Avalon

Now spurn the frailties of the human soul,
The grasping weakness, fear of light and living.
Now guide my feet from darkness. Mark the path
And send me off to open eagle’s wings
And find another Avalon beyond
Our shores and time, where sleeping kings do wait.
I do not doubt, but still carry on unwavering.
Hungry, I fast. Though tired, I keep vigil.
The path aethereal extends before me.
Now, at the end, do I still dare take it?

meter: iambic pentameter
form: none

Write Something

Just write some words and put them down the page.
The page is all a stage, like life, so be
A writer and become the page stage sage
Like Dr. Seuss and write some poetry.
Be clever, funny, be original
Whatever that may mean. Be serious,
Be flippant, but not unoriginal,
And not all at once—deleterious.
Talk to yourself or talk to your audience,
Write something, anything, for no one at all.
Try to find words that rhyme with audience.
Don’t force a rhyme when it’s no good. Meatball.
Well, that’s that. What d’you think Shakespeare would say?
Don’t know. Hope I don’t see The Bard today.

meter: iambic pentameter-ish
form: a terrible Shakespearean sonnet
rhyme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

Seasons of Now

Autumn frozen by Winter thawed by Spring burnt by Summer

The seasons, plodding, dull, year after year
So slow, too slow for our modernity,
The ancient earth-bound measure of man’s sphere,
Time, time repeating for eternity. 

Summer harvested by Autumn frozen by Winter thawed by Spring

The peasant’s clock, too poor for gears of Progress
But good enough for the poor poet’s pen.
And Progress moves yet faster, fragile process
Dependent on vigilant farmer’s ken.

Spring burnt by Summer harvested by Autumn frozen by Winter

What are the seasons to so many now?
The arbiter of weather: tiresome rain
Of life, the heat that raises wheat from plough’s
Work, and cruel cold that freezes pest of grain.

Winter thawed by Spring burnt by Summer harvested by Autumn

So mark your destination in the sky
But keep your hands in th’earth to work so deep
Lest you then starve along the way and cry
At what impatient haste of time did reap.

Autumn frozen by Winter thawed by Spring burnt by Summer

meter: iambic pentameter
form: something I made up; rhyme ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH

Winter’s Return

Now is her time to take what once was hers.
Now let revanchist Winter reign and claim
The land made gold by Autumn’s granted gift.
Fair Autumn, golden hair a match for robes
Ripe as the yellow wreath of grain upon
Her head. Her arms are full of ev’ry fruit,
The bounty of the farmer’s labor long.
Now clothed in white disguising golden form
Autumn bows, bent by frost and deadly rime.
And Winter cold, not cruel, her chin uplifts
And smiles: ‘Your time is over sister dear.
Struggle no more. Fear not this change for time’s
Well-trodden path will turn your way again.’
Then Autumn stumbles, falls, and spills the fruits
Of harvest from her arms, so parched and burned
And soon buried beneath the snow and ice.
Winter triumphant stands in raiment white
As earth rises to greet her frigid reign. 

meter: iambic pentameter
form: none

What Hasn’t Been Said

What hasn’t yet been said about one’s true
Love? What remains for me of you to say?
Your glist’ning eyes do pierce my heart right through,
As lashes long upon your cheeks do play.

How lips so delicately flushed 
Are parted by your laugh, revealing teeth
Flashing and white, while hair so dark, smooth brushed,
Does run in rivulets o’er neck beneath.

Your skipping legs do blur through leaf-strewn fields
And down bucolic trails where you call me
With but a look. How winter’s days you shield
Me from the cold and share rough blankets weighty.

But these are all new things to say of course,
For one’s true love is so rarely a horse.

meter: iambic pentameter
form: Shakespearean sonnet ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

Not Playing Possum

Not quite satisfied with the first version of this, I adapted it to create a rhyme scheme for version 2.

Version 1
A bloody scene all scattered wide, first cold
Then warming in the burning sun. But not
To last, the multitude of worms work quickly.
The possum’s face a lifeless rictus grin,
Eyes open staring fixed and blind in death.
Do not avert your gaze but listen well
For if you give attention, he will speak:
‘You are ever becoming what I am.’

Version 2
A bloody scene all scattered wide, first cold
Then warming in the burning sun, begins
To waste. The multitude of worms fill the mold.
The possum’s face a lifeless rictus grin,
Eyes open staring fixed, a look so fey.
Do not avert your gaze but listen well
For if you give attention, he will say:
‘You too are blood within a brittle shell.’

meter: iambic pentameter
form: Version 1 – blank verse, Version 2 – ABABCDCD

The Sailor’s Lot

The sailor harnesses the wayward winds
To strike out to the deep and catch the West.
A tiresome life of shifts, the sailor’s test,
The wooden world does tie the men as kin.

A world apart, the service and its duty.
The daily scrubbing with the holy stone,
Alert to quarter deck’s call, then up wind-blown
Rigging to set tops’ls all in their beauty.

The ship’s routine, a perfect dance performed,
They run to Neptune’s realm through foam and spray    10
That spatters hawse and bow to seize the trades,
And day by day both sea and wind are warmed.

But fickle wind then fails. Stalled in dead sea,
The doldrums seize the ship. Days wax and wane.
While sun bleaches the sails all set in vain,
Capricious wind ignores the sailor’s plea.

At last the earth exhales its sweet, sweet breath
And grasping royals now begin to fill,
Then speeding toward the Cape, the captain’s will.
South, south away, away from mortal death.            20

Back, back homeward, routine again they sweat.
Decks holystoned, hammocks piped up. At noon
Position made, all hands to dinner soon.
Drummed orders, hammocks down, the watch is set.

A sail on dawn’s horizon. The command
Is ‘Beat to quarters’. Gun crews clear the decks
For action, lest the bulkheads, hammocks vex
The crews, their guns run out, slow match at hand.

And now the men alow are at the ready.
Aloft they tack into the wind to cross                30
The prize’s path. But their hope turns to dross,
The friendly signals shown, its course keeps steady.

The trades are strong. Wind on the beam they race
Toward home. But, sailor’s dread, a gale now drives
The ship headlong. It drifts to lee, no grace
Grants the high cliff. The men yet strive
But she founders. All hands gone with no trace
Down to the bitter depths, a deadly dive.
The sailor’s labor, sweat, and toil erased,
No mem’ry of the sailor now survives.            40

meter: iambic pentameter
form: expanded Petrarchan sonnet with varied rhyme scheme

Chained

Gnawing, biting, bleeding, wounding
Yet not ever killing. Hanging
On, a chained ball dragged, reminder
Constant of what’s undone, ended
That will not return, not ever.
Orpheus walks out from Hell, but
No Eurydice then follows.
Look, or don’t look back, it matters
Not. There’s nothing to regain there.
Gone, gone, never coming back now. 
Forward is the only option,
But it forces him to turn back.
Hold, great singer, hold fast. Forward
Go. Let not its teeth ensnare you.

meter: trochaic tetrameter
form: blank verse

Sun and Cloud

It rained and rained so black in midst of day
Relentless life falling from heaven high,
Th’imagined battle, cloud and sun, that he,
Hyperion, might shine and see at last
Your glory in the full splendor of dawn
And you adorned in sun’s full raiment bright.
But clouds, bulwark of Zeus, do guard so jealous,
Sequester with lightning and thunder that
Which he does wrongly think belongs to him.
The sun does persevere, prevails without
A fight when clouds pass, as they must at last,
Fighting in vain against the wind’s sure tide.
And now Hyperion has his brief moment
To see you and adore you now before
The clouds return, as surely they must do.
But you can laugh at their prepost’rous game,
And laughing conquer would-be conquerors.

A Poem for You, Part 2

“Hello dear, I wrote you a poem.”
“Is this one actually for me or is it another passive-aggressive revenge composition?”
“No, Mabel, it’s actually for you.”
“Go ahead then, Gerald.”

Along the alabaster arc of joy,
Stretching beyond the mind’s membranous skeins,
The heart cavils at dull, dull persiflage.
Time’s bright shadow lengthens now.
A moment, grant just one. That is enough.

(aside) “That is enough.”
“What, dear?”
“Nothing, nothing.”
“Do you like it? It’s iambic pentameter, like Shakespeare.”
“Is it? I couldn’t tell. Don’t let Shakespeare know you’re comparing yourself to him.”
“That hurts, Mabel. I am trying.”
“What does it mean?”
“What does it mean? Ah, well, that’s for the reader to determine.”
“I see. So it doesn’t mean anything.”
“No, it does. Would it help to hear it again?”
“No! No, no; wouldn’t want to spoil my first impression. Just give it to me.”
“Do you like it though?”
“Oh yes, I love it. I thank God every day for your poetry. In fact it’s exactly what I was hoping you’d bring me. I need some kindling for the fire.”