The Diving Bell
Forward and Dedication
In nineteen and twenty-eight, it was rumored that a special project conducted under the auspices of a secret branch of the Navy had gone awry. Buried under much disinformation, it is only now that the truth has arisen concerning this most unusual affair. Hidden in the metaphor of this poem, the truth is now told for those who have eyes to see and passion to believe.
The Diving Bell: Part One
The Diving Bell
Mine was the mission, the quest
To descend to the bottom
Of the Pacific Ocean floor
Beneath the wreckage of flotsam
That this curious storm savagely made.
Forty-five scared and helpless lives
Anguished in the desperate poverty
Of certain total doom to come.
Death by suffocation
Brought on without provocation, delayed
Itself upon their pale breaths
While I, aboard my vessel, dropped
Downward, boldly, and suddenly;
Dedicated, by this journey, to stop
The anger and fury brewing above, untamed.
But the real quest, the one most crucial,
Was of myself and proved quite substantial.
For there, inside that downed submarine,
Was one who had hoped to hide
From love, including me,
And had cut the strings that had once allied
My heart and spirit with the heart of her.
So, it was with great trepidation
That I set out on this mission
To save the lives of those below.
Unable to pay attention,
My mind filled with unfulfilled thoughts of her:
For like another I once had known,
She had left me with a pain
That scarred my very soul,
Leaving me much disdain.
The love we once shared, died, having been spurned.
Though forty-four others cried innocently,
The cry from her now laid stilled, unbelieved.
Then, to make this more a fate,
As I approached, halfway down,
The radio from above
Relayed to me dire sounds,
Warnings about the storm that raged above.
Two recovery trips had been planned,
But now, even one attempt
Seemed to lack any gain, or success.
But I, of course, could not repent,
So, on I pushed, my mind hypnotized by love.
Knowing I would have only one chance,
By way of script, I’ve kept this log,
To describe to all who would question
The reasons for my future actions
To continue downward to the dim sub, below.
Now only one trip to chance for this day,
I alone must pick someone there to stay.
The angry seas are wild tonight:
Their abruptly shifting waves
Move loudly in disharmony
And scream discontently into my brain
The pain of so many disjunctured years.
This, and only this, rocks my thoughts;
But perhaps, it isn’t just so simple,
So easy as this to dismiss.
Perhaps, it is another haunt
By a wayward ghost with turbulent tears?
And if this banshee does exist,
Then it’s one that I’ve known well;
One that I fought in the past
On the inner patch work that tells
The dreams and hopes that are our daily fears.
And if this thing is at heart my soul’s truth,
Then I must turn, face it, or be removed.
The dream of love, the fire of life,
The hopes of myself so long ago
Which burned with virile life and energy,
Retract tonight all my growth
And pull back the shade of day to bring night.
You were everything I wanted,
All that I desired and believed
Until that blackened day
When you took my leave
And caused my love to be plucked from my sight.
To leave my soul barren of its youth,
To break me a thousand ways
As if a prisoner in some evil war,
You left me without the day
Without the energy to fight;
Or grow, dance, or spring with inner delight
And reach toward heaven to our life’s delight.
And like an echo tonight,
I hear that night tonight,
Resounding and raging in my ears,
Asking me to once again fight
The good fight that I so fearlessly fought.
For you of this night
Are different and not the same
As she, the other of my shame,
And should not be held for the blame:
For chance you’re better, worthy to be sought;
Worthy to be lifted upward,
To share the skies so high
With the dreams of ten thousand lives,
To believe in and not say good-bye.
Perhaps, you the culmination for all things taught.
This, that feeling of life, shared with belief,
Is the cauldron wherein is found relief.
Aboard the tiny diving bell
Thirty-five thousand feet below the sea,
I feared the pressures up above:
Unable to turn a deaf ear to their pleas,
Unable to rescue the dying below.
To be guilty by association,
Guilty by my name, to be guilty by all accounts,
Is to be guilty all the same;
Branded and scarred by Cain, counted his seed.
Too much the pressure,
Too much the pain of loss,
The isolation of ignorance,
I, in this Trieste did toss,
Inside the darkness I learned not to heed.
Could love reach this far beneath the dark sea,
And save one as lost and tired as me.
Turn back, turn back, I heard them cry,
To keep on going is to die.
Despite the storm’s warnings from above,
Ignorance was my love and love my ignorance.
How was I to listen or hear,
How was I to even care,
For on that Plutonian shore
I leveled no care.
I, of pride, was filled with self-arrogance.
Your image, your guesses, filled my mind
Like a skyscraper from afar;
Pushing upward the city below,
Away from the concrete and the tar.
With what love, thought I, could I win this pretense?
Your youthful heart and simple city ways,
I believed would win this eventful day.
But I was wrong, o’ so wrong.
For I had failed to guess,
Failed to take into account,
The formula that is your rest;
The eventful full being that you are.
I had failed to see
In all this tethered dance
That you were your own,
And quite your own enhanced;
And not an extension of my heart.
You were your own captain,
And this poem not your domain.
For a captain’s heart you possessed
And destiny was yours alone to constrain;
No one on earth could tell you where to start.
With thunderous quake through deep waters cold,
Here, alone, the depths this true story told.
Falling like an autumn leaf
Into the South Pacific trench below,
The world above is now forgotten,
A myth of life, I once was told –
An echo of an old archaic time.
For to me, my only worries be
The jagged chasms, sharpened rocks,
The fabrication of this dream:
Except, where to place that slender lock
Of hair before my inner eye?
It moves before me, so alive,
I question my faculties
And examine the controls
Till my mind suffers from derision
And cannot tell what is real or what is rhyme.
For on this mission to the bottom of the sea,
I am lost in you, deaf to other rescue pleas.
Should I turn back as they demand,
Or continue the rescue as was planned
And continue dropping
Deeper toward the unseen sand.
To this question, you’re she who much belies:
Belies the bellicose facts
That supplies the storm above
With anger and fury that’s removed from love;
Removed from God’s gracious dove.
This beguiled illusion then is my lie!
It transmutes itself
Effortlessly, from me to you,
Until it becomes the thing
That is no more reason to continue,
And derides me to stop this tawdry dive.
Now then with the loss of Aphrodite,
Are you to leave with me out of this sea?
The titanium diving bell,
The largest in the world found,
Has room for myself
With forty-four to sit around
After dumping the ballast that takes it down.
But though this staid journey
Seems to be chivalrous,
I, alone, must decide
The fate of one to become indigenous
With the bottom of the sea.
I, alone, must bear the burden
Of choosing one to die, uncertain
Of ever seeing light again:
It’s I who will pull open that curtain.
Forty-four shall be saved from drowning’s grave,
And you’re all that I can think of today.
Why did you take this assignment,
To travel so deeply
To the ocean’s sullen void;
To leave behind so concretely
The love that you and I once shared so sweetly?
Was I so unbearable,
So vile to your sight
That you found it necessary
To take this darkened flight,
Leaving me alone, drowning in my tears?
Such company does fill me,
While memories of another mocks me.
She, the other of my years,
Scorning you, leaving fears
That you had left me just as unprepared.
Should I in this portent task save you, both
Such mem’ries could I expect on the boat.
My life, to me, you gave me,
You whom the stars fondly named Cassie:
My life I willed to owe you,
To do with as you pleased.
And in this respect, I am forever yours.
But these are only words,
And words are little, if anything.
For without action, without life,
Words are death, with painful sting.
Sting that welts the skin more than any curse.
And she, of my former being,
Whom the gods christened Louise,
Tears away continually
As I sink to the bottom of this sea,
In this gray and empty fateful hearse.
But now through my screen, I now apprehend
The silhouette of your ship that’s my end.
Cassie Speaks: Part TwoCassie Speaks
Looking up from my captivity
Here in this submarine,
Submerged and broken beneath the waves,
I feel my doom’s so pristine,
Knowing, then, that you’re my savior to be.
Of all the rescuers
That they could have chosen,
You are the sailor
I fear and feel most beholden,
And’s the reason that brought me to this sea.
Fear of death by capture,
Fear of life without rapture,
Tremble through my being,
Paralyzing my heart in turn.
Yet, in spite, you’re the one who’s come to me.
Though I fear with you to take this chance,
With you, life depends, despite fears enhanced.
Through the gentleness of this rain inside,
The rainbow of promises, all broken
And unfulfilled, strafe through my cluttered mind,
Tormenting me, punishing me for sin.
But through this veiled despondency,
I question completely, with sincerity
Whether I am a as guilty as I feel,
Or blind to what it all means to be free.
Lost, with nowhere to go, except forward,
I fear to venture even one scanty step,
Least I fall farther into the chasm
And my life become even more inept:
More inept to the heartless reasoning
That like the sea, crushes so beleaguering.
The passage that led me beneath so far,
I now can mark with much clear certainty:
For those who are so close to death’s doorway
Need not fear, even here beneath the sea.
My life, the part I didn’t understand,
Began before my birth, with certain plan.
It was no accident, no twist of fate,
But rather Jehovah’s purposeful hand
That lent me my German heritage:
A lineage that does so much to explain
The isolation of my growing up
In America, feeling far away.
For though my parents here clearly belonged,
The lyrics in my heart were for other songs.
Songs that filled the ancients’ castle hallways,
Where brave men and fanciful women danced.
These songs of joy and daring bravado
Bequeathed to my young and tender substance
The vision of something so much bolder
Then that quiet life of urban living.
For while my friends and family could accept
The ridged mores of society,
For me, there could be no peace in being,
If being was simply to be serving
The expectations of things held as true
And followed without ever questioning:
But who among us could take such a stand
And break with the folkways of this strong land.
There it was, for all, plainly as I said:
I hadn’t the heart to fight or break away
From the set rules placed in front of me,
From the planned countenance of that, our day.
To live was to become the things they saw
As being the foundations of success.
And though I knew from this I should withdraw,
Blindly, I decided to pass their test.
Embracing ev’rything required of me,
I excelled superbly, definitely
Achieving every American dream,
Being cheered on by all, confidently.
Therefore with cold command, I sacrificed
The child within, imprisoned in ice.
The innocent child I once had known
Became then a silent distant stranger.
Buried under my resolute control,
Her dreams remained quiet and undisturbed.
I succeeded, ever so thoroughly,
Wiping completely her ghost from my mind:
Her music had haunted me, day and night;
Her death, I believed, was most benign.
For what is life, if in it I suffered
From dreams that danced wildly beyond my reach?
Why, I asked myself, should I tolerate
Illusions that I myself never preached.
With that I packed my bags and went to college
To learn and dance to society’s knowledge.
It was a time of great social protest
When men of every rank, despite pretext,
Were now forced to submit themselves anew,
To see if their sanctioned values bore true.
All this whirled like a storm about me,
Stoning me, assaulting every belief
My parents and friends taught me to hold near.
And true to their hearts, I never released
Their values or beliefs. I tightly clung
To what it was that I had since become;
Pressing always forward against the tide,
Determined to readjust a setting sun.
From the burnt ashes of my childhood,
I arose and washed myself from the soot.
Shall I say that I lacked any passion?
Then I must say that I have surely lied:
For I’ve seen Dionysius’s eyes
Burning deep into my youthful thighs.
Shall I pretend that I followed logic,
Turning my ears to all cries of romance?
I quivered, O’ how violently I shook
When he proposed that with him, I should dance.
And how we did dance? We wrote our own songs,
Arranged by music that we shared alone
And with like minds, we moved to our own waltz,
Accompanied by children of our own.
Children for whom we then taught to bury
All their dreams which might cause them to worry.
Yes, I never preached a treasonous love,
One that I myself could never aspire
Or attain. But now the child I buried
Cried up from the past, calling me a liar.
For while my portent marriage with William
Was nearly twenty years, I grew tired;
So much wearier than time would have me.
Begrudged by him, and myself, the fire
Of a love that I should have always sought
Begged me day and night to reconsider
Releasing from bondage the child within;
The child whom I myself had hindered.
For through the past, I realized at last
That the dreams of youth are all that one hast.
O’ the injustices that I suffered,
The decades of quiet desperation,
The wretched agonies of one so lost
When I clearly saw my destination.
Taking it upon myself to reclaim
The child that I buried in vain,
I resolved myself to reeducate
And terminate all this chicanery.
Where once carefree winds had cheerfully blown,
I determined that there’s where I would roam.
And where an innocent child once had stared,
I, in illusion, saw me standing there.
Forsaking bravely the things I cherished,
I turned away, unafraid to perish.
So much simpler said then is to be done,
Is to change the course of your destiny:
For once you’re packed and your journey begun,
Your course is kept, surrounded by deep seas.
Seas that seem to furiously wail
The subdued deaths of a thousand tales
When men and women, who from yore of old
Lived more sublime, majestic and noble.
This crushed in on me, determined to break
And punish me for the lives I forsook.
If I dared to take this journey so bold
Who would I then be when I became old?
William recalled me my obligations,
And begged I turn from this isolation.
Isolation’s shadow loomed so greatly
That it threatened everyone around me:
Scaring my children and bewitching him,
Till through the gin-soaked tears I heard him plead,
“Return to me and to all that you were:
Forget this foolish hallucination
Of being someone, something that you’re not.
Your dreams are only childish deceptions.
Nothing will ever be gained or become
Of following such foolish illusions,
Turn back before this act can’t be undone!”
Such they gave me the command, to submit
And stay with them, in ignorance, content.
O’ how it was I struggled, and I fought
To rationalize all the things they sought,
But in the end no matter how I tried,
I found no quietude or peace inside.
I knew that there could be no compromise,
That I couldn’t ever rationalize
Living with excuses and alibies.
If following dreams meant I had to choose
Between my family and the one I was,
Then to myself I knew I must be true.
For what could be the love I would give them,
If I pretended that I was content.
Those who truly desire to give love
Must start with themselves as does God above.
Such simple truths seem hard to understand
And appeared to go against decency,
The very values that my parents taught;
That love is when you give implicitly.
Still, I rebelled, I cast off my restraints
And dared to seek my adventures untold.
Toiling daily in village politics,
I could see how far it was I had grown.
Shall I say that joy filled my emotions,
And regret was something I never felt?
Shall I say that I despised the ocean,
That I’m not a woman burdened by guilt?
Did not my children nurture from my breast,
Did not I find in them solace and rest?
If I did, it now will never matter,
For what my husband did, I can’t forgive.
Angry that without him I could become
A woman now with her own life to live,
He withdrew away from me, eclipsing
Himself from sight on cold, dark, moonless nights.
Without the blind love I once devoted,
I could see the anger felt at my sight:
Illness seemed to compensate in his health,
Like a madness I’m sure he must have felt
At knowing I wasn’t an ounce of gold,
Something that could be marketed and sold.
For I have found that material gain
Often’s the basis for what we call sane.
Into perversion he became insane,
Wearing my clothes, mocking what I’d become.
Deriding me, taunting me with disdain,
In women’s clothes he laid out in the sun,
As if to say that since I’d forsaken
Instinctual female obligations
That he would fulfill my destination,
By proxy, becoming what he needed.
Such delusion, mired in confusion
Reigned mass destruction upon my family
And became more a reason for leaving
Aside the mores which were once my being.
Since he refused any loving support,
In desperation I sought a divorce.
Shall I tell you of a love so unbroken,
And the many years of pain, unspoken?
No, I think not. Let me rather exalt
Of how I followed after the dreams I sought,
Of how I bent each road to my demand,
Crossing each danger posed by shifting sands
So that I might find for me a life
With a soul like you to share in delight.
I want now to leave forever behind
That tale of deceit that was his line.
In this poem I push to continue,
Undelayed by any innuendo.
With him, forever, one chapter I closed,
To begin with you, my heart to disclose.
Divorce is man’s ultimate cruelty
That mocks the heart with a hatred that kills;
Of this I’m sure of, its simple to see,
Even though it may come from my own critique.
For with him, woman leaves to find her fill
Of life, joy filled by much prosperity,
Only to be left with sorrow’s bitter pill;
The vacant memories desolate pantry.
Meanwhile, man, his eternal delight
Soon repaired, does dispatch quite happily
On a new road, unfettered by our plight;
Untouched by our heartaches and by our pleas.
With nothing left to gather or to gain,
I turned my heart cold, chilled with winter’s rain.
Time was and went by, till my heart was still
From the passionate eyes of spring’s green leaves.
My life in village politics blossomed
Till it was a wonder, and I believed
I, the little girl, had triumphed
Over the failures of my dreams unsung.
A genie unleashed after a long sleep,
I rose, a burning fire on my tongue.
Accolades acknowledged my merit,
Attesting that goodwill and intentions
Along with my personal assistance
Could aid the people in most instances.
Thus were my childish aspirations
Kindled by fires of fame’s attentions.
The village, my home for twenty-five years,
Prospered under my tutelage and care,
While I experienced joyous rebirth,
And in renaissance, let grow my brown hair.
Alive for the first time in many years,
I worked harder and with more conviction,
Believing that I’d climb to the top stairs,
While all admired the way I got there.
And when finally these things would be done,
My children, whom I loved, would understand
Just who I was, and give me a warm hand;
They’d give thanks that they were part of my plans.
Few dared to convict me of this conceit,
Saying instead, it was Godly belief.
Relationships eventually came
And while different and not the same
Then all the things I had shared with William,
To none of these men could my heart lay claim.
Proud strong walls that made up my soul’s fortress
Kept all their ability to impress
Away from me, kept securely at bay,
Unable to penetrate or invade.
Though I was unable to celebrate
The passionate blood that raced through my veins,
I was a woman to those things that pertain
And found myself unable to refrain.
But what was missing caused emptiness,
And kept me from happiness and from bliss.
Your lips, I think I shall remember them,
Teased me playfully on that hot June day,
Coaxing me carelessly on to a limb
As they showed that you wanted me to stay.
You seemed interested, and seemed to care,
About my past predicament and pain:
Somehow, I knew you accepted me there,
And against me you would hold no disdain.
How I knew this, I think I’ll never know.
For after you left me, I felt less cold,
Less like the one Bill made me out to be;
For with you, I knew my story’d be told.
Less like a virgin on my wedding day,
Standing there, next to you, I felt afraid.
A special consultant for the Navy,
You had introduced yourself, acting cocky,
Parading, playing like an eccentric,
Impressing me with knowledge of the sea;
Hoping I’d swoon, a buoy on a wave.
And like a good politician, I played,
Keeping always in mind my town’s interest,
Knowing how many jobs we could be blest.
But somehow to me, you had become more;
More than an investment in our town’s growth.
You had left me shaken, trembling and scared,
My emotions no longer as controlled.
When six months later I saw you next,
I felt it was now my turn to impress.
Vividly, while other times through a haze,
I still can see you on that winter’s day,
Peering through my tiny office doorway
After your having been so long away.
I felt nervous, the need to be restrained,
To run and hide, my hair soaked by the rain
That had fallen just two minutes before.
Still, you smiled as you watched through the door.
Watching me, gazing at what I knew not,
I suddenly once again felt haunted,
As my skin seemed to crawl and to grow hot,
Quickening my heart as your smile taunted.
Though this bothered me much, I did not mind
Telling you my life in two hours’ time.
Let me not fantasize, but tell the truth:
Your presence that day did move me, I’m sure!
But can’t you recall how I was aloof
And ignored you, though you were undeterred?
Think if you will, and if you’re unwilling
Then I will need to then think for us both.
The pain of relationships was killing
My heart and destroying for me all hope
Of finding in me a love of my own.
More now than ever, I felt all alone,
Raising my children in my broken home:
A home shattered by anger and violence,
Lacking any love or benevolence.
Yes, your presence that day made me to care,
But my thoughts and affections were elsewhere.
Perhaps, though I can’t really be sure,
That’s the reason I accepted your date.
I traveled with you to the symphony,
Enjoying those things we considered great.
You, with your crushed velvet red cummerbund,
And I, dressed ever so fashionably,
Felt alive and free; even dangerous,
A lioness, whom men found themselves treed.
Suddenly, I felt myself less alone,
Less lost to that feeling of ill worry;
Snowy winds that make the eyes so blurry.
Rife with fears, I went, ever so leery.
Anxiety does mark propriety,
And shows woman in her entirety.
Entirety isn’t the truth is seems:
It stretches and it bends accordingly
To the violent whims of space and of time:
Changing all emotions sporadically,
Till all certainty of life’s constancy
Is flushed clearly and undeniably
From the heart’s needs for a continuum.
Toward you, I felt this describablely.
Though our evening was exuberant,
And my time with you quite commensurate,
From your dark eyes beckoning seductions,
The truth of my being kept separate.
Moved by you that evening, I left unmoved,
Feeling nothing, except something unproved.
The end of winter’s discontent brings spring,
And with spring brings renewed chances for life:
The chance to be recalled from death to life,
And begin again, to live a live right.
Through persistence and through much endurance,
The woman trapped inside was unshackled,
Set free to live without any hindrance
Like blue smoke from incense or tobacco.
And though, you, I did at first ignore
And feign interest, save that which seemed passing,
You were hard to forget. Like someone’s snores,
In my inward ear, you kept on flashing.
While not acknowledging this, I set a snare
When I sent you a lock of my brown hair.
When I still hear the phone ring on gray days,
When I still see clouds float quietly by,
I am once again thrust backward this way
To when I asked you for a downtown date.
To when I dared to pretend something more,
To believe that this might have some meaning:
This being the years lost in quiet roar
And released through acts of senseless bleeding.
On the old riverboat we ate and danced,
Holding tightly to each other, entranced.
Sharing tears of both freedom and anguish,
I gave to you, my body, love’s language.
The stars that rose high into the night
Sank below the skyline, hidden from sight.
The intense passion that I gave you then,
Sprung from deep-rooted passions within:
Passions that I had much too long suppressed,
Gave to you that which I didn’t intend.
And like the naïve child I once was,
You took me home, your hear full of my love:
Believing me to be all that I seemed,
Treating me as if I were God’s own dove.
How were you to know just how wrong you were:
Though you treated me with admiration
Given like I had never seen before,
Still fear gripped me with anticipation.
Anticipation of another hurt
To the child that love’s fires had burnt.
Your passion burned bright on the horizon,
Lighting the skies with calls of intense joy,
Forbidding me to simply run and hide,
As in the past, which was my favorite ploy.
Challenging me to love as once I dreamed,
You painted a world of endless hope
Where vision would be true to what it seemed;
Immune from deception’s force to erode.
O’ how I had longed to believe in you
And in this promise that you preached aloud.
In all my years as village matriarch,
You stood unique, separate from the crowd.
Perhaps this was my source of confusion
And the force that made you an intrusion.
All my life I had desired control
Over forces and people who perceived
The nomenclature of my helplessness
Which decried all I stood for or believed.
To this regard, you were then a mirror,
That reflected painfully the torture
Of my empty and shallow existence:
Existence that needn’t this reminder.
Though why you fell deeper under my spell,
I doubt that none will be able to tell.
I knew that I had to turn and leave,
And doing so I watched you go through Hell.
Others, more noble, might’ve turned to love
And saved the life of one God called beloved.
Watching you sink into despondency,
Waxing poetic into drunkenness,
Diseased by some fool writer’s lunacy,
Indulging in all impropriety,
I thought you lost forever. Then I watched
You destroy in a funeral pyre,
The beliefs and hopes that made you different
From others. I knew then I must retire
Forever from the faded hopes I dreamed.
Leaving my children in my sister’s home,
I left to oversee the completion
Of the city’s contracted submarine.
Misery, unlike before, descended
To show me then how my own life ended.
Leaving you no note of explanation,
I missed the words of your incantation
That I’m sure would have stabbed my very heart.
Still, I knew of our soul’s lamentation.
My son sent word that you’d left for an island,
To work charters in the South Pacific.
More than just one country’s measured loss,
The pain to my heart became prolific.
I had hoped you would have waited and stayed,
Trusting that I hadn’t left, just to play.
In time, given time, I might have come home
To my children, you, and the God we prayed.
Had I known the depth of pain that scarred you,
I would’ve spoken to you my heart true.
It was much later when I learned of her,
About how another you once had loved,
Had left you desolate, for some other;
Someone whom she did not care for – or love.
In that desperation, I heard you fled,
Leaving behind only one note that said,
“The keys to me are completely undone
And no longer have home under this sun.”
As to what this message meant, no one knew,
Except that something was wrong, quite askew.
The love that we had once found on my porch
Was victim to my life’s fiery torch.
Gone with you, forever, the days of wine
Were submerged in this submarine of mine!
Because of you our town had profited.
With new industry and vitality.
This brought with it a vision of rebirth,
Pushing backward the past which was our dearth.
Now to the future our citizens looked,
Reminding me of my own childhood.
Beliefs in prosperity are a powerful hook,
For those who believe that life always should
Bring hope back to those with childish dreams
Of life without risks or anguished screams.
With you gone, no one caused confrontation
Or pricked my soul with pontification.
I missed you more than I would say I cared
And on starry nights, I wished you were near.
The memory of all you were to me
I hoped to find here deep in beneath the sea.
Afraid to love or even to believe
That other than professional success
Could ever be mine, I cursed God who bless’d
Others with husbands and families who cared
For more than money, for more than I dared.
Beneath this ocean of tranquility,
I hoped to find answers to sanity.
Accompanied by forty-four others,
I observed halfheartedly through saline
The brave testing of our town’s submarine.
Two months later when the weather turned warm,
El Niño claimed our mother ship by storm.
Dependent on them for our very lives,
Unmoored, we fell to the waters below.
Aware of the dangers found here untold,
We sought shelter in a watertight hold.
Creaking and moaning screamed inside our brains
While around us we felt salty rains.
Knowing what no one needed to be told,
We waited here for our sub to implode.
Then, from my deep sleep, I was awakened:
No guess can surmise the astonishment
Upon seeing in the pilotless bell
Your note of pervading admonishment,
“The keys to me are completely undone
And no longer have home under this sun.”
Sonnets of Love, Passion, and Betrayal
Floating to the surface in a hardened diving suit, these are the recorded thoughts of Sydney Carlton as he drifted in and out of consciousness. The diving bell, having been set on automatic return upon receiving its passengers, was unable to retrieve its captain who chose to brave the cold deep waters alone, rather than see anyone, especially the one he loved so dearly, die of affixation in
a forgotten watery grave, thirty-five thousand feet below the sea.
What is beauty that it should always die?
What is death that it should not ever live?
When the pale blue moistures left the sky,
Who will then be left among us to give?
To give the sweet fragrance of an old love,
One that's wrapped in tranquil paper with potpourri
Inside a nightstand where memories slept.
For you, my darling, my sweetness of age,
Have patiently lit the lines of this page:
Your courage has not gone by me unseen;
It's why I dedicate to you this praise.
Though these be nothing more than simple words,
I hope joy by them has been conferred.
For little I thought, or consequence gave
Of holding you for even one more day.
Nor did I think of our eternity,
For if I had, what then would I have said?
For love’s not something that comes from the head,
But an emotion from which life is bled.
The cold Spring knows nothing of how to thaw,
But acts only to heat – which is its law.
Surely the flowers in Arcadia
Growing by the flourishing riverbeds
Did not think to choose such a fertile place,
But came submitting to the wind they read.
Even so, I likewise come submitting
To the love between us, our Fate’s knitting.
Wisdom holds no deception but itself,
And is the cornerstone of mankind’s health:
Take note of this truth and to its wealth,
Forsaking not its promise to yourself.
You lured me like a lavender rose:
I felt the gravitational pulls
Of every planet wrapping themselves
Around my hopes and disapproving woes.
Though many were they who tried to warn me
That loving you was like drowning the sea,
I bravely threw off their warnings and fears,
Trusting in your promises that you cared.
Foolishly in your ocean I now wade,
And in you find the meaning of betrayed.
I will not let myself be hurt this time,
Nor will I on my roof tear my shirt,
Proclaiming myself unfocused and lost,
Unable to venture as such a cost.
In you, I see the hope of your smile
And feel your kisses all soft and warm,
Knowing this time, it will be different
That this time, I needn’t fear any harm.
The white clouds hurry about unfettered
Against their great home, the bluest of skies.
At night the colorful twinkling stars
Tell the mountains everything is right.
On the whispered winds, the song of a bird
Brings to me the love of your spoken word.
May I not succumb to time and forget,
Nor ever be unable to recall
Your warmhearted tenderness and the wit
That quickens your touch and keeps me enthralled.
Wild unmerciful dreams and illusions
Fill my penury thoughts with faith’s fusion,
Binding our damaged hearts with hope and love;
Giving us strength where lacks resolution.
Touch me that I may know the songs of Spring,
Show me poetry etched in ivory
That explains the mystery of a gold ring;
That with you, life, cannot be lively.
Away from you I believe not or hope
That rapture exists unchained by death’s rope.
Passion’s prison creates looming chasms
That quickly darken enthusiasm
For quick success or unheard triumph
Of life greater than can be imagined.
Two lone solitary figures traverse
The eviscerated plain, unrehearsed:
Rising slowly, only by force of will,
They prove to conquer the radiant hill.
Lacking water and essential supplies,
They move slowly in order to surmise
The safest sure way to their journey’s crest;
For in this heat, passion can’t be contrived.
Only with resolute will for action
Can we feel with any compassion,
The intoxication that is passion.
My hopes are jaded unfounded beliefs
Based on a torrid love born in deceit.
It’s foundations which were all poured at night,
Should have proved they could offer no relief.
Shall I decry this then, my destruction?
Or, shall I pretend it doesn’t matter,
That I’m too concerned with my protection,
Too afraid of falling from life’s ladder.
No, I think I shall not with you pretend,
But boldly speak truth, though it means my end.
Blind foolish trust in your veiled darkness
Is why my soul’s now scattered by the wind.
Like dying red embers of consciousness,
I am now alone to face my life’s end.
Lost forever into the maelstrom
Lie broken and damaged vestiges,
Emotional products of empty sums
That two lives once aspired to belief.
Under the deception of cloudless skies,
We sailed foolhardily into the fjord
Without all the necessary supplies
In case of an emergency on board.
Could it be that we lacked intelligence,
Or was it our own misplaced arrogance
In our capabilities to survive?
We will never ever know. But I will say this:
We dared to go boldly into the day,
Knowing we might forever lose our way.
What is love that it lacks explanation
And defies all attempts to describe it
By my poetic alliteration?
Such is this miserable curse of chaos.
The Great Quest for the Most Holy Grail
Inspired poems, the detailed verse
Of no less than a thousand rhymed tales:
Though my efforts be valiant, the night’s hearse
Carries me away from my place of birth.
Man’s dung does little to revive from death
The empty solitude described at best
As an anguished longing for sleep and rest.
Any attempts to understand Earth’s love
Meets angry frustration from God above.
I heard the wheels of her heart screech loud
Through the dreary air and dirty drizzle
Over the highway that runs past my house:
It steals all the answers to life’s puzzle.
The cold lifeless orb of night mocks me,
Drowning her screams of fear under the sea.
On this desolate wasteland, no life stirs
Or dares to tread carelessly and disturb
The slumbers of a thousand hardened souls
Whose only respite from the light of day
Is the night; a refuge shunned by the Way.
The love she once gave has now turned to hate.
Happily, down the road I once had cruised,
Trusting, with love, my heart wouldn’t be bruised.
Of all life’s forces, there is one tonight
That gives me the strength with which I now write.
Of all life’s beliefs, there is today
One more weighty and whose promise stays
Inside me, protecting my soul from harm.
It’s from this light that I find myself warmed,
For it gives me eternal vigilance,
And teaches my soul to believe in something true,
In something more than a life without you.
Though my dreams be shattered and void of shape,
I find within me still, some noble truth,
Untarnished by the hatred of life’s rape.
This Ozymandias which stands tall and proud
Is me. With dignity, I shout it loud.
The endless summers of a thousand dreams
Sing to me the passionate eyes of youth,
Reminding me of lost values in need
Of resurrection and of redemption.
Seeking to eliminate the partition
That’s chained me to anger’s inhibition,
I seek out quiet peace and harmony
Only to find myself more imprisoned.
Trapped in a cold world, frozen by ice,
The hopelessness of ever loving you
Construes the enormities of the price
I have paid for so little love untrue.
Whether it’s foolish to love unrestrained
Is a question left for others more trained.
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Douglas Sexton started dreaming as a poet. Always a dreamer...