Friday, September 21, 2007

Ode to Frost

In honor the unusually high mold and ragweed levels this year: Poems by Clifford Leap, Lord Endall (Scott Russell). Thanks, Scott! You are the only person who has ever written a poem for me and I am honored.

An Ode to Frost

The human head can hold a lot of stuff,
Magnificent cassava whose ripe seeds
Have launched a fleet of rockets at the moon
And named the alkaloids in certain weeds.
But my poor head has finally got enough.
What thoughts may enter it when air cannot?
What music when I can’t hear the tune?
All useful space is taken up with snot!

It is that time when leaves begin their turn
From life to afterlife, from green to fire;
As though a devil claimed them on the limb,
Igniting them before they could expire.
Most people like me, in September, learn
How leaves must burn and suffer for their crimes
Before their gold can tarnish and go dim:
Hay fever is like Hell in autumn times.

One morning dawns, though, when my tears are gone;
As if the dying of the year became
That resolution born of suffering
By nurse and patient both, and both can claim
Relief now that the mortal ill has won.
-- ‘tis John Lennon’s Lucy tumbled down
And dust of diamonds covers everything:
The first frost shines like crystal on the lawn.

I breathe the silence in, the silver air!
As when the mobs of Paris woke one day
Without a king, last August’s stench and heat
Replaced by death and chill. Like them, I lay
In liberty’s embrace, maternal care
That soothes the sickly child back to its health.
The old regime, a miser in defeat,
Now suffocates beneath excessive wealth.

And though I was a royalist last spring,
And welcomed summer days with open arms,
Despite oppression in the heady shade
Or rainless weeks that taxed the poorest farms,
I now renounce the autumn of that king!
The flag I wave in publican belief
Recalls the time when I wept and obeyed.
It is a clean, white, linen handkerchief!

Paroxyismos (An Ode to Sighing)

The tempest in my bosom rose to fall
As once that city on the seven hills
Ploughed round about by those two wolf-weaned brothers
Didst arise; though ‘twas for-told by some
That it would crumble after Christendom.
Thus was my breast to sink in brief repose
As breath once drawn absconded through my nose.
What sound! Unlike a multitude of others.
Sweet air is needed; moaning each lung fills
Until the biggest, saddest breath of all.

Then blow, great billows, blow against the end
That like the ruins on the Turkish shore
Make Heaven’s breath to howl defiant song.
As seaward, coughing oar-strokes brought their horde
Of gruff Achaean warriors heaped aboard,
I heave against the ribs along my flanks.
Did they, knelt on stout timbers, murmur thanks,
Though all their aspirations came out wrong,
And most would not sail homeward evermore,
Once they exhaled upon that dismal strand!

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