The Eternal Mystery of Phileas, the Lesser: I Must Admit

                           Autumn Jewels ~Philip Brent Harris

In this dim season of darkening light,
When day is eclipsed by growing night,
I walk on, crackling crispness, fast-fallen leaves,
Like shots from a distant fight.
Stark, bare limbs filter the weakened
Sunlight, all that my starved skin receives.
I hurry homeward through the gloom.
The afternoon, the evening falling,
Wrapping itself in nighttime’s sable cloak.
I light my sacred candles, only two,
One placed in the window,
To guide a late traveler, the gentle folk.

I will recognize them by their steps,
Soft, guarded, so they are barely heard.

The vandals, rowdy, violent hooligans,
White-painted faces, blazing torches,
Give harsh warning to spice their night.
I scurry, snuff out my candles,
Lingering wick-smoke waved away.
Listen! Beware!
The lasting smell of melted wax.
Draws these feral creatures that hunt me or any
With sharpened teeth, claw, cleaver and ax.
I slowly slide into my hidey-hole,
Darkly dug, beneath my kitchen floor.
Breath quietly, a mouse, a vole,
As they batter my front and back doors.

I will recognize them by their steps,
Stomped belligerence of the riotous mob.

Would that I had not become old
Within this too-interesting time
Of rampant anger, bigotry and despair.
Not alone. Close by my couplet’s rhyme;
My thoughts are all for you, my only care.
Yet, let me be frightfully honest.
Alone, I wonder, how might I survive?
Do I worry for such a loss, lest
Without you, I no longer feel alive?
And then, would any of this matter?

I must admit, I am terrified, circumspect,
Scurrying forth, hurrying back, a timid creature.

The tomcat feasts, grows larger every day,
Fed by the zealotry and manic glee
Of the sharp-toothed and razor-clawed,
Driven mad with violent lust.
Harkening to the screeching, called
By any name but true.
No hope, no trust, no peace, only lies.
From upon their brows, a red cap, a damp rag,
Fever heated, drops into the stew
Which daily feeds and drains
All but the radical few. Broken
Away, no longer held in twain,
To shoot, explode across the land.

I must admit, I am terrified, circumspect,
Scurrying forth, hurrying back, a timid fool.

I must now choose to stand or to withdraw.
Too scared to risk the sudden, unseen strike,
Too old to tangle with tooth and claw.
Neither my tongue nor pen sharp enough
To cut through the trillion-word glut
Spewed forth like vile vomitous
By foe and friend alike. So,
I worry thus, with never knowing
When life will strike, mark me,
Label me with an X to hold me,
Pin me, X my eyes in cartoon death.
Still gone and too soon forgotten,
Almost before my last breath.

What can I do? What can I do?
Hope that this does not happen to you.
The you who reads this. I thought you knew.

I would slip into the deep woods,
The shadowed, silent, secluded forest,
Which speaks a language all its own.
Where grim death and lush life are friends,
Supping each day at each other’s feast,.
The mirror of the sunrise and sunset,
The balance of existence.
Death into life into death, unending persistence,
I speak here, now, so all may remember,
No longer to bluster, to lie or to pretend
That darkness is not always joined to light,
Where back to back, they face each other.

I would sail forth upon the rolling sea,
Where the white foam manes of liquid steeds
Gallop toward the shore and beyond,
Charging upward, rising to meet the mountains,
At our express invitation,
Whether we believe this truth, or not.
Seasons, cycles, ages, epochs, eons
Roll past us, around the cosmos entire,
A spiral, leading both up and down

I may be clothed in threadbare rags
Or the finest tuxedo or flowing gown,
Whatever this occasion demands.
Should I look up, away, and sniff,
Or should I look down my long nose
To see myself strut proudly in the door,
Clutching my invitation fiercely
In my scarred, filthy, blood-covered hands?

I urge myself and all to remember the past,
All of the past, every life, every thought, every action.
To recollect the future, consequence,
No matter what you or I may be facing.
To live now, fully present. No magic or erasing.
I am not, nor can be a latter-day Dorian Gray.
I am quite the opposite in fact.
What of growing old, staying young?
The first beyond my say, to act, the last
Beyond my honest desire. Without my aches, pains,
My false starts, missed chances, unseen paths,
I might dream such a fantasy future.
Unsolved, unresolved by lobotomy or suture.
How could I expect else?

Still, I can conceive nothing we conceive,
Nor anything we achieve, unnatural.
Mayhap, undesirable, at least by me.
Not ever beyond the realm of possibility.

I understand that we believe differently.
I comprehend creation as
One.
All threads within the same tapestry.
Whether religion or science come undone,
Or both, together explain it, leave it.
Questions rife, from the rising to the sinking sun,
The short candle of our swift life, smothered,
So we may be the feast at death’s banquet,
As death has been the feast at ours.

How I and all, each to our time,
Blown where and as fate’s wind chooses,
In our rotating, seasonal quartet sustains
Either death or life, to me remains,
Curious, but inconsequential, common, not essential.
For spirit, in essence, in death engenders,
Life, which feeds on the essence of death.
Despite what any pious priests or paltry pretenders
Tell me, try to sell me, death’s rattle to baby’s first breath.
This I know, see as clearly as my hand
Writing these words to you.
My voice, offers hope more than choice,
That whatever way you or I may end
Sea, sky or underground, cowardly or bold
What beings, circumstances we encounter, apprehend
Are real, despite what we have been told.

We are creatures of limited awareness,
Unaware most of our powers and perceptions.
Ruled by night terrors and blind rages because
We dispose our future hope through war
And never learn through all our ages, to pause.
So, we fail to comprehend the scope
Of existence complete, let alone our life’s moment.
We may spend our lives in torment.
Never recognize Janus’ faces of fear and hope.

Whether angels carry us aloft or
We unfurl our dewy, unused wings and fly,
Mermaids bear us beneath the waves,
Where we breath the patterns of the briny deep.
When and wherever we hear our final sound, asleep,
Left to molder, rot away beneath the ground,
Blown to flinders, burned to cinders,
Leaving only bone and ash, such grisly, sacred  trash,
Will not and cannot possibly matter.
Though our essence, may be rearranged,
It is ever, always one and cannot part or shatter.
Despite who, where, you and I may find ourselves,
Wedded death and life, will ever and always be found.

 

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