Three Presentations by Donald Harris (1938-2011)




Lazarus

I struggle with a quandry that sore perturbs my mind.
Am I something less than human, or something more
divine? It is not human to cast one's cerements aside,
and only an immortal live on beyond a semblance of
death or being dead. Will you, therefore, sing me soft
down regimens of resurrection that I might be receptive
to my going out and coming back again? I place my
fingers into my ears so that I may no longer hear the
screams and gibberish from that semilucent dark. I am
desirous that some sentiment of satisfaction might break
through, beyond the vineyard, beyond the grove of figs.
He and John came teaching/preaching a kingdom for
the Jews, one that would overcome/supersede the Roman,
but when it became obvious that such was not tenable,
or viable, he quickly proclaimed, "No, no, I meant it is a
spiritual kingdom, one that is inside the self."
Why did he bring me back from the silence of sweet
soothing death to plunge me once again into the
rancorous wrangling of my two sisters as to which
should do what part of keeping house? How many know
that impasse of wishing for death to come as a relief
or a release from pain or grief or some debilitation,
yet one longs for further life so as to accomplish desires
yet to have been done? Was I not to know that leisure in
an afterlife where I could be a rustle in a whisper of the
wind? Where is that mercy from the life spread over as
sheltering leaves do shade the path below? By what right
am I not left to find some ease of heart, some peace of
mind? But I must turn with the turning sun, and burn
with its course across the sky, until I am no longer needed
to explicate the glory of the man who would be God.

Regret

Suppose, for starts, we just call it quits, and let everything go, at that. After all, you have known for a long time of my hope for some surcease of suffering, sadness, sorrow, something that would be a sufficient anodyne for all my ills. If there is no certainty but death, yet death may sometimes bring a blessed relief, even though it be spring, and a robin is trilling out melodic promises of ever recurrent burgeonings. But the song of birds, the sight of flowers can never obliterate the memory of that night at that bar, where I should not have drunk that one more Pink Squirrel, even though it helped me to loudly sing, along with the rest of the crowd, of finding my thrill on Blueberry Hill, for afterward occurred the accident, in which one person was killed, another left wheelchair bound, and a third sustained head injuries whereby she was never again properly mentally functional, and I am charged with such deep regret, such cutting remorse, that ever and anon, tears spring into my eyes. I have lived long enough that youth has long since passed me by, and most of the young do much the same. By many I am forgotten, and by many others I am not even thought of, in the least, at all. I have become a vague gray nondescript nonentity. How insightful of Macbeth to recognize that his lady should have died hereafter. So shall we all. If you suppose that God sends pain and suffering, then you should suppose that an extirpation of such is a godsend too. Did Hamlet perhaps have this in mind when he considered someone making a quietas with a bare bodkin, in order to shuffle off this mortal coil? But then you maintain that Ophelia committed suicide out of a sense of maiden shame? May I be given proof or instance as to how to understand your interpretation.


Villanelle

My softness falls so hard upon
I cannot fathom out the deep
It's hard to imagine what has gone

In your company I am most alone
What I have I cannot keep
My softness falls so hard upon

What matters if I feel ill at ease
Like Lear I will refuse to weep
It's hard to imagine what has gone

I grope through darkness toward the light
Discouraged by a way too steep
My softness falls so hard upon

I have some understanding of your pain
What I have sowed I now must reap
It's hard to imagine what has gone

Life is a chocolate ice cream cone
That I have dropped upon the street
My softness falls so hard upon
It's hard to imagine what has gone.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sure glad wed've still got that sidebar recording from Flicker -- Donald was prancing that night !

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah -- Kudos, Aralee, for keeping that sidebar up... that was Ben's first Athens unveiling, & yeah, Mr Donald was in some kind of Zone, you bet...

-Ralph