The Enduring Spirit Does Not Shine Bright

The enduring spirit does not shine bright.
On earth it creeps unseen by power’s eye.
The enduring spirit is frail and slight.

When to her burrow the shrew descends in fright
While bloody giants stalk beneath the sky,
The enduring spirit does not shine bright.

When harried vassal scrapes his soil in plight
While courtly nobles stray so idly by
The enduring spirit is frail and slight.

When friendless soul in winter’s wind-swept night
Grips tight his flimsy coat and moans a sigh,
The enduring spirit does not shine bright.

When mortal pilgrim fails his passion to ignite
But shrugs again to give it one more try,
The enduring spirit is frail and slight.

When God intending wrong to mend to right
On a lonely cross instead’s impaled to die
The enduring spirit does not shine bright,
The enduring spirit is frail and slight.

What Could Have Been: A Lamentation

Who are you? Jackie asked.
An idealist without illusions he said.
On a cold crisp January day he came;
Robert Frost was there.

His wisdom and wit charmed us all.
Peace corps civil rights medicare test ban treaty endowment for the arts.

Stare down the snarling man at the schoolhouse door,
Troops in Vietnam come home, pluck the missiles from our shore.

Six seconds in Dallas and he was no more.

From their posts they came to creak the old machine
But could not dim the light that once had been.

Wake Me Gentle Muse

Wake me gentle muse from deep and dreamless sleep,
Guide me as I amble out to silent sunless street.
Lead me to the secret place where your spirit plays
Lead me as I listen to your haunting, lilting lays.
Lead me past the fleeting mansions that stain the sainted sky,
Bereft of verse, bereft of soul, bereft of song.
Past the gilded monuments where the haughty are interred
And verdigris in sweating beads seeps softly where they lie.
Lead me past where soaring spires toll their hollow creed
Past the forest’s dying boughs limned by moon of ancient woe
Past where frightened doe and fawn quake meekly in the brush
Past the sullen smokestacks pulsing sulphur to the sky,
Past the sleeping sluggish pools where fish no longer play
While stinging beasts of sterner ilk flitter blithely by.

Lead me past all of this, my gentle muse, past all of this by far.
Lead me where primeval ocean meets embracing land
And sea nymphs in splendid bliss kiss the pristine shore.
Let me stand in sand beside you to scan the eastern sky
And watch in awesome wonder the rising of the sun,
When probing red and ebbing gray yield to golden dawn.
Stay with me as roaring spray mists my soul with grace,
And Aeolus in his whispering gusts breathes succor to my face.
Once more I ask, once more implore, to savor guileless life.
But then I look beside me; in an instant you have gone.
Were you wraith or were you real? I ask.
My sodden soul hears no reply.

In sad remorse I turn my head to face the din of day.
And so, my muse, I leave you to retrace the way we came,
And so, my muse, I leave you till you come my way again.


The Long Jump – A Memory of Youth

Speak to me Mnemosyne, my muse as I grow old,
Soothe my soul in comfort as my treasures I behold.
Whisper to me, memory, of a spring day gone and past,
Of wispy clouds and soul-felt warmth and innocence held fast;

Surrounded by an oval, thin-clad runners racing by,
Tight muscles soothed by warmth of sun, ready now to vie.
Gazing down a runway, a pit of sand perched at its end
Eighteen strides to takeoff board; ready to contend.

Start the run with high-stepped measured pace,
Gathering pent up energy, gathering latent grace,
Focus on the takeoff point, space and time compressed as one,
With existential slap of sole on board, the glorious leap’s begun.

Both arms flailing free, legs sprinting to the sky
The world goes mute, time stands still, the soul begins to fly.
Paused at effort’s apex, bathed in adrenaline, air and sun,
Grasping one last time for height — but now the labor’s done.

All power spent, all senses calmed, still gravity’s deceived;
Suspended free in space an instant: Zeno’s paradox achieved.
And then the merest glint of sand invades the mortal eye,
As scorned gravity triumphs over whom it would defy.

Body curling forward, legs stretched straight and taut,
Earth comes hurtling dizzily, speedier than thought.
At last earth’s errant rover skids his heels upon the land:
A whiff of the eternal dashed in a spray of sand;

An eon lived in moments passed — and once again become
Another earthbound biped — stumbling, dense, and numb.