Those Just Deserts

Who’s immune? Not me. Are you? Temptations

are a drug whose ministrations can dig

us deep into Everyman’s hell

That is the nature of the beast, its churning potpourri of genes.

And who is there that does not crave a share?

Oh, we take what we can.


And if we’ve got the will to mold,

the world would be an image of oneself,

then sure, they’d beat a pathway to our door.

Hubris! you say. Well, why not? How long have you got on top?

It is the hubris of such desire of which, most often, they sing,

that rattles the pages of every epic poem:

Symbolic laughter for evanescent gain;

an Iliad of tears for the loss of youth, virility, ambition,

that especial impulse to create,

the long dull passage into middling age, a blunted sword.


Euridice, our muse, is gone, as sad a wraith

as dissolving dew, but still, they say, can be re-resolved, reclaimed;

as if entropy can be reversed.

And so the trek begins: hinterlands, chasmotic caves,

chameleon fantasies, feelings that are unassuaged,

an ideation that declares, this self-anointed intellect will be enough,

will actuate the universal acclaim we surely deserve.

At the nadir, or is it rather the epitome

of our narrative, is an exhibition of sorts,

a kind of stage set, an exaltation, in which

the quality of one’s wares

is shown, sheer enlightenment for all,

a plethora of rewards: Olympic gold,

some trophy god, or goddess, nakedness under glass, the Nobel, a Pulitzer,

the wherewithal with which we may then exuberantly parade.


But then, of course,

there’s always a hitch.

We cannot be at one with that shadowy muse

until those certain requirements have been fulfilled.

In these stories you cannot turn or speak, nor touch,

until sunlight strikes the lens,

and you can see and do what you have done

as if this hiatus had never occurred.


But that last moment (or is it earlier?)

you lose control, or forget.

There is always that pesky fly, or speck of dust, you had not seen,

the proverbial bug,

an excitable Limbic center of the brain, perhaps,

some early sign that memory is impaired.

And you do whatever it is that was forbidden,

and all that striving, that struggle

to hold on to the achievements

which youth and ambition had permitted,

slips quietly, but irrevocably, away.


So that is the punishment, the start, and in the end

you are tossed and torn,

dumped in the river Lethe, and forgotten.

Or almost:

When you, long gone, the tableau evolved, have been replaced

by legend, and belief,

and, as far as you are concerned, it no longer matters, not one bit,

then someone, a Gluck, a Monteverdi, an Ovid,

even an Offenbach,

will write a ditty, a dirge, a comic pastiche;

And they will call you Inspiration,

opera’s Godfather, the very Personification of Song..