John Nettles: Two Poems
Living Revisited | Adam's Mount
Turning in his social circles, the old man croaks,
lifea long stupid thing you do until you die?
a belated Modernist, this makeshift grandfather
makes that comment that everyone quotes,
he doesn't think much of procreation.
The ubiquity of buses, not commonly recognized,
this glob of people oozing down the road,
people themselves become transparent, ultimately
doomed in moments of joy, taut and spare,
this idea of reality, some little bit of a song.
The unleading and unled reinsert the articles,
blunt syntax, spare speech, a feeling like the needle,
exact monotony something more like safety
no one is happy in their freedom-from,
nobody reads Ulysses and wonders.
These habits of life seem to tie things down,
the ephemeral pamphlet, the boring meeting,
the essence of cake, its cakeness,
the monotonous known, imprisonment by love
you could talk forever and not say anything.
Like echoes faithful to their makers,
reverberating between the spheres, the hum
of the engine of creation, so do we return
to climb with split and bleeding fingers
this ancient peak, this windblasted crag where once
we watched the raising of ivory palaces
and marked the age of potentates,
when emperors cut their deals and lost
and paid their debts in the coin of children,
unnamed and uncounted, the froth of glory
seeping from their lips into the soil, to feed
olive groves and vineyards and lubricate
the next turning of the world. We huddle
inside our goatskin coats in vain, recalling
how this naked face once kissed the sun
and blessed the migrations of millions,
how we stared in awe at their works
and wonders, the spinning of their gods,
their fissures and sutures, joined and rejoined,
until the binding force of their kind became
no more than scar tissue, and now
as autumn drags the earth toward the lip
of the spectrum, and angels, openly ridiculous,
are identified with locusts and flocks of geese,
seeking distraction like old soldiers on the dole,
littering the skies with tarnished molt and must
and drunken hymns, we must quit the mountain
or die of exposure, we must eat and dream
our own disasters, stoke the fire with history
and draw fables from the smoke.
John Nettles teaches English at a small college in northern Georgia and loves the view from his porch. His work may be found in various publications in both cyber and Euclidean space, including The Cafe Review, Recursive Angel, Conspire, Gravity, Maelstrom, The Roughneck Review, The Dead Mule, Moveo Angelus, and The Astrophysicist's Tango Partner Speaks. He writes, "Writing tends to be carnivalesque for me,though I spend way too much time in the freak tent..."