JOURNEY : a sestina

drawn by something I can barely feel
brought to me on an unexpected breeze
was little more than a whimsical stray
tossed upon my senses from a western sea
that set my course as I began this journey
led upon my path by that fleeting caress

what a fool I am to be led by a soft caress
must I always be pulled apart by what I feel
is this going to be another fruitless journey
whose end becomes as elusive as that breeze
I hope has truly come from that western sea
I push on afraid something will make me stray

yet from this course I cannot walk away
even should I never again know her caress
forever looking toward that forgotten sea
my ship is tossed about on its uneven keel
struggling to stay on course as waves tease
my senses trying to interfere with this journey

that could very well be my final journey
dreaming again to hold one I could never betray
begging just one more chance to try and please
hoping against hope to taste another brief caress
from those lips I am yearning again to feel
whose memory pull me towards this mournful sea

that for years untold has been just an empty sea
not worthy of being a focal point of any journey
I struggle toward my goal not letting how I feel
cause me to dread what happens should I stray
struggling at times to hold fast that last caress
that awakens this sudden desire to squeeze

out those bitter particles carried by that breeze
bringing tears to eyes fearful of what they see
as I realize there has been a change in this caress
that has been my fateful guide on this journey
afraid something should cause me to delay
aching to express exactly what it is I feel

as I near the end of my journey I can imagine I feel
a different caress from that now brutal breeze
bringing its bitter spray in from that western sea

crying lines: a sestina

I must needs write this sestina
wasting countless reams of paper
scratching out aching words to find
my way to carry forward on this journey
a simple vessel that should never impede
these crying lines inked ‘specially for you

senseless sentences directed towards you
I struggle while writing yet another sestina
refusing to yield to thoughts that impede
my vagrant scratching across this paper
setting out heedlessly upon this journey
that takes me ever towards what I find

I must have in order to finally find
that gift of gifts ‘specially for you
if it is to be found along this journey
that will ever hold me through my sestina
a timeless pursuit of words upon paper
thoughts on top of thoughts impede

while yet I refuse to let them impede
my progress toward what I hope to find
with each drop blotted from this paper
bearing these lines inked especially to you
lines that have compelled writing this sestina
should we ever embark upon this journey

that may some day become our final journey
together should nothing ever dare impede
these words as they slowly form my sestina
allowing at long last to finally find
those lines I’ve been trying to give you
they’re in my heart not on this paper

words that must never land on paper
I look forward to sharing this journey
I tremble while scrawling these lines to you
hoping against all odds nothing can impede
my desire to achieve that end I find
I must needs write yet another sestina

lest faded paper should your trek impede
this fruitless journey it seems that to find
what I’ve written you must read this sestina

BUFFALO

They hunt buffalo different today
from South Dakota through Wyoming
they chase them with helicopters
ATVs and 4x4s follow at speeds never
reached more than a hundred years ago
when they were so often shot from trains
now they are being culled under license
with the governments approval

The hunters say there is nothing
like watching buffalo fall when shots
go home one after another much as arrows
did when they were for food not sport
what do hunters do with all that meat?
What do they do with that shaggy hide?
Why did this way of life have to change?
Will any of our heritage ever return?

Will these dead buffalo grow wings
from those large, once shaggy bodies
when the old Oglala medicine man
fresh from White Creek Reservation
begins chanting them on their journey
to the arms of the Great Spirit
while the Six Grandfathers weep
over this ignoble end of a way of life

BLEAK SESTINA

At last an early morning light
comes to share labor with this cold wind
that has struggled all night without peace
or relief of this fear that tends to weigh
on me. No physical battle is so hard to face
as this internal struggle that is needed to keep

a grasp on sanity. The only way I can keep
going is by constantly trying to make light
of my demise. All stays hidden behind my face
as it receives with resignation this dreaded wind
from unknown regions that blows on all in its way.
Never will I be allowed to enjoy a moments peace

as long as my soul is taken away one piece
at a time. There will be no other to pay my keep.
Unthinkable obstacles constantly bar my way
making uncertain my journey toward the light.
A journey made harder by a suddenly fickle wind
whose change becomes one more pain to face.

Although nothing is to be seen upon my face
each gloomy hour that passes tears another piece
from my tattered spirit and tosses it to the wind.
I know not when my end will come. Should I keep
struggling, struggling to reach that so distant light?
Hoping against all odds that it will let me weigh

what little good I have done along my miserable way
against the chilling bitterness of this end I face.
Not so much as a struggling memory brings to light
any hope that I will ever attain that elusive peace
which teases me with just enough promise to keep
me moving forward against this ever colder wind.

As I stand beaten before this bitter wind
I realize that I am not alone upon this way.
Countless others before and after come to keep
this final appointment that all must face
I begin to understand how I may receive the peace
that is shown to me by that ever growing light.

. and I turn to face that brilliant light
wishing that I might keep from this fateful wind
that brings the final peace. All must pass this way.

..1973

A Journey of Words

I followed my dreams beyond the fading day
with Ganymede, Orion and Sagittarius
being no more than stops along my way
as I travelled across the universe.

I dove with Beowulf into the liar of Grendel
watched Gilgamesh as Ingidu came for his throne
The Green Knight’s fear could never fell
one who had claimed the Sword in the Stone

I considered Homer, Virgil, Socrates and Plato
as more than friendly acquaintances of mine.
Mythical gods made me welcome in their courts
toasting my health with their finest wines.

I stood with Priam upon the gates of Troy,
looked on with loathing as that coward Achilles
much like a spoiled brat with a broken toy
dragged Hector by his heels before the walls.

I followed some wise men to Bethlehem,
led there by a bright, shining star
we looked upon that wonderful baby, Him
whose teachings have reached so far.

I followed mountain paths to Cathay
cried for those who fell at Khokand
this desert holds no secrets away
from one borne upon its sifting sands.

I journeyed East to visit Genghis Khan
rode West again with Attila the Hun
Watched in horror as Timur Lame Hand
built his pyramid of skulls in Samarkand.

I stood beneath Lion’s splintered spars
with Nelson off the shores of Trafalgar
and having been there before, already knew
what awaited Napoleon at Waterloo.

I drank from the melted snows of Everest;
Fuji and Kilimanjaro I have stood upon,
waded many oceans deep in my quest
for Paradise or an Island in the Sun.

I watched with helpless rage and fury
as Cardigan and that stupid clown
Raglan in their vain search for glory
sent the Light Brigade to early renown.

I marveled at the wisdom in Bulfinch’s Mythology
thrived on the teachings of Aesop’s Fables
spent many wonderful nights with Scheherazade
puzzled out the morals of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

I was on the rocks when the Pilgrims came ashore,
while trying to make them welcome there
gave them all I had, they only wanted more
so I left them trembling there in fear.

I started on The Way West with A Rabble in Arms,
changed my mind, had had enough of the Oregon Trail,
decided to go along with The Donner Party,
walked straight into a miserable frozen hell.

I wandered across the Great Divide
basked upon the sand of Western shores,
rode in the red boats of the Chumash
as they were hunting seals across to Alcatraz.

I stood at the foot of Fenian’s Rainbow
searching in vain for his pot of gold
then followed the Father of Waters
down to where the slaves were sold.

I trekked with the Boers as they wandered
across Africa looking for Something of Value,
smelled the fetid breath of the Lion in Evening
near where Prestor John’s life was squandered.

I rode with John Carter, Warlord of Mars
on his search for Princess Dejah Thoris,
braved the raging waters of River Iss
all the way down to the Lost Sea of Korus.

I followed close behind as the Fellowship fled
South to carry the ring to the land of Mordor,
found myself walking the Paths of the Dead
with Elfstone who had opened the Secret Door.

I trudge along a twisted path of wonder
ever hoping to reach my inner self
while others words I choose to ponder
I take another book down from the shelf,

~~~~~Jerry Marks