Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lost Time

This is one of two poems I wrote that were inspired by Iron and Wine (otherwise known as Sam Beam). He's one of the great poet-songwriters of our time, and if you haven't heard of him, you should do yourself a favor and look him up. Sorry about the commercial plug, but if it's good enough, then it transcends commerce. In this case, the idea first sprung from the title of one of his albums - Our Endless Numbered Days.

Lost Time

I once used my time
as if it were sand,
pouring it out
through a slackening hand,

and I wish that I knew
what I now comprehend:
my time was a gift
and those endless days end.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lucretius, or From the Shore

Well, it's the first full day of Summer, and the signs are in the air. I've finished my grading, the sun is up and shining at 9:30 in the morning, and nothing sounds more inviting right now than spending some time on the water. This next poem has little to do with anything, simply because I couldn't think of anything else to post at the moment; this weather is making me anxious to leave. A little background, though, for those of you who aren't familiar with Lucretius. He was an Epicurean philosopher who posited that the only way for a man to be truly happy was to sever all emotional connections to the world. According to him, such things as wives and children should be treated no differently (emotionally speaking, that is; not physically) than a vase, which is neither treasured nor, when it breaks, mourned. Sorrow comes from attachment, and so happiness must come from distance. I never really bought into this, but it's certainly a brave and different take on human happiness. I wrote this poem as an accompaniment to one of his examples, in which a man, standing on the shore and watching a ship sinking, feels neither fear nor sadness, only relief that he is not one of those who will die. It's a little longer, and I generally find it harder to write good long poetry than good short poetry, but I tried.

Lucretius, or From the Shore

A perilous step led me here,
a rough and broken path,
along the chalky cliffs that rub the sky.

Above, the smoky storm clouds sheer,
below, the foamy wrath,
and thrust between the titans, two, am I.

The raindrops, thick, begin to fall,
the west wind heaves a sough,
as lightning, distant, dances in the air,

and through the fog, a ship mast tall,
upon a pitching prow,
appears with sail marred by rent and tear.

The crewmen, like so many ants,
run frantic on the deck
to bring the straining ship in to the shore.

Though courage not their labor wants,
yet none shall save the wreck
from sinking ‘neath the waves for evermore.

And I cannot but help be glad,
as on the stones I stand,
and watch the vessel flounder in the waves,

for though such human loss is sad,
safe am I on the land,
while other men go down into their graves.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Day I Left

Well, school is done, and I wanted to post a poem in honor of that, but was at a total loss. I guess that will have to wait until next week, when I have sufficiently recovered. Until then, enjoy this one. I know the subject is a little on the melancholy side, but it has a light tone to it. And if there's anything I enjoy, it's mixing melancholia and cheerfulness. You probably think I'm joking, but I'm not; it's the Brit in me.

The Day I Left

The day I left, I lost your heart.
I thought I kept it, but I fear
it slipped away, as we apart,
and now I cannot find it here.

So long I hoped that it would stay
obscured from every searching eye,
alone for me, and for the day
that I could take my footsteps by.

But when I came, your heart was gone;
the ground beneath was cold and bare.
You left me here to search, alone,
and I can’t find it anywhere.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ode to Tobacco

In honor of the return from basic training of our dear friend and tobacco connoisseur, Bennett Gebken, I am posting the second part of an intended 'Trilogy of Vice.' It begins with 'Ode to a Martini' and continues here with tobacco. I am torn, however, about how to end it. Should the crowning piece pertain to bridge or croquette? Both are equally British, and both lend themselves equally to debauchery (yes, I know that sounds a little absurd - debaucherous card games and lawn sports - but trust me on this one).

Ode to Tobacco

When talking drags upon the ears
and thoughts upon the nerve,
to lubricate those gentle gears
a different drag will serve.

A puff upon that goodly weed
can soothe the savage soul;
it speaks a universal creed
from paper, leaf, or bowl.

So savor well the smoky song
that swirls out of sight,
but do not ruminate too long;
please let me have the light.