some time with the babies you so dearly loved you whole life through.
When you were old enough to go to the Sunday cinema and dances, you continued the
Same routine and added washing and ironed the Sunday clothes for the young fishermen
Who wanted to look their best for the weekly dances. The money from that third job was your own
To pay for weekly hairdos, the cinema and dance hall entry fee. The rest still went to your mom.

At 16 you wanted to go to emigrate to Buenos Aires to live with an aunt.
Your mom agreed to let you--provided you took your younger sister, Remedios, with you.
You reluctantly agreed. You found you also could not legally work in Buenos Aires as a minor.
So you convincingly lied about your age and got a job as a nurse’s aide at a clinic soon after your arrival.

You washed bedpans, made beds, scrubbed floors and did other similar assigned tasks
To earn enough money to pay the passage for your mom and two youngest brothers,
Sito (José) and Paco (Francisco). Later you got a job as a maid at a hotel in the resort town of
Mar del Plata whose owners loved your passion for taking care of their infant children.

You served as a maid and unpaid babysitter. Between your modest salary and
Tips as a maid you soon earned the rest of the funds needed for your mom’s and brothers’
Passage from Spain. You returned to Buenos Aires and found two rooms you could afford in an
Excellent neighborhood at an old boarding house near the Spanish Consulate in the center of the city.

Afterwards you got a job at a Ponds laboratory as a machine operator of packaging
Machines for Ponds’ beauty products. You made good money and helped to support your
Mom and brothers  while she continued working as hard as she always had in Spain,
No longer selling fish but cleaning a funeral home and washing clothing by hand.

When your brothers were old enough to work, they joined you in supporting your
Mom and getting her to retire from working outside the home.
You lived with your mom in the same home until you married dad years later,
And never lost the bad habit of stubbornly speaking your mind no matter the cost.

Your union tried to force you to register as a Peronista. Once burned twice cautious,
You refused, telling the syndicate you had not escaped one dictator to ally yourself with
Another. They threatened to fire you. When you would not yield, they threatened to
Repatriate you, your mom and brothers back to Spain.

I can’t print your reply here. They finally brought you to the general manager’s office
Demanding he fire you. You demanded a valid reason for their request.
The manager—doubtless at his own peril—refused, saying he had no better worker
Than you and that the union had no cause to demand your dismissal.

After several years of courtship, you and dad married. You had the world well in hand with
Well-paying jobs and strong savings that would allow you to live a very comfortable life.
You seemed incapable of having the children you so longed for. Three years of painful
Treatments allowed you to give me life and we lived three more years in a beautiful apartment.

I have memories from a very tender age and remember that apartment very well. But things changed
When you decided to go into businesses that soon became unsustainable in the runaway inflation and
Economic chaos of the Argentina of the early 1960’s. I remember only too well your extreme sacrifice
And dad’s during that time—A theme for another day, but not for today.

You were the hardest working person I’ve ever known. You were not afraid of any honest
Job no matter how challenging and your restlessness and competitive spirit always made you a
Stellar employee everywhere you worked no matter how hard or challenging the job.
Even at home you could not stand still unless there was someone with whom to chat awhile.

You were a truly great cook thanks in part to learning from the chef of the hotel where you had
Worked in Mar del Plata awhile—a fellow Spaniard of Basque descent who taught you many of his favorite
Dishes—Spanish and Italian specialties. You were always a terribly picky eater. But you
Loved to cook for family and friends—the more the merrier—and for special holidays.

Dad was also a terrific cook, but with a more limited repertoire. I learned to cook
With great joy from both of you at a young age. And, though neither my culinary skills nor
Any aspect of my life can match you or dad, I too am a decent cook and
Love to cook, especially for meals shared with loved ones.

You took great pleasure in introducing my friends to some of your favorite dishes such as
Cazuela de mariscos, paella marinera, caldo Gallego, stews, roasts, and your incomparable
Canelones, ñoquis, orejas, crepes, muñuelos, flan, and the rest of your long culinary repertoire.
In primary and middle school dad picked me up every day for lunch before going to work.

You and he worked the second shift and did not leave for work until around 2:00 p.m.
Many days, dad would bring a carload of classmates with me for lunch.
I remember as if it were yesterday the faces of my Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, German, Irish
And Italian friends when first introduced to octopus, Spanish tortilla, caldo Gallego, and flan.

The same was true during college and law school.  At times our home resembled an
U.N. General Assembly meeting—but always featuring food. You always treated my
Closest friends as if they were your children and a number of them to this day love
You as a second mother though they have not seen you for many years.

You had tremendous passion and affinity for being a mother (a great pity to have just one child).
It made you over-protective. You bought my clothes at an exclusive boutique. I became a
Living doll for someone denied such toys as a young girl. You would not let me out of your sight and
Kept me in a germ-free environment that eventually produced some negative health issues.

My pediatrician told you often “I want to see him with ***** finger nails and scraped knees.”
You dismissed the statement as a joke. You’d take me often to the park and to my
Favorite merry-go-round. But I had not one friend until I was seven or eight and then just one.
I did not have a real circle of friends until I was about 13 years old. Sad.

I was walking and talking up a storm in complete sentences when I was one year old.
You were concerned and took me to my pediatrician who laughed. He showed me a
Keychain and asked, “What is this Danny.” “Those are your car keys” I replied. After a longer
Evaluation he told my mom it was important to encourage and feed my curiosity.

According to you, I was unbearable (some things never change). I asked dad endless questions such as,
“Why is the sun hot? How far are the stars and what are they made of? Why
Can’t I see the reflection of a flashlight pointed at the sky at night? Why don’t airplanes
Have pontoons on top of the wheels so they can land on both water and land? Etc., etc., etc.

He would answer me patiently to the best of his ability and wait for the inevitable follow-ups.
I remember train and bus rides when very young sitting on his lap asking him a thousand Questions.
Unfortunately, when I asked you a question you could not answer, you more often than not made up an answer Rather than simply saying “I don’t know,” or “go ask dad” or even “go to hell you little monster!”

I drove you crazy. Whatever you were doing I wanted to learn to do, whether it was working on the
Sewing machine, knitting, cooking, ironing, or anything else that looked remotely interesting.
I can’t imagine your frustration. Yet you always found only joy in your little boy at all ages.
Such was your enormous love which surrounded me every day of my life and still does.

When you told me a story and I did not like the ending, such as with “Little Red Riding Hood,”
I demanded a better one and would cry interminably if I did not get it. Poor mom. What patience!
Reading or making up a story that little Danny did not approve of could be dangerous.
I remember one day in a movie theater watching the cartoons I loved (and still love).

Donald Duck came out from stage right eating a sandwich. Sitting between you and dad I asked you
For a sandwich. Rather than explaining that the sandwich was not real, that we’d go to dinner after the show
To eat my favorite steak sandwich (as usual), you simply told me that Donald Duck would soon bring me the sandwich. But when the scene changed, Donald Duck came back smacking his lips without the sandwich.

Then all hell broke loose. I wailed at the top of my lungs that Donald Duck had eaten my sandwich.
He had lied to me and not given me the promised sandwich. That was unbearable. There was
No way to console me or make me understand—too late—that Donald Duck was also hungry,
That it was his sandwich, not mine, or that what was on the screen was just a cartoon and not real.

He, Donald Duck, mi favorite Disney character (then and now) hade eaten this little boy’s Sandwich. Such a Betrayal by a loved one was inconceivable and unbearable. You and dad had to drag me out of the theater ranting And crying at the injustice at top volume. The tantrum (extremely rare for me then, less so now) went on for awhile, but all was well again when my beloved Aunt Nieves gave me a ******* with jam and told me Donald had sent it.

So much water under the bridge. Your own memories, like smoke in a soft breeze, have dissipated
Into insubstantial molecules like so many stars in the night sky that paint no coherent picture.
An entire life of vital conversations turned to the whispers of children in a violent tropical storm,
Insubstantial, imperceptible fragments—just a dream that interrupts an eternal nightmare.

That is your life today. Your memory was always prodigious. You knew the name of every person
You ever met, and those of their family members. You could recall entire conversations word for word.
Three years of schooling proved more than sufficient for you to go out into the world, carving your own
Path from the Inhospitable wilderness and learning to read and write at the age of 16.

You would have been a far better lawyer than I and a fiery litigator who would have fought injustice
Wherever you found it and always defended the rights of those who cannot defend themselves,
Especially children who were always your most fervent passion. You sacrificed everything for others,
Always put yourself dead-last, and never asked for anything in return.

You were an excellent dancer and could sing like an angel. Song was your release in times of joy and
In times of pain. You did not drink or smoke or over-indulge in anything. For much of your life your only minor Indulgence was a weekly trip to the beauty parlor—even in Spain where your washing and ironing income
Paid for that. You were never vain in any way, but your self-respect required you to try to look your best.

You loved people and unlike dad who was for the most part shy, you were quite happy in the all-to-infrequent
Role as the life of the party—singing, dressing up as Charlie Chaplin or a newborn for New Year’s Eve parties with Family and close friends. A natural story-teller until dementia robbed you of the ability to articulate your thoughts,
You’d entertain anyone who would listen with anecdotes, stories, jokes and lively conversation.

In short: you were an exceptional person with a large spirit, a mischievous streak, and an enormous heart.
I know I am not objective about you, but any of your surviving friends and family members who knew you
Well will attest to this and more in a nanosecond. You had an incredibly positive, indomitable attitude
That led you to rush in where angels fear to treat not out of foolishness but out of supreme confidence.

Life handed you cartloads of lemons—enough to pickle the most ardent optimist. And you made not just
Lemonade but lemon merengue pie, lemon sorbet, lemon drops, then ground up the rind for sweetest
Rice pudding, flan, fried dough and a dozen other delicacies. And when all the lemons were gone, you sowed the Seeds from which extraordinarily beautiful lemon trees grew with fruit sweeter than grapes, plums, or cherries.

I’ve always said with great pride that you were a far better writer than I. How many excellent novels,
Plays, and poems could you have written with half of my education and three times my workload?
There is no justice in this world. Why does God give bread to those without teeth? Your
Prodigious memory no longer allows you to recognize me. I was the last person you forgot.

But even now when you cannot have a conversation in any language, Sometimes your eyes sparkle, and
You call me “neniño” (my little boy in Galician) and I know that for an instant you are no longer alone.
But too son the light fades and the darkness returns. I can only see you a few hours one day a week.
My life circumstances do not leave me another option. The visits are bitter sweet but I’m grateful for them.

Someday I won’t even have that opportunity to spend a few hours with you. You’ll have no
Monument to mark your passing save in my memory so long as reason remains. An entire
Life of incalculable sacrifice will leave behind only the poorest living legacy of love
In your son who lacks appropriate words to adequately honor your memory, and always will.


*          *          *

The day has come, too son. October 11, 2018. The call came at 3:30 am.
An hour or two after I had fallen asleep. They tried CPR in vain. There will be no more
Opportunities to say, “I Love you,” to caress your hands and face, to softly sing in your ear,
To put cream on your hands, or to hope that this week you might remember me.

No more time to tell you the accomplishments of loved ones, who I saw, what they told me,
Who asked about you this week, or to pray with you, or to ask if you would give me a kiss by putting my
Cheek close to your lips, to feel joy when you graced me with many little kisses in response,
Or tell you “Maybe next time” when as more often than not the case for months you did not respond.

In saying good bye I’d give you the kiss and hug Alice always sent you,
Followed by three more kisses on the forehead from dad (he always gave you three) and one from me.
I’d leave the TV on to a channel with people and no sound and when possible
Wait for you to close your eyes before leaving.

Time has run out. No further extensions are possible. My prayers change from asking God to protect
You and by His Grace allow you to heal a little bit each day to praying that God protect your
Soul and dad’s and that He allow you to rest in peace in His kingdom. I miss you and Dad very much
And will do so as long as God grants me the gift of reason. I never knew what it is to be alone. I do now.

Four years seeing your blinding light reduced to a weak flickering candle in total darkness.
Four years fearing that you might be aware of your situation.
Four years praying that you would not feel pain, sadness or loneliness.
Four years learning to say goodbye. The rest of my life now waiting in the hope of seeing you again.

I love you mom, with all my heart, always and forever.
Written originally in Spanish and translated into English with minor additions on my mom's passing (October 2018).
Tweedledee said to Alice, "You like poetry-"

"Ye-es, pretty well-some poetry," Alice said doubtfully.

"What shall I repeat to her," said Tweedledee, looking round at
Tweedledum with great solemn eyes.

"'The Walrus and the Carpenter' is the longest," Tweedledum replied,
giving his brother an affectionate hug.

Tweedledee began instantly:

The Walrus And The Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright-
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done-
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead-
There were no birds to fly

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "It would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept for half a year,
Do you suppose," the walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O, Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head-
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat-
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more-
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.


"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed-
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue,
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?"

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf-
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none-
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
Jacob Oates Jun 2014
I get accused of a lot of things at first glance

"You're simplistic, you're hiding something

You have no convictions, you don't think deeply"

Usually by those who I consider to be on intellectual crutches

If you're gonna come up to talk to me from a religious context

from a spiritual context

from a hierarchical, metaphysical, eat this **** popsicle mindset

Don't expect me to swallow

Don't expect me to talk

You won't like what I have to say

Because really you just want me to agree with you

If you want me to respect your framework

When you have nothing but the claims of quacks

and the feelings you gleaned from your last psychedelic trip

to back you up

While I have to sit back and listen to how I'm close minded

Close minded for wanting some real truth in this universe

unfiltered, raw, verifiable, and in my hand

and that anything other than that is a spray paint over

my true awakening

Then I guess I'll just have to be that *******

to die for these intellectual sins

The Eldest Son of Matt, hater of pretense

Hypocrite to the highest level

Build me up into a figure of idolatry

Just like you do with the rest of your ego cases

Priests, Gurus, Rabbis, Rockstars, Poet sensations

Tell me how wonderful it is to listen to them

Tell me how I should be more in touch with a tree

Tell me how I don't dream

When all my life is but that

Tell me how I'm not deep when you make no attempt to learn

Who I am, and where I have come from

Misinterpret my teachings, and claim me to feel

As if I was the newest son of god

When all I want is for people to get beyond blinders

and love each other, and to get beyond the metaphysical rat race

Tell me that I'm supposed to live and let live

While you jam your beliefs down my throat

and expect me to respect getting philosophically tea bagged

******* to the crucifix

and asking me to repent for my search for truth
I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.
Sally A Bayan Jan 2014
(A Stir of Fear)

A deep sigh seemed to have done some good.
Looking at her, anticipating, expecting...
Waiting for friends to arrive
In a place unknown to us both....
So lovely in her silence,
While going through a moment of anxiety.
It creates within me, a STIR OF FEAR...
Must I leave her? I must teach her, to be on her own,
Now...now? But how? Oh, how it breaks me...
There she stands, tall, in her black shirt,
Walking shorts, rubber shoes, backpack and
Electric guitar hanging on her shoulders...
Her hair, gathered in a bun at the back....
So naive, simply, effortlessly beautiful.
How do you let go of your eldest,
First granddaughter...soon to be sixteen,
When you are fully aware of the perils
That surround the outside world,
Even in broad daylight?
Aware of her innocence, her beauty, and
Most importantly,
The elements that could jeopardize her safety .....
Do I wait for her?
Do I watch her while with her friends?
Let her know, I mistrust everyone around her?
Almost told her I would wait for her outside...
It wasn't mine, it was against everyone's,
But it was her choice that I had to respect.
So, I left her there in her friend's house...
Dark street, dark alley, dark-colored gate,
Dark house, dark garden lights, everything
Was dark to my eyesight that very moment...

There was no peaceful moment, while at home.
The rocking chair at the veranda was a refuge...
My ever-faithful friend, kept me company...
There, I rocked myself, slowly, endlessly,
With the hope of my fears disappearing...
Thinking of what somebody once told me:
"There is nothing to fear, but fear itself..."

It had been a long day, a long night as well...
My bed time...but first, I gratified myself....
Took a glimpse inside the kids' room,
Where my eldest granddaughter,
Too tired to go straight to
Their house next door,
Was sound asleep,
Comfortable and warm
Safe from harm,
Here in my house.

And yet....
There are questions still running in my mind:
She has her parents, why do I worry so much?
How much longer can I protect her?
How much longer must I shelter her?
How do I deal with my next equally lovely
Granddaughter, also long-haired, tall,
Also with her own guitar and backpack,
When it is her time to go to a friend's house?
Will I still be around when it is time for the
Three younger girls to visit their friends, too?
Oh, God!  
The ordeal of first times never ends.

(For Ashleigh)


Sally

Copyright 2014
Rosalia Rosario A. Bayan
You always read about it:
the plumber with twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
From diapers to Dior.
That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman
who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.

Once
the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the big event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That's the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little gold slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she'd better
get home. The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax
and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
The don't just heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.
A-McIntyre May 2018
We never had enough when we were young.
We never needed much, but the exact amount was unknown.
We never got enough; toys food or clothes.
We didn't need that much, so "barely" was the most.

We never got enough of your time.
We didn't understand, the eldest not yet nine.
We didn't get enough, affection or warmth.
We never took for granted, but your time spent was short.

We didn't want more than enough, somehow understanding all you had.
We never asked for much: to play or share or cuddle.
We never got that, you liked to stay in your bubble.
We didn't ask for this, to be born, or brought into your life.

We didn't choose the love, or the lack thereof.
We didn't need the money, you hid away from us.
We had enough for us four, your greed was just because.
We had enough, We had enough, We had enough.

We had enough time, to learn proper affection.
We had enough vocabulary for simple conversation.
We had enough feelings, to know you didn't care.
We were not selfish, so why didn't you share?

Was it that we weren't enough, you needed a new man?
Was it that we weren't calm enough, it got out of hand?
Was it that you didn't have enough, of the finer things in life?
Was it that you didn't think enough, before becoming an underage wife?

Now we live out our lives, believing we aren't enough.
Now we live out our lives, always trying to be more, never being enough.
Now we live out our lives, working hard at enough.
Now we live out our lives, still not understanding the problem wasn't us.
the song of my existance.
Kelly Bitangcol Oct 2016
Every person in this world has a name. Of course, the first thing in life that makes us all different is our name. Or names, perhaps. I know someone who has four names, Marie France Antoinette Anne. I’m friends with someone who has 3 names, Eivram Jan Heaven. Even though 3-4 names are probably hard to have, it’s kind of amazing because it adds a lot to your singularity. And the best example of them all are two names, my best friend’s name is Khelsy Gayle, my eldest sister’s: Christina Andrea, my other sister’s name is Francesca Julia and my name is Kelly Denise. And we all here, don’t even bother to deny it, has a nickname. My best friend’s name is Chellsie and everybody calls her Che. Both of my classmates are both Joshua, and they only have one name, so my teacher, in order for us to not be confused, decided to call the one who has a surname that starts with C, JC and the surname that starts with D, JD and until now we still call them by those names. And in some cases, we pick nicknames by different choices. My eldest sister’s nickname is Zoe and my other sister’s nickname is Franny because my mom loved JD Salinger so much that she named my sisters from her favourite fictional siblings. Maybe my mother wasn’t expecting me, so she didn’t name me from an iconic literary character, or a famous philosopher. Instead, she called me with a nickname that I will be known till the day that I die, it’s called ‘Keidy’. And, to be honest, I hate that nickname. But hey, I have no choice. Or we can all be known for the things that we did. Daenerys Targaryen has a lot of names, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Protector of the realm and so on and so forth. Or you can be Arya Stark, who is  No One. An example of a name that people force to be known as but they will never achieve because she will always be Arya Stark of Winterfell.

You see, names are wonderful. It's a proof that everyone in this world, is different. And what a magical thing it is, living in the same world with different people who have different views. And to mention, same views. We all here share same views, and maybe, some of us here even share the same name.

But in every woman’s life, we share the same names. People call us with names that we don’t even have. Each of us have been called or will be called these names.


You will call us, doll. You told us we have so much cuteness in us and we are as beautiful as dolls, and we don’t have any problem with that. Little did we know that some of you don’t really admire our beauty but instead think of us as toys. Toys that you can control, toys that you think would do everything that you want. You will teach us what that we should do, you will teach us what to say and how we should act, you will teach us everything like you own us. And after we do everything that you told us to you will call us good girls.  Good girl,  continue following me.  Good girl,  get ready for more, like we are toys. But of course, you will not call us toys because girls and toys are the same for you, right?

We were taught to be clean, we were raised to be pure. That chastity is the most important thing that every woman should have. And for sure, you all want our purity, but when we disagree like we were taught to you will call us prudes. ***** for choosing who I open up to. ***** for not letting you inside my temple when I am the landlord making choices.  ***** for saying no, because your ego is far more important than my consent. And when we say yes, you will call us *****. Choosing what to do to your own body is a not a thing you should do. Expressing your sexuality is a sin to this world when you’re the one who does it. A woman’s pleasure, is not a real thing. Because we’re not allowed to have one, because we are known for giving one. We are known as ******, as women who are not clean and pure. Who spend their lives offering their bodies like they're the only thing that we can offer. You will shame us for being filthy and disgusting when you’re the reason why we are here in the first place. We are here to pleasure you, to give you what you want. But when we are the ones who would like to experience it, the world suddenly goes mad. We should not experience any pleasure but they can all the time. And when we finally speak for what’s right, our names will suddenly become *******. A ***** for speaking up, a ***** for doing the thing that I should have done ages ago, a ***** for fighting back. A ***** for being strong to be able to remove the tight grip of your hands to my mouth that has been keeping it shut, a ***** for removing the word ’silence’ in my vocabulary, a ***** for being brave to destroy the power that have kept me powerless for a long time.

Woman, I agree that we should be called names. We should be known as fire, a fire so powerful that can lit up the entire world, and burn you for playing with us the entire time. We are warriors fighting for the right thing, warriors that are strong enough to combat all the wrong doings. We are magic,we can do things that everyone never expected we could. Our mind, is the most beautiful place anyone will ever come across.
We are women, and that one word, is more than enough to make people know our value. Woman, the next time they will call you names you do not approve of, tell them. Woman, the next time they lecture you with the things you should do knowing you have your own decisions in life, **** them with your independence. Woman, make them tremble when they realise you are one. Woman, prove them all wrong. Woman, the next time they belittle you; do not let them.
prose free verse feminism women misogyny sexism
If you danced from midnight
to six A.M. who would understand?

The runaway boy
who chucks it all
to live on the Boston Common
on speed and saltines,
******* in the duck pond,
rapping with the street priest,
trading talk like blows,
another missing person,
would understand.

The paralytic's wife
who takes her love to town,
sitting on the bar stool,
downing stingers and peanuts,
singing "That ole Ace down in the hole,"
would understand.

The passengers
from Boston to Paris
watching the movie with dawn
coming up like statues of honey,
having partaken of champagne and steak
while the world turned like a toy globe,
those murderers of the nightgown
would understand.

The amnesiac
who tunes into a new neighborhood,
having misplaced the past,
having thrown out someone else's
credit cards and monogrammed watch,
would understand.

The drunken poet
(a genius by daylight)
who places long-distance calls
at three A.M. and then lets you sit
holding the phone while he vomits
(he calls it "The Night of the Long Knives")
getting his kicks out of the death call,
would understand.

The insomniac
listening to his heart
thumping like a June bug,
listening on his transistor
to Long John Nebel arguing from New York,
lying on his bed like a stone table,
would understand.

The night nurse
with her eyes slit like Venetian blinds,
she of the tubes and the plasma,
listening to the heart monitor,
the death cricket bleeping,
she who calls you "we"
and keeps vigil like a ballistic missile,
would understand.

Once
this king had twelve daughters,
each more beautiful than the other.
They slept together, bed by bed
in a kind of girls' dormitory.
At night the king locked and bolted the door
. How could they possibly escape?
Yet each morning their shoes
were danced to pieces.
Each was as worn as an old jockstrap.
The king sent out a proclamation
that anyone who could discover
where the princesses did their dancing
could take his pick of the litter.
However there was a catch.
If he failed, he would pay with his life.
Well, so it goes.

Many princes tried,
each sitting outside the dormitory,
the door ajar so he could observe
what enchantment came over the shoes.
But each time the twelve dancing princesses
gave the snoopy man a Mickey Finn
and so he was beheaded.
****! Like a basketball.

It so happened that a poor soldier
heard about these strange goings on
and decided to give it a try.
On his way to the castle
he met an old old woman.
Age, for a change, was of some use.
She wasn't stuffed in a nursing home.
She told him not to drink a drop of wine
and gave him a cloak that would make
him invisible when the right time came.
And thus he sat outside the dorm.
The oldest princess brought him some wine
but he fastened a sponge beneath his chin,
looking the opposite of Andy Gump.

The sponge soaked up the wine,
and thus he stayed awake.
He feigned sleep however
and the princesses sprang out of their beds
and fussed around like a Miss America Contest.
Then the eldest went to her bed
and knocked upon it and it sank into the earth.
They descended down the opening
one after the other. They crafty soldier
put on his invisisble cloak and followed.
Yikes, said the youngest daughter,
something just stepped on my dress.
But the oldest thought it just a nail.

Next stood an avenue of trees,
each leaf make of sterling silver.
The soldier took a leaf for proof.
The youngest heard the branch break
and said, Oof! Who goes there?
But the oldest said, Those are
the royal trumpets playing triumphantly.
The next trees were made of diamonds.
He took one that flickered like Tinkerbell
and the youngest said: Wait up! He is here!
But the oldest said: Trumpets, my dear.

Next they came to a lake where lay
twelve boats with twelve enchanted princes
waiting to row them to the underground castle.
The soldier sat in the youngest's boat
and the boat was as heavy as if an icebox
had been added but the prince did not suspect.

Next came the ball where the shoes did duty.
The princesses danced like taxi girls at Roseland
as if those tickets would run right out.
They were painted in kisses with their secret hair
and though the soldier drank from their cups
they drank down their youth with nary a thought.

Cruets of champagne and cups full of rubies.
They danced until morning and the sun came up
naked and angry and so they returned
by the same strange route. The soldier
went forward through the dormitory and into
his waiting chair to feign his druggy sleep.
That morning the soldier, his eyes fiery
like blood in a wound, his purpose brutal
as if facing a battle, hurried with his answer
as if to the Sphinx. The shoes! The shoes!
The soldier told. He brought forth
the silver leaf, the diamond the size of a plum.

He had won. The dancing shoes would dance
no more. The princesses were torn from
their night life like a baby from its pacifier.
Because he was old he picked the eldest.
At the wedding the princesses averted their eyes
and sagged like old sweatshirts.
Now the runaways would run no more and never
again would their hair be tangled into diamonds,
never again their shoes worn down to a laugh,
never the bed falling down into purgatory
to let them climb in after
with their Lucifer kicking.
Izzy Stoner Jul 2013
Three kids sit in a beech tree, high above a stream.
The eldest at the top

The youngest two branches below

And the middle child one below him.
                              Stupid,
                                        brave
                                                  and sensible.
Each one of them grasping out... farther than they had first anticipated
To reach the next limb of the tree.
They watch the sun set over long grass
and are content not to talk.
Just to be there.
They have argued all day but they know with absolute certainty
they will forgive each other by tomorrow.
Because that is what it means to have siblings.
Nat Lipstadt Jan 2018
based on the essay in the notes below
which was forwarded to me by Liz Balise
<>
all poems and their accompaniment sauces commence with onions,
that start by fouling the air, bringing forth only unrestricted tearings,
but then...

the slow cooking elicits the sugars hid within,
the unpleasant odor, refined into something
minted new sweet and savory.

so too, the poem must simmer, slow cooked,
harmonizing the caramelizing,
even if some ingredients
claim the first born birthright of the eldest first essential,
despite the collective harmonizing.

the ripened color of the blood red tomatoes,
the ruddy cheery sanguinity of
certain words in each poem,
are the coloration of its entirety -
the ones your never forgive for never letting you forget them!

what matters not but how, the daring to substitute the new how,
how you chef see it and color it with the crazy way how
you beckon us over one by one to the big *** for a tasting
accepting critiques and suggestions, a thousand pinches
of your salty sweet essences.

and the recipe is dog stained and pointy corner ear-edged,
cause you cannot exactly write it down, and you bend the corner
for every substitution and variation,
cause every poem
made to taste the how of us,
each one a subtle different.

everyone understands metaphor,
even the society of the reticent ones in the back row,
just say the “trapdoor of depression” and they’ll nod knowingly,
so say to them a poem is a metaphor for you,
and spaghetti sauce is how you see, recreate in words,
how you need to add an ingredient of yourself
to this one,
a word, a phrase, becomes you,
becoming you in it,
in you,
you in it are both poet and poem,

a simmering new and different

————————————————————————-


A Well Written Essay— The Spaghetti Sauce Method

As a teacher and a learner, I have always wanted to see the "nuts and bolts" of everything. Yes, it slows the process down, but the learning is more complete, and a person becomes capable of making endless connections of understanding, branching to other  creative possibilities. Writing like dancing, and all that is worth learning, deserves all of the pieces and steps of the process.
I remember telling my students every year that grammar could indeed be a dry bone, but necessary in the process of good communication. Told them that I would teach writing by the "spaghetti sauce method" (Visualize their perplexed faces here.). "A well-written essay should be like a really good sauce-- smooth, fine textured, with a complete harmony of meat, sweet, tomato, and seasonings-- not one overpowering the others, but all in marvelous union of great flavor and aroma."
I continued, giving the example of my mother's
(God rest 'er) Irish spaghetti sauce" as a contrast. "Mama would throw in onions, peppers (if she had ‘em), hamburger, salt and pepper, fry it all in corn oil, and mix with two cans of plain tomato sauce. This was all okay with me," I went on,“ till I experienced the epiphany of garlic, basil, oregano, pork neck bones and a cup of wine; in the kitchen of an Italian neighbor, who walked me through the process and ingredients of real Italian sauce that was simmered for hours."
I continued to nudge them with the comparison: "Excellent writing is more than talent and passion, otherwise a tirade of curses, knotted ideas, and copied paragraphs of someone else would always do.” "No," I went on, "It is clear thought, captured, slow-cooked in the labor of mind and understanding— and in good time, expressed, in a way that others can comprehend -- with great attention to the cardinal rule: It is not as much WHAT you say-- but HOW you say it."
Through the year I focused on one or two aspects of better writing at a time for each paper. It was an uphill battle, often teaching against the mediocrity of the expectations in the PA State Standards of Assessment. It would add ten hours to my work week to grade and comment on a set of a 115 papers.
The fight between Trojans and Achaeans was now left to rage as it
would, and the tide of war surged hither and thither over the plain as
they aimed their bronze-shod spears at one another between the streams
of Simois and Xanthus.
  First, Ajax son of Telamon, tower of strength to the Achaeans, broke
a phalanx of the Trojans, and came to the assistance of his comrades
by killing Acamas son of Eussorus, the best man among the Thracians,
being both brave and of great stature. The spear struck the projecting
peak of his helmet: its bronze point then went through his forehead
into the brain, and darkness veiled his eyes.
  Then Diomed killed Axylus son of Teuthranus, a rich man who lived in
the strong city of Arisbe, and was beloved by all men; for he had a
house by the roadside, and entertained every one who passed; howbeit
not one of his guests stood before him to save his life, and Diomed
killed both him and his squire Calesius, who was then his
charioteer—so the pair passed beneath the earth.
  Euryalus killed Dresus and Opheltius, and then went in pursuit of
Aesepus and Pedasus, whom the naiad nymph Abarbarea had borne to noble
Bucolion. Bucolion was eldest son to Laomedon, but he was a *******.
While tending his sheep he had converse with the nymph, and she
conceived twin sons; these the son of Mecisteus now slew, and he
stripped the armour from their shoulders. Polypoetes then killed
Astyalus, Ulysses Pidytes of Percote, and Teucer Aretaon. Ablerus fell
by the spear of Nestor’s son Antilochus, and Agamemnon, king of men,
killed Elatus who dwelt in Pedasus by the banks of the river
Satnioeis. Leitus killed Phylacus as he was flying, and Eurypylus slew
Melanthus.
  Then Menelaus of the loud war-cry took Adrestus alive, for his
horses ran into a tamarisk bush, as they were flying wildly over the
plain, and broke the pole from the car; they went on towards the
city along with the others in full flight, but Adrestus rolled out,
and fell in the dust flat on his face by the wheel of his chariot;
Menelaus came up to him spear in hand, but Adrestus caught him by
the knees begging for his life. “Take me alive,” he cried, “son of
Atreus, and you shall have a full ransom for me: my father is rich and
has much treasure of gold, bronze, and wrought iron laid by in his
house. From this store he will give you a large ransom should he
hear of my being alive and at the ships of the Achaeans.”
  Thus did he plead, and Menelaus was for yielding and giving him to a
squire to take to the ships of the Achaeans, but Agamemnon came
running up to him and rebuked him. “My good Menelaus,” said he,
“this is no time for giving quarter. Has, then, your house fared so
well at the hands of the Trojans? Let us not spare a single one of
them—not even the child unborn and in its mother’s womb; let not a
man of them be left alive, but let all in Ilius perish, unheeded and
forgotten.”
  Thus did he speak, and his brother was persuaded by him, for his
words were just. Menelaus, therefore, ****** Adrestus from him,
whereon King Agamemnon struck him in the flank, and he fell: then
the son of Atreus planted his foot upon his breast to draw his spear
from the body.
  Meanwhile Nestor shouted to the Argives, saying, “My friends, Danaan
warriors, servants of Mars, let no man lag that he may spoil the dead,
and bring back much ***** to the ships. Let us **** as many as we can;
the bodies will lie upon the plain, and you can despoil them later
at your leisure.”
  With these words he put heart and soul into them all. And now the
Trojans would have been routed and driven back into Ilius, had not
Priam’s son Helenus, wisest of augurs, said to Hector and Aeneas,
“Hector and Aeneas, you two are the mainstays of the Trojans and
Lycians, for you are foremost at all times, alike in fight and
counsel; hold your ground here, and go about among the host to rally
them in front of the gates, or they will fling themselves into the
arms of their wives, to the great joy of our foes. Then, when you have
put heart into all our companies, we will stand firm here and fight
the Danaans however hard they press us, for there is nothing else to
be done. Meanwhile do you, Hector, go to the city and tell our
mother what is happening. Tell her to bid the matrons gather at the
temple of Minerva in the acropolis; let her then take her key and open
the doors of the sacred building; there, upon the knees of Minerva,
let her lay the largest, fairest robe she has in her house—the one
she sets most store by; let her, moreover, promise to sacrifice twelve
yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad, in the temple of
the goddess, if she will take pity on the town, with the wives and
little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus from falling on
the goodly city of Ilius; for he fights with fury and fills men’s
souls with panic. I hold him mightiest of them all; we did not fear
even their great champion Achilles, son of a goddess though he be,
as we do this man: his rage is beyond all bounds, and there is none
can vie with him in prowess”
  Hector did as his brother bade him. He sprang from his chariot,
and went about everywhere among the host, brandishing his spears,
urging the men on to fight, and raising the dread cry of battle.
Thereon they rallied and again faced the Achaeans, who gave ground and
ceased their murderous onset, for they deemed that some one of the
immortals had come down from starry heaven to help the Trojans, so
strangely had they rallied. And Hector shouted to the Trojans,
“Trojans and allies, be men, my friends, and fight with might and
main, while I go to Ilius and tell the old men of our council and
our wives to pray to the gods and vow hecatombs in their honour.”
  With this he went his way, and the black rim of hide that went round
his shield beat against his neck and his ancles.
  Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus, and the son of Tydeus went into the
open space between the hosts to fight in single combat. When they were
close up to one another Diomed of the loud war-cry was the first to
speak. “Who, my good sir,” said he, “who are you among men? I have
never seen you in battle until now, but you are daring beyond all
others if you abide my onset. Woe to those fathers whose sons face
my might. If, however, you are one of the immortals and have come down
from heaven, I will not fight you; for even valiant Lycurgus, son of
Dryas, did not live long when he took to fighting with the gods. He it
was that drove the nursing women who were in charge of frenzied
Bacchus through the land of Nysa, and they flung their thyrsi on the
ground as murderous Lycurgus beat them with his oxgoad. Bacchus
himself plunged terror-stricken into the sea, and Thetis took him to
her ***** to comfort him, for he was scared by the fury with which the
man reviled him. Thereon the gods who live at ease were angry with
Lycurgus and the son of Saturn struck him blind, nor did he live
much longer after he had become hateful to the immortals. Therefore
I will not fight with the blessed gods; but if you are of them that
eat the fruit of the ground, draw near and meet your doom.”
  And the son of Hippolochus answered, son of Tydeus, why ask me of my
lineage? Men come and go as leaves year by year upon the trees.
Those of autumn the wind sheds upon the ground, but when spring
returns the forest buds forth with fresh vines. Even so is it with the
generations of mankind, the new spring up as the old are passing away.
If, then, you would learn my descent, it is one that is well known
to many. There is a city in the heart of Argos, pasture land of
horses, called Ephyra, where Sisyphus lived, who was the craftiest
of all mankind. He was the son of ******, and had a son named Glaucus,
who was father to Bellerophon, whom heaven endowed with the most
surpassing comeliness and beauty. But Proetus devised his ruin, and
being stronger than he, drove him from the land of the Argives, over
which Jove had made him ruler. For Antea, wife of Proetus, lusted
after him, and would have had him lie with her in secret; but
Bellerophon was an honourable man and would not, so she told lies
about him to Proteus. ‘Proetus,’ said she, ‘**** Bellerophon or die,
for he would have had converse with me against my will.’ The king
was angered, but shrank from killing Bellerophon, so he sent him to
Lycia with lying letters of introduction, written on a folded
tablet, and containing much ill against the bearer. He bade
Bellerophon show these letters to his father-in-law, to the end that
he might thus perish; Bellerophon therefore went to Lycia, and the
gods convoyed him safely.
  “When he reached the river Xanthus, which is in Lycia, the king
received him with all goodwill, feasted him nine days, and killed nine
heifers in his honour, but when rosy-fingered morning appeared upon
the tenth day, he questioned him and desired to see the letter from
his son-in-law Proetus. When he had received the wicked letter he
first commanded Bellerophon to **** that savage monster, the Chimaera,
who was not a human being, but a goddess, for she had the head of a
lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and
she breathed forth flames of fire; but Bellerophon slew her, for he
was guided by signs from heaven. He next fought the far-famed
Solymi, and this, he said, was the hardest of all his battles.
Thirdly, he killed the Amazons, women who were the peers of men, and
as he was returning thence the king devised yet another plan for his
destruction; he picked the bravest warriors in all Lycia, and placed
them in ambuscade, but not a man ever came back, for Bellerophon
killed every one of them. Then the king knew that he must be the
valiant offspring of a god, so he kept him in Lycia, gave him his
daughter in marriage, and made him of equal honour in the kingdom with
himself; and the Lycians gave him a piece of land, the best in all the
country, fair with vineyards and tilled fields, to have and to hold.
  “The king’s daughter bore Bellerophon three children, Isander,
Hippolochus, and Laodameia. Jove, the lord of counsel, lay with
Laodameia, and she bore him noble Sarpedon; but when Bellerophon
came to be hated by all the gods, he wandered all desolate and
dismayed upon the Alean plain, gnawing at his own heart, and
shunning the path of man. Mars, insatiate of battle, killed his son
Isander while he was fighting the Solymi; his daughter was killed by
Diana of the golden reins, for she was angered with her; but
Hippolochus was father to myself, and when he sent me to Troy he urged
me again and again to fight ever among the foremost and outvie my
peers, so as not to shame the blood of my fathers who were the noblest
in Ephyra and in all Lycia. This, then, is the descent I claim.”
  Thus did he speak, and the heart of Diomed was glad. He planted
his spear in the ground, and spoke to him with friendly words. “Then,”
he said, you are an old friend of my father’s house. Great Oeneus once
entertained Bellerophon for twenty days, and the two exchanged
presents. Oeneus gave a belt rich with purple, and Bellerophon a
double cup, which I left at home when I set out for Troy. I do not
remember Tydeus, for he was taken from us while I was yet a child,
when the army of the Achaeans was cut to pieces before Thebes.
Henceforth, however, I must be your host in middle Argos, and you mine
in Lycia, if I should ever go there; let us avoid one another’s spears
even during a general engagement; there are many noble Trojans and
allies whom I can ****, if I overtake them and heaven delivers them
into my hand; so again with yourself, there are many Achaeans whose
lives you may take if you can; we two, then, will exchange armour,
that all present may know of the old ties that subsist between us.”
  With these words they sprang from their chariots, grasped one
another’s hands, and plighted friendship. But the son of Saturn made
Glaucus take leave of his wits, for he exchanged golden armour for
bronze, the worth of a hundred head of cattle for the worth of nine.
  Now when Hector reached the Scaean gates and the oak tree, the wives
and daughters of the Trojans came running towards him to ask after
their sons, brothers, kinsmen, and husbands: he told them to set about
praying to the gods, and many were made sorrowful as they heard him.
  Presently he reached the splendid palace of King Priam, adorned with
colonnades of hewn stone. In it there were fifty bedchambers—all of
hewn stone—built near one another, where the sons of Priam slept,
each with his wedded wife. Opposite these, on the other side the
courtyard, there were twelve upper rooms also of hewn stone for
Priam’s daughters, built near one another, where his sons-in-law slept
with their wives. When Hector got there, his fond mother came up to
him with Laodice the fairest of her daughters. She took his hand
within her own and said, “My son, why have you left the battle to come
hither? Are the Achaeans, woe betide them, pressing you hard about the
city that you have thought fit to come and uplift your hands to Jove
from the citadel? Wait till I can bring you wine that you may make
offering to Jove and to the other immortals, and may then drink and be
refreshed. Wine gives a man fresh strength when he is wearied, as
you now are with fighting on behalf of your kinsmen.”
  And Hector answered, “Honoured mother, bring no wine, lest you unman
me and I forget my strength. I dare not make a drink-offering to
Jove with unwashed hands; one who is bespattered with blood and
filth may not pray to the son of Saturn. Get the matrons together, and
go with offerings to the temple of Minerva driver of the spoil; there,
upon the knees of Minerva, lay the largest and fairest robe you have
in your house—the one you set most store by; promise, moreover, to
sacrifice twelve yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad,
in the temple of the goddess if she will take pity on the town, with
the wives and little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus
from off the goodly city of Ilius, for he fights with fury, and
fills men’s souls with panic. Go, then, to the temple of Minerva,
while I seek Paris and exhort him, if he will hear my words. Would
that the earth might open her jaws and swallow him, for Jove bred
him to be the bane of the Trojans, and of Priam and Priam’s sons.
Could I but see him go down into the house of Hades, my heart would
forget its heaviness.”
  His mother went into the house and called her waiting-women who
gathered the matrons throughout the city. She then went down into
her fragrant store-room, where her embroidered robes were kept, the
work of Sidonian women, whom Alexandrus had brought over from Sidon
when he sailed the seas upon that voyage during which he carried off
Helen. Hecuba took out the largest robe, and the one that was most
beautifully enriched with embroidery, as an offering to Minerva: it
glittered like a star, and lay at the very bottom of the chest. With
this she went on her way and many matrons with her.
  When they reached the temple of Minerva, lovely Theano, daughter
of Cisseus and wife of Antenor, opened the doors, for the Trojans
had made her priestess of Minerva. The women lifted up their hands
to the goddess with a loud cry, and Theano took the robe to lay it
upon the knees of Minerva, praying the while to the daughter of
great Jove. “Holy Minerva,” she cried, “protectress of our city,
mighty goddess, break the spear of Diomed and lay him low before the
Scaean gates. Do this, and we will sacrifice twelve heifers that
have never yet known the goad, in your temple, if you will have pity
upon the town, with the wives and little ones If the Trojans.” Thus
she prayed, but Pallas Minerva granted not her prayer.
  While they were thus praying to the daughter of great Jove, Hector
went to the fair house of Alexandrus, which he had built for him by
the foremost builders in the land. They had built him his house,
storehouse, and courtyard near those of Priam and Hector on the
acropolis. Here Hector entered, with a spear eleven cubits long in his
hand; the bronze point gleamed in front of him, and was fastened
Destiny’s games are stranger than
most games invented by man
and Draupadi’s swayamvara is for sure
amongst the strangest tales ever told

A truly blazing beauty is she,
a princess like no other
a rare fiery spirit has she
This daughter of Agni

The drums announce the happy news
today she shall choose
from amongst this gathering of kings
the one who she shall espouse

a prophecy has already foretold
that she is to be Arjuna’s bride
the swayamvara is but a test to tempt
that expert archer out from where he hides

every king from every land
is here to attempt
to win her hand
but no sign of the one she wants

but the contest has been announced
and hence must be begun
a test truly fit to try
the Gods themselves

on the ceiling
a revolving platform
on the platform
a jewel studded fish

on the floor a vat of oil
lying beside a great bow and shafts
the fish is mirrored
in the oil

the the target lies
in the fish’s ruby red eye
but a challenge fit for kings
cannot be so trouble-free!

The eye, itself, must not be looked upon
its reflection in the oil is the map to strike
not an easy feat to accomplish
only the best dare try this

for the failures
there is ridicule and humiliation
for the winner
this beautiful handmaiden

every eye that sees
looks on amazed
at her -a rare jewel
with some secret fire set ablaze

her eyes hot embers
her hair wisps of flame
Krishnaa-the dark skinned
like the fiery coal that is by ashes hid

in every heart she rouses
an uncontrollable passion
stunned, they stand as statues
incapable of any action

the desire to win her
is a great motivator
and while all try
none seems worthy

every king that rises
falls unable to bear
the weight of the bow
let alone string and employ it!

then rises Karna
truly a great archer
surely he will win her
says everyone in their mind

but before he even touches
the bow he is stopped
by the beautiful Draupadi
he is humiliated

“who is this false king
who dares to assume that
the high-born Draupadi will condescend
to marry a low-born sutaputra?”


silenced and insulted
Karna resumes his seat
but a desire for retribution
is in his mind-a tiny seed

the one who rises next
is clothed as a Brahmin
but his proud gait and muscled arms
are that of a Kshatriya

respectfully he picks up the bow
strings it with love
with arms upraised and face turned below
he launches the arrow

it strikes the eye
which falls to the ground
the Brahmin has won!
he is garlanded by Draupadi

their eyes meet
in silent acceptance of
their magnetic attraction
a scorching passion

a stunned silence in the hall
and then hell breaks loose
kings rant and princes protest
how can a princess marry a priest

they rise together
up in arms
and are routed
by the Brahmin and his brothers

with the Brahmins Draupadi goes
to their hut-a humble abode
with folded hands they stand outside
as the eldest calls, “Look mother, see what we’ve got!”

a gentle voice replies from within
“whatever be it, share it
amongst yourselves,
it equally belongs to all of you”


“Mother, what have you said
what a dilemma we are in
you-we have never disobeyed
and yet to obey would be a sin!”


The mother comes out and is aghast
at what she has done
her order once given cannot be revoked
by convention

in the midst of all this
turmoil and confusion
Krishna arrives
with his beatific smile

“Dear aunt, I am your brother’s son
your troubled brow betrays
some confusion
can this child offer you some consolation?”


“God bless you my child
I’ve heard your praise
You are wise, so advise
how this quandary can be resolved


with hasty words
i have told my sons
to share this woman
and doomed her to a life of debauchery”


“Do not worry aunt
this isn’t a problem at all
this woman in her past life
has gained a boon of five husbands


the boon was given
by Mahadeva himself
and besides a mother’s order
is always supreme


let all five of your sons
wed Draupadi
in the karmic logic
it isn’t an iniquity


Dear Draupadi listen
these men are none other
than the valourous Pandava brothers
your hand was won by Arjuna

it is your destiny
to be the spouse of all of them
and do not worry
worldly laws are not here applicable”


Hearing this was
a stealthy listener-
Draupadi’s brother
now both overjoyed and dismayed

in confusion
he approaches his father
and apprises him
of the matter

both father and son are
unsure whether to rejoice
that the Pandavas are alive
or curse their loved one’s predicament

plagued by mixed emotions
they are restless
then Vyaasa comes
to their relief

the kind sage shares his wisdom
that the marriage is inevitable
part of the Grand Plan
mortal laws must not interfere

a woman having
more than one man as spouse
isn’t always an immorality
they may fearlessly proceed

and so it is
that the marriage was celebrated
Draupadi became the
accidental polyandrist!

-Vijayalakshmi Harish
23.09.2012

Copyright © Vijayalakshmi Harish
Swayamvara: literally “self-marriage”. An ancient custom in which princesses chose their husband, usually through some contest.

Agni: The God of fire. Draupadi is said to have been “gifted” to King Drupada by the God of Fire.  Drupada had performed a sacrifice to Agni for a son, who would defeat Drona and a daughter, fit to be the wife of Arjuna.

Sutaputra: Son of a Charioteer.

Kshatriyas: Caste of kings and warriors.

Brahmin : The priestly class

Here I must put in a disclaimer saying that I am not a believer in the caste system, and see all people as equal! The insult against Karna is a part of the story, not my invention!

Though the title says “accidental polyandrist”, Draupadi’s  polyandry might not have been all that accidental. The legend goes that in her previous birth she had asked Lord Shiva to give her a husband who was kind and an upholder of Dharma, strong, brave and courageous, handsome and intelligent. Lord Shiva said that all these qualities can never be found together in a single man, and hence he would give her five!

This incident from the Mahabharata has been a pet peeve for feminists. The incident has been viewed as reeking of male chauvinism and subjugation of women.

I have always wondered about the silence of Draupadi here. Her character, as I understand her, is that of an assertive woman-one who would not have allowed such a thing to happen to her! In many occasions in the Mahabharata, she speaks without reserve when she sees injustice meted out. Even during her swayamvara, she was quick to chide Karna, who she presumed was unworthy of her. In such a scenario can her silence be construed as acceptance?

Others say of course that her protests were edited out. That she must have spoken against this, but she was silenced.

But why silence her only here? Why not on other occasions where she challenges “masculine” pride and chauvinism?

So many questions..no real answer! Would love if you'll could share your views.

Special thanks to Ammukutty who graciously proof-read this and made some suggestions which were taken with many thanks!
Sharon Talbot Aug 2018
“Angelica arguta”,
He shows her his wildflowers
“Angelica Susannah”, he says.
And prodded further by her
His heart.
Lingers briefly with the night;
Her affection has power,
But not enough
To keep him
From marching off to fight.

Tristan, son of One Stab,
Brings wildness from the mountains.
Lovely woman from the East,
Fascinated by her,
His passion.
Revels in her bridal bower,
And stops her
Loving any other.

Alfred, eldest son of his father,
Full of rectitude and romance.
Angelica abandoned,
Adrift between the mountains
Becalmed far from the sea.
He takes advantage,
Snatches her soul with riches,
But never captures
Her longing heart.

Years pass and one son gone,
The other lost and mad.
Year of the red grass and
Happiness found
Is felt too soon.
Tristan loves young Isabel,
But Angelica is his doom.

Yet only he survives
The waves that lash her shore,
“Like water in the ice,
She breaks them.”
And in the Spring,
Is gone once more.

Angelica Susannah is buried
Above the box canyon in the meadow
Among the many dead.
Near Samuel’s heart,
The executed Isabel,
And others who follow soon.
Until only Tristan remains,
Left to hunt his nemesis,
The bear inside him.
And dream of one wife lost,
And a lover left behind:
Angelica Susannah
Beside whom he should lie.

He is slain by the bear in Sixty-three,
After forty years of solitude.
And laid to rest in the plot
Between two women he loved,
Isabel, his ingenuous wife
And Susannah, his tragic love.
Do their spirits meet at last
And wander the golden fields,
Or ride out to bathe in the hot springs,
Under the moon of the falling leaves?
This is dedicated to the characters in the film "Legends of the Fall", about three brothers who fall in love with the same woman, Susannah, and all are destroyed or nearly destroyed by their love. It is not her fault, but Tristan seems cursed, since everyone he loves either dies or is deeply hurt in some way.
Nat Lipstadt Nov 2013
that has taken the mantle,
the muse of inspiration,
for she -
(did you think she was a man-god?)
dyes me oft, colors me, ***** me,
loves me with intensity hot
that near to make my heart stop.

poems I did not know,
knew not their name,
would write,
but moments ago,
now are
chicks in the hatchery hatching,
cupcakes in the oven rising,
spit in the mouth *******
so fast a-coming,
the sustained pleasure
the best drug I have designed.

seconds ago there were none,
a lifetime of moments,
now, multitudinous,
molecules of
oxygenated words
flying past my eyes,
purposed for inhalation
through my skin.

all week I have stretched and pecked,
shreds of lettuce un satisfied,
a title, no poem,
a stanza, no poem,
like I need a woman,
need to write,
like I need loving,
desperate and raging,
need to write.

even my alter ego,
the hidden me,
where I write on the other side
of edgy, indie, across border lines,
in a name you do not know,
nothing.

started poems about
being enlightened,
my eldest sin,
my eldest son,
hitting a kid with a car,
reading writing and 'rithmetic,
inch plants,
****,
about the young poets here,
fast track to nowhere.

but at 2:22 am awoke,
my small engine repaired,
the fingers humming flying across the keyboard
so fast broke the 3:50 minute mile,
dear muse,
I hate you with all my love.

would it be so terrible if you gave me
one complete per day,
is that too much to ask?

now I am choking gasping on
****** adrenalin cup overflowing,
now they come like *******
only a women can have,
so many more than one,
long short fast furious
separate but connected.

you make me woman,
just like you.

one day when get up high where you reside,
gonna start a recall petition, and if that don't work,
a revolution, to kick out  the cruelty y'all dish out,
the tornadoes and typhoons,
return the missing to their parents,
and give inspiration, hope
to every human poet upon this
living planet.

now I comprehend why
Shakespeare's theater was called
The Globe.
11/23/13
Jamin Jan 2015
I'm sitting in the space of my eldest brother
Sorting water dameaged hockey cards
While I softly sing another
Song we grew up on
That nobody seems to like anymore
Not even the cards

This is what life is like
It seems less fair than it is
But I'm grateful for
The leftovers in my fridge

I'm the last one to come
And the last one to go
I'll be the last one
To say "I love you"
In a chapel
And I wouldn't have it faster

As long I'm dry
And as long I'm fed
As long as I'm breathing
I am at my best
I am at my best

I got in entranced by a girl I should have known better
The very same soul of whom I'd said "never"
And she is loved by my hearts brother
I'm going to a place we traveled together
But he's not with me
No, he isn't with me

We all have dreams

Some larger than others
Some oversized for my size 10 feet
These water damaged hockey cards
Are my only company
Nov 4, 2014
Nigel Morgan Dec 2013
A Tale for the Mid-Winter Season after the Mural by Carl Larrson

On the shortest day I wake before our maids from the surrounding farms have converged on Sundborn. Greta lives with us so she will be asleep in that deep slumber only girls of her age seem to own. Her tiny room has barely more than a bed and a chest for her clothes. There is my first painting of her on the wall, little more a sketch, but she was entranced, at seeing herself so. To the household she is a maid who looks after me and my studio,  though she is a literate, intelligent girl, city-bred from Gamla Stan but from a poor home, a widowed mother, her late father a drunkard.  These were my roots, my beginning, exactly. But her eyes already see a world beyond Sundborn. She covets postcards from my distant friends: in Paris, London, Jean in South America, and will arrange them on my writing desk, sometimes take them to her room at night to dream in the candlelight. I think this summer I shall paint her, at my desk, reading my cards, or perhaps writing her own. The window will be open and a morning breeze will make the flowers on the desk tremble.

Karin sleeps too, a desperate sleep born of too much work and thought and interruption. These days before Christmas put a strain on her usually calm disposition. The responsibilities of our home, our life, the constant visitors, they weigh upon her, and dispel her private time. Time in her studio seems impossible. I often catch her poised to disappear from a family coming-together. She is here, and then gone, as if by magic. With the older children home from their distant schools, and Suzanne arrived from England just yesterday morning, they all cannot do without lengthy conferences. They know better than disturb me. Why do you think there is a window set into my studio door? So, if I am at my easel there should be no knock to disturb. There is another reason, but that is between Karin and I.

This was once a summer-only house, but over the years we have made it our whole-year home. There was much attention given to making it snug and warm. My architect replaced all the windows and all the doors and there is this straw insulation between the walls. Now, as I open the curtains around my bed, I can see my breath float out into the cool air. When, later, I descend to my studio, the stove, damped down against the night, when opened and raddled will soon warm the space. I shall draw back the heavy drapes and open the wooden shutters onto the dark land outside. Only then I will stand before my current painting: *Brita and the Sleigh
.

Current!? I have been working on this painting intermittently for five years, and Brita is no longer the Brita of this picture, though I remember her then as yesterday. It is a picture of a winter journey for a six-year-old, only that journey is just across the yard to the washhouse. Snow, frost, birds gathered in the leafless trees, a sun dog in the sky, Brita pushing her empty sledge, wearing fur boots, Lisbeth’s old coat, and that black knitted hat made by old Anna. It is the nearest I have come to suggesting the outer landscape of this place. I bring it out every year at this time so I can check the light and the shadows against what I see now, not what I remember seeing then. But there will be a more pressing concern for me today, this shortest day.

Since my first thoughts for the final mural in my cycle for the Nationalmuseum I have always put this day aside, whatever I might be doing, wherever I may be. I pull out my first sketches, that book of imaginary tableaux filled in a day and a night in my tiny garden studio in Grez, thinking of home, of snow, the mid-winter, feeling the extraordinary power and shake of Adam of Bremen’s description of 10th C pre-Christian Uppsala, written to describe how barbaric and immoral were the practices and religion of the pagans, to defend the fragile position of the Christian church in Sweden at the time. But as I gaze at these rough beginnings made during those strange winter days in my rooms at the Hotel Chevilon, I feel myself that twenty-five year old discovering my artistic vision, abandoning oils for the flow and smudge of watercolour, and then, of course, Karin. We were part of the Swedish colony at Grez-sur-Loing. Karin lived with the ladies in Pension Laurent, but was every minute beside me until we found our own place, to be alone and be together, in a cupboard of a house by the river, in Marlotte.

Everyone who painted en-plein-air, writers, composers, they all flocked to Grez just south of Fontainebleau, to visit, sometimes to stay. I recall Strindberg writing to Karin after his first visit: It was as if there were no pronounced shadows, no hard lines, the air with its violet complexion is almost always misty; and I painting constantly, and against the style and medium of the time. How the French scoffed at my watercolours, but my work sold immediately in Stockholm. . . and Karin, tall, slim, Karin, my muse, my lover, my model, her boy-like figure lying naked (but for a hat) in the long grass outside my studio. We learned each other there, the technique of bodies in intimate closeness, the way of no words, the sharing of silent thoughts, together on those soft, damp winter days when our thoughts were of home, of Karin’s childhood home at Sundborn. I had no childhood thoughts I wanted to return to, but Karin, yes. That is why we are here now.

In Grez-sur-Loing, on a sullen December day, mist lying on the river, our garden dead to winter, we received a visitor, a Swedish writer and journalist travelling with a very young Italian, Mariano Fortuny, a painter living in Paris, and his mentor the Spaniard Egusquiza. There was a woman too who Karin took away, a Parisienne seamstress I think, Fortuny’s lover. Bayreuth and Wagner, Wagner, Wagner was all they could talk about. Of course Sweden has its own Nordic Mythology I ventured. But where is it? What is it? they cried, and there was laughter and more mulled wine, and then talk again of Wagner.

When the party left I realized there was something deep in my soul that had been woken by talk of the grandeur and scale of Wagner’s cocktail of German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales. For a day and night I sketched relentlessly, ransacking my memory for those old tales, drawing strong men and stalwart, flaxen-haired women in Nordic dress and ornament. But as a new day presented itself I closed my sketch book and let the matter drop until, years later, in a Stockholm bookshop I chanced upon a volume in Latin by Adam of Bremen, his Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum, the most famous source to pagan ritual practice in Sweden. That cold winter afternoon in Grez returned to me and I felt, as I had then, something stir within me, something missing from my comfortable world of images of home and farm, family and the country life.

Back in Sundborn this little volume printed in the 18th C lay on my desk like a question mark without a sentence. My Latin was only sufficient to get a gist, but the gist was enough. Here was the story of the palace of Uppsala, the great centre of the pre-Christian pagan cults that brought us Odin and Freyr. I sought out our village priest Dag Sandahl, a good Lutheran but who regularly tagged Latin in his sermons. Yes, he knew the book, and from his study bookshelf brought down an even earlier copy than my own. And there and then we sat down together and read. After an hour I was impatient to be back in my studio and draw, draw these extraordinary images this text brought to life unbidden in my imagination. But I did not leave until I had persuaded Pastor Sandahl to agree to translate the Uppsala section of the Adam of Bremen’s book, and just before Christmas that year, on the day before the Shortest Day, he delivered his translation to my studio. He would not stay, but said I should read the passages about King Domalde and his sacrifice at the Winter Solstice. And so, on the day of the Winter Solstice, I did.

This people have a widely renowned sanctuary called Uppsala.

By this temple is a very large tree with extending branches. It is always green, both in winter and in summer. No one knows what kind of tree this is. There is also a spring there, where the heathens usually perform their sacrificial rites. They throw a live human being into the spring. If he does not resurface, the wishes of the people will come true.

The Temple is girdled by a chain of gold that hangs above the roof of the building and shines from afar, so that people may see it from a distance when they approach there. The sanctuary itself is situated on a plain, surrounded by mountains, so that the form a theatre.

It is not far from the town of Sigtuna. This sanctuary is completely covered with golden ornaments. There, people worship the carved idols of three gods: Thor, the most powerful of them, has his throne in the middle of the hall, on either side of him, Odin and Freyr have their seats. They have these functions: “Thor,” they say, “rules the air, he rules thunder and lightning, wind and rain, good weather and harvests. The other, Odin, he who rages, he rules the war and give courage to people in their battle against enemies. The third is Freyr, he offers to mortals lust and peace and happiness.” And his image they make with a very large phallus. Odin they present armed, the way we usually present Mars, while Thor with the scepter seems to resemble Jupiter. As gods they also worship some that have earlier been human. They give them immortality for the sake of their great deeds, as we may read in Vita sancti Ansgarii that they did with King Eirik.

For all these gods have particular persons who are to bring forward the sacrificial gifts of the people. If plague and famine threatens, they offer to the image of Thor, if the matter is about war, they offer to Odin, but if a wedding is to be celebrated, they offer to Freyr. And every ninth year in Uppsala a great religious ceremony is held that is common to people from all parts of Sweden.”
Snorri also relates how human sacrifice began in Uppsala, with the sacrifice of a king.

Domalde took the heritage after his father Visbur, and ruled over the land. As in his time there was great famine and distress, the Swedes made great offerings of sacrifice at Upsal. The first autumn they sacrificed oxen, but the succeeding season was not improved thereby. The following autumn they sacrificed men, but the succeeding year was rather worse. The third autumn, when the offer of sacrifices should begin, a great multitude of Swedes came to Upsal; and now the chiefs held consultations with each other, and all agreed that the times of scarcity were on account of their king Domalde, and they resolved to offer him for good seasons, and to assault and **** him, and sprinkle the stall of the gods with his blood. And they did so.


There it was, at the end of Adam of Bremen’s description of Uppsala, this description of King Domalde upon which my mural would be based. It is not difficult to imagine, or rather the event itself can be richly embroidered, as I have over the years made my painting so. Karin and I have the books of William Morris on our shelves and I see little difference between his fixation on the legends of the Arthur and the Grail. We are on the cusp here between the pagan and the Christian.  What was Christ’s Crucifixion but a self sacrifice: as God in man he could have saved himself but chose to die for Redemption’s sake. His blood was not scattered to the fields as was Domalde’s, but his body and blood remains a continuing symbol in our right of Communion.

I unroll the latest watercolour cartoon of my mural. It is almost the length of this studio. Later I will ask Greta to collect the other easels we have in the house and barn and then I shall view it properly. But for now, as it unrolls, my drama of the Winter Solstice comes alive. It begins on from the right with body of warriors, bronze shields and helmets, long shafted spears, all set against the side of Uppsala Temple and more distant frost-hoared trees. Then we see the King himself, standing on a sled hauled by temple slaves. He is naked as he removes the furs in which he has travelled, a circuit of the temple to display himself to his starving people. In the centre, back to the viewer, a priest-like figure in a red cloak, a dagger held for us to see behind his back. Facing him, in druidic white, a high priest holds above his head a gold pagan monstrance. To his left there are white cloaked players of long, straight horns, blue cloaked players of the curled horns, and guiding the shaft of the sled a grizzled shaman dressed in the skins and furs of animals. The final quarter of my one- day-to-be-a-mural unfolds to show the women of temple and palace writhing in gestures of grief and hysteria whilst their queen kneels prostate on the ground, her head to the earth, her ladies ***** behind her. Above them all stands the forever-green tree whose origin no one knows.

Greta has entered the studio in her practiced, silent way carrying coffee and rolls from the kitchen. She has seen Midvinterblot many times, but I sense her gaze of fascination, yet again, at the figure of the naked king. She remembers the model, the sailor who came to stay at Kartbacken three summers ago. He was like the harpooner Queequeg in Moby ****. A tattooed man who was to be seen swimming in Toftan Lake and walking bare-chested in our woods. A tall, well-muscled, almost silent man, whom I patiently courted to be my model for King Dolmade. I have a book of sketches of him striding purposefully through the trees, the tattooed lines on his shoulders and chest like deep cuts into his body. This striding figure I hid from the children for some time, but from Greta that was impossible. She whispered to me once that when she could not have my substantial chest against her she would imagine the sailor’s, imagine touching and following his tattooed lines. This way, she said, helped her have respite from those stirrings she would so often feel for me. My painting, she knew, had stirred her fellow maids Clara and Solveig. Surely you know this, she had said, in her resolute and direct city manner. I have to remember she is the age of my eldest, who too must hold such thoughts and feelings. Karin dislikes my sailor king and wishes I would not hide the face of his distraught queen.

Today the sunrise is at 9.0, just a half hour away, and it will set before 3.0pm. So, after this coffee I will put on my boots and fur coat, be well scarfed and hatted (as my son Pontus would say) and walk out onto my estate. I will walk east across the fields towards Spardasvvägen. The sky is already waiting for the sun, but waits without colour, hardly even a tinge of red one might expect.

I have given Greta her orders to collect every easel she can find so we can take Midvinterblot off the floor and see it in all its vivid colour and form. In February I shall begin again to persuade the Nationalmuseum to accept this work. We have a moratorium just now. I will not accept their reasoning that there is no historical premise for such a subject, that such a scene has no place in a public gallery. A suggestion has been made that the Historiska museet might house it. But I shall not think of this today.

Karin is here, her face at the studio window beckons entry. My Darling, yes, it is midwinter’s day and I am dressing to greet the solstice. I will dress, she says, to see Edgar who will be here in half an hour to discuss my designs for this new furniture. We will be lunching at noon. Know you are welcome. Suzanne is talking constantly of England, England, and of course Oxford, this place of dreaming spires and good looking boys. We touch hands and kiss. I sense the perfume of sleep, of her bed.

Outside I must walk quickly to be quite alone, quite apart from the house, in the fields, alone. It is on its way: this light that will bathe the snowed-over land and will be my promise of the year’s turn towards new life.

As I walk the drama of Midvinterblot unfolds in a confusion of noise, the weeping of women, the physical exertions of the temple slaves, the priests’ incantations, the riot of horns, and then suddenly, as I stand in this frozen field, there is silence. The sun rises. It stagge
To see images of the world of Sundborn and Carl Larrson (including Mitvinterblot) see http://www.clg.se/encarl.aspx
II. TO DEMETER (495 lines)

(ll. 1-3) I begin to sing of rich-haired Demeter, awful goddess
-- of her and her trim-ankled daughter whom Aidoneus rapt away,
given to him by all-seeing Zeus the loud-thunderer.

(ll. 4-18) Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and
glorious fruits, she was playing with the deep-bosomed daughters
of Oceanus and gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and
crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the
narcissus, which Earth made to grow at the will of Zeus and to
please the Host of Many, to be a snare for the bloom-like girl --
a marvellous, radiant flower.  It was a thing of awe whether for
deathless gods or mortal men to see: from its root grew a hundred
blooms and is smelled most sweetly, so that all wide heaven above
and the whole earth and the sea's salt swell laughed for joy.
And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take
the lovely toy; but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the
plain of Nysa, and the lord, Host of Many, with his immortal
horses sprang out upon her -- the Son of Cronos, He who has many
names (5).

(ll. 19-32) He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bare
her away lamenting.  Then she cried out shrilly with her voice,
calling upon her father, the Son of Cronos, who is most high and
excellent.  But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal
men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit:
only tender-hearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of
Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave, and the lord Helios,
Hyperion's bright son, as she cried to her father, the Son of
Cronos.  But he was sitting aloof, apart from the gods, in his
temple where many pray, and receiving sweet offerings from mortal
men.  So he, that Son of Cronos, of many names, who is Ruler of
Many and Host of Many, was bearing her away by leave of Zeus on
his immortal chariot -- his own brother's child and all
unwilling.

(ll. 33-39) And so long as she, the goddess, yet beheld earth and
starry heaven and the strong-flowing sea where fishes shoal, and
the rays of the sun, and still hoped to see her dear mother and
the tribes of the eternal gods, so long hope calmed her great
heart for all her trouble....
((LACUNA))
....and the heights of the mountains and the depths of the sea
rang with her immortal voice: and her queenly mother heard her.

(ll. 40-53) Bitter pain seized her heart, and she rent the
covering upon her divine hair with her dear hands: her dark cloak
she cast down from both her shoulders and sped, like a wild-bird,
over the firm land and yielding sea, seeking her child.  But no
one would tell her the truth, neither god nor mortal men; and of
the birds of omen none came with true news for her.  Then for
nine days queenly Deo wandered over the earth with flaming
torches in her hands, so grieved that she never tasted ambrosia
and the sweet draught of nectar, nor sprinkled her body with
water.  But when the tenth enlightening dawn had come, Hecate,
with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her
news:

(ll. 54-58) 'Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of
good gifts, what god of heaven or what mortal man has rapt away
Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart?  For I heard
her voice, yet saw not with my eyes who it was.  But I tell you
truly and shortly all I know.'

(ll. 59-73) So, then, said Hecate.  And the daughter of rich-
haired Rhea answered her not, but sped swiftly with her, holding
flaming torches in her hands.  So they came to Helios, who is
watchman of both gods and men, and stood in front of his horses:
and the bright goddess enquired of him: 'Helios, do you at least
regard me, goddess as I am, if ever by word or deed of mine I
have cheered your heart and spirit.  Through the fruitless air I
heard the thrilling cry of my daughter whom I bare, sweet scion
of my body and lovely in form, as of one seized violently; though
with my eyes I saw nothing.  But you -- for with your beams you
look down from the bright upper air Over all the earth and sea --
tell me truly of my dear child, if you have seen her anywhere,
what god or mortal man has violently seized her against her will
and mine, and so made off.'

(ll. 74-87) So said she.  And the Son of Hyperion answered her:
'Queen Demeter, daughter of rich-haired Rhea, I will tell you the
truth; for I greatly reverence and pity you in your grief for
your trim-ankled daughter.  None other of the deathless gods is
to blame, but only cloud-gathering Zeus who gave her to Hades,
her father's brother, to be called his buxom wife.  And Hades
seized her and took her loudly crying in his chariot down to his
realm of mist and gloom.  Yet, goddess, cease your loud lament
and keep not vain anger unrelentingly: Aidoneus, the Ruler of
Many, is no unfitting husband among the deathless gods for your
child, being your own brother and born of the same stock: also,
for honour, he has that third share which he received when
division was made at the first, and is appointed lord of those
among whom he dwells.'

(ll. 88-89) So he spake, and called to his horses: and at his
chiding they quickly whirled the swift chariot along, like long-
winged birds.

(ll. 90-112) But grief yet more terrible and savage came into the
heart of Demeter, and thereafter she was so angered with the
dark-clouded Son of Cronos that she avoided the gathering of the
gods and high Olympus, and went to the towns and rich fields of
men, disfiguring her form a long while.  And no one of men or
deep-bosomed women knew her when they saw her, until she came to
the house of wise Celeus who then was lord of fragrant Eleusis.
Vexed in her dear heart, she sat near the wayside by the Maiden
Well, from which the women of the place were used to draw water,
in a shady place over which grew an olive shrub.  And she was
like an ancient woman who is cut off from childbearing and the
gifts of garland-loving Aphrodite, like the nurses of king's
children who deal justice, or like the house-keepers in their
echoing halls.  There the daughters of Celeus, son of Eleusis,
saw her, as they were coming for easy-drawn water, to carry it in
pitchers of bronze to their dear father's house: four were they
and like goddesses in the flower of their girlhood, Callidice and
Cleisidice and lovely Demo and Callithoe who was the eldest of
them all.  They knew her not, -- for the gods are not easily
discerned by mortals -- but standing near by her spoke winged
words:

(ll. 113-117) 'Old mother, whence and who are you of folk born
long ago?  Why are you gone away from the city and do not draw
near the houses?  For there in the shady halls are women of just
such age as you, and others younger; and they would welcome you
both by word and by deed.'

(ll. 118-144) Thus they said.  And she, that queen among
goddesses answered them saying: 'Hail, dear children, whosoever
you are of woman-kind.  I will tell you my story; for it is not
unseemly that I should tell you truly what you ask.  Doso is my
name, for my stately mother gave it me.  And now I am come from
Crete over the sea's wide back, -- not willingly; but pirates
brought be thence by force of strength against my liking.
Afterwards they put in with their swift craft to Thoricus, and
there the women landed on the shore in full throng and the men
likewise, and they began to make ready a meal by the stern-cables
of the ship.  But my heart craved not pleasant food, and I fled
secretly across the dark country and escaped by masters, that
they should not take me unpurchased across the sea, there to win
a price for me.  And so I wandered and am come here: and I know
not at all what land this is or what people are in it.  But may
all those who dwell on Olympus give you husbands and birth of
children as parents desire, so you take pity on me, maidens, and
show me this clearly that I may learn, dear children, to the
house of what man and woman I may go, to work for them cheerfully
at such tasks as belong to a woman of my age.  Well could I nurse
a new born child, holding him in my arms, or keep house, or
spread my masters' bed in a recess of the well-built chamber, or
teach the women their work.'

(ll. 145-146) So said the goddess.  And straightway the *****
maiden Callidice, goodliest in form of the daughters of Celeus,
answered her and said:

(ll. 147-168) 'Mother, what the gods send us, we mortals bear
perforce, although we suffer; for they are much stronger than we.

But now I will teach you clearly, telling you the names of men
who have great power and honour here and are chief among the
people, guarding our city's coif of towers by their wisdom and
true judgements: there is wise Triptolemus and Dioclus and
Polyxeinus and blameless Eumolpus and Dolichus and our own brave
father.  All these have wives who manage in the house, and no one
of them, so soon as she has seen you, would dishonour you and
turn you from the house, but they will welcome you; for indeed
you are godlike.  But if you will, stay here; and we will go to
our father's house and tell Metaneira, our deep-bosomed mother,
all this matter fully, that she may bid you rather come to our
home than search after the houses of others.  She has an only
son, late-born, who is being nursed in our well-built house, a
child of many prayers and welcome: if you could bring him up
until he reached the full measure of youth, any one of womankind
who should see you would straightway envy you, such gifts would
our mother give for his upbringing.'

(ll. 169-183) So she spake: and the goddess bowed her head in
assent.  And they filled their shining vessels with water and
carried them off rejoicing.  Quickly they came to their father's
great house and straightway told their mother according as they
had heard and seen.  Then she bade them go with all speed and
invite the stranger to come for a measureless hire.  As hinds or
heifers in spring time, when sated with pasture, bound about a
meadow, so they, holding up the folds of their lovely garments,
darted down the hollow path, and their hair like a crocus flower
streamed about their shoulders.  And they found the good goddess
near the wayside where they had left her before, and led her to
the house of their dear father.  And she walked behind,
distressed in her dear heart, with her head veiled and wearing a
dark cloak which waved about the slender feet of the goddess.

(ll. 184-211) Soon they came to the house of heaven-nurtured
Celeus and went through the portico to where their queenly mother
sat by a pillar of the close-fitted roof, holding her son, a
tender scion, in her *****.  And the girls ran to her.  But the
goddess walked to the threshold: and her head reached the roof
and she filled the doorway with a heavenly radiance.  Then awe
and reverence and pale fear took hold of Metaneira, and she rose
up from her couch before Demeter, and bade her be seated.  But
Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of perfect gifts, would not
sit upon the bright couch, but stayed silent with lovely eyes
cast down until careful Iambe placed a jointed seat for her and
threw over it a silvery fleece.  Then she sat down and held her
veil in her hands before her face.  A long time she sat upon the
stool (6) without speaking because of her sorrow, and greeted no
one by word or by sign, but rested, never smiling, and tasting
neither food nor drink, because she pined with longing for her
deep-bosomed daughter, until careful Iambe -- who pleased her
moods in aftertime also -- moved the holy lady with many a quip
and jest to smile and laugh and cheer her heart.  Then Metaneira
filled a cup with sweet wine and offered it to her; but she
refused it, for she said it was not lawful for her to drink red
wine, but bade them mix meal and water with soft mint and give
her to drink.  And Metaneira mixed the draught and gave it to the
goddess as she bade.  So the great queen Deo received it to
observe the sacrament.... (7)

((LACUNA))

(ll. 212-223) And of them all, well-girded Metaneira first began
to speak: 'Hail, lady!  For I think you are not meanly but nobly
born; truly dignity and grace are conspicuous upon your eyes as
in the eyes of kings that deal justice.  Yet we mortals bear
perforce what the gods send us, though we be grieved; for a yoke
is set upon our necks.  But now, since you are come here, you
shall have what I can bestow: and nurse me this child whom the
gods gave me in my old age and beyond my hope, a son much prayed
for.  If you should bring him up until he reach the full measure
of youth, any one of womankind that sees you will straightway
envy you, so great reward would I give for his upbringing.'

(ll. 224-230) Then rich-haired Demeter answered her: 'And to you,
also, lady, all hail, and may the gods give you good!  Gladly
will I take the boy to my breast, as you bid me, and will nurse
him.  Never, I ween, through any heedlessness of his nurse shall
witchcraft hurt him nor yet the Undercutter (8): for I know a
charm far stronger than the Woodcutter, and I know an excellent
safeguard against woeful witchcraft.'

(ll. 231-247) When she had so spoken, she took the child in her
fragrant ***** with her divine hands: and his mother was glad in
her heart.  So the goddess nursed in the palace Demophoon, wise
Celeus' goodly son whom well-girded Metaneira bare.  And the
child grew like some immortal being, not fed with food nor
nourished at the breast: for by day rich-crowned Demeter would
anoint him with ambrosia as if he were the offspring of a god and
breathe sweetly upon him as she held him in her *****.  But at
night she would hide him like a brand in the heard of the fire,
unknown to his dear parents.  And it wrought great wonder in
these that he grew beyond his age; for he was like the gods face
to face.  And she would have made him deathless and unageing, had
not well-girded Metaneira in her heedlessness kept watch by night
from her sweet-smelling chamber and spied.  But she wailed and
smote her two hips, because she feared for her son and was
greatly distraught in her heart; so she lamented and uttered
winged words:

(ll. 248-249) 'Demophoon, my son, the strange woman buries you
deep in fire and works grief and bitter sorrow for me.'

(ll. 250-255) Thus she spoke, mourning.  And the bright goddess,
lovely-crowned Demeter, heard her, and was wroth with her.  So
with her divine hands she snatched from the fire the dear son
whom Metaneira had born unhoped-for in the palace, and cast him
from her to the ground; for she was terribly angry in her heart.
Forthwith she said to well-girded Metaneira:

(ll. 256-274) 'Witless are you mortals and dull to foresee your
lot, whether of good or evil, that comes upon you.  For now in
your heedlessness you have wrought folly past healing; for -- be
witness the oath of the gods, the relentless water of Styx -- I
would have made your dear son deathless and unaging all his days
and would have bestowed on him everlasting honour, but now he can
in no way escape death and the fates.  Yet shall unfailing honour
always rest upon him, because he lay upon my knees and slept in
my arms.  But, as the years move round and when he is in his
prime, the sons of the Eleusinians shall ever wage war and dread
strife with one another continually.  Lo!  I am that Demeter who
has share of honour and is the greatest help and cause of joy to
the undying gods and mortal men.  But now, let all the people
build be a great temple and an altar below it and beneath the
city and its sheer wall upon a rising hillock above Callichorus.
And I myself will teach my rites, that hereafter you may
reverently perform them and so win the favour of my
Olivia Kent Nov 2013
Sons and Daughters!

Two sons standing tall and strong.
Essence of British.
Defend their own free will.
Guard well their family a fighting force.
Soldiers of fortune.
With Ink marked skin.
It is their skin they're living in.

Eldest defends, his sons all three.
Brother and sister's.
They all protect me.
Even when I muck up.
Yet another time.
Stand strong.
Defending one another.
All defending me.
The woman of many mistakes

Loud and proud.
In both actions and deeds.
Two young men who do protect.
These English men so true.
Sister's reputations cossetted.

My daughter's of which there are two.
The youngest.
She is really beautiful of face.
She plays the mamma keeping house.
Her baba's cooking slowly.
In the safest place to be.

The other the eldest of the two.
She is not maternal.
Another pretty lady.
More natural in her style.
Loves to travel.
Adores sport.
Football and rugby her best friends.

If I had a crystal ball.
My predictions they would be.
My family not divisible.
Little daughter will be a perfect mum.
Eldest daughter.
Clever one.
Will do much more than she's doing now.
She really is a brainy cow.
My boys will build a huge success.
Empires of their own.
Between us, at last.
My lovely family.
We'll work as a team.
By ladylivvi1

© 2013 ladylivvi1 (All rights reserved)
After many years I have realised the value of my family. Okay so it's a long time the youngest is 19 and the eldest is 30!
Alex Bex Jan 2018
Through the white, beating Texan heat,
water towers cry out titles
high above the flat land
where kids from the roadside houses
run around in stained tank tops,
dreaming of their own names up there.
The long and burnt grass cuts their ankles
and the dry cement scrapes their feet.
The midday ritual begins in a racing circle
raising dust over the roofs and into the shy afternoon.
Around 5, the roadside families reunite
in front of their houses to watch the daily traffic jam
and observe the variety of faces through the glass windows,
which after a short while do not seem to vary at all.
But today, something else had their full attention.
The sky was never seen this low and the clouds
​turned a shade of black
so dark as to be almost green,
so the eldest women on that single row of houses
declared bad omen. The next early morning,
the closest water tower laid gravely against the ground.
Already, a small boy had climbed on top of the tank,
soles bleeding, and waving
​his shirt into the wide clear sky.

©2018 Alex Bex - www.alexbex.net
Scottie Green Jul 2012
I’ve always been the quiet type, never one to do the speaking, just listening and observing the lives of those around me.
If I can remember correctly, I began as a light blue, sheltering a newborn baby, Conner, I was covered in wallpaper lined by teddy bears with white silk bow ties like pin stripe pants.
Those few days before his birth in ’62 were filled with anxiety and anticipation, with his parents sneaking in to gaze upon my blue coat, tears in their eyes for the gift that they were days away from receiving. However, they would soon find that the young baby spent little time in my embrace other than evening naps, otherwise his cries became loud with the longing for his mum.

Six years later the teddy bears came down from the walls along with the crib, to be replaced by a bed, the baby blue coat replaced by a loud red.
Watching him grow, I saw his good days and his bad, he was built for math, fast cars, and jubilant laughter.
He had come to me in the midst of April when the flowers outside the windows bloomed, and left for a university after they flowered a mere twelve times.
Once again, his parents visited me, with tears in their eyes as if by being with me his presence would be restored.

His father had talked of a promotion he’d dreamed of, so with more money they were off to a more luxurious home, I was not sad, I was not lonely, I was happy.

I was alone for a while, while the wallpaper had been striped from me and I lay bear and exposed for quite some time, only briefly being introduced to new families by a smiling woman with high heels and big hair.
A group of four moved in, Tom, Adam, Lana, and Louisa. They painted my walls a bright yellow and carpeted my wooden floors, they added filing cabinets, desks, a white board, a telephone, and a book shelf that decorated my left side.
The boys were mechanics, around thirty years at the time, and worked strenuous hours. They bent over their desks re-drawing, re-scaling, and re-shaping until perfection.
Blue prints poured from their cabinets. The two girls owned a boutique down by the grocery store, I saw them less often, but they didn’t bring home their work, only their stories and their stress. It was a short acquaintance with the group, as their hearts were set on the big city and soon their paychecks were capable of supporting that lifestyle.

I was not sad, I was not lonely, I was happy for them.

The following year in ’88 a family of four moved in.
John, Ali and their twin girls converted me to a gym with barbells and some odd-looking mechanism called a “Bo Flex” used for hanging up dry cleaning and attracting the dust.
By then my vibrant yellow walls had faded to beige and my beige carpet had faded to yellow.

I don’t know much about those folks, as in-home gyms are more for decoration than utilization, I guess. The girls visited on days when the heat was unbearable in the Texas sun, running in with loud laughter as they let their weight thud into the ground. They sprawled themselves out on my floors making snow angels, in my warm, worn carpet. Oh, how I loved their attention!

They also left the windows open unlike Adam and Tom, so even when they weren’t around the sunshine kept me company. After fourteen years Bailey left shortly after Annie. I rarely saw anyone for a year or so after that.
The house became too big for John and Ali, and they decided to make the move to Florida that they’d always dreamed of.

The movers came and lifted the heavy weights from my creaking floors, but I was not sad, I was not lonely, I was happy.

The last person that came to live among my embrace was the eldest daughter of three girls. She and I became the closest of all prior inhabitants. Perhaps it was because of the frequent lack of happiness in her eyes, it was the only time I’d had an issue with my inability to intervene in a situation and speak as opposed to listening.
She left my walls there bare color, but adorned me with newspaper clippings and photographs. I was never lonely because her sisters looked up to her, never wanting to leave me, because they never wanted to leave her.
She was more imaginative than the young boy, and more precise than the mechanics.
The music she played was constant and expansive, from Sinatra and Coltrane to A Tribe Called Quest and the Rolling stones. It all correlated with her mood, causing me great joy when the tempo was fast, and depression in times when the dark music fell upon the room.
Her life appeared to be a struggle, as she often threw herself upon the carpet crying until late hours in the night. Only to wake up before the sun rose to write lengthy accounts of the inexplicable sadness she frequently experienced.

Soon she found the help that I was unable to provide with a therapist who visited her in the privacy of her own bedroom. The kind woman encouraged her to participate in activities beyond the confines of my four walls.
She had dreamed to be a psychologist, she wanted to help people, because she knew first hand how much some really needed it. And at age eighteen, that’s exactly what she set off to become.

She moved to Boulder the university she had written about and had wanted to attend for years past.
So I was not sad, I was not lonely, I was happy for her.

She doesn’t rest within my walls and doesn’t watch my flowers bloom, but the sisters, they often come back to visit and roll up the blinds to let the sun shine in, practice their own talents, and fall in love with their own dreams, I am not lonely, they don’t leave me. In fact, one of them is sprawled out upon my floor now, taking over her sister’s absence with a pen and paper of her own.
This is something I originally wrote a few years ago when my sister was leaving for school. I read it to her and allowed her to edit it. Since then I haven't been able to find the original version so she deserves proper credit for the part she did in touching it up as far as word choice, punctuation, and small additions and subtractions to my piece of work. I hope you enjoyed it!
Victor D López Dec 2018
Your husband died at 40, leaving you to raise seven children alone.
But not before your eldest, hardest working son, Juan, had
Drowned at sea in his late teens while working as a fisherman to help
You and your husband put food on the table.

You lost a daughter, too,
Toñita, also in her early teens, to illness.
Their kind, pure souls found
Their way back home much too soon.

Later in life you would lose two more sons to tragedy, Paco (Francisco),
An honest, hard working man whose purposeful penchant for shocking
Language belied a most gentle nature and a generous heart. He was electrocuted by
A faulty portable light while working around his pool.

And the apple of your eye, Sito (José), your last born and most loving son, who
Had inherited his father’s exceptional looks, social conscience, left of center
Politics, imposing presence, silver tongue, and bad, bad luck, died, falling
Under the wheels of a moving train, perhaps accidentally.

In a time of hopelessness and poverty, you would not be broken.
You rose every day hours before the dawn to sell fish at a stand.
And every afternoon you placed a huge wicker basket on your head and
Walked many, many miles to sell even more fish in other towns.

Money was tight, so you often took bartered goods in
Exchange for your fish, giving some to those most in need,
Who could trade nothing in return but their
Blessings and their gratitude.

You walked back home, late at night, through darkness or
Moonlit roads, carrying vegetables, eggs, and perhaps a
Rabbit or chicken in a large wicker basket on your strong head,
Walking straight, on varicose-veined legs, driven on by a sense of purpose.

During the worst famine during and after the Civil War, the chimney of your
Rented home overlooking the Port of Fontan, spewed forth black smoke every day.
Your hearth fire burned to to feed not just your children, but also your less
Fortunate neighbors, nourishing their bodies and their need for hope.

You were criticized by some when the worst had passed, after the war.
“Why work so hard, Remedios, and allow your young children to go to work
At too young an age? You sacrifice them and yourself for stupid pride when
Franco and foreign food aid provide free meals for the needy.”

“My children will never live off charity as long as my back is strong” was your Reply.
You resented your husband for putting politics above family and
Dragging you and your two daughters, from your safe, comfortable home at
Number 10 Perry Street near the Village to a Galicia without hope.

He chose to tilt at windmills, to the eternal glory of other foolish men,
And left you to silently fight the real, inglorious daily battle for survival alone.
Struggling with a bad heart, he worked diligently to promote a better, more just
Future while largely ignoring the practical reality of your painful present.

He filled you with children and built himself the cross upon which he was
Crucified, one word at a time, leaving you to pick up the pieces of his shattered
Idealism. But you survived, and thrived, without sacrificing your own strong
Principles or allowing your children to know hardships other than those of honest work.

And you never lost your sense of humor. You never took anything or
Anyone too seriously. When faced with the absurdity of life,
You chose to smile or laugh out loud. I saw you shed many tears of laughter,
But not once tears of pain, sorrow or regret. You would never be a victim.

You loved people. Yours was an irreverent sense of humor, full of gentle irony,
And wisdom. You loved to laugh at yourself and at others, especially pompous fools
Who often missed your great amusement at their expense, failing to understand your Dismissal, delivered always with a smile, a gentle voice and sparkling eyes.

Your cataracts and near sightedness made it difficult for you to read,
But you read voraciously nonetheless, and loved to write long letters to loved ones and friends. You were a wise old woman, the wisest and strongest I will ever know,
But one with the heart of a child and the soul of an angel.

You were the most sane, most rational, most well adjusted human being
I have ever known. You were mischievous, but incapable of malice.
You were adventurous, never afraid to try or to learn anything new.
You were fun-loving, interesting, kind, rambunctious, funny and smart as hell.

You would have been an early adopter of all modern technology, had you lived long
Enough, and would have loved playing—and working—with all of my electronic
Toys. You would have been a terror with a word processor, email, and social media
And would have loved my video games—and beaten me at every one of them.

We were great friends and playmates throughout most of my life.  You followed
Us here soon after we immigrated in 1967, leaving behind 20 other Grandchildren.
I never understood the full measure of that sacrifice, or the love that made it
Bearable for you. I do now. Too late. It is one of the greatest regrets of my life.

We played board games, cowboys and Indians, raced electric cars, flipped
Baseball cards and played thousands of hands of cards together. It never
Occurred to me that you were the least bit unusual in any way. I loved you
Dearly but never went far out of my way to show it. That too, I learned too late.

After moving to Buenos Aires, when mom had earned enough money to take
You and her younger brothers there, the quota system then in place made it
Impossible to send for your two youngest children, whose care you entrusted
Temporarily to your eldest married daughter, Maria.  

You wanted them with you. Knowing no better, you went to see Evita Peron for help.
Unsurprisingly, you could not get through her gatekeepers.  But you were
Nothing if not persistent. You knew she left early every morning for her office.
And you parked yourself there at 6:00 a.m., for many, many days by her driveway.  

Eventually, she had her driver stop and motioned for you to approach.
“Grandmother, why do you wave at me every morning when I leave for work?”
She asked. You explained about your children in Spain. She took pity and scribbled a
Pass on her card to admit you to her office the next day.

You met her there  and she assured you that a visa would be forthcoming;
When she learned that you made a living by cleaning homes and washing clothing,
She offered you a sewing machine and training to become a seamstress.
You thanked her but declined the offer.

“Give the sewing machine to another mother with no trade. My strong back and hands
Serve me well enough and I do just fine, as I have always done.”
Evita must have been impressed for she asked you to see her yet again when the
Children had arrived in Buenos Aires, giving you another pass. You said you would.

You kept your word, as always. And Evita granted you another brief audience,
Met your two youngest sons (José and Emilio) and shared hot chocolate and
Biscuits with the three of you. You disliked and always criticized Peron and the Peronistas,
But you never forgot Evita’s kindness and defended her all your life.

You were gone too quickly. I had not said “I love” you in years. I was too busy,
With school and other equally meaningless things to keep in touch. You
Passed away without my being there. Mom had to travel by herself to your
Bedside for an extended stay. The last time I wrote you I had sent you a picture.

It was from my law school graduation.
You carried it in your coat pocket before the stroke.
As always, you loved me, with all of my faults that made me
Unworthy of your love.

I knew the moment that you died. I awoke from a deep sleep to see a huge
White bird of human size atop my desk across from my bed. It opened huge
Wings and flew towards me and passed through me as I shuddered.
I knew then that you were gone. I cried, and prayed for you.

Mom called early the next day with the news that you had passed. She also
Told me much, much later that you had been in a coma for some time but that
You awoke, turned to her without recognizing her, and told her that you were going to
Visit your grandson in New York. Then you fell asleep for one last time.

I miss you every day.

[   To hear a YouTube reading of this poem in its entirety, you can visit the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX6w1Pwe7gI   ]
from Of Pain and Ecstasy: Collected Poems 2011, 2018
Let me to the Incarnate Mother must
The Eldest of Sudden Truth understand
One Day, which shaky Candles will delust
The Object's Manner of a Blackened Hand
I deliver Forceps to which Heart grows
What Heart's own Attrition dares to admit
The Mum of Three Promised Knights beknows
The Receipt of such Devotion permits
Verily, Age is a Factorless Sum,
Easily enclayed by a Donkey's Foot
And when the Festival lays down its Lump
It locked the Door to keep the Sorrowful.
Now, Elder-Mum, try to lift your Wise Head
This Extended Son, wishes your Love be fed.
How sweetly shines, through azure skies,
  The lamp of Heaven on Lora’s shore;
Where Alva’s hoary turrets rise,
  And hear the din of arms no more!

But often has yon rolling moon,
  On Alva’s casques of silver play’d;
And view’d, at midnight’s silent noon,
  Her chiefs in gleaming mail array’d:

And, on the crimson’d rocks beneath,
  Which scowl o’er ocean’s sullen flow,
Pale in the scatter’d ranks of death,
  She saw the gasping warrior low;

While many an eye, which ne’er again
  Could mark the rising orb of day,
Turn’d feebly from the gory plain,
  Beheld in death her fading ray.

Once, to those eyes the lamp of Love,
  They blest her dear propitious light;
But, now, she glimmer’d from above,
  A sad, funereal torch of night.

Faded is Alva’s noble race,
  And grey her towers are seen afar;
No more her heroes urge the chase,
  Or roll the crimson tide of war.

But, who was last of Alva’s clan?
  Why grows the moss on Alva’s stone?
Her towers resound no steps of man,
  They echo to the gale alone.

And, when that gale is fierce and high,
  A sound is heard in yonder hall;
It rises hoarsely through the sky,
  And vibrates o’er the mould’ring wall.

Yes, when the eddying tempest sighs,
  It shakes the shield of Oscar brave;
But, there, no more his banners rise,
  No more his plumes of sable wave.

Fair shone the sun on Oscar’s birth,
  When Angus hail’d his eldest born;
The vassals round their chieftain’s hearth
  Crowd to applaud the happy morn.

They feast upon the mountain deer,
  The Pibroch rais’d its piercing note,
To gladden more their Highland cheer,
  The strains in martial numbers float.

And they who heard the war-notes wild,
  Hop’d that, one day, the Pibroch’s strain
Should play before the Hero’s child,
  While he should lead the Tartan train.

Another year is quickly past,
  And Angus hails another son;
His natal day is like the last,
  Nor soon the jocund feast was done.

Taught by their sire to bend the bow,
  On Alva’s dusky hills of wind,
The boys in childhood chas’d the roe,
  And left their hounds in speed behind.

But ere their years of youth are o’er,
  They mingle in the ranks of war;
They lightly wheel the bright claymore,
  And send the whistling arrow far.

Dark was the flow of Oscar’s hair,
  Wildly it stream’d along the gale;
But Allan’s locks were bright and fair,
  And pensive seem’d his cheek, and pale.

But Oscar own’d a hero’s soul,
  His dark eye shone through beams of truth;
Allan had early learn’d controul,
  And smooth his words had been from youth.

Both, both were brave; the Saxon spear
  Was shiver’d oft beneath their steel;
And Oscar’s ***** scorn’d to fear,
  But Oscar’s ***** knew to feel;

While Allan’s soul belied his form,
  Unworthy with such charms to dwell:
Keen as the lightning of the storm,
  On foes his deadly vengeance fell.

From high Southannon’s distant tower
  Arrived a young and noble dame;
With Kenneth’s lands to form her dower,
  Glenalvon’s blue-eyed daughter came;

And Oscar claim’d the beauteous bride,
  And Angus on his Oscar smil’d:
It soothed the father’s feudal pride
  Thus to obtain Glenalvon’s child.

Hark! to the Pibroch’s pleasing note,
  Hark! to the swelling nuptial song,
In joyous strains the voices float,
  And, still, the choral peal prolong.

See how the Heroes’ blood-red plumes
  Assembled wave in Alva’s hall;
Each youth his varied plaid assumes,
  Attending on their chieftain’s call.

It is not war their aid demands,
  The Pibroch plays the song of peace;
To Oscar’s nuptials throng the bands
  Nor yet the sounds of pleasure cease.

But where is Oscar? sure ’tis late:
  Is this a bridegroom’s ardent flame?
While thronging guests and ladies wait,
  Nor Oscar nor his brother came.

At length young Allan join’d the bride;
  “Why comes not Oscar?” Angus said:
“Is he not here?” the Youth replied;
  “With me he rov’d not o’er the glade:

“Perchance, forgetful of the day,
  ’Tis his to chase the bounding roe;
Or Ocean’s waves prolong his stay:
  Yet, Oscar’s bark is seldom slow.”

“Oh, no!” the anguish’d Sire rejoin’d,
  “Nor chase, nor wave, my Boy delay;
Would he to Mora seem unkind?
  Would aught to her impede his way?

“Oh, search, ye Chiefs! oh, search around!
  Allan, with these, through Alva fly;
Till Oscar, till my son is found,
  Haste, haste, nor dare attempt reply.”

All is confusion—through the vale,
  The name of Oscar hoarsely rings,
It rises on the murm’ring gale,
  Till night expands her dusky wings.

It breaks the stillness of the night,
  But echoes through her shades in vain;
It sounds through morning’s misty light,
  But Oscar comes not o’er the plain.

Three days, three sleepless nights, the Chief
  For Oscar search’d each mountain cave;
Then hope is lost; in boundless grief,
  His locks in grey-torn ringlets wave.

“Oscar! my son!—thou God of Heav’n,
  Restore the prop of sinking age!
Or, if that hope no more is given,
  Yield his assassin to my rage.

“Yes, on some desert rocky shore
  My Oscar’s whiten’d bones must lie;
Then grant, thou God! I ask no more,
  With him his frantic Sire may die!

“Yet, he may live,—away, despair!
  Be calm, my soul! he yet may live;
T’ arraign my fate, my voice forbear!
  O God! my impious prayer forgive.

“What, if he live for me no more,
  I sink forgotten in the dust,
The hope of Alva’s age is o’er:
  Alas! can pangs like these be just?”

Thus did the hapless Parent mourn,
  Till Time, who soothes severest woe,
Had bade serenity return,
  And made the tear-drop cease to flow.

For, still, some latent hope surviv’d
  That Oscar might once more appear;
His hope now droop’d and now revived,
  Till Time had told a tedious year.

Days roll’d along, the orb of light
  Again had run his destined race;
No Oscar bless’d his father’s sight,
  And sorrow left a fainter trace.

For youthful Allan still remain’d,
  And, now, his father’s only joy:
And Mora’s heart was quickly gain’d,
  For beauty crown’d the fair-hair’d boy.

She thought that Oscar low was laid,
  And Allan’s face was wondrous fair;
If Oscar liv’d, some other maid
  Had claim’d his faithless *****’s care.

And Angus said, if one year more
  In fruitless hope was pass’d away,
His fondest scruples should be o’er,
  And he would name their nuptial day.

Slow roll’d the moons, but blest at last
  Arriv’d the dearly destin’d morn:
The year of anxious trembling past,
  What smiles the lovers’ cheeks adorn!

Hark to the Pibroch’s pleasing note!
  Hark to the swelling nuptial song!
In joyous strains the voices float,
  And, still, the choral peal prolong.

Again the clan, in festive crowd,
  Throng through the gate of Alva’s hall;
The sounds of mirth re-echo loud,
  And all their former joy recall.

But who is he, whose darken’d brow
  Glooms in the midst of general mirth?
Before his eyes’ far fiercer glow
  The blue flames curdle o’er the hearth.

Dark is the robe which wraps his form,
  And tall his plume of gory red;
His voice is like the rising storm,
  But light and trackless is his tread.

’Tis noon of night, the pledge goes round,
  The bridegroom’s health is deeply quaff’d;
With shouts the vaulted roofs resound,
  And all combine to hail the draught.

Sudden the stranger-chief arose,
  And all the clamorous crowd are hush’d;
And Angus’ cheek with wonder glows,
  And Mora’s tender ***** blush’d.

“Old man!” he cried, “this pledge is done,
  Thou saw’st ’twas truly drunk by me;
It hail’d the nuptials of thy son:
  Now will I claim a pledge from thee.

“While all around is mirth and joy,
  To bless thy Allan’s happy lot,
Say, hadst thou ne’er another boy?
  Say, why should Oscar be forgot?”

“Alas!” the hapless Sire replied,
  The big tear starting as he spoke,
“When Oscar left my hall, or died,
  This aged heart was almost broke.

“Thrice has the earth revolv’d her course
  Since Oscar’s form has bless’d my sight;
And Allan is my last resource,
  Since martial Oscar’s death, or flight.”

“’Tis well,” replied the stranger stern,
  And fiercely flash’d his rolling eye;
“Thy Oscar’s fate, I fain would learn;
  Perhaps the Hero did not die.

“Perchance, if those, whom most he lov’d,
  Would call, thy Oscar might return;
Perchance, the chief has only rov’d;
  For him thy Beltane, yet, may burn.

“Fill high the bowl the table round,
  We will not claim the pledge by stealth;
With wine let every cup be crown’d;
  Pledge me departed Oscar’s health.”

“With all my soul,” old Angus said,
  And fill’d his goblet to the brim:
“Here’s to my boy! alive or dead,
  I ne’er shall find a son like him.”

“Bravely, old man, this health has sped;
  But why does Allan trembling stand?
Come, drink remembrance of the dead,
  And raise thy cup with firmer hand.”

The crimson glow of Allan’s face
  Was turn’d at once to ghastly hue;
The drops of death each other chace,
  Adown in agonizing dew.

Thrice did he raise the goblet high,
  And thrice his lips refused to taste;
For thrice he caught the stranger’s eye
  On his with deadly fury plac’d.

“And is it thus a brother hails
  A brother’s fond remembrance here?
If thus affection’s strength prevails,
  What might we not expect from fear?”

Roused by the sneer, he rais’d the bowl,
  “Would Oscar now could share our mirth!”
Internal fear appall’d his soul;
  He said, and dash’d the cup to earth.

“’Tis he! I hear my murderer’s voice!”
  Loud shrieks a darkly gleaming Form.
“A murderer’s voice!” the roof replies,
  And deeply swells the bursting storm.

The tapers wink, the chieftains shrink,
  The stranger’s gone,—amidst the crew,
A Form was seen, in tartan green,
  And tall the shade terrific grew.

His waist was bound with a broad belt round,
  His plume of sable stream’d on high;
But his breast was bare, with the red wounds there,
  And fix’d was the glare of his glassy eye.

And thrice he smil’d, with his eye so wild
  On Angus bending low the knee;
And thrice he frown’d, on a Chief on the ground,
  Whom shivering crowds with horror see.

The bolts loud roll from pole to pole,
  And thunders through the welkin ring,
And the gleaming form, through the mist of the storm,
  Was borne on high by the whirlwind’s wing.

Cold was the feast, the revel ceas’d.
  Who lies upon the stony floor?
Oblivion press’d old Angus’ breast,
  At length his life-pulse throbs once more.

“Away, away! let the leech essay
  To pour the light on Allan’s eyes:”
His sand is done,—his race is run;
  Oh! never more shall Allan rise!

But Oscar’s breast is cold as clay,
  His locks are lifted by the gale;
And Allan’s barbèd arrow lay
  With him in dark Glentanar’s vale.

And whence the dreadful stranger came,
  Or who, no mortal wight can tell;
But no one doubts the form of flame,
  For Alva’s sons knew Oscar well.

Ambition nerv’d young Allan’s hand,
  Exulting demons wing’d his dart;
While Envy wav’d her burning brand,
  And pour’d her venom round his heart.

Swift is the shaft from Allan’s bow;
  Whose streaming life-blood stains his side?
Dark Oscar’s sable crest is low,
  The dart has drunk his vital tide.

And Mora’s eye could Allan move,
  She bade his wounded pride rebel:
Alas! that eyes, which beam’d with love,
  Should urge the soul to deeds of Hell.

Lo! see’st thou not a lonely tomb,
  Which rises o’er a warrior dead?
It glimmers through the twilight gloom;
  Oh! that is Allan’s nuptial bed.

Far, distant far, the noble grave
  Which held his clan’s great ashes stood;
And o’er his corse no banners wave,
  For they were stain’d with kindred blood.

What minstrel grey, what hoary bard,
  Shall Allan’s deeds on harp-strings raise?
The song is glory’s chief reward,
  But who can strike a murd’rer’s praise?

Unstrung, untouch’d, the harp must stand,
  No minstrel dare the theme awake;
Guilt would benumb his palsied hand,
  His harp in shuddering chords would break.

No lyre of fame, no hallow’d verse,
  Shall sound his glories high in air:
A dying father’s bitter curse,
  A brother’s death-groan echoes there.
RAJ NANDY Jul 2016
Dear Poet Friends, our World today & especially Europe is threatened with terrorism from the religious fundamentalist groups like the ‘IS’ ! History teaches us that during the Middle Ages the Holy Crusades were launched with the combined forces of Christendom. May be History is repeating itself once again within a span of thousand years! Do kindly read with patience this True Story of the Holy Crusades in Verse, to see events in its proper historical perspective. Concluding portion as Part Two has also been posted here. You will find the portion on ''Motivation & The Medieval Mind'' to be interesting! Kindly take your time to read at leisure. No need to comment in a hurry please! Thanks, - Raj

               STORY OF THE HOLY CRUSADE: (1096-1099)
                                           PART ONE

                                       INTRODUCTION
For thousands of years the Holy Lands of Palestine on the eastern coast
of the Mediterranean Sea had witnessed,
Ferocious battles fought between the Christians, Jews, and the Muslims,
with much bloodshed;
For a strip of land few hundred miles in length and varying between some hundred miles in breadth,
Which they all righteously defended!
There the Ancient City of Jerusalem now stands as a World Heritage Site,
Sacred to the three of World’s oldest Religions and as their pride!
Jerusalem today is a symbol of unity amidst its religious diversity;
For on its Dome of the Rock, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Synagogues, are etched thousand years of Ancient History.
In 1096, Pope Urban the Second, motivated Christendom and launched the First Holy Crusade,
To liberate Jerusalem from 461 Years of MUSLIM dominance!
Some Historians have listed a total of Nine Crusades in all,
And I commence with the FIRST, being the most important of all;
For it recaptured Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks making it fall. (in 1099AD)
While subsequent Crusades did not make any appreciable dent at all!
Not forgetting the THIRD, led by King Richard ‘The Lion Heart’, -
Who made the Turk leader Saladin to agree,
For Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy shrines in Jerusalem and the Hills of Calvary.
The Crusades began towards the end of the 11th Century lasting for almost Two hundred years;
Had later turned into a tale of sorrow and tears!
Now to understand the Crusades in its proper perspective let us see,
The brief historical background of Europe during the early parts of
Second Millennium AD.

                         A BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Normans:
During the first century of the Second Millennium, Europe was in a formative stage,     (11th Century AD)
It had began to emerge from its long period of hibernation called the ‘Dark Age’!
The Viking raids from those northern Norsemen had ceased subsequently,
As they became Christian converts settling in Northern France in the Duchy of Normandy.
In 1035 when Robert the Devil, 5th Duke of Normandy died on his way
to Jerusalem during a Holy Pilgrimage;
His only son William, who was illegitimate, was only seven years of age.
By 1063 AD these Norman settlers had intermingled and expanded their lands considerably,
By conquering Southern Italy and driving the Muslims from the Island of Sicily.
And in 1066 Robert’s son William shaped future events, -
By defeating King Harold at Hastings and by uniting England.
Now William the Conqueror’s eldest son Robert the Duke of Normandy,
Participated in the First Holy Crusade, which has become both Legend
and a part of History!
These Normans though pious, were also valiant fighters,
And became the driving force behind the Crusades from 11th Century
onward !

                     MUSLIM CONQUEST AND EXPANSION
After the death of Prophet Mohammad during 7th Century AD,
Muslim cavalry burst forth from Arabia in a conquering spree!
They soon conquered the Middle East, Persia, and the Byzantine
Empire;
And in 638 AD they occupied the Holy city of Jerusalem and
Palestine entire!
Beginning of the 8th Century saw them crossing the Gibraltar Strait,
To occupy the Iberian Peninsula by sealing ruling Visigoth’s fate!
Crossing Spain soon they knocked on the gates of Southern France,
When Charles Martel in the crucial Battle of Tours halted their rapid
advance!  (Oct 732 AD)
By defeating the Moors, Martel confined them to Southern Spain,
And thereby SAVED Western Europe from Muslim dominance!
Charles Martel was also the grandfather of the Emperor Charlemagne.
The Sunni–Shiite split over the true successor of Prophet Muhammad,
and other doctrinal differences of Faith,
Had weakened the Muslim Empire till the Mongols sealed their fate!

                         THE SELJUK TURKS
Meanwhile around Mid-eleventh Century from the steppes of Central Asia,
Came a nomadic tribe of Seljuk Turks and occupied Persia!
In 1055 they captured Baghdad and took the Abbasid Caliph under their Protectorate.
The Persian poet Omar Khayyam, and the great Rumi the mystic sage,
Had also flourished during this Seljuk Age!
In 1071 at the Battle of Manzikirt the Seljuks defeated the Byzantines
and occupied entire Anatolia,     (now Turkey)
And set up their Capital there by occupying Nicaea!
Deprived of their Anatolian ‘bread basket’ the Byzantine Emperor
Alexius Comnenus the First,
Appealed to Pope Urban II to save him from the scourge of those
Seljuk Turks!
The Seljuk Turks had also occupied Jerusalem and entire Palestine,
And prevented the Christian pilgrims from visiting its Holy Shrines!
The Seljuk, who converted to Islam, became staunch defenders of the
Muslim faith,
And played an historic role during the First Two Holy Crusades!

THE CHURCH AND THE SECULAR STATE (11th Century) :
The ecclesiastic differences and theological disputes between Western (Latin) and Eastern(Greek Orthodox) Church,
And the authority over the Norman Church at Sicily;
Resulted in the Roman and Constantinople Churches
ex-communicating each other in 1054 AD!
This East-West Schism was soon followed by the ‘Investiture Controversy’,
Over the right to appoint Bishops and many other doctrinal complexities;
Between Pope Gregory VII and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV  
of Germany.
Here I have cut short many details to spare you some agony!
Pope Gregory was succeeded by Pope Urban the Second,
Who was a shrewd diplomat and a great orator as Rome’s Papal Head.
Pope Urban seized this opportunity and responded to the Byzantine
Emperor’s desperate call,
Hoping to add lands to his Papal Estate after the Seljuk Turks fall!
Also to reign in those errant knights and warlords, -
Who plundered for greed and as mercenaries fought!
And finally, by liberating Jerusalem as Christendom’s Religious Superior,
Pope Urban hoped to assert his authority over the Holy Roman Emperor!
It is therefore an unfortunate fact of History, that the news of re-conquest of Jerusalem failed to reach Italy;
Even though Pope Urban died fourteen days later,
on the 29th of July, in 1099 AD!

                 MOTIVATION AND THE MEDIEVAL MIND
The Medieval Age was the Age of Faith, which preceded the Age of Reason;
A God-centred world where to think otherwise smacked of treason!
It is rather difficult for us in our Modern times,
To fully comprehend the Early Medieval mind!
The Church was the very framework of the Medieval Society itself,
With their Monasteries and Abbeys as front-line of defence
against Evil;
While combating the deceptions and temptations of the Devil!
It was a mysterious and enchanted Medieval World where superstition
and ignorance was rife;
Where with blurred boundaries both the natural and the supernatural
existed side by side !
When education was confined to the Clergy and the Upper Class of
the Society exclusively;
In such a world the human mind was preoccupied with thoughts
of Salvation and piety;
And in an afterlife hoping to escape the pains of Purgatory!
So in Nov 1095 at the Council of Clermont in France,
When Pope Urban II made his clarion call to liberate the
Holy Lands from the infidels,
The massive congregation responded by shouting, “God Wills It”,
‘’God Wills It’’,  - which echoed beyond France!
The Crusade offered an opportunity to absolve oneself of sins,
And to even die a martyrs death for a Holy cause, which motivated
them from within!
Now for actual action kindly read the Concluding portion,
I tried to make it short and crisp!


    STORY OF THE HOLY CRUSADE : CONCLUSION
                                 PART TWO

THE  PEASANT’S CRUSADE (April-Oct 1096) :
Even before the First Crusade could get officially organized,
A Peasant’s Crusade of around forty thousand took-off,
taking Pope Urban by surprise!
When these untrained motley body of men led by the French
Lord Walter Sans Avoir, and Peter Hermit reached Constantinople;
They disappointed Emperor Alexius, who for seasoned Norman
Knights had bargained.
So Alexius ferried them to Anatolia across the Bosporus Strait,
Only to be massacred there by the hardy Seljuk Turks who sealed
their fate!
Thus ended the Peasant’s Crusade, also known as “The People’s
Crusade’’.
But Peter the Hermit survived as he had returned to Constantinople
for help,
And participated with the main Crusade, motivating them till the
very end,
With his sermons and prayers till their objectives were attained!

THE CRUSADE LEADERS AND THEIR ROUTES:
Now let me tell you about those Crusade Leaders and their routes,
For this true story to be better understood.
In the Summer of 1096 French nobles and seasoned knights,
along with Bishop Adhemar the Papal Legate,
Set out in large contingents by land and sea routes, forming the
Christian Brigade!
Their rendezvous point being Constantinople, capital of the
Byzantine Empire,
And from there across the Bosporus to enter Turkey then known
as Anatolia;
To finally take on the Seljuk Turks, in response to the request  
made by Emperor Alexius.
Raymond the IV of Toulouse, the senior-most and richest of
the Crusaders,
Was an old veteran who had fought the Moors in Spain was one of
the Crusade leaders.
He brought the largest army and was accompanied by the Papal Legate, and his wife Elvira,
And later played a major role in the siege of Antioch, and Nicea.
Raymond along with the veteran and pious bachelor knight
Godfrey of Bouillon, who became the First Ruler of Jerusalem
after its capture and fall;
Was accompanied by Godfrey’s ambitious brother Baldwin and
a large contingent, -
They followed the land route to Constantinople.
The fierce Norman knight Bohemond of Taranto, along with
Robert II Duke of Flanders, and the Norman knights from
Southern Italy,
Followed the sea route to Byzantium from the Italian port of Bari.
I have mentioned here only a few, to cut short my story!
At Constantinople Emperor Alexius, administered a Holy Oath of
allegiance to the Crusade Leaders;
Hoping to win back his captured lands after the defeat of the
Seljuk Turks.

THE SIEGE OF NICEA (14th May – 19th Jun 1097) :
This captured Byzantine City was then the Seljuk Capital;
With 200 towers its mighty walls was a formidable defence!
Emperor Alexius sent his army to help the Crusaders in the siege,
And by blockading the food supply lines the city was besieged;
In the absence of the City’s ruler who had gone on a campaign
to the East, -
Alexius’ Generals secretly worked out a negotiation of surrender
and peace!
The Crusaders were angry and felt they were being cheated,
But Alexius gave them money, horses, and gifts to get them
compensated!
On the 26th of June the Crusader army was split into two contingents,
And the Turks ambushed and surrounded the vanguard led by Bohemund the Valiant.
Turk cavalry shooting arrows mauled part of the vanguard,
When the rearguard of Godfrey, and Baldwin charged in
and rescued them from the Turks!
Historians call this the Battle of Dorylaeum;  (1st Jul 1097)  
It was the first major battle  which provided a taste of
things to come!

SIEGE OF EDESSA:
Next a three month’s long and arduous march followed
under the sweltering Summer’s heat,
When five hundred lost their lives due to sheer fatigue!
Baldwin lost his wife God Hilda, a rich heiress;
Now with all her wealth going back to her blood line
as per tradition of those days,
Placed ambitious Baldwin under great mental and financial
distress!
So Baldwin with a few hundred knights headed East for the
rich Christian city of Edessa,
With intentions of claiming it as his own after the loss of his
wife Hilda!
The citizens there backed Baldwin and gave him an Armenian
Christian lady to be his wife,
And against their old childless Ruler Thoros, they plotted to
take his life!
It was not a great start for the idealism of the Crusade,
Since motivated by greed Baldwin had carved out his own
State;
While Edessa also became the First State to be established
by the Holy Crusade!

THE SIEGE OF ANTIOCH  (21 Oct 1097- 02 Jun 1098) :
Antioch was an old Roman city built around 300 BC,
Its six gates and towers fortified the city.
Its formidable walls were built by the Byzantine Emperor
Justinian the First,
And twelve years prior to the arrival of the Crusaders,
Antioch had got occupied by the Turks!
In the absence of a Centralised Command, the Crusade leaders
frequently argued and quarrelled;
Since the majority preferred a siege, so Antioch got finally
surrounded.
When food supply ran short during the winter, both
starvation and desertion plagued the Crusaders;
While Antioch’s Governor Yagi-Siyan appealed for
assistance from his distant brothers the Turks.
He tied messages on legs of trained homing pigeon,
A unique postal service of those early days!
End May 1098 brought news of a large Muslim army
commanded by Emir Kerbogha,
Had set course from Mosul to liberate Antioch from
the Crusaders!
The Crusaders now had to break in fast into Antioch,
or face those 75,000 strong Turkish force!
The Twin Towers on the southern side was manned by
an Armenian Christian Muslim convert named Firuz,
Who was bribed by Bohemund to betray Antioch!
Firuz let down rope ladders for the Crusaders to climb
inside,
And a massacre followed late into the ****** night!
Next day Emir Kerbogha’s troops arrived and the
situation got reversed,
The attackers now lay besieged by those Seljuk Turks!
After fifty-two days of trying siege food supply ran out,
Morale of the Crusaders were rather low, and some even
feared a route!
Now buried in the Church of St. Peter, Peter Bartholomew
the French priest found the ‘Holy Lance’,
About which he had a vision in advance!
This find raised the morale of the Crusaders, and some
even went into a spiritual trance!
For Peter claimed this ‘Holy Relic’ had pierced Christ’s body
after his Crucifixion;
And the Crusading army now moved out of the city in full
battle formation!
Soon after the Turkish army of Kerbogha retreated fearing
devastation!
This victory has been attributed to God and His miraculous
intervention!

                     LIBERATION OF JERUSALEM
After the conquest of Antioch in June 1098, the Crusaders
stayed on till the year got completed.
Though the death of the Papal Legate in August got them
rather depressed;
While Bohemund of Taranto took over Antioch, which now
became the Second Crusader State;
And Raymond of Toulouse became the undisputed Leader
of The Crusade!
Next travelling through Tripoli, Beirut, Tire and Lebanon;
To liberate Bethlehem they sent off Tancred, and Baldwin
of Le Bourg.
On the 5th of June they liberated Bethlehem, and on the
Seventh of June they reached the gates of Jerusalem!
Facing acute shortage of food and water their initial attack
failed to materialise,
When priest Peter Desiderius’ vision of the deceased Papal
Legate came as a pleasant surprise!
This vision commanded them to fast, atone for their sins and
make amends,
By walking barefoot in prayer around the Holy City of Jerusalem!
After a final assault on the 15th of July 1099, they broke into
the City,
Killing all Muslims and Jews with impunity!
Pious Godfrey of Bouillon refusing to wear the crown, became
the First Ruler of this Third Crusader State;
And objectives of the Crusaders were finally attained!
With the formation of warrior monks of ‘Hospitallers’ and
‘Knight Templers’, wearing White and Red Crosses respectivel
RELEVANT LESSONS CAN BE DRAWN FROM PAST HISTORY!
Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam waked, so customed; for his sleep
Was aery-light, from pure digestion bred,
And temperate vapours bland, which the only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora’s fan,
Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on every bough; so much the more
His wonder was to find unwakened Eve
With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest:  He, on his side
Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamoured, and beheld
Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice
Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whispered thus.  Awake,
My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,
Heaven’s last best gift, my ever new delight!
Awake:  The morning shines, and the fresh field
Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tender plants, how blows the citron grove,
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,
How nature paints her colours, how the bee
Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.
Such whispering waked her, but with startled eye
On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake.
O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose,
My glory, my perfection! glad I see
Thy face, and morn returned; for I this night
(Such night till this I never passed) have dreamed,
If dreamed, not, as I oft am wont, of thee,
Works of day past, or morrow’s next design,
But of offence and trouble, which my mind
Knew never till this irksome night:  Methought,
Close at mine ear one called me forth to walk
With gentle voice;  I thought it thine: It said,
‘Why sleepest thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,
‘The cool, the silent, save where silence yields
‘To the night-warbling bird, that now awake
‘Tunes sweetest his love-laboured song; now reigns
‘Full-orbed the moon, and with more pleasing light
‘Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain,
‘If none regard; Heaven wakes with all his eyes,
‘Whom to behold but thee, Nature’s desire?
‘In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
‘Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.’
I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;
To find thee I directed then my walk;
And on, methought, alone I passed through ways
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seemed,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
And, as I wondering looked, beside it stood
One shaped and winged like one of those from Heaven
By us oft seen; his dewy locks distilled
Ambrosia; on that tree he also gazed;
And ‘O fair plant,’ said he, ‘with fruit surcharged,
‘Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,
‘Nor God, nor Man?  Is knowledge so despised?
‘Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste?
‘Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
‘Longer thy offered good; why else set here?
This said, he paused not, but with venturous arm
He plucked, he tasted; me damp horrour chilled
At such bold words vouched with a deed so bold:
But he thus, overjoyed; ‘O fruit divine,
‘Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt,
‘Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit
‘For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men:
‘And why not Gods of Men; since good, the more
‘Communicated, more abundant grows,
‘The author not impaired, but honoured more?
‘Here, happy creature, fair angelick Eve!
‘Partake thou also; happy though thou art,
‘Happier thou mayest be, worthier canst not be:
‘Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods
‘Thyself a Goddess, not to earth confined,
‘But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
‘Ascend to Heaven, by merit thine, and see
‘What life the Gods live there, and such live thou!’
So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Even to my mouth of that same fruit held part
Which he had plucked; the pleasant savoury smell
So quickened appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste.  Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretched immense, a prospect wide
And various:  Wondering at my flight and change
To this high exaltation; suddenly
My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep; but O, how glad I waked
To find this but a dream!  Thus Eve her night
Related, and thus Adam answered sad.
Best image of myself, and dearer half,
The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep
Affects me equally; nor can I like
This uncouth dream, of evil sprung, I fear;
Yet evil whence? in thee can harbour none,
Created pure.  But know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief; among these Fancy next
Her office holds; of all external things
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imaginations, aery shapes,
Which Reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All what we affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell, when nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimick Fancy wakes
To imitate her; but, misjoining shapes,
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams;
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.
Some such resemblances, methinks, I find
Of our last evening’s talk, in this thy dream,
But with addition strange; yet be not sad.
Evil into the mind of God or Man
May come and go, so unreproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind:  Which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never will consent to do.
Be not disheartened then, nor cloud those looks,
That wont to be more cheerful and serene,
Than when fair morning first smiles on the world;
And let us to our fresh employments rise
Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers
That open now their choisest bosomed smells,
Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.
So cheered he his fair spouse, and she was cheered;
But silently a gentle tear let fall
From either eye, and wiped them with her hair;
Two other precious drops that ready stood,
Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell
Kissed, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse
And pious awe, that feared to have offended.
So all was cleared, and to the field they haste.
But first, from under shady arborous roof
Soon as they forth were come to open sight
Of day-spring, and the sun, who, scarce up-risen,
With wheels yet hovering o’er the ocean-brim,
Shot parallel to the earth his dewy ray,
Discovering in wide landskip all the east
Of Paradise and Eden’s happy plains,
Lowly they bowed adoring, and began
Their orisons, each morning duly paid
In various style; for neither various style
Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise
Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced, or sung
Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence
Flowed from their lips, in prose or numerous verse,
More tuneable than needed lute or harp
To add more sweetness; and they thus began.
These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almighty!  Thine this universal frame,
Thus wonderous fair;  Thyself how wonderous then!
Unspeakable, who sitst above these heavens
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.
Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels; for ye behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,
Circle his throne rejoicing; ye in Heaven
On Earth join all ye Creatures to extol
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.
Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crownest the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,
While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge him thy greater; sound his praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climbest,
And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fallest.
Moon, that now meetest the orient sun, now flyest,
With the fixed Stars, fixed in their orb that flies;
And ye five other wandering Fires, that move
In mystick dance not without song, resound
His praise, who out of darkness called up light.
Air, and ye Elements, the eldest birth
Of Nature’s womb, that in quaternion run
Perpetual circle, multiform; and mix
And nourish all things; let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye Mists and Exhalations, that now rise
From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,
Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honour to the world’s great Author rise;
Whether to deck with clouds the uncoloured sky,
Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise, ye Winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and, wave your tops, ye Pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship wave.
Fountains, and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Join voices, all ye living Souls:  Ye Birds,
That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill, or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.
Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us only good; and if the night
Have gathered aught of evil, or concealed,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark!
So prayed they innocent, and to their thoughts
Firm peace recovered soon, and wonted calm.
On to their morning’s rural work they haste,
Among sweet dews and flowers; where any row
Of fruit-trees over-woody reached too far
Their pampered boughs, and needed hands to check
Fruitless embraces: or they led the vine
To wed her elm; she, spoused, about him twines
Her marriageable arms, and with him brings
Her dower, the adopted clusters, to adorn
His barren leaves.  Them thus employed beheld
With pity Heaven’s high King, and to him called
Raphael, the sociable Spirit, that deigned
To travel with Tobias, and secured
His marriage with the seventimes-wedded maid.
Raphael, said he, thou hearest what stir on Earth
Satan, from Hell ’scaped through the darksome gulf,
Hath raised in Paradise; and how disturbed
This night the human pair; how he designs
In them at once to ruin all mankind.
Go therefore, half this day as friend with friend
Converse with Adam, in what bower or shade
Thou findest him from the heat of noon retired,
To respite his day-labour with repast,
Or with repose; and such discourse bring on,
As may advise him of his happy state,
Happiness in his power left free to will,
Left to his own free will, his will though free,
Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware
He swerve not, too secure:  Tell him withal
His danger, and from whom; what enemy,
Late fallen himself from Heaven, is plotting now
The fall of others from like state of bliss;
By violence? no, for that shall be withstood;
But by deceit and lies:  This let him know,
Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend
Surprisal, unadmonished, unforewarned.
So spake the Eternal Father, and fulfilled
All justice:  Nor delayed the winged Saint
After his charge received; but from among
Thousand celestial Ardours, where he stood
Veiled with his gorgeous wings, up springing light,
Flew through the midst of Heaven; the angelick quires,
On each hand parting, to his speed gave way
Through all the empyreal road; till, at the gate
Of Heaven arrived, the gate self-opened wide
On golden hinges turning, as by work
Divine the sovran Architect had framed.
From hence no cloud, or, to obstruct his sight,
Star interposed, however small he sees,
Not unconformed to other shining globes,
Earth, and the garden of God, with cedars crowned
Above all hills.  As when by night the glass
Of Galileo, less assured, observes
Imagined lands and regions in the moon:
Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades
Delos or Samos first appearing, kens
A cloudy spot.  Down thither prone in flight
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing
Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan
Winnows the buxom air; till, within soar
Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems
A phoenix, gazed by all as that sole bird,
When, to enshrine his reliques in the Sun’s
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies.
At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise
He lights, and to his proper shape returns
A Seraph winged:  Six wings he wore, to shade
His lineaments divine; the pair that clad
Each shoulder broad, came mantling o’er his breast
With regal ornament; the middle pair
Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round
Skirted his ***** and thighs with downy gold
And colours dipt in Heaven; the third his feet
Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail,
Sky-tinctured grain.  Like Maia’s son he stood,
And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance filled
The circuit wide.  Straight knew him all the bands
Of Angels under watch; and to his state,
And to his message high, in honour rise;
For on some message high they guessed him bound.
Their glittering tents he passed, and now is come
Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,
And flowering odours, cassia, nard, and balm;
A wilderness of sweets; for Nature here
Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will
Her ****** fancies pouring forth more sweet,
Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.
Him through the spicy forest onward come
Adam discerned, as in the door he sat
Of his cool bower, while now the mounted sun
Shot down direct his fervid rays to warm
Earth’s inmost womb, more warmth than Adam needs:
And Eve within, due at her hour prepared
For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please
True appetite, and not disrelish thirst
Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,
Berry or grape:  To whom thus Adam called.
Haste hither, Eve, and worth thy sight behold
Eastward among those trees, what glorious shape
Comes this way moving; seems another morn
Risen on mid-noon; some great behest from Heaven
To us perhaps he brings, and will vouchsafe
This day to be our guest.  But go with speed,
And, what thy stores contain, bring forth, and pour
Abundance, fit to honour and receive
Our heavenly stranger:  Well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburthening grows
More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare.
To whom thus Eve.  Adam, earth’s hallowed mould,
Of God inspired! small store will serve, where store,
All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;
Save what by frugal storing firmness gains
To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes:
But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,
Each plant and juciest gourd, will pluck such choice
To entertain our Angel-guest, as he
Beholding shall confess, that here on Earth
God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heaven.
So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best,
What order, so contrived as not to mix
Tastes, not well joined, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
In Pontus or the Punick coast, or where
Alcinous reigned, fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough, or smooth rind, or bearded husk, or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand; for drink the grape
She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed
She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strows the ground
With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed.
Mean while our primitive great sire, to meet
His God-like guest, walks forth, without more train
Accompanied than with his own complete
Perfections; in himself was all his state,
More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits
On princes, when their rich retinue long
Of horses led, and gro

— The End —