“Darkness” by Lord Byron

When I read this poem by Byron, it reminds me of the apocalyptic vision John shares with us is his Book of Revelation.

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bring sun was extinguish’d, and the
stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the
moonless air;

Morn came and went—and came, and
brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the
dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light;
And they did live by watchfires—and the

thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were
consum’d.

And men were gather’d round their
blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the
eye
Of the volcanoes, and their mountain-
torch:
A fearful hope was all the world
contain’d;

Forests were set on fire—but hour by
hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling
trunks
Extinguish’d with a crash—and all was
black.

The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; lay
down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some
did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands,
and smil’d;

And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look’d
up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the
dust,
And gnash’d their teeth and howl’d; the
wild birds shriek’d
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest
brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers
crawl’d
And twin’d themselves among the
multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for
food,
And War, which for a moment was no
more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was
bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was
left;

All earth was but one thought—and that
was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as
their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were
devour’d,
Even dogs assail’d their masters, all save
one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish’d men at
bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping
dead
Lur’d their lank jaws; himself sought out
no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer’d not with a caress—he
died.

The crowd was famish’d by degrees; but
two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap’d a mass of holy
things
For an unholy usage; they rak’d up,
And shivering scrap’d with their cold
skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted
up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other’s aspects—saw, and shriek’d,
and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they
died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose
brow
Famine had written Friend. The world was
void,
The populous and the powerful was a
lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless,
lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.

The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent
depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as
they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge

The waves were dead; the tides were in
their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir’d
before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant
air,
And the clouds perish’d;
Darkness had

no need
Of aid from them—She was the
Universe.

©1816 Lord Byron

An Autumn Prayer

Trees make a tunnel,
red and orange foliage,
branches arched over roads.

Headlights cut haze,
that crawls across streets
leaves give themselves to wind,

dance and tumble in decay.
This warmth reminds me
of mid-May, when crocuses

reach up like tiny fingers.
I study the sky, the widening
blue canvas pushing out gray.

I want to raise my hands, reach
towards sunlight. Foolish, maybe,
to whisper a prayer to prolong

the warmth, and stretch these days
before winter’s howls and gusts,
when I will wake and clench bed sheets,

the way I squeeze the steering wheel now,
driving through mid-morning fog.

©2018 Brian Fanelli

Facing Late Autumn

In light of the winding down of Summer—oh, the sad, sweet departure of blue skies and dazzling colors and wistful stray clouds dancing along the horizon and lazy afternoons at the swimming hole—and the coming of, dare I say it, Fall and, ultimately (arg!) Winter, I am re-posting this seasonal poem by the incomparable Brian Fanelli.

The leaves lay like a wound,
red and deep across the lawn, while what remains
is frightened away by bursts of November wind.
I look at concrete-gray clouds and sigh,
knowing it is time to cover flower beds,
yank out roots of annuals,
their petals shriveled and frail, as fine as dust
released to the air.
Soon I will cut back roots of perennials,
until everything in the yard is brown,
until birds no longer chirp,
but vacate their nests,
more visible now as branches of trees
shake against the wind
and scrape against windows like angry fingers,
while the house creaks at its joints.

©2016 Brian Fanelli

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol”

Oscar Wilde (1894-1900) wrote the following poem while in prison. He is most noted for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, but he also published numerous poems. Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial brought to light certain evidence that convinced Wilde to forego his complaint in court and led to his own arrest and trial for “gross indecency” with men. After several retrials, he was convicted and sentenced to 2 years hard labor. He died destitute at the age of 46.

Oscar Wilde Pic

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners call the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

 

Ghost Story

In a field near the lake
stands the ghost of a dead oak.
The ghost is black and very tall.
It never speaks or moves.
The sky wants to take it.
The earth wants to eat it.
But the ghost is strong, it does not want to move.
So it argues half its tongues into the dirt,
and grips hard against the sky’s glutton lung.
It whispers the other half into air,
and weathers the white earth’s thirst.
Like a frayed black suture it binds earth and sky together.
In this way the ghost stills its universe:
the sky can never rise nor the earth fall
out of their coupling’s grave jurisdiction.
The lake will breathe its atoms to the clouds,
the constellations will pageant
the lucky patterns of their composition
until they break and fade,
but the ghost will stand
contented with the silence,
with the snowfall,
with the stalemate of its own device.

-Art Zilleruelo

What If?

What happens in the chamber
of a narrow mind?
Does the air grow thin?
Does the dim light flicker?
What would happen if
a door opened?
If they dared to look beyond it? If they viewed the world as it is, cracked but not broken?
If they acknowledged not only voices that speak with the loudest inflections, but those small voices that bend?
Imagine if they saw liberty as
not just a ruse but something
that belongs to everyone?
The axis of the Earth not
just them, but you and me too.

©2018 Tosha Michelle

To read more from Tosha Michelle or follow her blog please click here: https://laliterati.com/2018/06/20/what-if/

Just a Simple Soldier

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast, 
and he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past. 
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done. 
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, everyone. 
And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke, 
all his buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke. 
But we’ll hear his tales no longer, for ol’ Bob has passed away, 
and the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today. 
He won’t be mourned by many, just his children and his wife. 
For he lived an ordinary, very quiet sort of life. 
He held a job and raised a family, quietly going on his way; 
and the world won’t note his passing; ‘tho a Soldier died today. 
lest we forget
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state. 
While thousands note their passing, and proclaim that they were great. 
Papers tell of their life stories, from the time that they were young, 
but the passing of a soldier, goes unnoticed, and unsung. 
Is the greatest contribution, to the welfare of our land, 
some jerk who breaks his promise, and cons his fellow man? 
Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife, 
goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life? 
The politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives, 
are sometimes disproportionate, to the service he gives. 
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all, 
is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension, small. 
soldier kneeling cross rifle.png
It’s so easy to forget them, for it is so long ago, 
that our Bob’s and Jim’s and Johnny’s, went to battle, but we know. 
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys, 
who won for us the freedom, that our Country now enjoys. 
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand, 
would you really want some cop-out, with his ever waffling stand? 
Or would you want a Soldier, who has sworn to defend, 
his home, his kin, and Country, and would fight until the end? 
He was just a common Soldier and his ranks are growing thin. 
But his presence should remind us, we may need his like again. 
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the Soldier’s part, 
is to clean up all the troubles, that the politicians start. 
If we cannot do him honor, while he’s here to hear the praise, 
then at least let’s give him homage, at the ending of his days. 
Perhaps just a simple headline, in the paper that might say: 
“OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, FOR A SOLDIER DIED TODAY.”
©1985 A. Lawrence Vaincourt