Friday, April 4, 2008

Poetry Friday: Crossing the Hellespont

Crossing the Hellespont
by Wes

When sadness comes, as Nixon said,
When sadness is upon me
I apologize for things I shouldn't
And my eyes drop all over the world

In shuddering waves the lids fan out
Into keyholes, into books
Along the depressed river banks, along the shores
And over nations, sporting fields, and goals

Apply themselves to the pyramids of Giza
At the Louvre impress themselves upon the Mona Lisa
Buoy the triremes on the seas and ride
Sharks and the tide

And even the toss of the waves themselves
Until time runs past them, and Napleon eats his words

When the sadness visits me,
As when Caesar cried over Alexander,
And Alexander felt his fever,
And Ghengis Khan stopped

Riding the horses and women of his enemies
As Nixon said so well:

"Members of the cabinet, members of the staff
we are a spontaneous goodbye
the best house has crumbled on those who serve
I haven't had time to be told how to run the world

"So when TR said of his young wife,
'When my heart's dearest died,
the light went out forever,'
his greatness had begun"

So as Nixon wept with planets
In their elliptical graves
Tears were, as space gasps,
Something that comes to be

But also they have always been with me
(Preserved and glassy-eyed in zero degrees)

Xerxes almost knew this when he lashed the sea
That Alexander crossed on a better day
And Hitler, with a pistol at his temple, prayed
For the first time clearly remembering
With the wetness of his eyes, an infernal pact
A complicity with the frayed and fleeing, terrified
Edges of the universe

As when Mussolini became a pendulum
And Stalin's fears gave birth to a final sin

As when the sadness comes to me
And like Ghengis Khan I want to feel my tears
(Galloping through space and the fantasy of nothingness)
Pass over the cheeks of the mourning and lovers and children

Rain on and up the roots of everything
To cross from blade to ray and quench the sun.

Visit the rest of the Poetry Friday roundup at Becky's Book Reviews.

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