Monday, March 18, 2013

Virgil Redivivus


Awake at midnight till midnight sleeps
You keep your vigil till Virgil weeps,
Till lines of poetry waver and blur
Borne away on memory’s stream
Substituted by lush, deep-rooted
Water plants that wash your dream.

Sitting up till the middle of the night,
Like staying awake on a transatlantic flight,
Superstitious, surreptitious, sly,
You keep the plane up in the sky;
Just so, you watch over the child, the friend,
Who depend on your knowing to worry about them.

What you dream I do not know,
I hope your dreams are storied though:
Dreams in sepia of times gone by,
Or colorful scenes of seascape and sky,
Dreams retold in the languages you love,
Dreams that filter starlight softly from above.

*    *    *   *    *

That old roll of film in your pocket
Is undeveloped Truth
Evidence of the life you lived:
Incontrovertible proof

Proof of life
A reading
Of your vital signs:
Your part in earthly
Joy and strife
In the heeding
And superseding
Of destiny’s designs.

The Life Force
Once made questionable
By force of circumstance
Now rendered incontestable
By persistent

Your Magna Anima
Of variations
Too large
To be
Too multicolored,
Too perennially

That animated anima,
Crafty, smart,
Stated its hypothesis
Right from the start,
Directed its experiment
Straight from the heart:
To balance 
The heaviness of courage,
With the lightness of art

To measure
Solemnity and levity,
Gravity and grace,
Sustainable brevity:
Inner space,
Charm and relativity
Caught up in the dance:
Versatile proclivities:
Proof against chance

To weigh the light
And the heavy still:
Art and courage,
Courage and Art:
The feathery lightness
Of the soaring heart.

Banners bespoken
Unfurled, betoken
Crucial pain,
Vital pleasures
By craft reformed,
By Time’s crucible

Treasures of Time
Placed in the scales
Salience of radiance,
Resilience of brilliance
Charting of the elements,
Of symbols, signs
To the finely wrought
Free intention
Of the harnessed mind;

Placed in the balance
Placed alongside
The harrowing
Of expedience,
Fallout from
To History’s pitiless crimes;
The daunting uphill climb,
Steepness of grades,
Of gradients;
Alongside all that radiance

And the failure of Goodness
To protect;
And the coward’s reluctance
To accept
Evil’s comeuppance;

Placed in the balance
The vital talents
There from the start:
Laughter and grace,
Wisdom’s fine trace,
The sacred space
Of the
Tender heart,
And the guarded shrine
Of the unbroken mind

*    *    *   *    *

A rush of wings:
Time’s Jaguar now,
Roaring in the future with
Future perfect in tow––

Not the only time
Your shoulder has been brushed
By wings reviving signs
Of the shadows time crushed––

Shadow men who deify division:
“Our side, your side,
Between them––derision.”
Shadow men who rail against revels,
Make private pacts with part-time devils,
Form factions, schisms, cliques, cabals:
Big-enders and Little-enders all:

Shades who make legends of unlived lives,
Shades whose love is retrospection
For women whose fading reflections –
Like thousands of slipping silken shawls –
Gently fall
                   Cover all
Darkening the deepening pools
Of young girls’ wondering eyes

*    *    *   *    *

All too real for sainting
Too practical for sin
Laughing or tending or painting
Doors swing wide when you walk in


You will keep your wits about you
Life won’t want to live without you

You will have bright visions
Of the places on the maps––
No image in your archive
Vague or abstract

And when you think
You can foresee
Time’s sleeve raveling,
An end to traveling,
Recall the prophecy
At the end of the

You too may visit
Cities of men
Till you come upon
A curious race
In an inland place:
Men neither bad nor good
Who eat no salt
On their food;
And if a walking stick you bring,
It may be seen
As some other thing;
And if your oar is mistaken
For a winnowing fan,
Make a libation,
Bless the land,
Take a vacation,
Freed from story,
Freed from the ghosts 
Of history.

Leaving magic spells behind
You shall know
The quiet mind

You’ll turn away
Just in time

From winking Madonnas
In their prime

From clockwork soldiers
Whose hollow eyes you know,
From crumbling walls of Jericho

*    *    *   *    *

Emerged at last
From the tortuous maze
You’ll set aside your
Book of Days
You’ll gently close
Your Book of Hours
Breathe the air
Exult in flowers:

Flowers with stamens
Blue translucent,  
Fugitive hue;
Flowers with petals
Lush like the lazuli feathers
Of a camouflaged bunting,
Hidden from view;

Petals the color of
The sky, the sea,
Color of the breezes
Moving the tops of trees;

Color of tiny traces
Left by a water strider’s feet;
Of artisanal glazes
Daubed on slim ceramic vases;

Blue of the nightingale’s
Purest note
Reprised in the opera
Stravinsky wrote––

You’ll set aside your
Book of Days,
Gently close
Your Book of Hours,
To play it as it lays
Whether by Time
Bereft or empowered.

*    *    *   *    *

Released from obsession’s
2D mind games
– Barely affected –
By having to pace
First right, then left,
Through the Minotaur’s maze,

You will find yourself
To see the full-blown Promise
Vectored and projected:

The future
Not idealized,
But realized:
Lively ascension
In three or four
Richly scored

As Life uncoils
Like the time-lapse tale
Of one glorious
Wrapped around
Swathed in surround
Of ambient
Amber light

You will need
No Special Training
In Insight

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