End of Cycle: "Adrift Without a Star"

This ends the third cycle (The first being 'The Earth is Flat and the Heavens a Dome" and the second being "Gold Smoke and Blue Fire") of poetry.

Adrift Without A Star was a phrase coined by a friend of mine, accidentally, when describing the fate of space probes that lost their way and being solar powered, were out of range of any energy source. There is almost zero friction in space so whatever last speed the probe had it would continue, but would have no power to change course unless it happened to come near enough to a star (perhaps an inevitability given the count of stars in the cosmos) to charge its batteries, provided they still would accept charge.

The meaning behind any symbol has a facile and prosaic expression, and sometimes a very clever distillation of its essence into a sentence. At its best Twitter, like other short mediums, becomes this: potent distillations of ideas. But it is mostly facile and prosaic. The notion of Adrift Without A Star is either so simple as to not require explanation or so subtle as to be incomprehensible except as wordless thoughts evoked as a byproduct of reading a number of poems.

In our time we have, like the hopeful prisoner of war, many reports of our deliverance from ruin. Our truly conservative forbears would brook no such optimism. A place with no king, no altar, no sacrifice, and no honor is not progressing towards greatness. It may be that within its shell a new life, like the hollow crust of an egg, is being nurtured for its time of nativity. Our best hope is in an advent if you will. We pray for a death both peaceful and free of sin for the rest.

The poems within this cycle should be thought of as the visions that pass during sleep in that time when a dream is becoming a nightmare but is not yet a nightmare; the passage from one to the other is not yet certain. The last poem written in it (Awake in the Night) is about precisely this; the vision of omens which cannot be controlled or perhaps even known. To pry into them is to turn the beautiful and desolate mystery of a dying world into a nightmare.

The poems that fall within this cycle are many, and I will likely cull a number of them for the finished work. Here is an exhaustive list:

  • Adrift Without a Star
  • The Orator Exhorts the Opposition
  • Vintage
  • The Poet Raises a Toast
  • The Human Progress
  • The Rose of Joy
  • Broken Things
  • Roko's Basilisk
  • Utter
  • Christmas Tree
  • Rail
  • Antony
  • The White Car
  • New Year
  • It Was a Very Good Year
  • No Rain
  • Dark City
  • Unravel
  • White Knight
  • The Blaze of Their Glory
  • Footprints
  • The Stele
  • The Poet Reflects Upon the Early Spring
  • The Orator Denounces a Baudy Festival
  • Roles
  • The Sage Rebukes Knowledge
  • Aim: Beauty
  • Askance
  • Howling at all Hours
  • Oculus Rift
  • Under the Legs of The Highway
  • Rest In Peace
  • The Sage Considers the Bishop's Advice
  • You Didn't Build This
  • Lenten Spring
  • The Former Ruins
  • No Brakes
  • The Theorist
  • The Orator Remarks on Choice Ironies
  • The Sage Contends for the Bond of Frendship
  • The Gull and the Crow
  • The Poet asks the Final Question
  • Together
  • The Lotus Eaters
  • Sunflower
  • The Man Blind From Birth
  • The Overture
  • Old Night
  • The Sage Remarks on Woman
  • The General Strike
  • Aloft
  • A Song of Evening
  • Pentecost
  • Kissing the Sea
  • Dress
  • The Poet Saw a Nightmare at the Death of a Poet
  • Sonnet V
  • The Quick
  • The Poet and the Hooded Night
  • Correspondence
  • No Sleep
  • Cast
  • The Orator Calls Upon the Last
  • The House of Pleasure
  • The Great Filter
  • Fast
  • The Sage Remarks of the Outside
  • Flame on Flame
  • The Whale's Song
  • Five Rings
  • Rainbow
  • Unrestrained
  • The President's Speech
  • The Homeless
  • Reasonable
  • The Husband's Song
  • Doom
  • Pulse
  • Rotherham
  • The Poet Sings of the City at Night
  • Outshine
  • The Poet Explains his Mirth
  • Canticle for the Dead
  • The Aristocrat
  • The Black Bird
  • The Engine of Dreams
  • The Sick Man
  • The Benevolent
  • Justice
  • The Binding
  • Public Opinion
  • Fear of the Heavens
  • The Song of the Bits
  • Icarus
  • Lazarus
  • Comet Catcher
  • Coalfire
  • Cohongarooton
  • Awake in the Night
 It's about 100 poems. Note that this does not include the Social Matter poems composed during this same period.

More to come.


Awake In The Night


it is addressed thusly:
A vision.
it reads:
There I was awake in the night
I was not where I was a moment before
Outside was cold and unearthly light
Loud came the wind, a speechless roar
I was home again - where I used to be
Alone again, but alone and free
And heaven unquiet in an unseen war
Nowhere to go, nowhere to flee.

Dark inside, as a Christmas morn
Before the sun the land makes bright
The raging clouds all woolen-shorn
The moon behind made real the sight
And the walls held not the sound at bay
But sounding within as if to say
Nothing - but a display of speechless might
And where I was there was never day.

I draw a curtain; and squinting hard
Do I see something - do I see it there?
Snow glinting across a forsaken yard
And I thought of this, the realm of the air
Shifting shadows and fey light that bends
And I almost know what word it sends
But withdraw and turn, I know not where
This place it is - a place of omens.

I fear the uncertain in the endless sound
Something looms - but I ask not what
I wished no more than what I had found
And of what might be, I queried not
And beyond shouted the brazen wind
White and shifting and shadow-skinned
The gray air glowered over the empty lot
And in the dark the curtains moved within.

I turned to the east, without a thought
And began a prayer - but not to ask
Not my words were they, what I sought
Was to steady my mind for such a task
And to not bid welcome the unseen sea
And not to any fear or lost memory
To calm the storm - to remove the mask
The veil of desire's gray uncertainty.

And by degrees did change the atmosphere
Light along the edges of the window pane
Then again in a tree far away from here
Clear and bright and calm was its train
And just as the end of the prayer alight
Gone was the wind and the beautiful light
But you were there - you and I by name
And there I was awake, in the night.
a postscript is here written:
The end of  'Adrift Without a Star'



it is addressed thusly:

A vision.
it reads:
From the slaughter of the kings he came
With faithful friends, stood to receive
A blessing from the priest and king
A thanksgiving for all those who believe
That accursed valley where garbage lay
Rotted with bodies from that market-day
When men were sold there to receive
The reward given to those who slay
Was he yet without parents then
The one who broke the blessed bread
First among gods, last among men
Who with solemn honor bowed his head
And received their souls in heaven's net
With wine as blood to pay their debt?
But think more on just what I've said --
As of now it has not happened yet.




it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Dark, black coal - a strange unburden
Of the earth's yet stranger heart
We know little of the sudden wording
Which when suddenly pulled apart
The dun and drab earth's grimy hull
The man, inadvertant, might so call
"black gold!" to the pitchdark smart
Through which his ax duly did fall;

The fuel of a man's dreams, what is it
To the Victorian, a world of steam
Of power that is brute, not exquisite
No more chained to beast or to stream
A mere rock! But full of bright fire
Or its response did justly inspire
A clockwork world of alien dream
Wheels within wheels of inhuman desire;

And in the now, man is made penitent
Retreating from his idols of yore
But not toward God is his rede sent
For was God made wroth over ore?
He turns from bright fire to the sod
But the snows don't consider it odd--
He worships sun and wind all the more
Not knowing -- an ape, not a god.


Comet Catcher

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
It danced on the edge of the heady foam
Of the sea of dark stirring from whence we came
It went not with any, for it went alone
Philae! But carrying its unknown name
Ahab had not speared his deathly whale
That in that tenyear in deep heaven sail
Land with a bounce on a comet's cold flame
Who else but us would dare tell the tale?
a postscript is here written:
a pass-word:
philae comet landing



it is addressed thusly:
A thought.
it reads:
His hands were lined with labor
What work was left for him
Any spare thing kept to savor
A profit left too slim
Taken by every hungry bird
That flies the heavens searching
Their impassioned minds still lurching
With law they feed on every word
But he who still does sacrifice
To scatter abroad does not think twice
Though his death, untimely, occurred
Has not yet received his reward
Perhaps God will grant him paradise.
a postscript is here written:
This poem is about a couple of different individuals. 
http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/government-tyranny/a-father-burns-himself-to-death/ but can also apply to Robin Williams as well. We cannot assume a person who committed suicide would be well received, but on the other hand, we can always ask that they will be. To do otherwise is either to ignore all tradition on the subject (and validate murder) or to lack mercy ourselves.



it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Democracy in an age of Icarus
A soaring bright skyward child
Full of everyone's animus
And negative sum profiled
Beware - shake him but lightly
And feathers fall, though brightly
He went blazing sunward-styled
But he will always fall, unsightly.