New Dystopian Poem – Extinction

Extinction

*

*

*

Crowning smoke

cloaks the heads of fallen kings.

And there I walk, on silent streets

over broken bridges

through the dark capillaries

of yesteryear’s fall.

With ashes, the towers weep

carpeting black the castle floors.

Their sacrificial fires, a century extinguished

but still they smoke

ever fuming

from glass eyes and stone-toothed mouths.

No one is here, save me.

Were they ever?

Ten grains of burning sand

on the fathomless shore of infinity

was the kingdom of man.

Three ticks of eternity’s clock

did we reign.

All that remains is me

straggling through grey fields

beneath crumbling battlements

crunching forgotten bones

under the last boots I will ever wear.

It was never my place

to ask why

or how.

Nor have I the desire, nor means

to dig answers from the dust

from the sunless sky

from the dwelling crypts of billions

whose laughter has gone.

No one is here, save me.

Were they ever?

*

*

*

*

J Edward Neill

More words here

The Window Hours – A Poem

Here, I sit dreaming

by the quiet glass

through which everything has shined

dark and light

gilded sun and hungry shadow

all of them, gifts

strumming the webs of thought

in my tired mind.

*

At dawn, I search the panes

for signs of yestereve

for changes in the night

for perhaps the world had broken

as I slept.

But none, are there,

none in the glass

though many in me.

*

At dusk, I press my nose

against the highest window

hunting the gloam

for haunts yet to wake

for all things nocturnal

who must surely do the same

and search for me

even as I lie dreaming.

*

And at night, ere the witching

I am most alone

scrawling by candle

inking the world’s walls

with things that never were.

It’s then, just then

I wake from long, black halls,

and see my face, the lights in my eyes

the shadow of my cheek

staring back at me from the place beyond my door.

*

*

*

J Edward Neill

 

Chasing Death – a New Poem

I fear you none.

For though you give chase across time, across ages,

through valleys blackened by pain

and pastures greened with hope,

the labor is solely yours.

You know my name, but yours will go unsaid,

indifferent,

unlooked for

until the moment of leaving, at whose gates I will no longer care.

For though I might gaze across years, across oceans,

toward a horizon whose distance I will know only once,

you cannot touch me until then.

And so I fear you none.

Strip away the leaves of others, take them as you must.

Peel dry the orchard in which I live, whether summer sapling or wintered oak,

whether friend or foe, whether loved or despised.

I care not.

For they are mine forever, and yours but once.

And whence they come to you, wordless and unchangeable,

they are immortal to me.

In spirit indomitable.

In memory indestructible.

So take them. I care not.

Once the forest falls and I am the only one left,

you may cast your shadow upon me.

Victory, you may claim, fleshless, arid, and everlasting.

And you may laugh to see me kneel in the dirt, under grey skies,

under columns of black clouds in which no heaven awaits.

But nameless, I will hold you.

And bittersweet, your conquest.

For the dark line, drawn in the sand at the time of your choosing,

is no loss to me, no more than a whisper in the eon of my soul.

And I shall fear you none.

Whether sharp and sudden or a slow carrion crawl,

my burdens will be shed,

my thousand aches mended,

and sleep again I shall until the ending of all ages.

But you, my friend,

you must toil on.

For whether here or there or a in place yet unnamed,

your work is never done.

 

*

*

*

*

J Edward Neill

The Muse – A Poem

Were I a stone in a pale river,

the water would teach me

sculpt me

beguile my bones into shapes

I’d never known.

Were I a cliff, lording over the sea,

the wind would, over patient eons

move upon me,

at times a gale, sharp yet sincere,

at others, carrying the mist softly to my face,

that I might feel things

to which I’d never awakened.

Were I grass, short-lived and thirsty,

but always a friend to the sun

the rain would nourish my roots,

and beneath its clouds, it would remind me

that no day is ever-bright,

but nor is the darkness always my foe.

Were I fire, booming in the hot belly

of the earth untamed,

my release would raze the life from all things

yet in the end,

I would gladly perish,

and all else grow anew.

And were I a maker of words,

quill in hand, burning hearth in place of ordinary heart,

she would smile at me,

and whisper thoughts undreamed into my ear,

that I might wake the next morn beside her,

with always another page,

another tale,

and never a dry spell

for the garden in which we live.

*

*

*

*

J Edward Neill

A Dark Poem – Leaving in the Rain

It began the moment I left.

The clouds, black and burgeoned with dark water,

caught me, contained me.

Drums in the sky pounded the only message

my body needed to know.

For all their thunder, my bones shook.

For all their streaming rivers

falling down my fractured panes,

I should have turned back.

Brief, I expected them,

and easily swatted aside.

But the sky told no mistruth,

and the serpentine road, swallowed by the rain,

scrawled into my tired eyes

the lie of leaving.

 A wager, I made with the advancing night.

‘You’ll break with the sun when I return.’

‘And go black again with every retreat.’

And impatient, I threatened.

And railed.

And made war against everything.

Even knowing the deed was mine.

But the rain only laughed.

And the night shrugged at the hidden moon.

Daring that I should do it again.

That I should return, and stride the storm

a thousand times over.


*

*

For more words, go here

 

A Poem at Midnight – Black River

On a black river, I race toward the waning light.

Westward, burning, the smoky clouds breathing their last.

My carriage vibrates on the shallow water,

the wheels wanting to break, but lacking the will.

There are others besides me, but there are none.

I am alone here, but for one.

A dusk-born bat, I see nothing, and feel everything.

Flying, wings biting at the dark, nothing slows me.

Save death.

At the witching hour, to a theme which shakes the world,

I ride.

Sweating. Aching. Hellbent.

At the black river’s end, everything.


More here.

No Delusions of Grandeur

Polish SkullsSkulls. Sand. Shadows.

Three of my favorite things.

As I near the release of this, and thus slam the door shut on a too-long writing project, I sit in a rotting leather chair, my feet propped on a destroyed-by-cats ottoman, and reflect on my existence. I should be happier, I think. I should shimmer like Twilight’s vampires and bounce like Barney the fucking dinosaur after a line of coke. Throw a party, I tell myself. Celebrate it. Relish it. Savor it.

Fuck it.

 I’m not in the mood.

It’s not that I don’t feel a sublime sense of satisfaction. Or oceans of relief. It’s just that tonight, with the wind battering my windows and my candle sputtering its final breaths, I feel a little bit pointless. Self-satisfaction, I tell myself, is for the narcissistic. Get your ass back to work, my brain commands. Right. Now. And I will. There won’t be a party. Or a fist pump. Or even a celebratory glass of wine.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yes.

If I finish a book and only a few thousand people read it, does it matter?

Yes.

Maybe.

As I gloom in my writing cave, I’m reminded of a poem from the 70’s. The Deteriorata is a prose-form poem written to both mock and celebrate 1927’s Desiderata. It pretty well summates my feelings, my ‘F it’ mood, my devotion to sarcasm, cynicism, and indifference, and my awareness that a few quick breaths from now, the fleeting afterglow of publishing a million words will vanish into the air. As though it had never been.

Here it is:

Deteriorata 

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here
Deteriorata. Deteriorata

Go placidly amid the noise and waste
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep
Rotate your tires
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys
Know what to kiss, and when
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do
Wherever possible, put people on hold
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time
There is always a big future in computer maintenance

You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back

Remember The Pueblo
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate
Know yourself
If you need help, call the FBI
Exercise caution in your daily affairs
Especially with those persons closest to you –
That lemon on your left, for instance
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch
Hire people with hooks
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee

You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate
Give up

(Tony Hendra, National Lampoon Radio Dinner, 1972)

And so I’ll close up shop tonight, contented but not. I’ll eat some Ramen, knock back a Scorsese film, and plot new beginnings tomorrow. There’s no glory in finishing one book…nor six…nor likely a hundred. There’s no party long enough to satisfy me nor a woman cold and cruel enough to fascinate me.

It doesn’t matter.

I’m not giving up.

Love,

J Edward Neill