I don’t write or study much poetry. I’ve written very few poems in years actually. At one point, however, I was working on a play about the Tree of Life/ Fountain of Youth in early Florida with Diego Columbus and Ponce de Leon as characters. This was intended originally to be a verse play, mixing poetry meters and styles into a cohesive story and weaving in a combination of Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic scripture/mythology. I may never return to the idea, I abandoned it when I saw the preview for the movie The Fountain from Darren Aronofsky. Truth be told, though I’ve never seen the movie I don’t suspect it would bear much similarity had I continued with this work, yet it was just similar enough of a vein that I moved on to other projects.
These are several of the poems which would have been part of that work.
Spoken In Third Person to Avoid Recurrence of Tears
As the white flag disappeared into waves
Diego watched the village burn,
his decade old legs still wobbling
from Santa Maria’s long voyage,
tears silent as owl’s wings
streaming eye, cheek, tongue, earth.
All the while, Diego’s father clutched
his son’s shoulder with one hand,
the other trailing fingers limply.
On the patriarch’s death Diego shared
wine older than he with the crew,
who shared sailor’s stories,
plucked from the jaws of sharks, sea monsters.
As Nina’s Spanish Cross faded
Diego’s hand rested on his son’s shoulder,
incense of yet another village roiling
into the windless sky.
That night when he saw the Padre,
Diego confessed he never cried
upon his father’s death.
That he was crying
only now because he knew
his son would not cry for him.
Meditations of a Tree Questioning Her Humanity
A lighting change denotes passage of time;
a sound cue fades establishing a mood.
now I am left alone to contemplate,
a tree set center on a barren stage.
No soul nearby to hear my tortured cry,
I howl frustration at the deep night sky.
my gnarled limbs turned upward towards the black,
I recognize the lights, ceiling, and fans.
Not sky, nor stars above, but instruments,
designed to keep me here in view of all—
patrons, cast and crew who ask the questions
I’ve never thought it fit to ask of them.
Wrap not my purpose in a metaphor
and tangle not my tongue with words obscure:
let me be just a tree that bears no fruit,
not shattered youth or sin original.
Chorus: Now gather round children to hear the tale
Of your mothers and of your grandmothers,
Of their mothers and of their grandmothers,
Passed down mother to daughter from the start:
The time before the sky was filled with smoke,
The time before our lungs were filled with fire,
The time before our mind’s were filled with air-
The time when God ruled the Earth on high,
When Devil was consigned to depths below,
Before the rule of book and pen began.
Now listen close to these phrases you hear-
For this may be the last time they are spoke:
Such tales are outlawed by the Pontiff King,
For those who tell such tales would seek his death,
And death is one frontier he will not cross,
His back turned to that door long since. So all
Who speak such words shall meet flames sweet embrace.
Ponce de Leon first came to Bimini
In search of the fabled Fountain of Youth,
But found instead the Tree of Eden.