Speaker for the Dead, 2010

In a solemn black robe read—
The cue-cards on demand;
A moment’s halt,
The spotlight falls.
The fretful actor lost it all,
His lines, the words, he could not find:
The nervous teleprompter had committed suicide.
Lonely on a dark stage shaking,
A nervous breakdown in the making
The Speaker for the Dead then read.

What’s done is done,
As all of the life on Earth becomes,
Murdered by our Mother Sun.
What is there left for me to do,
Some clever rhyme scheme just for you,
The wall that lies between our eyes,
Are tears of Indra long since dried.

The tears of Indra represent
The draining of a man, now spent,
In his last hours he repents:
And in the last note he had sent,
“I wish,” he said, “that I could be—
More than what I am.
To live and love and understand
Before I’ve washed away with sand.
To me it seems I might have gleamed,
That nothing is more beautiful
Than poetic tragedies.

When statues fall the madmen call,
Then turn maladies to melodies,
Make statues out of tragedy
Not quite unlike myself—
Arrange the stage for all to see,
Find an actress and a symphony.
Let’s get this show on the road.

That stage again, as t’was back then,
The characters, to their chagrin,
had been in the boardroom
before they were written in.
They hid just behind the curtain,
asking why and asking when,
and how one could be so certain,
so certain as to know
the impending closing of the show.

The actors stayed behind again,
waited a while and timid then
The spotlight lit the stage again.
There were no crying mannequins,
No strings or another show
The patrons left in narrow rows.
The show was about the men,
Not the characters played again:
And no one cared to see.
Behind the façade there is a mirage
An oasis of some dignity.

The crowd once thick and whistling loud,
Turned the show into a ghost-town;
Where the ghosts of actor’s past,
Rehearse with a spectral cast;
To but an empty silent room
For an empty, silent hall
They still performed long after
Their final curtain call.

For the ghosts who stalk the stage
The curtain will not close at all.
The crowd was gone,
And the theater closed,
One actor of the stage’s past
Looked at the dusty chairs and rows—
And still he held a wilted rose.

Under the sky the river’s sheen,
Makes the passage back to sea,
Like pebbles on the shore which be,
Pebbles by the sea in the end will end like we
In a swift current to our Mother’s sea.
The rainclouds come, the thunder goes,
But never stops unending rows,
All the rivers, in the end,
Go to die where they began
That silent yawn, that coalesce,
You leave with what you bring—
No less.

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