Avec le temps.

sea lines.

the ebbing of foam and
spray from sea lines
reveals glittering calico
pebbles and shell fragments
on coastal sands.
during the interim of
drought and abandonment,
the brilliance of this
treasure trove is dulled
by disclosure and desiccation.
there they remain,
rather indistinguishable
from the multitudes,
and dream of baptism
by tidal reclamation.

retrospective.

over the decades,
endings muted into beginnings
like swirls of blue-grey smoke
creeping towards alabaster palaces
in primordial consciousness.
there, in the garden of creativity,
the ashes of one zillion charred
impulses rained heavily upon
furrows of expectations,
cultivating dreams with experience.

déjà vu.

last night,
while leafing through an old family album,
i saw an ancient photograph of my father
modelling my nehru jacket and hippy beads.
i smiled,
remembering how he would always tell me
that one day i’d grow up to be ‘just like dad’ …
it’s strange to think that long hair,
hitchhiking, and hit songs with singable lyrics
felt no more ludicrous then than lavish
christmases, gym memberships and nouvelle cuisine
do now.
and i’m repeatedly amazed at how quickly
personal revelations become ‘period pieces’ —
modernity lasts but a mere second in
life’s journals of redundant cliches:
from white dress shirts to
paisley to stripes
and back …
this morning,
while shaving in the bathroom mirror,
i frowned at my receding hairline
and then laughed to myself while
thinking: you know — ‘crazy old dad’
wasn’t so wrong after all.

the death of poetry.

fifteen years ago —
when poetry was still popular —
my creative writing teacher preached that,
while history repeats itself by nature,
a good poet never does.
frowning particularly upon
‘that ever-stuttering gertrude stein’,
and assailing the beats as opportunists
in an age of trend, he warned
that the death of poetry
was approaching and that its demise
would precipitate intellectual senility.
the spunky old man lives in a rest home now,
and barely recognizes me when i visit.
yet, nothing can tarnish the love i feel
as he excitedly engages me with the same
damn stories i’ve heard for fifteen years,
over … and over … again.

DAEDALUS 3: ELEGY.

Icarus, my son —
In all honesty I guess we were
Always walking on the edge.
Suspended tautly between highs
And lows, we feared mediocrity
More than imbalance.
For us, challenge was but
The means of attaining individuality;
A space unto ourselves and
Forever out of reach of
Those who dreamed but
Never dared to risk.
We soared like eagles and
We fed on desires that
Sting the heart, yet
We neither gave nor received
Beyond our passion for
Excellence through solitude.
And now that I have witnessed
The birth of my conscience,
There remains no other recourse
Than to re-invest myself in
The ongoing saga which is the
Phenomenon of life.
Heretofore, I’d always thought
That phenomenon is emptiness;
But having now lost all
That has been dear to me —
I realize that emptiness
Is a kind of phenomenon.

THE RIDDLE.

Leading the procession of
Thirty haggard mercenaries in
Tattered finery was a short,
Dark-complexioned man with
Dirty black curls and a
Glint of twilight and
Magic in his eyes.
The demeanor of this
Broken-down gypsy with
Affectations of pomposity
And courtly grandeur incited
Both laughter and suspicion
Amongst the curious Sicanians.
Yet – his fixed smile and
Piercing gaze betrayed nothing
But charm as he extended his
Palm holding a simple spiral
Seashell, and said:
“I’ll bet YOU can solve this riddle!??”

VENGEANCE 2: SICILY.

King Cocalus was taken by surprise
In the twenty-fourth hour when
Minos and his band of thirty
Burst into the royal bedchamber
Armed with torches, swords and
A dagger positioned against the neck
Of the fair princess of Camicus,
Held in ransom for he who
Solved the riddle.
Looking into his frightened daughter’s eyes
Cocalus knew at once that the
First battle had been lost but
Conceded with a smile as his
Bitter mind was already scheming
At a plan for final victory.

MINOS.

In an expression of growing impatience,
The disapproving gods comment with a sigh:
“Must we be continually aggravated
by these shadows of a man
of stature and consequence,
now diminished into comic parody
by desperation and delusion?
The truth is that no one
really cares about a star
that has lost its shine ..
A king without a kingdom is
either a pirate or a buffoon.”

THE SCALDING.

The slow dripping of water
Upon blistered skin and flesh
Stages the final element of torture
For the deposed king as each
Drop threatens to erode more
Permanently all hope for
Recovery and revenge.
Melodic shrieks of agony
Maintain symphonic balance
Against the rhythmic trickling,
Indicative of the ironic horror
Endemic to nature’s inevitable
Triumph over civilization
And artificiality.
Perhaps the greatest severity
Is the cruelty of mortality;
For chronology minimizes
Individual humanity with
Each passing moment.

DAEDALUS 4: LAMENT FOR A DYING KING.

It shatters me to see you
Lying there so helplessly;
Playing the ‘waiting game’
Without judgment or choice.
Fearing life now more than death,
You transcend the impatience of desire
Through constancy of pain and
Resignation to the inevitable.
In a singular gesture of compassion,
Your pale lips force a smile
Which silences the teardrop
Skidding down my face; and
Momentarily I turn away inside myself,
Embarrassed by my own self-indulgence.
Still smiling,
You take me by the hand and
Squeeze a bit of your precious life
Into mine, as if to say:
“I know … I know …
(we all live on borrowed time).”

(excerpts from “Collected poems and stories”, Adam Donaldson Powell, 2005, Cyberwit.)

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