Thursday, April 5, 2007

Three Poems: David Luntz

Odysseus at Sea

There have been no birds for days.

Only still gray sea and the weariness of silence.
Sometimes, if he closes his eyes, he can
swear he hears time’s dull metronome.

But he’s not sure.

Enraged, he bellows into the void:
Aeolos, give me some fucking wind.
But who’s he kidding?

It’s the nature of the gods to ignore you when you need them most.

With nothing else to do, he recalls the art Circe taught him.
What are they?, he asked, pointing to the symbols that burned like
phosphorus across her chest.

Signs by whose combination you can write words, she said.

Would their knowledge give him the power of prophecy?
No, she replied.
Would they let him see the thoughts of other men?

She shakes her head.
Then what use is it?, he said pouting.
You won’t know until you master it, she cooed.

Which he now does with much difficulty,
(like a butterfly struggling against a chrysalis)
until he grasps it in all its radiance, beauty and transience.

But he’s been tricked.

This art cannot be conveniently forgotten or ignored.
Like the tissues that spool a cocoon it has enveloped him.
For days he watches thousands of butterflies threading the air.

Then the wind came.

* * * * *

The Achaean Returns

He makes his home now by the shore.
He senses he will leave soon, but he’s not sure to where.

Shells cluster over him in pink constellations.
Fishnets, as the villagers call them, braid his eyes.

The canker of memory still smarts, but he’s gotten used to it.
Blindness has illuminated him.

Still, he will concede, he often regrets the day he learned to read,
Circe smiling and the sky swollen with butterflies…

While he gorged on all the different words,
rolled them across his tongue,
gargled syllables in his throat,
bit down on the consonants,
released vowels into light and clouds.

Then, as though he had left off dreaming,
he hears her voice call to him from across
the sea…

Blown from a conch of seven chambers
and supple camber, his mother’s voice,
like a forgotten scent, singes the raw nerves
of memory…

And he wonders, not without resentment,
why it took her so long to find him.

At last, blind, alone and dying, he knows now
where to go…

He will slip away unnoticed on the tide,
unwind the stifling skein of words and thought,

desire and memory, sail to her directly without
stars or lodestone, and sleep again in her arms.

* * * * *

Starry Night

We are by the sea at night, not dreaming,
just sleepwalking through time’s dark
asylum, spellbound in solitude, wondering
whether fashioning a man from dust is more
perverse than creating an endless universe.

The stars drift across the face of the ancient
seabed. They seem to cry out,
There are no mirrors here, only windows.
Beyond, in the woods, moonlight
soaks through the lachrymose dew, sullen pools
reflecting birches and oaks in amber hues.

Birches and oaks tense in the breeze.
Shadows shiver on the dews’ taut skin.
These tender the illusion that the gods
have not abandoned us, while the single
path through the woods winds gently
to the end of memory and anticipation.

~ David Luntz started writing in 2005 and has appeared in various online journals. He has been nominated (2006) for a Pushcart Prize.

[CREDITS: Starry Night appeared in Mastodon Dentist November 2006. The Achaean Returns appeared in The Centrifugal Eye August 2006. Odysseus at Sea appeared in Facets June 2006.]

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