Finnegans Wake

It’s the last day of April and the last of thirty poems. So, staggering to the finish there is this:
Finnegans Wake
you notice how the ending dribbles out
to nothing? “a last, a loved, along the “
It’s out of gas. It can’t complete the thought
unless you start the cycle once again
at riverrun, but who would read the thing
a second time or even read it once?
The book is better if it’s not been read.
It’s like a lot of things that’s better left
to our imagination—like this poem.
Once this poem’s written down and read
it’s fixed. It’s formulated on a pin.
It’s dead. There isn’t any movement, life.
It’s static. Moribund. Deceased. And so
there isn’t any poem here today.
It’s left unwritten, left to gestate, and

Making a Book

I’m running out of pages. This book’s full,

so yesterday I took some paper scraps

I’d saved and made myself another book.

It isn’t fancy, only five by eight,

and certainly it isn’t perfect, but

the paper’s thick enough that I can paint

with watercolors, draw with pen and ink,

or sketch in pencil. I can even write

if I’ve a mind to write instead of draw.

It’s just a book, a journal, empty, plain,

and nothing special. Just a simple book,

an empty book but one I made myself.

The leather cover’s green but non-descript.

There isn’t any tooling. It is blank

and empty like the pages. Waiting. And

in time I’ll also fill those pages up.

Eventually. Eventually I will.

Eventually I’ll make another book.

A Lump of Coal

A lump is no big deal. A lump of coal

is not enough to heat a single room

much less an house. It’s insignificant

unless it’s in a stocking Christmas Eve.

And what about a lumpy gravy? It

will taste as good as one without the lumps.

A lump is really just a minor thing.

Unless you’re sleeping on a lumpy bed

a lump is really not that big a deal.

Until you find a lump. And then it is.

It doesn’t matter where it is. It’s there.

It shouldn’t be. How long has it been there

before you noticed it? A day? A year?

And is it just a lump or something else?

And has it grown since you first noticed it?

It’s just a lump you tell yourself. It’s just

a lump. It’s insignificant. A lump.

It’s no big deal. It’s just a lump.

It’s just a lump. It’s just a lump. It’s just . . . .

Translating Beowulf

Of course I could have started it with “Hwaet.”

It’s what’s expected, and the word is short.

And Hwaet is full of gravitas. So what.

I started it with “So.” It could be worse.

I could have said, “Hey you!” or “Listen up!”

or “Dick-wads gather round.” But I chose “So”

because it segues nicely, don’t you think,

into the story. So . . . . Just so you know,

the ending’s just about what you’d expect.

It’s the beginning that is really weird

with monsters killing, eating everyone.

The ending isn’t any better, just

another bunch of people being killed.

There are not even any love affairs

to read about. There’s just a lot of blood

and body parts that fill the pages up.

It’s drivel. Oh, another monster dies.

Who cares. Oh Beowulf is dead. At last

the book is over. If he had been killed

by Grendel at the start, it would have made

the book a better book. A shorter book.

Waiting Still

While waiting for the careless time to pass

it’s easy to forget that time has passed;

that time is glacial and relentless; time

has worn away the world. Relentless, fixed,

it’s steady, steady, steady till it’s not;

and minutes stretch into infinity

and nothing happens. Nothing hangs around

repeatedly repeating nothingness,

a carousel of emptiness, a time

of waiting never ending. Waiting. Still.

Tomorrow and the future never comes.

The present, past and future all are dead.

There’s only now, the ever present now;

the silent, empty, prison that is now.

There’s only the infinity of now.

Saving the World

It’s time to mow the lawn again. I guess.

I mowed it just a couple weeks ago.

Or has it been a month since it was mowed?

I can’t remember just exactly when

it was, but one thing’s certain. It is time

to mow the lawn again. Or maybe not.

There’s California poppies in the lawn

and they’re protected. I could go to jail

if someone were to catch me mowing them.

And is it worth it? Should I take the chance?

If I’m in jail the lawn will not be mowed

so why not leave it just the way it is?

Besides, it’s ecological. It is.

When it’s unmowed, it is a carbon sink.

I’m helping save the world from climate change.

I should be thanked and emulated, praised.

The land’s returning to its native roots.

I’m bringing back diversity to what

was just monotonous sterility.

There’s life, a living planet just outside

that would be lost if I would mow the lawn.

And so I won’t. Besides, I’m out of gas.

The Eric Gill Edition

The Eric Gill edition isn’t cheap.

It’s nicely bound and all the words are there

but even after looking at it I can’t tell

you anything about the text at all.

Is it in modern English? I don’t know.

It could be in Swahili or in French.

I didn’t pay attention to the text.

Who cares about the text? I’ve read it all

before a dozen, hundred, thousand times.

I was ensorcelled by the vines

that border every page. The blunt-leaved vines,

the repetitious pattern of the vines

that varies, changes, differs page to page;

the black-line vines that Eric Gill engraved.

They all are variations on a theme

of capture and support. The people there

are living, working, loving in the vines.

Elongated, they are stretched out of shape,

almost a parody of people. Still

they laugh and plot, are sinister and kind;

but always laughing, they are caught up in the vines,

and so am I. I can’t escape the vines.