The old poets spotted me easily;
they know my type well,
more common each generation coming,
addicted to something,
often guilt, and blame.
They mark the ones like me,
who love empty adventure so much
we inexplicably try to die,
sometimes more than once,
to free the pieces of ourselves
long ago sacrificed to the underworld:
the debt children pay
to the angry, bitter men,
and the women busy
pulling their strings.
Those old poets
pointed at me when I was still young
and said to each other,
“Somebody watch him!”
On long drives—
late, when the dawn is far
and the moon taking the night off,
the darkness is my only company
unless you count the empty road—
I grow so tired,
if anybody is awake
if anybody is waiting up for me,
and I sink into the cistern of that thought
deep and empty.
While in the blackest of my thoughts,
an owl emerges,
ahead of the window glass.
When I am in that well
from the cane fields
or the ancient forests
or the meadows that dance
with the breath of the wind,
and for a long moment he flies beside me,
and his white-feathered wings invoke
the memory of my guardians,
sent to remind me
that darkness does not make for good company.
The cave of my sadness
is illuminated by the torch I now hold
so I may read the message on its walls:
Many good men
were trapped here before I came,
and they are remembered
for bringing art and color
to that dark place,
and taking their bones with them
when they chose to depart.
an old poet,
a great one,
is doing his job.