Category Archives: Pyrrhic Victory

“Gold Bars Soar”

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“Gold Bars Soar”

Gold bars soar that may or may not be there as dollars rise and fall
While doves and hawks lose feathers and the bourgeois stain
Their corporate tablecloths; numbers genuflect as mortgage rates
And candidates trade places in the spin. Who sleeps in the caterwaul;
Who stampedes for attention in the networks’ nightly call
To arms not heard since Boston; whose cotillions root for the notorious? Bait
And bombast never fails; the remedy is ever there and altogether late,
Meticulously timed by someone out to fill the stadia and malls
With never ending seasons’ greetings and wherewithal
To keep the vital signs of spinning polls and sardines at the gates,
Martin’s dream is deemed appropriate for the calendar and numbers integrate
The use of steroids and youthful thrall so no one drops the ball.
Who needs another change for heaven’s sake as one size fits all:
…And who really gives a damn with elections in the fall?

“Something Wicked”

Babble

“Something Wicked”

Something wicked this way comes
And everyone knows it! Witness
The brevity of will in a people so possessed
By control that no waking phrases in the scrum
Are backed, no action packed
But leads to Pyrrhic victory somewhere short of oblivion.
“Buy me, do me get me!” say they all with pomp and liaison
Sprinkled through the phrases, staccato wracked
And stacked and constant, never mind the consequence
Or where it leads: “Just process the wiseacres,
Sedley, and stop philosophising about the mediocre
Lives they portray…,”* the wise whisper. And while the sequence
Of goal and collateral debris matters only lightly
Up or down, tout le monde at home attend politely.

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*paraphrased caption from a cartoon in The New Yorker magazine some years back…

…painting at top by Petula Bloomfield…

“They Move So Well”

“They Move So Well”

They move so well, they troll; they stroll
From this side of wagers to the other,
“Done!” and back again, smother
Goosesteps with mother’s deep affection, roll
The wholes in one and on a paper napkin map
Contingent strategies in sporting bars of habit and choice
Their viscosities of taste and controversy, simulated voices
Registering rapt concern from teleprompters
for whom it may concern that takes the rap
When leaders do not function as they should.
If what’s within the box is not ajar,
It will be soon, adagios of alarm
As phantoms masked in mortgages, just as whales, must surface
By the waters of eternal Babylon to their height in purpose.

“A Pyrrhic Victory”

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“A Pyrrhic Victory”

A Pyrrhic victory at best, hours after yet another year’s
Bitter cold before the coming estates of sweat, insurmountability’s
Surmised but never publicly revealed. Accountability’s
Moot when age transmutes abundant copper into gold, drowns tears
With astringents of patent patience, maintenance, and losses dear
But ever too late for death to gloat no matter the audience. Flexibility
Of course is needed, reticence too calm for promiscuity
And not a whole lot larger than regret and nothing left to fear.
What then, comes next; what must? What highway markers point the way
To some fresh spring or more than nocturnal notches at the oasis?
Longevity rests its case while youth is lost in grasping straws
And twigs of self-control with nothing guaranteed to thaw
In time for dinner. Long since the urge to worship heady homeostasis
Yields mere noise, the debris of mindless predators at work or play
Whose highest aspiration is passion’s demand and supply of endless prey.

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…paintings by Jeanette Bessette…

“Just Another Evening’s Fast”

“Just Another Evening’s Fast”

Just another evening’s fast,
By chance, a simple dinner, happenstance within the seams
And lining of sidling sibling intercourse that satisfies or possibly redeems
The thing that leaves its fossils free for future scavengers, no past
To contemplate, a coroner’s delight from the proceeds of a centrifuge.
Cleverness of movement mounts in moments somehow cleft
And processed as lesions in the lard of what’s been left
To marinate or age. Discharge, wastes from the deluge
Along the banquet boards, but dammed provide
A watershed, the simple servant to all cardinal sins
To celebrate with sufficient zeal a subtrahend
That will not be outgrown nor decompose and cannot break its stride
With backdoor vipers or ill-used garden snakes. At harm’s length
Visitations of the witnesses can only grow in strength.
And in the wake of rampant spending never-ending apostrophes
Display en masse in parliaments and congresses the celebrants
Of leisure indiscretion and rhymed
across the continents to vindicate the sycophants
That feed on chaff and tares and festering entropic
Taste. The eyes and ears devour content until the alloys
Reduce the whole by more than mere attrition: cues, inordinate;
Views, the outrageous comedy of news of Abel’s subordinate
To Cain’s disorderly conduct. Ephemeral sensations void
All issues in the ideology; the syncope
Will do while conflict sounds so much more human,
Don’t you think, or do you really trust a politician, man or woman
Whose distinction lies in dropping g’s? Possibly, or maybe
Not, but give us rolled up sleeves and no tie, please!
The tissues, lies, of course!
but please. No more peace.

“The Pilot’s Flame”

“The Pilot’s Flame”

The pilot’s flame and ambergris, fire and smoke, these privy orizons
As dews appear upon the sight of buds along an early midsummer’s talk
In the blind behind the backfields; still there is the chill,
a brief Nebraska morning’s walk
Through the shadows’ tides abiding shallows
in the breath of dawn; the garden
Path because we share so little
of the masters’ growth in blossoms’ bargains’
Fruits within us both and share with none, no idle chatter,
indeed a pittance of a fee for angels; pillars, cornstalks,
Arm in arm—so much can lead the way to joy within a cosmic room—locked
To one to yet another and another in the repetitious staid negotiation
of noxious clouds and dark but sterile clods, the venal vain
Attempt to mask indignity in stride until desire’s destination’s
Reached—we know by stealth to find a symmetry in solutions,
Solace in respite from the others at the solstice
of that brief but potent spot,
The proper pole to pierce the continent,
a place we’ve never seen and always sought.
I need nothing more to see your face, to read your book,
to savour proctors for procrastination
For the sake of pleasures found in greater prisms
for a lighter thought than pure imagination.

…a revision of the poem…”Swept Aside”

…a revision of the poem…

“Swept Aside”

Swept aside, all moments and celestial mementos collide
And waste no never-mind on credence and retention
In the wake of greater cosmic rinds and supine celestial reflection.
Mortality by definition lies; not so through what histories imply
But in the daily interaction of missives from the Goal
And penultimate ilunga * of the Source or
Sanctions of interaction in the triumphant triad of the coarsest
Ores of time, of space, and all that matters. Time, the cosmic linen folds
Of space and active order; space, the theatre of experience at the heart
Of the observer; matter, but an audience, a phenomena in passive
Active shadows of Creation and its nemesis. Simplicity is massive,
Complexity but a word; a question’s languages are art
And science while the answers form the pathos and the abstract.
What is more pathetic than to be and yet be nothing in the act?
Simplicity in the classic form requires
The prefects of a perfect vacuum
Combined in such a way as compliments the acumen
Of a strident meme, the jealous zeitgeist, tests that to the whole inspire
An urgent need to pause, to linger over bodies no longer really there,
A little more than a half a generation’s substance in a given time.
So granted this, so beautifully and tragically resigned,
Aloud comes the elegies of episodes to “Move along!”or “Retire!”
With such a cry inscribed, there was and always is
A here and there in rapid profit worshipped, fierce
As gallstones of desperation: “This, our chosen age, rehearsed
Upon a cross of memories little more than lyrics of an ancient tryst!”
And, equally, the many crowned and catalogued, remain aloof
Through symmetries of perfection in a sacred dynasty of embroidered truth.

*The word is ilunga, from the Bantu language of Tshiluba, and means a person ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.

When there is this, that is.
With the arising of this, that arises.
When this is not, neither is that.
With the cessation of this, that ceases.

His Holiness The Buddha

“They Await”

“They Await”

They await some helpful word and know the news
Their fear falls short of what it is they want to hear;
Days’ delays, too much backlog must disappear
Before the silence and its echo can renew
The striking of the bell within this people. Still
It falls within the natural healing that smatterings
Of longing, waiting, hoping in and of itself brings
Spasms of a healing psalm to the many, and for the few no chill
Will touch the man who holds the triumph of the will to heart,
A movement, distant, upward, outward toward
The next plateau, a freshly minted meme within a percolating promise, forward
Always–never moving yet never still–magnificently arched and carved.
As with a steaming rainbow, himself the crown to every several cloud
While he succumbs to resignation and relief that only ignorance allows.
They study stars to bring a second truth to hand enforced
By what the doctors know, to second guess
The odds, the capture of a second a consolation prize at best;
To cheat, perhaps, or worse, to change the windless course,
The doldrums of ordination well before conception. Even more,
Delight to undermine what primal motives strength
Of certitude command, a reprimand the breadth and length
Of all creation guided as it were to win, to score
Beyond that something, this someone, those some things greater
Than the product of a wizard or the clever second hand
shuffles across the face of clocks and cosmic signs. A man,
A faculty of man, an energy–perhaps an enterprising satyr–
Quickening the insight and knowing just how much the gathering clouds
Have missed the point will gorge himself on fate,
and blaspheme right out loud.

“Two of Them”

“Two of Them”

Two of them apprised will rise while only one survives;
The first, a germ like any other, in the second,
Excellence as loving makes it so. She reckons
Life in paragraphs and chapters, derives
Pleasure in the phrase, itself–in leisure lies
The notion of posterity, the fecund
Last and lonely station of a book—the legend
More important than the fact, the spies
Than what is spied upon. Where there are three
The Chinese say, some one of them must be a teacher.
Let both in compromise find refuge in the third
That one may truly love, the other form the words
Recording signs and sighs of mystery
And ritual and yet another sermon for the preacher.

—Once

 

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

Gabriel José de la Concordia Garcia Márquez [1927 -- ]
Love in the Time of Cholera

“Humour Is Impossible”

“Humour Is Impossible”

Humour is impossible in the throes
of serious contemplation of the most potent question
ever asked on any secular page of literature:
“To be or not to be, that is the question,…”

When faced with such a query,
who will denigrate his own
imagined station and position within what is,
after all, a lethal situation for all of us?

The bourgeoisie cannot afford to ask the question;
the rich above the need of contemplation;
the poor too oppressed by the instincts,
the daily needs of hunting and gathering

simply to ensure a continued existence
in this world share  a modicum of
some comfort on the odd occasion.
The rich experience nothing because

every effort costs them nothing;
their pride, therefore, is rendered moot.
The bourgeois may well seek to own his world
in terms of expressions of what he imagines

the bailiwick of their betters,
and indeed, but fails to recognise
that ownership without purpose
sustained over a generation or two

is inevitably the prescription
for yet another application
of the Peter Principle
or the Dunning-Kruger Effect

and, as with poisons can provide
as great a lethal punch to the soul
as it can be in beneficial form to the body.
The poor experience the wonders

of life, struggle, and death but have no voice,
no language that does not promote
anything short of need at best, sedition
at worst when given half a chance,

and in the odd instance passing freedom from sheer want.
Witness: from a tax revolt in 1776, America did without its king;
1789, the French its monarchy and aristocracy;
1917, the Russians their czar, their aristocracy,
Their bourgeoisie yet all revolutions failed.

…But, Nymph in thine orisons be all my sins remembered,
strip away convention, then, and turn to prose….

Given all of the above and the advent of the credit card on the one hand, and ubiquitous Federal Reserve Bank Notes, the logical use and result of the invention of the printing press, what might have been humorous in the past has lost its flavour much like one’s wad of “chewing gum on the bedpost overnight,” simply because whether one addresses true tragedy or its counterpart in comedy, both rely on some helpful word as to what constitutes the intrinsic good or, in short, the presence of virtue and its ultimate outcome, nobility, vraiment…. Without such a word, we have no choice but to think nothing is too sacred to denigrate, belittle, or even to crucify, as the history of all of the many Prophets and Messengers of God, not to mention spiritual philosophers have experienced and met Their ends; what, then can be said of the qualities of the arts and sciences, and the “pith and marrow” of any given society on this planet?

In the end, what constitutes a poet if in fact the characteristics of the artists and sciences have been laughed to scorn just as those of the basic institutions from the kings, popes, religious leaders of all kinds, lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, librarians, professions of all sorts. Once one has laughed at God, Himself, it is difficult or even impossible to maintain any semblance of nobility; what should the present two or three generations expect but that after what amounts to almost continual world wars from the 1840′s and straight into the present hour? So much for religion, government, and so much for the arts and sciences, and ultimately so much for the sanctity of life, itself; if Hamlet had some difficulty in maintaining his sense of humour in a Denmark rotten to the core in its banquet days, what, then, can be said of the “remains of the day,” as it were, by the by, so to speak, as the crow flies, in our sweet time, …que çela reste entre nous deux?….