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Playing at Aeneas

By Carl Laamanen

 

“Love, you tyrant! To what extremes won’t you compel our hearts?”-The Aeneid

 

Am I anything other than

A mortal man?

Did you expect more

From me?

 

I was lost and confused

Life was misery

I took the only chance I had

And it was you

 

My passion, fanned into flame

Your kisses so tender and sweet

Our marriage bed, at least in name

Your touch was more than I could resist

 

But I am meant for more

Than just your love

You gave up everything

And I took it all

 

Your name, your reputation

Sullied by my saccharine whispers

I drew you in

But you let me

 

Now I must leave

I’ve had my fling

The gods beckon me

To take my place as king

 

Can you blame me?

Husband of a jealous lover

Or king of man’s pinnacle?

 

As I sail out to sea

I look back once more

Unknowing that as I once ravished you

Now a blade has done the same

 

My hands clasped around that hilt

For it was I that brought you to it

 

Dear Dido, my bride

Has my sin hurt you that much?

Oh Christ, my Lord

Do I kill you afresh everyday?

 

Carl Laamanen

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Sea

 

“We are made of time. We are its feet and its voice. The feet of time walk in our shoes. Sooner or later, we all know, the winds of time will erase the tracks. Passage of nothing, steps of no one? The voices of time tell of the voyage.”-Eduardo Galeano

 

As I set foot upon this sturdy deck

I question where this ship will lead me

 

The wind begins to blow and the sail unfurls

As I set off for waters unknown

 

All my dreams loom so large

But fall beneath the azure waves

As I begin this otherworldly charge

 

The stars shine like dancers in the night

As I become another of their slaves

And hope they lead me to the light

 

The foamy sea crashes upon my ship

Causing the deck to shake

Yet, still breath escapes from my lips

Even though my heart begins to quake

 

The cold wind blows

Leaving only a shadow of the heat

The clouds circle like crows

And I alone stand in this mighty fleet

 

Oh how great a pride

Falls to the depths of the deep

As the ship tries to match stride for stride

Too much faith is required to make this leap

Into the sparkling blue

 

But my final destination

Cannot be found through mere charts and maps

But merely an unnerving devotion

To keep myself from the traps

That keep me from You

 

So let the sun break o’er my brow;

And may You alone guide this ships prow.

 

By Carl Laamanen

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poem

Cleavage of the Ewe

 

The gentle snow loving me

as stars love the night sky as

Narcissus loved the echo he

heard in his deep blue eyes.

 

The falling snow loving me

for no reason but the sweet

and reasonable reasons of

love, as this snow falls to my

older whitened hair, it a new

model color white, it always

newer and drawn to those

things it cannot be;

 

solid, warm, settled for sure.

 

And I love the snow falling on my tongue

as I stand like a lily in water with the pistil

so irreverent, exposed for sheer joy in the

murky green pond-still wetness aching for

the sweet hummingbird to come to me, to

come wild and ray-yellow upon the electric

wings pushing the frail petals open more.

 

I wait like this

with my faux

red head

as the snow

presses, grey

 

on me like Narcissus in love.

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poem

A Proposal Outlined By Congress

 

i Musings of  the Politicians Wife

 

Invented in the lecture hall,

impressed in stone on the wall-

wide and white, the Eyes see all.

The dreams of those at home

the Dream we have a birthright to,

chained hot and heavy in this room

Hestia’s sculpture borne away

and the simple works of your day.

 

And ambivalence is held in sway

the delicate instrument of

your distraction- what magicians

men can be.

 

ii The Dream

 

Daddy, daddy look around you;

at the floor we paid for covered

in piss from Tommy, look at mommy

no lipstick, look at this- a picture of

you signing a bill as mom mixes

a whiskey sour, as me and Tommy

watch TV by the hour!

What a life, what a wife, what sweet cum

on our lips.

 

iii The Politician at the Strip Joint

 

Some poisons

can not be

sucked out. Some

poisons just

must be lived

with. It is a gift,

a wish, at times

a doubt. We always

pay for what we

get. So at the bar

I will pay for

oblivion, to take

off the edge,

and show some

skin. Tomorrow

I will do it again.

It is the Dream,

the show, Mr. Jones.

 

by me

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poem

With the Spleen Instead

“Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves.”
Blaise Pascal

It is as if

when we

two said

love, at

once

we said:

 

as a child-

“I will trade you my heart for yours”,

 

and later in angst-

“One red, pumping, bloody heart for another”,

 

and finally-

“I will give the inevitability of a heavy and still mass of tissue for the lightness of a promise”.

 

And, really,

in the end

that is what

we meant

by that first

tryst, under

the star

drenched sky

and weeping

willows

(given by the Chinese

who see the soul, to us

cold and free people of steel)

with their many leaves,

rattling and upturned,

yet empty.

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poem

Nathanael Beneath the Fig-Tree

 

“And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it…. Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said ‘Surely the Lord is in this place- and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid and said ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’” Genesis 28: 12; 16-17

 

This is where

the angels came,

descending and

ascending ;

 

higher up and farther in

the glade, in seas of mist

at dawn with the ripe smell

of dirt and touched a green shoot

reaching up from an old stump.

 

This is the place

where earth and

heaven meet;

 

the tree glowing white

from within, still retaining

a semblance of the glory,

even as it spreads out from

the withered stump, three limbs

merged at the rough trunk,

and the ground around it

thick and overgrown

blessed for having been there.

 

(The more beauty given as the dead branches

fall away, and the living are grafted in.)

 

This is the place

where you wear

your Sunday best;

 

 a parched tundra

of raw heat, ragged

breath, a wooden

beam of rotted

splinters outlined

in raging flames-

clinging to your post

though there is

nothing in it, though

there is nothing set

upon it, though it

burns as you clutch

it to your chest.

 

This solitary place

is where you meet

your death:

 

here there is no

communion left.

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poem

The Eucharist

 

It starts with this;

the ripping of the veil

off and the laying bare

my nakedness to eyes

probing wide to the

spectacular beauty.

 

Like a bred dove

white and flawless

wings open and able

to catch the wind,

yet surrendered as an

oblation with a feathery

breast exposed upon

the stone alter,

willing to remain in this.

      I am not willing  to depart

      from instinct and desire.

 

And all the bloodied sunsets

bearing down Thermopylaen heat on me,

bearing the only virtue:

shining through

my transparency,

and I prey to illuminations

descending.

 

Like the dove bearing the olive branch

returning to life

after the uncertain release

thinking: “this is the

only way to be” and

giving a tortured homage

to the waters teeming

beneath my wrinkled feet,

I risen again, rising up

as we all did.

The rite, the passage.

 

An holy ghost

renewing, a man

forging.

The dead sun laying

hot and heavy on these things.

 

“Do this to remember”:

and the deep red wine flowing

on the chapped bridge of our lips,

the wheat bread crumbling

and broken in our sooty hands-

the sombre marriage

of God and man.

 

Expose now the

strange spectacle,

reveal what was hidden in

soft candle-light,

 

though I am ashamed,

white breast trembling

without the velvet veil,

so uncertain on the stage;

though you die and die

only to rise,

dying and raised without hope.

 

by Ashley W.

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