Category Archives: Pyrrhic Victory

“You Own the Year”

“You Own the Year”

You own the year and years before you
As I the year and all that’s passed;
Your signs are rising; eternity is steadfast.
Quo vadis, then? I who serve eternities am overruled
By sheer numbers, countless previous dispensations viewed
In retrospect and circumspect as vast
And spacious notions of impermanence and impasse.
I see before the fact in part— imperfectly at present—pursued
By spoils of  wars and rumours coupled with a dubious acquired taste
For bitters, acerbic memory gained close at hand or lost at sea.
Nothing in this world is or is so stable
That it is not utterly dependent, created, removed and recreated on the table
Of bounties throughout creation; what God has willed to use or waste
Shall be not be more or less than what it is, and what is not shall never be.*


* “Protect me, O my Lord, from every evil that Thine omniscience perceiveth, inasmuch as there is no power nor strength but in Thee, no triumph is forthcoming save from Thy presence, and it is Thine alone to command. Whatever God hath willed hath been, and that which He hath not willed shall not be.

There is no power nor strength except in God, the Most Exalted, the Most Mighty.”

–His HolinessThe Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 190-191

“Bethlehem’s Hours’ Mourn”

“Bethlehem’s Hours’ Mourn”

Bethlehem’s hour’s mourned, furtive glances northward toward Nazareth;
Veiled her expectations as soon enough her promised Son survives.
She knows that somewhere in between this king contrives
Within himself to build a wall. He practices precision; he does not guess.
He knows exactly what he wants, and from the East come
Three who only recently made queries round the campfires
‘Neath the skies beyond the Jordan. Casually they’ve inquired,
“What are these walls, and what the genesis of guns
And orchards plaited all along the shepherds’ run? Whose images are these,
And what is it they disguise, the vulgate for the people?”
Yes, they come, these three, adrift once again stalled between the steeples,
Barred, forbidden. Then again, their passage isn’t what it used to be.
They ask in vain and find the answers come as no surprise.
The king’s awake tonight; he’ll not fool the wise this time.

“A Pilot’s Flame”

“A Pilot’s Flame”

A pilot’s flame and ambergris, fire and smoke, these privy orizons
As dews appear upon the sight of buds along an early summer’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 spare 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 feeble 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.
A 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.



“Oh, I know”

“Oh, I know”

Oh, I know it”s been said before but bears repeating:
Unless a man embrace estates, his sense
Of eternity, his gifts of endless strife and goals of regret intense
Enough to merit periodic casual to shameless open weeping
In the corridors; unless the deadly abyss of every night’s sleeping’s
Prone to breach and rupture within his dreams or by the clock;
unless ‘neath the lens,
His page is thus combustible by the light focused upon a spot,
his joy depends
On something well beyond his own heart’s contumely,
his gates–his paradise, his weeping–
Fall well beyond the storehouse of his eyes and its catalogue of fears,
His light is changed to fire in tragedy and myths of talismans that guide his way.
Again, unless all this is welcomed well before the final hour, his pride will swell,
His vanity implode, and circumstance becomes
a euphemism for all he sees as hell.
Remember please that breath and breathing signify that death is ever near
And in these final years, satisfaction’s just another word for nothing left to pay.

“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.



“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 — 2014 ]
Love in the Time of Cholera

“But Was It Really Wise?”

“But Was It Really Wise?”

But was it wise to see the end in the beginning?
Once, some years back, I had a dream
That with some fellow travelers in several cars it seemed
W’d hit a traffic jam cum parking lot, the condescending
Leavings of some dire event up there at the sea in the ninth inning
While we were yet in the bottom of the fourth; the team
Had halted, caught bumper to bumper in the scheme
To escape or somehow reach the sea, in spite of spinning
Wheels and going nowhere, gears remained in “Park.” I spied a service road;
Seduced by prospects of short circuiting my journey’s
Trial, I pulled right over the grassy divide and hit the raked
Lane leaving the sheep in the dust. In short time, my naked
Chosen lane brought me to the shores of the ocean as foretold
By discovery of the secret solution but, lo! impatience replaced by
Circumspection proved a Pyrrhic victory, and was it really wise?

…within the dream, I had reached that sea, but as I looked back at the snake that was the long and winding trail of traffic, I realised that I had achieved the goal, I had arrived at the destination,…alone….

…I once had a student to whom I said, “It’s the early bird that gets the worm!” in a discussion we were having in class about the evils procrastination, to which he promptly replied, “Yes, but there’s no point in getting there before the worm!” Above the howls of disapproval from the rest of the class, I gave him an extension on his due date for the essay in question over the weekend for his blatant originality…

“Gold Bars Soar”


“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”


“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.


*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”


“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.


…paintings by Jeanette Bessette…