Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Poet

The Poet
I saw a man, who'd dug a grave
And then lay down within.
I greeted him, “How do you do?
Is that a grave you're in?”

“It is.” he said.  I ventured then
To ask the reason why
He'd dug this grave (as I had seen)
And now, within, did lie.

“I am a poet, failed.” said he.
“Whatever else, I'd tried,
I'd made a mess of.  So, at end,
On poems, I relied.”

“Oh wonderful!  A poet!  Why,
I am delighted, sir!
For you're the first I've ever met.
An honor, you confer.”

And bowing low, in deep respect,
And also, so's to see,
I peered into that grave and saw
No trace of poetry.

“And where, oh poet (first I've met),
Are poetics of yours?
I've heard, a poem, when applied
At night, dyspepsia cures.”

At this, that poet muttered low.
His words, I strained to hear.
And in my notebook, I did scribe
Those noble words. They're here.

“I'll freely speak to you, because
You know so little, friend.
It's fitting that a dolt like you
Is witness to my end.”

And raising then his voice, he
With verses did regale,
Recounting what amounted to
A rather tawdry tale.

And all of what he said, I wrote,
At graveside taking seat.
And everything I heard from him,
I therefore can repeat.

“I started writing jingles when
I could do little else.
For though their quality was poor,
I'd learned that poetry sells.

“But I was told, 'There's better ways
For you to spend your time
Than this. Your poems rarely scan
And seldom even rhyme.'

'It's time for you to look ahead
And put yourself to use.
Such verses as you write amount
To nothing but abuse.'

“And so, I tried my best to see
The future, as they'd said,
But what I saw was dismal and
It filled my heart with dread.

“And when I'd tried to see ahead
And found that all was black,
I wished there was a way that I
Could go, reversing, back...

“Since I'd survived the past and it
Was old, familiar ground,
I thought that I'd be better off
Back there, for a second round...

“But being told that there's no way
To travel back in time,
The only thing that I could do
Is write yet more of rhymes.

“I then was told to look around
And see what others see –
A world that's waiting enterprise
With opportunity...

“But looking left and right I saw
There's peril everywhere.
I wished that I could run away
Where people better fare.

“But since they said that danger lurks
Wherever I might go,
The only thing I found that worked
Was writing verses more...

“I saw the worries on the faces
Of the people 'round,
And I'd begun to worry that
My mind was far from sound.

“But being told, by learned folk,
That worries can't be fled,
I scribed more verse, on paper, screen,
And even in my head.

“By then, I'd reached a point where
I'd written so much verse,
That verses were a burden too –
And getting, daily, worse.

“Oh woe betide the wastrel who's
Addicted in this way!
From versifying, I now wished
That I could run away...

“And so I sought out doctors of
Disorders of the mind –
For such as these, if you would look,
In plenty you will find.

“And I had asked, of physics such,
'Have you a cure for ailment
That makes me write in verses till
It's time for my confinement?'

“But I was told, for poetry,
There isn't any cure.
I asked if they were certain and
They said that they were sure.

“I asked myself if I could live
Addicted so, to verse.
The answer came from deep within:
A negative – and terse.

“The answer that I got was this:
A short and simple 'No.'
And then I realized it's time
For me to quit and go.

“For poetry deranges minds
And turns our brains to mush.
It chatters and it sticks its tongue
At those who say, 'Now shush!'

“It's better far to leave this world
Than stay and be afflicted
By such a thing, as that to which
I sadly am addicted.

“And since the doctors I had seen
Could see no way to fix it,
I now have dug this grave so I
Can make, in it, an exit.

“So if you come tomorrow, you
Will see me lying dead.
I hope that you will help to see
No homily is read.”

I'd scribbled all the poet said,
In the notebook that I carried.
And now, besides that poet's grave,
To pay respects, I tarried.

I waited till the sun went down,
And insects flew, that bite.
And slaps and curses then I heard
From poet, out of sight.

And peering in the dark, I saw
A pair of glowing eyes.
“Is this the poet's ghost?” I asked
Myself, in some surprise.

And gathering up my courage, I
Did venture then to say,
While looking at those glowing eyes,
And slipping, slow, away...

“Oh are you he, and still alive,
Who's final words, I've written?
Or are you he, no longer live,
And yet, by insects, bitten?”

I heard a growl, and then I saw
A hand reach out at me.
I thought it fit that I should leave,
And hastily did flee.

But when, to graveside, cautiously,
I tiptoed, in the morn,
I found that though the grave was there,
The poet, he was gone.

I wondered for a while at this,
And went then on my way.
But why that poet wasn't there,
I wonder, every day.

And I return, at times, to check
That grave that he had lain in.
And though the grave has long been filled,
A fig-tree, there, is growing...

Was it a spirit that I'd met,
Who spoke to me in rhymes?
Or was he just a man like me,
Reflecting on his times?

But as I wonder, lo, I find
There jingles, through my mind,
Such verses as that poet warned
Might all one's wits unwind...

So could it be, that on that eve,
As insects small were biting,
His poetry-pest, who'd drifted free,
Had found his “dolt” inviting?

So I reflect, on incident
So singular that I
Have written this, so someone might
Explain, before I die.

2013 July 15th, Mon.

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