In every life lie crossroads, couched

in unredeeming uncertain acts

or thoughtful dissipation;

in both lie follies undreamed,

unknown but when the crossroads pass.

O what a marvelous, marveling work is man!

Such sickly thoughts, inactive, would bind us!

Such instant act, unthought, would bind our steps!

We plunge, vertiginous, upon the scene.

* * *

Oh once fair Eden, oh once deathless, oh now

halcyon days, I call now for your aid.

I held the world enshrined, all was in bloom,

when two diversions bantered in your boughs;

what better place, what strange perversion

forced us all, together, from your face?

And I, I do recall those days –

my recollection halts

when brought to one, perhaps.

He spoke to me, and he,

under some spell, began a speech:

"You wait here?

What castles


can hold you?

Outside this world

lies another,

where your desires

are all-potent,

your visions


and all

expected ends


And I, I watched that sallow countenance,

its eyes enraptured, convert to a cause,

and wondered, I confused by knowledge, how

that certainty could ever have had pause.

The other, curious, inconstant, bright

at times, at others wholly dim, had just

a question, just a heavy doubt

to halt complicity in raptured lust.

And I spoke: "How can this be? A place

with ever thought and vision,

preconception of the shape

of things made real? How done?"

And he "Eat

of the fruit –

it holds no death;

become like God.

Have you never

wondered, never

questioned how

this death would

come to pass?

You will

be torn

from death.

Know all;

bend the world

with thought."

He, slither-tongued, did press a fruit

before my eyes; I, still,

did watch as from afar as I

destroyed the golden globe.

A swirling dream: I saw castles,

dynasties, civil stations rise

and crumble – and my eyes discerned

the day-to-days to come,

the passing exchanges and hope

that bound me up, the dark

possibilities twined in some unending

helix – and, in short, I was afraid.

He’d told the expectation of himself,

and hoped to bind me fast to him

in terrible embrace,

but I now stood unmanned instead

with fruit-destructed grace.

And I, enraptured,

caught in dreams

and dreams of dreams,

did eat my fill.

What matter who

ate first,

took out a taste?

The sky was


and mute.

We waited,


for His breath,

and fear took hold.

I, worried,

I, a man,



my license

feared some end,

some cutting-out

of chaos:


His actions held a hope: non serviam,

but nothing out of nothing can be cast,

and his but nothing was in ignorance

at last.

Somehow complicit with these two, I stood,

I heard the judgment of the One (myself?

perhaps). We saw some Eden in each

passing step, each almost perfect gesture,

but Eden was afar – and by our side,

for this doom was the fabric of our curse.

How like a god indeed had we become!

How infinite in reason and in act

within the world within me at the least –

how wholly separate and yet intact!

And how, oh how, shall I go on?

* * *

A world of worlds enworlded is our scene;

now let us make our visit, and step out

into the vale – a vale of storied tales

of scrivener, and lunatic, and wild

man enslaved to impulse, each a friend to each

in Eden, and cross-purposed once without.

And I, enworlded now, and so

distrusted and reviled

in pen strokes scratching on a page,

shall I hold fast and wait?

We tear ourselves apart, burn down reserves

of lighter balance: lost

and seeming innocent of all

forethought, our desperation

surely breaks what must be linked.

Shall I hold fast and die,

a tale of caution for all others come

in contest with the dark?

And I, I see it too,

I see the dark,

the danger to

our coexistence,

its rusting, breaking,

unrelenting gaze,

and I fear:

I fear the loss

of self

it brings, the death

of me in times denying

any but the strongest,

the scrivener –

his reasoned face aglow –

a chance to hold

himself above

the death of hopes,

of dreams,

of chaos born of

keeping us

in tenuous,



affected embrace.

* * *

We all have seen her, wondered at a race

of heartbeat, shift of confidence and pulse,

engendered of some worry at the time,

betokening some hope for change, for safe

and stretching word to be the same. In all,

the stage is set for some Edenic time

when she and I together would hold court.

But I, at times the fool, at times

the sage, have no such thought;

in seeing all-potential I make none,

and, honest to a fault,

I am afraid. What balm can force

unwelcomed truth away?

What impropriety can wear

a mask of measured thought?

And we will never

last the stony truth.

And I – am struck

by this pale cast

of thought, am


but have no power

to work as

those above,

and in dreams or

sullied thoughts

I make my preference


Some folded figure stands, framed in the sky,

our waxen wings unreal in melting sun;

we flew, as if a vision ever new

in time, refurbished in the dooms

of works and days – this Icarus

or that, his burdened wax made molten

by some angry sun, did always move not

passersby at work, did always make

his storied splash alone from all the world.

And no Daedalus, Cumae-found, will build

our temples, sorrowing and old; no darkened

steps will mourn our passing, save our own,

but once enraptured, now but halting, cold.

But I – shall uncontrol be so

secure as not to leave

an Icarus in its wake? And where

will anyone hold back

the sea, tear out the stony truth

that distance make of where

we drown? And shall I set him free,

marauding as we pass,

or tear out wings affixed in wax

and wander with the dead?

And I – I see

and do not fear:

in keeping safe,

the world is staked.

Shall I, unredeemed,

unworried, hold back

the sword? Shall I

when freed

not rage in happy

all-potential act?

Why stay my hands,

why break the promise

of a night’s delights

for a new day’s careful,

cautious delectation?

And without me,

without my uncalculated


behold the man


And how, oh how, shall I go on?

* * *

In mind how fearlessly our future’s cast,

In heart how all-invisible,

how pallid, stretched upon

a canvas I the beast,

devourer I

the many-splendored I

an arabesque an I

uncountenanced and fresh

sprawls in the many visions of our course.

Father, do you see this frenzied

casting-out upon a page?

Shall I hold fast and wait upon the stage,

a silent arbiter for all the rest?

And I the serpent I the ghost

I enciphered I the gift

of tongues I

shifting I

slouching forth I:

shall I sit still,

and learn,

and calculate,

while futures subside

and die at my


Let but one preconception hold,

but one misgiving stay,

or let one chaos’ bind be true

and one impulse hold sway

and all the calculated plans

and all our rushing dreams

will shatter, each both true and false –

and leave the house no beams.

Our Icarus, our Daedalus entwined,

our wings in raptured fires dripping hot

upon the flesh, hold fast or drop us

at each instant’s pause. O wan young flame,

O cipher, O instructor to us all,

shall we maintain our halt in static climes?

Shall every now be best and worst of times?

And I – shall I

distraction I

wild man I

perversion I

instantiation I

death of revisions I:

shall I sit idly by

and philosophize,

when revels and

lost findings

beckon on the other

side of town?

Shall I be

beaten back

by slackened canvas,

withered plumage,

the terror of foretelling of our days?

No! I shall go!

And I the cynic I the optimist

further the storied cause;

I all-potent I inactive

I lunatic I, one,

must follow as he tears his way.

I all-compassed I scrivener I divining

I composed I uncomposing I the source –

I one and all lack potency and drive

in thought and act when left without the rest.

And so the canny eye, the grasping fist is loosed

upon my world: and I, I shall go on.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

An attempt at something worthy of a prize.

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