Not Enough Arms, Not Enough Shoulders

Not enough cups of coffee

to keep winding this long tired way.

One foot in front of the other

With others up front, behind and beside.

And their steps are heavier,

each plodding pace a quiet plea for help.

And thus

the packs of so many pilgrim Christians

passed over and onto–

the shift of bulky worries, leaden fears and granite sorrows.

You can’t say ‘No’, your own load’s too light

yet somehow the packs need one shoulder each;

when the packs number 3, 4 and 5

whence comes the third fourth fifth nest?

Might carry them in hand for a short while,

but who has the strength for that?

Your back already aches without elbows twitching.

And besides, my own pack is being dragged in the dirt!

It’s then Jesus himself gives me a little wagon

with even axles, smooth wheels

and a handle just right,

emblazoned simply, ‘Me’.

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Egg in your Face

I was late to the Lyceum

Awkward, lingering in the back,

sinking to the floor

that none might note my tardiness.

I’d paid for the privilege

of hearing this address,

took out my pen and notebook

to catch every useful word

running in articulate rivulets

from the speaker’s mouth.

My specs I had not on me,

and his face was but a blur at the far end of the hall.

While his audience was rapt,

his speech swung pendulum-like

between profound and impertinent,

the noddable and the ‘Eh?’

Exerpts on the screen were of Symonds, Freud

and Foucault,

Lacan, Wilde and Derrida–

kai Thucydides, Homer and his scholiasts.

Mad wide-ranging leaden with new philosophies

and the logging of fruitless seafaring.

Freud’s text posited Christ a myth,

the present age

acknowledged ‘post-Christian’,

and First Samuel Eighteen One

was hung like a rag from a flagpole

denuded of its context and wrung tight

molded brutally into a convenient meaning

and then left flapping in the stale wind.

The speaker praised his hearers, exhorted them

to continue battle:

we must always be ready.

experience has taught us,

justifying our existence

as scholars of the Classics,

heirs of the Academy!

and yet allusion to warring

against the powers, principalities

of the endarkened humanities-hobbling Establishment

elicited only silence–

the ultimate unsettling

mark of non-recognition.

They all could read Greek,

and yet none knew Ephesians.

‘There is value in understanding

the Greeks and the Romans,’

the pontiff of history said,

‘because thus, we understand ourselves.’

Classical Antiquity, our ancestor, our shaper.

And yet,

our more immediate relation,

the exemplary grandfather,

had been snipped

unceremoniously

from the family photo,

and nobody noticed

but me.

With all the sounds of affirmation

and the third appearance

of the tainted

Scripture on the screen ahead,

I could bear it no longer!

When question time came

dropping my notebook and up

on my feet, I cried,

my gaze toward the front,

‘But you all must see:

it’s grotesque! preach, preach the

canon saecularum,

after casting aside

the best of Tradition–

only trot out shards of it–

shattered by your vandalism, neglect–

to excuse

the worst of our decline!

You’d not treat Vergil or Plato

or even Petronius with

such shameful contempt!’

As if they were one body, with one neck, one head,

all the hall turned to look at me,

and seeing the faces of those

in the last pew,

I recoiled against the wood-paneling

in horror.

On the left side of each face,

clear, bright, a myriad of colors,

either brown, blue or green,

was an eye, where and as it ought to be.

On the right, bless me, for it is the truth!

was an orb fit for Poe,

shining, yet white with fog, with film,

not unlike polished marble.

I gasped as those dead orbs

paired with living

stared at me,

some in confusion, in anger,

yet not a few in pity–

and heart racing

I could only declare the apparent:

‘Heaven help you, you’re all blind

in the right eye!’

There were murmurs then, but a singular voice

I heard above the hum:

‘What can she mean?  For each of us only has

one.’

There was no time to scream at the shock

of pure Madness;

my feet found the door, found the stairs,

bore me quick to the street.

Somehow, in open air, I didn’t mind

that in the hall I’d left my notes behind.