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The big teetotum twirls,
And epochs wax and wane
As chance subsides or swirls;
But of the loss and gain
The sum is always plain.
Read on the mighty pall,
The **** of funeral
That covers praise and blame,
The -isms and the -anities,
Magnificence and shame:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"

The Fates are subtle girls!
They give us chaff for grain.
And Time, the Thunderer, hurls,
Like bolted death, disdain
At all that heart and brain
Conceive, or great or small,
Upon this earthly ball.
Would you be knight and dame?
Or woo the sweet humanities?
Or illustrate a name?
O Vanity of Vanities!

We sound the sea for pearls,
Or drown them in a drain;
We flute it with the merles,
Or tug and sweat and strain;
We grovel, or we reign;
We saunter, or we brawl;
We search the stars for Fame,
Or sink her subterranities;
The legend's still the same:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"

Here at the wine one birls,
There some one clanks a chain.
The flag that this man furls
That man to float is fain.
Pleasure gives place to pain:
These in the kennel crawl,
While others take the wall.
She has a glorious aim,
He lives for the inanities.
What come of every claim?
O Vanity of Vanities!

Alike are clods and earls.
For sot, and seer, and swain,
For emperors and for churls,
For antidote and bane,
There is but one refrain:
But one for king and thrall,
For David and for Saul,
For fleet of foot and lame,
For pieties and profanities,
The picture and the frame:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"

Life is a smoke that curls--
Curls in a flickering skein,
That winds and whisks and whirls,
A figment thin and vain,
Into the vast Inane.
One end for hut and hall!
One end for cell and stall!
Burned in one common flame
Are wisdoms and insanities.
For this alone we came:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"

Envoy
Prince, pride must have a fall.
What is the worth of all
Your state's supreme urbanities?
Bad at the best's the game.
Well might the Sage exclaim:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"
The big teetotum twirls,
And epochs wax and wane
As chance subsides or swirls;
But of the loss and gain
The sum is always plain.
Read on the mighty pall,
The **** of funeral
That covers praise and blame,
The--isms and the--anities,
Magnificence and shame:--
'O Vanity of Vanities!'

The Fates are subtile girls!
They give us chaff for grain.
And Time, the Thunderer, hurls,
Like bolted death, disdain
At all that heart and brain
Conceive, or great or small,
Upon this earthly ball.
Would you be knight and dame?
Or woo the sweet humanities?
Or illustrate a name?
O Vanity of Vanities!

We sound the sea for pearls,
Or drown them in a drain;
We flute it with the merles,
Or tug and sweat and strain;
We grovel, or we reign;
We saunter, or we brawl;
We answer, or we call;
We search the stars for Fame,
Or sink her subterranities;
The legend's still the same:--
'O Vanity of Vanities!'

Here at the wine one birls,
There some one clanks a chain.
The flag that this man furls
That man to float is fain.
Pleasure gives place to pain:
These in the kennel crawl,
While others take the wall.
She has a glorious aim,
He lives for the inanities.
What comes of every claim?
O Vanity of Vanities!

Alike are clods and earls.
For sot, and seer, and swain,
For emperors and for churls,
For antidote and bane,
There is but one refrain:
But one for king and thrall,
For David and for Saul,
For fleet of foot and lame,
For pieties and profanities,
The picture and the frame:--
'O Vanity of Vanities!'

Life is a smoke that curls--
Curls in a flickering skein,
That winds and whisks and whirls
A figment thin and vain,
Into the vast Inane.
One end for hut and hall!
One end for cell and stall!
Burned in one common flame
Are wisdoms and insanities.
For this alone we came:--
'O Vanity of Vanities!'

Envoy

Prince, pride must have a fall.
What is the worth of all
Your state's supreme urbanities?
Bad at the best's the game.
Well might the Sage exclaim:--
'O Vanity of Vanities!'
(1674.)


I have desired, and I have been desired;
  But now the days are over of desire,
  Now dust and dying embers mock my fire;
Where is the hire for which my life was hired?
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Longing and love, pangs of a perished pleasure,
  Longing and love, a disenkindled fire,
  And memory a bottomless gulf of mire,
And love a fount of tears outrunning measure;
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Now from my heart, love's deathbed, trickles, trickles,
  Drop by drop slowly, drop by drop of fire,
  The dross of life, of love, of spent desire;
Alas, my rose of life gone all to prickles,--
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!

Oh vanity of vanities, desire;
  Stunting my hope which might have strained up higher,
  Turning my garden plot to barren mire;
Oh death-struck love, oh disenkindled fire,
  Oh vanity of vanities, desire!
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
It's oh in Paradise that I fain would be,
  Away from earth and weariness and all beside;
Earth is too full of loss with its dividing sea,
  But Paradise upbuilds the bower for the bride.

Where flowers are yet in bud while the boughs are green,
  I would get quit of earth and get robed for heaven;
Putting on my raiment white within the screen,
  Putting on my crown of gold whose gems are seven

Fair is the fourfold river that maketh no moan,
  Fair are the trees fruit-bearing of the wood,
Fair are the gold and bdellium and the onyx stone,
  And I know the gold of that land is good.

O my love, my dove, lift up your eyes
  Toward the eastern gate like an opening rose;
You and I who parted will meet in Paradise,
  Pass within and sing when the gates unclose.

This life is but the passage of a day,
  This life is but a pang and all is over;
But in the life to come which fades not away
  Every love shall abide and every lover.

He who wore out pleasure and mastered all lore,
  Solomon, wrote "Vanity of vanities:"
Down to death, of all that went before
  In his mighty long life, the record is this.

With loves by the hundred, wealth beyond measure,
  Is this he who wrote "Vanity of vanities"?
Yea, "Vanity of vanities" he saith of pleasure,
  And of all he learned set his seal to this.

Yet we love and faint not, for our love is one,
  And we hope and flag not, for our hope is sure,
Although there be nothing new beneath the sun
  And no help for life and for death no cure.

The road to death is life, the gate of life is death,
  We who wake shall sleep, we shall wax who wane;
Let us not vex our souls for stoppage of a breath,
  The fall of a river that turneth not again.

Be the road short, and be the gate near,--
  Shall a short road tire, a strait gate appall?
The loves that meet in Paradise shall cast out fear,
  And Paradise hath room for you and me and all.
Like flowers sequestered from the sun
  And wind of summer, day by day
I dwindled paler, whilst my hair
    Showed the first tinge of grey.

"Oh, what is life, that we should live?
  Or what is death, that we must die?
A bursting bubble is our life:
    I also, what am I?"

"What is your grief? now tell me, sweet,
  That I may grieve," my sister said;
And stayed a white embroidering hand
    And raised a golden head:

Her tresses showed a richer mass,
  Her eyes looked softer than my own,
Her figure had a statelier height,
    Her voice a tenderer tone.

"Some must be second and not first;
  All cannot be the first of all:
Is not this, too, but vanity?
  I stumble like to fall.

"So yesterday I read the acts
  Of Hector and each clangorous king
With wrathful great AEacides:--
    Old Homer leaves a sting."

The comely face looked up again,
  The deft hand lingered on the thread
"Sweet, tell me what is Homer's sting,
    Old Homer's sting?" she said.

"He stirs my sluggish pulse like wine,
  He melts me like the wind of spice,
Strong as strong Ajax' red right hand,
    And grand like Juno's eyes.

"I cannot melt the sons of men,
  I cannot fire and tempest-toss:--
Besides, those days were golden days,
    Whilst these are days of dross."

She laughed a feminine low laugh,
  Yet did not stay her dexterous hand:
"Now tell me of those days," she said,
    "When time ran golden sand."

"Then men were men of might and right,
  Sheer might, at least, and weighty swords;
Then men in open blood and fire
    Bore witness to their words,--

"Crest-rearing kings with whistling spears;
  But if these shivered in the shock
They wrenched up hundred-rooted trees,
    Or hurled the effacing rock.

"Then hand to hand, then foot to foot,
  Stern to the death-grip grappling then,
Who ever thought of gunpowder
    Amongst these men of men?

"They knew whose hand struck home the death,
  They knew who broke but would not bend,
Could venerate an equal foe
    And scorn a laggard friend.

"Calm in the utmost stress of doom,
  Devout toward adverse powers above,
They hated with intenser hate
    And loved with fuller love.

"Then heavenly beauty could allay
  As heavenly beauty stirred the strife:
By them a slave was worshipped more
    Than is by us a wife."

She laughed again, my sister laughed;
  Made answer o'er the laboured cloth:
"I rather would be one of us
    Than wife, or slave, or both."

"Oh better then be slave or wife
  Than fritter now blank life away:
Then night had holiness of night,
    And day was sacred day.

"The princess laboured at her loom,
  Mistress and handmaiden alike;
Beneath their needles grew the field
    With warriors armed to strike.

"Or, look again, dim Dian's face
  Gleamed perfect through the attendant night:
Were such not better than those holes
    Amid that waste of white?

"A shame it is, our aimless life;
  I rather from my heart would feed
From silver dish in gilded stall
    With wheat and wine the steed--

"The faithful steed that bore my lord
  In safety through the hostile land,
The faithful steed that arched his neck
    To ****** with my hand."

Her needle erred; a moment's pause,
  A moment's patience, all was well.
Then she: "But just suppose the horse,
    Suppose the rider fell?

"Then captive in an alien house,
  Hungering on exile's bitter bread,--
They happy, they who won the lot
    Of sacrifice," she said.

Speaking she faltered, while her look
  Showed forth her passion like a glass:
With hand suspended, kindling eye,
    Flushed cheek, how fair she was!

"Ah well, be those the days of dross;
  This, if you will, the age of gold:
Yet had those days a spark of warmth,
    While these are somewhat cold--

"Are somewhat mean and cold and slow,
  Are stunted from heroic growth:
We gain but little when we prove
    The worthlessness of both."

"But life is in our hands," she said;
  "In our own hands for gain or loss:
Shall not the Sevenfold Sacred Fire
    Suffice to purge our dross?

"Too short a century of dreams,
  One day of work sufficient length:
Why should not you, why should not I,
    Attain heroic strength?

"Our life is given us as a blank,
  Ourselves must make it blest or curst:
Who dooms me I shall only be
    The second, not the first?

"Learn from old Homer, if you will,
  Such wisdom as his books have said:
In one the acts of Ajax shine,
    In one of Diomed.

"Honoured all heroes whose high deeds
  Through life, through death, enlarge their span
Only Achilles in his rage
    And sloth is less than man."

"Achilles only less than man?
  He less than man who, half a god,
Discomfited all Greece with rest,
    Cowed Ilion with a nod?

"He offered vengeance, lifelong grief
  To one dear ghost, uncounted price:
Beasts, Trojans, adverse gods, himself,
    Heaped up the sacrifice.

"Self-immolated to his friend,
  Shrined in world's wonder, Homer's page,
Is this the man, the less than men
    Of this degenerate age?"

"Gross from his acorns, tusky boar
  Does memorable acts like his;
So for her snared offended young
    Bleeds the swart lioness."

But here she paused; our eyes had met,
  And I was whitening with the jeer;
She rose: "I went too far," she said;
    Spoke low: "Forgive me, dear.

"To me our days seem pleasant days,
  Our home a haven of pure content;
Forgive me if I said too much,
    So much more than I meant.

"Homer, though greater than his gods,
  With rough-hewn virtues was sufficed
And rough-hewn men: but what are such
    To us who learn of Christ?"

The much-moved pathos of her voice,
  Her almost tearful eyes, her cheek
Grown pale, confessed the strength of love
    Which only made her speak.

For mild she was, of few soft words,
  Most gentle, easy to be led,
Content to listen when I spoke,
    And reverence what I said:

I elder sister by six years;
  Not half so glad, or wise, or good:
Her words rebuked my secret self
    And shamed me where I stood.

She never guessed her words reproved
  A silent envy nursed within,
A selfish, souring discontent
    Pride-born, the devil's sin.

I smiled, half bitter, half in jest:
  "The wisest man of all the wise
Left for his summary of life
    'Vanity of vanities.'

"Beneath the sun there's nothing new:
  Men flow, men ebb, mankind flows on:
If I am wearied of my life,
    Why, so was Solomon.

"Vanity of vanities he preached
  Of all he found, of all he sought:
Vanity of vanities, the gist
    Of all the words he taught.

"This in the wisdom of the world,
  In Homer's page, in all, we find:
As the sea is not filled, so yearns
    Man's universal mind.

"This Homer felt, who gave his men
  With glory but a transient state:
His very Jove could not reverse
    Irrevocable fate.

"Uncertain all their lot save this--
  Who wins must lose, who lives must die:
All trodden out into the dark
    Alike, all vanity."

She scarcely answered when I paused,
  But rather to herself said: "One
Is here," low-voiced and loving, "Yea,
    Greater than Solomon."

So both were silent, she and I:
  She laid her work aside, and went
Into the garden-walks, like spring,
    All gracious with content:

A little graver than her wont,
  Because her words had fretted me;
Not warbling quite her merriest tune
    Bird-like from tree to tree.

I chose a book to read and dream:
  Yet half the while with furtive eyes
Marked how she made her choice of flowers
    Intuitively wise,

And ranged them with instinctive taste
  Which all my books had failed to teach;
Fresh rose herself, and daintier
    Than blossom of the peach.

By birthright higher than myself,
  Though nestling of the self-same nest:
No fault of hers, no fault of mine,
    But stubborn to digest.

I watched her, till my book unmarked
  Slid noiseless to the velvet floor;
Till all the opulent summer-world
    Looked poorer than before.

Just then her busy fingers ceased,
  Her fluttered colour went and came:
I knew whose step was on the walk,
    Whose voice would name her name.

       * * * * *

Well, twenty years have passed since then:
  My sister now, a stately wife
Still fair, looks back in peace and sees
    The longer half of life--

The longer half of prosperous life,
  With little grief, or fear, or fret:
She, loved and loving long ago,
    Is loved and loving yet.

A husband honourable, brave,
  Is her main wealth in all the world:
And next to him one like herself,
    One daughter golden-curled:

Fair image of her own fair youth,
  As beautiful and as serene,
With almost such another love
    As her own love has been.

Yet, though of world-wide charity,
  And in her home most tender dove,
Her treasure and her heart are stored
    In the home-land of love.

She thrives, God's blessed husbandry;
  Most like a vine which full of fruit
Doth cling and lean and climb toward heaven,
    While earth still binds its root.

I sit and watch my sister's face:
  How little altered since the hours
When she, a kind, light-hearted girl,
    Gathered her garden flowers:

Her song just mellowed by regret
  For having teased me with her talk;
Then all-forgetful as she heard
    One step upon the walk.

While I? I sat alone and watched;
  My lot in life, to live alone
In mine own world of interests,
    Much felt, but little shown.

Not to be first: how hard to learn
  That lifelong lesson of the past;
Line graven on line and stroke on stroke:
    But, thank God, learned at last.

So now in patience I possess
  My soul year after tedious year,
Content to take the lowest place,
    The place assigned me here.

Yet sometimes, when I feel my strength
  Most weak, and life most burdensome,
I lift mine eyes up to the hills
    From whence my help shall come:

Yea, sometimes still I lift my heart
  To the Archangelic trumpet-burst,
When all deep secrets shall be shown,
    And many last be first.
Terry O'Leary Feb 2014
THE MEETING

Alone one night neath lantern light, I trudged a weary mile.
Forlorn, I went with shoulders bent (the storms around me howled)
until I met a Silhouette behind a sultry smile –
She gazed with eyes that mesmerize (Her body caped and cowled)
and stayed my way with question fey, ‘Why don’t you while awhile?’

Though timorous (with slow address and gestures pantomimed)
Her voice was gracing echoes chasing waves in evening’s tide.
The churchyard groaned, an ***** moaned, the bells of midnight chimed
while wanton winds awoke and dinned, and mistrals multiplied.
The Persian moon, like stray balloon, arose and blithely climbed.

The Silhouette (a pale brunette) arched eyebrows meant to please,
and down the lanes, on windowpanes, the shadows danced and sighed.
A meadowlark within the dark, somewhere behind the breeze,
ennobled Her with wisps of myrrh while deigning to confide
to nightingales veiled whispered tales of human vanities.

She doffed her cloak before She spoke with sighs of sorrow sung
(like mandolins, as night begins, when mourning day’s demise)
and spun Her tale of grim travail and tears She'd shed when young.
As jagged volts of thunderbolts lit up the dismal skies,
a velvet fog embraced a bog in coils of curling tongues.

Through summer vales and winter gales Her secret thoughts were voiced.
Midst storms so cruel (neath lightning’s jewel that glistered on the ridge)
She reminisced, She touched... we kissed... Her lips were wet and moist...
A lighthouse dimmed, while moonbeams skimmed across a distant bridge
to avenues where residues of shallow shades rejoiced.

                        HER TRAGIC TALE

“Midst sweet perfume of youthful bloom, the lonely spirit braves
and often cries and sometimes dies in quest of her amour.”

While starry-eyed, a ship I spied, a’ sail upon the waves –
the galleon docked, the gannets flocked, the Captain swept ashore
where, debonair with gypsy flair, he led his salty knaves.

In passing by, he caught my eye - I tried to hide a blush,
but ambiance of innocence left fervour’s flames revealed.
His gaze (defined by eyes that shined) beheld my cheek a’ flush.
I bowed my head while caution fled, I felt my fate was sealed
- a bird in spring with fledgling wing - he’d snared a  falling thrush.

He said ‘Hello’ - I answered ‘No’ and yet before he’d gone
said I, ‘I’ll wait at Heaven’s Gate not far beyond the Pale’.
At dusk he came neath moon aflame, and left before the dawn
just humming tunes between the dunes that lined the sandy trail
beside a pond where morning yawned, where swam an ebon swan.

We met again, and once again, and once again, again
entangled in a love called sin, in whirls of make-believe.
While in my arms, with voice that charms, said he ‘I must explain -
the tide awaits in distant straits and I must take my leave’.
Then tempests stormed as passions swarmed through ardor’s hurricane.

‘Forsake your home and we may roam’ he smiled as if to tease
and still naive, said I ‘I’ll leave, in silver buckled shoes’.
He took the helm in search of realms, and quickly quit the quays -
with tearful eyes, I bade goodbyes to fare-thee-well adieus
and sailed above a wave of love across the seven seas.

We swept one morn around Cape Thorne while bound for Bullion Bay.
With naught to reck, I strolled on deck, a baby at my breast,
while flurries blew and seagulls flew within the ocean’s spray.
Our ship soon moored, we went ashore and off to Fortune’s Quest -
with gold doubloons which shone like moons, he gambled through the day.

‘The deuce is wild’ he thinly smiled; another card was drawn -
he’d staked and raised with eyes half glazed, was dealt a dismal three.
With betting tight throughout the night, the final ace long gone,
meant all was lost, at what a cost; alas, the prize was me.
To my dismay he slunk away and left me doomed at dawn.

A buccaneer with ring in ear sneered ‘now, my dear, you’re mine’.
He held my wrists to thwart my fists and then... my honor stained.
On sullied swash, the sky awash with bitter tears of brine,
I broke his clutch with nothing much of me that still remained:
a residue when he was through, left clinging to a vine.

In morning dew, the good folk knew, and spurned me in my plight.
The preacher man pronounced a ban and wouldn’t condescend,
ignored my pleas on bended knees and prayers by candlelight.
While cast aside, my baby died... my world was at an end.
Until this day, I’ve made my way beneath the shades of night.


                        AT HEAVEN’S GATES

To set Her free from destiny was far from my design,
but, though unplanned, I touched Her hand to give Her peace of mind.
She told me then, and then again, that providence Divine
had cast a curse, and even worse: despised by all mankind,
She walked alone, unseen, unknown, Her soul incarnadine.

To break this spell of living hell, of loneliness enshrined,
and end Her days within the haze, a sole redeeming deed
would give reprieve and maybe leave our destinies entwined -
Her final quest be put to rest if only I agreed,
but no surcease nor perfect peace nor hope if I declined.

The shadows, shawled in silence, crawled, the night Her fate was sealed
as vespers tolled across the wold beneath the muted fog.
The heavens cracked and sorrow slacked as chimes of children pealed
while in the hills (where midnight chills) there wailed a daemon dog -
with no delay I lead the way, the path to Potter’s Field.

Her weathered face was lined with Grace, Her eyes shone emerald green.
With me as guide She stepped inside to grieve and mourn Her loss,
and thereupon, though pale and wan, the night took on a sheen.
With weary eyes as Her disguise, She placed a wooden cross
upon a mound (unhallowed ground) and whispered ‘Sibylline...’.

A falling star flared in the far and burst, a bolide flame -
beneath the light, the Final Rite no longer hid undone.
And kneeling there in silent prayer, we seemed to share the shame
but could atone if left alone, forevermore as one.
Before we both could breathe an oath, I asked Her once Her name.

Through lips, pale red, She simply said ‘Some called me Abigail’,
and neath a birch where white doves perch, I took Her for my bride,
beheld Her smile a little while, but all to no avail...
Her cloak and cape, and shrivelled shape lie empty at my side...
for now She waits at Heaven’s Gates, not far beyond the Pale.
Maggie Lane Oct 2012
You are always there, waiting,
Waiting for me to pour my heart out.
Out come the desperate words.
Words of my innocent vanities,
Vanities that consume me.
Me, who you can always trust,
Trust me,  for I,
I know that hearts can get too full.
Full with your own toils, and mine.
So pour your heart out to me,
I know sometimes they get too full.
Those that are complacently designed
By the simpering vanities
of a domesticated world
rarely find the peace of mind
of which we all strive
because their materialistic
beliefs constrain them
in pools of normality
Drowning them in the pressures of society
and hanging them out to dry
in downloaded photos
that never fade
our lives are all dictated
by the subconscious influence
of one another
thus our souls
are irrefutably intertwined
locked together in endless struggle
mind against mind.
Ah, woe is me for pleasure that is vain,
  Ah, woe is me for glory that is past:
  Pleasure that bringeth sorrow at the last,
Glory that at the last bringeth no gain!
So saith the sinking heart; and so again
  It shall say till the mighty angel-blast
  Is blown, making the sun and moon aghast,
And showering down the stars like sudden rain.
And evermore men shall go fearfully,
  Bending beneath their weight of heaviness;
And ancient men shall lie down wearily,
  And strong men shall rise up in weariness;
Yea, even the young shall answer sighingly,
  Saying one to another: How vain it is!
Sridevi Feb 2011
These vanities of mine
how deep they run
like still waters
at mid sea
wave-less
un-rippled…

…imitating the
twilight beams
bouncing
up and down
my flesh
reducing me at times
to a mere verse

I was an island-
You used to say

Ah!now I’ve
morphed into a mirage

Care to leave
your footprints there ?
There are who lord it o'er their fellow-men
With most prevailing tinsel: who unpen
Their baaing vanities, to browse away
The comfortable green and juicy hay
From human pastures; or, O torturing fact!
Who, through an idiot blink, will see unpack'd
Fire-branded foxes to sear up and singe
Our gold and ripe-ear'd hopes. With not one tinge
Of sanctuary splendour, not a sight
Able to face an owl's, they still are dight
By the blear-eyed nations in empurpled vests,
And crowns, and turbans. With unladen *******,
Save of blown self-applause, they proudly mount
To their spirit's perch, their being's high account,
Their tiptop nothings, their dull skies, their thrones--
Amid the fierce intoxicating tones
Of trumpets, shoutings, and belabour'd drums,
And sudden cannon. Ah! how all this hums,
In wakeful ears, like uproar past and gone--
Like thunder clouds that spake to Babylon,
And set those old Chaldeans to their tasks.--
Are then regalities all gilded masks?
No, there are throned seats unscalable
But by a patient wing, a constant spell,
Or by ethereal things that, unconfin'd,
Can make a ladder of the eternal wind,
And poise about in cloudy thunder-tents
To watch the abysm-birth of elements.
Aye, 'bove the withering of old-lipp'd Fate
A thousand Powers keep religious state,
In water, fiery realm, and airy bourne;
And, silent as a consecrated urn,
Hold sphery sessions for a season due.
Yet few of these far majesties, ah, few!
Have bared their operations to this globe--
Few, who with gorgeous pageantry enrobe
Our piece of heaven--whose benevolence
Shakes hand with our own Ceres; every sense
Filling with spiritual sweets to plenitude,
As bees gorge full their cells. And, by the feud
'Twixt Nothing and Creation, I here swear,
Eterne Apollo! that thy Sister fair
Is of all these the gentlier-mightiest.
When thy gold breath is misting in the west,
She unobserved steals unto her throne,
And there she sits most meek and most alone;
As if she had not pomp subservient;
As if thine eye, high Poet! was not bent
Towards her with the Muses in thine heart;
As if the ministring stars kept not apart,
Waiting for silver-footed messages.
O Moon! the oldest shades '**** oldest trees
Feel palpitations when thou lookest in:
O Moon! old boughs lisp forth a holier din
The while they feel thine airy fellowship.
Thou dost bless every where, with silver lip
Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine,
Couched in thy brightness, dream of fields divine:
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes;
And yet thy benediction passeth not
One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
Where pleasure may be sent: the nested wren
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken,
And from beneath a sheltering ivy leaf
Takes glimpses of thee; thou art a relief
To the poor patient oyster, where it sleeps
Within its pearly house.--The mighty deeps,
The monstrous sea is thine--the myriad sea!
O Moon! far-spooming Ocean bows to thee,
And Tellus feels his forehead's cumbrous load.

  Cynthia! where art thou now? What far abode
Of green or silvery bower doth enshrine
Such utmost beauty? Alas, thou dost pine
For one as sorrowful: thy cheek is pale
For one whose cheek is pale: thou dost bewail
His tears, who weeps for thee. Where dost thou sigh?
Ah! surely that light peeps from Vesper's eye,
Or what a thing is love! 'Tis She, but lo!
How chang'd, how full of ache, how gone in woe!
She dies at the thinnest cloud; her loveliness
Is wan on Neptune's blue: yet there's a stress
Of love-spangles, just off yon cape of trees,
Dancing upon the waves, as if to please
The curly foam with amorous influence.
O, not so idle: for down-glancing thence
She fathoms eddies, and runs wild about
O'erwhelming water-courses; scaring out
The thorny sharks from hiding-holes, and fright'ning
Their savage eyes with unaccustomed lightning.
Where will the splendor be content to reach?
O love! how potent hast thou been to teach
Strange journeyings! Wherever beauty dwells,
In gulf or aerie, mountains or deep dells,
In light, in gloom, in star or blazing sun,
Thou pointest out the way, and straight 'tis won.
Amid his toil thou gav'st Leander breath;
Thou leddest Orpheus through the gleams of death;
Thou madest Pluto bear thin element;
And now, O winged Chieftain! thou hast sent
A moon-beam to the deep, deep water-world,
To find Endymion.

                  On gold sand impearl'd
With lily shells, and pebbles milky white,
Poor Cynthia greeted him, and sooth'd her light
Against his pallid face: he felt the charm
To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
Of his heart's blood: 'twas very sweet; he stay'd
His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes' tails.
And so he kept, until the rosy veils
Mantling the east, by Aurora's peering hand
Were lifted from the water's breast, and fann'd
Into sweet air; and sober'd morning came
Meekly through billows:--when like taper-flame
Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
He rose in silence, and once more 'gan fare
Along his fated way.

                      Far had he roam'd,
With nothing save the hollow vast, that foam'd
Above, around, and at his feet; save things
More dead than Morpheus' imaginings:
Old rusted anchors, helmets, breast-plates large
Of gone sea-warriors; brazen beaks and targe;
Rudders that for a hundred years had lost
The sway of human hand; gold vase emboss'd
With long-forgotten story, and wherein
No reveller had ever dipp'd a chin
But those of Saturn's vintage; mouldering scrolls,
Writ in the tongue of heaven, by those souls
Who first were on the earth; and sculptures rude
In ponderous stone, developing the mood
Of ancient Nox;--then skeletons of man,
Of beast, behemoth, and leviathan,
And elephant, and eagle, and huge jaw
Of nameless monster. A cold leaden awe
These secrets struck into him; and unless
Dian had chaced away that heaviness,
He might have died: but now, with cheered feel,
He onward kept; wooing these thoughts to steal
About the labyrinth in his soul of love.

  "What is there in thee, Moon! that thou shouldst move
My heart so potently? When yet a child
I oft have dried my tears when thou hast smil'd.
Thou seem'dst my sister: hand in hand we went
From eve to morn across the firmament.
No apples would I gather from the tree,
Till thou hadst cool'd their cheeks deliciously:
No tumbling water ever spake romance,
But when my eyes with thine thereon could dance:
No woods were green enough, no bower divine,
Until thou liftedst up thine eyelids fine:
In sowing time ne'er would I dibble take,
Or drop a seed, till thou wast wide awake;
And, in the summer tide of blossoming,
No one but thee hath heard me blithly sing
And mesh my dewy flowers all the night.
No melody was like a passing spright
If it went not to solemnize thy reign.
Yes, in my boyhood, every joy and pain
By thee were fashion'd to the self-same end;
And as I grew in years, still didst thou blend
With all my ardours: thou wast the deep glen;
Thou wast the mountain-top--the sage's pen--
The poet's harp--the voice of friends--the sun;
Thou wast the river--thou wast glory won;
Thou wast my clarion's blast--thou wast my steed--
My goblet full of wine--my topmost deed:--
Thou wast the charm of women, lovely Moon!
O what a wild and harmonized tune
My spirit struck from all the beautiful!
On some bright essence could I lean, and lull
Myself to immortality: I prest
Nature's soft pillow in a wakeful rest.
But, gentle Orb! there came a nearer bliss--
My strange love came--Felicity's abyss!
She came, and thou didst fade, and fade away--
Yet not entirely; no, thy starry sway
Has been an under-passion to this hour.
Now I begin to feel thine orby power
Is coming fresh upon me: O be kind,
Keep back thine influence, and do not blind
My sovereign vision.--Dearest love, forgive
That I can think away from thee and live!--
Pardon me, airy planet, that I prize
One thought beyond thine argent luxuries!
How far beyond!" At this a surpris'd start
Frosted the springing verdure of his heart;
For as he lifted up his eyes to swear
How his own goddess was past all things fair,
He saw far in the concave green of the sea
An old man sitting calm and peacefully.
Upon a weeded rock this old man sat,
And his white hair was awful, and a mat
Of weeds were cold beneath his cold thin feet;
And, ample as the largest winding-sheet,
A cloak of blue wrapp'd up his aged bones,
O'erwrought with symbols by the deepest groans
Of ambitious magic: every ocean-form
Was woven in with black distinctness; storm,
And calm, and whispering, and hideous roar
Were emblem'd in the woof; with every shape
That skims, or dives, or sleeps, 'twixt cape and cape.
The gulphing whale was like a dot in the spell,
Yet look upon it, and 'twould size and swell
To its huge self; and the minutest fish
Would pass the very hardest gazer's wish,
And show his little eye's anatomy.
Then there was pictur'd the regality
Of Neptune; and the sea nymphs round his state,
In beauteous vassalage, look up and wait.
Beside this old man lay a pearly wand,
And in his lap a book, the which he conn'd
So stedfastly, that the new denizen
Had time to keep him in amazed ken,
To mark these shadowings, and stand in awe.

  The old man rais'd his hoary head and saw
The wilder'd stranger--seeming not to see,
His features were so lifeless. Suddenly
He woke as from a trance; his snow-white brows
Went arching up, and like two magic ploughs
Furrow'd deep wrinkles in his forehead large,
Which kept as fixedly as rocky marge,
Till round his wither'd lips had gone a smile.
Then up he rose, like one whose tedious toil
Had watch'd for years in forlorn hermitage,
Who had not from mid-life to utmost age
Eas'd in one accent his o'er-burden'd soul,
Even to the trees. He rose: he grasp'd his stole,
With convuls'd clenches waving it abroad,
And in a voice of solemn joy, that aw'd
Echo into oblivion, he said:--

  "Thou art the man! Now shall I lay my head
In peace upon my watery pillow: now
Sleep will come smoothly to my weary brow.
O Jove! I shall be young again, be young!
O shell-borne Neptune, I am pierc'd and stung
With new-born life! What shall I do? Where go,
When I have cast this serpent-skin of woe?--
I'll swim to the syrens, and one moment listen
Their melodies, and see their long hair glisten;
Anon upon that giant's arm I'll be,
That writhes about the roots of Sicily:
To northern seas I'll in a twinkling sail,
And mount upon the snortings of a whale
To some black cloud; thence down I'll madly sweep
On forked lightning, to the deepest deep,
Where through some ******* pool I will be hurl'd
With rapture to the other side of the world!
O, I am full of gladness! Sisters three,
I bow full hearted to your old decree!
Yes, every god be thank'd, and power benign,
For I no more shall wither, droop, and pine.
Thou art the man!" Endymion started back
Dismay'd; and, like a wretch from whom the rack
Tortures hot breath, and speech of agony,
Mutter'd: "What lonely death am I to die
In this cold region? Will he let me freeze,
And float my brittle limbs o'er polar seas?
Or will he touch me with his searing hand,
And leave a black memorial on the sand?
Or tear me piece-meal with a bony saw,
And keep me as a chosen food to draw
His magian fish through hated fire and flame?
O misery of hell! resistless, tame,
Am I to be burnt up? No, I will shout,
Until the gods through heaven's blue look out!--
O Tartarus! but some few days agone
Her soft arms were entwining me, and on
Her voice I hung like fruit among green leaves:
Her lips were all my own, and--ah, ripe sheaves
Of happiness! ye on the stubble droop,
But never may be garner'd. I must stoop
My head, and kiss death's foot. Love! love, farewel!
Is there no hope from thee? This horrid spell
Would melt at thy sweet breath.--By Dian's hind
Feeding from her white fingers, on the wind
I see thy streaming hair! and now, by Pan,
I care not for this old mysterious man!"

  He spake, and walking to that aged form,
Look'd high defiance. Lo! his heart 'gan warm
With pity, for the grey-hair'd creature wept.
Had he then wrong'd a heart where sorrow kept?
Had he, though blindly contumelious, brought
Rheum to kind eyes, a sting to human thought,
Convulsion to a mouth of many years?
He had in truth; and he was ripe for tears.
The penitent shower fell, as down he knelt
Before that care-worn sage, who trembling felt
About his large dark locks, and faultering spake:

  "Arise, good youth, for sacred Phoebus' sake!
I know thine inmost *****, and I feel
A very brother's yearning for thee steal
Into mine own: for why? thou openest
The prison gates that have so long opprest
My weary watching. Though thou know'st it not,
Thou art commission'd to this fated spot
For great enfranchisement. O weep no more;
I am a friend to love, to loves of yore:
Aye, hadst thou never lov'd an unknown power
I had been grieving at this joyous hour
But even now most miserable old,
I saw thee, and my blood no longer cold
Gave mighty pulses: in this tottering case
Grew a new heart, which at this moment plays
As dancingly as thine. Be not afraid,
For thou shalt hear this secret all display'd,
Now as we speed towards our joyous task."

  So saying, this young soul in age's mask
Went forward with the Carian side by side:
Resuming quickly thus; while ocean's tide
Hung swollen at their backs, and jewel'd sands
Took silently their foot-prints. "My soul stands
Now past the midway from mortality,
And so I can prepare without a sigh
To tell thee briefly all my joy and pain.
I was a fisher once, upon this main,
And my boat danc'd in every creek and bay;
Rough billows were my home by night and day,--
The sea-gulls not more constant; for I had
No housing from the storm and tempests mad,
But hollow rocks,--and they were palaces
Of silent happiness, of slumberous ease:
Long years of misery have told me so.
Aye, thus it was one thousand years ago.
One thousand years!--Is it then possible
To look so plainly through them? to dispel
A thousand years with backward glance sublime?
To breathe away as 'twere all scummy slime
From off a crystal pool, to see its deep,
And one's own image from the bottom peep?
Yes: now I am no longer wretched thrall,
My long captivity and moanings all
Are but a slime, a thin-pervading ****,
The which I breathe away, and thronging come
Like things of yesterday my youthful pleasures.

  "I touch'd no lute, I sang not, trod no measures:
I was a lonely youth on desert shores.
My sports were lonely, 'mid continuous roars,
And craggy isles, and sea-mew's plaintive cry
Plaining discrepant between sea and sky.
Dolphins were still my playmates; shapes unseen
Would let me feel their scales of gold and green,
Nor be my desolation; and, full oft,
When a dread waterspout had rear'd aloft
Its hungry hugeness, seeming ready ripe
To burst with hoarsest thunderings, and wipe
My life away like a vast sponge of fate,
Some friendly monster, pitying my sad state,
Has dived to its foundations, gulph'd it down,
And left me tossing safely. But the crown
Of all my life was utmost quietude:
More did I love to lie in cavern rude,
Keeping in wait whole days for Neptune's voice,
And if it came at last, hark, and rejoice!
There blush'd no summer eve but I would steer
My skiff along green shelving coasts, to hear
The shepherd's pipe come clear from aery steep,
Mingled with ceaseless bleatings of his sheep:
And never was a day of summer shine,
But I beheld its birth upon the brine:
For I would watch all night to see unfold
Heaven's gates, and Aethon snort his morning gold
Wide o'er the swelling streams: and constantly
At brim of day-tide, on some grassy lea,
My nets would be spread out, and I at rest.
The poor folk of the sea-country I blest
With daily boon of fish most delicate:
They knew not whence this bounty, and elate
Would strew sweet flowers on a sterile beach.

  "Why was I not contented? Wherefore reach
At things which, but for thee, O Latmian!
Had been my dreary death? Fool! I began
To feel distemper'd longings: to desire
The utmost priv
He Pa'amon Aug 2018
"And in a funny way, the shaving of my, uh, head has been a liberation from, uh, a lot of, uh, stupid vanities really. Uh, it has simplified everything for me, it has opened a lot of doors maybe." - Stephen Malkmus, Jo Jo's Jacket

the first layer of skin i shed
was the bra

rid of the foreign metal sculptor producing a deep rift between skin
my third eye, swallowing gazes

rid of my **** , my ***** , my rack
replaced with sacks of fat and nerve and milk ducts
hanging, existing, for no one else
not even myself

the second layer of skin was the painting of the face
the concealing and erasing of imperfections, the lines of laughter of sorrow of life
redirecting attention and importance to the bow and symmetry of the lip

no longer did i have to put myself on in the morning
i woke up as i was, as i needed to be,
bare and uninhibited

my skin now breathed, and for no one else
not even myself

and then i grew another layer of skin,
made of dank tangles to protect my age,
i stopped shaving the years i'd walked this earth, shedding my womanhood

the skin grew to my armpits, little tufts of sweaty, odorous mother nature dozing in a fleshy convex nest

and to my legs, were the tangles wrapped around my ankles
preventing the spreading of the legs for every life
for not every life wanted what was not tame
and what was not tame no longer wanted to be.

my body did not conform,
for it was not brought into this world to be consumed for the pleasure of others

it exists for no one else,
not even myself

and as i was engulfed in this hairy wonder of my own body
i shed the last layer,
the shaving of the head

my brain, my being breathed
porous and exposed
vulnerable to weather and whispers

but i was all at once naked and calm,
having finally peeled away the layers of ***** over-sexualization and constrained femininity that had molded this meat sack that serves me,
a bundle of circuitry and solution balancing and bobbing on the neck

for i exist for no one else,
only myself
inspired by the song Jo Jo's Jacket by Stephen Malkmus
Joshua Vincens Apr 2013
Ya wonda why I'm filled with so much passion and rage/
But that's what happ'n when ya lessen a man to a cage/
I haven't even unleashed the darkness/
Imagine a soul that's cold 'n' heartless/
Crowley is weak compared to the I beast/
Within me, 'n He I now release/
It in I and we have begun to feast/
Spit it out/
Shut ya impudent mouth n listen/
Time ta quit ya ******' insolent dissin'/
Check me out I'm hookless/
Reckless/
You follow the text n I'm bookless/
Check this/
Determination look me in my Eyes/
Ya gunna stay in tha gutta, ***** *****, just to watch me rise/
RA!/
I am incomparable/
Can't match  me, I'm too lyrical/
I am a spastic assassin/
Breath deep/
I am the heir, with anthrax-in/
How I see it, You nuttin' but fails/
You in a row boat *****, n my ***** got sails/
Ya call me crazy/
Ya vision is hazy/
And ya thinkin is lazy/
What I know would make ya a sage see/
I'm filled with these higher optics/
Shouldn't need a telescope ta spot this/
But you do/
What, Hoss is up, Livin life in love/
'N neva givin' a ****/
Crowned/
I Come here to shut ya ta hell down/
------------Chorus-----------
Duranged/
It's Dark n Strange/
Quit ya askin', 'What am I?'/
Darkness Fire burnin' opaque, I neva Die/
Strange Set by Ra, Look to tha Sky/
Nothin' weirder than I/
So Dark N Strange/
I Am, Cryptic Poetic Hark outta Range/
Who is, Dark n Strange/
Ya frightened of tha Wakin' Age/
Ya tormented by hæmaluna change/
IT'S NOW/
Needa label me "I Am" - The Omnipotent is Dark n Strange!/

------------------Verse 2--------------------------------
I'm spittin' real ****, so consider me exlax/
Banishing the lies, I'm leavin'em just facts/
True talk is how this ****'s gunna torment Ya/
Break ya Soul if ya fearin' It, I'm thinkin' torture/
Wake Up/
No fire to go with  your sulfur/
Poor tormented Souls end of time to torch ya/
Flowin' hot speakin' blazen fluid/
Become a fire frequency king druid/
Remain in vain and **** it, You'll die morbid/
In days last You'll be over timid/
Skinnin' weak people like piglets/
Label me 'Naught' I've no limits/
I'm life Livin'  in center aligned/
Tippin' scales them ******' swine/
Ascend win twin minds combine/
Balancing act Life's **** or 'dalini/
Rise Up/
I'm beastin' the intensity/
I climb ladders frequently/
******' sick of livin' hell I harmonize Energy/
Mind insane I'm bringin' ******* madness/
Lost senses found you still sittin' sadness/
Be More/
I'm mastering levels with the Dodecahedron/
Ya livin' lame that's ya lazy ******' conundrum/
I get pure data that's distilled in a cauldron/
Most minds are piles of **** like postmortem/
Abominations bossin' somniliquists with abhorrence/
Only condemnation for such ******' malevolence/
Opened eyes providing ya with luminescence/
End for all contempt contrite by due reverence/

-------Chorus-----------
Duranged/
It's Dark n Strange/
Quit ya askin', 'What am I?'/
Darkness Fire burnin' opaque, I neva Die/
Strange Set by Ra, Look to tha Sky/
Nothin' weirder than I/
So Dark N Strange/
I Am, Cryptic Poetic Hark outta Range/
Who is, Dark n Strange/
Ya frightened of tha Wakin' Age/
Ya tormented by hæmaluna change/
IT'S NOW/
Needa label me "I Am" - The Omnipotent is Dark n Strange/

---------Verse 3----------------------------
I'm Clinically Fearless... Absolutely scared of none/
You're afraid of my haunted paradox... Defined me Fearsome/
I'm sick of this ****** lost society/
Living a worthless illusion no reality/
What is it/
Mass Individuals stuck in egotistical vanities?/
I am goin' crazy contemplatin' such insanity!/
Can't you see/
This is the path of demise for humanity/
You need a hand, so sad/
Refused for me to help you, your bad/
To hear this/
You need to wear a mental harness/
This is the seed of my soul's darkness/
Everybody does share none and lives careless!/
The fruit is hard truth, Ya life is hopeless!/
There's tha gun, here's tha trigger- PULL THIS!/
Should have been Tempus Fugit as We Carpe Diem/
Too late tempers temp-is ****-it Masses parley Global Requiem/
Yeah I know my process is dark & strange/
My mind is warped definitely it is deranged/
After all I Sow & Reap for simple change/
Here is wisdom, which is validated by three/
Blow your ears & gouge your eyes, than you will see/
Divide by none return to your commUnity/
The end of my advice, now reach for DivUnity!

-------Chorus-----------
Duranged/
It's Dark n Strange/
Quit ya askin', 'What am I?'/
Darkness Fire burnin' opaque, I neva Die/
Strange Set by Ra, Look to tha Sky/
Nothin' weirder than I/
So Dark N Strange/
I Am, Cryptic Poetic Hark outta Range/
Who is, Dark n Strange/
Ya frightened of tha wakin' age/
Ya tormented by hæmaluna change/
IT'S NOW/
Needa label me "I Am" - **The Omnipotent is Dark n Strange!
John F McCullagh Mar 2013
The time is now upon us
where I, once more, see your face.
Yet of your wit and wisdom
I cannot detect a trace.
You makeup, carefully applied,
your lipstick, fever red,
but all of the embalmers art
can’t disguise the fact you’re dead.
Your mother who had nurtured you
And cared for you at birth
Was still alive to cradle you
the day you left this earth.
I take your husband’s hand in mine
but have no words to speak.
The handkerchief concession
will do very well this week.
For tears will flow in rivulets;
Unbidden, still they come.
Yet the sea we cannot fill.
There’s nothing new beneath the Sun.
Ecclesiastes 1;2 is the source of the title and the inspiration for the closing quatrain
JW Jan 2014
What is so powerful
As to chain man’s heart to earth
Chasing after fleeting things
Yet as man chases
His hearts desires
Trying
To break the mesh
Stubbornly holding on
To that which forms his life
All he suceeds in doing
Is destroying his flesh
*‘Vanitus vanitatum et omnia vanitas’
Another blast from my past. :)
I said of laughter, it is vain.
  Of mirth I said, what profits it?
  Therefore I found a book, and writ
Therein how ease and also pain,
How health and sickness, every one
Is vanity beneath the sun.

Man walks in a vain shadow; he
  Disquieteth himself in vain.
  The things that were shall be again.
The rivers do not fill the sea,
But turn back to their secret source;
The winds too turn upon their course.

Our treasures moth and rust corrupt,
  Or thieves break through and steal, or they
  Make themselves wings and fly away.
One man made merry as he supped,
Nor guessed how when that night grew dim
His soul would be required of him.

We build our houses on the sand,
  Comely withoutside and within;
  But when the winds and rains begin
To beat on them, they cannot stand;
They perish, quickly overthrown,
Loose from the very basement stone.

All things are vanity, I said,--
  Yea, vanity of vanities.
  The rich man dies; and the poor dies;
The worm feeds sweetly on the dead.
Whate'er thou lackest, keep this trust:
All in the end shall have but dust:

The one inheritance, which best
  And worst alike shall find and share:
  The wicked cease from troubling there,
And there the weary be at rest;
There all the wisdom of the wise
Is vanity of vanities.

Man flourishes as a green leaf,
  And as a leaf doth pass away;
  Or, as a shade that cannot stay
And leaves no track, his course is brief:
Yet man doth hope and fear and plan
Till he is dead:--O foolish man!

Our eyes cannot be satisfied
  With seeing, nor our ears be filled
  With hearing: yet we plant and build
And buy and make our borders wide;
We gather wealth, we gather care,
But know not who shall be our heir.

Why should we hasten to arise
  So early, and so late take rest?
  Our labor is not good; our best
Hopes fade; our heart is stayed on lies:
Verily, we sow wind; and we
Shall reap the whirlwind, verily.

He who hath little shall not lack;
  He who hath plenty shall decay:
  Our fathers went; we pass away;
Our children follow on our track:
So generations fail, and so
They are renewed and come and go.

The earth is fattened with our dead;
  She swallows more and doth not cease:
  Therefore her wine and oil increase
And her sheaves are not numbered;
Therefore her plants are green, and all
Her pleasant trees ***** and tall.

Therefore the maidens cease to sing,
  And the young men are very sad;
  Therefore the sowing is not glad,
And mournful is the harvesting.
Of high and low, of great and small,
Vanity is the lot of all.

A King dwelt in Jerusalem;
  He was the wisest man on earth;
  He had all riches from his birth,
And pleasures till he tired of them;
Then, having tested all things, he
Witnessed that all are vanity.
Terry Collett Nov 2013
The bell from the cloister rang. Echoed around and settled upon nun in bed cosy in blanket against morning’s cold and frost. Stirred. Head raised. Eyes peered into the dawn’s light, sighed, shivered, moved arms against body’s length. Closed eyes. Wished for more sleep. None to have. Bell rang. Time, ladies, please. Time and tide. Stirred again. Lifted head. Sighed. Gazed at bedside table. Clock tick tock, tick tock. Moved to edge of the bed. Feet dangled. Toes wiggled. Hands joined for prayer. Breath stilled. Silence of the room. Bell stopped. Sighed. Breathed air, cold air. Wake up, rise, and shine. Funny words. Tired still. Wished to sleep, but no time. Dangled feet rose and fell. Toes wriggled. Rose from bed and knelt on wooden floor. Hard floor. Cold floor. Polished to a shine floor. Knees slid on smooth surface. Back stiff from straw-stuffed bedding. Sighed. Sister Teresa joined hands. Let fingers touch. Let flesh touch flesh. Sin on sin once maybe. Long ago. Sighed. Opened eyes. Gazed at crucifix on wall above bed. Old Christ, battered by time and grime. Eyes closed image held in mind’s eye. Prayer began. Words searched for amongst the wordless zones. Reaching through darkness for an inch of light. Light upon light. Darkness upon darkness. Who felt this she does not know. None speak except Sister John. Word upon word built. Holy upon holy. Sit here, she’d say. Rest a while. Rest in cloister. Rest on bench by cloister wall. You and she. Her hands old and wrinkled by time and age. Her eyes glassy. Her voice thin and worn, yet warm. Want to be close to warm. Especially in dark cold mornings like this, Teresa mused, lifting head and opening eyes to dawn’s light and cold’s chill in bone and skin. She stood and dressed. Disrobed from nightgown and into habit. Black as death with white wimple of innocence. Laughed softly. Such times. Such times. Harsh serge against soft flesh. Stiff whiteness on skin’s paleness. Sighed. Coughed. Made sign of cross from head to breast to breast. Never to touch, mama said, never let be touched. Words, long ago. Mama is dead. Rest in peace. No mirror. No image of seventeen-year old face or features now. Vanity of vanities. Sighed. Papa said, some men would deceive. Deceived by what? She often asked but none would tell. Ding **** bell. Silence now. Go now. Moved to door and down the cloister to the church and the dawn’s welcome cold and still. Teresa closed door and walked at pace soft and motionless seeming. None shall speak. Sing and chant and raise eyes and maybe a smile briefly, but none shall speak. Nor touch. For none may touch. Not as much as a sleeve felt or breath sensed. Each one an island. Water upon water none shall cross. Teresa sighed. Walked down the steps one by one, not to rush but not to lag sloth-like, lazily or drag wearily. Mother Abbess would know.Knows all. Sensed all. Next to God most feared. Most loved maybe if truth were known. Teresa sighed. Chill of cloister ate at bones and flesh. Nimble walking might ease, but walk as nuns do and cold bites like violent fish. Breathed in the air. The moon still out. Stuck out on a corner bright and white. The sun’s colour fed the dawn’s light. Brightness promised. Warmer weather. Warmer than Sister John. Who knows, Teresa mused, touching the cloister wall for sense of touch. Absence of touch can mean so much, Jude said, years before. Jude’s image faded now. No longer haunting as before. Teresa brushed her finger on the cloister wall. Rough and smooth. Rough and smooth. Men may deceive, papa said. Let none touch, mama advised. Long ago or seeming so. Seventeen-years old and innocent as innocence allowed. Jude laughed, feeling such. Wanting to touch. Over much. Entered church. Cool air. Sense of aloneness. Choir stalls. Smell of incense and polish mixed. Sense upon sense. Smell upon smell. Walked slowly. Genuflected to Christ. High on high. All seeing. Like Mother abbess. But less human. Less human all too human. The Crucified for all to see. Half naked there. Stretched wide arms. Head dangling lifeless or so seeming. Genuflection over moved to place in choir stall, stood, and stared at vacant wall. Brick upon brick. Sounds held. Chants upon chants sang once, held here. Chill in bone and flesh. Breviary held. Pages turned. Find the place and mark it well. Bell pulled sounds now. Nuns enter and gather round. Sister upon sister, elbow near elbow, but none may touch. None touch. None touch.Sister Rose eyes dim searched yours for morning joy. Smiled. Coughed. Awaited tap from Abbess. Smiled. Nodded. Hands held beneath black serge. Wanting to hold something, someone, but none may do so. None may touch. Tap, tap, wood on wood. Chant came as if from the cold air settled on ears. Felt in breast. Sensed and blessed, but none may touch. The sense to sing. The voice raised. The ear tuned. The mouth and lips employed, but none may touch. At least, said Sister Rose, not over much. Not over much. Still air. Cold air. Warmth wanted. Sister John or Sister Rose. None shall touch.
Julian Jan 2016
Sidereal gaze enriches casual lays beneath the shimmering firmament
Glorified passions is the indignity of benighted scars and brandished armaments
Scour with the owls proctoring over the night for signs that penetrate the tight
That ooze new light and wage an epigamic fight
Temptress like a mainlined ecstasy enlivening a heightened empathy
Our love towers above suburban muses and urban ruses
It showers with meteoric power and consummate flowers that it chooses
The misfortune of star-crossed affections
Is the serendipity of empowering but inclement afflictions
Impenetrably vast like a cavernous space
To make us tremble in insignificance at the petty rats that race
Our lambent passions erupt with paroxysms immune to an unbuttoned snooze
Oneiromancy glistens with prophetic eternities dreamed awake with inordinate *****
Playful jostles and succulent pretended jilts lionize our blessed fates
We reckon with eternity by adducing modernity at its current rate
We disavow transient objections just like gravity impounds its own weight
Joshua Vincens Oct 2012
Ya wonda why I'm filled with so much passion and rage/
But that's what happ'n when ya lessen a man to a cage/
I haven't even unleashed the darkness/
Imagine a soul that's heartless/
Crowley is weak compared to the I beast/
Within me, 'n He I now release/
It in I and we have begun to feast/
Spit it out
Shut ya impudent mouth n listen/
Time ta quit ya ******' insolent dissin'/
Check me out I'm hookless/
Reckless/
You follow the text n I'm bookless/
Check this/
Determination look me in my Eyes/
Ya gunna stay in tha gutta, ***** *****, just to watch me rise/
RA!/
I am incomparable/
Can't match  me, I'm too lyrical/
I am an assassin/
Breath deep,
I am the heir, with anthrax-in/
How I see it, You nuttin' but fails/
You in a row boat *****, n my ***** got sails/
Ya call me crazy/
Ya vision is hazy/
And ya thinkin is lazy/
What I know would make ya a sage see/
I'm filled with these higher optics/
Shouldn't need a telescope ta spot this/
but you do
What/
Hoss is Down, Livin life like  love/
'N neva givin' a ****/
I Come here to shut ya ta Hell up/
------------Chorus-----------
Duranged/
It's Dark n Strange/
You askin', "What am I"/
Darkness Fire burnin' opaque, I neva Die/
Strange Set by Ra, Look to tha Sky/
Nothin' weirder than I/
So Dark N Strange
I Am, Cryptic Poetic Hark outta Range/
Who is, Dark n Strange/
Ya frightened of tha commin' age/
Ya too tormented by change/
IT'S NOW
Needa label me "I Am" - The Omnipotent is Dark n Strange!

------------------Verse 2--------------------------------
I'm Clinically Fearless... Absolutely scared of none/
You're afraid of my haunted paradox... Defined me Fearsome/
I'm sick of this ****** society/
Living a worthless illusion no reality/
what is it
Mass Individuals stuck in egotistical vanities?/
I am goin' crazy contemplatin' such insanity!/
Can't you see
This is the path of demise for humanity/
You need a hand, so sad/
Refused for me to help you, your bad/
To hear this/
You need to wear a mental harness/
This is the seed of my soul's darkness/
Everybody does share none and lives careless!/
The fruit is hard truth, Ya life is hopeless!/
There's tha gun, here's tha trigger- PULL THIS!/
Should have been Tempus Fugit as We Carpe Diem/
Too late tempers temp-is ****-it Masses parley Global Requiem/
Yeah I know my process is dark & strange/
My mind is warped definitely it is deranged/
After all I Sow & Reap for simple change/
Here is wisdom, which is validated by three/
Blow your ears & gouge your eyes, than you will see/
Divide by none return to your commUnity/
The end of my advice, now reach for DivUnity!

-------Chorus x2-----------
Duranged/
It's Dark n Strange/
You askin', "What am I"/
Darkness Fire burnin' opaque, I neva Die/
Strange Set by Ra, Look to tha Sky/
Nothin' weirder than I/
So Dark N Strange
I Am, Cryptic Poetic Hark outta Range/
Who is, Dark n Strange/
Ya frightened of tha commin' age/
Ya too tormented by change/
IT'S NOW
Needa label me "I Am" - The Omnipotent is Dark n Strange!
Please, I would love to know your thoughts on this lyric? Out of curiosity, do you think I should write another verse or leave it as is? I would love to receive some advice if there is any you wish to share?
J.
J.
Ah, J.
A love I hath excitedly longed to find,
A love t'at previously had no name.
J.
A love too thrilling for my sights to feel,
and perhaps th' only love t'at couldst make me thrilled;
A love so genuine and benevolent,
A love so talented and intelligent.
Ah, J.
A love t'at just recently landed on my mind;
And made all my lyrical days far more splendid;
A love t'at briefed, and altered me more and more;
A love so chilly and important, with subt'leness like never before.
Ah, J.
My very, very own J.
Perhaps my future king, my precious, but at times villainous-darling.
Oh, J.
And perhaps I am just not as virtuous as I might be,
But t'is poem shall still be about thee;
For thou art-within my minds, still awkwardly th' best one,
With a pair of oceanic eyes too dear; and a civil charm so fine.
J.
J, o my love.
If only thou knew-how oceans sparkles within thy eyes,
And 'tis only in thy eyes, t'at any of t'ese complications might not become eerie,
And then t'is destiny is true, as well as how truth is our destiny;
So t'at any precarious delicacy is still faint-perhaps, but not a lie.
Oh, J.
A bubble of excitement t'at my heart feelest;
But if consented not, shall be the wound no blood couldst heal;
Ah, J, if the heavens' rainbow wert fallen, t'an thou'd be purer;
Born as a sin as us all humans, thou art cleaner to my heart still, and canst but love me much better.
Ah, J.
If only thou knew-how madness floweth and barketh and drinketh from our spheres,
But even th' devil cannot spill its curse on our strangled love;
At least until everything is deaf-and we duly cannot hear,
As skies descend onto th' sore earth; and our dumb sins are t' be sent above.

J.
How pivotal thou art to me-if only yon foliage couldst understand;
If only t'ose winds were not rivals, but one-or at least wanted to be friends.
Ah, J, even only thy words filled my comical ******* to th' brim;
And as far as heavens' angels canst hear, I am no more in love with him.
Ah, J.
'Tis cause my verses are seeking thy name, and his not;
I may create th' words, but thou deviseth my plots;
Ah, and him, the bulk of egotism, and whose frank misery;
Are but too disastrous to me, and in possession of too much agony.
Oh, J.
Thus thou art th' only one who remaineth solemn;
Th' one to remain ecstatic, and as less aggressive as calmness;
But of the broad thoughts I used to think of him, I feel shame;
He is just some unborn trepidation at night-though on fine mornings, he is tame.
Ah, J.
Let me disclose th' egress of thy journey, and tellest me now-is which towards mine?
Ah, thee, thou who art so bounty, and deliciously fine;
And t'ese thoughts of thee-are often tasty, and oft'times generous;
'Ven when thou'rt mad, and thy chanting is vigorously serious.
Ah, J.
Thee, a soul of painless blood;
Whose disgrace hath been buried;
Whose vanities hath been laid off;
Whose miracles hath been lavished on.
Ah, J.
Thou art one bright portrayal of my merit;
I fell'n love with thee in a single bit.
Thou bore my tears, and scorned away my guilt;
And in th' swaying summertime, thou wert my protective shield.
Thus my, my very own J.
My gale-like, and unutterably luscious poem;
About whom my thoughts are jolly, but mindful and insensible;
Ah, J, I wish I were more frail, paler, and gullible;
Ah, but if only being so couldst make me more compatible.
Oh, J.
And compatible, compatible with thee alone;
Fleshly be thine whenst all is borne on thy own;
Be thy only trusted companion, and thy eloquently verified wife;
Be thine, and thine in wifery only, throughout and for th' rest of thy life.
J.
All Let me then guess but the tranquility of thy thoughts-hath thou gone mad?
Behind us are rainbows, and thus thy songs should not be sad;
But even though they were sad, I wouldst lend thee my heart;
So t'at no summer sunshine couldst further tear us apart.
J.
Ah, J, why are th' blue skies far too impatient in thy eyes?
Just as how thy deep scent is febrile in my air;
Thy gushes of breath are thick in my young weather;
As buoyant as yon summer itself; as voluptuous as lingering daisies.
J.
And t'is ****** scream, within my heart, needs indeed-t' be fulfilled;
And its vulnerability t'ere always, to be killed;
Ah, J, t'ere is 'finitely no poem as beautiful as thee;
T'ere is no writing yet as such, as trivial and distant-as my eyes canst see.
J.
Ah, J, darling, and my very fine darling; is chastity to thee virtuous?
About which my soul is hungered-and t'ereby curious;
But if 'tis so, I shall be merry-and ever meekly laborious;
I shall make it tender, and maketh it a reliant gift, to thee.
J.
Ah, J, and thou came to me one aft'rnoon, with a sweet muteness;
For to thee, poems are far more pivotal to a young poetess;
Yes, and far prettier t'an a beastly bunch of words;
Whose curse is whose sweetness itself-and whose whole sweetness is curse.
J.
Ah, J, so shall I be thy pure lady t'en?
For purity is a curse-and related not within t'ese walls;
Walls of discomfort-irresolute and at certain times foreign still;
Walls t'at shun us-and be ours not, due to t'eir own reserved castigations.
J.
Oh, querida, my random rainbow-but still my dearest querida;
My poetry in th' morning, and th' baffling flute, for my evening sonata;
And as it is sounded, I shall be thy private lonely prelude;
But th' one who maketh thee singular, and nevertheless, handsomely proud.
Ah, J.
And thy perfect red lips are th' stillettos of the sun;
Critical but radiant-all too agonising in t'eir inevitable shape;
So t'at kissing might be just too much fun;
And from which, o my love, t'ere is no such a famous escape.

J.
Ah, J, thou knoweth not-I am asleep only within thy remembrance;
As how I am awake only in thy life, and partake of my justice, in thy glory.
Ah, J, but if satire were the only choice we had, shalt thou be with me?
Ah, my J, for be it so-I shall never regret anything, I shall never say sorry.

J.
Ah, wherefore art thou now, my love? I am now cursed. My dreams are mad.
I am now crawling out of whose realms; I wanteth but'a stay no more in my bed.
Ah, J, but in my dream thou wert too miles and miles away, and indolently anonymous;
I hatest sleep t'ereof, for t'ey piercest me so tiringly, with a harm they deemest as humorous.

J.
Ah, sweet darling, and in our dreams, t'ere is no strain, nor piety;
Even thou-in th' last one, despised my pyramids-and my chaste poetry;
Ah, querida, I am but afraid our loneliness shall be gone 'fore long;
For its temporariness is not sick, and canst work its way along, with a belief so strong.

J.
Ah, love, but t'is loveliness itself-is indeed tyrannous,
And its frigid poetry is randomly perilous,
As how th' daydreams it bringeth forth-which are luminous,
But as love is innocent, by one second canst all turn perilous!
J.
Ah, J, thus our story is brilliant, and in any volume real' magnificent,
With curves palatable, but with some greyness too fair-and too pleasant!
Ah, J, if passion dost exist, and thus maketh it all real;
And at once I shall understand thee; and listen only, to how we both feelest.

Ah, J.
My very, very own little J.
My dearest J.
The harbour of my ultimate love.
My most cordial, and serene spring of affection.
My most veritable nirvana, my vivid curiosity-and shades of frankness.
My dream at heart, and my sustainable ferocious haste.
Th' love in which my ever fear shall subside,
And be overwhelmed by its unfearing light.
J.
Oh, J, my glossy, exuberant darling.
And as more winds sway, and amongst the green grass outside,
I canst but feel thy eyes here watching;
Thy eyes t'at widely grinneth, and flirtest with my poetry itself;
Thy eyes t'at forever invitest, yet are all more daring than myself;
Ah, J, even though t'is love may be a secret scene,
But I hath felt, even vulnerably, not any provoking passion so keen-
For though they couldst my flowed veins hear,
They were still delicately unseen-with a serenity t'at was ne'er here.
Oh what is that country
  And where can it be,
Not mine own country,
  But dearer far to me?
Yet mine own country,
  If I one day may see
Its spices and cedars,
  Its gold and ivory.

As I lie dreaming
  It rises, that land;
There rises before me
  Its green golden strand,
With the bowing cedars
  And the shining sand;
It sparkles and flashes
  Like a shaken brand.

Do angels lean nearer
  While I lie and long?
I see their soft plumage
  And catch their windy song,
Like the rise of a high tide
  Sweeping full and strong;
I mark the outskirts
  Of their reverend throng.

Oh what is a king here,
  Or what is a boor?
Here all starve together,
  All dwarfed and poor;
Here Death's hand knocketh
  At door after door,
He thins the dancers
  From the festal floor.

Oh what is a handmaid,
  Or what is a queen?
All must lie down together
  Where the turf is green,
The foulest face hidden,
  The fairest not seen;
Gone as if never
  They had breathed or been.

Gone from sweet sunshine
  Underneath the sod,
Turned from warm flesh and blood
  To senseless clod;
Gone as if never
  They had toiled or trod,
Gone out of sight of all
  Except our God.

Shut into silence
  From the accustomed song
Shut into solitude
  From all earth's throng,
Run down though swift of foot,
  ****** down though strong;
Life made an end of,
  Seemed it short or long.

Life made an end of,
  Life but just begun;
Life finished yesterday,
  Its last sand run;
Life new-born with the morrow
  Fresh as the sun:
While done is done for ever;
  Undone, undone.

And if that life is life,
  This is but a breath,
The passage of a dream
  And the shadow of death;
But a vain shadow
  If one considereth;
Vanity of vanities,
  As the Preacher saith.
Kind solace in a dying hour!
Such, father, is not (now) my theme—
I will not madly deem that power
Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
Unearthly pride hath revelled in—
I have no time to dote or dream:
You call it hope—that fire of fire!
It is but agony of desire:
If I can hope—O God! I can—
Its fount is holier—more divine—
I would not call thee fool, old man,
But such is not a gift of thine.

Know thou the secret of a spirit
Bowed from its wild pride into shame
O yearning heart! I did inherit
Thy withering portion with the fame,
The searing glory which hath shone
Amid the Jewels of my throne,
Halo of Hell! and with a pain
Not Hell shall make me fear again—
O craving heart, for the lost flowers
And sunshine of my summer hours!
The undying voice of that dead time,
With its interminable chime,
Rings, in the spirit of a spell,
Upon thy emptiness—a knell.

I have not always been as now:
The fevered diadem on my brow
I claimed and won usurpingly—
Hath not the same fierce heirdom given
Rome to the Caesar—this to me?
The heritage of a kingly mind,
And a proud spirit which hath striven
Triumphantly with human kind.
On mountain soil I first drew life:
The mists of the Taglay have shed
Nightly their dews upon my head,
And, I believe, the winged strife
And tumult of the headlong air
Have nestled in my very hair.

So late from Heaven—that dew—it fell
(’Mid dreams of an unholy night)
Upon me with the touch of Hell,
While the red flashing of the light
From clouds that hung, like banners, o’er,
Appeared to my half-closing eye
The pageantry of monarchy;
And the deep trumpet-thunder’s roar
Came hurriedly upon me, telling
Of human battle, where my voice,
My own voice, silly child!—was swelling
(O! how my spirit would rejoice,
And leap within me at the cry)
The battle-cry of Victory!

The rain came down upon my head
Unsheltered—and the heavy wind
Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.
It was but man, I thought, who shed
Laurels upon me: and the rush—
The torrent of the chilly air
Gurgled within my ear the crush
Of empires—with the captive’s prayer—
The hum of suitors—and the tone
Of flattery ’round a sovereign’s throne.

My passions, from that hapless hour,
Usurped a tyranny which men
Have deemed since I have reached to power,
My innate nature—be it so:
But, father, there lived one who, then,
Then—in my boyhood—when their fire
Burned with a still intenser glow
(For passion must, with youth, expire)
E’en then who knew this iron heart
In woman’s weakness had a part.

I have no words—alas!—to tell
The loveliness of loving well!
Nor would I now attempt to trace
The more than beauty of a face
Whose lineaments, upon my mind,
Are—shadows on th’ unstable wind:
Thus I remember having dwelt
Some page of early lore upon,
With loitering eye, till I have felt
The letters—with their meaning—melt
To fantasies—with none.

O, she was worthy of all love!
Love as in infancy was mine—
’Twas such as angel minds above
Might envy; her young heart the shrine
On which my every hope and thought
Were incense—then a goodly gift,
For they were childish and upright—
Pure—as her young example taught:
Why did I leave it, and, adrift,
Trust to the fire within, for light?

We grew in age—and love—together—
Roaming the forest, and the wild;
My breast her shield in wintry weather—
And, when the friendly sunshine smiled.
And she would mark the opening skies,
I saw no Heaven—but in her eyes.
Young Love’s first lesson is——the heart:
For ’mid that sunshine, and those smiles,
When, from our little cares apart,
And laughing at her girlish wiles,
I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,
And pour my spirit out in tears—
There was no need to speak the rest—
No need to quiet any fears
Of her—who asked no reason why,
But turned on me her quiet eye!

Yet more than worthy of the love
My spirit struggled with, and strove
When, on the mountain peak, alone,
Ambition lent it a new tone—
I had no being—but in thee:
The world, and all it did contain
In the earth—the air—the sea—
Its joy—its little lot of pain
That was new pleasure—the ideal,
Dim, vanities of dreams by night—
And dimmer nothings which were real—
(Shadows—and a more shadowy light!)
Parted upon their misty wings,
And, so, confusedly, became
Thine image and—a name—a name!
Two separate—yet most intimate things.

I was ambitious—have you known
The passion, father? You have not:
A cottager, I marked a throne
Of half the world as all my own,
And murmured at such lowly lot—
But, just like any other dream,
Upon the vapor of the dew
My own had past, did not the beam
Of beauty which did while it thro’
The minute—the hour—the day—oppress
My mind with double loveliness.

We walked together on the crown
Of a high mountain which looked down
Afar from its proud natural towers
Of rock and forest, on the hills—
The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers
And shouting with a thousand rills.

I spoke to her of power and pride,
But mystically—in such guise
That she might deem it nought beside
The moment’s converse; in her eyes
I read, perhaps too carelessly—
A mingled feeling with my own—
The flush on her bright cheek, to me
Seemed to become a queenly throne
Too well that I should let it be
Light in the wilderness alone.

I wrapped myself in grandeur then,
And donned a visionary crown—
Yet it was not that Fantasy
Had thrown her mantle over me—
But that, among the rabble—men,
Lion ambition is chained down—
And crouches to a keeper’s hand—
Not so in deserts where the grand—
The wild—the terrible conspire
With their own breath to fan his fire.

Look ’round thee now on Samarcand!—
Is she not queen of Earth? her pride
Above all cities? in her hand
Their destinies? in all beside
Of glory which the world hath known
Stands she not nobly and alone?
Falling—her veriest stepping-stone
Shall form the pedestal of a throne—
And who her sovereign? Timour—he
Whom the astonished people saw
Striding o’er empires haughtily
A diademed outlaw!

O, human love! thou spirit given,
On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!
Which fall’st into the soul like rain
Upon the Siroc-withered plain,
And, failing in thy power to bless,
But leav’st the heart a wilderness!
Idea! which bindest life around
With music of so strange a sound
And beauty of so wild a birth—
Farewell! for I have won the Earth.

When Hope, the eagle that towered, could see
No cliff beyond him in the sky,
His pinions were bent droopingly—
And homeward turned his softened eye.
’Twas sunset: When the sun will part
There comes a sullenness of heart
To him who still would look upon
The glory of the summer sun.
That soul will hate the ev’ning mist
So often lovely, and will list
To the sound of the coming darkness (known
To those whose spirits hearken) as one
Who, in a dream of night, would fly,
But cannot, from a danger nigh.

What tho’ the moon—tho’ the white moon
Shed all the splendor of her noon,
Her smile is chilly—and her beam,
In that time of dreariness, will seem
(So like you gather in your breath)
A portrait taken after death.
And boyhood is a summer sun
Whose waning is the dreariest one—
For all we live to know is known,
And all we seek to keep hath flown—
Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall
With the noon-day beauty—which is all.
I reached my home—my home no more—
For all had flown who made it so.
I passed from out its mossy door,
And, tho’ my tread was soft and low,
A voice came from the threshold stone
Of one whom I had earlier known—
O, I defy thee, Hell, to show
On beds of fire that burn below,
An humbler heart—a deeper woe.

Father, I firmly do believe—
I know—for Death who comes for me
From regions of the blest afar,
Where there is nothing to deceive,
Hath left his iron gate ajar.
And rays of truth you cannot see
Are flashing thro’ Eternity——
I do believe that Eblis hath
A snare in every human path—
Else how, when in the holy grove
I wandered of the idol, Love,—
Who daily scents his snowy wings
With incense of burnt-offerings
From the most unpolluted things,
Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven
Above with trellised rays from Heaven
No mote may shun—no tiniest fly—
The light’ning of his eagle eye—
How was it that Ambition crept,
Unseen, amid the revels there,
Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt
In the tangles of Love’s very hair!
Thou hast nor youth nor age
      But as it were an after dinner sleep
      Dreaming of both.


Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.
                                        I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.

Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign!”
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger

In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas,
To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero
With caressing hands, at Limoges
Who walked all night in the next room;

By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;
By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room
Shifting the candles; Fräulein von Kulp
Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door.
    Vacant shuttles
Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,
An old man in a draughty house
Under a windy ****.

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last
We have not reached conclusion, when I
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backward devils
I would meet you upon this honestly.
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
Since what is kept must be adulterated?
I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:
How should I use them for your closer contact?
These with a thousand small deliberations
Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
With pungent sauces, multiply variety
In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations, will the weevil
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
And an old man driven by the Trades
To a sleepy corner.

                    Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.
emeraldine087 Mar 2015
I am truer than my lies,
Louder than my doubts,
Surer than my insecurities;

I am fairer than my flaws,
Heavier than my airs,
Quieter than my anxieties;

I am stronger than my failures,
Calmer than my rages,
Happier than my tears;

I am humbler than my vanities,
Wiser than my mistakes,
Bigger than my fears.

*(c) emeraldine087
This is lovingly dedicated to my aunt, Imelda. You are one strong woman and my admiration for you is beyond any and all words known to humankind.
Fernando Pessoa Oct 2013
To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming — like worms when a rock is lifted — under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky.
Natalie Jane Jul 2013
A LETTER FOR YOU (AND, OF COURSE, FOR ME, TOO):
It smells like my grandmother's house in here.
Like lazy Saturdays, of dripping sweat, of climbing trees, of building Lincoln Log houses for ants or Deathstars of Legos but I spread my legs and that smell of--regret is not the word, nor is shame--I feel neither--but of came, of stale, cold air and stiff comforters on top a bed at the Best Western--A living proof of how you've changed. After you finish and inhale and burst your exhausted, satisfied breath, I sweetly kiss you--your neck, your jawline, your cheeks, your forehead, your eyelids. You hold us in and sleep as if a few drinks are enough to forgive. I tell you to slow down because you owe me about 5 years to make up for lost time. You slip your tongue down as if I had not broken your heart. But a man learns, and that's our biggest difference--man and woman, you and I--you've grown cold and moved on to content loneliness and betterness than to give a girl who's hurt you a second chance.
Me--I've grown to let the warmth run over you, like a hot glass of water from a motel room sink after an ******. Past content, loneliness and betterness than to obsess about a boy grown sour from a girl too hurt to not want to take back the past.
We check in for the night to "make up for lost time."
We check out.
What's a girl to do?
Other than watch you sleep so still like you used to next to me, even with still blankets, it's cold. Hold me?
We walk out to our cars on a hot, departing Fourth of July.
I coax you into closing your lips over mine before you leave, but the key is already turned in. We already ate our free breakfast, ******, scratched, bruised.
You've already checked out, so
what's a girl to do now?
What's a girl to do?
AND
I cannot forget Whitman's words: "We were together, I forget the rest."
AND
Vonnegut's epitaph: "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."
AND
"Every time I kiss you
After a long separation
I feel
I am putting a hurried love letter
In a red mailbox"

AND
I feel like a one night stanza written by you who is more beautiful and unforgiving than words on a page
AND*
I am not drinking quickly enough--or enough, despite the speed
AND
Bukowski's poem:
year-worn
weary to the bone,
dancing in the dark with the
dark,
the Suicide Kid gone
gray.
Ah! the swift summers
over and gone
forever!
Is that death
stalking me
now?
No, it's only my cat,
this
time
AND I DIGRESS BECAUSE
my dear sweet Ambien Walrus has abandoned me in reality among the living. So blissful breaks, only a stomach churning in the minutes passing of a long night.
No worries, Mr. Walrus. I'd abandon me too. Only drinking, imagined aliens, crying and words here--words to document your blessed coming and mournful going into the wee hours of the unforgiving days. There is no glory in the mornings. I watch for you as I watch the hours pass. No bliss in the minutes stretched over the midnight break. Only words, no blessing, no grace, to pass the heavy nagging of the night. Will I see you again?
"We were together, I forget the rest."
What's a girl to do?
AND
oh yeah, drink more. Fingers crossed.
What more can a girl do, really?
OH
take another drink before the liquor runs out.
AND DRAW UPON MISTAKES PAST
I know this letter is getting out of hand
BUT
hear me out for all the words you never had to hear. I promise I'll throw in a joke somewhere.
AND
I sneak outside for a cigarette and watch an armadillo rummage closer to me while I search for another poem to make me feel better, another poem for this letter to you I will never send but maybe, if the situation's right, to read to you on some drunken night. I promised you a joke, but now, I giggle at my own feelings. Maybe you will too. I hope you laugh too--At my hands so aching, at my torn apart ******, at my silly feelings and words to help me forget a reminiscing night of you pushing my hair from my face so you can see my eyes when I purse my lips down below.
SO
here's your joke, I suppose.
This one's on me.
IN CONCLUSION
"At 23, the best of my life is over and its bitters double...I am sick at heart...I have outlived all my appetites and most of my vanities."
Byron knew the futility of joy in little things. In my quest to overcome a trivial ache, I have re-imagined a familiar road to uncertainty, instability, and insanity.
How great thou art!
Give me sleep and less slipping into this place of comfortable communion with the illnesses of my mind.
Of the body of Christ.
Amen.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the words and I shall be* sane.
Like Lazarus from the grave:
"This is not what I meant, at all."
"That is not it, at all."

God bless the blue.
What else is a girl to do?
BECAUSE
From the wards, I smell the mourned words of a place that I called home--this imaginary place that we must reinvent ourselves. Maybe mine is on Corporate Woods Drive, and all this--this is just a yellow brick road with little munchkins sweetly singing, follow it back home. I'll skip in a pretty dress with my friends and my babies to smell the grey walls and be asked of safety. I get lost every once in awhile but the Cheshire Cat asks, "where do you want to go?"
"I want to go home," I answer.
"Then," says the cat, "it doesn't matter."
IN OTHER WORDS
"I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?"
"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, 'Who in the world am I?' Ah! that's the great puzzle!"
SINCERELY YOURS (AND MINE, TOO)
Natalie
Our souls are enfettered
By an Inexorable Penance,
Sorrows & Lamentations:

In pining for
The Light of Transmutation
The Adamantine Wings
Of Stalwart Bahamut
Unburdened our etherealized hearts.

(Speaking for the future)

Spira has lost its
Yoke of Communion
To this Cimmerian Millennium.

Redemption’s Revelation:

Aeonic sin hath reigned
Under the Cathedral of Deception
Forged by the taught tongues
Of Yevon;

Despotic Lunae
Eclipsed the light
Of a forlorn sky,
Divine Pantheon
For
Numen of Sol.

Cast a
Stygian Shadow of Sanctimonious Suffering for Souls.
Seems eternal; truly, ephemeral.

For,
the Hearts of nations
Are
Sacrosanct Luminaries.

Our tears
Have been shed,
Our vanities
Indemnified.

Skies shall bleed Empyrean Bliss
And
The Opus of Life
Shall cleanse
This wearied Spira of Pernicious Sin.
*

(Amen.)
Inspired by Final Fantasy X. I attempted to encapsulate the story, thematic undertones, fantasy elements, ambiance of the musical piece (of same title as piece), as well as the penitence, sorrow, hope, and mirth set out before our heroes/heroines. Was a bit rushed as I wanted to get this out to you guys as swiftly as possible. Thank you for all your support because you mean all the world to me. Any constructive feedback is most appreciated! Enjoy! :)
Sound the deep waters:--
  Who shall sound that deep?--
Too short the plummet,
  And the watchmen sleep.
Some dream of effort
  Up a toilsome steep;
Some dream of pasture grounds
  For harmless sheep.

White shapes flit to and fro
  From mast to mast;
They feel the distant tempest
  That nears them fast:
Great rocks are straight ahead,
  Great shoals not past;
They shout to one another
  Upon the blast.

O, soft the streams drop music
  Between the hills,
And musical the birds' nests
  Beside those rills:
The nests are types of home
   Love-hidden from ills,
The nests are types of spirits
  Love-music fills.

So dream the sleepers,
  Each man in his place;
The lightning shows the smile
  Upon each face:
The ship is driving, driving,
  It drives apace:
And sleepers smile, and spirits
  Bewail their case.

The lightning glares and reddens
  Across the skies;
It seems but sunset
  To those sleeping eyes.
When did the sun go down
  On such a wise?
From such a sunset
  When shall day arise?

"Wake," call the spirits:
  But to heedless ears;
They have forgotten sorrows
  And hopes and fears;
They have forgotten perils
  And smiles and tears;
Their dream has held them long,
  Long years and years.

"Wake," call the spirits again:
  But it would take
A louder summons
  To bid them awake.
Some dream of pleasure
  For another's sake;
Some dream, forgetful
  Of a lifelong ache.

One by one slowly,
  Ah, how sad and slow!
Wailing and praying
  The spirits rise and go:
Clear stainless spirits,
  White,--as white as snow;
Pale spirits, wailing
  For an overthrow.

One by one flitting,
  Like a mournful bird
Whose song is tired at last
  For no mate heard.
The loving voice is silent,
  The useless word;
One by one flitting,
  Sick with hope deferred.

Driving and driving,
  The ship drives amain:
While swift from mast to mast
  Shapes flit again,
Flit silent as the silence
  Where men lie slain;
Their shadow cast upon the sails
  Is like a stain.

No voice to call the sleepers,
  No hand to raise:
They sleep to death in dreaming
  Of length of days.
Vanity of vanities,
  The Preacher says:
Vanity is the end
  Of all their ways.
Khoi Aug 2018
From the colloseum of
vanity

His opaque desecrated
Light

Eluded her sanity

Locked onto venom lips

The ghost from his mouth

Burnt a hole in her soul

And then It swallowed them whole
Vanity a boring and pointless perception
Please be careful of that pitfall
Anais Mostly Jun 2013
I am a knock on your door

You open up and I sneak in

Ill put your life on the market

Snarky teenagers to target a holiday demographic before fully developed  concepts begin

Your backpack and notepads house your sins
A man that's tall and gets caught in the calls of women to distract from the purpose  of ink pens

You're too ***** to be great

A ****** is a dead end

And a vortex for survivals' fate

Explorations of vanities' intellectual alternative gate
n stiles carmona Sep 2018
Fifty-percent illusion at any given time.
Your unintended muse will plead 'not guilty' to the crime
Of snatching back the quill and reshaping every line
into the role she wished to play
-- it seems the choice was never mine --

but the boy with the weighted wedding ring,
the self-appointed jury of the south;
him sheepish at the door with roses,
and the brute who owns this house.

Was it feminine mystique or was I crystal clear
while you blocked your ears and pretended not to hear?

A three-act structured tragedy.
All archetypes assigned.
"We've had this date since the beginning" --
if the part must be mine to play,
it is in my hands to manipulate.
Direct your blame to those who cast the roles.

Torn petticoat, blue piano;
flattered by the dimming glow --
oh, to be glossy pink and gold!
A trophy bride. A victor's prize.
(I snap awake and still see his eyes --
that ego swells him thrice my size --
with bruising force, he parts my thighs.)

Was it hysteria - madness? - or was I crystal clear
while you blocked your ears and pretended not to hear?

My fate was written for me,
in the frontal lobes of those who came before me:
down that narrative route, all bumps and troughs -- desire!
Fragments of an old Rossetti poem... o, vanity of vanities... the streetcar rattles and groans.
self-indulgent b-side to the prior poem 'i, ophelia'; honing in on blanche dubois (a streetcar named desire). excuse the rhymes, it's been a while.
j f Dec 2012
Truly, we are wonderful creatures,
drawn to light's undulating swells,
Sailors enthralled by the pushing sea's great shuddering
We honor these bright particles by our  presence

Yet we burrow away, mole men and women for
Our most primal act, instinctual to the muscle
But still insulted by vanities.
(The consequence of consciousness,
I suppose) you instructed, "Turn off the last light"

Do you not wish to admire me?
The tender swell of brain and breast sloping to meet
Crags of hipbone jutting promiscuously below
the natural waist, natural beauty
Wasted by electricity's end

I want to take delight in your body, your ****** tongue
Quell the minor indiscretions of the day and
Give willingly to honesty
My ******* two moon over campus, your hand the sky.
If the peering leaves won't judge,
The least you can do is look me in the eye.

— The End —