Thursday, April 29, 2010


Blogging intrinsically biases quantity over quality. A blogger can, of course, invest more time looking for a better word, more succinct phrasing, editing out typos and other clumsiness, but the urge to get something out and posted is constant. Happily, the poem below is one I've worked on for awhile and posted previously on In and Out. It's a better poem than some of the others posted here.


Here am I
in this unbounded place,
a point in passing,
a bridge between times,
through darkness, across voids,
around the great signal fires.

It takes an effort of will
to catch what I’d missed,
to see we in that space
took wing,
to hear small birds with
perfect pitch and
immaculate messages,
to conjure a thing so close
god’s eyes cross with
recall and effort,
cross with wonder and unselfconscious
neglect for appearances.

The path goes far beyond the end
of innocence and divides in the next space.
The trail has gone this way,
into the future,
precisely the path I follow now,
with music by birdsong,
if I should choose to listen, and
lit by brilliant flowers,
if I should choose to see.

I stop at the odd firepit.
Step carefully around the scattered
bones. Toeing, then picking at them,
the old bones near dust. What beasts were these?
Something immense, I’m sure.
Something fierce, I wonder.
How does a place become so empty?

What has been driven before me?
A sudden thought;
what lurks behind?
A memory, perhaps. Of us.
What also wanders here?
Midst birdsong and flowers,
who will find whom?
This hunt nearly consumes me.

Gathering a bouquet of thoughts,
I consider fragrance, balance of color,
length of stem, the flowering cup.

With fresh effort,
I hear small birds
possessing perfect pitch,
singing immaculate messages.

Leaving reason behind,
the supreme, last seen, seemed adrift,
remote, flickered out in the distance,
just this side of the horizon line

The not known has gone this way,
into the future and
I am following,
backed with music by birdsong,
way lit by scattered
combustible bushes.

Tiring, I stop at the next firepit.
Step carefully around the scattered
bones. Toeing, then picking at them.—
The old bones stir.
What beasts are these?
Something immense, I see.
And without name.
How long abiding here?

Thoughts rolling like sea glass.
What has fled before me?
Who wanders just ahead?
With what purpose?
With eyes failing like mine?
With strain in the effort
of looking?

Who will find whom
around birdsong and flowers
and gathering bones
of resurrecting beasts?
What happens then?
Who will continue this hunt?
The next thought,
not really my own, consumes me,
and I am gone on the breeze. Dust.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Last King of May

Two poems

Abbreviated lyrics from Natalie Merchant’s (if you'd like to see all the lyrics or hear the song, go here)
The Last King of May

Farewell today
Travel on now
Be on your way
Go safely there
And never worry, never care
Beyond this day

Farewell tonight
To our joy and our delight
Go and go peacefully
We can’t keep your majesty
Be on your way

Make way for the last king of May
Make a cardboard crown for him
And make your voices one
Praise the crazy mother’s son who loved his life

Make way for the last king of May
And make a hole in the sky for him
Raise your voices up
And lift your loving cup
To his long life

Jeff Epton's
The Last King of May

Is the king I remember
the first? Or echo? Or a
painter’s blend of splash
and memory? All my kings

caress me like baby fingers
on my breast. All my kings
whisper like hillside breezes
stunned to find the gowned queen

waiting. All my kings
dream virgin blush onto
their veteran queen. All my kings
get a lover coy as ecstasy requires.

Why should the beloved weep
so hard that the first prince did
not endure? Who imagines
the shattered eternal composes

herself for the young royal
who knows no king before him?
Ah, love, you have risen with the sun,
lighting me awake and ready. Come.

Shall we talk and sip tea,
soothe the heaved and troubled lives
of the wild, ranging pack? Putting off
our sweet roll until lust sheds restraint?

Riding hurricanes like storm gods,
wishing for the mother of winds
to blow us to the consummation
from which I alone return.

Grant me uncorrupted memory
of the first king. Barring that,
speed the visit of the last king
in whose arms I will finally rest.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jezebel: Prologue

Whose story is it,
that most demands the tell?
And who does the telling,
who the listening?

Untold stories rob the dead
of glory, turn defeat to
notoriety, suffering to mounds
of city grit and melted slush

trickling sewerwise to the sea.
Victory confers stewardship
of history and the fable-making
mechanism, the right to tell the story

suddenly the right to lie. Just so did
Eve's story become Adam's rib
and Baal the god of rain and sweet water
become corrupted Beelzebub.

Just so did the monotheists
supplant the polytheists.
Just so did Christianity sign
the new covenant with god

and make believers of some of us,
except where Islam told a taller tale
and left infidels behind. Lose the right
to sing one's own song

and become the villain
of the story, or be forgotten
all together, erased as one
who never mattered, dead as yesterday's flare.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Perimeter of the Future

The meaning of things lags.
Decisively we move ahead,
aimlessly we drift forward,
furiously we burst through,
timidly we creep behind,

ending, not quite as we imagined,
on the perimeter of the future,
our predictions muddled, confounded
and realized. And still we must decide

our next posture. Defensive? Feinting?
Assertive? The meaning, of course,
is key, but the meaning of things lags.
We have arrived, but the future

with all the answers we crave
has moved on. Like gods we create
metaphors of flashlights to help,
picking our way through unlit places.

And on the walls of the caves
loom the shadows of ourselves, of messages
calling on us for explanation.
We are suddenly oracles, machines

to create meaning. And we do,
securing our base camp
on the perimeter of the future,
planning to rest and move on
before the peak recedes again.