© Steve King
All rights reserved
He had decided at a latter stage
to chronicle some measure of his age;
was satisfied at last to stoke its pain,
to manifest the dark and light
upon the insolent page.
And thought he knew a ready gauge:
no leisure-fitten verse,
not just (he hoped) the beaten breast,
or solipsistic curse.
Forgetting for once
pursuits of refined feeling,
he groped amid the near rubble
for another store of meaning.
All to examine his wellspring of doubt.
Not his usual chore perhaps,
but better than his elegiac pout.
More difficult than former reaches
to sublime intent,
his old rhapsodic stutter;
harder than his sometimes game
of spirit without letter.
For his world by then had little need
of another airy monument.
His vision waited, patient for the word.
He set his sight, followed where it went.
His times advanced, rage upon rage.
Cracks appeared in fine facades.
Voices clamored, claiming right,
while settling still for easy odds.
All the new voices,
all the new smiles,
all the refurbished idols
risen from cooling raptures—
waiting patient for the next new dodge,
conjuring new words
to succor all the ancient ills;
peddling their tired cures
for each age old torment,
and failure of will.
Mechanics of the Metaphysics
parsed the nature of their dieties,
lashed old spirits through new paces,
eager for their shades of meaning
suddenly to slip to black and white—
new verses nicely fitted to rewrite
a liturgy of grim and hungry graces.
Still, gods became restless
with the secular ennui:
revisiting the sacred texts,
they found a thirst for new conquests,
slaked it endlessly.
The new ‘isms’
became soon old ruins,
graveyards of confounded certainties
and every kind of casual lie:
Lies that sprang from ancient lies,
and so attained to truth.
Relentless crusades labored on
to beloved dead ends,
which, once forgot, would soon no doubt,
rise to enchant again.
The age evolved through idling art,
dilettantes soon Old Masters;
And all the while the new beauty
held a virtual remove.
The HD screen is our palette,
flash memory, our Louvre.
The age grew up unlike any other,
comparisons to old times hardly worth the bother.
In the legendary war,
a jealous king felt stinging bronze.
Now kings campaign from desktops,
between state dinners and noble awards.
Lightning springs from ready buttons,
while weary Zeus had need to host
a universe of rage.
There are men of the people now
thrust to our vanguard,
average in all but command.
Our last Agamemnon slumbers with stars,
war now a weary commonplace,
fit to gather transient conquerors.
We paid for the enemy’s guns,
and then sent off our best to die.
New lords in new temples
finding new and easy ways ever to capitalize.
Each war justified the next,
never out of reeling memory;
a deepening habit to inure the soul.
Our best, sent off to die…
straight backed, fast to please,
perhaps too eager with a smile,
the love of ordeal,
faith in the trial…
Yes, he had seen them,
known them in their prime,
relentless cohorts off to war,
generations swallowed whole,
while each king promised at the last,
‘This much and no more…’
Yet, through the nexus of all pain,
some were bold, again…again…
One would lift the solemn call.
Some might note, though few would hear.
Fewer still would wager all.
And on the outside, all around
milled an army of the lost,
a hungry host waiting
only for a word to settle,
starved for the least call
to match its least of expectations—
No Gideon’s Horn.
Alas, there rang a faded obsequy
for an empire of failed salvations;
a psalm to mark
the dimming dreams
of so many lost Edens.
And when at last
the age should loose
its ultimate refrain—
Some other voice,
some other age,
and so begin
A post for The Poetry Pantry