Weary of the Journey and Ready for Rest
The lifetimes turn round and round within my breast
like the turnings of a man in a long and restless sleep.
The corners of dreams nudge me awake, yet ‘tis still a dream.
So many suns have I seen rise and set, so many moons wan and pale
have shone in the eyes of so many beloveds.
So many skies have I wandered under, loved under, died under,
with their time machine clouds and memory winds.
How many rooms have I yet to wake in, sunlight splashing
through shaded or slatted blinds, asleep on sheets new or yellow with age,
coverlet poor or of finest down?What view shall next crowd my eye, what scene shall next frame
my slender sight?
How many faces have yet to peer into my crib?
Will they be kind or cold or unconcerned, will the eyes shine with thanksgiving
or watch with gray regret?What womb awaits my form, able-bodied and athletic, or infirm and given to books and the shaded room?
What if by some faulty magic, some accidental vision, I could see
my next custodians, and I disliked their faces, the cut of their clothing,
the way they spoke?
Why, they might be people I would snub at a party, and turn away from
with a drink in my hand!
And yet these very ones shall stride like giants across the landscape of my next
childhood and youth, their utterings and injunctions to be obeyed at once
or soon the downswing of the imprinting hand.
How many wives or husbands have yet to overturn my heart,
and sear it with yet another love?
How many casual hellos and aching goodbyes,
how many entrances and exits have yet to be endured?
How many cards and letters sent over how many land or ocean miles
have yet to be penned?
How many sleeps, fitful or untroubled, have yet to round this paltry poem,
so poorly rhymed and scanned?
How many beds will I expire or sire in?
How many plots of earth await a form that has yet to be born?
How many children that now might be closest friends will I one day cradle
and wipe clean?
What weaknesses and faults am I engraving with the nib of my current
words and actions?
What future friends and enemies am I making,
what scenes sad or embarrassing am I writing out the parts for now?
What future debts am I incurring, what promises broken now
will need future reparation?
What torments are being mounted upon what future stage
where the terrors of the schoolyard and the bully lie in wait?
What books have I yet to read again, marveling at Shakespeare's or Dickens’ genius as though for the very first time?
How many times will the strains of a Beethoven quartet unravel my heart?
And all the petty sorrows and all the petty joys are lining up like soldiers
to march across my dream.
The weddings and processionals, the birthings and the burials,
the layette and the tomb are now only shifting images upon a once
and future screen;
but make no mistake, they shall come into focus clear and soon enough.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep
from rebirth’s weary wheel; yet that wheel is turning endlessly,
so ceaselessly turning round, so perfect in its constancy,
so unerring in its course, and yet propelled by nothing more
than the primitive engine of my every thought, word and deed.
I bear the weight of too many lifetimes;
the hands of my heart are tired from carrying so much baggage;
Oh Dearest One, press into my palm the ticket for that train
which makes no scheduled stop save One.
There will come
a last day,
a last hour,
a last minute,
a last moment,
a last tear,
a last laugh,
a last silence,
a last temptation,
a last hunger,
a last meal,
a last lust,
a last mistake,
a last regret,
a last reproach,
a last work-out,
a last trip to the store,
a last vacation,
a last book read,
a last movie watched,a last piece of music heard,
a last website searched,
a last email sent and responded to,
a last left and picked-up voice-mail,
a last sent and received birthday card,
a last nap and a last sleep,
a last trip to the bathroom,
a last speech,
a last joke,
a last fear,
a last hope,
a last dream,
a last hatred,
a last forgiveness,
a last longing,
a last thought,
a last breath,
a last reflection,
a last lesson learned.
And all of life’s firsts shall begin again…and again.
If Suddenly Death Should Come: A Sonnet
If suddenly death should come to us, would we
Be caught surprised, afraid and loath to go?
Or clinging with frantic fingers, would we flee
From a cherished past to a future yet to know?
Or part with eyes averted from all tears,
From joys and countless moments gone forever?
Or bid good-bye to triumphs, praise and cheers
Heaped roundly on our heads, but now not ever
To be heard again, still fading in our ears?
Or will His name set sail, a handsome ship
From a heart-shaped dock at full and breakneck speed
To arrive at the final harbor of our lips,
That soul, so lately chained, is finally freed?
But leave the Name unspoke, and God’s machine
Engraves new joys and sorrows upon the screen.
He Awoke in the Gallant Evening
He awoke in the gallant evening
When the stars caress the sky,
When the arms of lovers intertwine
And the hearts of lovers sigh
To once again unite their souls
In a union nearing bliss
That begins with eyes both opened wide
And ends with a sudden kiss.
But that night union never came;
It remained a future tense;
It remained that way deliberately,
Detained by a will immense.
“I bless this blessed ignorance,” said he,
“That separates You from me.
I long not for that union
That would join us eternally.
I would not end this love affair,
Nor the games that lovers play;
I’d rather love for loving’s sake,
And live to love another day.”
So he slept once more the gallant sleep
And dreamed himself awake
To begin again another day
Of loving for loving’s sake.