EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

Two poems

by
 

ROBERT DARLING
____________

 

A FUNERAL

 

Most of the newly-dead have just

accomplished the great event of their

  entirely forgettable lives,

leaving behind eventless days

and their unspeaking husbands or

  entirely forgettable wives,

and now a slab of stone remarks

on the unremarkable years that lead

  to this tiny plot of land

where the chance dates and empty words

seem less encomia of praise

  and more a reprimand.

 

And so, another funeral.

No tolling bell that I can hear.

  A prefab sermonette.

But we all loved old-what’s-his-name

and treasured most his (YOUR WORD HERE).

  Amen. Requiescat.

 

 

 

 

 

RETURNING TO THE HARBOR

 

                    I

What is a country for old men?

A place where song is banished, lust

abstracted, joy not to come again?

Drab, drafty rooms furnished with dust

where only numbness softens pain

and any act leads to disgust?

A fog-obscured and restless sea?

A monumental apathy?

 

               II

No one escapes from time in time;

no one can drop time's heavy burden

and not be crushed. The guilty dream

awakens, what cannot be pardoned

repeats in some chance face or rhyme:

a misbehavior in a garden,

a word, a love one kiss unmade,

a truth forsworn, three times afraid.

 

 

              III

It is the self that is undone,

unravelling throughout its acts,

displaced by deed, the nightmare son

who's guilt's cartographer, whose maps

chart failure's coast, the corpse once drowned

revisits as a living fact.

The mirror reminds: the face must learn

the emptiness of all return.

 

              IV

Were there a pure province of art,

a realm composed of timeless joys

far from the sewer where ladders start,

it would be airless. Time breaks its toys

and easy rhymes betray the heart.

But still the dream seduces days

to the false voyage whose lead star

but brings us back to where we are.

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

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