The brigantine


The brigantine

She is wise as she is beautiful
         a level-headed beauty
to turn men’s heads
         and history upon her heels
: disparate fragments
         that have accreted to her
though she has learned
         above all else
to value focus – But what is it
         that she hopes to achieve ?

Yes – all is measure
         trochee and spondee
dactyl and anapest
         iambus more than any
To be or not ?
         Now or not, so to speak ?

Her father laid bricks
         one upon another
to cement a life
         to construct a clay niche
on the shores of New Jersey
         Atlantic County
where the sea sometime rages
         and tears at the land
clawing back what was once
         its undisputed dominion

A brigantine once set forth
         on the ungodly ocean
proud masts and wide sails
         to brave the white foam
to flee from the breakers
         to transform the treachery
of the storm
         into destiny and distance

         in time and space—
years lived in the shade
         of an unwieldy sword
bombarded by fractured starlight
         whence they came
to a place of safety

Dignity from fabrics
         made to measure
assembled and sewn
         with needle and thread
pride in the flotsam jetsam
         of flimsy summer dresses
and dances in long braids of hair
         the fine colour of quartz

It is enough to live
         among ordinary men and women
to aspire to humility
         to wear the badge of modesty
and to tread the musical path
         measurement being
a sinuous melodic journey
         in space and in time

A mind that can contain
         the rich proportions of harmony
that can turn inert steel and stone
         into warm breath and instil words
with the pulse of eternity—
         laws of creation that outflank
the very laws of creation
         Who determines
the sparrow’s stature
         or whoever dreamed
the soft-fleshed pleats
         of the unfolding rose ?
Thoughts that might live forever
         words perfectly preserved
within a hoard of words
         Love teaches love
love endows the world
         with desire and tender possession
and poetry frees us from the banality
         of the immoderately mundane
from the downbeat humdrum
         of material mummification

Life is a fluted instrument
         to be played upon
it begs improvisation
         and joyous innovation
it abhors the safety of sainted replication
         and fields of dainty daffodils
in the grounds of stately homes
         Life opts for the wild side
for the beauteous being
         that will not be reproved
She who has a mind of her own
         whose body shapes a compendium
of pleasurable emotions
         with a soul of intelligence that flies
an independent articulate flag
         Death and failure
are all in the mind
         : the air trembles at her beauty
that tugs at the core
         of all who behold her

Though my words
         may seem extravagant
I merely inform a truth—
         so much a rarity
in this misbegotten world of confusion
         indeed I could go on
and on and on
         but today I simply won’t

John Lyons


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