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Were I a gentleman true, gallant,
The kind of chap with plumage in his hat,
Whose cape readies for damsel's distress,
I would say let us end it now; you are
Too young or, even better put,
I am too old for love with a beauty your age.
But let us face it!
No two-bit convention possesses me.
It was in the woods of Western Massachusetts,
I saw time tunnel down the trail before me.
I saw the nature of things,
The whirl into which all we know disappears.
And tonight faces of the dead startle me,
Yet I do not awake. I dream that
Family and friends float before me.
The calamity, death holds both young and old alike!
Darling, the air in my bedroom
It drops to the temperature of ice.
I envision my aunt, Helene, and see her
When she says to the child, who is me,
"Stanley! Go ahead! Touch her!"
My cousin, Barbara, lies in her coffin
Before the age of six; she was a year older than I.
I remember how stiff and cold her corpse felt.
My buddy, Burton, cut down well before prime.
Thought of him occupies my every day.
Revelry brings me to Joey who cried
"Whitney's dead!" And right there
On Fifth Avenue, opposite the Public Library,
He placed his gun on the glass of the showcase
Counter top. I was in the jewelry shop.
I dream a slip back to my former ways, the drinking life;
I could taste the whiskey shots, the beverage
Dispensed that afternoon, it was Johnnie Walker Black.
The haunting goes on;
More of the dead, they parade before me.
Omar, tall, dark, forgive me here for I know
No better than the honest truth, handsome,
The child, Spencer, my son's best friend,
My high-school sweethearts, Arlene and Lynn,
All taken, all unwitting emblems, as if to prove,
Life bears no promise of continuance.
Nightmare arms with disembodied hands,
Wag imaginary fingers
They seem to demand I pick up pen and write.
But before one dream ceases another appears.
The scene abruptly changes.
My fantasy goes from a somber, personal cast,
To new vision of vivid color and improbability.
My emotions are steady, yet I realize a rush of air
And that I am falling. I have fallen backwards
Into other, previous space and time.
The world before me, though a tableau
Seemingly breathing and alive, stays frozen.
It wants animation, nothing moves.
When I look, I see the birds of the air keep still --
Those who were eating did not eat,
And those who were conveying material to make nest,
Do not convey it. And, as I further study
The dream picture which enfolds
Right there in front of me,
I recognize that I am witness to
Low surf beaches and natural limestone harbors
With wharfs upon which anchor long ships,
Vessels whose hulls sprout tall, center masts
Which themselves are rigged,
Tied to great, single, rectangular sails, dyed blood red.
And athwart these ships, from gar boards up,
Are planks, broad-axed-hewed, and each of the planks
Has paint a color its own,
And each plank appears nailed one upon the other,
The sides of those long ships are as,
The bands of rainbows, red, orange, yellow,
Green, blue, indigo and regal violet.
Color upon color runs the length of keels,
And a fierce dragon head in gold crowns the prows
Rudders are mounted at right, and within each craft
Upon rows and rows of chests sit oarsmen.
The ships are set to sail,
Yet the entire assembled host
Seems as if stuck in stone,
The scene resembles a painted sculpture done in high relief.
All motion suspended,
The waves have stopped, they break not.
What a night! It is,
It really is, what a remarkable night!
Never before have I beheld,
Have I seen such a Technicolor panorama.
My own closed world of family and friends,
Familiar events and their sad foreboding,
Now become historical vision with scenes
Rooted long-ago, displaying a physical geography,
A world which I had never visited,
Environs of which I had no familiarity.
My bedroom warms. And a seemingly true,
But sixth sense intimates Spring,
I bear witness to a prelude,
The dream carries me and I sense the long days,
The glory of Scandinavian summer awakens before me.
Light, bright, bright day dawns, and it thrills me.
I ready for adventure. I am happy;
I am exhilarated beyond normal human expectations.